Albemarle County Planning Commission

October 16, 2007

                                        

The Albemarle County Planning Commission held a meeting and a public hearing on Tuesday, October 16, 2007, at 6:00 p.m., at the County Office Building, Lane Auditorium, Second Floor, 401 McIntire Road, Charlottesville, Virginia.

 

Members attending were Jon Cannon, Bill Edgerton, Calvin Morris, Vice-Chairman; Marcia Joseph, Chairman; Eric Strucko; Duane Zobrist and Pete Craddock. Mr. Craddock arrived at 7:25 p.m. Mr. Strucko left at 7:33 p.m.  Julia Monteith, AICP, Senior Land Use Planner for the University of Virginia was absent. 

 

Other officials present were Wayne Cilimberg, Planning Director; Claudette Grant, Principal Planner; Rebecca Ragsdale, Senior Planner; Elaine Echols, Principal Planner; Lee Catlin, Community Relations Manager; Harrison Rue, Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission and Greg Kamptner, Deputy County Attorney

 

Call to Order and Establish Quorum:

 

Ms. Joseph called the meeting to order at 6:02 p.m. and established a quorum.

 

            Public Hearing Items:

 

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

(Claudette Grant)

 

Ms. Grant presented a power point presentation and summarized the staff report.

 

·         The applicant is requesting a special use permit for 30 residential units in a C-1, Commercial District and a parking structure addition to the northeast corner of the site. The property is located in the Crozet Shopping Center north of Three Notch’d Road, also known as Route 240  The purpose of the public hearing is for the Commission to act on the applicant’s request for a special use permit for residential use in a commercial district and a parking structure addition.  This is located in the development area in the community of Crozet.

·         The 30 residential units are proposed to be located above the existing Crozet Shopping Center buildings.  The Commission held a pre-application work session on May 30, 2006 and a work session on August 28, 2007.  The staff report explains in detail the results of these work sessions.

 

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.  Staff handed out a copy of the applicant’s response to the unfavorable items.

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 storm water management are needed.

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

 

In the applicant’s response there are answers to several of these outstanding issues.  However, several items are still outstanding.

 

At this point staff cannot recommend approval of the special use permit until it is clear that the elements shown on the plan can be accomplished, the 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.

  1. Wording of these conditions may change prior to the Planning Commission meeting.  Staff notes that, if workable storm water 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.  

 

Ms. Joseph asked if there were any questions for staff.

 

Mr. Edgerton asked staff to elaborate on the issues that have not been addressed in the applicant’s response.

 

Ms. Grant noted that staff just received this information today.  Therefore, other staff has not looked at this.  Therefore, she was responding out of her quick look at the response letter. 

1.       Regarding the interconnection the applicant has provided an easement in the packet.  That is issue is more than likely resolved.

2.       Regarding the internal amenities, there still needs to be some level of clarity in terms of commitment.  The applicant has said several things that that they will provide, but staff does not have a commitment to those provisions.

3.       Resolution is still needed as to level of improvements needed to Route 240.

4.       Provisions for storm water management are with the County Engineer for review, but he has not had a chance to review that information.

5.       The utility and landscape conflicts are still an issue that staff is hoping for some guidance from the Commission on this evening.

 

Mr. Zobrist said that it appears that this is a little premature.  These are all issues that can be resolved that staff is working on.  Staff has not had the information to get them resolved until now.

 

Ms. Grant noted that was correct.

 

Mr. Cannon asked if the issues that staff did not address ones based on her preliminary review are okay, such as the stream buffer.

 

Ms. Grant replied that was correct.  Based on her quick review of that and affordable housing she was okay with it.

 

Mr. Morris asked if staff just received the information today and had not had a chance to review it thoroughly, and Ms. Grant replied that was correct.

 

Ms. Joseph opened the public hearing and invited the applicant to address the Commission.

 

Bill Atwell and Ashley Cooper presented a power point presentation and explained the proposal. 

