COUNTY OF ALBEMARLE

STAFF REPORT SUMMARY

 

Project Name:  ZMA 2007-00025 Wavertree Hall

Staff: Scott Clark

Planning Commission Public Hearing:

April 1, 2008

Board of Supervisors Public Hearing: TBD

 

Owner/s:  Wavertree Hall LLC

Applicant: Wavertree Hall LLC

Acreage:  145.33 acres

Zoning Map Amendment for: Rezoning from PRD Planned Residential Development to RA Rural Areas

TMP:  Tax Map 70 Parcel 39

Location:  Plank Road (Route 692), approximately 0.75 miles west of the intersection with Dick Woods Road (Route 637).

Existing Zoning and By-right use:  PRD Planned Residential District – residential (3 – 34 units/acre) with limited commercial uses

 

 

Magisterial District:  White Hall

Conditions or Proffers: Yes

RA (Rural Areas)  

Requested # of Dwelling Units:  Four (three houses, one dwelling in the equestrian facilities)

Proposal:  Rezone 145.33 acres from PRD to RA.

Comprehensive Plan Designation: Rural Areas

 

Character of Property: Large rural estate with historic dwelling, equestrian facilities. Mostly open pasture, with some deciduous woods. The property is under a conservation easement held by the Virginia Outdoors Foundation.

Use of Surrounding Properties:  Residential, agriculture, forestry, open space

Factors Favorable:

1.        The requested zoning is consistent with the Comprehensive Plan.

2.        The property is protected by a conservation easement that limits development potential.

3.        Access to open space for the PRD residents will not change.

4.        The rezoning would make the subject parcel eligible for the same tax rates available to other similar farms in the Rural Areas.

Factors Unfavorable:

1.       Reduced tax revenue for the County could result through eligibility for use-value taxation

RECOMMENDATION: Staff recommends approval of this Zoning Map Amendment, with proffers.

 

 
 

PETITION 

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.

PROFFERS:  No

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

 

CHARACTER OF THE AREA

 

The surrounding area is rural, with large residential lots near the subject property and larger rural parcels nearby. Landcover is a mixture of open pasture and woods.

 

The property mirrors this pattern, being largely open, with some woods. The main residence on the property is Wavertree Farm, also known as Bellevue, which was built in 1859 and modified in the early 20th century. The property also includes several outbuildings, including a one-story log building formerly used to house slaves held on the site.

 

APPLICANT’S JUSTIFICATION FOR THE REQUEST

 

The applicants wish to rezone the property to RA Rural Areas to qualify for use-value taxation. Properties in planned-development districts do not qualify for use-value taxation, even if they are in agricultural, forestal, or conservation use.

 

PLANNING AND ZONING HISTORY

 

ZMA 78-09: On August 2, 1978, the Board of Supervisors approved the rezoning of 236.54 acres from A-1 Agricultural to Rural Planned Neighborhood RPN/A-1, a planned-development district, with conditions. The portion of the property included in the current rezoning request was approved for the three existing dwellings (the historic house could be converted to 7 multi-family units), plus a 6-unit multifamily dwelling in a converted barn and a 400-seat meeting facility for the planned-district residents. That land was also intended to be used for farming, and to provide trails for the residents of the RPN district.

 

ZMA 79-01: On February 21, 1979, the Board of Supervisors approved this amendment to ZMA 78-09, which (1) altered a condition of that rezoning so as to not prevent construction of a meeting facility before staff approval of a “tot lot,” and (2) to permit recordation of pedestrian easements linking residential areas in lieu of construction of pedestrian trails.

 

ZMA 79-02: This was a request to rezone the RPN district created by ZMA 78-09 back to A-1, thus increasing the number of possible dwellings from 42 to 118 and the agricultural acreage from 153 to zero. After ZMA 79-01 was approved, the applicants withdrew this application.

 

ZMA 83-07: This amendment to the previous rezonings on the property would have added an approval to construct an inn and restaurant within the RPN. The application was withdrawn; the applicants cited difficulties with timing and financing.

 

SP 83-38: In conjunction with ZMA 83-07, a request for approval of a restaurant and inn. The application was withdrawn; the applicants cited difficulties with timing and financing.

 

SP 83-39: A request for an office for the landowner’s engineering-consulting office on the RPN property. The application was withdrawn; the applicants cited difficulties with timing and financing.

 

RPN zoning designations were replaced by the current PRD Planned Residential Development designation as part of the comprehensive rezoning of 1980.

 

The property subject to this rezoning is under a conservation easement held by the Virginia Outdoors Foundation. The deed of easement limits the property to four dwellings (Wavertree Hall, two other existing houses, and a yet-unbuilt unit in the equestrian facilities). Some of the facilities otherwise permitted under the existing PRD zoning—the multifamily conversion of a barn and the meeting facility—are not permitted under the easement. Many farm and estate structures are also permitted.

