ALBEMARLE COUNTY PLANNING

STAFF REPORT SUMMARY

 

Project Name:  SP 2007-065 Herring Property/ Verizon Tier III PWSF

Staff:  Megan Yaniglos,  Brent Nelson, Amy Pflaum

Planning Commission Public Hearing: 

April 1, 2008

Board of Supervisors Hearing:

May 7, 2008

Owners:  James and Julie Ann Herring

Applicant: Cellco Partnership D/B/A Verizon wireless

Acreage: 83.417 Acres

(Lease Area: 2,400 square feet)

Rezone from: Not applicable

Special Use Permit for:  Sec. 10.2.2 (48) which allows for Tier III personal wireless facilities in the RA Zoning District

TMP: Tax Map 53, Parcel 6

Location: Approximately 600’ north of I-64, 1.25 miles north of the intersection of Rockfish Gap Tpk. (Route 250W) and Plank Rd. (Route 692), and west of Newtown Heights and Green Hill Lane. Near the VDOT memorial scenic overlook on I-64.

By-right use: RA, Rural Area 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: White Hall

Proffers/Conditions:  Yes

Requested # of Dwelling Units/Lots: N/A

DA -                          RA - X

Proposal: Proposal to install a Tier III personal wireless service treetop facility.  The proposed facility consists of a 73-foot tall monopole measured above ground level (AGL), painted brown with an approximate top elevation of 1,341.5 feet, measured above mean sea level (AMSL).  This application also includes a request for a modification of Section 4.2.5 in order to allow disturbance of critical slopes for the construction of this facility.

Comp. Plan Designation: Rural Area in Rural Area 3

Character of Property:  Mostly wooded with four existing personal wireless facilities

Use of Surrounding Properties:  Single-family Residential

Factors Favorable: See Report

Factors Unfavorable: See Report

Zoning Ordinance Waivers and Recommendations:

1. Section 10.2.2 (48) and Section 5.1.40 Personal Wireless Facility- Tier III tower at seven [7] feet above the tallest tree- approval

2. Waiver of Section 4.2.5 – disturbance of critical slopes - denial

 


 

 

STAFF CONTACT:                           Megan Yaniglos; Brent Nelson; Amy Phlaum

 

PLANNING COMMISSION:          April 1, 2008

 

BOARD OF SUPERVISORS:          May 7, 2008

 

AGENDA TITLE:                             SP 07-065: Herring Property/ Verizon Wireless Tier III

 

PROPERTY OWNER:                      James and Julie Ann Herring

 

APPLICANT:                                     Cellco Partnership D/B/A Verizon wireless

 

Proposal:

 

This report has been revised since the Planning Commission meeting on April 1, 2007 to fix typographical areas, provide additional information concerning the Open Space Plan, and include information that was provided as a packet to the Commission members at the meeting. The packet is now an attachment to the report as ‘Attachment I’. Staff has also included a cover sheet for this packet to explain the contents.

 

This is a proposal to install a Tier III personal wireless service treetop facility [Attachment A].  The treetop personal wireless service facility will contain a steel monopole that would be approximately 73 feet tall [7 feet AMSL above the height of the tallest tree within 25 feet], with a 12-foot high 300 square foot shelter/equipment cabinet that will be contained within a 2,400 square foot lease area.  The property is 83.417 acres, described as Tax Map 53, Parcel 6, is located in the Whitehall Magisterial District and is zoned RA, Rural Areas and EC, Entrance Corridor. This application also includes a request for a modification of Section 4.2.5 in order to allow disturbance of critical slopes for the construction of this facility.

 

COMPREHENSIVE PLAN:

The Comprehensive Plan designates the property as Rural Area in Rural Area 3.

 

CHARACTER OF THE AREA:

The proposed site is located approximately 600 feet north of the I-64 right-of-way below the Afton Mountain ridge line [Attachment B]. The lease area is in an open space created by two tree lines running parallel from east to west.  Four existing Personal Wireless Service Facilities are located nearby. The easternmost of these facilities is located 120’ from the proposal under review.  Access to the site will be provided from Green Hill Lane by way of Newton Heights and a gravel road crossing the CSX railroad. The site can be seen from the VDOT memorial scenic overlook located on I-64.

