Albemarle County Planning Commission

March 11, 2008



The Albemarle County Planning Commission held a meeting and public hearing on Tuesday, March 11, 2008, at 6:00 p.m., at the County Office Building, Lane Auditorium, Second Floor, 401 McIntire Road, Charlottesville, Virginia.


Members attending were Marcia Joseph, Eric Strucko, Thomas Loach; Jon Cannon, Vice Chairman; Linda Porterfield and Calvin Morris, Chairman.  Commissioners absent was Bill Edgerton.  Marcia Joseph arrived at 6:07 p.m. Julia Monteith, AICP, non-voting representative for the University of Virginia was absent. 


Other officials present were Wayne Cilimberg, Planning Director; Claudette Grant, Senior Planner; Megan Yaniglos, Planner; Summer Frederick, Senior Planner; Bill Fritz, Chief of Current Development;  Tamara Ambler, Natural Resources Manager; Jonathan Sharp, Engineer and Greg Kamptner, Deputy County Attorney. 


Call to Order and Establish Quorum:


Mr. Morris called the regular meeting to order at 6:00 p.m. and established a quorum.


Public Hearing Items:


ZMA-2007-00022, Innovative Construction (Sign # 103)

PROJECT: ZMA 2007-022/Innovative Construction

PROPOSAL: Rezone .977 acres from HC - Highway Commercial zoning district which allows commercial and service uses; and residential use by special use permit (15 units/acre) to LI - Light Industrial zoning district which allows industrial, office, and limited commercial uses (no residential use) for contractor's office and storage yard. 


EXISTING COMPREHENSIVE PLAN LAND USE/DENSITY:  Industrial Service - warehousing, light industry, heavy industry, heavy industry, research, office uses, regional scale research, limited production and marketing activities, supporting commercial, lodging and conference facilities, and residential (6.01-34 units/acre) in Neighborhood 4.


LOCATION: 1811 Avon Street Extended (Route 742) across from Reynovia Dr.



(Claudette Grant)


Ms. Grant presented a Power-point presentation and summarized the staff report.  (Attachment B Ė Power-point Presentation)


         The request is for a rezoning for .977 acres from Highway Commercial to Light Industrial and to use the existing building that is on the site for a contractorís office and storage yard.  The applicant would like to purchase the property and use it for a contractorís office and storage yard, which is permitted by right in the Light Industrial zoning district.  It would require a special use permit in the Highway Commercial zoning district.  The current proffers for the property restricts the Highway Commercial use to machinery and equipment sales, services and rental and uses in the Highway Commercial zone are permitted under C-1, Commercial zoning as they may be established under the C-1 regulations.  The contractorís office and storage yard is not a permitted use in the C-1 district.  The applicant plans to use the property as is with no physical changes to the buildings or the site outside of what the County may require.  The Land Use Plan shows the area as Industrial Service.  The applicant is requesting rezoning to an industrial district.    

         There are proffers as noted in the staff report in a more detailed description.  The applicant is requesting a waiver of Section 26.10.3 of the Zoning Ordinance to allow the installation of a fence in the required buffer from a residential district.  Granting the waiver will permit the fence, which is recommended by the Design Planner for the Entrance Corridor. 

         Factors Favorable:  The proposal makes the property more consistent with the Comprehensive Plan.  The rezoning forms a logical extension of the Light Industrial district from the adjacent property.  There are no proposed changes to the site.  The rezoning to Light Industrial zoning will accommodate a small business, which is an identified need in the county. 

         Factors Unfavorable:  The proffers are in need of technical and substantive language revisions.  An issue that has come up with this project is that the existing well and septic system are proposed to remain because of the cost for connections to public water and sewer.  One of the issues with the proffer has to do with the need for a proffer that may require the applicant to connect at whatever time public water and sewer would be available to the site or closer to the site than it currently is.

         Recommendation:  Provided that the technical and substantive provisions to the proffers are completed prior to the Board of Supervisors meeting, staff recommends approval of ZMA-2007-22 inclusive of revised proffers.  Staff also recommends approval of the waiver request from 26.10.3 to allow the fence described in the proffer to be constructed in the buffer. 


Mr. Morris invited questions for staff.


Ms. Joseph noted that in the proffers the applicant has taken the zoning ordinance and removed a lot of the uses in Light Industrial.  She asked if there is any reason why a lot of these uses were eliminated, particularly because the county is looking for more Light Industrial land.


Ms. Grant replied that the applicant worked with zoning staff and decided that the uses that are not crossed out are the uses that would be sufficient for the site as it exists.


Ms. Joseph asked if the Health Department will be involved in this as the use changes. 


