COUNTY OF ALBEMARLE STAFF REPORT SUMMARY

 

Project Name: 

SP 2007-00034 First Church of The Nazarene (Church)
SP 2007-00035 First Church of the Nazarene (Child Care)

Staff:  Scott Clark

Planning Commission Public Hearing:  October 9, 2007

Board of Supervisors Public Hearing: November 7, 2007

Owners: Albemarle Edgehill Farm LLC

Applicant: Charlottesville First Church of the Nazarene

Acreage:  7.32 acres

Special Use Permits for: Church and child care

TMP:  Tax Map 79 Parcel 10

Location: North side of intersection of Richmond Road (US 250) and Louisa Road (Route 22).

Conditions: Yes

Existing Zoning and By-right use:  RA Rural Areas: agricultural, forestal, and fishery uses; residential density (0.5 unit/acre);  EC Entrance Corridor – overlay to protect properties of historic, architectural or cultural significance from visual impacts of development along routes of tourist access;

Magisterial District: Rivanna

Requested # of Dwelling Units:  N/A

DA                               RA   X

Proposal:  Church with seating for 374 persons, and after-school care program for 100 children on site of proposed church.

Comprehensive Plan Designation:  RA - Rural Areas: preserve and protect agricultural, forestal, open space, and natural, historic and scenic resources/ density (.5 unit/ acre)

Character of Property:  This portion of the parcel is open land, bounded by I-64 to the north and Route 22 to the south.

Use of Surrounding Properties:  The remainder of this property, located on the opposite side of I-64, is part of an area of large farm estates on the east face of the Southwest Mountains. Adjacent uses to the south include commercial uses and a quarry.

Factors Favorable:

1.  Virginia Department of Transportation and Virginia Department of Health review indicates that the church and child-care uses can be supported on the site without negative impacts to public health and safety.

2.   This church would be located in an area already characterized by highway-related, commercial, and resource-extraction uses.

Factors Unfavorable:

1.   The proposed design, with parking surrounding the building, would create a suburban character in the Rural Areas and the Entrance Corridor. However, the location of the area needed for the primary septic drainfield prevents a rearrangement that would move the building forward and put parking behind the building.

2.        The proposed plan shows more parking than is typically necessary for a church of this scale. Staff has recommended a condition limiting the site to 150 parking spaces (as suggested by the applicant), rather than 180 (as shown on the plan).

RECOMMENDATION: Staff recommends approval of SP 2007-00034 and SP 2007-00035, subject to conditions.

 Petition: 

PROJECT: SP 20007-00034 First Church of the Nazarene - Church
PROPOSED: Church with seating for 374 persons, on a 7.32-acre portion of a 865.167-acre parcel.
ZONING CATEGORY/GENERAL USAGE: RA -- Rural Areas: agricultural, forestal, and fishery uses; residential density (0.5 unit/acre); EC Entrance Corridor - Overlay to protect properties of historic, architectural or cultural significance from visual impacts of development along routes of tourist access
SECTION: 10.2.2.35 Church building and adjunct cemetery
COMPREHENSIVE PLAN LAND USE/DENSITY:  Rural Areas - preserve and protect agricultural, forestal, open space, and natural, historic and scenic resources/ density (.5 unit/ acre)
ENTRANCE CORRIDOR: Yes
LOCATION: North side of intersection of Richmond Road (US 250) and Louisa Road (Route 22), south of Interstate 64.
TAX MAP/PARCEL: Tax Map 79 Parcel 10
MAGISTERIAL DISTRICT: Rivanna

PROJECT: SP 20007-00035 First Church of the Nazarene - Child Care
PROPOSED: After-school care program for 100 children on site of proposed church, on a 7.32-acre portion of a 865.167-acre parcel.
ZONING CATEGORY/GENERAL USAGE: RA -- Rural Areas: agricultural, forestal, and fishery uses; residential density (0.5 unit/acre); EC Entrance Corridor - Overlay to protect properties of historic, architectural or cultural significance from visual impacts of development along routes of tourist access
SECTION: 10.2.2.7 Day care, child care or nursery facility (reference 5.1.06)
COMPREHENSIVE PLAN LAND USE/DENSITY:  Rural Areas - preserve and protect agricultural, forestal, open space, and natural, historic and scenic resources/ density ( .5  unit/ acre)
ENTRANCE CORRIDOR: Yes
LOCATION: North side of intersection of Richmond Road (US 250) and Louisa Road (Route 22), south of Interstate 64.
TAX MAP/PARCEL: Tax Map 79 Parcel 10
MAGISTERIAL DISTRICT: Rivanna

