COUNTY OF ALBEMARLE

PLANNING STAFF REPORT SUMMARY

 

Project Name:  Crozet Downtown Zoning

Proposed Zoning Text Amendment (ZTA) 2007-005 and (ZMA) Map Amendment (project number not yet assigned)

Staff:  Rebecca Ragsdale

Planning Commission Work Session

January 29, 2008

Board of Supervisors Work Session

March 5, 2008 (Brief Presentation)

March 17, 2008 (Work Session)

Acreage: Approximately 76 acres considered, 54 recommended for County-initiated rezoning

Rezone from: R2 Residential, C1 Commercial, CO Commercial, PDSC Planned District Shopping Center,  HI Heavy Industrial

TMP:   Various parcels

By-right use: Single Family Residential, retail, service, office, or lumber yard

 

Magisterial District: White Hall

Proffers:    No

Proposal:  Potential rezoning of portions of Downtown Crozet to a new zoning district to allow for new development and redevelopment in Downtown Crozet, including reduced setbacks, minimum two-story and maximum four-story building heights with some exceptions, reduced parking requirements, reduced buffer/screening requirements, flexibility in allowable land uses with residential, parking garages, and stand-alone parking uses by-right.

DA (Development Area):  Community of Crozet

Comp. Plan Designation:  CT6 Urban Core, CT5 Urban Center, CT 1 & CT 2 Development Area Reserve/Preserve in the Crozet Master Plan

Character of Property:   Downtown Crozet includes mixed commercial uses, civic uses, and residences with some parcels undeveloped

Use of Surrounding Properties:  Residential uses, a stream buffer, and property under easement surround Downtown

RECOMMENDATION:    Staff recommends the Commission consider the outstanding items noted by staff and forward the attached draft zoning district regulations and boundaries for County-initiated rezoning to the Board of Supervisors to consider for eventual public hearing.

 

 

 


 

 

 

STAFF PERSON:                                                                         REBECCA RAGSDALE

PLANNING COMMISSION:                                                                    January 29, 2008

BOARD OF SUPERVISORS                                                March 5, 2008 and March 17, 2008

 

 

CROZET DOWNTOWN ZONING PROJECT ZTA 2007-005

Draft Zoning Text Amendment & Proposed Zoning Map Amendment

 

BACKGROUND

The Downtown Crozet Zoning Project was initiated by the Board of Supervisors with a resolution of intent and approval of funding to hire a consultant in September 2006, based on the urging of Crozet business and property owners, along with endorsement of the project by the Crozet Community Advisory Council. The consultant team of Community Planning + Design, in conjunction with Milt Herd and Bruce Dotson, was selected and began work with the Crozet Community in May 2007. The consultant worked with the Crozet community over five community meetings to develop a draft set of new zoning regulations for Downtown Crozet. These draft recommendations were presented to the Planning Commission in September 2007 and have been discussed in a series of work sessions summarized below.

 

9/18/07 Planning Commission Work Session

The consultant, Community Planning + Design, provided an overview of their recommendations to the Commission. The consultant provided a full range of zoning recommendations for Crozet, which included the concept of establishing four new zoning districts and regulations for each to implement the transect concept of the Crozet Master Plan, address all goals for Downtown and accommodate the desires of the Crozet Community heard in public input meetings on the zoning project. The consultant’s role with the community was to generate zoning concepts for community consideration and to ensure that those concepts are fully discussed before moving forward to the Commission and this culminated in the Crozet Downtown Zoning Consultant Recommendations packet and maps dated September 4, 2007.

 

10/2/07 Planning Commission Work Session

The focus of this work session was to further discuss the intent of the zoning recommendations and the need for four zoning districts, as recommended by the consultant in their September 4, 2007 packet. Public input provided by members of the Crozet Community, including the Downtown Crozet Association (DCA), was supportive of one Downtown zoning district and no Transition Districts. The Crozet Community representatives also did not support the Downtown 2 District, requirements for mixed use, requirement for a maximum residential unit size average, and building articulation requirements. The Commission directed staff to look at ways of simplifying the approach to the zoning changes.

 

10/30/07 Planning Commission Work Session

Zoning regulations for a single Downtown Zoning district, as presented by staff and based on the consultant and community’s prior work, were discussed in this work session. The Commission provided the following regarding the draft zoning district regulations:

 

Parking- The Commission had concerns about parking trading agreements and the potential for owners to lose parking, after having established businesses, due to the informal nature of the proposal for establishing the agreements among property owners. There was also concern that this would put the County in a role of then having to enforce parking requirements that could affect businesses. The Commission directed staff to look at ways to reduce the minimum number of parking spaces and recommended that the minimum spaces for 2-bedroom residential uses should be 2.0 instead of 2.5.