Ms. Grant replied that at this point the Health Department has not been involved with this.


There being no further questions for staff, Mr. Morris opened the public hearing and invited the applicant to address the Commission.


Catherine Womack, attorney for Innovative Construction Concepts, Inc., noted that the principals of the company are present tonight, Bill and Brady Sharr, to answer questions. 


         Innovative Construction is the contract purchaser of this property.  They are a locally owned small business that specializes in concrete forming and finishing.  It purchases concrete from others and does not mix or store concrete on the site.  Although it is described as a general contractorís office it is really not the typical general contractor because they donít have heavy traffic coming in and out of the site all day long.  There is one main building on the site and another existing non-conforming storage building.  Both buildings are proposed to remain and will not change.  As shown on the physical survey there is a cluster of other small non-permanent utility buildings that are going to be removed.  They will make that change on the site.  In fact, those buildings encroach on adjacent properties and will be removed. 


         The site was last used for farm machinery, sales, service and rentals.  Farm machinery and equipment was stored on the site.  In fact, it was stored well in front of the building.  The physical survey shows a dotted outline of the gravel storage yard that extends in front of the building up towards the road.  As noted from Innovative proffers that the storage is going to be limited to that beside and behind the building.  There will be a screening fence that will hopefully take care of the Corridor issues. 


         This is currently the only Highway Commercial District in the area.  It is kind of odd because they could have proceeded one of two ways.  They could have gone for a special use permit in Highway Commercial or they could have asked to rezone to LI.   Because zoning to LI seemed to be more compatible with the Comprehensive Plan that is what they elected to do.


         In response to Ms. Josephís question, they were working with staff and there was some intention to try to proffer out more intensive uses that may be not be appropriate for the Entrance Corridor.  They proffered out manufacturing, assembling, warehouse and retail sales that they thought might generate more traffic and might not be desirable in this particular location.  The current zoning is highly proffered as Ms. Grant has said.  They are looking really not to have a big change in what is going on out there.  There was equipment storage there and they are going to have some equipment storage.  It will not be as much as was stored there for the sales and rental uses.  They are not changing the size of the office space.  The main building is approximately one-third office space and two-third garage bays that will be used for vehicle storage and storage of other kinds of equipment. 


         What is proposed is consistent with the Comprehensive Plan for the Land Use Plan and the Economic Development Policy.  Staff has asked for some technical changes in the language.  She did not have any concern that they can satisfy that.  That leaves them with the one substantive issue that is the sewer and water hook up. 


         The estimated cost to hook up is over $40,000.   It requires them to cross property over which they donít have easements.  It is private property and they donít have the right to do that right now.  The $40,000 number does not even include the cost of electric service to a pump and grinder station, rock excavation, bonds and some other things that would go along with this.  This is a huge thing to ask a small business to hook up either now or in the future at that kind of expense. To ask a small business to commit to hooking up in the future at a time when they donít know when the easements might become available to them and they donít know the cost.  They donít have any control over that timing. 


         Ms. Joseph asked if she had information on what the water usage amounts might be.  What she came up with was Service Authority numbers for waste water flow estimates.  She distributed this information.  (See Attachment Ė Albemarle County Service Authority Ė Contributing Waste)   She did not find anything for commercial office space for water flow requirements.  But, for waste water flow they have two full time employees and the two owners are in and out of the building. Most of the other workers go directly to the job site.    It seems that the waste water would be comparable to what the uses of water would be.  The closest they could come was for commercial office.  Per 1,000 square feet it is 90 gallons per day of flow for duration of 12 hours.  They have less than 1,000 square feet of about 600 to 700 square feet.   So it is something less than 90 gallons a day, which would be the usage and waste water flow. 


         What Innovative would like to offer is that it would not intensify its use, not enlarge its buildings or make other changes to its use or not add additional uses without hooking up to water and sewer.  They hope that would be an acceptable compromise.


Mr. Morris invited questions for the applicant.


Mr. Loach asked if the capacity of the well and septic is enough to handle the needs of the business on a daily basis without change.


Ms. Womack replied yes that they submitted a report of inspection of their septic system showing that it was in working order and they donít have any problems with the water supply.


Mr. Morris invited public comment. There being none, he closed the public hearing to bring the matter before the Commission.


Ms. Porterfield said that since there are no easements and the water and sewer are not abutting the property she felt that they need to make some arrangements for that.  If the water and sewer would come over and abut the property she thought that the property owner needs to go on the water and sewer.  That would remove a large amount of the cost because somebody else would have brought it over and the easements would have been taken care of. 


Mr. Cannon asked if there was a range of estimates that are available to characterize the cost if water and sewer became available in this sense.


