COUNTY OF ALBEMARLE STAFF REPORT SUMMARY

Text Box: Attachment C

 

Project Name: 

SP 2006-00031 Glen Oaks Stream Crossing

Staff:  Scott Clark

Planning Commission Work Session

December 12, 2006

Board of Supervisors Public Hearing:

Not scheduled

Owners:  Glenmore Associates Limited Partnership

Applicant:  Glenmore Associates Limited Partnership

Acreage:  499.12 acres

Special Use Permit for:  A crossing of Limestone Creek, under section 30.3.05.2.1(2), which permits water related uses such as boat docks, canoe liveries, bridges, ferries, culverts and river crossings of transmission lines of all types.

TMP: Tax Map 94, Parcels 15, 16, 16A

Location:  Running Deer Drive [Route 808], approximately 1.1 miles from its intersection with Richmond Road [Route 250].

Conditions: To be determined

Existing Zoning and By-right useRA Rural Areas: agricultural, forestal, and fishery uses; residential density (0.5 unit/acre);  FH Flood Hazard – Overlay to provide safety and protection from

Magisterial District: Scottsville

Requested # of Dwelling Units:  24

DA                               RA   X

Proposal:  Fill in the floodplain of Limestone Creek for a road crossing over the creek to provide access for residential development.

Comprehensive Plan Designation:  RA - Rural Areas: preserve and protect agricultural, forestal, open space, and natural, historic and scenic resources/ density (.5 unit/ acre); Parks and Greenways: parks; greenways; playgrounds; pedestrian and bicycle paths

Character of Property:  The property includes deciduous and evergreen woodlands, floodplains along the Rivanna River, the stream valley of Limestone Creek, a large pond along the creek, open pastures, and wetlands.

Use of Surrounding Properties:  Residential development, agriculture, and open-space conservation

RECOMMENDATION: Staff requests that the Commission to affirm staff’s findings on using the RPD approach on this site; design of the proposed RPD; and the range of uses to be permitted on Lot 10, or provide alternate direction.

 

 

 

Petition: 

PROJECT: SP 2006-00031 Glen Oaks Stream Crossing

PROPOSED: Fill in the floodplain of Limestone Creek for a road crossing over the creek to provide access for residential development.

ZONING CATEGORY/GENERAL USAGE: RA -- Rural Areas: agricultural, forestal, and fishery uses; residential density (0.5 unit/acre); FH Flood Hazard - Overlay to provide safety and protection from flooding

SECTION: 30.3.05.2.1(2), which permits water related uses such as boat docks, canoe liveries, bridges, ferries, culverts and river crossings of transmission lines of all types.

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: No

LOCATION: Running Deer Drive [Route 808], approximately 1.1 miles from its intersection with Richmond Road [Route 250].

TAX MAP/PARCEL: Tax Map 94, Parcels 15, 16, 16A

MAGISTERIAL DISTRICT: Scottsville

 

Character of the Area:

The property lies in the Rural Areas adjacent to the boundary between the southwestern edge of the Rivanna Village development area and the Rural Areas. Properties to the northwest are mostly smaller residential lots, while the Rural Areas to the east and south are made up of large forested and open parcels transected by the wide floodplain of the Rivanna River.

 

Planning and Zoning History:

On May 30, 2006, the Planning Commission denied approval of a preliminary plat for a Rural Preservation Development (SUB 2006-046; see Attachment C) on a portion of this property with 19 development lots and 1 preservation tract. The remainder of the property was proposed for 11 conventional lots. Staff had recommended approval of the RPD, as it met the design standards for RPDs contained in the Zoning Ordinance (see the proposed layout in Attachment D). The major issue in the denial was a potential problem with groundwater availability. The proposed development lots were adjacent to the Running Deer subdivision, which has experienced groundwater supply problems.

 

On July 5, 2006, the applicants appealed the Planning Commission’s decision to the Board of Supervisors. At that meeting, the Board deferred action on the appeal with the applicants’ agreement, so that the applicants could resubmit another plan that would potentially avoid the concerns identified by the Planning Commission.

