Excerpt from August 8, 2007 Board of Supervisors Minutes

ZMA 04-18 Fontana Phase 4C


Agenda Item No. 13.  PUBLIC HEARING:  PROJECT: ZMA-2004-018. Fontana Phase 4C (Signs #37,45).  PROPOSAL:  Rezone 17.146 acres from RA Rural Areas which allows agricultural, forestal, and fishery uses; residential density (0.5 unit/acre), R-4 Residential zoning district (4 units/acre) and R-1 Residential zoning district (1 unit/acre) to R-4 Residential zoning district which allows residential uses at 4 units per acre for 34 dwelling units at a gross density of 1.98 units/acre. PROFFERS:  Yes EXISTING COMPREHENSIVE PLAN LAND USE/DENSITY:  Neighborhood Density Residential - (3-6 units/acre) and supporting uses such as religious institutions and schools and other small-scale non-residential uses in Neighborhood 3 – Pantops ENTRANCE CORRIDOR: No. LOCATION:  At the intersection of Fontana Drive (Rt. 1765) and Via Florence approximately 0.5 miles from the intersection of Fontana Drive and Stony Point Road (Route 20 North) TAX MAP/PARCEL: 78E-A.  MAGISTERIAL DISTRICT: Rivanna. (Advertised in the Daily Progress on July 23 and July 30, 2007.)


            Mr. Benish reported that this is a proposal to rezone approximately 17 acres from RA to R-1, and R-4 to R-4 with a proffered plan.  He explained that the rezoning consists of 34 single-family lots on 17 acres, with a density of just under two dwelling units per acre, and the property is located in the Pantops Development Area with recommendations of three to six dwelling units per acre.  Mr. Benish noted that the property is located in the Rivanna Magisterial District, and it received designations in 1994 with contemplation of an intensive development similar to Fontana, a lower-density development for future plans, and an RA area because of limited water availability that has been alleviated now.


            Mr. Benish noted that the Planning Commission did not recommend approval, listing six reasons including consistency with the Neighborhood Model and lower density than called for in the Land Use Plan, although it was consistent with other Fontana development.  He said that they also cited issues with offsite drainage improvements and other improvements within Fontana not being completed as well as Monticello view shed issues and concerns about the cross-section of Fontana Drive from Route 20 to the terminus of the road.  Mr. Benish said that many of the issues have been addressed, and the applicant has now proffered all improvements in other phases of development within Fontana to be completed prior to submittal and approval of a grading plan for erosion and sedimentation control measures.  He added that there may be ways that the Zoning Administrator requires stabilization through erosion control measures although some of the sections can not really be required to be upgraded. 


            Mr. Benish said that the trails were established on subdivision plats as improvements to be made so there is a requirement to implement them as shown on the plans.


            Ms. Thomas added that they were shown to prospective homeowners on plats as part of the value or expectations for that subdivision although they were not proffered per se.


            Mr. Benish said that the proffer ensures that those improvements get completed prior to any other Fontana development.  He explained that Ms. McCulley has been trying to enforce those improvements shown on the subdivision plats, although they do not dictate a weighty standard.  Mr. Benish noted that the later phases do require a standard of development related to grading and paving.


            Ms. Thomas commented that people were led to believe there would be a trail system.


            Mr. Benish agreed.


            Mr. Rooker said that those improvements would be picked up before development goes forward on this parcel.


            Mr. Benish confirmed this, adding that the maintenance of trails is up to the homeowners association, but there were fairly limited standards established early-on.   


            Mr. Benish reported that the proffers call for conformity to a particular plan, overlot grading, trees on site, cash proffers in lieu of affordable housing, and cash proffers to meet the proffer policy.  He said that the remaining substantive issue is the amount of the cash proffers.  Mr. Benish also added that pedestrian paths, building colors, and Monticello view shed issues have been addressed.  He confirmed that the primary issue is the cash proffer policy as it relates to by-right development, as the amount was supposed to be based on the total number of units.  Mr. Benish noted that in this case the proffers are based on 25 units minus the nine by-right units. He said that staff cannot recommend approval at this time because of the shortfall in proffer amounts.  Mr. Benish clarified some typographical items in the staff report as well as language that is no longer necessary because of changes in legislation.


            Mr. Benish said that the concept plan shows the same note used for Cascadia, which requires dedication of right of way and interconnection.


            Mr. Boyd asked for clarification of what road that is.  Mr. Benish replied that road runs toward Montessori School.


