COUNTY OF ALBEMARLE

PLANNING STAFF REPORT SUMMARY

 

Project Name:   SP 2007-27 Emmanuel Episcopal Church

Staff: Joan McDowell, Principal Planner

Planning Commission Public Hearing:

February 19, 2008

Board of Supervisors Public Hearing:

March 19, 2008

Owner:  Emmanuel Episcopal Church

Applicant:  Emmanuel Episcopal Church

Acreage: 13.503 acres

Special Use Permit:  Section 10.2.2 (35) churches

TMP:  TMP 70-13; TMP 70-13A;  TMP 70-12

Location:  South side of Route 250; 7599 Rockfish Gap Turnpike, Greenwood

 

Existing Zoning and By-right use:

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

Magisterial District: White Hall

Conditions: Yes

DA (Development Area)

RA (Rural Areas): X

Requested # of Dwelling Units:  NA                           

Proposal:  site re-organization including expanded parking, future office/education building, columbarium, memorial garden, bring education building into compliance with the special use permit

Comprehensive Plan Designation: Rural Areas - preserve and protect agricultural, forestal, open space, and natural, historic and scenic resources/ density (0.5 unit/ acre)

Character of Property:  Existing historic brick church and cemetery on crest of hill; wooded areas

Use of Surrounding Properties:   Residential, agricultural, St. Nicholas Orthodox Church

Factors Favorable:

1.     The location of the proposed building is sensitive to the historic surroundings and is supported by the Department of Historic Resources.

2.    The reconfigured parking would provide appropriate areas for parking which avoids destruction of some mature trees, considers the historic character of the site, and provides safe parking for the congregation.

3.     No changes to the historic buildings on this site.

 

 

Factors Unfavorable:

1.    Some mature trees will be removed in order to accommodate the parking areas.

2.   Some parking areas will be closer to Route 250 (in front of the cemetery and the education building).

 

 

RECOMMENDATION: Staff recommends approval of this Special Use Permit with conditions.

     

      STAFF PERSON:                        Joan McDowell, Principal Planner Rural Areas

PLANNING COMMISSION:    February 19, 2008

BOARD OF SUPERVISORS:    March 19, 2008

 

SP 2007-27 Emmanuel Episcopal Church Amendment

 

Petition:   SP 007-27 Emmanuel Episcopal Church Amendment

PROPOSED: site e-organization including expanded parking, future office/education building, columbarium, memorial garden

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

SECTION: 10.2.2(35)

COMPREHENSIVE PLAN LAND USE/DENSITY:  Rural Areas - preserve and protect agricultural, forestal, open space, and natural, historic and scenic resources/ density ( .5  unit/ acre)

ENTRANCE CORRIDOR: Yes_ x___No____

LOCATION: 7599 Rockfish Gap Turnpike (Rt. 250), Greenwood

TAX MAP/PARCEL: Tax Map 70, Parcels 12, 13, 13A

MAGISTERIAL DISTRICT: White Hall

 

Character of the Area:  Located in the Greenwood area on Route 250, the region around the church consists of hedgerows, heavily wooded areas, pastures, fields, historic homes and buildings, as well as scattered residential. Stockton Creek borders the property on the south.  The Yellow Mountain Agricultural Forestal District and properties placed into conservation easement are in close proximity.  The historic church was constructed around 1863 in the Colonial Revival style. 

 

Specifics of the Proposal:  The applicant has submitted a Master Plan for the church site that includes -

 

Existing:

 

·      Sanctuary – 2 story brick with basement

·      Arcade – a double arcade and garden separates the sanctuary and the parish hall

·      Parish Hall - offices/kitchen/fellowship building – 1 story brick with basement

·      Marston/LaRue House – historic manse, 2 story frame with basement used for offices and classrooms (Sunday School)

·      Cemetery

·      Parking for approximately 100 spaces

·      Religious education building on TMP 70-12 that this application will bring into conformance, as it was not included in SP 1999-48; a  residence is on top floor


 

 

Proposed:

 

·      Office/fellowship hall/classrooms/kitchen - 2-story building (walkout basement and one floor above)

·      Reconfigured parking and vehicular circulation for 132 spaces

·      A pedestrian connection between the existing religious/education building/residence and the sanctuary complex

·      A columbarium adjacent to cemetery

·      No changes to the existing structures; no additional capacity in the sanctuary

·      Waivers have been requested for disturbance of critical slopes and parking lot standards

 

      Planning and Zoning History:

 

SP 1999-48 – approval of a special use to bring a non-conforming church and cemetery into conformance and, thereby, to allow expansion of the church use by allowing the old manse to be used for Sunday School rooms and offices in accordance with Section 10.2.2.35, subject to the following conditions:

1.   There shall be no day care center or private school on site without a separate special use permit.

2.   Virginia Department of Transportation approval of the entrance width and entrance radii.

3.   Approval from the Health Department.

4.   Future burials in the cemetery shall be limited to areas outside the 100-year flood plain.

5.   No expansion of the mausoleum structure (tombs inside may be added)

6.   Any future expansion of the church structures or use shall require amendment to this special use permit.

 

Conformity with the Comprehensive Plan: Comprehensive Plan designates the subject properties as Rural Areas emphasizing the preservation and protection of agricultural, forestal, open space, and natural, historic and scenic resources as land use options.  Churches are integral to the historic context of rural communities.

