Albemarle County Planning Commission

December 5, 2006


The Albemarle County Planning Commission held a meeting and a public hearing on Tuesday, December 5, 2006, at 6:00 p.m., at the County Office Building, Second Floor, Auditorium, Second Floor, 401 McIntire Road, Charlottesville, Virginia. Members attending were Eric Strucko, Jon Cannon, Marcia Joseph, Chairman, Bill Edgerton (arrived at 6:12 p.m.), Duane Zobrist and Pete Craddock. Absent was Calvin Morris, Vice-Chairman.  Julia Monteith, Senior Land Use Planner for the University of Virginia, representative for David J. Neuman, FAIA, Architect for University of Virginia was absent. 


Other officials present were Wayne Cilimberg, Planning Director; Gerald Gatobu, Senior Planner, David Benish, Chief of Planning; Amelia McCulley, Zoning and Current Development Director/Zoning Administrator; Bill Fritz, Chief of Current Development; Claudette Grant, Senior Planner; Sean Dougherty, Senior Planner; Judith Wiegand, Senior Planner; David E. Pennock, Principal Planner and Greg Kamptner, Deputy County Attorney.


Call to Order and Establish Quorum:


Ms. Joseph called the regular meeting to order at 6:09 p.m. and established a quorum.


            Work Sessions:


ZMA 2006-009 Fifth Street - Avon Street Center (Signs #48, 67, 68)

PROPOSAL:  Rezone 86.895 acres from LI - Light Industrial zoning district which allows industrial, office, and limited commercial uses (no residential use) to PD-SC - Planned Development Shopping Center zoning district which allows shopping centers, retail sales and service uses; and residential by special use permit (15 units/acre) Approx. 398,300 sq. ft. of commercial uses.


EXISTING COMPREHENSIVE PLAN LAND USE/DENSITY:  Community Service/Mixed Use-community-scale retail wholesale, business and medical offices, mixed use core communities and/or employment services, and residential (6.01-34 units/acre) Neighborhoods 4 & 5


LOCATION: Northeast intersection of Interstate 64 and Fifth Street Extended (Rt 631), bounded on the east by Avon Street Extended. Access is Bent Creek Road.

TAX MAP/PARCEL: 76/M1-2A, 76/M1-2B, 76/M1-4A, 77/11E


STAFF:  Claudette Grant


Ms. Grant summarized the staff report.

·         The property is located at the Northeast corner of the intersection of Interstate 64 and Fifth Street Extended (Rt. 631).

·         This rezoning project was initially presented to the Planning Commission on October 10, 2006 as a public hearing.  During that meeting the applicant requested a deferral to December 5, 2006 for a work session. The applicant agreed to resubmit information that the Planning Commission requested.

·         The applicant submitted revised information on Friday, November 17th and proffers on Tuesday, November 21.  Staff has not had sufficient time to review the new material and provide comments to the Planning Commission for its December 5, 2006 meeting. As previously decided by the Planning Commission at its November 14 meeting, the applicant is providing this as information for presentation to the Planning Commission at its December 5th meeting. 

·         As staff has not had opportunity to review and provide comment on the resubmittal, staff recommends the Planning Commission receive the applicant’s presentation and schedule a follow up work session for January 23, 2007.


Ms. Joseph invited the applicant to address the Planning Commission.


Frank Cox, representative for New Era Development, presented a power point presentation and explained the proposal. When they met in October staff had presented them with some questions that needed additional attention through an enhanced application package.  They followed up and spent a little more time talking with staff about that.  In mid November they submitted the new information.  Tonight they would like to review staff’s comments and obtain feedback from the Commission in order to address those concerns in future work sessions.  One concern was how best to implement the connector road through the old City landfill.  They have been working with DEQ for the last 12 months and moving towards a permit application that would allow them to complete the connector road.  The connector road is essential to this project.  They feel that in their work sessions with DEQ as well as the background consulting work they have done with geologists and environmental scientist with the drilling they have done in that area as well as their own civil engineering analysis that they could build a road that would meet both VDOT standards and be able to obtain DEQ permitting.  A memo was included in their revised application process that deals with some of these concerns.  He asked for the Commission’s input.


Ms. Joseph asked what staff’s expectations are for the next work session on January 23rd.  The Commission wants to try to avoid scheduling a work session again in the future to only receive an update with the PC really not working on any of the issues.  The questions raised were:  What are staff’s expectations for the next work session on January 23rd? What are they going to be looking at?  What will they be focusing on?


Ms. Grant indicated that the revised plan and the proffers have been submitted to staff for a staff review.  Staff’s intent is that in that review that the applicant has addressed the issues that they had concerns about and comments about previously.  Our intent would be that staff would be able to come to the Commission and say these issues have been addressed and maybe look at some other issues that staff might see that still need to be addressed and go from there.  Also, a traffic study revision has been submitted.  So that is also out for review.  So hopefully staff will have more definitive information that they can tell the Commission that they have found after the review.


Ms. Joseph asked if it would be helpful if members at this point had any questions that they would like to be answered between now and the 23rd.  Would that give Mr. Cox enough time if he heard questions tonight that he would be able to address them in time in line with whatever drop dead deadline that they set up before the 23rd.  How much time does he need before the 23rd to do a thorough review so that staff could complete a staff report?


Ms. Grant noted that staff would need at least three weeks before the 23rd.  That deadline would be before the 1st of the year.