 

 

History of Wavertree Hall Farm Development Potential (subject parcel only)

 

Action

Development Potential

(dwelling units)

Units Built

Single-family

Multi-family

 

Original A-1 Zoning

72*

0

3

ZMA 78-09, 79-01 (existing zoning)

3

14

3

Conservation Easement

4

0

3

Existing Zoning + Conservation Easement

3

1

3

ZMA 07-25 (current request)

4

0

3

* Theoretical – did not yet exist as a separate parcel

 

SPECIFICS OF THE PROPOSAL

 

The property covered by this request currently functions through an access easement as the open space for the larger PRD (in the form of trails and paths). The request is to rezone only this portion of the PRD to RA Rural Areas.

 

The combination of the existing zoning and the terms of the conservation easement define the property’s development potential. Without the easement, rezoning this property to RA would actually increase the development potential. However, with the permanent easement and the proposed proffers, the development potential is limited to four single-family dwelling units (three of which exist already). The 14 multi-family units and meeting facility currently not permitted under the conservation easement would also not be permitted under the new zoning. The fourth unit permitted by the conservation easement would be located within the farm’s equestrian facilities. The County would consider this unit to be a single-family dwelling.

 

The proposed proffers also clarify that the open-space amenities on this parcel would remain available to the residents of the remaining PRD-zoned parcels. These amenities have always been provided on private property, rather than a dedicated open-space parcel. Therefore no change in the available open-space area or amenities would occur as a result of the rezoning.


 

CONFORMITY WITH THE COMPREHENSIVE PLAN

 

Rural Areas

 

The Rural Areas Plan focuses on maintaining agriculture, forestry, and conservation as preferred land uses, and on protection of the following defining features of the Rural Areas:

 

 

Natural Resources & Cultural Assets Plan

 

This protected land assists in the protection of the following important resources from this chapter of the Comprehensive Plan:

 

 

As the land uses already permitted under the conservation easement support these policies, the rezoning to RA (with proffers) would not change this property’s conformity with the Comprehensive Plan.

 

STAFF COMMENT

 

Relationship between the application and the purpose and intent of the requested zoning district:

 

The purposes of the RA Rural Areas zoning district are:

 

·         Preservation of agricultural and forestal lands and activities;

 

Under the terms of the conservation easement and the proposed proffers, these 145 acres would remain rural and agricultural in character. The re-zoning assures that if the terms of this easement were for some reason to become less restrictive, the zoning would retain the current easement restrictions on permitted structures.

 

·         Water supply protection;

 

Limiting residential development (with the existing conservation easement and proposed proffers) in the Rural Areas portion of the South Fork Rivanna Reservoir watershed is consistent with this purpose. Limiting residential development can also protect groundwater supplies for existing dwellings in the surrounding area.

 

·         Limited service delivery to the rural areas; and

 

Increases in service demand associated with this re-zoning are insignificant.

 

·         Conservation of natural, scenic, and historic resources.

 

The rural and historic nature of this land is already protected by the conservation easement. The proposed rezoning and proffers would assure the level of protection is maintained.

 

Public need and justification for the change: RA zoning is appropriate for this property under the Comprehensive Plan. While the change in zoning assures restrictions on this property in keeping with the Comprehensive Plan, it should be noted that the change could mean a reduction in tax revenue for the County through eligibility for use-value taxation. This tax rate is already available to many similar farms in the Rural Areas, but is not available to the subject property due to its PRD zoning.

 

Anticipated impact on public facilities and services: As the use of the property would not change, and the proposed proffers would prevent any further residential development beyond that permitted in the existing conservation easement, no significant new impacts are expected.

 

 

PROFFERS

 

Proffers are included in Attachment C.  The County Attorney’s office has reviewed these proffers and found them satisfactory.

 

SUMMARY

Staff has identified the following factors that are favorable to this rezoning request:

  1. The requested zoning is consistent with the Comprehensive Plan.
  2. The property is protected by a conservation easement that limits development potential.
  3. Access to open space for the PRD residents will not change.
  4. The rezoning would make the subject parcel eligible for the same tax rates available to other similar farms in the Rural Areas.

 

Staff has identified the following factor that is unfavorable to this rezoning request:

1.       Reduced tax revenue for the County could result through eligibility for use-value taxation

 

RECOMMENDATION

On balance, staff believes that re-zoning this property to RA with proffers to reflect and further assure the restrictions under the conservation easement is preferable to retaining the existing zoning. Staff recommends approval of this rezoning subject to the attached proffers (see Attachment C).

 

ATTACHMENTS

A.     Location Map and Detail Map

B.  Wavertree Hall PRD Map

C.  Proposed Proffers for ZMA 07-25
Return to PC actions letter