Albemarle County Planning Commission

February 19, 2008


The Albemarle County Planning Commission held a meeting and public hearing on Tuesday, February 19, 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; Thomas Loach; Jon Cannon, Vice Chairman; Linda Porterfield; Eric Strucko; Bill Edgerton and Calvin Morris, Chairman. Julia Monteith, AICP, non-voting representative for the University of Virginia was present. 


Other officials present were Bill Fritz, Chief of Current Development; Megan Yaniglos, Planner; Wayne Cilimberg, Director of Planning; Joan McDowell, Principal Planner; Claudette Grant, Senior Planner; Tamara Ambler, Natural Resource Manager; 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:


SP-2007-00027 Emmanuel Episcopal Church Amendment (Sign # 4)

PROPOSED: site re-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)


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

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


(Joan McDowell)


Ms. McDowell provided a Powerpoint presentation and summarized the staff report.  (See Staff Report)




Mr. Morris asked if there were any questions for staff.


Ms. Joseph asked staff to talk about the lighting condition #10.  She asked if reasonably limiting the amount of adverse outdoor lighting pollution means that it will be more or less stringent than the existing ordinance.


Ms. McDowell replied that the existing ordinance shall apply and this is extra.   The applicant has to comply with the existing ordinance anyway.  Mr. Cilimberg can address the origin of this condition.


Mr. Cilimberg noted that its origin has been with several churches and some other larger rural area special use permits that went to the Board.  There was a concern not only with cutoff fixtures, but also about light pollution and the potential for light dispersion into other areas beyond just the site.  The Board had asked for a condition that would deal with potential spillover and in general light pollution beyond just what they might be covering with the specifics of the lighting ordinance itself. This was the language that the County Attorney actually ultimately came up with that they have used at the board level on several churches previously.


Ms. Joseph noted that there were a lot of lights being proposed.  She wanted to make sure that all of the lights were full cut off.


Mr. Cilimberg noted that they actually have a site plan as well that will be proceeding and it will be subject to the ordinance provisions for all of those lights.


Ms. McDowell noted that the site plan was hold at this time.


Mr. Edgerton asked what the current violation on the building to the east that makes it nonconforming.


Ms. McDowell replied that it is not in violation.  They just wanted to bring the entire church master plan and all the buildings and uses in to compliance.  They are using that as an education building now.  The zoning department has not cited them for noncompliance.  Staff just saw in their research that building was part of the other 1999 special use permit. 


Mr. Edgerton noted that it was shown as a separate parcel on the map as tax map 70, parcel 12.  He asked if that was part of the church property.


Ms. McDowell replied that it was part of the church property.


Mr. Cilimberg replied that it was also included in the legal description for this special use permit.


Mr. Edgerton said that staff mentions under factors unfavorable some mature trees will be removed in order to accommodate the parking area.  He asked which trees will be removed.


Ms. McDowell said that the master plan would not show that. But, there are some trees that the parking would necessitate removing.  She inherited this project from Amy Arnold.  The project started last summer.  Staff has worked closely with the applicant because there were additional trees because of the parking location at the time that would be removed and they have worked with staff to reduce that number as much as possible.


 Joseph suggested that reword condition 7 – if don’t do work then they will be in compliance.


Ms. Joseph noted that on page 13 it shows the little X’s where the trees will be removed. 


Ms. McDowell suggested that the applicant might be able to address that issue a little better.


Ms. Joseph suggested that condition 7 needs to be restructured in order to bring this into compliance.  Condition 7 says that this special use permit shall be deemed abandoned if the work is not done.  That condition should be reworded so that if they don’t do this work that at least they are in compliance with the existing building that is not currently.


Mr. Edgerton said that on page 6 of the staff report at the top of the page it is talking about the left turn lane that the engineers are recommending.  It says however if the applicant does not want to construct the safety improvements a warrant analysis should be performed using projected traffic at build out to establish the minimum requirements.  These issues will be reviewed with the site plan.  Therefore, the condition of approval of SP-1999-48 pertaining to VDOT approval of the entrance has been removed.  He asked why they would remove that if it was a concern.