Character of the Area:
The immediate surroundings include commercial and highway-related uses, a railroad, and the Luck Stone quarry. However, to the north (across I-64) the area is characterized by large rural estates along the Southwest Mountains.

The subject parcel, owned by Albemarle Edgehill Farm LLC, is divided by I-64 (see Attachment B). The portion that this SP would apply to is located south of I-64. Views between the two portions of the property are blocked by the wooded interstate right-of-way. The portion north of I-64 is included in the Southwest Mountains Rural Historic District, and includes Edgehill, an 1828 house (interior replaced after a 1916 fire), which was built on the site of a house designed by Thomas Jefferson in 1798.

Specifics of the Proposal:
The proposal would include an 18,811-square-foot building with a 90-by-50-foot multi-purpose assembly room, offices, classrooms, restrooms, a kitchen, and a “café” area. Uses would include church services, meetings and training sessions, and after-school child care for up to 100 children.

Planning and Zoning History:
This site was zoned Commercial prior to the comprehensive rezoning adopted on December 10, 1980 It is now zoned RA Rural Areas.

SP 93-32: This special use permit request proposed a 4,000-square-foot gift shop; a 3,000-square-foot outdoor market; a 4,000-square-foot antique shop; and a 3,000-square-foot animal hospital and kennel on this site. The Planning Commission recommended denial, but the item was indefinitely deferred prior to Board of Supervisors action.

SP 2000-18: This special use permit request proposed a 65-foot-tall telecommunications pole on an adjacent portion of TMP 79-10 not included in the current proposal. The proposal was approved by the Board of Supervisors on August 16, 2000.

Conformity with the Comprehensive Plan:
The Comprehensive Plan designates the proposed church site as Rural Areas, emphasizing the preservation and protection of agricultural, forestal, open space, and natural, historic and scenic resources. Churches are allowed in the Rural Area zoning district by Special Use Permit.

The Rural Areas chapter of the Comprehensive Plan encourages facilities that support connections between rural residents. However, the scale of this church and its location on or near major highways indicates that it may serve both Rural Area and Development Area residents. The child care facility could provide a service to the Rural Areas, but could also serve Development Area residents.

The Rural Areas Plan also calls for “community meeting places, a basic level of services, and rural organizations and other cultural institutions at traditional rural scales….” This facility would include an 18,811-square-foot building and approximately 150 parking spaces, which would be significantly larger than most traditional churches in the Rural Areas. Child care is sometimes a feature of rural churches, but not usually at this scale.

 However, the County has approved several churches of comparable size in the Rural Areas:
 

Church

File Number

Year Approved

Seats

Calvary Baptist Church

SP 83-7

1983

300

Maple Grove Christian Church

SP 84-40

1984

250

Crozet Church of God

SP 89-25

1989

250

Covenant Church of God

SP 90-35

1990

800*

Unity Church in Charlottesville

SP 91-71

1992

300

Blue Ridge Community Church

SP 98-69

1999

250

Unity Church

SP 03-43

2004

250

Grace Community Church

SP 04-23

2004

500

First Christian Church

SP 06-20

2007

306

* A later application for a 300-seat church on this same site was denied due to concerns over possible routing of the Meadowcreek Parkway.

 Also, the County is limited in its ability to control the size of churches, due to the federal Religious Land Uses and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA). Controlling the size of a religious facility, or denying it based on number of attendees, may be considered an improper restriction on that institution’s religious freedom. However, physical impacts of the development on the site and the surroundings can be addressed.

