PRIVATE ALBEMARLE COUNTY PLANNING
STAFF REPORT SUMMARY
Project Name: SP 2008-012 Embarq- Verizon Wireless Tier III PWSF
Staff: Megan Yaniglos, Margaret Maliszewski
Planning Commission Public Hearing:
June 3, 2008
Board of Supervisors Hearing:
July 2, 2008
Owners: Embarq Logistics
Applicant: Cellco Partnership D/B/A Verizon wireless
(Lease Area: 800 square feet)
Rezone from: Not applicable
Special Use Permit for: 23.2.2  Special Use Permit, which allows for Tier III personal wireless service facilities in the CO Zoning District.
TMP: Tax Map 61, Parcel 129C
Location: South side of Rio Road East [State Route 631], approximately 1/8 mile east of the intersection with Route 29 North, and near Fashion Square Mall.
By-right use: CO, Commercial Office; and EC, Entrance Corridor Zoning; Property also has a number of existing Special Use Permits for the location of additional personal wireless facilities.
Magisterial District: Rio
Requested # of Dwelling Units/Lots: N/A
DA - X RA -
Proposal: Proposal for a co-location of a personal wireless service facility on an existing tower. The proposal is for an array antenna which will be attached to the existing 250 foot tower at 240 feet. Also, associated with this request is the installation of a prefabricated equipment shelter which will house transmitters, radios, and a diesel powered emergency back-up generator.
Comp. Plan Designation: Office Service uses in Urban Area 2
Character of Property: Multiple buildings for personal wireless facilities and an Embarq switching station and office. There is also a parking area for the compound.
Use of Surrounding Properties: Multi- family Residential, Church, Commercial, Office
1. The existing monopole currently represents an opportunity site
1. The proposal is not consistent with the County’s Personal Wireless Service Facilities Policy
Zoning Ordinance Waivers and Recommendations:
1. Section 23.2.2  and Section 5.1.4 Personal Wireless Facility- Tier III co-location- array antennae on existing tower- denial
STAFF CONTACT: Megan Yaniglos; Margaret Maliszewski
PLANNING COMMISSION: June 3, 2008
BOARD OF SUPERVISORS: July 2, 2008
PROPERTY OWNER: Embarq Logistics
APPLICANT: Cellco Partnership D/B/A Verizon wireless
This report has been revised since the Planning Commission meeting on June 3, 2008 to add and revise conditions that were approved at the meeting. These revisions and additions are highlighted in this report.
This is a proposal to install a three-sectored array antenna, as well as a prefabricated equipment shelter which will contain transmitters, radios and a diesel powered emergency back-up generator within a 800 square foot lease area [Attachment A]. The applicant is also requesting an amendment to the conditons of the previous approved special use permit [SP2002-040]. The property is 1.366 acres, described as Tax Map 61, Parcel 129C, is located in the Rio Magisterial District and is zoned CO, Commercial Office and EC, Entrance Corridor.
The Comprehensive Plan designates the property as Office Service uses in Urban Area 2.
CHARACTER OF THE AREA:
The proposed site is located on the south side of Rio Road East [State Route 631], approximately 1/8 mile east of the intersection with Route 29 North, and near Fashion Square Mall. [Attachment B]. The proposed facility is within a fenced area at the rear of the property, lying between the brick building housing the Embarq telephone company’s switching station and offices and the parking lot of the Fashion Square Mall.
SP 1998-021 CFW Wireless Approval granted with conditions for request for co-location on the existing monopole.
SP 2002-040 Alltel Approval granted with conditions for a request to replace a microwave dish on the existing monopole [Attachment E]- Conditions proposed to be amended.