 

Mixed Use-The consultant’s proposal would require that each building have a mixture of uses.  Members of the public were concerned that requiring all buildings to have mixed use would be too onerous and that there should be more flexibility for property owners to allow them to attract businesses. The Commissioners were concerned that a mix of commercial and residential uses might not be achieved in the downtown without some incentives or requirements. They directed staff to look at ways of providing incentives for mixed use rather than requiring it through regulations.

 

Maximum Average Residential Unit Size-The Commission indicated that the 1,000 sq ft maximum average for residential units needed additional work and substantiation and asked staff to provide that information.

 

Building Height- The consultant’s proposal would require a 2-story minimum and allow up to 4 stories in height.  The Commission heard from members of the Crozet community who indicated support for the requirements as they are proposed. Others were concerned about loss of views and that 4 stories was too tall for Downtown Crozet. The Commission agreed not to recommend revisions to requirements for a 2-story minimum, 4-story maximum, and greater than 4-stories or single-story through special use permit approval.

 

 

11/27/07 Planning Commission Work Session

The purpose of this work session was to discuss changes that had been made by staff to the Downtown district regulations, in response to Commission recommendations; to review the proposed boundaries of the Downtown District; and to discuss the proposed process for implementation, including the potential of a County-initiating rezoning to the Downtown District and recommended boundaries for that rezoning.

 

Parking-The Commission continued to recommend that the minimum number of parking spaces should be further reduced from the recommendations of the consultant and that they needed more information behind the recommendation of 1 space/1,000 square feet of net floor area for non-residential uses. The Commission recommended using current Zoning Ordinance regulations of Section 4.12.8.e for parking trading agreements.

 

Requirement for Mixed Use- The Commission asked staff to pursue other exemptions or incentives for mixed use, such as the tiered approach as suggested by staff, but did not recommend that district regulations include requirements that buildings be mixed use, which is defined as two of three uses: office, retail/services, or residential.

 

Maximum average residential unit size-The Commission recommended that the regulation of a 1,000 sq ft maximum average for residential units not be included in the new zoning district regulations. The Commission requested that staff work on this issue to provide additional incentives/provisions to assure affordable housing in Downtown Crozet.  

 

Potential Boundaries of County-Initiated Rezoning- The Commission recommended that the Downtown Crozet area should be as large as possible to help ensure the economic viability of Downtown Crozet and indicated a preference for including the additional properties studied and shown on previous consultant and Downtown Crozet Association maps for County-initiated rezoning, including properties west of Carter Street (mid-block) and the J. Bruce Barnes lumber yard property.

 

Other discussion items:

 

The Commission also heard public comment at the November 27 work session and that is summarized in the attached action memo from the meeting. (Attachment A)

 

1/14/08 Downtown Crozet Association Discussion (DCA)

The DCA held their regular meeting on Monday, January 14, 2008, where there were about 16 members of the DCA or concerned members of the public present. Tom Loach, Planning Commissioner and Ann Mallek, Board of Supervisor for Crozet, were also present.  At the meeting, staff provided the group an update on the Downtown Crozet Zoning project, including a summary of the Commission’s November 27, 2008 work session. Below is a staff summary of discussion items at that meeting:

 

            Potential Boundaries of a County-Initiated Rezoning

Staff provided information to the group regarding areas of concern and considerations related to analysis of a County-initiated rezoning.  Staff noted that the boundaries under discussion are those that the County would consider rezoning now but would not change the guidelines of the Crozet Master Plan (CMP) for what areas might be appropriate for eventual rezoning and would still be considered as part of Downtown Crozet. This included a discussion regarding New Main Street and Carter Street improvements, including staff’s continued concern that there would be no assurances that improvements would be provided if the County comprehensively rezoned the lumber yard property and properties west of Carter Street. Staff noted that the CMP had planned for these improvements to be made by the private sector and are not currently programmed in the County CIP and no current cost estimates are available for those improvements.

 

Carroll Conley, owner of the lumber yard property, indicated a preference for not including his property in the County-initiated rezoning because he does not want the lumber yard to become a non-conforming use under the new proposed zoning district.  The DCA expressed concern that previous work on boundaries for the future proposed Downtown Crozet zoning district would not be “tossed out” and still considered. There was not a clear consensus that emerged from the group on boundary recommendations, although some members were supportive of Mr. Conley’s preference.

 

            Parking

After discussion and concern that 1 parking space per 1,000 square feet of net floor area would not provide a sufficient number of spaces for some business, the DCA indicated that the minimum parking requirement of 1 space/1,000 net floor area would be acceptable as a minimum parking requirement and recommended that there be no maximum parking requirement. There was also concern expressed by some members regarding the requirement for a recorded instrument to ensure parking availability under provisions for parking trading agreements. The main concern was that no one would use this provision if it required the deed recordation.  Several speculated that lenders would be averse to making loans for property with this type of restriction.

