COUNTY OF ALBEMARLE

PLANNING STAFF REPORT SUMMARY

Project Name:  ZMA 2007-23 Montalto and

ZTA 2007-06 Monticello Historic District

Staff: Joan McDowell, Principal Planner Rural Areas

Planning Commission Public Hearing:

April 8, 2008

Board of Supervisors Public Hearing:

May 7, 2008

Owners: TJF Realty, LLC

Applicant: TJF Realty, LLC and Thomas Jefferson Foundation, Inc.

Acreage: 329.68 acres

Zoning Map Amendment: Rezone 329.68 acres from Rural Areas to Monticello Historic District

Zoning Text Amendment:  Amend Monticello Historic District to include Monticello Scholar Residence

TMP: 77-31; TMP 77-31B; and TMP 78-25A

Location: 1400 Montalto Loop Road, Route 53 at the entrance to Monticello

 

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

 

Magisterial District: Scottsville

Conditions: N/A  Proffers: Yes

Proposal:  Rezone 329.68 acres from RA Rural Areas zoning district which allows RA -- Rural Areas: agricultural, forestal, and fishery uses; residential density (0.5 unit/acre) to MHD Monticello Historic District zoning district, a planned historic district to permit the restoration, preservation, education, programs, research and business activities related to the operation of a historic house museum and historic site at Monticello; residential density (1 unit / 21 acres)

 

Requested # of Dwelling Units:   Maximum of 15 dwelling units (MHD)

 

 

DA (Development Area):  RA (Rural Area):  X

Comprehensive Plan Designation: Rural Areas – preserve and protect agricultural, forestal, open space, and natural, historic and scenic resources/ density ( .5  unit/ acre)

Character of Property:  Historic property that is mostly lawn at the topmost elevation and contains three historic structures 

Use of Surrounding Properties: Orchards, farms, the Monticello properties, wooded areas, Kenwood, Michie Tavern and gift shop.

Factors Favorable:

 

1.        The Monticello Historic District is consistent with the Comprehensive Plan;

2.        The primary remodeling of the historic buildings will be on the interior;

3.        The exterior elevations will be maintained;

4.        The MHD would reduce the number of potential residential divisions;

5.     Shared parking with Monticello will reduce the amount of vehicles on the mountaintop.

Factors Unfavorable:

Staff has not identified any factors unfavorable to this application.

 

RECOMMENDATION: Staff recommends approval.

 

STAFF PERSON:                        Joan McDowell           

PLANNING COMMISSION:    April 8, 2008               

BOARD OF SUPERVISORS:    May 7, 2008

 

ZMA 2007-23 Montalto and ZTA 2007-01 Monticello Historic District

 

Petitions: 

ZMA 2007-23 Montalto

PROPOSAL:  Rezone 329.68 acres from RA Rural Areas zoning district which allows RA -- Rural Areas: agricultural, forestal, and fishery uses; residential density (0.5 unit/acre) to MHD Monticello Historic District zoning district, a planned historic district to permit the restoration, preservation, education, programs, research and business activities related to the operation of a historic house museum and historic site at Monticello; residential density (1 unit / 21 acres)

PROFFERS:  Yes

EXISTING 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: 1400 Montalto Loop Road, Route 53 at the entrance to Monticello

TAX MAP/PARCEL: TMP 77-31; TMP 77-31B; TMP 78-25A

MAGISTERIAL DISTRICT: Scottsville

 

ZTA 2007-06 – Monticello Historic District (MHD) – Monticello Scholar Residence  –  Zoning text amendment to amend the MHD regulations by adding Section 11.3.1(24) to allow “Monticello Scholar Residence” as a use permitted by right.  The existing density for new residential development authorized in the MHD is one dwelling unit per twenty-one acres, and the proposed zoning text amendment would not change that density. 

 

Character of the Area:  Located in the Southern Albemarle Historic District and formerly owned by Thomas Jefferson, this site has local, national, and world significance.  It is part of the Monticello area that appears on the World Heritage List.  At an elevation of 1,270 feet, Montalto overlooks Monticello, Charlottesville, and a considerable portion of central Albemarle.  It borders Monticello, Michie Tavern property, Carter’s Mountain Orchard, Kenwood, as well as privately owned residential parcels.