 

Constructed between 1862 and 1863, Emmanuel Episcopal Church is considered to be an important historic resource in the County and is so noted in the Historic Resources section of the Comprehensive Plan.  The church is listed in the Registered Historic Properties as a Virginia Landmark and it is on the National Register of Historic Places. The following description was provided by the Department of Historic Resources: 

 

Emmanuel Episcopal Church is an outstanding example of Colonial Revival Ecclesiastical architecture in Albemarle County.  Since its founding in the mid-19th century, the church has been associated with prominent county citizens, most notably the Langhorne family who lived at nearby Mirador.  Nancy Langhorne, later Lady Astor, became involved with the congregation’s mission work in the early 20th century and in 1911, along with her brothers and sisters, commissioned Waddy Wood to renovate the original one-room church.  Wood, a popular Washington architect, was well known in Albemarle where he spent his childhood and later designed fine houses in the Ivy and Cobham areas.  His work at Emmanuel Church exhibits the refinement and excellent craftsmanship associated with the best of early Colonial Revival buildings.

 

In 1905, a bell tower was added and the front entrance was renovated.  Between 1911 and 1914, the interior was renovated and a larger bell tower, arcade, and parish house were added, all according to the designs of architect Waddy Wood.

 

Kristin Kirchen of the Department of Historic Resources has reviewed the plans and states that “the proposed project should have no detrimental impact on the historic character of the church.”  Ms. Kirchen’s letter is attached as reference (Attachment B).

 

The site is also located on the Route 250 West Entrance Corridor.  However, as the new building will not be visible from the Entrance Corridor, it is not subject to review by the Architectural Review Board. 

 

STAFF COMMENT:

Staff addresses each provision of Section 31.2.4.1 of the Zoning Ordinance:

 

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

The proposed building, located to the rear of the existing church sanctuary, has been positioned to reduce impact on the existing buildings and to lessen its impact on critical slopes.  Most of the existing landscaping and trees will remain in order to maintain the historical landscape of this site.  No clearing of the existing wooded area between Stockton Creek and the proposed building has been proposed.  The wooded area will help to lessen the impact of the building from view of the property to the rear (closest to the proposed building and currently an agricultural field).  The existing sanctuary, double arcade and fellowship building, as well as the topology would screen the proposed building from Route 250. 

 

 

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

In response to staff’s concerns regarding the scale and exposure of the proposed building and parking arrangement, as well as the potential loss of some mature trees, the applicant was been able to site the building and most of the parking in a way that both reduces its impact from Route 250 and lessens the impact of the modern development on this historic property.   However, two parking areas would be visible from Route 250:  at the edge of the cemetery and in front of the religious education building.

 

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

Section 18, Chapter 10 of the Zoning Ordinance outlines the purpose of Rural Areas zoning: “This district (hereafter referred to as RA) is hereby created and may hereafter be established by amendment of the zoning map for the following purposes:

-Preservation of agricultural and forestal lands and activities;

-Water supply protection;

-Limited service delivery to the rural areas; and

-Conservation of natural, scenic, and historic resources.”

 

Over the life of this church there have been changes that have reshaped both the site and the architecture to reflect the needs of the congregation.  The applicant has been able to locate the proposed changes in a way that is sensitive to the character and history of this important resource, while addressing the needs of the current congregation.

 

with uses permitted by right in the district,

The proposed addition and parking arrangement would not affect the uses permitted by right in the RA District.

 

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

There are no additional regulations in section 5.0 of the ordinance that governs churches.

 

and with the public health, safety and general welfare.

The applicant has advised that parking along the access driveway and Route 250 creates an unsafe condition and is the primary reason the church desires to reconfigure the parking. 

 

The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) has already commented that they will require, at a minimum, that the entrance to the site have a 150 foot turn lane and a 100 foot taper with a 35 foot radius.  The County Engineer also believes that a left turn lane will be needed on Route 250, since Route 250 is a major arterial high-speed highway with increasing traffic volumes.  A copy of the County Engineer’s Commentary on Turn Lanes is attached (Attachment C). The VDOT reviewer has concurred with the County Engineer to assure that adequate safety measures are required.  However, if the applicant does not want to construct these safety improvements, a warrant analysis should be performed using projected traffic at build-out to establish minimum requirements.  These issues will be  reviewed with the site plan, therefore the condition approved with SP 1999-48 pertaining to VDOT approval of the entrance (Condition 2) has been removed.   