Ms. Grant replied no, that the estimate is only if they were to connect to water and sewer at its current situation and not if it comes closer.


Mr. Cannon asked what the $5,000 and $6,000 numbers mean on page 4 of the staff report. 


Mr. Strucko pointed out that those numbers were just the connection fees.


Ms. Grant noted that the numbers were for the current situation. 


Ms. Joseph noted that if the line comes close enough the applicant would have to pay those connection fees anyway. 


Mr. Kamptner noted that the Commission may recall a recent light industry rezoning up near the airport under similar circumstances.  They created a proffer that required a connection once the lines came to the front of the property. 


Ms. Joseph asked if the Health Department was part of that approval process.


Mr. Cilimberg replied that they did not.  It is such a very similar case because at that time there was a utilization of the building as it was.   So the occupancy would be as it had been.  This case is very similar.


Mr. Morris asked if the Commission could request from the applicant that if and when water and sewer became available to their site that they could readdress the question based upon the historical data as to usage and so on rather than automatically saying that if it is there they will hook up. 

Mr. Cilimberg asked if he was saying that they have the applicant come back to the Commission not for the use, but whether or not the requirements should be mandatory.


Mr. Morris said that it should either come back to the Commission or come back to staff for a ruling on it at that time rather than automatically having it done if they are only using 90 gallons per day.  That is a small amount. 


Mr. Cilimberg said that staff analysis, which does take place in the development areas when there is a site plan or subdivision and is based on the cost of bringing the service versus the cost of establishing it on site with well and septic. So by cost comparison anything even if it was right up to the property is going to be more than using what is there.  There is not cost in continuing water and sewer.  So their analysis is not going to show a favorable or a more cost efficient result from hooking to public water and sewer.  Hooking to public water and sewer is really a question of the policies of the development area with the desire to have properties hook up. Right now by the proffers the project is limiting itself to no more than what they are proposing to do.  So he did not think that was an issue.   The real question is whether the Commission feels if water and sewer came to the site, as it did on the Dickerson Road project, they would want to have them hook up. It is really not much to analysis otherwise.


Mr. Kamptner said that where they have discretion is determining whether or not service is reasonably available.  But, once it is determined that service is reasonably available connection is required under the regulations.


Ms. Porterfield said that if they are going to allow them to remain on the ground water and the septic that this goes with the land and should they wish to sell this property the next person cannot intensify the use.


Mr. Cilimberg noted that zoning would control that because of the proffers that they have offered on their limits of use types and their occupancy of the existing structure.


Ms. Porterfield asked Mr. Kamptner if it was a moot point about saying that they have to connect when it comes up to the edge of their property they would have to.


Mr. Kamptner replied that it appears that the regulations require connection in the service areas and site plan regulations.


Mr. Cilimberg noted that if there is no site plan required and they are just continuing their use, then he did not think they would be required to hook up. That is why they did that on Dickerson Road.  If the Commission expects that it needs to be added.  If they had a site plan and for whatever reason they were not intensifying their use, but needed to do something that required a site plan, then he thought that kicked that in at that time.  But, they donít know if that is going to be the case.


Ms. Porterfield asked if the applicant could accept in a motion that if they would get water and sewer to the edge of the property so they could hook to it without having to work with the easement and bringing it across two other properties that they would connect to it.


Mr. Loach said that there is no quantifying level that it should be attached.  If they were only using 90 gallons a day, which was a small amount, should it be something that they impose.  On the Watkins request in Crozet he felt that since it was such a small amount that it should not be required.


Ms. Porterfield pointed out that when public water and sewer lines come up to a property she had an obligation to get people off the ground water. 


Ms. Joseph noted that Mr. Watkins was really limiting himself to the landscape business.  This has another listing.  They are allowing manufacturing and could change the use of the site at some point in time.  They could come in with a site plan, etc.


Mr. Loach said that if the applicant indicated that if they change the intensity that they would connect. 


Ms. Joseph noted that if they wanted that it had to be included in the conditions.


Mr. Cannon said that they have two options here.  They have the option that was suggested by staff, which is that the applicant be able to proceed with the status quo until water and sewer become readily available.  There may be a definition of what that means. Or, as applicant has proposed, that the applicant continue with the status quo unless and until the applicant changes the intensity or the nature of the use.  He asked Ms. Womack if that was her proposal.


Ms. Womack replied yes, that was their proposal.


Mr. Cannon said that was the alternative. He was not sure if the further implication of that is if the applicant or a successor to the applicant were to intensify the use and increase the water use that they would have to connect. 


