PRIVATE ALBEMARLE COUNTY PLANNING

STAFF REPORT SUMMARY

 

Project Name:  SDP 2007-00025: CV 340A Brownsville/Ramsay Property

Staff Gerald Gatobu, Megan Yaniglos,  Margaret Maliszewski

Planning Commission Public Hearing: 

October 2, 2007

Board of Supervisors Hearing:

N/A

Owners:  James H. or Jeanne T. Ramsay

Applicant: Cingular Wireless

Acreage: 6.82 Acres

(Lease Area: 0.017 Acres)

Rezone from: Not applicable

Special Use Permit for: Not applicable

TMP: Tax Map 56, Parcel 35B

Location: On the north side of Rt. 250 West, east of Crozet Avenue [Rte. 240] and adjacent to Sheppard Run [Private].

By-right use: R1, Residential and EC, Entrance Corridor Zoning

Magisterial District: White Hall

Proffers/Conditions:  No

Requested # of Dwelling Units/Lots: N/A

DA - X                         RA -

Proposal: Proposal to install a Tier II personal wireless service treetop facility.  The proposed facility consists of a 67.4-foot tall monopole measured above ground level (AGL), painted brown with an approximate top elevation of 730.7 feet, measured above mean sea level (AMSL). 

Comp. Plan Designation: CT-2, Development Area Reserve within the Crozet Community.

Character of Property:  Sloping, wooded, undeveloped land

Use of Surrounding Properties:  Single-family Residential

Factors Favorable:

1.    The lease area for the ground equipment and monopole is not located on critical slopes or other significant features identified in the Crozet Development Area Master Plan. 

2.    The Architectural Review Board has approved the location based on low levels of visibility from the Route 250, an Entrance Corridor.

Factors Unfavorable:

1.    From vantage points on route 250, the proposed height of 67.4 feet was minimally visible. Where visible, the tower rose above the treetops with no wooded backdrop, causing the balloon to be skylighted. 

2.    Four pine trees are to be removed.

 

RECOMMENDATION: Staff recommends approval of this facility at (7) seven feet above the tallest tree. The height approved by the Planning 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 10 feet above the tallest tree.

 

STAFF CONTACT:                                Gerald Gatobu; Megan Yaniglos; Margaret Maliszewski

PLANNING COMMISSION:                    October 2, 2007

AGENDA TITLE:                                    SDP 07-025: Brownsville/Ramsey Property

PROPERTY OWNER:                            James H. or Jeanne T. Ramsay

APPLICANT:                                         Cingular Wireless

 

Proposal:

This is a proposal to install a Tier II personal wireless service treetop facility (Attachment A).  The proposed facility consists of a 67.4-foot tall monopole measured above ground level (AGL) with a ground elevation of 663 feet, measured above mean sea level (AMSL).  The proposed monopole will be 10 feet higher than the identified reference tree located 14 feet from the tower site. The monopole will be painted brown and equipped with an array featuring three (3) flush-mounted panel antennas, approximately (51.6”x 12.1”x 4.5”). Supporting ground equipment will be contained within a proposed 12’ by 16’ Cingular concrete equipment pad.  

 

The lease area for the proposed facility is located on property described as Tax Map 56, Parcel 35B, which 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. 

 

This application has been submitted in accordance with Section 15.2.2(17) of the Zoning Ordinance, which allows for Tier II wireless facilities by right in the R-1, Residential zoning district.

 

COMPREHENSIVE PLAN:

The Comprehensive Plan designates this property as Development Area Reserve [CT 2] within the Crozet Community.

 

CHARACTER OF THE AREA:

The site of this proposed facility is on a wooded slope. The proposed tower site obtains access from a 20-foot wide access easement extending off Shephard Run [Private].  Shephard Run is on the north side of Rockfish Gap Turnpike [Rte. 250]. Rockfish Gap Turnpike [Rte. 250] is an entrance corridor.  There is a residence on the property.  All properties adjacent to the subject parcel are zoned R-1, Residential. 

 

PLANNING AND ZONING HISTORY:

 

SUB-1999-225.  Ramsay, James Family Division:  (Plat done by Roger Ray and Associates). Created one 2.14 acre lot with a 6.82 acre residue

 

STAFF COMMENT:

 

Section 3.1 provides the following definitions that are relevant to this proposal:

 

Tier II personal wireless service facility: A personal wireless service facility that is a treetop facility not located within an avoidance area.

 

Treetop facility: A personal wireless service facility consisting of a self-supporting monopole having a single shaft of wood, metal or concrete no more than ten (10) feet taller than the crown of the tallest tree within twenty-five (25) feet of the monopole, measured above sea level (ASL), and includes associated antennas, mounting structures, an equipment cabinet and other essential personal wireless service equipment.