The proposed facility requires approval of a Tier III special use permit, since the applicant is requesting a co-location on an existing tower. There are currently approximately four array antennas, and additional whip, flush mounted antennas, microwave dishes on the tower that are owned by other providers. The applicant is proposing an additional array antenna on the tower which will require an amendment to the conditions of the previous approved special use permit [Attachment C] that required any additional antennae to be flush mounted. The applicant is also requesting a modification in accordance with Section 5.1 (a) to requirement of Sections 5.1.40 (c)(4) and 5.1.40 (c)(5) which states that a tree conservation plan be submitted prior to the issuance of a building permit, and that the installation, operation and maintenance be in accordance with the tree conservation plan.
The Planning Commission will need to make findings on the appropriateness of the proposed personal wireless facility. If the Planning Commission approves the personal wireless facility it will need to act on the modification requests for the requirement of a tree conservation plan, as well as approve the amended conditions of SP 2002-040.
ANALYSIS OF THE SPECIAL USE PERMIT REQUEST:
Section 188.8.131.52 of the Zoning Ordinance below requires that special use permits be reviewed as follows:
Will the use be of substantial detriment to adjacent property?
The monopole is existing and currently is not a detriment to the adjacent property. It is Staff’s opinion that the addition of the proposed antenna will not cause the existing monopole to be a detriment to the adjacent property. The ground equipment shelter will be screened from adjacent properties by a proposed fence and additional landscaping.
Will the character of the zoning district change with this use?
The addition of another PWSF should not impact the character of the district.
Will the use be in harmony with the purpose and intent of the zoning ordinance?
Staff has reviewed this request as it relates to the “purpose and intent” that is set forth in Sections 1.4.4 and 1.4.7 of the Zoning Ordinance, and as it relates to the intent specified in the Commercial Office chapter of the Zoning Ordinance (Section 23). This request is consistent with both sections.
Will the use be in harmony with the uses permitted by right in the district?
No significant adverse impacts on adjacent properties in the district are anticipated. This facility will be in harmony with the uses permitted by right in the district.
Will the use comply with the additional regulations provided in Section 5.0 of this ordinance?
The purpose of Section 5.1.40 is to implement the personal wireless service facilities policy. This proposal does not conform with the County’s Personal Wireless Service Facilities Policy. On page 21 of the policy it states that “Co-location which results in adverse visual impact is not consistent with the goals of Albemarle County. From a visibility perspective, co-location should be discouraged.” Also, on pages 48 and 50 of the Policy it states that antenna arrays do not comply with the design guidelines and are highly visible and are discouraged, flush mounted antennas are recommended. Staff’s opinion is that although the existing monopole does have an already negative visual impact, by adding an additional array at the top of the monopole, it results in additional visual impact.
Section 5.1.12(a) of the Zoning Ordinance addresses the installation of public utility structures such as towers and antennas by stating, in part, that those items shall not endanger the health and safety of workers and/or residents, and will not impair or prove detrimental to neighboring properties. In order to operate this facility, the applicant is required to comply with all of the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) guidelines that are intended to protect the public health and safety from high levels of radio frequency emissions and electromagnetic fields that are associated with wireless broadcasting and telecommunications facilities.
Will the public health, safety and general welfare of the community be protected if the use is approved?
The public health, safety, and general welfare of the community is protected through the special use permit process, which assures that uses approved by special use permit are appropriate in the location requested. In this case, the proposed facility will give Verizon the ability to offer another choice of personal wireless service communication by providing a full range of voice and data services in addition to the required E911 call services. This can be seen as contributing to the public health, safety and welfare on a regional level.
Compliance with Section 5.1.40 of the Zoning Ordinance
The county’s specific design criteria for Tier III facilities as set forth in section 5.1.40 (e) are addressed as follows.
Section 5.1.40 (e) Tier III facilities. Each Tier III facility may be established upon approval of a special use permit issued pursuant to section 31.2.4 of this chapter, initiated upon an application satisfying the requirements of subsection 5.1.40(a) and section 31.2.4, and it shall be installed and operated in compliance with all applicable provisions of this chapter and the following:
1. The facility shall comply with subsection 5.1.40(b) subsection 5.1.40(c)(2) through (9) and subsection 5.1.40 (d)(2),(3),(6) and (7), unless modified by the board of supervisors during special use permit review.