 

            Maximum Average Residential Unit Size & Requirement for Mixed Use

Staff advised the DCA that the Commission had recommended that there be no regulations to require a maximum average residential unit size or a requirement for mixed use. The DCA expressed their continued interest in not including these requirements in the draft Downtown Zoning District regulations. A question was raised as to whether or not the new proposed zoning district would allow additional uses by-right that would provide for employment uses in Downtown and indicated a preference that uses such as R & D be allowed by-right in the new district rather than by special use permit, to allow for more higher-wage employment opportunities.

 

This staff report responds to the direction provided by the Commission at their last work session and input received from the community at the Downtown Crozet Association meeting held on January 14, 2008.

 

CHARACTER OF THE AREA

The potential rezoning is for Downtown Crozet, which includes churches, residences, businesses, undeveloped parcels, and the site of the proposed new library, and various parking areas. The buildings located within the project area vary in age and architecture, with some buildings in need of renovation and contribute to the current character of Downtown Crozet. The area proposed for rezoning to the Downtown Crozet zoning district includes parcels located along Three Notch’d Road/Route 240, west of Firehouse Lane and east of Crozet Avenue and south of the stream that runs north of Downtown Crozet, parcels south of the railroad tracks and under pass along Crozet Avenue, including properties on The Square, down to Tabor Street to the South, extending to Carter Street and including all the existing Commercial in the area south of Jarman’s Gap Road and west of Crozet Avenue. (Aerial-Attachment B)

 

BY-RIGHT USES POTENTIALLY CHANGED BY THIS PROPOSAL

Current zoning in Downtown Crozet includes R2 Residential, C1 Commercial, CO Commercial, PDSC Planned District Shopping Center, and HI Heavy Industrial. The R2 Residential zoned properties are permitted one single-family residence by-right. The Commercial zoned properties are permitted retail, office, and service uses by-right, but current zoning regulations for setbacks, buffer/screening, parking, and building height make it difficult to infill and redevelop properties under the current ordinance. The lumber yard property was rezoned from C1 Commercial to HI Heavy Industrial in 1995 and proffers limit the allowed uses on the property to sawmills, planing mills, wood preserving operation and woodyards, along with fire and rescue stations, manufacture of building components, warehouse facilities, electric gas oil and communication facilities public uses and buildings, and wood preserving not including certain chemical treatments. (Existing Zoning Map-Attachment C)

 

SPECIFICS OF PROPOSAL 

The Crozet Downtown Zoning District has been developed specifically for Downtown Crozet with the following purpose & intent:

 

The Commission is asked to review draft zoning regulations for Downtown Crozet, provided as Attachment D. The regulations have been revised based on input received from the Commission at their November 27, 2007 work session and discussion with the Downtown Crozet Association (DCA) at their meeting on January 14, 2008. The table of draft regulations (Attachment D) is for a single zoning district for Downtown Crozet that would provide regulations for:

 

Also provided is a map depicting the boundaries under consideration for rezoning, including both the expanded area recommended by the Downtown Crozet Association and discussed by the Commission at their last work session. The areas of concern to staff and not included in the boundary map provided and discussed at the last work session are outlined in red. (Attachment E)

 

 

 

Outstanding Items for Commission Discussion & Input

There is a general consensus on most proposed zoning district regulations; however, staff is seeking input from the Commission on the following, which are discussed in more detail later in the report:

 

 

 

COMPREHENSIVE PLAN:

 

Crozet Master Plan

The CMP recognizes that Downtown is a special place in Crozet and establishes it as the primary center and focal point for Crozet. The land use guidelines for Downtown are attached, which define the four Crozet Transect (CT), or land use, designations within Downtown: CT 6 Urban Core, CT5 Urban Center, CT4 Urban General, and Employment District. Downtown includes both a commercial/business area with an industrial use and adjoining areas that are predominantly residential in character. Table 1 and Table 2 of the Crozet Master Plan establish design guidelines and land use expectations for Downtown and are attached. (Attachments F and G)

 

                         

 

 

The proposed zoning district regulations help to achieve the goals set out in the Crozet Master Plan for Downtown, of Table 1 of the CMP, through design and building orientation, instead of by separation of land uses, and by encouraging a pedestrian-friendly environment. The proposed new zoning rules call for not only the conventional “minimum” setbacks of buildings from the street, but in some cases also a “maximum” setback to ensure that new buildings help “frame” the street, thereby creating a sense of spatial enclosure for pedestrians – an essential element for pedestrian comfort. 

 

The Crozet Master Plan (CMP) indicates, with CT 6 and CT5 land use designations, where it would be appropriate for zoning of a Downtown character. (inset above) The proposed zoning map amendment boundaries indicate areas of Downtown where the County would initiate a comprehensive rezoning. (Attachment E)The CMP would still guide future rezoning decisions for individual property owners that would seek rezonings outside of the proposed area, but within the CT 6 and CT 5 land use designations. The proposed Downtown Crozet Zoning District would potentially be appropriate for many areas of Downtown Crozet. The boundaries that are recommended for County-initiated rezoning include most all of the CT 6 Urban Core areas and many properties designated CT 5, including properties east to Fire House Lane and south of Jarmans Gap Road and west of Crozet Avenue currently zoned commercial. As noted in staff’s recommended boundaries discussed November 27, 2007, there are concerns with rezoning the lumber yard property, which a portion of is designated as an Employment District, and with rezoning the western side of Carter Street. Concerns regarding impacts of rezoning these additional areas are discussed under IMPACTS later in this report.

