Project Name:  SUB 07-102 – Warthen Estates – Private Street authorization request

Staff: Summer Frederick, Allan Schuck, EIT

Planning Commission Public Hearing: 

September 18, 2007

Board of Supervisors Hearing:


Owners:  Benjamin or Terry Warthen

Applicant: Benjamin Warthen

Acreage: 98.364 Acres

Rezone from: Not applicable

Special Use Permit for: Not applicable

TMP: Tax Map 89, Parcels 72 and 72A

Location: Two (2) parcels, northwest of Ambrose Commons Drive, and accessed via a thirty (30) foot access easement.  Ambrose Commons Drive is a public street within the Mosby Mountain subdivision and intersects with Old Lynchburg Road approximately 1.0 mile south of the intersection of Old Lynchburg Road and 5th Street Extended.

By-right use: RA, Rural Areas

Magisterial District: Samuel Miller

Proffers/Conditions:  No

Requested # of Dwelling Units/Lots: 5

DA                             RA - X

Proposal: Request for approval of a private street in the Rural Areas in accordance with Sections 14-232 and 14-234

Comp. Plan Designation: Rural Areas in Rural Area 4

Character of Property:  Southeast facing heavily wooded mountainside

Use of Surrounding Properties:  Newly created four (4) to twenty-one (21)+ acre residential lots

Factors Favorable: 

Public street construction will result in significantly more environmental degradation.

A private street does not permit more development than a public street in Rural Areas.

Factors Unfavorable: 

Long term private maintenance of road not guaranteed. 

Staff is unable to make a positive finding that a private street will serve the general welfare.

Should the Planning Commission approve the requested waiver, staff recommends the following conditions:

  1. The private street must be designed in accord with the preferred option described by the applicant as, “TYPICAL PRIVATE STREET SECTION”.
  2. A maintenance agreement must be approved, as specified in Section 14-317 of the Subdivision Ordinance.



Applicant's Proposal:

The applicant requests preliminary plat approval to create five (5) lots on 98.364 acres. The property is zoned Rural Areas (RA).   The property, described as Tax Map 89 Parcels 72 and 72A is located in the Samuel Miller Magisterial District on Ambrose Commons Drive approximately 1.7 miles from the intersection of Ambrose Commons Drive and Old Lynchburg Road (State Route 631).  This proposal includes a request for authorization of a private street to serve these five (5) lots. 



SUB1998-070:  Subdivision of parent parcel TMP89-72 into two (2) lots, creating TMP 89-72A.  The resultant two (2) lots are 57.968 acres (TMP89-72) and 38.913 acres (TMP89-72A).  Five development rights were assigned to TMP89-72 and none were assigned to TMP89-72A. This division was approved on June 5, 1998. 



The Comprehensive Plan designates this property as Rural Areas in Rural Area 4.



The applicant requests the proposed street for this subdivision be approved as a private street.  As such, this application requires Planning Commission approval in accordance with Sections 14-232 and 14-234 of the Subdivision Ordinance.  If approved, the required standard for private streets is based on the total number of lots that the street will serve, as specified in Section 14-412. 


ANALYSIS OF SECTION 14-232(A)(1) To alleviate significant degradation to the environment.

The request for a private street in the Warthen Estates Subdivision, submitted according to Subdivision Ordinance sections 14-232 and 234 has been reviewed by engineering staff.  The existing parcels are serviced by an existing driveway located within a 30’ wide access easement.  This driveway is approximately 300’ in length and is a 10 to 12 feet wide gravel surfaced access.  The remainder of the proposed street alignment appears to follow an old abandoned logging road that contains significant vertical grades that vary from 10 to 30%.


The proposed street profiles and grading have been analyzed as follows: 


Description of Public and Proposed Private Street Standards and existing driveway:



VDOT Design Standards for Public Streets at Rolling Terrain

Proposed Design Standards for Private Streets at Mountainous Terrain

Existing Conditions of the Driveway

Length in miles




Width of section (feet)

Pavement +shoulder+shoulder

Min. pavement = 18 ft.

Min. shoulder = 4 ft.

Total width = 26 feet

Min. pavement = 18 ft.

Min. shoulder = 4 ft.

Total width = 26 feet

Gravel width varies from 10-12 ft.

Shoulder width = 0-2’

Total width = 10-14 ft.

Right-of-way or easement width

Min. R/W = 40 feet

Min. R/W = 40 feet

40’ to 50’ wide easement

Maximum grade

Max. grade = 10%

Max. grade = 16%

Station 12+50: 20%

Minimum CL radius

Min. Radius = 120 ft

Min. Radius = 120 ft

Min. Radius = 120 ft

Minimum Clear Zone

Min. Length = 6 ft.

Min. Length = 6 ft.

Length varies from 0 to 4 ft.