 

Specifics of the Proposal:  The applicant has requested approval of two applications, as well as a request for a waiver from zoning ordinance provisions pertaining to critical slopes.

 

ZMA 2007-23 - a rezoning of 329.68 acres on three parcels from Rural Areas (RA) to Monticello Historic District (MHD), in order to allow uses on the property that are not permitted in the Rural Areas District that support the purpose and intent of the MHD, including:

·    Seminars, conferences, lectures, meetings, and special programs

·    Catered food service

·    Outdoor events and gatherings

·    Scholar apartments and scholar offices

·    Educational programs

·    Administrative offices

·    Caretaker residence

 

These uses would take place in three existing buildings - the house, the barn, and the tower.  Landscaping of the grounds of Montalto would provide additional areas for parking and outdoor events.  The application plan is included as Attachment A.

 

ZTA 2007-06 – amend the MHD to add Monticello Scholar Residence as a by-right use in multiple-family structures.  The scholar residences would be accommodated within the three existing buildings.   The existing MHD does not allow multi-family housing.  A caretaker and accommodations for others engaged in the Monticello organization have been included in this description. The amended text is included as Attachment B.

 

      Planning and Zoning History:  

-  ZTA 04-03 created the Monticello Historic District (MHD). Although the Montalto property was acquired shortly before the Monticello Historic District was created, future plans for Montalto were uncertain at the time. Therefore, Montalto was not included in the MHD. 

-  2004 - Southern Albemarle Historic District was created

-  January 2008, Planning Commission Work Session.  The staff report and minutes are attached (Attachment C). A binder titled “Summary of Feasibility Study for Montalto” dated July 2007 and revised October 2007) was provided to the Planning Commission prior to the work session. (Please remember to bring this binder to the meeting on April 8, 2008).

-  2008 – An easement held by the Piedmont Environmental Council was placed on 150 acres of Montalto (Attachment G).

 

Applicant’s Justification for the Request:

After a year-long study, the Thomas Jefferson Foundation concluded that “Montalto presents a unique opportunity to enhance the quality and depth of the Foundation’s research and education programs by converting the remaining structures into spaces for scholarly seminars, meetings, and short-term residences for scholars.  With extensive interior renovation, but with minimal exterior alteration, the large house and the stone buildings nearby can be transformed to meet these needs.  The study also demonstrated that Montalto is an appropriate venue for the uses now permitted within the Monticello Historic District, including public tours, administrative facilities, and hosting periodic meetings.” 

 

By-right Use of the Property:

If developed under the current RA zoning, the property could be developed with agricultural uses, forestal uses, or residential development at allowed densities, subject to easement restrictions. 

 

Conformity with the Comprehensive Plan:

Rural Area:  The Guiding Principles of the Rural Area Plan are not compromised with this proposed application and the applicant has make an effort to incorporate the Principles into this proposal.  The development would be situated on the mountaintop within the three existing structures and the new parking areas would not be intrusive on the landscape.  Outdoor areas to be used for gatherings and events would be situated  around the buildings. The remaining property would remain undeveloped.  An area of the property may be placed into vineyards sometime in the future.  A conservation easement was recently placed on 150 acres in the viewshed of both Monticello and Charlottesville.    

 

Under the RA District, this property has 29 potential divisions for residential development; under the MHD, density would be reduced to a maximum of 15 residences.   The reduction in residential density furthers the goals of the Comprehensive Plan.

 

Historic Resources:  The above referenced submittal has been reviewed by the Historic Preservation Planner for possible impact to known historic architectural resources and known or potential archaeological resources with the following comments:

1.      Montalto (002-1053), built c. 1905-1915, is located within the project area

2.      The Virginia Department of Historic Resources’ (DHR) Historic Resource Data Sharing System (DSS) has the identified 13 individual historic architectural and/or archaeological sites identified on parcels adjacent to or within one-mile of the project area.

3.      The subject area is located within the boundary of the Southern Albemarle Rural Historic District (002-5045) which includes notable properties such as Monticello and Ash Lawn-Highland, and meets all four criteria for historic significance (A - Patterns of History; B - Significant Person; C - Architecture; and D - Archaeological Potential) under the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties.

