ALBEMARLE COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT

STAFF REPORT

 

 

Proposal:  SP 07 - 26 Crozet Station

Staff:  Claudette Grant

Planning Commission Public Hearing: 

October 16, 2007 

Board of Supervisors Hearing:  November 14, 2007

Owners: Crozet Shopping Center, LLC (Sandra Everton)

Applicant: Crozet Shopping Center, LLC (Sandra Everton) with Gregory Solis, Atwood Architects

Acreage:  3.2 acres

Special Use Permit for: residential use in a C-1 commercial district and a parking structure addition to the northeast corner of the site.

TMP: TM: 56A2 Part 1 P: 01-29

Location: Crozet Shopping Center, north of Three Notch'd Road (Route 240); approx. ¼ mile east of its intersection with Rt. 810. (Attachments A & B)

By-right use: C-1 Commercial (retail sales and service uses; and residential use by special use permit (15 units/acre)           

Magisterial District: White Hall

Conditions: Yes   EC: Yes             

Proposal:  30 residential units to be located above the existing Crozet Shopping Center buildings and a parking structure addition to the northeast corner of the site.

Requested # of Dwelling Units: 30

DA (Development Area) Community of Crozet                        

Comp. Plan Designation: Community of Crozet: Downtown, CT 6- Urban Core

Character of Property:   Developed with mixed commercial uses and adjacent to historic resources; the site slopes down to a stream in rear of the property.

Use of Surrounding Properties:    Commercial, residential, library, emergency/rescue station, and railroad tracks.

Factors Favorable:

1.                               This proposal provides mixed-use to downtown Crozet as recommended in the Master Plan.

2.                               This proposal meets most of the principles of the Neighborhood Model including pedestrian orientation (on-site), buildings and spaces of human scale, relegated parking (for the new section), interconnections, affordability, redevelopment and centers.

 

Factors Unfavorable:

1.                               It is not yet known whether an interconnection to the east can be made.

2.                               The stream buffer is not clearly delineated on the plan. It appears that development is shown in a portion of the stream buffer and the stream buffer must be preserved.

3.                               Internal amenities have not been included in the plan.

4.                               Provisions for affordable housing have not been established.

5.                               Resolution is needed on the level of improvements needed to Rt. 240.

6.                               Provisions for stormwater management are needed.

7.                               Utility and landscape conflicts have not been resolved across the frontage to ensure that street trees can be provided.

1.       1.

RECOMMENDATION: Staff cannot recommend approval of the special use permit until it is clear that the elements shown on the plan can be accomplished, amenities for residents are identified, it is clear how affordable housing will be provided, and it is clear what level of improvement (if any) will be needed for Rt. 240.  

If the Planning Commission believes it can recommend approval at this time, staff recommends that the following items become conditions of approval:

 

1.                   Development shall be in general accord with the concept plan entitled, “Crozet Station, prepared by Atwood Architects, Inc. dated May 23, 2007”.

2.                   The final site plan shall not be approved until the applicant has provided evidence that an easement has been executed to provide inter-parcel access to the property to the east.

3.                   There shall be no disturbance of the stream buffer.

4.                   Affordable housing shall be provided in keeping with the County’s affordable housing policy.  (This item must be addressed prior to the Board of Supervisors’ meeting because it isn’t known how the applicant intends to accomplish provision of affordable units.)

5.                   Residential amenities such as an outdoor plaza, paved path to the greenway, or civic green area shall be provided, to the satisfaction of the Planning Director.

6.                   Street trees along Route 240 shall be provided as shown on the concept plan. 

7.                   The final site plan shall not be approved until the applicant has provided an access area to the greenway dedication in the north-west section of the property.

8.                   Water quality and water quantity treatment shall be based on an assumed pre-existing cover of 20% for the site.

Wording of these conditions may change prior to the Planning Commission meeting.  Staff notes that, if workable stormwater management concepts are not provided in advance of Board of Supervisors’ action and if widening of Rt. 240 for right and left turn lanes is needed, the plan may not be able to be accomplished as shown.  