 

Neighborhood Model

The Neighborhood Model describes the more "urban" form of development desired for the Development Areas. The following is an assessment of how the proposed zoning district regulations have provided for these Neighborhood Model’s 12 principles:

 

Pedestrian Orientation

The proposed regulations require sidewalks with a minimum width of 8’ along most streets, with a minimum of 10’ on Crozet Avenue, Three Notch’d Road, New Main Street, subject to the Phase II Streetscape project. Main entry to buildings is required from front or side of building, oriented to pedestrians. Side entrance doors must face the street the building fronts (as in a side vestibule). This principle is met.

Neighborhood Friendly Streets and Paths

The proposed regulations require street trees, between the sidewalks and streets to allow for a comfortable walking environment. This principle is met.

Interconnected Streets and Transportation Networks

The Crozet Master Plan serves as a guide for street interconnections in Downtown. The zoning project encourages new development patterns that create blocks, including a requirement for a façade break every 200 feet to provide alleys behind buildings, and would allow for the street network anticipated by the CMP to be achieved. This principle is met.  

Parks and Open Space

 

The Crozet Master Plan recommends a Downtown Park near new Main Street, neighborhood parks, and greenway development as public spirited efforts or public-private partnerships in Downtown. The new Crozet library may also include park and open space elements. The proposed zoning district regulations do not provide regulations that require parks and open space but do allow for greater setbacks on properties so that public spaces and plazas can be provided with new developments. Parks and open space would be allowed uses in the new district. Claudius Crozet Park is also located approximately ¼ mile from most portions of Downtown Crozet. This principle is met.

Neighborhood Centers

Downtown serves as a neighborhood center for Crozet and these regulations would allow for Downtown to remain as a viable commercial center in Crozet. This principle is met.

Buildings and Spaces of Human Scale

The proposed regulations would establish a minimum setback of 1’ and a maximum of 10’ with buildings of 2-4 stories in height to create a sense of spatial enclosure along streets. A 15’ minimum stepback is required for front portions of structure that exceed 3 stories to ensure this principle is met.

Relegated Parking

Relegated parking is a requirement of the proposed zoning district regulations and parking must be located behind the rear façade of buildings. This principle is met.

 

Mixture of Uses

 

The proposed zoning district regulations allow for a greater mix of office, service, retail, and residential uses in Downtown. The requirement for mixed use that was previously part of the draft regulations is no longer included to allow greater flexibility for new business development in Downtown and residential uses are now allowed by-right to encourage mixed use. This principle is met.

Mixture of Housing Types and Affordability

A variety of residential types would be allowed by-right under the proposed zoning district regulations with densities not to exceed the CMP recommendations of up to 36 dwelling units per acre in a mixed use setting or up to 18 d.u./acre. Because of the limitations in state enabling legislation, the proposed zoning ordinance regulations cannot require that housing provided meet the affordability guidelines of the Comprehensive Plan. However, given that residential would be allowed by-right, with a variety of densities and unit types, this may enable provision of affordable units as part of the mix of housing types. The only other ordinance possibility would be to revise recommended densities of the proposed zoning ordinance, lower than CMP recommendations, and add an affordable housing density bonus provision. This principle is partially met.

Redevelopment

The proposed zoning district regulations are intended to help facilitate redevelopment of Downtown Crozet so that the CMP goals of it serving as a primary commercial center with an urban form can be more easily achieved than under the current ordinance. This principle is met.

Site Planning that Respects Terrain

Most properties included in the proposed Downtown Crozet Zoning district are on fairly flat terrain, as much of downtown Crozet has already been developed.  Critical slopes regulations would still apply in the proposed Downtown Zoning district. This principle is met.

 

Clear Boundaries with the Rural Areas

Downtown Crozet and portions of it proposed for rezoning are located entirely within the Crozet Development Area boundaries and are not adjacent to the Rural Areas.

 

 

IMPACTS OF THIS PROPOSAL

 

Library – The Crozet Master Plan established a new and expanded public library in downtown Crozet as a critical priority. Based on their input into the master planning process, citizens strongly preferred to place the new library in the heart of downtown to provide a focal point for community activity and expand opportunities for economic vitality for existing and new downtown businesses. Property has been purchased in Downtown Crozet for the new library and the Board of Supervisors has approved construction of a 20,000 square foot library building, which will include space for complementary uses such as public meeting rooms and community space. 

