COUNTY OF ALBEMARLE

PLANNING STAFF REPORT SUMMARY

Project Name:  SP 2007-61 Western Albemarle High School Rowing Club boat dock

Staff:  Tamara Jo Ambler

Planning Commission Public Hearing: 

April 8, 2008

Board of Supervisors Public Hearing:

May 14, 2008

Owners:  County of Albemarle

Applicant: Albemarle County School Board

Acreage: 182.55 total acres

Special Use Permit for:  To install a public dock on the Beaver Creek Reservoir in accordance with Section 30.3.05.2.1(2) of the Zoning ordinance

TMP:   57-4

Location:  Dock to be placed at east side of the Reservoir adjacent to the Beaver Creek Park entrance road, off of Browns Gap Turnpike (Route 680).

Conditions:  Yes

Existing Zoning and By-right use: RA -- Rural Areas: agricultural, forestal, and fishery uses; residential density (0.5 unit/acre); FH--Flood Hazard: agricultural, recreational, and utility location uses which will not pose a danger to life or property in the event of a flood.

Magisterial District:  Whitehall

Requested # of Dwelling Units:  N/A

 

DA (Development Area):

RA (Rural Area):   X

Proposal: To install a public boat dock on the Beaver Creek Reservoir.

Comprehensive Plan Designation:  Rural Area 3 - preserve and protect agricultural, forestal, open space, and natural, historic and scenic resources/density (.5 unit/acre)

Character of Property:   The site is within the County-owned Beaver Creek Park, which is accessible to the public.

Use of Surrounding Properties:   Nearby and surrounding uses are the Beaver
Creek Park and Reservoir, low density single family residential development, and open space

Factors Favorable:  1. No direct impact to the water supply or neighboring properties is expected as a result of this special use permit; 2. No increase in flood levels will result from installation of a dock; 3.  The proposed dock is supported by the County Parks and Recreation Department

 

Factors Unfavorable:  None identified

 

RECOMMENDATION: Staff recommends approval with conditions.


 

PETITION:

PROJECT: SP 2007-61 Western Albemarle High School Rowing Club boat dock

PROPOSED:  To install a public boat dock on the Beaver Creek Reservoir.

ZONING CATEGORY/GENERAL USAGE: RA -- Rural Areas: agricultural, forestal, and fishery uses; residential density (0.5 unit/acre); FH--Flood Hazard: agricultural, recreational, and utility location uses which will not pose a danger to life or property in the event of a flood.

SECTION: Section 30.3.05.2.1(2) of the Zoning ordinance

COMPREHENSIVE PLAN LAND USE/DENSITY:  Rural Area 3 - preserve and protect agricultural, forestal, open space, and natural, historic and scenic resources/density (.5 unit/acre).

ENTRANCE CORRIDOR: Yes___No__X__   Location:  Dock to be placed at east side of the Reservoir adjacent to the Beaver Creek Park entrance road, off of Browns Gap Turnpike (Route 680).

TAX MAP/PARCEL:   57-4

MAGISTERIAL DISTRICT:  Whitehall

CHARACTER OF THE AREA:  The site is within the County-owned Beaver Creek Park, and surrounding uses consist of the Beaver Creek Reservoir, low density single family residential development, and open space.

 

SPECIFICS OF THE PROPOSAL:  A special use permit is being requested in accordance with Section 30.3.05.2.1(2) of the Zoning Ordinance to allow a boat dock in the Flood Hazard Overlay zoning district.  The boat dock will be placed within the public access area of Beaver Creek Park, and will be utilized by the Western Albemarle High School Rowing Club and the public.  The applicant has coordinated with the County’s Parks and Recreation Department to select a suitable location for the dock within the park.  The dock will be located approximately 350 feet upstream of the dam, close to the entrance of the park and easily accessible by foot.  The WAHS rowing club currently has permission to launch into the Reservoir through the private property of the Gerard Brikkenaarvandijk at 1714 Browns Gap Turnpike. 

 

Proposed location of new floating boat dock.  Dam is downstream to the left outside of the photo. 

View of the proposed dock location (within treed area) from the emergency spillway.  Entrance to park and former bait house are visible in background.

 

Mowed emergency spillway for the Reservoir.  Dam is to the right outside of the photo.  Proposed floating dock to be placed to the left outside of the photo, outside of the emergency spillway.

PLANNING AND ZONING HISTORY:

Beaver Creek Park and Reservoir currently has one fixed pier and a boat ramp located approximately 1,200 feet upstream from the dam, adjacent to the parking area at the end of the park entrance road.  County Parks and Recreation staff has advised that in years past there was a boat dock in this area also, but the dock was damaged and removed as a result of a hurricane.  Staff was unable to locate County files detailing the installation of the pier or the dock.  No private boat docks exist on the Beaver Creek Reservoir, and the County staff does not intend to support the installation of private docks on this reservoir in the future.

 

Conformity with the Comprehensive Plan: 

The Comprehensive Plan recognizes the Beaver Creek Reservoir as a surface drinking water supply.  The Natural Resources and Cultural Assets chapter of the Comprehensive Plan contains the following objective for the recreational use of water supply areas:

 

“Allow and manage recreational uses of drinking water reservoirs and adjacent public land only as incidental uses to the primary function of water supply and in such a manner as to prevent cumulative impacts that may impair the primary function.”

 

The Comprehensive Plan recognizes that recreational use of water supply reservoirs has the potential to threaten water quality and water supply functions, and calls for specific consideration of this issue in the following strategy:

 

“The County should take a lead role in developing a recreation and water supply protection plan for each reservoir to address incidental recreational uses of drinking water reservoirs and adjacent public land.  This effort should be coordinated with the Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority, the City of Charlottesville, Shenandoah National Park and other relevant agencies.”