 

 

 

 

STAFF PERSON:                                                                              Claudette Grant

PLANNING COMMISSION:                                                              October 16, 2007

BOARD OF SUPERVISORS:                                                           November 14, 2007

SP2007-026: CROZET STATION

 

Petition:

PROJECT: SP 2007-00026 Crozet Station

PROPOSED: 30 residential units to be located above the existing Crozet Shopping Center buildings and a parking structure addition to the northeast corner of the site.

ZONING CATEGORY/GENERAL USAGE: C-1 Commercial - retail sales and service uses; and residential use by special use permit (15 units/ acre)

SECTION: 18.22.2.2.6 uses permitted the R15 Zoning District (15 units/acre) and 18.22.2.2.9 Parking Structure

COMPREHENSIVE PLAN LAND USE/DENSITY:   Community of Crozet; designated CT 6 Urban Core, which allows for a mix of commercial, office, retail, and other uses along with residential uses up to 18 units an acre and up to 36 units an acre in a mixed used setting, according to the Crozet Master Plan.

ENTRANCE CORRIDOR: Yes

LOCATION:  Crozet Shopping Center, north of Three Notch'd Road (Route 240); approx. ¼ mile east of its intersection with Rt. 810

TAX MAP/PARCEL: 56A2-01-29

MAGISTERIAL DISTRICT: White Hall

 

Character of the Area and Adjoining properties:

The proposal involves a portion of Downtown Crozet that includes the Downtown businesses and an area that contributes to the current character of Downtown Crozet. The buildings located on the site vary in age and architecture, with some buildings in need of renovation.

 

West of the site across Route 810 is the Dairy Queen/gas station, which is a site that was redeveloped in 2000. Across Rt. 240 from the Crozet Station project area is the Crozet Library. The railroad tracks separate this portion of Downtown from the Square and Barnes Lumber. The site to the east has an approved site plan for one three-story office building totaling 19,500 square feet and a one-story bank of 3,090 square feet. Behind the Crozet Station properties is a creek and wooded area that separates the site from the residents in the Wayland Park subdivision. Also located adjacent to the site is the Western Albemarle Rescue Squad.

 

Specifics of Proposal                                                                                                                                         The site is currently developed with a mix of commercial uses. The applicant proposes to add 30 units on top of the existing commercial buildings and a parking structure to the rear of the property. Interconnections are also proposed to adjacent properties on both sides of the site.

 

Background:

A pre-application work session with the Planning Commission was held on May 30, 2006 in order to get the public involved in providing input on redevelopment of the site and to review the applicant’s intent for the site with Crozet Master Plan recommendations. During the pre-application work session, the Commission discussed possible demolition of contributing structures to the possible future historic district in order for new development to occur. Generally, the Commission felt that there should be a major effort toward preservation of the buildings in the area proposed for redevelopment. The Commission also felt that the proposed mix of residential and commercial/retail uses was appropriate. The Commission suggested reorientation of the portion of the site that contains the existing IGA and large parking area towards Route 240. Relegation of parking on the eastern portion of the property was also suggested as well as incorporation of the green area to the rest of the site and the provision of additional information regarding the relationship of residential units with urban open space or amenities.

Since the work session, the applicant decided to split the redevelopment of the shopping center into three phases and apply for a special use permit for residential uses in a commercial district as phase one. A work session with the Planning Commission was also held on August 28, 2007 in order for the Commission to provide guidance on design and layout, mixture of housing types and affordability, and scale of buildings. (See attachment C) During the worksession staff asked the following questions (shown in bold italics), which are followed by the Commission’s response:

 

Does the Planning Commission find the design and layout of the site appropriate, particularly as it relates to relegated parking?

 

Most members believed that parking is appropriately relegated on the site with the parking garage at the rear.

 

Should there be a mixture of types within this development and a provision of affordable units?

 

The unit types proposed is acceptable and the Planning Commission noted that the applicant said that more than 15% would be affordable.

 

Is the height and massing of the buildings appropriate?