 

Specifics of the Proposal:

 

The current proposal is for a stream crossing over an existing dam to allow access to proposed development on the east side of Limestone Creek. The applicants proposed two possible crossing locations (the dam or another existing crossing upstream). Staff has determined that the dam crossing is preferable, as it would avoid impacts on a neighboring property under a conservation easement, and would provide greater opportunities for impact management and for stream restoration below the dam. Specifics of the stream crossing proposal will be reviewed by staff and discussed at a public hearing to be scheduled later.

 

The current plan shows the residential development connecting to the private roads within the Rivanna Village development area. Under this concept, the proposed lots must be considered in the total traffic impact of development in Glenmore, including the proposed rezonings to be discussed in the work session following this one. However, as the current proposal for the Rural Area property could be accessed either from Running Deer Drive or the Glenmore road system, this work session will focus on the form of development to be accessed by the stream crossing. Overall road-access and traffic issues in Glenmore and on Running Deer Drive will be discussed in detail in the following work session on the Leake rezoning.

 

The proposed stream crossing would be necessary for this proposal no matter where road access came from, and the crossing site could be accessed either from Running Deer or from within Glenmore. The focus of this work session will be on whether approval of the stream-crossing request is justified based on the design of the proposed development.

 

Conformity with the Comprehensive Plan:

 

This proposal has a complex relationship with the goals of the Comprehensive Plan, some of which conflict. The proposal and staff’s comments on it are the result of attempts to protect important resources in a situation where the Commission’s expectations regarding one goal (groundwater protection) have led the applicants and staff to find alternative approaches to other meeting other goals (avoidance of habitat fragmentation, protection of wetlands and floodplains, and reduction of residential-development impacts in the Rural Areas).

 

Policy

Relationship to Policy

Reactions/Mitigation

Groundwater Supply Protection

This proposal is intended to avoid depleting the supply for existing residential development.

Places new lots farther from existing lots in Running Deer that are experiencing groundwater supply problems.

Reducing Rural Residential Development

This proposal would permit residential development in the Rural Areas.

The proposal would permit less than the theoretical total development potential (31 lots). The 24 proposed lots are arranged to reduce resource impacts (partly in a clustered development), and to avoid groundwater impacts, but also to achieve relatively large lots sizes desired by the applicants.

Greenway Planning

The proposal would support this goal by including the donation of a stretch of greenway trail identified in the Greenway Plan.

 

Surface Water Protection

The proposal would allow a floodplain crossing utilizing an existing dam to access development, with the consequent impacts.

The alternative is by-right development that could be achieved without legislative review and that would fail to meet the groundwater-protection goal identified by the Planning Commission. Surface-water impacts of the crossing would be managed by conditions of the special use permit.

 

 

Proposed Use

 

Typically, staff would not recommend approval of a stream crossing to access more development. However, given the previous denial of SUB 06-046, the remaining options are either to permit the crossing to access some lots on the east side of Limestone Creek, or to accept that the applicants can develop by-right without Planning Commission approval in a form that puts 20 lots on the west side of Limestone Creek (much like the denied RPD). The latter option would not address the Commission’s concerns regarding groundwater.

 

The applicants have demonstrated (see Attachment E) that they can develop a total of 24 lots on this property without need for a special use permit. They are willing to accept conditions of approval on the special use permit limiting them to that same total of 24 development lots.

 

The stream-crossing permit application included a proposed development layout that would have had the same number of lots across the whole property, in a conventional form. Staff comments on the application stated that it would be preferable for the lots accessed by the crossing to be included in a Rural Preservation Development.

 

In response, the applicants have proposed the layout show in Attachment D. This layout would use a series of boundary adjustments and subdivisions to combine conventional development (Lots 1 through 10) with a Rural Preservation Development (remainder of property)--see Attachment F for the applicants’ description of this process. The conventional development would create 9 lots, plus the 89.6-acre Lot 10 (an open-space recreational parcel to be held by the Glenmore Homeowners’ Association, with deed restrictions preventing dwellings).