 

PLANNING AND ZONING HISTORY:

 

SP 2003-054 T-Mobile Approval granted for request to install a 66-foot tall wooden monopole tower with associated equipment cabinet. This tower is still in place and will remain after installation of the new facility.

 

SP 2003-012 Triton PCS Approval granted for request to install new ground equipment supporting digital technology, E-911 services and the replacement of antennas at an existing personal wireless services facility.

 

SP 2000-041 Triton PCS Approval granted for request to install a 58-foot tall wooden monopole tower with associated equipment cabinet. This tower is still in place and will remain after installation of the new facility.

 

SP 2000-030 Alltel Approval for request to install a including a 53.5- foot high monopole, 3 panel antennas, two equipment cabinets, and an emergency generator. This tower is still in place and will remain after installation of the new facility.

 

SP 1999-010 Triton PCS Approval granted for request to install a 91-foot tall wooden monopole tower with associated equipment cabinet.  This tower is still in place and will remain after installation of the new facility.

 

DISCUSSION:

There are four existing personal wireless service facilities existing on the property within two hundred feet (200’) of the proposed facility, and therefore the proposed facility requires approval of a Tier III special use permit. The lease area is in an open space below the Afton Mountain ridge line.  However, the property is predominantly composed of areas of critical slopes.  Thus, the applicant is requesting a waiver in order to allow disturbance of these slopes for the accessway to the facility and the grading related to the siting of the tower [Attachments C and D]. The Planning Commission will need to act on the critical slopes waiver request, and make findings on the appropriateness of the proposed personal wireless facility.  This staff report is organized to address each issue separately.  The Commission must act on both of the items.  The items to be addressed are:

 

1. Section 5.1.4 Personal Wireless Service Facilities [recommendation, approval]

2. Waiver of Section 4.2.5 – disturbance of critical slopes [recommendation, denial]

 

ANALYSIS OF THE SPECIAL USE PERMIT REQUEST:

Section 31.2.4.1 of the Zoning Ordinance below requires that special use permits be reviewed as follows:

 

Will the use be of substantial detriment to adjacent property?

There are four existing personal wireless service facilities on the property that are not detrimental to the adjacent property, therefore, it is staff’s opinion that the proposal would not impose any additional substantial detriment to adjacent property. The ground equipment shelter will be screened from adjacent properties by existing trees and vegetation. The monopole will not be skylighted, there is a substantial backdrop for the facility.

 

Will the character of the zoning district change with this use?

There are existing personal wireless service facilities on this parcel. 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 Rural Areas chapter of the Zoning Ordinance (Section 10.1).  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 (RA) Rural Area district are anticipated. The proposed personal wireless service facility will not restrict any nearby by-right uses within the Rural Areas district.

 

 

Will the use comply with the additional regulations provided in Section 5.0 of this ordinance?

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 four existing towers. Verizon's equipment shelter will meet the required Rural Areas 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 proposed monopole does not require the installation of guy wires, nor will it be fitted with any whip antennas. The proposed grounding rod complies with the size requirements. The facility will only have one outdoor light fixture 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' construction management team is currently in the process of obtaining the design specifications for an after-market shielding device 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.

 

The proposed antennae configuration will consist of one sector with three panel antennas that measure 72.44”x 6.06”x 4.13”, giving each antenna an area of approximately 439 square inches. These antennas will be installed using “pipe-mounts” that will allow for any required amount of down-tilting without exceeding the County’s requirements for flush-mounts (12- inches maximum between the face of the monopole and the face of the antennae. All antennae will be painted to match the color of the tower.

 

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 installation of the proposed personal wireless service facility and its access from the existing road will be constructed largely within a grassed area that is currently cleared. However, there will need to be some cut and fill activity on each side of the facility in areas where understory trees and other vegetation are present. The applicant will provide a tree conservation plan by a certified arborist prior to the submittal of a building permit for this facility.

 

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.

 

In order to ensure that there is no significant impact to any of the trees that are to remain, the conservation plan will be completed prior to the submittal of a building permit.

 

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 PWSF has been installed, Verizon will submit an annual report updating the user status and equipment inventory of the facility in the required time period.