 

The height and massing of the buildings is appropriate.  The Planning Commission did not agree with the ARB recommendations for 2-story buildings for retaining views of the mountains. The Planning Commission said that the perspectives that had the support of the community were the ones that should be used.

 

Applicant’s Justification for the Request:

The applicant believes that providing a residential component to this shopping center will help to revitalize it.

 

Planning and Zoning History:

The buildings were built in 1967, and the property was zoned commercial business prior to 1980. Over the last 25 to 30 years a variety of zoning clearances, site plans, and subdivisions have occurred on the site for various business uses located there.

 

Comprehensive Plan:

Crozet Station is located in Downtown Crozet, which is one of the major themes of importance in the Crozet Master Plan. The following is an analysis and additional details regarding this project and its relation to the Crozet Master Plan:

 

Crozet Master Plan:

Crozet Station is located in Downtown Crozet and one of the major themes of the Master Plan is the importance of Downtown. Downtown is a distinct place-type in Crozet and is intended to exhibit greater density and formal design than a Neighborhood/Village or Hamlet. It is the commercial “hub” for Crozet. Downtown historically has been Crozet’s “district-wide” focal point for cultural and commercial activities. It is the largest place-type in Crozet (approximately equal in area to three neighborhoods). Its core, where the neighborhood centers coalesce, exhibits the greatest degree of mixing, density, and intensity of development in Crozet. Downtown is the largest and most important place-type in Crozet, and the Master Plan indicates that implementation efforts should focus on the redevelopment of this area.

 

The Crozet Station properties are designated CT 6 Urban Core. The range of land uses recommended for CT 6 is very open, but expected to be primarily commercial in character.  Residential building types may include apartment buildings, row houses, townhouses, accessory units, live work units and apartments over non-residential uses. Suggested net densities are up to 18 units an acre and up to 36 units an acre, if in a mixed-use setting.  A range of non-residential uses are intended for Downtown, including office, all retail services, and civic support.  Table 1 and Table 2 from the Crozet Master Plan are included to provide the full range of design guidelines and land uses for Downtown Crozet. (See Attachment E)

 

For purposes of the Master Plan, the Community of Crozet is considered as three geographic sectors in which future development and redevelopment projects are focused. They are the Downtown, the area west of Crozet Avenue and the area east of Crozet Avenue. Applicable statements from the Crozet Master Plan for the Downtown Crozet are below. 

 

The Master Plan recommends initial development in the Downtown area should emphasize the completion of the sidewalk system (per the recommendations of the Anhold Crozet Downtown Sidewalk and Parking Study of 2001), placement of the new library on Crozet Avenue, and creation of the first two blocks of Main Street. Current County initiatives underway include the library project, sidewalk improvements, purchase of a property for Main Street, and exploring solutions to stormwater management and parking in Downtown, and discussing pedestrian crossings with the railroad.

 

A guiding principle of the Crozet Master Plan is that Crozet values the contributions of locally grown business in providing both jobs and enhanced quality of life for residents. The Crozet Station site currently contains a substantial number of local businesses. Any development proposal on the property should be structured in a manner that does not displace those businesses during construction and allows them to remain viable following any new construction.  The Business Development Facilitator has been working with the applicant on how this may be addressed in future development plans for the properties and has noted that a residential component to the program may help keep costs lower for existing businesses, with any new construction projects.

 

Specific recommendations and tasks identified in the Master Plan for Downtown include the following:

 

o        Allow mixed-use, infill development in support of downtown.

o        Implement sidewalk plan (per Downtown Sidewalk and Parking Study)

o        Construct the new library on the west side of Crozet Avenue near Mountainside.

o        Convert current library (depot) to civic center function, perhaps as a museum.

o        Construct Main Street by building the first segment from Crozet Avenue to the Barnes Lumber property. (This will take trucks off “the Square.”)

o        Develop guidelines for renovating historic structures and for new buildings (scale, materials, setbacks), and initiate establishment of a Historic District.

o        Encourage development in blocks adjacent to downtown core.

o        Create bike lanes to and in downtown.

o        Create downtown community green at “the Square.”

o        Develop signage for greenway trails.

o        Create a pedestrian railroad crossing in downtown core (below or above grade).

o        Explore alternatives to current underpass at Crozet Avenue.

o        As opportunities arise for redevelopment of the lumber yard, focus on a mixed-use form that emphasizes employment.