Description of public and private streets:



Public Street Design

Private Street  Design

Length in miles



Width of section (ft) pavement+shoulder+shoulder

18+2+2= 22’

18+2+2= 22’

Right-of-way or easement width



Maximum Grade



Side slope (horizontal:vertical)



Maximum fill height (ft)



Maximum cut height (ft)



Volume of fill (cubic yards)



Volume of cut (cy)



Volume of Earthwork (cy)



% increase in earthwork

Over 4,000%



These figures are based on the applicant's computations, as required by section 14-234A.1.  The applicant has not supplied field run profiles for this analysis.  The applicant has not submitted the actual computations.  The applicant supplied only final values for the amount of construction to occur. The applicant has shown that the total volume of grading for construction of a public street would be thirty (30) percent or more than that of a private street in the same alignment. 


Compliance with Subdivision Ordinance section 14-232A.1;


14-232A.1(i) property in the Rural Areas or Village Residential zoning district:  

The property is zoned Rural Areas.


14-232A.1(ii) private road would alleviate a clearly demonstrable danger of significant degradation to the environment: 

The applicant has demonstrated that the proposed public street design results in more than 30% more grading than the private street design.


14-232A.1(iii) no alternative public street alignment is available:

The existing driveway currently serves the property and its surrounding parcels.  It appears that no alternative public/private street alignment is available to serve this subdivision without redistributing existing lot lines of the subdivision or without disturbing more critical slopes.


14-232A.1(iv) no more lots are proposed on the private road than could be created on the public road:

It appears that the difference in right-of-way width and vertical alignment does not affect the lot yield in this subdivision.


14-232A.1.(a) the total volume of grading for construction of a public street would be thirty (30) percent or more than that of a private road in the same alignment:

The applicant has demonstrated that a public road along the same alignment would increase earthwork by more than 30%.  The applicant has stated that the proposed public street design results in approximately 4,000% more land disturbance than the private street design for a private street design.   Therefore, the Planning Commission may approve this request based on this finding.


14-232A.1.(b),Environmental impacts including, but no limited to, erosion and sedimentation, stormwater runoff, surface water pollution, loss of tree cover...:

In this case, environmental impacts, other than volume of earthwork, will not be significantly different between a public road and private road along the same alignment.  It appears that the critical slope disturbances would be roughly the same. 


ANALYSIS OF SECTION 14-232(A)(2) The lots will be used for non-residential or non-agricultural purposes.

The lots will be used for residential purposes; therefore this criterion is not applicable to this proposal.


ANALYSIS OF SECTION 14-232(A)(3) General welfare.

Approval of this private street does not allow for the creation of a larger number of residential lots in the Rural Areas than would otherwise be possible with a public street in the same location.


While a road maintenance agreement would be required if the proposed private street were to be approved, there remains the possibility that the private entity responsible for maintaining the street would not be able to continue proper upkeep.  Such a situation could result in a request that the public provide for necessary repairs and maintenance. 


Since both favorable and unfavorable factors have been identified under this section, staff is unable to make an overall positive finding that a private street will serve the general welfare.


SECTION 14-234:

Per Section 14-234(c), the Commission may authorize one or more private roads to be constructed in a subdivision if it finds that one or more of the circumstances described in section 14-232 exists and that (ordinance language presented in italics followed by staff comment):


1.       The private road will be adequate to carry the traffic volume which may be reasonably expected to be generated by the subdivision.

The applicant’s preferred option is to meet the standards in the Ordinance that apply to streets serving three to five lots, then taper down to the standard for streets serving two lots.  These standards will adequately serve the proposed number of lots in this subdivision.


2.       The comprehensive plan does not provide for a public street in the approximate location of the proposed private road;

The Comprehensive Plan does not provide for a public street in the location of this private street.


3.       The fee of the private road will be owned by the owner of each lot abutting the right-of-way thereof or by an association composed of the owners of all lots in the subdivision, subject in either case to any easement for the benefit of all lots served by the road;

Section 14-317 of the Subdivision Ordinance requires that a maintenance agreement be submitted for review by Planning Staff and the County Attorney in all situations where improvements are required to be maintained.  If this request is approved, a road maintenance agreement will be required for approval prior to final plat recordation.


4.       Except where required by the commission to serve a specific public purpose, the private road will not serve through traffic nor intersect the state highway system in more than one location; and

The private street will not serve through traffic, nor intersect the state highway system in more than one location.


5.       If applicable, the private road has been approved in accordance with section 30.3, flood hazard overlay district, of the zoning ordinance and other applicable law.

Not applicable.



Staff finds that a public street will result in significantly more environmental degradation, but will ensure acceptable long term maintenance.  With regards to the proposed private street, staff has determined it does not permit more lots than a public street, but is unable to make a positive finding that a private street will better serve the general welfare.




A -        Tax Map/Location Map

B -        Preliminary Subdivision Plat

C1 -        Applicant’s Request and Justification
C1 - Maps

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