ZMA-2007-00025 Wavertree LLC (Sign # 104 & 105)
PROPOSAL: Rezone 145.33 acres from PRD Planned Residential District zoning district which allows residential use (3 - 34 units/acre) with limited commercial uses to RA Rural Areas; residential density (0.5 unit/acre) zoning district which allows agricultural, forestal, and fishery uses and 0.5 unit/acre.
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: No
LOCATION: Plank Road (Route 692), approximately 0.75 miles west of the intersection with Dick Woods Road (Route 637).
TAX MAP/PARCEL: Tax Map 70 Parcel 39
MAGISTERIAL DISTRICT: White Hall
Mr. Clark presented a power-point presentation and summarized the staff report. (See Staff Report)
Proposal: Rezone 145.33 acres from PRD to RA
4. The rezoning would make the subject parcel eligible for the same tax rates available to other similar farms in the Rural Areas.
1. Reduced tax revenue for the County could result through eligibility for use-value taxation
A straight rezoning would effectively increase the development potential. However, the applicants have made a proffer that would reduce that potential to the existing three dwellings units plus one more. There is also the concern about open space access to the trails on the property for the residents of the remaining PRD lots. The proffers also stated that trail access would remain.
RECOMMENDATION: Staff recommends approval of this Zoning Map Amendment, with proffers.
Mr. Morris invited questions for staff.
Mr. Edgerton asked if the property was currently under a conservation easement, and Mr. Clark replied yes, that it was under an easement to the Virginia Outdoors Foundation.
Mr. Edgerton asked with that in mind how rezoning the property to RA would be considered an increase in the use of the property. He thought that the rezoning would supersede any rezoning.
Mr. Clark replied that whichever was more restrictive would control the level of development.
Mr. Edgerton said that there was no development potential there.
Mr. Clark noted that unless for some reason in the future that they decided to amend the easement for some reason. It is unlikely, but it could happen.
Mr. Cannon said that there should be no difference in taxation between these two classifications because the easement currently prevents and will continue to prevent the remainder of the property from having development value. He asked if that was correct. The one down factor was that by this rezoning there could be reduced tax revenue for the county through eligibility for use value taxation. His question is with the easement in place why would there be that difference.
Mr. Clark suggested that the applicant could better address what they qualify for now.
Mr. Kamptner said that he did not have a simple answer and hopefully the applicant can explain. But, typically the open space easement would severely restrict the uses. Because it restricts the uses the valuation would go significantly down to approximately 10 percent of its pre-easement value.
Mr. Morris opened the public hearing and invited the applicant to address the Commission.
Richard Carter, representative for the applicant, said they would think that the easement would result in a lowering of the evaluation, but it has not been that way. They met with the county and asked how they could get into land use taxation. The county said that all they had to do was to be zoned RA and meet the other requirements. But, they are zoned PRD and meet the other requirements. So that is why they are here. They are here to try to get the taxation that this farm is entitled to under the Code. In 1979 the property was purchased by a religious group and the main house where Mr. and Mrs. Gladden live was going to be the gathering place or the meeting house. Then the rest of the farm was going to be for the walking trails and so forth. Then they divided the property up into different lots and members of the groups were going to buy the lots and live in the houses. For whatever reason that use did not get off the ground. Now they find themselves in the middle of the rural areas with this planned residential development that never happened. That is what they are trying to cure tonight. They want to bring the zoning in line with the use. The use is a farm. Therefore, the zoning should be RA. Further evidence of the use is the conservation easement that the Virginia Outdoors Foundation holds in perpetuity on this property. The advantage to the owners of this is obviously the zoning is cleaned up to match the use, to match the Comprehensive Plan and to make the property eligible for land use taxation. The restrictive covenants will remain in place and will still provide protection for owners of the lots. The restrictive covenants call for the 20’ walkway and the bark mulch paths. Since 1979 the paths have not been built, but they are still there if someone wants to build them. The proffers further restrict the use of the property by recognizing these restrictive covenants.
Mr. Edgerton asked in terms of the easement are there any development rights reserved on this easement.
Mr. Carter replied that there were no more than what they have proffered, which is one more house.
Ms. Joseph asked if that would make the total number of houses four, and Mr. Carter replied yes.
Mr. Loach questioned why the tax assessment did not decrease when the conservation easement was placed on the property and it stripped the development potential.
Joe Gladden said that his wife and he were the shared owners of Wavertree Hall, LLC. The easement was on the property when they bought it in 2004. They have been in the process of restoring it ever since. The idea behind this is to get the zoning square with the use. But the real objective is to put every protection they can on any sort of development beyond that one house that probably will never get built anyway. In any event, that is the point of this request.
Ms. Porterfield said that there was a very small piece of property on top that is disconnected from the rest of it. She asked if that was also farmed.
Mr. Gladden said that all of the areas that are outside of the red line were the lots that were sold by this religious organization. There is a road off of Plank Road serving those lots. The original easements were intended to connect all of those lots with the main house, which they also owned. But, that has never happened. The part outside of the red line is developed with houses and it forest and not farm.
Mr. Morris invited public comment.
Kimberly Robeson said that they built the first house on Kingsway Road. They were part of the religion group, which was a non-denominational group of believers who had our church services at Oak Leigh. It was a Christian community. Part of the land was given to them and part of it was purchased. It was divided into pieces of property that they purchased. The walk way easements have gone by the way because it would cost to build and maintain them. Since the community did not develop as it was planned that has never happened. She questioned where the one house would be located.
Mr. Gladden said that one house is a bit of a stretch. This comes from the original covenant when Christian Retreats was subdivided. It provided for a residence within the equestrian area. That presumable was intended to be a residence for the equestrian manager. The covenants make it clear that it is within the equestrian area, which is just off Kingsway.
Ms. Robeson noted that she did not know of any house that was supposed to be there. She thought that a meeting place was in the original plan. The main house, Wavertree, was going to just be people living in there.
Mr. Morris closed the public hearing to bring the matter before the Planning Commission.
Mr. Kamptner said that there was a question about the little piece of land at the top shown in red. In looking at the map on page 6 it is possible that little piece is part of is part of tax map 70, parcel 39 and that is why it is being shown as being rezoned to Rural Areas as well. It may be part of the same tax map.
Mr. Cilimberg said that staff will investigate that before the Board meeting. It may be a piece left over in the divisions of the properties that are actually part of a larger piece and not a separate parcel. It is immaterial to the decision. It is something that staff will clarify for the Board.
Motion: Mr. Strucko moved, Mr. Edgerton seconded to recommend approval of ZMA-2007-00025, Wavertree LLC, subject to the proffers attached to the staff report in Attachment C.
The motion passed by a vote of 7:0.
Mr. Morris noted that ZMA-2007-00025, Wavertree LLC would go before the Board of Supervisors with a recommendation for approval at which date has not been determined.
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