 

Green Infrastructure Map from the Crozet Master Plan: The Green Infrastructure Map identifies a proposed greenway running behind the Crozet Station properties along Parrot Branch.

 

Principles of the Neighborhood Model -- Conformity with the Neighborhood Model is assessed below.

 

Pedestrian Orientation

A sidewalk exists across the front of the site, adjacent to Route 240. The applicant proposes sidewalks adjacent to the two access ways for the site. A pedestrian way is also shown at the rear of the site that will eventually connect to phases two and three. There is also an expectation that there will be provisions for pedestrian safety, such as crosswalks that are internal and external to the site. Full redevelopment of the site would result in buildings being located closer to Route 240. Since no redevelopment is proposed for the existing parking lot staff believes this principle is met.

Neighborhood Friendly Streets and Paths

While street trees are shown on the plan, questions remain about whether they can be planted. This principle is not met.

 

Interconnected Streets and Transportation Networks

Near the northwest corner of the property there is a vehicle and pedestrian way shown that is to continue across phases two and three. This would serve as an interconnection for the site. There is also an interconnection shown on the eastern portion of the site. The adjacent property owner to the east has recently voiced concern with staff regarding the eastern interconnection.  The adjacent property owner is concerned that traffic flow in this portion of the site could be problematic if this interconnection is depicted as the main entry into the shopping center because this interconnection is located near a bank and drive-thru. This interconnection is shown on the approved site plan for the adjacent site. Staff feels the interconnection on this site is very important. This principle is met; however, if the connection is not made, relocating the connection would require an amendment to the site plan for the adjacent property where construction is now taking place. Also it would require redesign of the proposed plan. An executed easement will need to be provided.

 

Parks and Open Space

 

As previously mentioned in this report, during the pre-application work session in May 2006, the Planning Commission had an expectation for the incorporation of open space/amenities for the site. The applicant has not provided any park and open space amenities. Staff suggests parks and open space include the Greenway (terminus), commons, or a plaza amenity, where commercial activity is on the ground floor. There is also a required 100-foot stream buffer along the rear property lines and opportunities to provide greenway connections both parallel to Parrot Creek or across to connect the neighborhoods north of Downtown as recommended in the Crozet Master Plan. With the adjacent approved site plan, parks staff received a greenway dedication for a strip of land that runs east-west on property behind the subject site. In order to access the greenway from this site there is a need for this property owner to provide an access point to the dedicated greenway near the north-west portion of the site. The details or specifics of this access area will need to be determined prior to the Board of Supervisors meeting.

 

Neighborhood Centers

This property is located in Downtown Crozet, which is intended to be a center for several neighborhoods and a central place in Crozet. This principle is met.

 

Buildings and Spaces of Human Scale

The Master Plan recommends 2-4 stories from main level and up to 5 stories by exception for Downtown Crozet. The applicant is proposing two and three story buildings with a full roof. Although the Architectural Review Board (ARB) expressed a preference for one additional story on the western portion of the building in order to protect the mountain views, the Planning Commission felt the massing and height of the buildings as proposed by the applicant are appropriate. This principle is met.

 

Relegated Parking

Parking is not relegated in the portion of the property that is adjacent to Route 240. However, structured parking provides relegation, so all new parking is proposed to be relegated. The existing parking on the site is not ideal, but staff believes that the proposed layout, does preserve the opportunity for redevelopment of a commercial area on Three Notch’d Road.   

 

Mixture of Uses

 

This project is proposing a mix of both residential and commercial uses. This principle is met.