            Ms. Thomas said that it would be helpful to have a larger area shown on a map so there is some context.


            Mr. Benish showed where the existing Fontana development is, as well as Montessori and Cascadia.  He noted the location of the interconnecting road into Cascadia as well as Verona Drive, which goes into Luxor.  Mr. Benish explained that Fontana Drive also serves the Lakeridge development, which is property that is recently approved for development to the north. 


            In response to Mr. Boyd’s question about Fontana Drive, Mr. Benish said it would be curb and gutter with sidewalks on both sides and a treed lawn into Lakeside, and it would also pick up a rural section based on the original Fontana approval.  He stated that staff had determined that it would be difficult to retrofit a cross-section with the new sections of Fontana, adding that the topography is a steep incline that results in a lot of cut and fill on adjacent lots.  Mr. Benish said that with that rural section, the drainage would need to be changed to be picked up with inverts in specific locations and that might mean more grading on lots.


            Mr. Boyd commented that some of those lots might even need retaining walls. 


            Mr. Benish said he would not be surprised although staff has not looked at this in that level of detail.  He stated that the applicant has not addressed this in this application, noting that a roadway would be going from a rural section into a side-walked road.  Mr. Benish added that staff has felt it is better to get some of the road with some of the improvements than nothing at all, adding that without a completed pedestrian system there is a disconnect.


            Ms. Thomas said that the trail system does not connect with the roads and sidewalks.


            Mr. Benish explained that the Commission requested curb and gutter to provide pedestrian accommodations, and that is the standard typically applied for urban development.  He added that the attachment B shows the cross-sections with five-foot sidewalks and six-foot tree lawns.  Mr. Benish said that given the topography, pedestrian access should be accommodated in the long run as part of the road cross-section as opposed to off-road trails.  He said that the Planning Commission had concerns about offsite drainage, but the County engineer has reviewed the plans and is comfortable with the plan given an urban section design.


            Mr. Boyd commented that he is eager to hear from the public what they think of this type of design as other developments nearby would have this type of road system.


            At this time the Chairman opened the public hearing.


            The applicant’s representative, Steve Driver, of Terra Engineering and Land Solutions, addressed the Board.  Mr. Driver explained that the applicant has been working extensively to address Commission concerns, and is proposing a full urban road section for Fontana Drive Extended including curb and gutter on both sides of the road, a planting strip for trees and sidewalks on both sides, and a cross-section that matches what is proposed for Lakeridge.  He said that the road was originally proposed as rural, but staff requested urban section to match Lakeridge’s and Cascadia’s road design aspects.  Mr. Driver noted that the applicant has agreed to provide an offsite pipe system extension from the eleven lots in the eastern corner of the development to bring the drainage to the rear of the lots at the end of the cul-de-sac at the end of Florence via underground pipe per County drainage standards. 


            Mr. Driver stated that the applicant has also agreed to complete all phases with bonds being released by the County prior to submitting application for a grading permit for Phase 4-C, including pedestrian pathway work in the previous phases.  He added that the applicant has agreed to provide architectural standards regarding the view shed, building facades, and ten-foot width on all the Phase 4-C pedestrian pathways.  Mr. Driver said that the only other item was retrofitting the road standards to the existing Fontana Drive, and the applicant did not offer to make these changes because of the difficulty in retrofitting an urban section to a rural section.  He said that the road met VDOT and County standards at the time, noting that the right of way for Fontana is 50 feet, with the current standard at 57 feet. Mr. Driver stated that access to private lots would become a pretty significant issue.


            Mr. Driver added that the cash proffers for affordable housing and public services could be answered by the applicant, and approval of this petition would provide the link between Cascadia and Lakeridge.


            Mr. Boyd commented that he would like the applicant to proffer the appropriate amount for affordable housing and the total number of units being requested.


            The applicant, Mr. A. M. Nichols, agreed to change the proffer amount to $595,000 as well as $95,500 for affordable housing.  He explained that Dominion Virginia Power allowed an easement for two lots, lots 38 and 39, but he also needs to get an easement from Dr. Hurt.  Mr. Nichols also explained that Ashcroft has agreed to give an easement and Avemore on the very right-hand side of the entry.  He added that the pedestrian pathway is a work in progress.  Mr. Nichols noted that he needs to get those easements and that is reflected in his proffers.


            Ms. Thomas asked about the disconnect between the trail system and the new sidewalks.