 

The site of the new library is currently zoned R2 Residential and the proposed Crozet Downtown Zoning district is a critical project to the library. A rezoning, to the proposed district, is needed to allow development of the library in a manner consistent with the expected urban form for new buildings in Downtown, based on the CMP recommendations.

 

Schools – There are expected to be residential uses resulting from this rezoning that may generate students that would attend schools in the Crozet development area, including Crozet Elementary which is within walking distance of Downtown, Henley Middle School and Western Albemarle High School. The findings of the fiscal impact analyst, which was based on staff’s recommended boundaries discussed with the Commission at the 11/27/07 work session, are attached and also summarized below. (Attachment H)

 

Fire, Rescue, Police – The Crozet Volunteer Fire Station and the Western Albemarle Rescue Station provide fire and rescue services to the Downtown.  The Crozet Volunteer Fire Station is actually located within the proposed boundaries of the Downtown zoning district. The planned Ivy Area Station will also augment services provided by the two existing fire and rescue stations in Crozet.  The service objective of the Community Facilities Plan is to achieve an average response time (how long it takes once the call is dispatched from ECC until a fire apparatus arrives on scene) to fire emergency calls of five minutes or less in the Development Areas and an average response time to rescue emergency calls of four minutes or less in the Development Areas. The area proposed for rezoning should be within these response times.

 

Albemarle County Fifth Street Office Building contains the County’s Police Department, although police patrol all areas of the County. The service objective of the Community Facilities Plan is to achieve an average response time of five minutes or less to all emergency calls 85 percent of the time in the designated Development Areas. This is achieved through their sector/beat system. Police satellite offices are recommended within a service sector to help achieve these desired response times to all police emergency calls and there is a small police office located within The Meadows Community Building, although not staffed at all times. The possibility of an additional fire/rescue/police station is under consideration for the area in 2012.

 

 

Utilities – Downtown Crozet is designated for water and sewer service by the Albemarle County Service Authority. Potential development under this rezoning should not exceed capacities for Crozet and Downtown is seen as a priority area for service. The ACSA would review development or redevelopment projects through the site plan review process to ensure the availability of service. The County is currently working with Dominion power to relocated overhead utilities in Downtown from Crozet Avenue.

 

Environmental & Stormwater Management- There are water resources located within or adjoining Downtown Crozet, including a tributary of Parrot Branch along the proposed northern boundaries of the zoning district and Powell’s Creek running along the western boundary of the district. Crozet is the only development area that lies within a water supply protection area and properties that develop in Downtown will be subject to the more stringent requirements within the Water Protection Ordinance. To better address stormwater management, the County is currently developing a regional approach to stormwater management with development of a facility just south of the proposed Downtown zoning district. (See inset below)

 

 

 

Streets – Downtown Crozet is currently served by a network of primary and secondary roads, most of which are built to a rural section. With County projects and individual development projects, it is expected that roads within Downtown would be improved to an urban section. With regard to capacity of roads, the Crozet Master Plan recommends a New Main Street as an addition to the street network to improve traffic flow in Downtown Crozet:

 

 

 

Plan and initiate the first stages of a new “Main Street” parallel to and south of the CSX tracks running from Crozet Avenue eastward.  This will ensure critical linkages between downtown and new development to the south and east. Construction phasing should begin from the west (Crozet Avenue).  Barnes Lumber is the primary beneficiary in the creation of this new road segment connecting their property with Crozet Avenue and should therefore participate substantially in its funding.(CMP Page 15)

 

Items recommended for private sector funding or public/private collaboration in or near Downtown: (CMP Page 18)

·         Main Street at Crozet Avenue: $500,000 (2005-2006, private development or public/private partnership; this should be a cost sharing arrangement with the lumber business, since they are the principal beneficiary of the initial block(s) of Main Street, east of Crozet Avenue)

·         Main Street extensions: $2,500,000 (2006 - ?, depending upon the pace of private development)

 

One reason staff has not recommended including the Barnes lumber yard property in this comprehensive rezoning is, if the County comprehensively rezones the lumber yard, there are no assurances that the New Main Street would be built as the CMP expected and serve as a primary transportation route as it was intended. Through the by-right process, which would be applicable if the County rezoned the property, the County could only seek a reservation, but not dedication, of right of way for New Main Street when the property is developed. By contrast, if the property sought rezoning in the future, provision of that part of New Main Street could be achieved through proffers. New Main Street is not currently a County CIP project as it was anticipated as a project to be achieved as part of private development. This issue could be further examined at the 5-year update of the Crozet Master Plan.

