ALBEMARLE COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT

STAFF REPORT

 

 

Proposal:  SP 07 - 26 Crozet Station

Staff:  Claudette Grant

Planning Commission Work Session: 

August 28, 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: No   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 historic resources; the site slopes down to a stream in rear of the properties.

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

RECOMMENDATION: Provide guidance to applicant and staff.

STAFF PERSON:                                                                              Claudette Grant

PLANNING COMMISSION:                                                              August 28, 2007

 

Work Session - Crozet Station                                          

 

Specifics of Proposal                                                                                                                                         

The site is currently developed with a mix of commercial uses. The applicant approached staff in 2006 for some preliminary feedback regarding possible redevelopment of properties in Downtown Crozet. At that time staff advised the applicant that a pre-application work session early on would be beneficial to review the Crozet Master Plan recommendations for Downtown with the Commission and to get the public involved in providing input on redevelopment of the site.  A pre-application work session with the Planning Commission was held on May 30, 2006. 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.

 

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

 

Background  

On May 30, 2006, the Planning Commission held a pre-application worksession on this project. (See Attachments C & D) Several questions were posed and discussed during the worksession. At the worksession, the Commission reviewed and discussed the proposal with staff and the applicant, took public comment, and responded to the preliminary questions posed by staff. 

 

What has changed?

After the pre-application work session in May, 2006, the applicant decided to reduce the area of his request and only redevelop a portion of the shopping center. His current request reduces the number of residential units to 30 from 72. The square footage of commercial uses also decreased from 42,000 square feet to 28,059 square feet. The applicant and staff met several times after the worksession and as a result the applicant decided to request a special use permit for residential uses in a C-1 (Commercial zoning district) and for a parking structure.   

 

Comprehensive Plan:

Crozet Station is located in Downtown Crozet, which is one of the major themes of importance in the Crozet Master Plan. Analysis and additional details regarding this project and its relation to the Crozet Master Plan can be found on pages 3 and 4 of Attachment C.

 

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

 

 

Pedestrian Orientation

The plan does not clearly depict pedestrian orientation on the site. A sidewalk is shown at the front of the site, adjacent to Route 240, and a pedestrian way is shown at the rear of the site. Site development would be expected to include sidewalks along the adjacent roadways as well as an internal system of pedestrian connections to parking, buildings and to adjoining properties.

Neighborhood Friendly Streets and Paths

While street trees are shown on the plan, there is also an expectation that there will be provisions for pedestrian safety, such as crosswalks that are internal and external to the site. In addition, streetscape furniture and enhancements would be expected such as benches, and trash receptacles.

 

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.

 

Parks and Open Space

 

The applicant has not provided any park and open space amenities. Staff suggests parks and open space include the Greenway (terminus), commons, square where commercial character is on the ground floor, greens, and plazas. 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.

 

Neighborhood Centers

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

 

Buildings and Spaces of Human Scale

The applicant has submitted building schemes which show a variety of one, two and three story additions to the existing building. The Architectural Review Board (ARB) has expressed a preference for 1 additional story on the western portion of the building in order to protect the mountain views. The Master Plan recommends 2-4 stories from main level and up to 5 stories by exception for Downtown Crozet.  

 

Relegated Parking

Parking is not relegated in the portion of the property that is adjacent to Route 240. This principle is not fully met.  There is additional discussion regarding this later in the report. 

 

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 apartments/multifamily. The proposal would be expected to meet the affordable housing policy goals. The applicant has indicted 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.

 

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.

 

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.  

 

 

 

 

Discussion:

The following describes issues mentioned in the staff report for the original pre-application work session, followed by the Commission’s feedback on the issues. (See also Attachments C & D) The revised information submitted by the applicant follows in bold:   

 

Historic Preservation

 

Should contributing structures to possible future historic district be demolished for new development?

 

Generally, the Commission felt that there should be a major effort toward preservation of the buildings in the area proposed for redevelopment.  If the buildings could not be saved, a “tribute” to the buildings should be provided.  The intent was to maintain the “feel of historic downtown” and its charm.  If they could be preserved, the buildings from Crozet Pizza to the corner should be the main focus.  The design of the old train depot is a type of design that might be worth emulating as part of this project.  The most important part of the project visually is the buildings and areas along Three Notch’d Road.  What is behind those buildings is not of as much concern.   Staff is expected to work with VDOT to try to minimize widening of Three Notch’d Road in order to retain the look and feel of the existing block.

