COUNTY OF ALBEMARLE

STAFF REPORT SUMMARY

 

Project Name: 

SP 2007-00021 Beth Goldstein

SDP 2007-00095 Beth Goldstein

Staff: Scott Clark

Planning Commission Public Hearing:

November 13, 2007

Board of Supervisors Public Hearing:

December 12, 2007

Owner/s:  Beth Goldstein

Applicant: Beth Goldstein

Acreage:  2.0 acres

Special Use Permit: 10.2.2.5, Private Schools

TMP:  Tax Map 71 Parcel 21

Location:  6482 Dick Woods Road (Route 637), approximately one-half mile west of the intersection with Burch's Creek Road (Route 689).

Existing Zoning and By-right use:   Rural Areas: agricultural, forestal, and fishery uses; residential density (0.5 unit/acre)

 

Magisterial District:  White Hall

Conditions or Proffers: Yes

RA Rural Areas

Requested # of Dwelling Units:  n/a

Proposal: Private school for yoga instruction with classes up to 20 days per month, up to 20 students per class.

Comprehensive Plan Designation: Rural Areas

 

Character of Property: The property is a small residential parcel with a house and accessory buildings.

Use of Surrounding Properties: Agriculture and low-density residential

Factors Favorable:

1.        No new structures or public facilities would be required for the use.

2.        The scale of the use would be limited to the capacity of the existing building and septic system.

Factors Unfavorable:

1.       The use would require the creation of a parking area. However, the impacts of the new parking would be mitigated by the recommended condition regarding landscaping. The parking area would be surfaced with gravel, in keeping with the gravel roads in the area.

2.       Trees on adjacent properties would be need to be cleared to provide sight-distance easements recommended by VDOT to make the entrance safe.

RECOMMENDATION: Staff recommends approval of SP 2007-00021 (with conditions) and SDP 2007-00095 (with conditions).

 

 

Petition: 

PROPOSED: Private school for yoga instruction with classes up to 20 days per month, up to 20 students per class.

ZONING CATEGORY/GENERAL USAGE: RA -- Rural Areas: agricultural, forestal, and fishery uses; residential density (0.5 unit/acre)

SECTION: 10.2.2.5, Private Schools

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: 6482 Dick Woods Road (Route 637), approximately one-half mile west of the intersection with Burch's Creek Road (Route 689).

TAX MAP/PARCEL: Tax Map 71 Parcel 21

MAGISTERIAL DISTRICT: White Hall

 

Character of the Area:

The surroundings consist of open and wooded rural land. Uses in the area include agriculture, forestry, and low-density residential uses.

 

Specifics of the Proposal:

The applicant is proposing to operate a yoga school and meditation center in an existing converted barn on the property. Classes would occur up to 20 days per month, and the applicant has requested to have up to 20 students each day. A new gravel parking area would provide parking for up to 10 vehicles. (See Attachments C and D for the proposed conceptual plan.)

 

Planning and Zoning History:

The applicant began the use without the necessary special use permit, and thus was in violation of the Zoning Ordinance. This application is intended to rectify the violation.

 

In October, 2007, the County approved a request for an accessory tourist lodging on the site. This approval would allow lodging in one bedroom of the dwelling on the parcel.

 

Conformity with the Comprehensive Plan:

 

The Rural Areas chapter of the Comprehensive Plan focuses on the protection of rural communities, resources, and land uses. This proposal does not directly support those aspects of the Rural Areas.

 

However, the County has approved special use permits for private schools in several cases, ranging from part-time programs to full-time church or private schools, including residential programs. This proposed use would be smaller in scale and would require fewer improvements than many of those approved facilities.

 

The Comprehensive Plan recommends that “alternative” land uses be available to provide landowners with alternatives to residential development. Since this use would be on a 2-acre parcel on which no further development is possible, there is no opportunity for conservation to balance the impacts of the proposed use. However, the impacts of the proposal can be assessed in terms of the standards recommended by the Comprehensive Plan for “alternative” uses:

 

·         Reversible (so that the land can easily return to farming, forestry, conservation, or other preferred rural uses): This use would require no new buildings, and would have a gravel parking area that could be easily removed.

