The Albemarle County Planning Commission held a meeting and public hearing on Tuesday, April 29, 2008, at 6:00 p.m., at the County Office Building, Lane Auditorium, Second Floor, 401 McIntire Road, Charlottesville, Virginia.
Members attending were Marcia Joseph, Bill Edgerton, Eric Strucko, Thomas Loach, Linda Porterfield, Jon Cannon, Vice-Chairman and Calvin Morris, Chairman. Ms. Joseph arrived at 6:03 p.m. Julia Monteith, AICP, non-voting representative for the University of Virginia was absent.
Other officials present were Wayne Cilimberg, Planning Director; Glenn Brooks, County Engineer; Lisa Glass, Principal Planner; Judith Wiegand, Senior Planner; Susan Stimart, Business Development Facilitator; Juan Wade, Transportation Planner; Bill Fritz, Chief of Current Development; Patrick Lawrence, Planner and Greg Kamptner, Deputy County Attorney.
Call to Order and Establish Quorum:
Mr. Morris called the regular meeting to order at 6:01 p.m. and established a quorum.
Public Hearing Item:
SP-2007-00056 Rivanna Plaza (Sign # 55)
PROPOSED: Drive thru lane for proposed retail building
ZONING CATEGORY/GENERAL USAGE: Highway Commercial (HC); EC Entrance Corridor Overlay
SECTION: 24.2.2(13) Special Use Permit, which allows for drive-in windows serving or associated with permitted uses.
COMPREHENSIVE PLAN LAND USE: Regional Service in Urban Area 1
LOCATION: Tax Map Parcel 45-109 and 45-112C1, located on northwest side of Seminole Trail (Rte. 29) Approximately 1,100 north of Woodbrook Drive
MAGISTERIAL DISTRICT: Rio
CONCURRENT PROJECT: SDP200700137
Mr. Fritz presented a power-point presentation and summarized the staff report. (See Staff Report)
This is a special use permit request. There is a site plan associated with it. The only thing that is before the Planning Commission is the special use permit. The site plan will be done administratively after the Board of Supervisors act on the special use permit.
The proposal is for a project located on Route 29 in front of the Kegler’s Bowling Alley and just south of Schewel’s. The proposal is for three buildings and a drive through:
– 12,500 square foot daycare center,
– 14,800 square foot retail structure, and
– 5,000 square foot retail structure.
This project proposes to close the existing access road to Kegler’s and to realign and reorient the Schewel’s parking lot. Currently the Schewel’s parking lot has an entrance onto Route 29 and it accesses what will ultimately become the Berkmar 29 Connector. It closes that connection off to the Berkmar 29 Connection, which was strongly recommended by VDOT because that intersection is too close to the Route 29 intersection. Now what will happen is that this Schewel’s parking lot will access the new access road that will go into Rivanna Plaza that also goes up to serve the Kegler’s facility, which has a connection that gets back to the Berkmar 29 Connector Road in a much more optimal location. It does not present any conflicts with either the Route 29 or Berkmar intersections. It actually gets it away from the intersection. There is really no other place to get a connection because of the location of existing Schewel’s building. So it does have a connection back to the Berkmar 29 Connector.
All of the transportation impacts have reviewed with the Department of Transportation and in light of the Places29 Study that currently underway. This is consistent with the recommendations of VDOT and the Places29 review. The interior circulation is also been looked at to ensure that the circulation of the drive through functions properly. It is staff’s recommendation that it does. Staff’s opinion is that approval of this special use permit will not have a negative affect on transportation and it is consistent with the character of the area. The Architectural Review Board recently reviewed this particular request and made recommendations that the applicant has agreed to provide an increased planting area.
The only negative factor staff cited in the review of the special use permit was that they did not have comment from the Architectural Review Board. With the favorable comment from the Architectural Review Board staff has no negative comments. Staff recommends approval of the special use permit subject to two conditions as recommended.
Mr. Morris asked if there were questions for staff.
Mr. Porterfield asked if where it was going to open up on Route 29 it would be a right-in and a right-out.
Mr. Fritz replied yes because it was not at a cross-over. To utilize it they would have to go out to the signalized intersection or go down Route 29 to get to the signal at Lowe’s.
Ms. Joseph asked if an easement had been received from the Kegler’s property to do this.
Mr. Fritz replied yes that the applicant has been working with Kegler’s and Schewel’s to coordinate all of this.
Ms. Joseph asked if that would be a requirement for the final site plan, and Mr. Fritz replied that it was part of this site plan.
Mr. Edgerson asked if it would include a connection that would go all the way across the Kegler’s property up to Berkmar Drive.
Mr. Fritz replied yes that the road would go all the way up through. The new entrance they will construct will tie into the Kegler’s development, which is already there. It goes up through and then there will be a new connection constructed that will get to the Berkmar 29 Connector road. They are not going to be constructing the Berkmar 29 Connector. The road goes up to this point now. There was another project that was before the Commission that would improve it and build it through to Berkmar. This project would get it out to Route 29, but not to Berkmar at this time.