            Mr. Nichols responded that the pedestrian pathways are in rural section but the curb, gutter, and sidewalk on the Fontana Drive extension will connect with Cascadia and will connect on the upper right hand side with Lakeridge. He explained that the Ashcroft homeowners will also be able to use the pathway.


            Ms. Thomas explained that she is concerned about the sidewalks connecting with the rural cross-section, and she noted that the trail system within the former development could be connected to the new sidewalk system.


            Mr. Driver noted that any pedestrian pathways built within a public right of way must meet VDOT standards and other than that they would have to be outside of the right of way.  He said that the applicant worked with staff to move the pathway out of the right of way.


            Mr. Benish asked about any possible connection to link the sidewalks to the trails.


            Mr. Driver replied that there are two lots there, so a trail would need to go in the right of way or an easement would need to be obtained from those two property owners.  


            Ms. Sharon Baiocco addressed the Board on behalf of the Fontana Homeowners Association.  She stated that the pedestrian trailways are a constant problem as the County has decided that sidewalks are desirable in urban areas.  Ms. Baiocco added that pedestrian paths were traditionally a substitute for sidewalks.  She noted that her trail was started in November then finished in the spring, but it has now eroded dramatically.  Ms. Baiocco said that not requiring a standard has been a serious problem, and the pedestrian paths are now becoming an eyesore and are dangerous and detracting from property values.  She presented pictures of the paths, noting that there are many children in the neighborhood who use the roads because the paths are not standard and are now deeply rutted.  Ms. Baiocco said that the standard should be like the Monticello Trail path, which has eight inches of stone versus the two and a half inches of stone with the Fontana paths.  She added that adding this many more houses is not what we bargained for nor did Fontana residents vote in favor of a connection to Cascadia. 


            Ms. Nancy Grable addressed the Board, noting that some of the trails end on one of the rural roads, and there is at least one incident where the trail ends in someone’s garden.  She also said that the rural roads in Fontana have caused concern because they are narrow and must carry school busses, and now more traffic is going to be put on these roads from developments with a more urban atmosphere.


            Ms. Thomas asked what the homeowners’ assumption is as to who would maintain the trails.  Ms. Grable replied that she assumes the trails would be made good, but she does not know who would do that.


            Mr. Rooker asked staff for clarification as to maintenance of those trails.


            Mr. Benish said that the homeowners association usually takes care of them.


            Mr. Lewis Martin, representing Mr. Nichols, said that the Fontana covenants and restrictions stipulate it is the homeowners association’s responsibility to maintain those trails.


            Mr. Benish stated that he does not know if those pictures shown demonstrate that the trails have not met the expected standard, as some sections do require a sub-base and surfacing and some sections do not.


            Mr. Davis said that a lot of the improvements were bonded.


            Ms. Vickie Valente addressed the Board, noting that the trails end in rip raps and continue onto the other side with no bridges across.  She said that it is very dangerous.  She sees all sorts of issues there.  Ms. Valente added that lots of people walk to the pool and tennis courts, and having people driving through the area at 35 plus miles per hour could create serious problems.


            Ms. Patty Williams addressed the Board, stating that once the trails are complete, the homeowners association has to maintain them.  She expressed concern about liability for that.  Ms. Williams emphasized that the trails are dangerous and not in good shape at all, and there is no place for people in wheelchairs or kids on bikes.


            Mr. Slutzky said that it seems a potential disaster is being created here, with country roads and more urban roads together with strollers being pushed because residents can not get on the trails.  He asked if it would be possible to work with the applicant to adhere to standards that make the trails functional so that the entire network would work.


            Mr. Benish responded that Phases III and IV have more stringent standards for compacted sub-grade trails and paving of roads over seven percent grade, but for Phases I and II the only standards that can be found are those on the plans that call for five-foot mowed paths, with no grade requirements.

            Mr. Davis said that there is no way to require a condition for those offsite trail improvements, but the developer could voluntarily proffer that if he could work within the existing easement area.  He noted that one of the impacts to be considered would be how it impacts adjacent property and whether the increase in density creates pedestrian and traffic safety issues, and one way to do that may be improving the trails.


            Mr. Rooker stated that in order for him to vote for approval, the trails need to be brought to a standard that complies with what was originally offered.  He noted that Fontana Drive goes to Route 20 with no pedestrian facilities and is not a safe place to walk as it does not meet reasonable standards.  Mr. Rooker said that to approve the additional density, the residents, both current and future, need a safe place to walk.