·         Scaled and sited to cause minimal impacts on their rural surroundings: The use would require clearing of trees on adjoining properties to secure the 280-foot sight lines recommended by the Virginia Department of Transportation. This would require clearing of trees in the sight line, which would impact the rural character of the surroundings. However, the owners of those properties have agreed to grant the easements.

·         Minimal in their public health and environmental impacts: The Virginia Department of Health has stated that the septic system on the site is sufficient for the proposed use, if attendance is limited to 18 persons.

·         Viable with no increase in public infrastructure or services, either at time of approval or later: No public infrastructure is necessitated by this use. Additional needs for public services are not anticipated

·         To minimize the impacts of these uses, the County could avoid requiring parking lot paving, curb and gutter, commercial entrances, and other site improvement features more typically found in the Development Areas: The use would require a new entrance, but no paving would be required.

 

STAFF COMMENT:

 

Special Use Permit

 

Staff will address each provision of Section 31.2.4.1 of the Zoning Ordinance.

 

31.2.4.1: Special Use Permits provided for in this ordinance may be issued upon a finding by the Board of Supervisors that such use will not be of substantial detriment to adjacent property,

 

The primary impacts on adjacent properties from this use would be from traffic, noise, and the visual impacts of the use. The Virginia Department of Transportation has approved the proposed traffic-safety measures (see “public health, safety, and general welfare” below.) Staff has recommended conditions requiring limited hours of operation and a prohibition of outdoor amplified sound to address noise concerns. A condition requiring buffering of the parking area with native plant species in a naturalistic pattern would address visual impacts without creating the appearance typical of a commercial use in the Development Areas.

 

that the character of the district will not be changed thereby and

 

Limits on the scale of the use and the character and design of the improvements are intended to protect the rural character of the surrounding area.

 

that such use will be in harmony with the purpose and intent of this ordinance,

 

Section 18, Chapter 10 of the Zoning Ordinance outlines the purpose of Rural Areas zoning:

 

“This district (hereafter referred to as RA) is hereby created and may hereafter be established by amendment of the zoning map for the following purposes: (Amended 11-8-89)

-Preservation of agricultural and forestal lands and activities;

-Water supply protection;

-Limited service delivery to the rural areas; and

-Conservation of natural, scenic, and historic resources. (Amended 11-8-89)”

 

This use does not directly support these purposes, but does not require new public facilities or additional public services.

 

with uses permitted by right in the district,

 

The property is zoned RA, Rural Areas.  The uses permitted by right under RA Zoning directly support agriculture, forestry, and the conservation of rural land.  Part of the County’s vision for the RA districts includes the support of agricultural and forestal communities through community meeting places, at rural scales, that provide the opportunity to take part in community life.

 

The proposed use is comparable to or smaller than other private schools approved in the Rural Areas, and provides an educational service at a relatively small scale. The limited scale and hours of operation of the use are intended to limit impacts on by-right uses.

 

with the additional regulations provided in section 5.0 of this ordinance,

 

There are no additional regulations in section 5.0 for this use.

 

and with the public health, safety and general welfare.

 

The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) has stated that the proposed 24-foot entrance is acceptable for this use and location. In order to provide sufficient sight distance from this entrance, VDOT will need sight-distance easements (to the west on Tax Map 71 Parcel 21B, and to the east on Tax Map 71 Parcel 29D). This will require removal of trees in the sight lines from the entrance, which will extend 280 feet in each direction. The owners of these parcels have stated that they will grant those easements (see Attachment E)

 

The Virginia Department of Health has stated that the existing septic system for the converted barn is sufficient for up to 18 people per day. Therefore staff has included a recommended condition of approval below that would limit attendance to 18, rather than 20 as proposed by the applicant.

 

Staff has received 19 letters from citizens regarding this proposal, all of which are in support of the school use on this site (see Attachment F).