 

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.

 

The steep slopes to be created on the uphill side of the facility will be stabilized using a gabion retaining wall. This consists of several stone-filled cages that are stacked and lined in connected rows.

 

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.

 

The proposed facility will be located in a remote area, therefore the applicant proposes the installation of a chain link security fence. Instead of surrounding the full extent of the lease area, Verizon will only fence the ground equipment shelter, tower and surrounding area as needed to carry out service and maintenance activities within the fence. The facility is screened by existing vegetation on all sides and is not visible from any adjacent residences, therefore it will not be detrimental to the character of the area, public health, safety or general welfare.

 

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.

 

The proposed facility includes a monopole that would have a height of approximately 73 feet above ground level (AGL) or 1,341.5 feet above mean sea level (AMSL).  The height of the reference tree is approximately 1,335 feet above mean sea level (AMSL) and is located 24 feet north of the proposed monopole. 

 

A balloon test was conducted on October 3, 2007 [Attachments E and F].  During the site visit, staff observed a test balloon that was floated at the approximate height of the proposed monopole. Since it is difficult to measure the exact circumference of the balloon when inflated, the balloon was flown to reflect the height of the proposed monopole at the bottom of the balloon.  In the attached photos, note that the tower’s height would be to the bottom of the balloon and not to the top.

 

The balloon was clearly visible from the I-64 Entrance Corridor at the original proposed elevation of 1,345 AMSL, which is 10’ above the top of the reference tree.  As a comparison, the balloon was lowered so that it was only 7’ above the top of the reference tree (1,342 AMSL). Surrounding trees provided a backdrop for the balloon at both elevations, with the balloon visible but not skylighted. The applicant and staff agreed that there was a material difference in the visibility of the balloon as the height went from 7’ to 10’ above the canopy of the reference tree.  At 7’ above the reference tree, visibility is expected to be similar to existing nearby facilities, which blend well with the surrounding wooded area.  As a result, the applicant has submitted a revision to the original application and is now requesting the top height of the monopole at 7’ above the reference tree.  Although the facility is likely to be more visible during winter months, there are some features that will help mitigate.  The location is approximately 600 feet north of the entrance corridor. Shenandoah National Park is located to the north of the property, however since the facility being proposed is below the ridgeline, it will not be visible from the park.  In addition, the existing hillside is wooded, and the monopole will be “Java Brown” color.  The equipment shelter will be finished with aggregate stone, which will blend with the natural stone color of the retaining wall.  This low level of visibility is not expected to have a negative impact on the EC.

 

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 the Mountain Overlay District and Critical Slopes in the Open Space Plan [Attachment G].  However, the site is well below the ridgeline, and the tower will not be skylighted. 

The County’s wireless service facilities policy encourages facilities with limited visibility, facilities with adequate wooded backdrop, and facilities that do not adversely impact Avoidance Areas (including Entrance Corridors and historic resources).  The proposed pole is expected to be visible for a relatively short period of time when traveling on I-64 (an entrance corridor).  The degree of visibility is not expected to have a negative impact on the Entrance Corridor based on these findings.  The Architectural Review Board has approved the location with conditions [Attachment H].  Therefore, staff feels the visibility of the monopole will not adversely impact the resources of the entrance corridor or historic districts.

 

A tree conservation plan, with measures limiting the impacts to existing trees remain will be submitted prior to application for the building permit.

 

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).

 

As mentioned previously in this report, the proposed monopole would have a height of approximately 1,341.5 feet above mean sea level (AMSL).  The height of the reference tree is approximately 1,335 feet above mean sea level (AMSL). The proposed monopole will be (7) feet taller than the tallest tree within twenty-five (25) feet.

 

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 applicant is proposing the installation of a facility with a steel monopole.  The proposed color for the tower is a brown paint (Java Brown) to match existing surroundings.  The proposed equipment cabinet will be a combination of brown metal siding (SW #6090 Java Brown) and aggregate stone finish.  Because the proposed facility will be located in a remote area, the applicant is proposing the installation of a chain link security fence.  The site is screened by existing vegetation on all sides and is not visible from any adjacent residences.  Therefore, the chain link fence should not be detrimental to the character of the area.  The site will also require a retaining wall to stabilize the steep slopes that surround the site.  The applicant is proposing a gabion retaining wall that consists of several stone-filled cages that are stacked and lined in connected rows.