 

Finally, and importantly for the County’s recreational needs, a 100-foot-wide parcel along the Rivanna River would be deeded to the County for extension of the trail shown in the Greenway Plan. However, as this lot would not meet basic lot requirements (area, frontage, building site, etc.), it is not yet clear how it could created; Zoning and Current Development staff will provide more input as the review of the special use permit continues. If the lot can be created, then the applicants would donate the area for the trail. If it could not, they have stated that they are not willing to create an access easement over the preservation tract; this would mean that further development of the greenway along the Rivanna would be blocked.

 

The RPD would include 15 development lots and one preservation tract. The applicants have stated that they would place the preservation tract under an easement that would not permit dwellings (typically, RPD preservation tracts have the right for one dwelling).

 

Thus 27 lots would be created, only 24 of which could have dwellings.

 

RPD Design Standards

 

Staff will address the design standards in section 10.3.3.2 individually:

 

The rural preservation development option is intended to encourage more effective land usage in

terms of the goals and objectives for the rural areas as set forth in the comprehensive plan than can

be achieved under conventional development. To this end, application for rural preservation

development shall be reviewed for:

a. Preservation of agricultural and forestal lands and activities;

b. Water supply protection; and/or

c. Conservation of natural, scenic or historic resources.

 

More specifically, in accordance with design standards of the comprehensive plan and where deemed reasonably practical by the commission:

 

d. Development lots shall not encroach into prime, important or unique agricultural or forestal soils as the same shall be shown on the most recent published maps of the United StatesDepartment of Agricultural Soil Conservation Service or other source deemed of equivalent reliability by the Soil Conservation Service;

 

Significant areas of this property are in soils rated as prime or locally important, and it would be difficult to find sufficient buildable areas for the lots that did not include those soils. The current proposal would impact these soils in approximately the same extent as the previously proposed RPD, SUB 06-046. The impacts to these soils could be reduced somewhat if the development lots were smaller. However, the applicants have stated that their designs are more focused on resource conservation than on agricultural productivity.

 

e. Development lots shall not encroach into areas of critical slope or flood plain and shall be situated as far as possible from public drinking water supply tributaries and public drinking water supply impoundments;

 

The proposal places the majority of the critical slopes and floodplains on the property in the preservation tract. However, a stream crossing in the floodplain would be necessary to access the development lots. This property is not in a Water Supply Protection Area.

 

f. Development lots shall be so situated and arranged as to preserve historic and scenic settings deemed to be of importance to the general public and natural resource areas whether such features are on the parcel to be developed or adjacent to such parcel;

 

The proposed preservation tract would include natural-resource areas identified as important in the Comprehensive Plan, including floodplains; critical slopes; wetland; stream valleys; and connected forest blocks. The proposed development lots would intrude into the forest block at the north end of the RPD, but at staff’s request the applicants have kept the lots at least 500 feet from the property boundary, in an attempt to maintain a viable habitat corridor. The parcel adjacent to that boundary is under a conservation easement held by the Virginia Outdoors Foundation.

 

g. Development lots shall be confined to one area of the parcel and shall be situated so that no portion of the rural preservation tract shall intrude between any development lots;

 

Development lots are confined to one area of the property.

 

h. All development lots shall have access restricted to an internal street in accordance with Chapter 14 of the Code of Albemarle;

 

The proposal meets this standard.

 

i. Nothing stated herein shall be deemed to obligate the commission to approve a rural preservation development upon finding in a particular case that such proposal does not forward the purposes of rural preservation development as set forth hereinabove and that the public purpose to be served would be equally or better served by conventional development.

 

Staff would find that this RPD would better meet the purposes of Rural Preservation Development if the development lots were smaller, thus allowing more area to be included in the conservation easement. However, the lots are within the size range permitted in section 10.3.3.3 of the Zoning Ordinance (a six-acre average), and the preservation tract would be approximately 218 acres as proposed, which is larger than the preservation tracts of many approved RPDs. The applicants have stated that they are not willing to pursue the RPD option with smaller lots.