 

 

Existing fixed pier and boat ramp, located upstream from proposed floating dock

STAFF COMMENT: 

Staff will address each provision of Section 31.2.4.1 of the Zoning Ordinance

 

31.2.4.1: Special Use Permits provided for in this ordinance may be issued upon a finding by the Board of Supervisors that such use will not be of substantial detriment to adjacent property,

The installation of one floating boat dock will not be detrimental to either the Reservoir or nearby surrounding properties.  There is currently a pier and a boat ramp in place, and the new dock would essentially be replacing a dock that existed at the park in the past.   The installation of the boat dock will move the WAHS student activity from private property to public property.  Rather than accessing the Reservoir through private property the students will utilize the public access area of Beaver Creek Park and Reservoir.

 

that the character of the district will not be changed thereby and

The existing pier and boat ramp and the replacement of a dock within the public access area of Beaver Creek Park would not appear to detract from the primary usage of the reservoir as a water supply reservoir.  Access by boat is limited to the area of the park, and no private boat docks exist on the Reservoir.  Installation of this dock would not lead to a proliferation of public or private docks, as the Reservoir is owned by the County.

 

that such use will be in harmony with the purpose and intent of this ordinance,

The purpose and intent of the Rural Areas zoning is to preserve agricultural and forestal lands and activities, to protect water supply, to limit services to the rural areas, and to conserve the natural, scenic, and historic resources of the County.  The Flood Hazard zoning has the purpose and intent of restricting development in the floodplain which may result in danger to life and property, public costs for flood control measures, public costs for rescue and relief efforts, soil erosion and sedimentation, pollution of water resources, and general degradation of the natural and man-made environment. 

 

Regarding protection of the water supply and the preservation of natural resources, installation of the proposed dock will not require the removal of buffer vegetation.  The proposed location is within the understory of existing pine trees and immediately upstream of the emergency spillway.  The emergency spillway and dam must be kept mowed in accordance with Virginia Dam Safety requirements.  The County Community Development staff will coordinate with County Parks and Recreation staff to enhance understory vegetation in the immediate area where the dock will be placed to provide a water quality benefit. 

 

Regarding the issue of creating a flood hazard, the floating dock will be located outside of the emergency spillway, is designed respond to changes in flood levels, and will not impede the natural flow of water unless it were to break loose and travel downstream to the dam.  The dock will be anchored to avoid being broken loose by floods.  The County Engineer has confirmed that there will be no increase in flood elevations by installing a floating dock.

 

with uses permitted by right in the district,

By-right uses in the Rural Areas include single family and duplex uses, public uses and buildings, agricultural, forestry, boating, and fishery uses.  This use would appear to be in harmony with the other uses permitted by-right.

 

with the additional regulations provided in section 5.0 of this ordinance,

There are no supplementary regulations relating to boat docks in Section 5.0 of the Zoning Ordinance. 

 

and with the public health, safety and general welfare.

The use of drinking water reservoirs for recreational use creates several risks to water quality and the ability to adequately treat raw water from the reservoir for public consumption.  Swimming and other recreational activities that involve body-contact with the water can significantly increase the occurrence of pathogens, such as Cryptosporidium in the reservoir.  The use of boats poses a threat of contamination from gasoline, and more specifically the additive methyl-t-butyl-ether (MTBE).  Also, the launching of boats raises the risk of introducing invasive species, such as the zebra mussel, which can proliferate and impact the aquatic ecosystem and also damage water treatment facilities.

 

Sections 11-300 through 11-306 of the Albemarle County Code address water supply reservoirs utilized by the Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority and regulate the use and activity on each reservoir.  Section 11-301 specifically addresses activities on the Beaver Creek Reservoir.  Authorized activities are fishing, canoeing, boating (no internal combustion engines), hiking, bird watching, and picnicking.  Swimming is specifically prohibited under this section.  An exemption for the use of internal combustion engines is provided for the Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority and the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries personnel for official purposes.

 

The County has already addressed the threat of pathogens by prohibiting swimming in the Reservoir within Chapter 11 of the County Code.  Installation of the boat dock will reduce body-contact with the Reservoir by preventing the need to wade the boats into the water, allowing the rowers to enter the boats from the dock.  The threat of contamination from the gasoline additive MTBE has also been addressed through the County’s requirements in Chapter 11 of the Code to restrict the use of internal combustion engines on the Reservoir.  Lastly, the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries has advised that the introduction of invasive species such as the zebra mussel has yet to present a serious risk to Virginia.  To date there has been only one documented location of zebra mussels in a Prince William County quarry.  This population of zebra mussels was successfully eradicated in 2006. 

 

SUMMARY:

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

 

1.   No direct impact to the water supply or neighboring properties is expected as a result of this special use permit

2.   No increase in flood levels will result from installation of a dock.

3.   The proposed dock is supported by the County Parks and Recreation Department

 

Staff has not identified any factors which are unfavorable to this request.

 

RECOMMENDED ACTION:

Staff recommends approval of the request with the following conditions:

 

1.   There shall be no removal of vegetation or earth disturbance with the 200-foot stream buffer associated with the installation of the boat dock.  The stream buffer is measured from the edge of the floodplain, which is approximated to be Elevation 545 (North American Vertical Datum of 1988). 

2.   There shall be no other structures, such as decking or stairs, constructed in the 200-foot stream buffer.

 

ATTACHMENTS:

Attachment A - Location Map

Attachment B – Proposal from applicant

Attachment C – Illustration of final boat dock location with elevations

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