 

The existing buildings related with this SP request are not considered historic.

 

Mix of Uses & Residential Density

 

Is the mix of residential and commercial/retail uses appropriate?

 

Generally, the Commission felt that the mix of residential and commercial/retail uses was appropriate with the increased amount of 56,000 square feet if they keep affordable residential units in the mix.

 

Applicant proposes to provide 28,059 square feet of commercial space and 30 residential units. The proposal would be expected to meet the County’s affordable housing policy goals.

 

Design and Layout

 

What features of the design and layout does the Planning Commission find appropriate?  What would the Planning Commission suggest to improve the layout and design?

 

The Commission suggested that the part of the project containing the existing IGA and the large parking area be addressed to reorient the buildings differently towards Route 240.  The applicant needs to work on better solutions to relegate the parking on the eastern portion of the property, particularly at the grocery store, and to provide a buffer.  The topography of the site was noted as a concern to have to be dealt with.  The western end of the project should be kept looking “Crozetish”.  If this moves forward, details should be provided to show how the green area relates to the rest of the site.  If there are residential units information on urban open space or amenities should be provided as well as an interconnection to the east.

 

The revised plan dated May 23, 2007 (See Attachment E) shows a parking lot adjacent to Route 240. The existing buildings are located to the rear of the parking area. The lack of relegated parking remains an issue.

  _____________________________

 

Questions for the Commission Based on This Submittal:

 

Design and Layout

 

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

 

As mentioned in the previous staff report, the Crozet Master Plan does not suggest any specific design or layout for redevelopment of this property. The proposed plan shows parking adjacent to Route 240. At the pre-application worksession, the Commission mentioned the importance of providing relegated parking on this site. Rather than site new buildings closer to the street, the applicant is proposing to use the existing parking lot and add residential units to the existing structure. A parking garage located in the north east corner of the site is also proposed. One alternative would be to provide the residential units in the location of the existing parking area, closer to the street, so the residential units would have a relationship to the street and provide parking below the units. The downside to this suggestion would be that the commercial buildings would no longer have a well defined street presence, and staff believes that the proposed layout, while not ideal, does preserve the opportunity for redevelopment of a commercial area on Three Notch’d.

 

Mixture of Housing Types and Affordability

 

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

 

This is a relatively small development at 30 apartment units. There is not a mixture of housing types within this residential development. There is an expectation that at least 15% affordable housing units be provided. The applicant has explained that the apartments will be affordable; however, as yet no commitment has been made towards affordable housing.

 

Scale of Buildings

 

Is the height and massing of the buildings appropriate?

 

The applicant provided proposed building schemes that show variations of additional 1, 2 and 3 story tall buildings to the ARB. When the ARB reviewed the proposal, they expressed concern about the potential loss of mountain views depending on the height of the proposed units. At the ARB meeting on April 2, 2007 the ARB stated preference for 1 additional story rather than 2 or 3 additional stories. The ARB also expressed a preference for the proposed massing of the building to be lower in height on the west end/portion of the building to preserve the expansive view of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The ARB was satisfied with the building height on the eastern side of the proposed building addition being an additional 2 or 3 stories tall. Does the Planning Commission agree with the ARB’s recommendation? 

 

Other Issues

The applicant still has a variety of more detailed issues to be resolved, such as engineering and ARB comments.  VDOT also has concerns regarding ingress and egress to the site. The applicant is aware of all of the concerns from staff review. However, the applicant and staff would like direction from the Commission regarding the issues provided in this report before further submittals are made. 

 

 

ATTACHMENTS

 

Attachment A – Tax Map

Attachment B – Vicinity Map

Attachment C – May 30, 2006 Staff Report

Attachment D – Action Memo from the May 30, 2006 Planning Commission meeting

Attachment E – Proposed Plan dated May 23, 2007 (on file)

Attachment F – ARB comments dated April 24, 2007

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