 

Also, the current proposal (Attachment D) shows a preservation tract in three distinct pieces—west of Limestone Creek and adjacent to the Running Deer subdivision; between Limestone Creek and the RPD development lots; and east of the development lots. The feature that divides these three pieces is the northeastern extension of Lot 10 (that portion east of Limestone Creek and adjacent to Lot 18).

 

Staff would support a preservation tract that wraps around the north end of the proposed development lots, as this would help to capture some of the most important resources (forest connections and steep slopes adjacent to floodplains).

 

But, while this preservation tract is large enough for significant resource protection, it complicates future resource management by fragmenting the preservation tract. For conservation purposes, it would be simpler and more effective to have one contiguous tract to manage. The applicant’s position is that the protection afforded by deed restrictions on Lot 10 would be equivalent to those under the preservation-tract easement.

 

Also, Current Development staff has stated that the preservation tract for this RPD could not be approved under section 14-406 of the County Code, which states in part: “Remnants shall not be created by the subdivision of land.” The term “remnant” means any lot, other than one established as a non-building lot, which does not meet the minimum lot requirements of this chapter and the zoning ordinance.

 

One possible solution to address this would be to have a single larger preservation tract that included the applicants’ desired trail system, rather than a preservation tract and a separate “open-space” parcel. However, this would require confirmation by the Public Recreational Facilities Authority that trails for this purpose would be permitted on the preservation tract; this would likely depend on the design of the proposed trails. Otherwise a layout in which the preservation tract connected across Limestone Creek and Lot 10 would be preferable.

 

 

Question for the Commission: Is the applicant’s current proposal for an RPD on the east side of Limestone Creek the preferred approach for residential development on the site?

 

The applicants have demonstrated that they can achieve 24 lots in a conventional subdivision without any special use permits. That subdivision would place twenty lots adjacent to the Running Deer subdivision, and would create the same groundwater concerns as the previously rejected RPD. Placing some lots on the east side of Limestone Creek helps to avoid that groundwater conflict, but requires a special use permit for a stream crossing. Staff feels that if that permit is to be granted, it is most appropriate to use the RPD approach to reduce the natural-resource impacts of the permitted development.

 

Question for the Commission: Does the proposed RPD design meet the Commission’s expectations under the ordinance’s design standards?

 

Given the analysis above, staff finds that the arrangement of the development lots meets the standards set out in section 10.3.3.2 of the Zoning Ordinance. However, the preservation tract design could be arranged to better connect resources under easement, and is not approvable in its current proposed form. Staff would recommend that the applicants return with a design with a single contiguous preservation tract. The applicant’s suggested approach—using deed restrictions on Lot 10—is an alternative approach intended to accomplish the intent of section 10.3.3.2.

 

Uses of “Lot 10”

 

The applicant has proposed putting Lot 10 under deed restrictions that would prohibit the construction of dwellings, as well as other appropriate restrictions. However, the parcel would be used as an amenity for residents largely from the adjacent Development Area. The only proposed use at the moment is for trails, but the applicant has stated that they might consider a future application for a clubhouse on the site. In the RA zoning district, such a clubhouse would require a special use permit under section 10.2.2.2 (Clubs, lodges, civic, patriotic, fraternal) or section 10.2.2.4 (Swim, golf, tennis or similar athletic facilities).

 

Question for the Commission:  What types of activities other than trails should be allowed on Lot 10?

 

As a forested parcel used for trails and other low-impact recreation without built infrastructure, Lot 10 would be largely indistinguishable from many rural parcels under conservation easement, especially given that it would not have a dwelling (which many smaller parcels under easement are permitted to have). However, addition of buildings and other facilities begins to blur the hard edge between the Development Areas and Rural Areas, and changes the character of the parcel. Staff feels that it would be most appropriate to limit uses on this parcel to trail use and similar activities that do not require structures.

 

Recommendation

 

Staff requests that the Commission to affirm staff’s findings on using the RPD approach on this site; design of the proposed RPD; and the range of uses to be permitted on Lot 10, or provide alternate direction.

 

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