COUNTY OF ALBEMARLE

 

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

 

 

AGENDA TITLE:

SP 07-01 Four Seasons Learning Center

 

SUBJECT/PROPOSAL/REQUEST:

Increase enrollment from 40 children to 64 children at 254 Lakeview Drive on TMP  061X-00-00-00500

 

STAFF CONTACT(S):

Cilimberg, Echols

 

 

 

AGENDA DATE:

August 19, 2008

 

ACTION:     X          INFORMATION: 

 

CONSENT AGENDA:

  ACTION:             INFORMATION: 

 

 

ATTACHMENTS:   YES


 

BACKGROUND: 

On June 24, 2008, the Planning Commission held a public hearing on the Four Seasons Learning Center request for an increase in 24 children at their facility located at 254 Lakeview Drive.  At the meeting, the applicant provided a traffic study for the Planning Commission’s review which they had not previously been provided to staff.  After some discussion, the applicant requested deferral of the public hearing until staff was able to review the traffic study.  The staff report and minutes of that meeting are contained in Attachments 1 and 2, respectively.  There were also questions concerning the number of parking spaces needed for the facility and provided by the applicant.

 

DISCUSSION:

The traffic study provided by the applicant is included as Attachment 2.  After reviewing the applicant’s traffic study, the County Engineer concluded that the applicant and staff had performed different kinds of analysis.  Staff’s analysis was based on vehicle trips per day while the applicant’s analysis was performed on peak hour trips.  The County Engineer’s comments are below:

 

The traffic generation report by Raina Rosado for Four Seasons Learning Center has been reviewed.  I agree with the conclusion that the traffic generated during the peak hour will be around 52 trip ends.  It is also correct that this does not pass the thresholds for a traffic study, as set by the VDOT 527 regulations.

 

The conclusion that transportation on Four Seasons Drive and Lakeview Drive will not be significantly affected is not as easy to agree with.  Below I briefly summarize each road situation:

 

Four Seasons Drive has a traffic count of 4100 average daily trips according to the latest VDOT counts from 2007.  This translates to about 200 trips in each direction during the peak hour.  The entering turning movements for the daycare (52) make about 26% of opposing volume.  If the homes on Lakeview Drive are added, this rises to above 30%.  While this appears to fall just below the VDOT thresholds for a left turn lane volume warrant requirement, I would not say it is insignificant.

 

Lakeview Drive is a small cul-de-sac with 19 homes, plus the daycare.  It generates about 19 trips on the road during the peak hour (AM or PM, assumed 10%).  The daycare generates about 104 (two times the number of trip ends, for a car comes in, and goes out, passing by twice for one trip end.).  Thus, the daycare generates about 5 times the traffic that this small cul-de-sac might otherwise experience.

 

I have attached a recent aerial photo of the site. (See Attachment 3.) The frontage is confusing due to improvements made by the applicant, and on-street parking issues.  If this application is approved, it is my recommendation that curbing be installed to establish the edge and the turning taper, with parking prohibited in this area.

 

As an aside, the numbers presented in the previous report might have been a bit high, as the particular ITE table referenced is based on the number of employees, rather than the number of students, which is what the above numbers are based on.  It is also comparing apples and oranges, as the staff report talked about daily totals or averages, and the applicant’s study uses peak hour only.  It is important to distinguish clearly between average daily traffic and peak hour traffic, and also between trip ends, and trips.  Putting numbers aside for a moment, the general conclusions are that this use is rather large for the small neighborhood.  It will be noticed on Four Seasons Drive, but does not appear to meet VDOT warrants for improvements.

 

Using the County Engineer’s analysis, the additional 24 students represent a 46% increase in peak hour traffic. The recommendation for curbing deals with Four Seasons Drive where VDOT has prohibited parking in any case.

 

Another outstanding issue at the Commission meeting had to do with parking requirements.  The number of required parking spaces was not clear because it was unclear how many staff members would be working at the facility.  The applicant has indicated that there will be 6 employees at the facility, which translates into a total parking requirement of 13 spaces.  The Zoning Division has confirmed that 13 spaces are available either on-site or on-street next to the property on Lakeview Drive.

 

Also, since the Planning Commission meeting, the applicant has asked staff to verify its assertion that, if this were a new facility, only 51 students would be allowed.  In reviewing the staff’s calculations, it appears that the infant room was left out of the calculations.  Staff now believes that, if the Four Seasons Learning Center were a new facility, it would be allowed 58 students, not 51 students.  Although staff has attempted to verify this conclusion several times with the Verona office of Virginia Department of Social Services, they have not provided the information.  A letter from Social Services is in Attachment 4.  Staff has received several letters from parents who have children in the day care facility who support the expansion.  They are provided in Attachment 5.