2. The facility shall comply with all conditions of approval of the special use permit.
Requirements of subsection 5.1.40(a) application for approval and section 31.2.4 special use permits have been met. Compliance with Section 5.1.40(e) of the Zoning Ordinance: The County's specific design criteria for Tier III facilities set forth in Section 5.1.40(e)(1) and 5.1.40(e)(2) are addressed as follows: [Ordinance sections are in italics]
Subsection 5.1.40(b) (1-5): Exemption from regulations otherwise applicable: Except as otherwise exempted in this paragraph, each facility shall be subject to all applicable regulations in this chapter.
The proposed PWSF will be installed at site that already has a monopole with array antennae, and ground equipment. Verizon's equipment shelter will meet the required setbacks in addition to all other area and bulk regulations and minimum yard requirements. Attached site drawings, antennae and equipment specifications have been provided to demonstrate that personal wireless service facilities (PWSF) regulations and any relevant site plan requirements set forth in Section 32 of the zoning ordinance have been addressed.
Subsection 5.1.40(c)(2): The facility shall be designed, constructed and maintained as follows: (i) guy wires shall not be permitted; (ii) outdoor lighting for the facility shall be permitted only during maintenance periods; regardless of the lumens emitted, each outdoor luminaire shall be fully shielded as required by section 4.17 of this chapter; (iii) any equipment cabinet not located within the existing structure shall be screened from all lot lines either by terrain, existing structures, existing vegetation, or by added vegetation approved by the county’s landscape planner; (iv) a whip antenna less than six (6) inches in diameter may exceed the height of the existing structure; (v) a grounding rod, whose height shall not exceed two (2) feet and whose width shall not exceed one (1) inch in diameter at the base and tapering to a point, may be installed at the top of facility or the structure; and (vi) within one month after the completion of the installation of the facility, the applicant shall provide a statement to the agent certifying that the height of all components of the facility complies with this regulation.
The existing monopole contains equipment owned by other companies that provide personal wireless services, ranging from whip and panel antennas to large microwave dishes. The proposed antenna does not require the installation of guy wires. The facility will only have one outdoor light fixture with a motion sensor attached to the proposed shelter and it will only be used by Verizon's technical operations staff during times when night-time maintenance of the site is necessary. Verizon Wireless is currently in the process of obtaining an after-market shield or a complete replacement light fixture that complies with the County’s lighting requirements.
Subsection 5.1.40(c)(3): Equipment shall be attached to the exterior of a structure only as follows: (i) the total number of arrays of antennas attached to the existing structure shall not exceed three (3), and each antenna proposed to be attached under the pending application shall not exceed the size shown on the application, which size shall not exceed one thousand one hundred fifty two (1152) square inches; (ii) no antenna shall project from the structure beyond the minimum required by the mounting equipment, and in no case shall any point on the face of an antenna project more than twelve (12) inches from the existing structure; and (iii) each antenna and associated equipment shall be a color that matches the existing structure. For purposes of this section, all types of antennas and dishes regardless of their use shall be counted toward the limit of three arrays.
Since this request proposes an array of antennas that will not be flush-mounted on an existing monopole, a special use permit amendment is required. The proposal consists of a full sectored array containing six (6) panel antennas with capability of expanding up to 12 total antennas [Attachment A]. The applicant is requesting approval of a modification to allow array antenna. In the conditions of the previous special use permit it stated that only flush mounted antenna shall be permitted [Attachment E].