Ms. McDowell noted that she had a long discussion with both VDOT and the county engineer.  It was determined that those are the kinds of things they would address at the final site plan. Staff had the condition in there sort of specifying what she just said in the report and the county engineer asked that she remove it.   They would work together to address the entrance condition.


Mr. Cilimberg said that there was no additional special use permit, but there was a site plan that was under review.  That would be a requirement in the site plan review.  So the condition does not establish anything more than the site plan requirements.


Mr. Edgerton said that he was struggling with the fact that the engineer has called this out as something they are concerned about.  So why wouldn’t they make this part of the special use permit.  He agreed with staff’s initial reaction that it ought to be listed as a condition just to make sure that it does not get overlooked.


Mr. Cilimberg noted that he did not think that this one was going to get overlooked because the requirements are under site plan review.


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


John Savage, the immediate past Senior Warden of Emmanuel Episcopal Church, said that also present were Charlie Mitchell, prior Senior Warden and Dick Hodgson who just finished a term on the vestry.  They are requesting the Commission’s consideration and approval for the site plan for their church.  Emmanuel Episcopal Church is a noteworthy architectural structure.   It is listed on both the national and state registrar of historic places.  The members of the church have this in the back of their mind in any project that they put forward.  A few years ago a survey was sent to their congregation and the provision of safe and adequate parking was by far the most immediate request.  At present time even with two services they have cars parked on the lawns, under the Oak trees and on both sides of this historic entrance drive.  The congregation envisions a time when their present parish hall built in 1917 and expanded in 1958 will become limited.  A future parish hall is anticipated, but may not be built for several years.  Nevertheless, they felt it was important to locate a site for this future building as they finalize improvements to their parking and accessibility issues.  In the fall of 2006 they selected the Charlottesville Landscape and Site Design Firm of LPDA and have been working closely with one of their associates, Mark Liebieg.  They gave several directives to the firm.  First, was to provide parking not only for their present congregation, but for anticipated ten year growth.  Second, was to remove the unsafe Sunday parking from the entrance driveway.  Third, was to integrate the reconfigured parking within the historic landscape while respecting the signature land mark trees that surround the property.  One of those trees is almost 300 years old.  Finally, was to provide the location for a future parish hall.  The congregation has been unanimous in its acceptance of LPDA’s design to date.  As Mr. Liebieg has worked with the County’s Architectural Review Board he has been able to get new parking outside of the areas covered by the tree canopy.  The plans before the Commission have been reviewed by the Commonwealth of Virginia’s Department of Historic Resources.  In a letter dated December 17, 2007 they concurred that, “the plan appears to be sensitive to the historic setting of the church and preserves the view of the church from Route 250.  By locating the parking behind the church and taking advantage of the lower topography to the south and east the visibility of the majority of cars will be limited as much as possible thereby preserving the integrity of the church’s setting and historic vista from Route 250 as the proposed project would have not detrimental impact on the historic character of the church.”


Mr. Morris invited public comment.  There being none, the public hearing was closed and the matter before the Commission.


Mr. Loach said that the parking on the side towards 250 and how that might affect the visual view of the church seems to have been addressed more than adequately.  He agreed with Ms. Joseph that the lighting not overtake the site.  He was fully supportive of the proposal before the Commission.


Ms. McDowell asked to add a correction to condition 7.  Condition 7 refers to the commencement of the beginning of this special use permit on March 9.  It should be changed to March 19, 2013.


Ms. Joseph suggested that the condition be worded so that if the church does not start the construction and this special use permit becomes void that the other little piece comes into compliance.   There was the little piece that Ms. McDowell said would also come into compliance as a result of this special use permit.  She wanted to make sure that it comes into compliance even if they don’t start the construction. She asked how that could work.


Mr. Kamptner said that is one of the issues that they iron out between now and the Board date.  He understands the issue and will talk with the zoning administrator to see if they have ever kind of bifurcated a special use permit from the portions of the use that require construction to which this condition really addresses and those that don’t.


Ms. Joseph noted that would be good.