Mr. Edgerton asked if staff has everything that has been asked for.


Ms. Grant replied that as far as she knew yes. 


Ms. Joseph asked if anyone has any items or issues that they would like to bring up now. 


Mr. Zobrist asked if the applicant was okay with the dates and the timing of the upcoming work session.


Mr. Cannon said that he had one question from last time.  There was a discussion of the Comprehensive Plan.  There were materials attached to the staff report about the Comprehensive Plan Amendment relating to the site.  He questioned the consistency of the proposal and the Comprehensive Plan Amendment.  It seems that the proposal is outlined is consistent with the Comprehensive Plan as amended for this site. The Comprehensive Plan for this site is unusual in the level of specificity it provides.  But, he would like their judgment either now or at some later time that in fact there is consistency between the Comprehensive Plan and the proposal as it is coming forward.  He would like to make sure that they have a definitive understanding about that.


Ms. Grant replied that in the last report they described all of the Comprehensive Plan items and commented on whether the revised plan at that time was consistent with each of the items in the Comprehensive Plan.  Generally speaking it is fairly consistent, but there are a few issues in that Comprehensive Plan Amendment that staff felt needed a little bit more information from the applicant.  So staff’s hope is to be able to come to the next meeting and say that these are the issues that have been addressed. 


Mr. Edgerton noted that he was pleased that a number of the proffers were identified to address some of the issues in the Main Core and Shell Certification Program.  He was very excited to see the developer going in this direction. He hoped to see far more of a commitment than the existing proffers show.  He did a quick assessment of this and what being was offered would not qualify for the certification, but it is going in the right direction. So between now and the beginning of the year he hoped that they can have some additional proffers that will get it towards the certification, which he felt would be very beneficial to the entire community.   


Mr. Cox noted that they were willing to commit to the Commission that they would work as hard as they can to get there.  He believed that David Pennock on staff has training in this area.  They intend to have a work session with him as soon as this can be scheduled at his convenience.


Mr. Strucko said that he has heard from several people that live in and around this area who have been making a very compelling argument for the presence of this retail space in this particular location.  It is significant for what is proposed, grocery store, home improvement, major retail and restaurants.  He also heard some vocal requests for active recreation space.  That is a question that he wanted to explore.  This presentation showed more of a passive recreational space for the floodplain.  He did not know this parcel that well and could not speak too intelligently about the capabilities of what the recreational capabilities are.  His question would be is it possible for an active recreational space to occur here like a soccer field.  In the past they have used flood plain areas.  The parking capabilities of this site for active recreational uses as well as provide a customer base for some of the businesses in this area could be a compelling argument.  He said that he would toss that out as a question to be explored.


Mr. Cox noted that the floodplain area of the western end of the property does have sufficient area for a youth scale soccer field.  That was tested in one of the concepts.  Across the street at the Christian Aid Mission property they have a similar sized soccer field in the same floodplain, which has received an extensive amount of use in the past year.  It is entirely possible.  It is just as easy for them to work towards a soccer field as an extensive stream valley park system that may be more passive in its nature, but still require an extensive amount of work. 


Ms. Joseph asked to see where the old growth forest is and if that is part of their park land. There were some trees and rock outcrops that the Commission previously talked about and whether or not this is part of the park area.  That is something that can be discussed later.  She asked if the applicant has evidence that these trees are on their way out not because they want to knock them over, but because they have some sort of disease or are failing at this point.  Those trees have been discussed for years now and still need to be addressed in this rezoning request.


Mr. Cox noted that there are some lovely specimen trees along the stream valley park area, but there also are some very nice trees in the center of the prime development area.  Unfortunately, as they will see when they look at the grading and utility plans it is not going to be possible to preserve any trees within the primary development area.  How they address the issue of tree replacement or going an extra mile for those trees that are within the edge peripheral areas as well as how they make the landscaping enhancements in the stream valley park are good things to put into the equation.  But, in doing big box development and making it work for the folks that are going to be employed by the retail facilities, as well as the customers, it is a very difficult trick to save trees within the primary development zone.


Ms. Joseph asked to discuss the field densification for the road.  She asked that it be a topic of conversation, particularly about what testing has been done.


In summary, the Planning Commission held a work session on ZMA 2006-009 Fifth Street - Avon Street Center. The Commission received the applicant’s presentation and scheduled a follow up work session for January 23, 2007.  No formal action was taken by the Planning Commission.  The Commission made the following comments and suggestions of things that need to be addressed at the next work session:


o        The PC wants to try to avoid scheduling a work session again in the future to only receive an update with the PC really not working on any of the issues. 


o        In reference to the Commission’s concern Ms. Grant indicated that the revised plan and the proffers have been submitted to staff for staff review.  Staff’s intent is that at the work session scheduled for January 23rd the Commission will have information from staff’s review that will assist the Commission in discussion regarding this project. A traffic study revision has also been submitted and will be discussed at the work session in January.   The Commission had the following concerns or request:


o        They would like a comparison for consistency of the Comprehensive Plan with the submitted proposed plan.


o        They would like to see proffers with more commitment to the Main Core and Shell Certification Program.


o        What is the applicant’s commitment to providing active recreation space?


o        The Commission would like more information regarding the location of existing old growth forest and rock outcrop previously discussed as well as a comparison of these existing natural resources with the proposed plan.


o        Ms. Joseph asked to discuss the field densification for the road.  She asked that it be a topic of conversation, particularly about what testing has been done.


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