 

Avoidance area: An area having significant resources where the siting of personal wireless service facilities could result in adverse impacts as follows: (i) any ridge area where a personal wireless service facility would be skylighted; (ii) a parcel within an agricultural and forestal district; (iii) a parcel within a historic district; (iv) any location in which the proposed personal wireless service facility and three (3) or more existing or approved personal wireless service facilities would be within an area comprised of a circle centered anywhere on the ground having a radius of two hundred (200) feet; or (v) any location within two hundred (200) feet of any state scenic highway or by-way.

 

Section 5.1.40(d), “Tier II facilities” states:

 

 “Each Tier II facility may be established upon commission approval of an application satisfying the requirements of subsection 5.1.40(a) and demonstrating that the facility will be installed and operated in compliance with all applicable provisions of this chapter, criteria (1) through (8) below, and satisfying all conditions of the architectural review board.  The commission shall act on each application within the time periods established in section 32.4.2.6.  The commission shall approve each application, without conditions, once it determines that all of these requirements have been satisfied.  If the commission denies an application, it shall identify which requirements were not satisfied and inform the applicant what needs to be done to satisfy each requirement.”

 

The applicant has submitted an application that satisfies the requirements set forth in Section 5.1.40(a) and has performed a balloon test at the location of the proposed facility (Attachments C and D).  The Architectural Review Board (ARB) reviewed this request for compliance with the County’s design guidelines for the entrance corridor and recommended approval. 

Section 5.1.40(d)(1): The facility shall comply with subsection 5.1.40(b) and subsection 5.1.40(c)(2) through (9).

Staff has determined that the proposed facility’s location conforms with the exemptions allowed by Section 5.1.40(b) and the proposed equipment meets all relevant design, mounting and size criteria that are set forth in Section 5.1.40(c)(2) and (3).  The remainder of subsection (c) provides requirements that are subject to enforcement if the facility is approved.

Section 5.1.40(d)(2): The site shall provide adequate opportunities for screening and the facility shall be sited to minimize its visibility from adjacent parcels and streets, regardless of their distance from the facility.  If the facility would be visible from a state scenic river or a national park or national forest, regardless of whether the site is adjacent thereto, the facility also shall be sited to minimize its visibility from such river, park or forest.  If the facility would be located on lands subject to a conservation easement or an open space easement, the facility shall be sited to so that it is not visible from any resources specifically identified for protection in the deed of easement.

The proposed facility includes a monopole that would have a height of approximately 67.4 feet above ground level (AGL) or 730.7 feet above mean sea level (AMSL).  The height of the reference tree is approximately 720.7 feet above mean sea level (AMSL) and is located 17 feet southwest of the proposed monopole.  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 (10 feet above the height of the tallest tree).  The balloon was visible from the entrance corridor, but minimally so. When visible, it was seen for a short distance on the Route 250 entrance corridor and it was seen through trees.  The trees did not provide a backdrop for the balloon, so when it was visible, it was sky-lit.  The low level of visibility is not expected to have a negative impact on the EC. The balloon was visible from adjacent parcels (Attachment D) at several points.

 

Based on the information above, it is staff’s opinion that the proposed facility will be minimally visible from adjacent parcels and streets.

Section 5.1.40(d)(3):  The facility shall not adversely impact resources identified in the county’s open space plan.

Staff’s analysis of this request addresses the concern for the possible loss of aesthetic or historic resources.  The proposed lease area is not delineated as a significant resource on the Crozet Development Area Master Plan (Attachment F).  Staff believes there is no significant loss of resources related to the installation of the tower.  The site plan shows the removal of four (4) existing pine trees.  During the August 20th ARB review hearing, the applicant stated that the four Pine trees shown on the site plan (to be removed) are either dead or dying.

 

The County’s wireless service facilities policy encourages facilities with limited visibility, facilities with adequate wooded backdrop, and facilities that do not adversely impact Avoidance Areas (including Entrance Corridors and historic resources).  The proposed pole is expected to be visible for a relatively short period of time when traveling on Route 250 (an entrance corridor).  The degree of visibility is not expected to have a negative impact on the Entrance Corridor based on these findings.  The Architectural Review Board has approved the location with conditions (Attachment G).  Therefore, staff feels the visibility of the monopole will not adversely impact the resources of the entrance corridor or historic districts.

Section 5.1.40(d)(4):  The facility shall not be located so that it and three (3) or more existing or approved personal wireless service facilities would be within an area comprised of a circle centered anywhere on the ground having a radius of two hundred (200) feet.

There is no existing personal wireless service facility located within an area comprised of a circle centered anywhere on the ground having a radius of two hundred (200) feet.

Section 5.1.40(d)(5):  The maximum base diameter of the monopole shall be thirty (30) inches and the maximum diameter at the top of the monopole shall be eighteen (18) inches. 