            Mr. Boyd noted that there is a proffer there already to complete the trail system through the older neighborhoods, and the County would like to see that proffer extended to meet those standards.


            Mr. Davis mentioned that there are things that can be done to make it more workable, although the paths may not be able to meet the larger widths because of right of way issues.


            Mr. Rooker commented that the concern seems to be the condition of the surface of the paths, more so than the width.


            Mr. Benish cautioned that some of the trails may just not be developable because of the nature of the topography.


            Ms. Thomas said that the Rivanna Trails people have installed stairways, although that is not the preferred method of design.  She said that the old standards were inadequate, and that brings into question the rationale of bringing the trails up to those standards when all of them could be brought up to an explicit standard of today.


            Mr. Rooker stated that is what he thought staff was trying to do.


            Mr. Benish clarified that the Phase I and II standard is fairly limited, but the Board could accept a proffer to bring those up to the higher standard required of Phases III and IV.


            Mr. Rooker added that they are talking about a new proffer.


            Mr. Benish noted that there are limitations to what can be done within easement areas, and alternative sites for paths might need to be identified through field work and evaluation.  He added that it may require property owners’ agreement to make those adjustments.


            Mr. Davis said that to address a new cash proffer amount, it would have to be re-advertised for another public hearing.  He explained that an amended proffer would also require the application to be re-advertised for another public hearing. 


            Mr. Boyd expressed concern that the connecting road through Cascadia is opposed by residents, and he asked for clarification of what that road would be.


            Mr. Davis replied that in Cascadia there were no proffers for the connection, but the Code of Development showed reservation of right of way up to the property line of Fontana and said it would be improved at the request of the County.  He explained that the Subdivision Ordinance requires that those improvements be made in both Cascadia and Fontana once the plats are approved unless a waiver is requested and approved by the Planning Commission.  Mr. Davis said that the expectation is that there will be an interconnection here.  It has been reserved in Cascadia and would be required in this subdivision.


            Mr. Rooker asked if the traffic would be taken off and spread out instead of going through the existing neighborhood.


            Mr. Boyd said that the Cascadia connection was established after Fontana.


            Mr. Davis emphasized that staff believes traffic would be taken off of Fontana as people in the new section would divert to Cascadia because it is a better road.


            Mr. Rooker mentioned that this is required for the subdivision.


            Mr. Davis explained that Cascadia has a requirement to provide that connection, and the ordinance does require that interconnection, with each development building up to their property line.  He said that under the Subdivision Ordinance, they would have to build or bond it at the time of platting.


            Mr. Benish said that this plan allows for use of the road for emergency purposes until the subdivision is built, and at that point the interconnection is required. 


            Mr. Boyd said that traffic would go into Fontana (Franklin Drive) to get to work, and this would create a real safety situation unless there is a signal put in front of Cascadia.


            Mr. Rooker stated that if there is enough traffic, they will get a light.


            Mr. Boyd said they will all go through Fontana.


            Mr. Rooker responded that he would be surprised if people chose that route, as he had an office at Pantops for 25 years.


            Mr. Boyd said that he has lived in Key West for 26 years, and the Pantops situation would encourage people to cut through Fontana. 


            Mr. Tucker noted that it might be difficult, once again, to get this back in time for September.


            Mr. Davis stated that if a proffer for the pathway is going to be on the table, then staff and engineering need to weigh in on that prior to the proffer being written.  He also said that the Board could defer the item, unless the applicant does not want to amend the proffers.


            Mr. Driver said that the applicant is willing to bring the pedestrian path standards in Phase I and II up to the standards of Phase III and IV.  He asked if it would be possible for the Board to approve the rezoning with that as a note on the plat.


            Mr. Davis replied that the law requires re-advertising of a public hearing to accept the proffer changes.


            (Note:  At this time, the applicant and his attorney stepped out of the meeting to discuss how to proceed.)


            Mr. Martin, representing Mr. Nichols, said that the applicant is requesting deferral.


            Mr. Davis stated that once there are final proffers and plans, the item would be re-advertised 20 days prior to public hearing.


            Mr. Rooker then moved to indefinitely defer ZMA 2004-018 Fontana Phase IV-C.  Mr. Slutzky seconded the motion.  Roll was called, and the motion carried by the following recorded vote:


AYES:  Mr. Boyd, Mr. Dorrier, Mr. Rooker, Mr. Slutzky, Ms. Thomas, and Mr. Wyant.

NAYS:  None.


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