Ms. Womack said that if it was possible to connect that they would have to cross private property to get there.  So they still have that hurdle to cross.


Mr. Cannon said that certainly if it was reasonable available they would connect. So what would happen if they intensify the use and they still would have to cross property?  He asked if they would be in trouble at that point.


Ms. Womack said that they would not be allowed to intensify the use.


Mr. Cannon said that either way he felt it was okay.


Ms. Porterfield said that from what was just said that they donít intend to intensify the use so therefore they would not be asked to bring the water or sewer to the property.  But, if the water or the sewer is brought to the property at that point they would connect.


Ms. Womack replied that is not their proposal, but is the staffís proposal.  She was still asking her client to commit to an expense at some time that they donít know how much it is going to be and they donít know when it is going to be.  They would prefer their own proposal.   If they can only live with the second proposal they would certainly consider it, but she would want to talk with her client about it.


Ms. Porterfield said that she voted against the Watkins proposal and would vote against this one today if they donít at least have the assurance that when water and sewer reach the edge of their property that at that point they would connect. 


Ms. Womack asked if under that circumstance there would be no prohibition on intensification of use. 


Ms. Porterfield said that they canít have it both ways. What they are trying to do is keep the cost down completely.  So they are saying that they can live without intensifying the use and everybody is saying okay fine that they are not going to use too much of it.  They are saying that it is located too far away right now to ask the applicant to bring the water and sewer to the property.  They were not asking them to do that.  But, if somebody else brings the water and sewer to the property, then they have the ability to connect at much less cost. 


Mr. Morris noted that once it come up to the property line that there would be a connection fee.


Ms. Womack noted that it would be the connection fee plus the cost of the work to connect it.  She asked if they were talking about on their side of the road and not across the road.


Ms. Porterfield said they were talking about when it comes to the edge of their property.  At this point it is two properties away and there is no discussion of extending it. 


Ms. Womack said that Mr. Shea says that he would agree to that. But, she needs to clarify that their offer was not to intensify the use if they had not connected.  But, she seemed to be saying even if they connect they canít intensify the use.


Ms. Porterfield said that she did not say that.  They can intensify the use once they hook on to the public water and sewer.


Ms. Womack noted that they prefer the first alternative, but will live with the second.


Motion on ZMA-2007-00022


Motion: Ms. Porterfield moved, Mr. Strucko seconded, to approve ZMA-2007-00022, Innovative Construction, with the proffers as put forth by the applicant and additionally the proffer that if the water and sewer is brought to the edge of this property from any direction the applicant will connect to the public water and sewer within a reasonable time.


Ms. Joseph asked for a modification because they have already had one of these approvals written for another property that was very similar.  Her expectation was that they would use the same proffer that they used for that so that it would be consistent.


Mr. Kamptner said that that language would fit for this situation as well and staff will review the wording to make sure it works.


Ms. Joseph did not want to hinder the applicant from intensifying the use and noted that at the point in time when the applicant intensified the use they would have to hook up to public water and sewer no matter where the waterline is located.


Ms. Porterfield accepted the amendments to the motion.


Mr. Cilimberg asked if the Commission expects a proffered plan with this project.  The proffered plan would basically represent what is there, which was what the Commission did for Dickerson Road.  If the Commission expects the proffered plan it should be included in the motion.  Attachment D shows the plat with the existing structures and intends to show where the equipment storage yard would be.  He noted that basically the Commission was motioning for approval of staffís recommendations as outlined in the staff report.


Ms. Joseph noted that it also included the intensification of the use condition. The applicant agreed to hook up to water and/or sewer when either he expands his use or the water and/or sewer is brought to any edge of the property.


Motion: Ms. Porterfield moved, Mr. Strucko seconded, to approve ZMA-2007-00022, Innovative Construction, as recommended by staff in the staff report including the applicantís agreement to hook up to water and/or sewer when either he expands his use or the water and/or sewer is brought to any edge of the property.


The motion passed by a vote of 6:0.  (Mr. Edgerton was absent.)


Mr. Morris noted that there was a waiver being requested.


Ms. Porterfield asked if the fence was something that the ARB had requested.


Ms. Womack replied yes, that staff has asked for the fence.


Motion on Waiver Request:


Motion:  Ms. Porterfield moved, Mr. Cannon seconded to approve the waiver request to Section 26.10.3 for ZMA-2007-00022, Innovative Construction to allow the fence in the proffer to be constructed in the buffer.


The motion passed by a vote of 6:0.  (Mr. Edgerton was absent.)


Mr. Morris said that ZMA-2007-00022, Innovative Construction, would go before the Board of Supervisors on April 9 with a recommendation for approval.



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