 

Waivers:

The applicant has requested the following waiver:

 

Zoning Ordinance 4.2 Critical Slopes:  disturbance of approximately 2,000 square feet (Attachment D).

 

Review Comments:  The County Engineer has determined that the placement of erosion and sediment control construction will necessitate additional disturbances, as shown in Attachment E. The County Engineer has not offered any concerns which prohibit the disturbance of slopes, as shown, and did not recommend any conditions.

 

      4.2 CRITICAL SLOPES

These provisions are created to implement the comprehensive plan by protecting and conserving steep hillsides together with public drinking water supplies and flood plain areas and in recognition of increased potential for soil erosion, sedimentation, water pollution and septic disposal problems associated with the development of those areas described in the comprehensive plan as critical slopes. It is hereby recognized that such development of critical slopes may result in: rapid and/or large-scale movement of soil and rock; excessive stormwater run-off; siltation of natural and man-made bodies of water; loss of aesthetic resource; and in the event of septic system failure, a greater travel distance of septic effluent, all of which constitute potential dangers to the public health, safety and/or welfare. These provisions are intended to direct building and septic system locations to terrain more suitable to development and to discourage development on critical slopes, and to supplement other regulations regarding protection of public water supplies and encroachment of development into flood plains. (Amended 11-15-89)

Where modification of regulations is sought pursuant to section 4.2.5, such request shall address each concern specified in section 4.2. (Added 11-15-89)

 

The applicant has relocated the proposed building and has reduced its size from the original application concept plan to avoid critical slopes as much as possible.  Staff recommends that the Planning Commission approve a waiver from Section 4.2 Critical Slopes.

 

The applicant has also requested approval of waivers regarding parking lot standards.  These waivers will be considered with the site plan application, as they can be granted administratively by the County Engineer and Zoning Administrator.

 

SUMMARY:

Staff has identified the following factors favorable to this application:

1. The location of the proposed building is sensitive to the historic surroundings and is supported by the Department of Historic Resources.

2. The reconfigured parking would provide appropriate areas for parking which avoids destruction of some mature trees, considers the historic character of the site, and provides safe parking for the congregation.

3. No changes to the historic buildings on this site.

 

     Staff has identified the following factors unfavorable to this application:

1.  Some mature trees will be removed in order to accommodate the parking areas.

2.  Some parking areas will be closer to Route 250 (in front of the cemetery and the education building)

       

RECOMMENDED ACTION: 

Based on the findings contained in this staff report, staff recommends approval of SP 2007-27 Emmanuel Episcopal Church, subject to the following conditions. 

 

Changes from the conditions approved with the previous application SP 1999-48 (conditions 1-6) are shown with strikethroughs and underlines.  Conditions 7-15 are new with SP 2007-27.

 

1. There shall be no day care center or private school on site without a separate special use permit.

2. Virginia Department of Transportation approval of the entrance width and entrance radii.

2.Approval from the Health Department for the septic system and well shall be required prior to approval of an issuance of a building permit.

3. Future burials in the cemetery shall be limited to areas outside the 100-year flood plain.

4. No eExpansion of the mausoleum structure shall require amendment to this special use permit.  (tTombs inside may be added).

5. Any future expansion of the church structures and / or size of assembly area, or use shall require amendment to this special use permit.

6.Special Use Permit SP2007-27 Emmanuel Episcopal Church shall be developed in general accord with the concept application plan, provided by the applicant and received December 21, 2007 (Attachment A.)  However, the Zoning Administrator may approve revisions to the concept application plan to allow compliance with the Zoning Ordinance. 

7.Construction of the new building and columbarium, as identified on the concept site plan (Attachment A) shall commence on or before March 19, 2013, or this special use permit shall be deemed abandoned and the authority granted hereunder shall be thereupon terminate.

8.Tree protection measures shall be required on the erosion & sediment control plan in accordance with the Virginia Erosion and Sediment Control Handbook and the tree protection measures shall be installed prior to any land disturbing activity.

9.The parking lot shall be paved using prime and double seal surface or, at the option of the permittee, another surface material approved by the County Engineer deemed equivalent or better than a prime and double seal surface in regard to strength, durability, sustainability and long-term maintenance.

10.  All outdoor lighting shall be arranged or shielded to reflect light away from the abutting properties. A lighting plan reasonably limiting the amount of adverse outdoor light pollution shall be submitted to the Zoning Administrator for approval as a condition of site plan approval.

 

 

ATTACHMENTS

 

Attachment A –   Concept application plan

Attachment B – Letter from Kristin Kirchen, Department of Historic Resources, dated December 17, 2008

Attachment C –   County Engineer’s Commentary – Turn Lanes

Attachment D -    Letter from Land Planning & Design Associates Mark Lieberth, Critical Slope Waiver request, dated January 14, 2008

Attachment E -    Memorandum from Glenn Brooks, County Engineer critical slope review comments

Attachment F -     Location Map      

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