 

 

Mixture of Housing Types and Affordability

The applicant proposes only one type of housing: multifamily; however, single-family residential uses are nearby. Provisions for affordable housing have not been shown on the plan or provided by the applicant. Based on prior actions of the Board of Supervisors for affordable units where a special use permit for residential use has been requested, the proposal would be expected to meet the affordable housing policy goals. The applicant has indicated that the apartments will be affordable, but there has been no commitment as yet to providing affordable units.

 

Redevelopment

The applicant has indicated that the existing commercial buildings would remain on the site and that the residential buildings would be built above the existing buildings. The applicant has also indicated that the existing buildings would be renovated with the addition of space. This principle is met.

 

Site Planning that Respects Terrain

The site is sloping in some locations. However, the majority of the additions to the site will occur above the existing buildings with exception of the parking structure. This principle is met.

 

Clear Boundaries with the Rural Areas

The project is located entirely with in the Community of Crozet and the nearest boundary with the Rural Area is north of Downtown at the Crozet Elementary School northern property boundary. This principle is not applicable. 

 

   

 

Crozet Density Table:

Since the Crozet Master Plan is so open with regard to uses and level of density in the Downtown, staff is not concerned with the uses proposed or the residential densities. The parameters established during the build-out analysis completed by staff for Crozet are a helpful tool in evaluating the appropriate level of residential development in Downtown.

 

 

Staff Comment:

Staff will address each provision of Section 31.2.4.1 of the Zoning Ordinance as follows:

 

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

The proposed residential use and parking structure are not expected to have detrimental impacts on the adjacent properties. This property as well as the surrounding property varies in commercial and residential uses. The proposed residential use and parking structure are consistent with the recommendations of the Crozet Master Plan for the Downtown Crozet area.

 

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

The existing site is commercial in use. There will be an addition of residential units over the existing commercial uses and a new parking structure will be added to the site. Staff believes that the residential use will provide a change for the site, although there are some residential uses located in the vicinity. The parking structure is appropriate for the commercial aspect of the site. The visual character of the district will be somewhat different than it currently is, but it will not be detrimental to the area, but rather an enhancement to have a residential component to the downtown area. 

 

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

The C-1 commercial district allows Residential - R-15 and stand alone parking and parking structures by special use permit (Section 22.2.2). The intent of the C-1 district is to permit selected retail sales, service and public use establishments which are primarily oriented to central business concentrations. C-1 districts are intended for urban area, communities and villages. Allowing the residential and parking structure uses in this area will add an element of mixed uses to Downtown Crozet that are in keeping with the recommendations of the Crozet Master Plan.

 

with uses permitted by right in the district,  

Allowing the proposed uses should be a relatively low impact to the existing commercial uses already on the property. Adding the residential use and parking structure will enhance the downtown character, the Crozet Master Plan calls for. The impact of these uses is therefore viewed as compatible with the commercial uses allowed in the C-1 District.

 

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

Section 5.1.41 PARKING LOTS AND PARKING STRUCTURES states that “A site plan shall be required for each parking lot and parking structure, unless the requirement is waived as provided in section 32.2.2.” A waiver has not been requested. A site plan will be expected.

 

and with the public health, safety and general welfare.

The public health, safety, and general welfare of the community are protected through the special use permit process which assures that uses approved by special use permit are appropriate in the location requested.

 

There are four issues which should be resolved prior to approval of the special use permit. In all four cases the applicant has been requested to make changes. The first has to do with stormwater management. The County Engineer has said that the conceptual plan gives no details regarding intended treatment of water quality and quantity. Staff recommends that the applicant provide water quality and quantity treatment based on an assumed pre-existing cover of 20% for the site, which is a higher standard than can be required at the site plan stage but is viewed as necessary for water quality.

 

The second issue has to do with improvements to Route 240. Left turn lanes are needed on Route 240 or a warrant study should be performed with projected traffic at build out to establish the minimum required improvements. Staff cannot require this, at the site plan stage but believes it to be a necessary improvement for safety.

