COUNTY OF ALBEMARLE

 

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

 

 

AGENDA TITLE:

STA 2007-02 Subdivision Ordinance Text Amendment – Family Divisions

ZTA 2007-03 Zoning Ordinance Text Amendment – Critical Slopes and Safe and Convenient Access

 

SUBJECT/PROPOSAL/REQUEST:

Subdivision Ordinance amendment to extend immediate family ownership for family divisions

Zoning Ordinance amendments to restrict roads and driveways from disturbing critical slopes and to provide for safe and convenient access for emergency vehicles

 

STAFF CONTACT(S):

Tucker, Foley, Davis, Kamptner, Graham, Cilimberg, McDowell

 

LEGAL REVIEW:   Yes

 

AGENDA DATE:

October 10, 2007

 

ACTION:    X           INFORMATION:   

 

CONSENT AGENDA:

  ACTION:              INFORMATION:   

 

 

ATTACHMENTS:   Yes

 

 

REVIEWED BY:

 

 


 

BACKGROUND:

Following two public input meetings and three work sessions, the Board of Supervisors unanimously approved Resolutions of Intent regarding the following amendments to the zoning and subdivision ordinances:

·       a zoning text amendment to restrict disturbance of driveways and roads over critical slopes;

·       a zoning text amendment to provide access standards for safe and convenient access;  

·       a subdivision text amendment to extend ownership requirements for family divisions.

 

The May 2, 2007, staff report that included the Resolutions of Intent is included as Attachment I. 

 

The Board of Supervisors also directed staff to develop amendments to the Water Protection Ordinance to require 100’ stream buffers for intermittent and perennial streams throughout the Rural Areas.  Further, the Board supported a change in policy to require an Erosion and Sediment Plan instead of an Agreement in-lieu of a Plan for residential development in the Rural Areas.  As amendments to the Water Protection Ordinance do not require Planning Commission review and recommendation, the amendments to the WPO will only be considered by the Board of Supervisors.   A separate Board report for WPTA 2007-01 has been prepared for the October 10th public hearing.

 

As the text amendments concerning critical slopes could potentially reduce density, prior to the Planning Commission August 7th public hearing, nearly 14,000 public notices were mailed to owners of property containing critical slopes in the Rural Areas zoning district.  Six staff members fielded the phone calls, emails, and visits from citizens wanting additional information.  In addition, the County’s A-Mail notified citizens of the hearing and public notices were placed in local newspapers.  A web page was developed to provide information and the County’s mapping was available to allow citizens to view critical slopes on their properties on-line. At the Board’s request, these property owners were also sent letters containing updated information and informing them of the Board of Supervisor’s October 10th public hearing (Attachment II).  

 

Following the Planning Commission public hearing on August 7th, a work session was held on September 11th to continue the discussions and to allow staff to provide additional information. Public comments were also received at the work session. The staff reports, including the text amendments considered by the Commission at the September 11th work session, are included in Attachment III.

 

The Planning Commission has recommended approval of STA 2007-02 and ZTA 2007-03, subject to the changes discussed below.  The text amendments containing the Commission’s recommended changes are included as Attachments IV and V.  As the Commission wanted the Board to have available their discussions leading to the recommendations, a summary of their deliberations is included as Attachment VI.

DISCUSSION:

 

STA 2007-02 – Subdivision Text Amendment (Family Divisions

When a landowner desires to create a lot and convey it to a family member, he or she may subdivide the land under the conventional subdivision procedures or under the specific regulations established for “family subdivisions.”  The key differences between the two procedures are the information that must be shown on the subdivision plat, the time required to review and approve the subdivision plat, and the applicable standard for the subdivision’s street.  The proposed regulations would continue to allow a lot to be conveyed to a family member to be created under either procedure. 

 

Current: Under the current family subdivision regulations, the owner of the parent parcel (grantor) and of the lot(s) created by family subdivision (grantee) may not convey either lot to a person who is not a member of the immediate family for 2 years after the subdivision plat is recorded.  Limited exceptions apply.