Mr. Edgerton noted that he was confused. The road that is shown on the site plan that goes up to the Kegler’s property is going into an existing parking lot. He asked if there will be an easement across that parking lot that will continue up all the way to Berkmar.
Mr. Fritz replied that it would not be to Berkmar, but to the connection that will get them to what will ultimately be the Berkmar 29 Connector.
Mr. Edgerton said going back to the Commission saw a couple weeks ago with Frank Stoner’s group that was going to come down. Now the connection that the Commission was hoping for will be a zig zag to 29.
Mr. Fritz said that ultimately the Berkmar 29 Connector road will go down through this area because it needs to get to the traffic signal.
Mr. Edgerton said that they were still talking about another entrance onto 29 in the future. He asked the width of Schewel’s frontage.
Mr. Fritz noted that it was roughly 230’.
Mr. Edgerton asked if there is no concern form VDOT about the how close those two access points are.
Mr. Fritz said that VDOT has reviewed the proposal and he confirmed with them when he received the emails from several Commissioners that entrance meets with their standards. VDOT can support this request.
Mr. Cilimberg said that one of the things that has transpired here is that to VDOT the preferably change is the removal of the Schewel’s entrance, which is almost immediately at the 29 intersection. It is literally just a few feet off that intersection. By removing it and getting it several hundred feet back up the Berkmar 29 Connector they think that is a positive even though they get this 200’ plus along 29 separation.
Mr. Edgerton said that they still have the issue on the north side of that proposed connection.
Mr. Cilimberg said that this is accompanying one-half of what ultimately needs to happen. The other part is on a property that is not under review at all.
Mr. Cannon said that these changes, which are associated with a by-right use, are consistent with the construction of the Berkmar 29 Connector as they currently visualize it and, in fact, would facilitate that. He asked if that was correct.
Mr. Fritz said that it would significantly improve it because of the intersection problem that it solves at Route 29.
Mr. Cilimberg said that it facilitates it on the Schewel’s side. But, as remembered from the rezoning the problem is Better Living and getting them to agree to changes that would facilitate it on their side.
Mr. Cannon asked if does not worsen that situation, and Mr. Cilimberg replied no.
Mr. Fritz noted that he asked that question specifically of VDOT and that was their statement.
Ms. Porterfield said that until they build the piece that is going around Schewel’s how are cars going to get out of this parking lot if they want to go north.
Mr. Fritz replied that it was all part of the same project. It would be a right out. If someone did not want to take advantage of the back connection through Schewel’s and wanted to go northbound they would have to turn right and head south on Route 29, go to the signalized intersection at Woodbrook and make a U-turn at the Woodbrook intersection.
Ms. Porterfield asked if they were going to have this applicant help out with the Berkmar Connector.
Mr. Fritz replied that other than the redesign of the Schewel’s entrance, which is a significant improvement and one they have been seeking for quite some time, there is nothing the applicant is doing with the Berkmar 29 connection.
Ms. Porterfield said that the other applicant is basically still stuck.
Mr. Cilimberg noted that is still to be decided by the Board as to what they are going to require.
Mr. Porterfield asked if staff is going to be giving the Board information regarding this project prior to their deciding what to do about the Berkmar situation.
Mr. Cilimberg replied that staff would provide the part of what they need to make the Board aware of. He noted that the other request had been deferred and was not going to be heard in May.
Ms. Porterfield noted that, in her opinion, that the problem on Route 29 was what hung up the Commission’s vote on it. It is not the other applicant’s fault because they can’t do anything about what Better Living is going to do. But, now this other applicant can get back out that way and are going to be bringing cars into that intersection.
Mr. Strucko said that right now the only entrance into this proposed development is the proposed new right-in and right-out entrance only.
Mr. Fritz said that the road behind Schewel’s is there.
Mr. Strucko asked if that was a potential second access point to this proposed development.
Mr. Fritz noted that it will not get them to Berkmar, but it would get them back down on to Route 29.
Mr. Strucko asked if would be the right-in and right-out entrance off of Route 29 and then they could work their way through parking lot and come out right where the arrow was located.
Mr. Fritz said that there are two options, which included going up and around to get the signalized intersection.
Mr. Strucko asked what the proposed use was of the building that is requiring the drive through window.
Mr. Fritz replied that it was up to the applicant. It was submitted as specialty retail. Whenever they do that staff views the drive through as the most intense drive through use, which is a fast food restaurant. It could be used for a fast food restaurant or a pharmacy drive through. Staff uses the highest volume generator.
Ms. Joseph said that they are looking at this as a special use permit for the drive through window. What staff has done with their analysis with engineering and everyone else is that they have looked at where the headlights are going to be pointing and the stacking. She asked if staff has found that this complies with the requirements for everything they have looked at in the past.
Mr. Fritz agreed that staff has reviewed the stacking, the by-pass lanes, the Architectural Review Board and the on-site circulation, as well as making sure they have the support from the Department of Transportation for to the overall traffic impacts.