The character of the surrounding area is unusual, as it contains LI Light Industrial, HC Highway Commercial, and NR Natural Resource Overlay zoning within areas designated as Rural Areas in the Comprehensive Plan.

STAFF COMMENT:
Staff will address each provision of Section 31.2.4.1 of the Zoning Ordinance.

31.2.4.1: Special Use Permits provided for in this ordinance may be issued upon a finding by the Board of Supervisors that such use will not be of substantial detriment to adjacent property,

The more rural properties to the north are separated from this site by I-64. Since the directly adjacent properties to the south area already developed for commercial uses, the addition of a church and after-school child care is unlikely to create a substantial detriment. The Virginia Department of Transportation has stated that the proposed entrance improvements are sufficient to support the proposed uses.

that the character of the district will not be changed thereby and

Churches are a part of the character of the Rural Areas district. However, churches and other institutional facilities built to larger scales can change the character of the Rural Areas district by creating an intensity of use that is not typical for that area.

This property is located in the Entrance Corridor (EC) overlay zoning district. The proposal has been reviewed by the Design Planner, who has stated that the major remaining issue with this plan is the layout of the building and parking (see Attachment E for Design Planner comments). The large church building is surrounded by parking, giving the site a suburban appearance that is out of character with the Rural Areas and Entrance Corridor guidelines. Staff has recommended that the applicant move the building closer to Route 22 and place the parking behind the building. The applicant has not made this change, and has offered two explanations: (1) the site needed for the primary septic drainfield would be in front of the building, and moving the building would not leave enough drainfield areas to support the use; and (2) the applicant wishes to keep parking near the front of the building for easy access for members with limited mobility.

The details of building design and landscaping would be addressed by the Architectural Review Board during review of a site development plan for this use. However, a conceptual elevation of the proposed building is shown in Attachment D.

The current conceptual plan shows 180 parking spaces, which is significantly in excess of what would be needed for the 374-seat sanctuary. The applicants were sizing the parking lot for large or overlapping events on the site, and for a possible expansion to a 450-seat sanctuary in the future. The applicants have stated that they will address this by building only 150 parking spaces, with the extra 30 spaces to be removed from the northwest corner of the site. Removing the spaces from that area would not address the visual character of the design, but would avoid a conflict between grading for the parking lot and the necessary undisturbed buffer between this site and the adjoining RA property.

that such use will be in harmony with the purpose and intent of this ordinance,

Section 18, Chapter 10 of the Zoning Ordinance outlines the purpose of Rural Areas zoning:

“This district (hereafter referred to as RA) is hereby created and may hereafter be established by amendment of the zoning map for the following purposes: (Amended 11-8-89)

-Preservation of agricultural and forestal lands and activities;

-Water supply protection;

-Limited service delivery to the rural areas; and

-Conservation of natural, scenic, and historic resources. (Amended 11-8-89)”

With the exception of water-supply protection (which is not applicable in this location), this proposal  does not meet these purposes of the Rural Areas zoning district. However, the site is isolated from other more rural land by I-64 and is adjacent to commercial uses.

with uses permitted by right in the district,

The property is zoned RA, Rural Areas.  The uses permitted by right under RA Zoning directly support agriculture, forestry, and the conservation of rural land.  Part of the County’s vision for the RA districts includes the support of agricultural and forestal communities through community meeting places, at rural scales, that provide the opportunity to take part in community life. Although the proposed church is larger than the typical church in the Rural Areas, it is comparable to several Rural Area churches approved in the County that accommodate 250 to 300 attendees.

Child care applications are typically for smaller scales. However, the County approved SP 2006-22 Northridge Preschool, which requested a daycare facility with a daily maximum of 50 children and a total enrollment of 100.

with the additional regulations provided in section 5.0 of this ordinance,

There are no regulations in Section 5.0 of the Ordinance that apply to church buildings.