 

Proposed: Under the proposed family subdivision regulations, two alternatives are proposed for extending the retention period before a family subdivision lot may be conveyed to a person who is not a member of the immediate family.  Under the first alternative, the 2-year retention period would be extended to 15 years, as originally directed by the Board of Supervisors. (Attachment IV-1)  Under the other alternative recommended by the Planning Commission (Attachment VI), the retention period would be 15 years, but a credit of up to 10 years would be given if the land was owned by a family member before the family subdivision. (Attachment IV)  Thus, under this alternative, the retention period after the family subdivision plat was recorded would be at least 5 years, depending on how long the family member owned the parcel before the family subdivision.

 

ZTA 2007-03 – Zoning Text Amendment (Critical Slopes / Safe and Convenient Access) 

Critical slopes

Current: Existing zoning regulations prohibit structures and improvements, and related land disturbing activity, on critical slopes.  There are two exceptions.  Critical slopes can be disturbed on a lawful lot existing on the date the critical slopes regulations were first adopted to allow the first single family dwelling to be established on the lot.  In addition, accessways, utilities, and other certain improvements may cross over or be located on critical slopes if the owner shows that no reasonable alternative location or alignment exists.  A landowner may request a waiver from the Planning Commission to disturb critical slopes.

 

Proposed:  In all zoning districts, the proposed zoning text amendment would continue the existing prohibition of development on critical slopes.  In the Rural Areas zoning district, the proposed regulations would eliminate the exception that allows accessways such as driveways to be located on critical slopes, and prohibit streets and driveways, and any land disturbing activity related thereto, from being located on critical slopes.  However, the county engineer would be authorized to grant six waivers: (1) to access a dwelling unit on an existing lot where no building site can be accessed without disturbing critical slopes; (2) where the land disturbing activity is less than 2500 square feet; (3) to address a legitimate and significant existing erosion problem; (4) if the land disturbing activity would have less impacts than disturbing non-critical slopes; (5) where the land disturbing activity was to establish an agricultural road; and (6) where the land disturbing activity is proposed on existing man-made slopes or slopes previously approved by the County.  The proposed amendment also would establish a procedure to appeal the decision of the county engineer, establish a procedure by which a landowner could establish that slopes identified on a plat, map or other record as critical slopes were not, in fact, critical slopes, and define “land disturbing activity.”  Finally, the proposed amendment would allow the location of utilities and other specified improvements on critical slopes provided that the landowner showed that no reasonable alternative location or alignment existed. 

 

Driveways

Current: Driveways are development improvements subject to the critical slopes regulations described above.  In addition, zoning regulations require that a developable lot have frontage on a public or private street, unless the lot was created without frontage before the regulations were adopted.

Proposed: The proposed zoning text amendment would continue the lot frontage requirements.  In addition, in the Rural Areas zoning district, driveways would not be allowed to exceed a 16% grade, would be required to have a travelway that was at least 10 feet wide that extended to within 50 feet of each dwelling unit, and the landowner would be required to maintain a 10 foot wide and 14 foot high clear area for the length of the driveway.  The purpose for these regulations is to assure that public safety vehicles are able to access the dwelling on a lot.  The county engineer would be authorized to waive the 16% maximum grade standard upon the consideration of various factors including the length of the segment exceeding 16%, whether the segment requires the public safety vehicle to go uphill towards the dwelling, whether fire suppression equipment would be installed, and whether the dwelling is within 50 feet of a street.  Any lot existing when this regulation is adopted would be exempt from the driveway standards for the first single-family detached dwelling.

 

At the Planning Commission’s request, a copy of the discussion is included as Attachment VI.

 

Planning Commission Recommendation:

Approval of ZTA 2007-03, subject to the following:

 

1.       Specific guidance be prepared on mitigation measures necessary to qualify for Section 4.2.3(c) (4) and place in the Design Standards Manual. 