4.      The proposed rezoning of Montalto embodies Albemarle County’s commitment to the preservation of its historic resources through identification and recognition of valuable buildings, structures, landscapes, sites and districts which have historical, architectural, archaeological or cultural significance. Furthermore, this proposal reflects the Historic Preservation Plan’s objective to pursue additional protective measures and incentives to preserve Albemarle’s historic and archaeological resources in order to foster pride in the County and maintain the County’s character.

 

Natural Resources and Cultural Assets Component of the Comprehensive Plan:

 

Central Wells:  The Comprehensive Plan requires Board of Supervisor approval for wells serving three or more connections, as a protection measure of the County’s water supply.  This requirement has been satisfied as a central well having 24 connections to serve 35 people was approved by the Board in1998. 

 

Open Space Plan and Mountain Protection Plan:   At a higher elevation than its neighbor, Monticello, this property has been identified as a mountain resource in the Mountain Protection Plan.  This rezoning would not cause substantial new disturbance of the mountain.  No negative visual impacts to scenic resources are anticipated with this proposed rezoning, as it will utilize existing structures.

 

The Dark Sky:  Protection from light pollution is one of the goals of the Comprehensive Plan.  Lighting ordinance standards have been adopted in the zoning ordinance to implements this goal.  The Architectural Review Board will review the exterior lighting within the Entrance Corridor.  In concert with other large Rural Area projects, the applicant has offered to further restrict lighting by proffering to shield exterior lighting from adjacent neighbors.

 

Scenic Resources:  An Entrance Corridor (EC) overlay district was adopted to implement the Plan’s intention to protect and enhance the County’s attractiveness to tourists and other visitors.  A portion of this site is within the EC Overlay. 

 

Proffers:  As part of this rezoning request, the Foundation has provided the following proffers (Attachment D) to address issues raised during staff review and at the Planning Commission work session.  Final modifications to the proffers will be made, as might be necessary, following the Planning Commission public hearing.  These modifications are not anticipated to be substantive in nature.

 

The proffers read as follows:

 

“This Proffer Statement shall relate to the two-page application plan entitled “Application Plan - Montalto Zoning Map Amendment,” prepared by Draper Aden Associates, dated March 27, 2008 (the “Application Plan”).

 

1.  All outdoor lighting shall be arranged or shielded to reflect light away from the abutting properties. 

 

2.  Vehicular access to the Property shall be controlled during peak events that require off-site parking.

 

3.  No more than three (3) Monticello Scholar Residences shall be occupied as an accessory use at one time, except during the semi-annual meetings of the Board of Directors of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, Inc.”

 

To further address concerns regarding vehicular access and shared parking with Monticello, the applicant has submitted the following comments:

“Most of the guests who will attend events at Montalto will be transported to the property by shuttle bus. These guests would park their personal vehicles in the Monticello Visitors Center lot and catch the shuttle bus there. This is how guest transportation has been efficiently handled at Monticello for many years, including transportation of guests for evening events at Monticello. There are approximately 400 parking spaces at the visitor's center lot.

The larger events, such as those involving the Monticello Cabinet, will nearly always take place in the evening when the visitor's center lot is essentially empty. In the unlikely event that additional spaces were needed, the Foundation would utilize parking areas at Kenwood and Tufton Farm, other nearby Foundation properties.

But for all events, although the vast majority of the guests will be brought by shuttle bus, there will be a need for some individuals to drive personal vehicles to the property. This would include catering staff (which could include 8-12 people for larger events), Foundation staff and some who are just not able to take the shuttle bus (such as those in wheelchairs and needing extra assistance). These personal vehicles would be accommodated by the approximately 37 spaces shown south of the main house on the Application Plan. Other parking spaces shown on the Plan would be used by visiting scholars and fellows and a caretaker.

The Foundation has significant experience handling parking for large events and with complicated logistics. Each year on the Fourth of July, an average of 2,000 visitors attend the Naturalization ceremony. In 1999 when Colin Powell was the featured speaker, they managed over 3,500 visitors. They have also handled the inauguration festivities for President Clinton in 1992, and President George Bush's Education Summit at UVA in 1989, the latter of which included the Governors from all 50 states, the President and the Cabinet all at once (plus each person's staff and security detail and the Secret Service!). The Foundation will be able to internally coordinate the logistics of all of its programming and parking using its experience and personnel.”

