COUNTY OF ALBEMARLE

 

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

 

 

AGENDA TITLE:

SDP 2007-00025 CV340A Brownsville/Ramsay Property - Appeal

 

SUBJECT/PROPOSAL/REQUEST:

Appeal of the Planning Commission’s approval of a request for a Tier II personal wireless service facility with condition of maximum height seven (7) feet taller than the reference tree rather than at the proposed height of ten (10) feet taller

 

STAFF CONTACT(S):

Messrs. Tucker, Foley, Davis, Kamptner, and Graham; Ms. McCulley, and Mr. Gatobu

 

LEGAL REVIEW:   Yes

 

 

AGENDA DATE:

December 5, 2007

 

 

ACTION:     X          INFORMATION:    

 

CONSENT AGENDA:

  ACTION:             INFORMATION:    

 

 

 

ATTACHMENTS:   YES

 

 

REVIEWED BY:

 

 

BACKGROUND:

The height of a Tier II personal wireless service facility approved by the Planning Commission may be up to ten (10) feet taller than the reference tree if the owner of the facility demonstrates to the satisfaction of the Commission that there is not a material difference in the visibility of the monopole at the proposed height of ten (10) feet taller than the reference tree rather than at a height seven (7) feet taller.  The appellant appeals the Planning Commission’s October 2, 2007 approval of the Brownsville/Ramsay Tier II Personal Wireless Service treetop facility at a maximum height of seven (7) feet above the reference tree (the tallest tree within a 25-foot radius of the proposed tower).  The property, described as Tax Map 56, Parcel 35B, is approximately 6.82 acres and is zoned R-1, Residential and EC, Entrance Corridor.  The site is located north of Rockfish Gap Turnpike [Rte. 250] just east of its intersection with Shephard Run [Private] in the White Hall Magisterial District.

 

 

STRATEGIC PLAN:

Goal Four:  Effectively Manage Growth and Development

 

 

DISCUSSION:

On October 2, 2007, the Planning Commission approved the applicant’s request for a Tier II personal wireless service facility at a maximum height of seven (7) feet above the reference tree.  The general consensus of the Planning Commission was that the approval of the Tier II personal wireless facility would serve a public purpose by improving cell phone coverage along Route 250.  Prior to the Planning Commission meeting, two adjacent property owners wrote letters expressing concerns related to the proposed facility.  The main issues cited were related to the proximity of the personal wireless facility to their respective properties.  Specific points listed included aesthetic issues, private street maintenance concerns, and the potential loss of property value as a result of the installation of the proposed facility.

 

Pursuant to the County’s Personal Wireless Service Facilities regulations related to Tier II facilities, a balloon test was conducted on March 21, 2007.  During the site visit, staff observed a test balloon that was floated at the approximate height of the proposed monopole, which was ten (10) feet taller than the reference tree.  The balloon was minimally visible from the Route 250 entrance corridor.  When visible, it was seen for a short distance and it was seen through trees.  The trees did not provide a backdrop for the balloon, so when it was visible, it was skylighted.  However, staff representatives for the Architectural Review Board noted that the low level of visibility was not expected to have a negative impact on the entrance corridor.  The balloon was also visible from adjacent parcels at several points.  From these vantage points, the balloon was skylighted. As noted in the staff report, staff believes there is no significant loss of resources identified on the Crozet Development Area Master Plan related to the installation of the tower at a height that is ten (10) feet taller than the reference tree.

 

Section 5.1.40(d)(6)

Section 5.1.40(d)(6) provides that: The top of the monopole, measured in elevation above mean sea level, shall not exceed the height approved by the commission. The approved height shall not be more than seven (7) feet taller than the tallest tree within twenty-five (25) feet of the monopole, and shall include any base, foundation or grading that raises the pole above the pre-existing natural ground elevation; provided that the height approved by the commission may be up to ten (10) feet taller than the tallest tree if the owner of the facility demonstrates to the satisfaction of the commission that there is not a material difference in the visibility of the monopole at the proposed height, rather than at a height seven (7) feet taller than the tallest tree; and there is not a material difference in adverse impacts to resources identified in the county’s open space plan caused by the monopole at the proposed height, rather than at a height seven (7) feet taller than the tallest tree.

 

At the October 2, 2007 Planning Commission meeting, the applicant stated that there would be no material difference in the visibility of the monopole at the proposed height (10 feet), rather than at a height seven (7) feet taller than the reference tree.  The applicant also stated that there is not a material difference in adverse impacts to resources identified in the County’s Open Space Plan caused by the monopole at the proposed height of ten (10) feet, rather than at a height seven (7) feet taller than the reference tree.

 

The Planning Commission approved the tower at a maximum height of seven (7) feet, rather than ten (10) feet, taller than the reference tree. The motion passed by a vote of 6:1. A majority of the Planning Commission members felt that the greater good of the community prevailed over the concerns of two adjacent neighbors. The dissenting commissioner stated that his reservations regarding the tower request were based on the two adjacent landowner’s valid objections, the fact that the tower would be visible from their properties for at least half the year and the presence of a personal wireless service facility for the same carrier about a mile down the road.

 

BUDGET IMPACT:

NA

 

RECOMMENDATIONS:

Unless the appellant can demonstrate to the Board’s satisfaction that there is no material difference in visibility with the pole at ten (10) feet rather than at an approved height of seven (7) feet taller than the reference tree, staff recommends that the Board uphold the Planning Commission’s decision of approval at seven (7) feet.

 

ATTACHMENTS

A – Staff Report to Planning Commission                      

View PC minutes

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