The following section applies to the proposed child-care use:

5.1.06 DAY CARE CENTER, FAMILY DAY HOME

Each day care center or family day home shall be subject to the following: (Added 10-3-01)

a. No such use shall operate without the required licensure by the Virginia Department of Social

Services. It shall be the responsibility of the owner/operator to transmit to the zoning

administrator a copy of the original license. Failure to do so shall be deemed willful

noncompliance with the provisions of this chapter; (Amended 10-3-01)

b. Periodic inspection of the premises shall be made by the Albemarle County fire official at his

discretion. Failure to promptly admit the fire official for such inspection shall be deemed

willful noncompliance with the provisions of this chapter; (Amended 10-3-01)

c. These provisions are supplementary and nothing stated herein shall be deemed to preclude

application of the requirements of the Virginia Department of Social Services, Virginia

Department of Health, Virginia State Fire Marshal, or any other local, state or federal agency.

(Amended 10-3-01)

These regulations are performance standards that would be applied after the applicants began the use on the site.

The proposed child-care operation would occur in the same building as the church, and would host up to 100 children from 1 to 6 p.m. on weekdays.

and with the public health, safety and general welfare.

The Virginia Department of Transportation has reviewed the conceptual plan for these uses, and has stated that the proposed improvements are sufficient for the church and child care. The applicant has shown a 310-foot right-turn lane in accord with VDOT’s request. In addition, VDOT staff has confirmed that the site design does not conflict with the planned reconstruction of the adjacent intersection of US 250 and Route 22.

The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) has indicated that the site has sufficient septic capacity to support the proposed use. Although a specific design has not been reviewed or approved, VDH staff has stated that there are multiple options for systems that would support the church and child-care uses. Community Development staff has verified with VDH that the proposed location of the primary drainfield under the parking lot in front of the church would be permitted by VDH.

SUMMARY:
Staff has identified the following factors favorable to these applications:

  1. Virginia Department of Transportation and Virginia Department of Health review indicates that the church and child-care uses can be supported on the site without negative impacts to public health and safety.
  2. This church would be located in an area already characterized by highway-related, commercial, and resource-extraction uses.

Staff has identified the following factors unfavorable to these applications:

1.       The proposed design, with parking surrounding the building, would create a suburban character in the Rural Areas and the Entrance Corridor. However, the location of the area needed for the primary septic drainfield prevents a rearrangement that would move the building forward and put parking behind the building.

2.       The proposed plan shows more parking than is typically necessary for a church of this scale. Staff has recommended a condition limiting the site to 150 parking spaces (as suggested by the applicant), rather than 180 (as shown on the plan).

 RECOMMENDED ACTION: 
Based on the findings contained in this staff report, staff recommends approval of Special Use Permit 2007-00034 First Church of the Nazarene (Church) under the following conditions:

  1. The church’s improvements and the scale and location of the improvements shall be developed in general accord with the conceptual plan entitled “Conceptual Master Plan, Charlottesville First Church of the Nazarene”, prepared by TCS Engineering Co., LLC, and dated “15AUG07.”, provided that:
    1. Entrance improvements shall be approved by VDOT prior to final site plan approval, and shall include a right-turn lane at the entrance.
    2. All parking setbacks and undisturbed buffers required by Zoning Ordinance section 21.7, Minimum Yard Requirements, shall apply; and
    3. The number of parking spaces shall not exceed 150 without amendment of this special use permit.
  2. The area of assembly shall be limited to a maximum 374-seat sanctuary.
  3. Facilities on the site shall be used for church activities and shall not be rented or used for separate commercial uses available to the public.
  4. All outdoor lighting shall be arranged or shielded to reflect light away from the abutting properties.
  5. Virginia Department of Health approval of well and septic systems.

Based on the findings contained in this staff report, staff recommends approval of Special Use Permit 2007-00035 First Church of the Nazarene (Child Care) under the following conditions:

  1. The maximum number of children shall not exceed one hundred (100) or the number of students as approved by the Health Department or the Department of Social Services, whichever is less.
  2. Entrance improvements shall be approved by VDOT prior to final site plan approval; and
  3. Virginia Department of Health approval of well and septic systems.

ATTACHMENTS
Attachment A
– Area Map
Attachment B – Detail Map
Attachment C – First Church of the Nazarene conceptual plan
Attachment D – Conceptual Building Elevation
Attachment E – Design Planner Comments

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