 

Also of concern to staff is including the west side of Carter Street in the rezoning. Carter Street is a substandard street, with inadequate pavement width, no sidewalks and a rural section. Through the by-right process, if the County were to rezone the properties, only frontage improvements would be required of applicants as they submit individual site development plans The CMP recommends a street section with the features illustrated below:

 

 

Cultural & Historic Resources

Historic resources in Downtown Crozet were surveyed and inventoried in the Architectural Survey of Albemarle County Villages, which was completed by Dames & Moore in 1995. This survey identified resources in Downtown that were considered significant and contributing to a potential historic district in Crozet. Prior to the Dames & Moore Study, resources in Crozet had not been surveyed and there are currently no resources listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

 

More recently, the County has entered into an agreement with the Virginia Department of Historic Resources (DHR) to share the cost of conducting an updated study of historic architectural resources in the Crozet community. Arcadia Preservation, LLC has conducted the survey of approximately 300 Crozet properties. Documentation for each property includes a physical description, a written statement of historic significance, photographs, and site sketches. Using this information, potential historic district boundaries have been identified. The consultant is now preparing documentation forms for the surveyed properties and the potential historic district. Next, a report will be drafted detailing strategies for coordinating Crozet’s future development, including consideration of the Downtown Zoning project, with the community’s significant historic resources. Following the consultant’s work, the community may choose to pursue having the historic district listed in the Virginia Landmarks Register and the National Register of Historic Places. This honorary designation highlights the unique architectural and historic character of the community. It imposes no regulations, but instead enables buildings that contribute to the significance of the district to qualify for historic rehabilitation tax credits. The consultant has prepared an updated inventory and boundaries for a potential Historic District and the area for the Downtown Zoning District that overlaps with the historic district have been considered.

 

The intent of the new zoning regulations is to make it easier for new infill and redevelopment to occur in a manner consistent with historic building patterns for commercial buildings. However, like under the current Zoning Ordinance, the new zoning district does not establish any regulations for protection of significant historic resources that would prevent their demolition. Also, if the County comprehensively rezones Downtown, there would not be the opportunity for additional protection measures afforded by the rezoning or special use permit process. However, the strategies report prepared as part of the historic resources project will include incentives and other approaches that will assist with historic preservation goals of the Crozet Master Plan, which recommend establishment of guidelines for renovating historic structures and for initiated the establishment of a historic district in Downtown.

 

Entrance Corridor Impacts & ARB

In Downtown Crozet, Route 240/Three Notch’d Road and Crozet Avenue south of the railroad underpass are designated Entrance Corridors . Albemarle County adopted the Entrance Corridor Overlay District ordinance (Article 18, Section 30.6) in order to preserve and protect certain roadway corridors considered to be significant entryways for tourist and for historic resources.  The Albemarle County Architectural Review Board (ARB) is appointed by the Board of Supervisors and is charged with the responsibility of regulating the design of development within the County's Entrance Corridors. The goal of this regulation is to ensure that new development in these corridors reflects the traditional architecture of the area and that development within the corridors is orderly and attractive. The ARB uses a set of Design Guidelines when reviewing projects along the Entrance Corridors.

 

While the recommended zoning for Downtown Crozet outlines basic requirements for building setbacks, parking placement, and lighting and landscaping, it has no provision for signage, fenestration, or building materials.  Citizens and business owners feel strongly that there should be fewer impediments to development in Downtown Crozet and during the public process for this zoning project many citizens have spoken about their perception of the current overregulation of Downtown’s entrance corridors.

While the proposed Downtown District will establish certain design requirements that supersede the ARB guidelines, staff believes that the stylistic aspects of ARB will still hold relevance after the implementation of new zoning. Consideration of ARB guidelines for Crozet is beyond the scope of this zoning project. Approaches to this issue are included below in the discussion section of the report.

 

Impacts to Adjoining Properties

Downtown is surrounded by established residential neighborhoods, including Wayland Park, Hill Top/High Street, Blue Ridge/Carter, and Parkside Village. The consultant’s recommendations included a less intense transitional zoning district adjacent to these areas. It is now proposed that the proposed downtown zoning district would adjoin these properties and would allow up to 4 story buildings by-right.  However, to mitigate impacts, the proposed ordinance regulations provide for buffering and screening against residential, consisting of a 20’ vegetative buffer or an opaque wall or fence at least 4’ high or a combination thereof. These provisions in the proposed ordinance regulations do not provide for a transition in building height and buildings would be allowed, under the proposed regulations, to be built up to 4 stories.

 

Fiscal Considerations

The Fiscal Impact Planner conducted an initial assessment of financial implications of a County-initiated rezoning of the proposed boundaries that did not include properties west of Carter Street or the lumber yard property. The purpose of that analysis was to compare revenue and expenditure under the existing zoning of Downtown and that possible under the proposed new zoning district for Downtown.  This analysis is provided as Attachment H.

 

The Fiscal Impact Analyst’s findings and analysis were based on a number of factors and assumptions outlined in the Commission’s November 27, 2007 staff report. The report indicated that under the proposed zoning for Downtown Crozet, there would be a positive impact to County’s revenues over a 20-year time frame based on the Cost Revenue Impact Model. The report indicated that the County would be $,11,900,2000 better off rezoning the area included in the staff recommended boundaries to the proposed Downtown Crozet Zoning district, as compared with development potential under existing zoning. This model only accounts for current CIP projects, therefore there is no way to model fiscal impacts of including the additional properties along Carter Street and the lumber yard.