 

·         A diagram of the proposal was presented.  It was noted that they still have to go back to the Crozet Committee to get this piece verified.  In an attempt to save the longstanding and very loyal tenants in this particular part of the shopping center they decided to go the special use permit route and address what they think is the addition of the housing and the parking, which was settled last time to be placed in the rear per the wishes of the Commission.  The back of the site is not very well organized.  Therefore, they feel that it needs to stay where it is and not be pushed towards to the road.  The arcade is where the amenities will be located.

 

·         In a meeting with staff and VDOT they felt right up until Friday afternoon that they had met all of the needs on Route 240 to include the request to take out one entry and to emphasize the interparcel link with the bank.  They have done a parking study that will allow them to do a phase 1A, which they have committed to staff over the past year.  Phase 1A will be a piece that will be on the street, which they will bring to the Commission after this as part of their full development of this particular tract.

 

·         As you know the actual ultimate look of what creates Crozet  to be in the future stems from the committee work with the 14 folks and many meetings that have picked  this particular collection of architect together to create what they think is the look.   It is a wide variety and is an architectural challenge.    They went to the ARB and have been trying to incorporate their comments.

 

·         The conceptual plan is the same except for one exception.  They had a conversation with the next door neighbor who was selling to the bank.  They think that the first right turn in is going to be at that bank, but the primary entrance to the shopping facility will be where the arrows are shown.  Again, in their discussions with the staff and VDOT the road seemed wide enough to maintain all of the future wants for the property.  Ms. Cooper will respond to each of the concerns, which they received on Friday.

 

Ashley Cooper continued the power point presentation.

 

·         A parking study is being done on this lot to plan for future phases.  They have been looking at it on week days and weekend during the morning, noon and night.  During the lunch hour they are seeing the parking lot about half full. Through that study they are going to be able to do a 20 percent parking reduction on this site and still provide the 194 spaces for now, but only 156 are actually required at this.   She reviewed the 7 issues listed as unfavorable factors on their plan. 

1.       The first one was the access easement that was on the parcel to the east.  She pointed out both the approved site plan and the recorded easement on that to ensure to the Commission that they do have the interconnection that is needed on the site. 

2.       Secondly, she pointed out the stream buffer to be clear that they are having zero impact on the stream buffer for this site.  The sheet S3/4 is the best one to look at.  Their paving and parking area stop short of that stream buffer. 

3.       Storm water management – They are committed to providing water quality and quantity treatment that will assume a pre-existing impervious cover of 20 percent, which is what has been requested. They will also provide filter units and underground detention.

4.       Internal amenities – She highlighted their arcade feature.  They are providing benches and green spaces for gardens. They are happy to provide any connection to the green spaces behind the site.

5.       Landscaping – On the frontages they do have some challenges with existing water line easements and power lines.  But, they are committed to doing an above ground planter.  So they can include ornamental trees.  They have spoken with VDOT and have 50’ of right-of-way in front of their site.  So there is room to do any of the lanes that the County may be requesting.  They are willing to provide more width on the frontage of their site.

6.       Affordable Housing – They are committed to providing 15 percent of the units as affordable housing and the rest of the units to be work force housing. 

 

Ms. Joseph asked if there were any questions for the applicant.

 

Mr. Strucko said that if the proposal is to reduce the number of parking spaces here is that consistent with what the longer range plan is for the downtown Crozet area.  If the point is to encourage pedestrian traffic to move through downtown and the access the other businesses and restaurants in the area, wouldn’t parking be an issue and wouldn’t they want to preserve the number of spaces there.

 

Ms. Cooper replied that they were interested in providing a mixed use environment here.  What they have found is that the uses are actually complimentary. They have not definitely said that they would take those spaces away, but they want to look at that mixed use nature in actually allowing people to get out and walk to multiple destinations while they are there. 

 

Mr. Strucko noted that 120 spaces would enable that more than 80.  Wouldn’t more parking spaces enable that to have people not only come to this facility, but also move down to Three Notched Grill, the Crozet Pizza or any of the other businesses along that road?

 

Ms. Cooper said that as they move through the phases of this site they will be looking at the parking needs for all of those uses.

 

Mr. Strucko asked if they were proposing to scale back 20 percent of the existing parking with this proposal.