 

Section 5.1.40(e)2: The facility shall comply with all conditions of approval of the special use permit.

 

The facility complies with all conditions of approval of the special use permit (Section 32.2.4):

           

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. In its current state, the existing facilities and their mounting structure all offer adequate support for providing personal wireless communication services. The applicant has not provided any additional information regarding the availability, or absence of alternative sites that could serve the same areas that would be covered with the proposed antenna additions at this site. Therefore, staff does not believe that the special use permitting process nor the denial of this application would have the effect of prohibiting or restricting the provision of personal wireless services.

 

RECOMMENDATION:  Staff recommends approval of this facility at (7) seven feet above the tallest tree with the conditions outlined by the Architectural Review Board.

 

 

2. CRITICAL SLOPES WAIVER

The proposed facility will require the disturbance of critical slopes. A modification to allow critical slopes disturbance is necessary before the building permit may be issued.  The request for a modification has been reviewed for both the Engineering and Planning aspects of the critical slopes regulations.  Section 4.2.3.2 of the Zoning Ordinance restricts earth-disturbing activity on critical slopes, while Section 4.2.5(b) allows the Planning Commission to waive this restriction.  The applicant has submitted a request and justification for the waiver [Attachment D], and staff has analyzed this request to address the provisions of the Ordinance.

The critical slopes in the area of this request do not appear to be man-made.  Staff has reviewed this waiver request with consideration for the concerns that are set forth in Section 4.2 of the Zoning Ordinance, entitled “Critical Slopes.”  These concerns have been addressed directly through the analysis provided herein, which is presented in two parts, based on the Section of the Ordinance each pertains to.

 

Section 4.2.5(a)

Review of the request by Current Development Engineering staff:

 

Description of critical slope area and proposed disturbance:

The critical slope area, within TMP 53-06, appears to be natural slopes.  The critical slope disturbances are in the form of site plan construction; leveling of land for building of tower and accessway.  These critical slopes are shown on the final site plan, Sheet C-2A, rev. date 27 February 2008.

 

Areas

Acres

Total site

83.4 acres for TMP 53-06

Facility site = 2400 SF(0.055Ac)

Critical slopes

1620 SF

67.5% of facility site

Critical slopes disturbed

1620 SF

100% of critical slopes

 

Below, each of the concerns of Zoning Ordinance section 18-4.2 is addressed:

 

Compliance with Zoning Ordinance 18-4.2:

“movement of soil and rock”

Proper slope construction, control of drainage, and vegetative stabilization with approved erosion control measures constructed within the standards of Virginia Erosion and Sedimentation Control Regulations will discourage movement of soil.  The applicant proposes finished grade stabilization with gabion retaining walls, per the details on Sheet C-3 of the site plan.

“excessive stormwater runoff”

Stormwater runoff will increase in areas of critical slope disturbance. The increase of runoff does not appear to be excessive because of the small area disturbed. The applicant proposes a gravel surface over geosynthetic fibers that will encourage stormwater to drain back into the ground. 

“siltation of natural and man-made bodies of water”

Areas of disturbance (with areas less than 10,000 square feet of disturbance) do not require an erosion control plan. However, the applicant has provided an erosion control plan for the construction of the project.  Proper stabilization and maintenance will promote long term stability.

“loss of aesthetic resource”

It does not appear that the loss of aesthetic resources will occur with this plan.  Backdrop is provided by the trees and mountain on the northern side of the site.  Also, the applicant has prepared a written tree conservation plan to be followed during construction of the site.

“septic effluent”

This is an unmanned facility which has no septic systems or drainfields proposed for the project.  This site is not accessible to the public sanitary sewer system.

 

This site does drain into a waterway that is a public drinking water supply for Albemarle County.  The site drains into the Mechums River which flows into the South Fork Rivanna reservoir.  No portion of this property is shown within the 100-year flood plain area according to FEMA Maps, dated 04 February 2005.