Notes on the site plan for this facility propose a monopole diameter not to exceed 30 inches at the base or 18 inches at the top.  These dimensions comply with the maximum width requirements for treetop monopoles serving Tier II facilities.  

Section 5.1.40(d)(6):  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.  The applicant may appeal the commissioner’s denial of a modification to the board of supervisors as provided in subsection 5.1.40(d)(12).  

As mentioned previously in this report, the proposed monopole would have a height of approximately 730.7 feet above mean sea level (AMSL).  The height of the reference tree is approximately 720.7 feet above mean sea level (AMSL).  The proposed monopole will be (10) feet taller than the tallest tree within twenty-five (25) feet. The height approved by the Planning 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 10 feet above the tallest tree.  Based on the balloon test mentioned above, staff determined that there would be little or no material difference in the visibility of the monopole at the proposed height (10) feet, than at a height of 7 feet taller than the tallest tree. Adverse impacts would be minimal. A height of 7 feet would be appropriate, but if the owner of the facility demonstrates to the satisfaction of the Planning Commission that there is not a material difference in the visibility of the monopole at the proposed 10 feet above the tallest tree, staff will support the Planning Commissions decision to approve the facility at 10 feet above the tallest tree.  

Section 5.1.40(d)(7):  Each wood monopole shall be a dark brown natural wood color; each metal or concrete monopole shall be painted a brown wood color to blend into the surrounding trees.  The antennas, supporting brackets, and all other equipment attached to the monopole shall be a color that closely matches that of the monopole.  The ground equipment, the ground equipment cabinet, and the concrete pad shall also be a color that closely matches that of the monopole, provided that the ground equipment and the concrete pad need not be of such a color if they are enclosed within or behind an approved structure, façade or fencing that: (i) is a color that closely matches that of the monopole; (ii) is consistent with the character of the area; and (iii) makes the ground equipment and concrete pad invisible at any time of year from any other parcel or a public or private street.  

The applicant is proposing the installation of a facility with a steel monopole.  The proposed color for the tower and for the support cabinets is a brown paint (specific brown color sample will be turned in to the Architectural Review Board) to match existing surroundings.  A note on the site plan indicates that the tower, ice bridge components, coaxial cables, antennas and supports are to be painted brown, and the final choice is to be approved by Albemarle County.  

Section 5.1.40(d)(8):  Each wood monopole shall be constructed so that all cables, wiring and similar attachments that run vertically from the ground equipment to the antennas are placed on the pole to face the interior of the property and away from public view, as determined by the agent.  Metal monopoles shall be constructed so that vertical cables, wiring and similar attachments are contained within the monopole’s structure. 

A note on the site plan indicates that vertical cables, wiring and similar attachments must be contained within the monopole’s structure. 

Section 704(a)(7)(b)(I)(II) of The Telecommunications Act of 1996

The regulation of the placement, construction and modification of personal wireless facilities by any state or local government or instrumentality thereof shall not prohibit or have the effect of prohibiting the provision of personal wireless services. 

The Telecommunications Act addresses concerns for environmental effects with the following language, “No state or local government or instrumentality thereof may regulate the placement, construction, and modification of personal wireless service facilities on the basis of the environmental effects of radio frequency emissions to the extent that such facilities comply with the Commissions’ regulations concerning such emissions.”  In order to operate the proposed facility, the applicant is required to meet the FCC guidelines for radio frequency emissions.  These requirements will adequately protect the public health and safety.

 

It is staff’s opinion that the denial of this application would not have the effect of prohibiting the provision of personal wireless communication services.

 

SUMMARY:

 

Staff has identified factors which are favorable and unfavorable to this proposal:

 

Factors favorable to this request include:

 

1.       The lease area for the ground equipment and monopole are not located on critical slopes or other significant features identified in the Crozet Development Area Master Plan. 

2.       The Architectural Review Board has approved the location based on minimal visibility from the Route 250 Entrance Corridor.

 

Factors unfavorable to this request include:

 

1.       From a few vantage points on the adjacent streets [Route 250] the proposed height rises well above the treetops with no wooded backdrop, causing the balloon to be skylighted.

2.       Four (4) Pine Trees are to be removed. 

 

RECOMMENDATION:  Staff recommends approval of this facility at (7) seven feet above the tallest tree. The height approved by the Planning 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 10 feet above the tallest tree.

 

In order to comply with Section 5.1.40(d) of the Zoning Ordinance, the Planning Commission is required to provide the applicant with a statement regarding the basis for denial and all items that will have to be addressed to satisfy each requirement. 


 

ATTACHMENTS:

 

  1. Site Plan
  2. Vicinity Map
  3. Letter From Mr. Baldwin (Neighbor)
  4. Balloon photos at proposed location
  5. Balloon view from selected roads and adjoining property
  6. Location on Crozet Development Area Master Plan
  7. ARB action
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