Subsection 5.1.40(c)(4): Prior to issuance of a building permit, the applicant shall submit a tree conservation plan prepared by a certified arborist. The plan shall be submitted to the agent for review and approval to assure that all applicable requirements have been satisfied. The plan shall specify tree protection methods and procedures, and identify all existing trees to be removed on the parcel for the installation, operation and maintenance of the facility. Except for the tree removal expressly authorized by the agent, the applicant shall not remove existing trees within the lease area or within one hundred (100) feet in all directions surrounding the lease area of any part of the facility. In addition, the agent may identify additional trees or lands up to two hundred (200) feet from the lease area to be included in the plan.
The applicant is requesting a waiver of this requirement in accordance with Section 5.1 (a) since the proposal is for a co-location on an existing monopole and no existing trees in the vicinity of the site will be impacted.
Subsection 5.1.40(c)(5)The installation, operation and maintenance of the facility shall be conducted in accordance with the tree conservation plan. Dead and dying trees identified by the arborist’s report may be removed if so noted on the tree conservation plan. If tree removal is later requested that was not approved by the agent when the tree conservation plan was approved, the applicant shall submit an amended plan. The agent may approve the amended plan if the proposed tree removal will not adversely affect the visibility of the facility from any location off of the parcel. The agent may impose reasonable conditions to assure that the purposes of this paragraph are achieved.
The applicant is requesting a waiver of this requirement in accordance with Section 5.1 (a) since the proposal is for a co-location on an existing monopole and no existing trees in the vicinity of the site will be impacted.
Subsection 5.1.40(c)(6): The facility shall be disassembled and removed from the site within ninety (90) days of the date its use for personal wireless service purposes is discontinued. If the agent determines at any time that surety is required to guarantee that the facility will be removed as required, the agent may require that the parcel owner or the owner of the facility submit a certified check, a bond with surety, or a letter of credit, in an amount sufficient for, and conditioned upon, the removal of the facility. The type and form of the surety guarantee shall be to the satisfaction of the agent and the county attorney. In determining whether surety should be required, the agent shall consider the following: (i) the annual report states that the tower or pole is no longer being used for personal wireless service facilities; (ii) the annual report was not filed; (iii) there is a change in technology that makes it likely that tower or pole will be unnecessary in the near future; (iv) the permittee fails to comply with applicable regulations or conditions; (v) the permittee fails to timely remove another tower or pole within the county; and (vi) whenever otherwise deemed necessary by the agent.
Should use of the antennae site in this location become discontinued at anytime in the future, Verizon and/or its assignee(s) will be required to remove the facility within 90 days.
Subsection 5.1.40(c)(7): The owner of the facility shall submit a report to the agent by no earlier than May or and no later than July 1 of each year. The report shall identify each user of the existing structure, and include a drawing, photograph or other illustration identifying which equipment is owned and/or operated by each personal wireless service provider. Multiple users on a single tower or other mounting structure may submit a single report, provided that the report includes a statement signed by a representative from each user acquiescing in the report.
After the proposed facility has been installed, Verizon Wireless has stated that they will cooperate fully with Embarq in order to ensure that the required annual report accurately accounts for all equipment supporting the proposed facility at this site.
Subsection 5.1.40(c)(8): No slopes associated with the installation of the facility and accessory uses shall be created that are steeper than 2:1 unless retaining walls, revetments, or other stabilization measures acceptable to the county engineer are employed.
No slopes associated with the installation of the facility are steeper than 2:1.
Subsection 5.1.40(c)(9): Any equipment cabinet not located within an existing building shall be fenced only with the approval of the agent upon finding that the fence: (i) would protect the facility from trespass in areas of high volumes of vehicular or pedestrian traffic or, in the rural areas, to protect the facility from livestock or wildlife; (ii) would not be detrimental to the character of the area; and (iii) would not be detrimental to the public health, safety or general welfare.
Verizon Wireless is proposing the expansion of the existing chain link fence to enclose the proposed shelter. They are also providing landscaping to screen the shelter from Rio Road. The fence and landscaping will not be detrimental to the public health, safety or general welfare or the character of the area.
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, or adjacent to a conservation easement or open space easement, the facility shall be sited so that it is not visible from any resources specifically identified for protection in the deed of easement.