 

Ms. Cooper replied that this proposal is still providing all 194 spaces.  So it has actually increased from 136 spaces to 194 spaces.

 

Mr. Strucko noted that this is increasing the parking. 

 

Mr. Zobrist noted that included additional parking in a parking structure in the back.

 

Mr. Strucko said that the road frontage along Route 240 has an existing sidewalk.  He asked if the VDOT right-of-way would threaten that existing sidewalk in any way.

 

Ms. Cooper replied no.  The sidewalk is actually located on the Crozet Station property.  So the right-of-way is beyond that.  The sidewalk is on the private property. 

 

Mr. Strucko asked if the right-of-way comes short of the sidewalk.

 

Ms. Cooper replied yes, that any changes to the right-of-way would not impact the sidewalk. 

 

Ms. Joseph noted that she had said that the pavement won’t be in the stream buffer, but what about the grading.

 

Mr. Atwood replied no, they would not have to grade into the stream buffer.

 

Mr. Strucko asked if this proposal was to add 30 residential units to an existing commercial zoning.

 

Ms. Cooper replied yes, that the 30 units would go on top of the retail space.

 

There being no further questions, Ms. Joseph invited other public comment.  There being none, the public hearing was closed and the matter before the Commission.

 

Ms. Joseph said that she did not like receiving information so late because she had not had enough time to read this.  It is a lot of information here.  She was having a real hard time with this particular method of giving the Commission information like this at the meeting.  The other thing she was having a hard time with was seeing what the Board decision was on Wednesday and they are adding more residential space to this.  One of the things that they were supposed to be doing was taking a look at using our growth areas and also trying to slow down the growth in the rural areas.  Therefore, she was having a hard time looking at anything that adds more residential to our growth areas.

 

Mr. Strucko shared Ms. Joseph’s sentiment.  He had been operating the past 2 years that they were to rezone the designated growth areas to handle the development, but he was hoping at the same time simultaneously that they would be taking direct action to preserve the rural character of Albemarle County.  He, too, was disappointed in what happened last Wednesday at the Board meeting where no action was taken on that second leg of the policy.  He did not know if he could continue to ask growth area residents to shoulder the burden of the development.  It seems to violate the informal bargain that they made that they are channeling growth into designated growth areas, that there will be infrastructure, but that the benefit to the community was to preserve the rural areas.   Now he does not have the guarantees that second step is actually happening.  Therefore, he did not know if he was comfortable asking growth area residents to shoulder the burden of more development and more dense growth if that second piece is not happening. So any kind of rezoning or special use permits that they will be considering that would add more density and more burdens that he was inclined to not favor at this time.

 

Mr. Morris said that he liked the design, but the points are well taken.

 

Mr. Cannon said that he was disappointed in what happened last week, too.  But, he felt that they have to take these things on their merits under the existing rules. It appears that all of the questions are not answered for this.    It appears to be a considered concept, but he thought that they need the questions answered before they act to approve it.  He did not know how they could act otherwise.    He asked what the options are and whether the applicant would like to like to defer it until the questions are answered or whether they move to deny it understanding that it could come back with questions answered.

 

Mr. Zobrist said that the Commission is a resource to the Board.  Whatever the Board chooses to do they are a resource to them and they will follow what they plan to do.   He did not see anybody from Crozet objecting to this project.  He disagreed with Ms. Joseph, but felt that the Commission would enforce the bargain from this stand point.  They have a principle that they will push development into the development areas and they will do everything that they can to slow it down in the rural areas.  They still have a lot of tools to slow it down until the Board figures out exactly where they want to go.  In this particular situation they have had a tremendous amount of Crozet community involvement.  He lived in Crozet and felt that everyone has bought off on the idea that they are going to have higher density there with a lot of amenities that go with it.  This is just one of them.  They have done a very good job of designing it.    He liked the design.  There a few bugs to be worked out in order to get it done right.  He did not think they should hold off and penalize them until the Board decides where they politically want to go.

 

Ms. Joseph agreed that he was probably right in a lot of what he was saying, but she felt that things should be absolutely the best they can possibly be before they decide to approve anything.   She felt that was what the community deserves. If they are going to have growth areas that are very dense, then it needs to be the absolute best.  She did not think that this proposal is ready.