 

 

OUTSTANDING ITEMS FOR COMMISSION DISCUSSION & INPUT:

 

Proposed By-right & Special Use Permit Uses

Based on questions raised at the recent Downtown Crozet Association meeting and consistent inquiries that staff has received from businesses seeking to locate in Downtown Crozet, staff is requesting input on special permit uses and uses allowed by-right in the proposed Downtown Zoning District. (Refer to Attachment E)

 

The recommendations of the zoning project are intended to provide for a greater mix of uses and flexibility by-right. The draft regulations include uses previously listed in the 4 separate zoning districts that were recommended by the consultant in their September recommendation packet. These recommended uses include all current Commercial district by-right uses, also including some other by-right uses such as hotels, motels, and inns, indoor athletic facilities, commercial recreation establishments including but not limited to amusement centers, bowling alleys, pool halls and dance halls, schools of special instruction, live theater, single screen movie theater, residential uses and stand-alone parking or parking structures. Staff has also made a correction to this table to accurately reflect that Automobile service stations (reference 5.1.20) and Automobile, truck repair shops excluding body shops are uses allowed by-right in the current zoning ordinance.

 

Staff would like the Commission to consider whether several of the uses listed as special use permit (SP) in the draft ordinance should be considered as by-right uses to allow for additional employment uses and economic vitality in Downtown:

 

Veterinary office and hospital (reference 5.1.11) without outdoor exercise areas

This use is allowed, regardless of whether outdoor exercise areas are provided, by-right in the current zoning ordinance in the Heavy Industrial and Planned Development Industrial Park districts and is permitted by SP in the RA Rural Areas, Commercial Zoning Districts, and Planned Commercial Districts including PDMC, PDSC, and PUD. The following supplemental regulations are applicable to this use in the current ordinaince:

5.1.11 COMMERCIAL KENNEL, VETERINARY SERVICE, OFFICE OR HOSPITAL, ANIMALHOSPITAL, ANIMAL SHELTER (Amended 6-14-00)

Each commercial kennel, veterinary and animal hospital shall be subject to the following:

Each commercial kennel, veterinary service, office or hospital, animal hospital and animal shelter shall be subject to the following:

a. Except where animals are confined in soundproofed, air-conditioned buildings, no structure or area occupied by animals shall be closer than five hundred (500) feet to any agricultural or residential lot line. For non-soundproofed animal confinements, an external solid fence not less than six (6) feet in height shall be located within fifty (50) feet of the animal confinement and shall be composed of concrete block, brick, or other material approved by the zoning administrator; (Amended 11-15-89)

b. For soundproofed confinements, no such structure shall be located closer than two hundred (200) feet to any agricultural or residential lot line. For soundproofed confinements, noise measured at the nearest agricultural or residential property line shall not exceed fifty-five (55) decibels; (Amended 11-15-89; 6-14-00)

c. In all cases, animals shall be confined in an enclosed building from 10:00 p.m. to 6:00a.m.(Amended 11-15-89; 6-14-00)

d. In areas where such uses may be in proximity to other uses involving intensive activity such as shopping centers or other urban density locations, special attention is required to protect the public health and welfare. To these ends the commission and board may require among other things: (Amended 11-15-89)

-Separate building entrance and exit to avoid animal conflicts;

(Added 11-15-89)

-Area for outside exercise to be exclusive from access by the public by fencing or other means. (Added 11-15-89)

 

Staff believes that veterinary uses, but not kennels, should be considered as a by-right use in the proposed district, if current ordinance supplemental regulations are met and there are no outdoor exercise areas permitted, with animals confined to buildings. There are currently veterinarians interested in establishing practices in Downtown Crozet. Throughout the area, vets are typically located in shopping centers.

 

Research and development activities including experimental testing

This use is currently allowed by special use permit in the CO Commercial Office District and by-right in the LI Light Industrial District and Planned Development Industrial Park district.

 

Staff recommends that this use also be considered as a by-right use, if the Performance Standards of Section 4.14 of the current zoning ordinance are met, with possible additional supplemental regulations, which address noise, vibration, radioactivity, glare, pollution and electrical interference. (Attachment I) This was a use specifically cited as one that should be permitted in Downtown to allow greater employment opportunities.

 

Boundaries of County-initiated Rezoning

The proposed Downtown Zoning District boundary is concentrated around areas of public investment by the County, including the Phase I and II Streetscape projects, library, and stormwater master plan for Downtown. In addition, the boundaries take into consideration the underlying zoning of parcels and impacts to adjoining residential areas, some of which are not yet ready to transition to commercial uses. Staff’s recommendation for the Crozet Downtown District includes a boundary focused on areas already zoned commercial and the block south of New Main Street, north of Tabor Street, and west of High Street. Due to the underlying Heavy Industrial Zoning, which emphasizes the current lumber yard use which is not a permitted use in the new Downtown Zoning District regulations, the J. Bruce Barnes Lumber Yard is not recommended for rezoning at this time. Staff believes that a separate rezoning process initiated by the developer in the future would best serve the interests of the property owner and community for this area.