 

Staff continues to believe that the primary issue involved with this special use permit is scale and impact.  In addition to traffic impacts, the scale issue stands out even more because of the intensity of the use and the location on a neighborhood street.  It is even more apparent when one looks at the child care facilities that have been approved in the development areas since 1980. 

 

There have been nine “stand alone” child care facilities (not located in a church) approved in the development areas since 1980.  Of these nine, three have been approved on neighborhood streets.  Two of the facilities using neighborhood streets were approved in the Four Seasons development.  They are the Charlottesville Day School is on Four Seasons Drive and the Four Seasons Learning Center. The third facility is on Barclay Place off of Hydraulic Road.  The remaining 6 facilities have been approved on primary streets.

 

The facilities range in intensity (measured in students per acre) from less than 7 students per acre to a maximum of 115 students per acre.  Four Seasons Learning Center has the equivalent of 114 students per acre.  As such, it is at the high end of the spectrum.  With the additional 24 students it would have the equivalent of 182 students per acre which is greater than any other facility, with one exception.

 

In 1987, SP 87-24 was approved for 325 children on 1.395 acres which translates into an equivalent intensity of 233 students per acre.  The special use permit for the facility for 325 students expired and the facility kept its approval for only 75 students.  It was the same facility described above on Barclay Place off of Hydraulic Road.  The distinction between this facility and Four Seasons Drive has to do with its setting.  Barclay Place provides access to a multi-unit development and is a short distance off of Hydraulic.  Four Seasons Learning Center is within a mixed single-family and multi-family development on a street which has all single-family residences.  No other special use permit has been approved in a similar setting with the intensity proposed.

 

Staff notes that there are no children per acre standards in the zoning ordinance or in state regulations.  Staff just uses this information as a measure of intensity of the existing and proposed use.

 

 

 

RECOMMENDATIONS:

Staff sympathizes strongly with parents who need affordable, reliable child care and believes that Four Seasons Learning Center provides these things now.  However, staff continues to believe that the traffic associated with 24 additional students along with the traffic patterns and volumes already existing on Lakeview Drive will be in excess of an acceptable limit.  Staff thinks that both the traffic and proposed intensity of the use will change the character of this part of the Four Seasons PUD.  For these reasons, staff believes the current restriction of 40 students is an acceptable limit for the facility and recommends denial of the request.

 

If the Commission, however, wishes to recommend approval of the request, staff recommends that this special use permit be approved for an office OR nursery school and day care center with the following conditions:

 

            Conditions #1 - #5 below apply to the nursery/day care center:

 

1.                  The building, parking and access shall be as shown (with noted dimensions) on the “Plat Showing As-Built Survey Parcel A-Patio House Section Four Seasons Learning Center 254 Lakeview Drive” by David C. Blankenbaker, L.S., dated July 21, 2008.

2.                  There shall be submitted, no later than sixty (60) days after the date of approval of this special use permit, an as-built site plan which meets the requirements of Zoning Ordinance Section 32.6 Final Site Plan Content, except for those items waived by the Agent as not applicable.  The as-built site plan shall meet all of the requirements of Section 32.6 and be approved by the County’s site plan agent prior to occupancy of the nursery/day care center by more than forty (40) children.

3.                  The number of children occupying the nursery/day care center shall not exceed sixty-four (64) or the number approved by the Department of Social Services, whichever is less, at any time.

4.                  A twenty foot buffer shall be maintained between the property and TMP 61X1-AA-B.

5.                  The concurrent use of the property for a nursery/day care center and a residential use is prohibited.

 

Conditions #6 - #8 below apply to the use of the facility as offices:

 

6.                  The maximum number of employees shall be ten (10).

7.                  A twenty foot buffer shall be maintained between the property and TMP 61X1-AA-B.

8.                  The concurrent use of the property for an office and a residential use is prohibited.

 

Conditions #9 & #10 below apply to any use of the property:

 

9.                  The concurrent use of the property for a nursery/day care center and an office use is prohibited.

10.              The small evergreen tree on the Four Seasons Drive frontage at the corner of the parking shall be relocated toward the building, as recommended by VDOT, a sufficient distance to prevent future line-of-sight problems.

 

Should the Planning Commission recommend approval, these conditions may need additional “wordsmithing” between the Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors’ meeting.

 

ATTACHMENTS:

ATTACHMENT 1:        June 24, 2008 Staff Report

ATTACHMENT 2:        Planning Commission Minutes

ATTACHMENT 3:        Traffic Study by Hurt and Proffitt dated 6-16-08

ATTACHMENT 4:        Orthophotography showing Four Seasons Learning Center

ATTACHMENT 5:        Letter from Social Services Licensing Division dated July 29, 2008

ATTACHMENT 6:        Letters from parents

ATTACHMENT 7:        Child Care Special Use Permits from 1980

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