 

Mr. Zobrist agreed that there were some things to be worked out.  But, from the standpoint conceptually he felt that it was great.  It needs to be deferred while staff works out these open questions, which appear to be resolvable.  He felt that good things are happening out there and he was adjusting to the higher density life in Crozet.

 

Mr. Strucko noted that a lot of parts of this are a very creative redevelopment of an existing parcel.  They certainly do favor redevelopment.  It is not just redevelopment, but redevelopment plus additional density here in the designated growth area.  In his position as advisory to the Board his advice is not to add any more density to the growth area until rural area policy is settled.

 

Mr. Edgerton said that he was very distressed with the decision and action taken last week. He did not believe that they could put a halt to everything that occurs until the political time is right for the Board to take action on this.  He hoped that those ordinance changes would be reconsidered in the future because they are very necessary. As far as this project he feels that it is a very creative solution. What is being proposed is a tremendous improvement over what is there now. He sensed a real frustration on the applicant’s part about the deliberate process that they have to follow as far as engaging all of the different agencies in the county.  It is unfortunate that when they provide a submittal on September 17 and they don’t get an official response until October 13.  Then they have a day and a half to respond to it.  That would be a very frustrating experience.  Listening hard to the applicant’s response to the 7 points that have been made he thought that if they did take the alternative in the staff report of approving this conditionally that all of these issues be addressed, he felt frankly that the applicant would be at a bit of a risk. Basically, they are promising to do whatever is required.  If the engineers look at and say that their estimate of what would be required for storm water management is not enough, then all of a sudden they were going to be hammered with maybe a lot more than they are expecting to do.  He would prefer to defer action.  But, of course, under State Code they cannot do that unless the applicant voluntarily asks for that the deferral.  He would hope that the applicant would consider that.  But, before they ask the applicant if they would consider requesting a deferral he would like to ask staff if they could give us a response on how long it would take to address these issues.  That is critical.    Leaving it open for an indefinite period of time is unfair.  Personally if staff says they don’t’ know, then he would just assume to go ahead and move for conditional approval with those 7 points noted.  He asked staff if they would be prepared to tell them how long it would take to respond to these.

 

Mr. Cilimberg said that this is no different than any of the reviews on projects that they have seen.  Biscuit Run was a good example of going through several iterations.  The problem Is that the staff resources available to review these projects give us at a minimum 2 weeks to review and assemble comments for other reviewers the third week.  We have no opportunity to get comments and get back to the applicant in that time line.  It takes at least 4 weeks from when we are given new information.

 

Mr. Atwood said that they have been working on this for a year.  When he read the list he was stunned.  They have been committed to affordable housing.  The stream buffer has never been violated.  They met with VDOT and staff.  The storm water information is being reviewed by Mr. Brooks.  That should be cleared up prior to the Board meeting.  He noted that tonight he was committing that if they need room for the sidewalk that it is already on their property.  He asked to move forward with the request.

 

Ms. Grant pointed out that they have verbal offers. The information in response was received today that talk about amenities, but it is not shown on the plan. It is only in the response letter.  There is no detailed information included about the amenities.

 

Ms. Joseph asked if VDOT has provided any guidance on Route 240 in writing.

 

Ms. Echols replied that VDOT has given some guidance, but it needs to be worked out.  There is nothing in writing from VDOT. 

 

Ms. Joseph noted that the affordable housing and VDOT concerns need to be addressed in writing.

 

Motion: Mr. Edgerton moved, Mr. Zobrist seconded, to approve SP-2007-00026, Crozet Station, with the conditions recommended in the staff report, as amended. 

 

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 and all of the additional housing shall be workforce housing.   (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 storm water 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.  

 

The motion passed by a vote of 5:1.  (Mr. Strucko voted nay.)  (Mr. Craddock was absent.). 

 

Ms. Joseph stated that SP-2007-00026 Crozet Station will go before the Board of Supervisors on November 14, 2007 with a recommendation for approval.  The Commission hopes that all of the outstanding issues can be worked out between the applicant and staff before the Board meeting.

 

 

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