 

 

The third issue relates to an access easement needed from the adjoining owner. This plan shows abandonment of an existing entrance and establishment of a new interparcel connection with property owned by others (TM 56A2-1-30). While the applicant has verbally indicated that they have obtained an easement from the adjacent property owner, staff has not seen one. Staff suggests we receive a copy of written permission for the interparcel connection at this time. If permission for the interparcel connection does not get granted, it could be considered a significant change from the approval, warranting an amendment to the special use permit.   

 

The fourth issue relates to stream buffer disturbance.  The plan appears to show a travel way in the stream buffer. No disturbance of the buffer is recommended and this issue needs to be clarified now.

 

Architectural Review Board Issues:

As previously mentioned the Design Planner has identified a problem related to landscaping along Route 240. Easements along the entrance corridor (EC) frontage are not clearly shown. The plan includes planting along a portion of the EC frontage, which could be difficult to provide if there is not enough room in this portion of the site. Although the applicant would prefer to handle this issue during site plan review, staff recommends:

 

a.                                          The planting requirements along the EC frontage should be determined with the SP. This should not wait until site plan review.

b.                                          The frontage planting should meet the EC Guidelines.

c.                                          The planting area should be increased as necessary to coordinate with utilities.

 

A clear indication of utility locations would facilitate the resolution of this issue.

 

Summary:

 

Staff has identified the following factors favorable to this application:

1.      This proposal provides mixed-use to downtown Crozet as recommended in the Master Plan.

2.      The proposal meets most of the principles of the Neighborhood Model including pedestrian orientation (on-site), buildings and spaces of human scale, relegated parking (for the new section), interconnections, affordability, redevelopment and centers.

 

Staff has identified the following factors unfavorable to this application:

1.                  It is not yet known whether an interconnection to the east can be made.

2.                  The stream buffer is not clearly delineated on the plan. It appears that development is shown in

            a portion of the stream buffer and the stream buffer must be preserved.   

3.                  Internal amenities have not been included in the plan.

4.                  Provisions for affordable housing have not been established.

5.                   Resolution is needed on the level of improvements needed to Rt. 240.

6.                   Provisions for stormwater management are needed.

7.                   Utility and landscape conflicts have not been resolved across the frontage to ensure that street

trees can be provided.

 

Recommended Action:

Staff cannot recommend approval of the special use permit until it is clear that the elements shown on the plan can be accomplished, amenities for residents are identified, it is clear how affordable housing will be provided, and it is clear what level of improvement (if any) will be needed for Rt. 240.  

 

If the Planning Commission believes it can recommend approval at this time, staff recommends that the following items become conditions of approval:

 

1.      Development shall be in general accord with the concept plan entitled, “Crozet Station, prepared by Atwood Architects, Inc. dated May 23, 2007”.

2.      The final site plan shall not be approved until the applicant has provided evidence that an easement has been executed to provide inter-parcel access to the property to the east.

3.      There shall be no disturbance of the stream buffer.

4.      Affordable housing shall be provided in keeping with the County’s affordable housing policy.  (This item must be addressed prior to the Board of Supervisors’ meeting because it isn’t known how the applicant intends to accomplish provision of affordable units.)

5.      Residential amenities such as an outdoor plaza, paved path to the greenway, or civic green area shall be provided, to the satisfaction of the Planning Director.

6.      Street trees along Route 240 shall be provided as shown on the concept plan. 

7.      The final site plan shall not be approved until the applicant has provided an access area to the greenway dedication in the north-west section of the property.

8.      Water quality and water quantity treatment shall be based on an assumed pre-existing cover of 20% for the site.

Wording of these conditions may change prior to the Planning Commission meeting.  Staff notes that, if workable stormwater management concepts are not provided in advance of Board of Supervisors’ action and if widening of Rt. 240 for right and left turn lanes is needed, the plan may not be able to be accomplished as shown.  

 

ATTACHMENTS

 

Attachment A – Tax Map

Attachment B – Vicinity Map

Attachment C – Action Memo from the August 28, 2007 Planning Commission meeting

Attachment D – Proposed Plan dated May 23, 2007

Attachment E – Tables 1 and 2 from the Crozet Master Plan

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