 

The Commission is asked to consider the additional information provided regarding boundaries of a County-initiated rezoning and forward a recommendation on boundaries to the Board of Supervisors.

 

Buffer/Screening Requirements Adjacent to Residential Districts

The Commission is asked to advise, considering recommendations regarding the boundary area of a County-initiated rezoning, whether the buffer/screening provisions appear adequate to mitigate impacts to residential properties adjoining the potential Downtown District. These provisions in the proposed ordinance provide for a 20’ vegetative buffer or an opaque wall or fence at least 4’ high or a combination thereof. A goal of the zoning project is to increase the utility of the land not require excessive buffer requirements, as are required in the current Commercial Zoning Districts:

 

21.7.3 Buffer zone adjacent to residential and rural areas districts: No construction activity including grading or clearing of vegetation shall occur closer than twenty (20) feet to any residential or rural areas district. Screening shall be provided as required in section 32.7.9. (Amended 9-9-92)

 

Except, the commission may waive this requirement in a particular case where it has been demonstrated that grading or clearing is necessary or would result in an improved site design, provided that:

a. Minimum screening requirements are met; and

b. Existing landscaping in excess of minimum requirements is substantially restored. (Added 7-10-85)

 

The zoning regulations do not provide for a transition in building height and buildings would be allowed, under the proposed regulations, to be built up to 4 stories adjoining residential area. Zoning and the County Attorney have advised that this issue could be further addressed, by requiring reduced building height regulations for certain properties within the proposed Downtown Crozet zoning district.  For example, properties along Crozet Avenue, Three Notch'd Road, New Main Street could be allowed a maximum height of up to 4 stories by-right and properties that abut residential uses could be permitted up to 3 stories maximum by-right.

 

Entrance Corridor & Architectural Review Board (ARB)

The new proposed Downtown Zoning District regulations have some overlap with items that are typically addressed with ARB guidelines, in providing ordinance requirements for building setbacks, parking placement, lighting and landscaping. Many of the principles in the Albemarle County Design Guidelines are inherent in the draft Zoning District Regulations. Generally, the Design Guidelines address the following and are the same set of guidelines uses for Entrance Corridors County-wide:

 

o        Compatibility with the character of the Entrance Corridor, including development patterns

o        Site development and layout, including site grading

o        Landscaping and Lighting

 

As discussed in previous sections of this report, the proposed zoning district is intended to facilitate development and redevelopment in Downtown in more “historically-sensitive” patterns and has carefully considered issues of scale and massing as well. This has been achieved by allowing reduced setbacks, consistent with patterns of existing buildings, that do not have a landscaped area reserved parallel to the Entrance Corridor street, as the ARB guidelines would suggest to accommodate recommended shade trees and ornamentals plantings.  However, the proposed zoning district regulations for Downtown would not address building materials or color, blankness of buildings, architectural styles, or signage.

 

 

Staff believes there are several approaches to consider, in order to ensure that there are no future conflicts once the draft ordinance is adopted with ARB Guidelines and review of projects:

o        In the short term, the ARB review process would adapt to recognize the provisions of the new Downtown Zoning District that supersede guidelines.

o        The County could consider modifying the ARB’s Design Guidelines and develop more specialized guidelines for Crozet that recognize the new Downtown Zoning District and uniqueness of Crozet.

o        Remove the Entrance Corridor (EC) designations altogether in Crozet.

 

In addition to the items discussed above, the Commission has expressed an interest in providing incentives to encourage affordable housing within the new Downtown Crozet Zoning district. No specific feedback was provided from the Downtown Crozet Association on this issue; however, should the Commission want to discuss the issue, staff is prepared.

 

 

RECOMMENDATION:

Staff recommends the Commission consider the outstanding items noted by staff and forward the attached draft zoning district regulations and boundaries for County-initiated rezoning to the Board of Supervisors to consider for eventual public hearing.

 

 

ATTACHMENTS

  1. November 27, 2007 Planning Commission Work Session Action Memo
  2. Aerial Map of Downtown Crozet
  3. Zoning Map of Downtown Crozet
  4. Draft Downtown Crozet Zoning District Regulations, last revised 1/22/08
  5. Draft Recommended Zoning District Boundaries for County-Initiated Rezoning, last revised January 11, 2008
  6. Crozet Master Plan Table 1, “Master Matrix” Crozet Place Types and Design Guidelines
  7. Crozet Master Plan Table 2, Crozet Land Uses and Place Types
  8. Fiscal Impact Analyst’s Memo on Fiscal Impact Analysis of ZTA 07-05
  9. Section 4.14 of the Zoning Ordinance

 

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