 

.Review of the request by Current Development Planning staff:

Summary of review of modification of Section 4.2:

Section 4.2.5 establishes the review process and criteria for granting a waiver of Section 4.2.3. The preceding comments by staff address the provisions of Section 4.2.5(a).  Staff has included the provisions of Section 4.2.5(b) here, along with staff comment on the various provisions.

The commission may modify or waive any requirement of section 4.2 in a particular case upon finding that:

1.      Strict application of the requirements of section 4.2 would not forward the purposes of this chapter or otherwise serve the public health, safety or welfare, or that alternatives proposed by the developer would satisfy the purposes of section 4.2 to at least an equivalent degree; or (Added 11-15-89)

The applicant has chosen this site so that the monopole is not skylighted, and is adequately screened. Critical slopes waivers were not submitted or required for the four existing personal wireless service facilities located on the property [Attachment I]. The location that the applicant has chosen on the parcel will require the disturbance of critical slopes. The critical slopes on this property are identified in the Open Space and Critical Resources Plan [Attachment G]. The majority of the parcel has critical slopes, and the amount of critical slopes being disturbed in the siting of the personal wireless facility is minimal.  No alternative has been proposed by the developer that would satisfy the purposes of section 4.2.

 

2.      Due to its unusual size, topography, shape of the property, location of the property or other unusual conditions, excluding the proprietary interest of the developer, the requirements of section 4.2 would effectively prohibit or unreasonably restrict the use of the property or would result in significant degradation of the site or adjacent properties. Such modification or waiver shall not be detrimental to the public health, safety or welfare, to the orderly development of the area, or to adjacent properties, or be contrary to sound engineering practices; or (Added 11-15-89)

            Denial of this waiver would not prohibit or restrict the use of the property.  

 

3.      Granting such modification or waiver would serve a public purpose of greater import than would be served by strict application of section 4.2. (Added 11-15-89)

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, and serve a public purpose of greater import.

 

RECOMMENDATION

The applicant has proposed the site of this personal wireless facility so that the tower is not skylighted, and is screened from the entrance corridor. In order for the placement of this facility in the proposed location, disturbance of critical slopes is necessary. The personal wireless facility policy encourages the siting of facilities so that they are not skylighted, and well screened. The amount of disturbance is minimal since the access to the site is existing and the lease area is only 2,400 square feet. However, there are four existing facilities located on the property that did not require the disturbance of critical slopes. The applicant has not provided an alternative location for this facility that would not require the disturbance of critical slopes. Therefore, since both favorable and unfavorable factors have been identified under this section, staff is unable to make an overall positive finding for the approval of the critical slopes waiver.

 

 

SUMMARY:

 

Staff has identified factors which are favorable and unfavorable to this proposal:

 

Factors favorable to this request include:

 

1.      The monopole is located so that it is not sky lit, and has a significant back drop of existing trees.

2.      There is existing access to the proposed site.

3.      ARB has approved the location based on minimal visibility from I-64 the Entrance Corridor.

 

Factors unfavorable to this request include:

 

1.      The disturbance of critical slopes is necessary for the construction of the facility in the proposed location.

 

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:

 

  1. 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.

 

  1. 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.

 

  1. All work shall be done in general accord with what is described in the applicant's request and site construction plans, entitled “Afton, Herring Property”, with a final zoning drawing submittal date of 2/27/2008.   

 

4.      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.

 

5.      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.

 

6.      The following shall be submitted to the agent after installation of the monopole is completed and prior to issuance of a certificate of occupancy: (i) certification by a registered surveyor stating the height of the monopole, measured both in feet above ground level and in elevation above mean sea level, using the benchmarks or reference datum identified in the application; and (ii) certification stating that the lightning rod’s height does not exceed two (2) feet above the top of the monopole and width does not exceed a diameter of one (1) inch.

 

ATTACHMENTS:

 

  1. Site Plan
  2. Vicinity Map and Critical Slopes Map
  3. Applicant Justification Letter
  4. Applicant Critical Slopes Justification Letter
  5. Balloon photos at proposed location
  6. Balloon view from I-64
  7. Open Space Plan
  8. ARB action and conditions
  9. Existing facilities approval history

 

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