This proposed co-location does not necessitate any increase in height of the existing monopole. The applicant is proposing additional landscape screening to minimize the visibility from Rio Road and adjacent properties.
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 located within Urban Neighborhood Two in the Open Space Plan [Attachment F], and does not adversely impact resources.
However, as stated above, the proposed array antenna does not conform with the County’s Personal Wireless Service Facilities Policy in terms of visibility. Although the existing monopole contains a number of array antennas, adding another array to the top of the monopole results in additional adverse visual impacts [Attachment D]. On page 28 of the Policy there is an example of an opportunity site co-location with an array antenna. The policy states “while this represents use of an opportunity site, the resulting design has visibility impacts that could have been reduced or eliminated by using alternative types of equipment and mounting techniques.”
The Architectural Review Board at its April 21, 2008 meeting, unanimously voted to allow staff to review and approve this application if, in addition to the screening shrubbery currently proposed for the additional ground equipment, entrance corridor street trees and some screening of the dumpster are provided.
It is Staff’s opinion that adding an additional array, even on an opportunity site, would result in additional adverse visual impact and recommends flush mounted antenna as an alternative.
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).
The proposed facility will utilize and existing structure for its antenna mount.
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 proposed antennas will be painted to match the color of the existing tower, which has a galvanized steel finish. The equipment shelter will be screed from adjacent properties and roadways by existing and proposed vegetation.
Section 5.1.40(e)2: The facility shall comply with all conditions of approval of the special use permit.
The proposed personal wireless service facility utilizes a full-sectored array of antennas. This request requires an amendment of the existing special use permit, SP 2002-040, to delete condition 3(c) which restricts co-locations on this monopole to flush-mounted antennas.
Section 704(a)(7)(b)(I)(II) of The Telecommunications Act of 1996:
This application is subject to the Telecommunications Act of 1996, which provides in part that the regulation of the placement, construction, and modification of personal wireless service facilities by any State or local government or instrumentality thereof (I) shall not unreasonably discriminate among providers of functionally equivalent services; (II) shall not prohibit or have the effect of prohibiting the provision of personal wireless services. 47 U.S.C.
In order to operate this facility, the applicant is required to comply with the FCC guidelines for radio frequency emissions that are intended to protect the public health and safety. Neither the Comprehensive Plan nor the Zoning Ordinance prohibits the provision of personal wireless services. However, both do implement specific policies and regulations for the sighting and design of wireless facilities. It is staff’s opinion that this proposal is not consistent with the County’s Personal Wireless Service Facilities policy. The denial of this proposal would not unreasonably discriminate among providers of equivalent services, or prohibit the provision of personal wireless services, as the applicant could conform with the previous special use permit condition, as well as the Policy by proposing flush mounted antennas.
RECOMMENDATION: Staff recommends denial of the proposed personal wireless service facility based on the analysis provided herein.
If the Planning Commission approves the personal wireless facility it will need to amend the previous special use permit condition, and act on the modification request for the requirement of a tree conservation plan. The modifications are outlined below:
Zoning Ordinance Modifications
Special Use Permit [SP2002-040] Condition Modification
Staff has identified factors which are favorable and unfavorable to this proposal:
Factors favorable to this request include:
1. The existing monopole currently represents an opportunity site.
Factors unfavorable to this request include:
1. The proposal does not comply with the County’s Personal Wireless Service Facilities Policy.
2. The approval of this facility will require an amendment to the conditions of the previous special use permit that will allow additional array antennas on this site.
3. Adding an additional array antenna to the top of the existing monopole will result in additional adverse visual impacts.
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.
Conditions of approval:
permittee current owner and any subsequent owners
shall submit a report to the Zoning Administrator once (1) per year, by not
later than July 1 of that year. The report shall identify each user of the
tower and that each user is a personal wireless communications service provider;
Return to PC actions letter