Mr. Cilimberg noted that his understanding was she really wants to make sure that the existing activities on each of the tax map parcels that are subject to the special use permit would not be made nonconforming essentially by them not starting the new building and the columbarium. 


Mr. Loach asked if the turn lane is supposed to be addressed later in the process.


Mr. Cilimberg noted that the turn lane will be addresses as part of the site plan.  The condition that was struck through only referred to entrance width and entrance radius.  So it would not be a good condition if there was the need also for turn lanes.  Virginia Department of Transportation approval is required for the site plan.  A condition that would basically say Virginia Department of Transportation approval of the entrance improvements could be fair.


Mr. Loach said that he did not think they could make the determination because they are planning for a future expansion. So they actually don’t know how much they are expanding for except for the 135 parking spaces.  He questioned how they would take that into consideration.


Mr. Cilimberg noted that they would base it on what they see in the site plan.  The activity or traffic generated by the site plan would be how they judge that.  That is where the warrants analysis comes in.


Mr. Edgerton said that the plan was developed with the intent of providing the additional parking that would be needed at the time of the building of the new building.


Mr. Loach said that in terms of traffic he was worried about it on that stretch of Route 250 later as the church expands.  He questioned at what point they would take that into consideration.


Mark Liebieg pointed out that he prepared the plans for this project.  That is the only provision that he was concerned about.  Generally the largest use of the church facility is on Sunday morning.  That is an off peak hour in church generation.  So quite frankly he did not think that they should have to add a left turn lane for off peak generation.  He was not a transportation engineer and had not run numbers, but it seemed a little unwarranted to do that.  No other church or facility along that stretch of Route 250 has that condition.  In his preliminary discussions VDOT said that they would not require a left turn lane.  VDOT would require a right turn only with a taper.  It was the county engineer that suggested that they look at a left turn lane.  As he understands the county does not take precedence here because it is a state road and it would be VDOT.  He understands that the county will require VDOT to make that determination.


Mr. Loach said that he worried about the evening activities when Route 250 is fairly dark down that stretch.


Ms. Joseph asked that the conditions will change so that whatever they are using out there now they will come into compliance on.


Mr. Morris invited the architect to address the Commission.


Mr. Liebieg questioned item 10 regarding the light levels and asked how they determine what that is.  He asked what standards they would follow and to what level would they be held.


Mr. Strucko said that as the maker of the motion he was pleased with following the current county ordinance.


Mr. Cilimberg said that the condition stipulates that 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.  So it becomes part of the site plan approval process that the zoning administrator would have to approve that.  Therefore, the applicant would need to work with the zoning administrator as part of that.


Mr. Cannon noted that his question was if they have to meet the lighting ordinance in any event what additional increment of lighting precaution is being expected and is that going to be reasonable.


Mr. Liebieg agreed.


Mr. Cilimberg said that it was a good question.  He noted that the Board has asked that this be included on all of the special use permits in the rural area.


Mr. Liebieg said that it would be nice to know what standard.


Mr. Morris said that working with zoning would be the key.


Mr. Kamptner said that he did not have any specific standards.  But, probably the one thing that the Board may have been looking for was that the lighting ordinance applies to outdoor lighting luminaries that submit 3,000 or more lumens.  So anything less than that is not subject to those regulations. The Board may be looking at regulating all outdoor lighting including those that are below that standard. The other would be the footcandles at the property line, which the ordinance is ½ footcandle.  In an earlier draft of this condition it was set at .3 footcandles.  He was not sure how low their equipment allows measurements.  But, he would assume that it is in tenths of footcandles.


Ms. Joseph pointed out that there are also shields that can be put on the lights so that there is nothing that goes behind them. 


Mr. Cilimberg said that it was particularly about exposed lighting at any level.


Motion: Mr. Strucko moved, Mr. Loach seconded to approve SP-2007-00027, Emmanuel Episcopal Church Amendment with the conditions recommended in the staff report, as amended in condition 7.


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


The motion passed by a vote of 7:0.


Mr. Morris said that the request will go before the Board of Supervisors on March 19, 2008 with a recommendation for approval.



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