Staff believes the proffers addresses the issues discussed at the Planning Commission work session and recommends approval.

 

Waiver of Section 4.2.5 Critical Slopes:  The applicant has identified the following waiver that will be necessary to fully implement the application plan submitted with the ZMA. The applicant’s justification for this waiver is included as Attachment E.

 

Section 4.2.5  - disturbance of critical slopes.  Staff has reviewed this request and offers the following recommendation: The waivers for critical slopes disturbances next to the travel ways and courtyards appear very minor and are recommended for approval. Planning Commission approval of the waiver from Section 4.2.5 critical slopes is needed. 

 

Also requested by the applicant are waivers for travel ways and surface materials, as described in the applicant’s justification (Attachment E).  These waivers can be administratively approved and the County Engineer has commented that they appear acceptable in the two minor instances shown on the plan.  A further, more detailed, review will occur with the site plan. 

 

STAFF COMMENT:

 

Relationship between the application and the purpose and intent of the requested zoning district:  At the work session on January 29, 2008, the Planning Commission affirmed that this application met the purpose and intent of the MHD, since the uses proposed for Montalto would compliment the Monticello historic house and further the educational component of the MHD. 

 

Public need and justification for the change:  The Monticello goal to provide educational opportunities for people desiring to study Thomas Jefferson would be realized by having a meeting place and by providing living facilities for scholars.

 

Anticipated impact on public facilities and services:
Emergency Services:  It can be anticipated that public access to Montalto may create additional need for emergency services.  The Fire Department has ascertained that the access road will accommodate emergency vehicles and has approved a snow removal plan submitted by the applicant. 

 

Transportation: The existing access bridge shared by Monticello will be used to access Route 53.  Virginia Department of Transportation has reviewed this application and has offered no objection.  Monticello’s gated control of the road heading to Montalto, shared parking arrangements with Monticello, and a shuttle service to bring visitors to and from Monticello have relieved concerns regarding unlimited public access to the site and the additional impervious surfaces needed for parking areas.

 

Water and sewer:  A central well system was approved by the Board of Supervisors in 1998 with the subdivision of a lot for the well (SUB 98-072 Mountaintop Land Trust), as required by the state. The review of the water and sewer systems will take place as part of the site plan review.  An extension of the Jurisdictional Area has not been requested and a request for extension is not anticipated. 

 

Anticipated impact on natural, cultural, and historic resources:  Interior alterations of the three existing historic buildings would occur, in order to accommodate the proposed uses.  Exterior renovation of the buildings is anticipated to be minor and would be predominately related to maintenance.  The conservation easement would protect the hillside between Montalto and Monticello from future structures.  Montalto would provide opportunities for visiting scholars to live, work, and study on property owned by Jefferson and to be inspired by the panoramic view of the historic landscape of central Albemarle.

 

SUMMARY:

 

Staff has identified the following factors favorable to this application:

  1. The Monticello Historic District is consistent with the Comprehensive Plan;
  2. The primary remodeling of the historic buildings will be on the interior;
  3. The exterior elevations will be maintained;
  4. The MHD would reduce the number of potential residential divisions;
  5. Shared parking with Monticello will reduce the amount of vehicles on the mountaintop.

 

Staff has identified the following factors unfavorable to this application:

Staff has not identified any factors unfavorable to this application.

 

RECOMMENDED ACTIONS: 

Based on the findings contained in this staff report:

1.      Staff recommends approval of ZMA 2007-23 Montalto, inclusive of the applicant’s proffers (Attachment D).

2.      Staff recommends approval of ZTA 2007-06 Monticello Historic District (Attachment B)

3.      Staff recommends approval of a Waiver of Section 4.2.5 Critical Slopes, with no conditions.

 

ATTACHMENTS

 

A   Application Plan, Montalto Zoning Map Amendment, Draper Aden Associates, dated March 27, 2008

B    Zoning Text Amendment (Monticello Scholar Residence)

C   Planning Commission Work Session staff report and Action Memo

D   Proffer Statement, submitted by the applicant March 27, 2008

E    Waiver Request and Justification

F    Letter in Support, Timothy Hulbert, President Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce, dated March 13, 2008

G   Exhibit of Conservation Easement Overlay, Draper Aden Associates, dated March 27, 2008

  

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