2.       Guidance to be prepared by staff after the adoption of the ordinance with opportunity for public input and written to be consistent [with the intent] and forward the concerns underlying the critical slopes ordinance that the Commission discussed earlier.

3.       Subsection 4.2.3(c)(7), as recommended by staff, should be deleted as listed on Attachment 6 regarding the land disturbing activity that occurs in a fill or waste area authorized by Section 4.3.01.

4.       The effective date of the ZTA should be 60 days after the date of adoption.

 

Effective Date for Amendments 

The Planning Commission requested that the effective date of the ordinance amendments (ZTA 2007-03, STA 2007-02, and WPTA 2007-01) be 60 days following the adoption of the ordinance, in order to provide time for applicants “in the pipeline” an opportunity to be reviewed under the ordinance in effect at the time of their application.  Staff is requesting that the Board of Supervisors consider a refinement of the Commission’s recommendation, and believes that it will achieve the desired objective.  Staff recommends “grandfathering” of applications submitted by October 9, 2007, provided approval is obtained by February 10, 2008 (four months).

 

Proposed language

This ordinance shall be effective on and after October 10, 2007 provided, however, that any subdivision plat [site plan or building permit application] submitted on or before October 9, 2007, and approved on or before February 10, 2008, may be approved under the applicable regulations in effect on October 9, 2007.

 

The alternative language offered by staff has been incorporated into the text amendments recommended by the Planning Commission (Attachments IV and V), as well as in WPTA 2007-01, the Water Protection Ordinance amendment (under separate cover).

 

BUDGET:

Budget implications are discussed in Attachment VII.  In summary, the amendments will require a plan reviewer / inspector, similar to what currently exists with the Erosion Control Inspectors, and potentially increases the workload for subdivision reviews.  The cost of administering this program can be recovered through application fees.    

 

RECOMMENDATION:

Staff recommends approval of STA 2007-02, a Subdivision Ordinance amendment pertaining to immediate family ownership requirements for family divisions, as recommended by the Planning Commission (Attachment IV), with the following modification: This ordinance shall be effective on and after October 10, 2007 provided, however, that any subdivision plat submitted on or before October 9, 2007, and approved on or before February 10, 2008, may be approved under the applicable regulations in effect on October 9, 2007

 

Staff recommends approval of ZTA 2007-03, a Zoning Text Amendment pertaining to critical slopes and safe and convenient access, as recommended by the Planning Commission (Attachment V), with the following modification: This ordinance shall be effective on and after October 10, 2007 provided, however, that any subdivision plat, site plan or building permit application submitted on or before October 9, 2007, and approved on or before February 10, 2008, may be approved under the applicable regulations in effect on October 9, 2007.

 

ATTACHMENTS:

Attachment   I          Rural Areas Resource Protection staff report dated May 2, 2007 (including attachments)

(Pages 5 – 33)

 

Attachment  II          Information Letter to Rural Areas property owners

(Pages 34 – 35)

 

Attachment III          Planning Commission staff reports dated August 7, 2007 and September 11, 2007

(Pages 36 – 68)

Attachment IV         STA 2007-02 Subdivision Ordinance Text Amendment dated 9 26 07 (Recommended by Planning Commission)

(Pages 69 -72)

 

Attachment IV-1       STA 2007-02 Subdivision Ordinance Text Amendment dated 9 26 07

(Pages 73 – 76)

 

Attachment V          ZTA 2007-03 Zoning Text Amendment dated 9 26 07

(Pages 77 – 81)

 

Attachment VI         Planning Commission Action Minutes dated September 11, 2007

(Pages 82 – 109)

 

Attachment VII         Draft Critical Slope Disturbances Guidelines for Minimization and Mitigation

(Page 110)

 

Attachment VIII        Memorandum from Mark Graham, dated September 26, 2007

(Page 111)

 

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