 

Site Plan Waiver

 

In conjunction with the Special Permit request, the applicant has also submitted an application for site plan waiver approval.  These requests are reviewed in accord with Chapter 18, Section 32.2.2 of the County Code which states:

 

“32.2.2  The foregoing notwithstanding, after notice in accordance with Section 32.4.2.5, the commission may waive the drawing of a site plan in particular case upon a finding that the requirement of such plan would not forward the purposes of this chapter or otherwise serve the public interest; provided that no such waiver shall be made until the commission has considered the recommendation of the agent.  The agent may recommend approval, approval with conditions, or denial of such waiver.  In the case of conditional approval, the agent in his recommendation shall state the relationship of the recommended condition to the provisions of this section.  No condition shall be imposed which could not be imposed through the application of the regulations of Section 32.0.”

 

The site review committee has reviewed this request and is able to support the waiver with the conditions listed below. The conceptual plan provided for the special use permit request is generally sufficient for the scale of site improvements needed for this use.

 

Section 32.7.9.7 and 32.7.9.8 of the Zoning Ordinance would require screening of the parking area with a double-staggered row of evergreen trees or shrubs. However, the section states that “alternate methods of vegetative screening may be approved by the agent.” It is staff’s opinion that a more natural pattern of landscaping would be more appropriate in this rural setting. Therefore, in accordance with Section 32.7.9.3 Variation, Waiver, the Zoning Administrator has found that the alternative landscaping (as required in recommended condition 1(a)) would forward the purposes of the chapter and otherwise serve the public interest. A recommended condition of approval is included below that would require staff approval of a revised plan showing this landscaping (condition 1(a)).

 

SUMMARY:

Staff has identified the following factors favorable to these applications:

  1. No new structures or public facilities would be required for the use.
  2. The scale of the use would be limited to the capacity of the existing building and septic system.

 

Staff has identified the following factors unfavorable to these applications:

 

1.       The use would require the creation of a parking area. However, the impacts of the new parking would be mitigated by the recommended condition regarding landscaping. The parking area would be surfaced with gravel, in keeping with the gravel roads in the area.

2.       Trees on adjacent properties would be need to be cleared to provide sight-distance easements recommended by VDOT to make the entrance safe.

 

RECOMMENDED ACTIONS: 

Based on the findings contained in this staff report, staff recommends approval of SP 2007-21 with the following conditions:

 

1)      The school use and the location and scale of improvements for that use shall be developed in general accord with the conceptual plan titled "Ms. Beth Goldstein/Yoga-Meditation Studio," prepared by Studio Elle, LLC, dated 8-2-07, and revised 10/3/07, provided that:

a)      Staff approval of a revised landscape plan shall be required. Plantings for screening of the parking lot, to consist of a naturalistic pattern of multi-species trees and shrubs, as listed in the brochure titled “Native Plants for Conservation, Restoration, and Landscaping: Piedmont Plateau,” published by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, are to extend along the northwest edge of the parking area from the property line to the existing framed shed shown on the conceptual plan. These plantings to be arranged in a density that would mitigate views of the parking area, with a spacing allowing the natural form/habit of the plant material to be recognized.

2)      Maximum attendance on any day shall be 18 students.

3)      No outdoor amplified sound systems shall be operated for the school use.

4)      Classes shall take place on no more than 20 days per calendar month. Hours of operation shall be no earlier than 8 a.m and no later than 8 p.m.

5)      The use shall not commence and the zoning clearance for the use shall not be issued until:

a)      The Virginia Department of Transportation approves the sight-distance easements and the construction of the entrance improvements

b)      The Virginia Department of Health approves well and septic systems

c)      Community Development staff approves a revised landscaping plan for SDP 2007-00095 that satisfies Condition 1(a).

 

Based on the findings contained in this staff report, staff recommends approval of SDP 2007-00095 with the following condition:

 

1)      Staff approval of a revised plan showing

a)      Landscaping consistent with condition 1(a) of SP 2007-00021

b)      Parking stops as approved by the County Engineer

 

ATTACHMENTS

A.                  Location Map

B.                   Detail Map

C.                   Conceptual Plan (Sheet 1)

D.                  Conceptual Plan (Sheet 2)

E.                   Letters regarding sight-distance easements

F.                   Letters from public

Return to PC actions