Ms. Joseph said that the Architectural Review has no problem with the configuration of this. The ARB will be looking at the façade of the building obviously. But, the ARB has been looking for additional plantings. The area that the applicant has shown provides enough space for additional plantings.
Mr. Fritz replied yes, but that since he had not reviewed it they were not presenting it to the Commission. But, the applicant has already drafted a plan that addresses the ARB’s concerns.
Mr. Strucko said that the drive through window is going to generate a certain type of traffic flow in and out of this proposal. Northbound traffic will have to the signalized light, turn left and go past Schewel’s and go up to the connection with the potential Berkmar Connector to access this drive through window or do a U-turn, double back and turn right into the main entrance. Or, they could make a U-turn at the signalized light and then turn right.
Mr. Fritz agreed that those were the two options.
Mr. Strucko said that if he wanted to leave and go north he would have to go up past Schewel’s, down the Berkmar Connector to the signalized light to make a left to head to 29 North.
Mr. Fritz noted or to head southbound on 29 to the Woodbrook intersection and do a U-turn there.
Mr. Cilimberg noted that in some ways it was a bit like the turning movements only headed in the opposite direction associated with Taco Bell and the bank where Pier One is located at the Gardens Shopping Center. There is no cross over for their entrance either. They have to go down to the Albemarle Square light and either do a U-turn to come back and go into that development to go through those drive through windows or go through the shopping center parking lot at Albemarle Square.
Mr. Strucko said that this particular applicant for a drive through window is causing a unique traffic pattern in this particular development. That unique traffic pattern may very well utilize the road going past Schewel’s up to the Berkmar Connector.
Mr. Fritz suggested that instead of saying unique they are generating an increased traffic. This development if it did not have a drive through would still have this configuration.
Mr. Strucko noted but not necessarily the traffic pattern.
Mr. Fritz said that it would have the same traffic pattern, but it would be a different volume because drive through windows has higher traffic volume.
Mr. Strucko asked if there are any improvements
needed for the Berkmar Connector
Road from 29 to the top of the Schewel’s development.
Mr. Fritz noted that it would be a recommendation by the engineering staff or VDOT to do that.
Mr. Morris opened the public hearing and invited the applicant to address the Commission.
Mark Green, for Rivanna Plaza LLC, said they support the recommendation of the staff and are pleased to come to the Commission with a unanimous recommendation from the Architectural Review Board. He was present to answer questions.
Mr. Strucko asked if the applicant has determined the use of the facility that would require a drive through window.
Mr. Green replied that they were negotiating with a coffee shop.
Mr. Morris invited public comment. There being none, the public hearing was closed to bring the matter before the Commission for action.
Ms. Joseph asked if the Board would see Berkmar Business Park and this item at the same time.
Mr. Cilimberg noted that Berkmar Business Park has been deferred to June. This item is going to the Board on June 11. They may end up on the same meeting. This item might be ahead of Berkmar Business Park depending on whether there is further deferral with that. They had a fair amount of items to address following the Commission’s action. That was not easy for them to complete for the May hearing. Therefore, they have asked for a deferral to June. So there timing is going to be roughly the same at this point.
Ms. Joseph said that this request shows some real positive improvements along Route 29 because they were getting rid of some entrances. Schewel’s currently has two entrances and now they will share that entrance. Also, the existing entrance to Kegler’s is going away. Therefore, she could see some positive effects of this site plan that would probably be happening without the request for the special use permit. She felt that it was important for the Board to know what is going on in this area. She felt that the straight connector road was extremely important down to Berkmar. She supported the request with the conditions made by staff.
Mr. Morris said that 0this has the added advantage of providing a connector prior to that very steep slope on the side of Schewel’s. It has a lot of advantages.
Mr. Cannon said that this was a by-right development other than the drive through window. He felt that the applicant has worked with staff and VDOT to take steps to improve conditions and facilitate their ultimate goal, which is a functioning connector road. He felt that this was a good step forward and supported it.
Ms. Porterfield agreed with Ms. Joseph that the Berkmar Connector is a very important item. She was concerned that when they looked at it that they were asking the applicant to do something that he had no control over. The applicant in that case has no way of doing something with Better Living. This applicant is now going to put a great deal of traffic onto that entrance on what would be the lower part of Berkmar if it ever comes all the way through. She was concerned about that, which was why she asked the question whether this applicant was going to help with the Berkmar Connector. It is going to benefit this applicant to be able to get their traffic out to a stop light where they don’t have to make U-turns. She wanted to make sure the Board was aware of both requests before taking an action.
Mr. Morris asked staff to write in the executive summary that this is coming to the Board. He said that this was an excellent time for the Commissioners to contact their individual Supervisor to alert them.
Motion: Ms. Joseph moved, Mr. Cannon seconded, for approval of SP-2007-00056, Rivanna Plaza with the conditions as recommended by staff.
The motion passed by a vote of 7:0.
Mr. Morris stated that SP-2007-00056, Rivanna Plaza will go before the Board of Supervisors on June 11 with a recommendation for approval.
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