COUNTY OF ALBEMARLE

PLANNING STAFF REPORT SUMMARY

 

 

Project Name:  SP 2007-01 Four Seasons Learning Center

Staff:  Elaine K. Echols, AICP

Planning Commission Public Hearing: 

June 24, 2008

Board of Supervisors Public Hearing:

TBD

Owners:  Krzystzof and Barbara Sliwinski

Applicant: Krzystzof and Barbara Sliwinski

Acreage: 0.35 acres

Special Use Permit for:  Request for expansion of child care facility in accordance with Section 20.3.2.1 of the Zoning ordinance

TMP:   061X-00-00-00500

Location:  At the corner of Four Seasons Drive and Lakeview Drive in the Four Seasons development

Conditions:  Yes

Existing Zoning and By-right use: PUD - residential (3 – 34 units per acre), mixed with commercial and industrial uses.  By special use permit, this facility may have up to 40 students.

 

Magisterial District:  Rivanna

Comprehensive Plan Designation:  Urban Density Residential – residential (6-34 units/acre) and supporting uses such as religious institutions, schools, commercial, office and service uses.

DA (Development Area): X

RA (Rural Area):  

Factors Favorable: 

1.      There is a need for child care facilities in Albemarle County. 

2.      The addition of 24 students and associated parking requirements can be accommodated on-site or adjacent to the site.

Factors Unfavorable: 

  1. Additional traffic from the 24 students will have a negative impact on the neighborhood due to the increase in vehicles and opportunities for conflict, especially in the morning when children are being dropped off.
  2. The enlarged day car enrollment will create a use that is out of scale with this part of the Four Seasons development.

RECOMMENDATION: Staff recommends disapproval.


 

STAFF PERSON:                                                               ELAINE K. ECHOLS, AICP

PLANNING COMMISSION:                                               APRIL 22, 2008

 

SP2007-01 Four Seasons Learning Center

 

Applicant's Proposal:  Krzystzof and Barbara Sliwinski are requesting an amendment to their existing special use permit for a day care facility at the corner of Four Seasons Drive and Lakeview Drive. Their existing special use permit allows 40 children; they would like to have 24 additional children for a total of 64 children.  Attachment A shows their most recently approved site plan waiver and letter of revision for the facility.

 

Petition: 

PROJECT: Four Seasons Learning Center

PROPOSED: Amend special use permit to increase maximum number of children in daycare from 40 to 64.  No residential units proposed.

ZONING CATEGORY/GENERAL USAGE: PUD Planned Unit Development which allows residential (3 - 34 units per acre), mixed with commercial and industrial uses

SECTION:  20.3.2.1, which allows for child care facilities

COMPREHENSIVE PLAN LAND USE/DENSITY:  Urban Density Residential (6-34 units/acre) in Neighborhood 1.

ENTRANCE CORRIDOR: Yes____No X

LOCATION: 254 Lakeview Drive

TAX MAP/PARCEL:  61 X1, Parcel 5 

MAGISTERIAL DISTRICT: Rio

(See Attachment B.)

 

Character of the Area: The area surrounding the facility is residential with townhouses, apartments, single-family detached and single family attached units.  A recreational facility (ACAC) is nearby.  The day care center is located at the corner of Four Seasons Drive and Lakeview Drive.  Lakeview Drive is a cul-de-sac approximately 400 feet in length.

 

Planning and Zoning History:  The Four Seasons development was approved in 1969 as a conditional use permit in an A-1 Agricultural District.  County appraisal records indicate the building in which the day care facility is located was constructed in 1968.  A conditional use permit was granted for an office in that building in 1969.  In 1974, the office use was vacated and a special use permit was requested for the day care facility (SP 412).  It was granted with several conditions including a maximum capacity of 32 children.  Office uses were still allowed under the special use permit.

 

Since that time, several changes have been approved by SP and by SDP.  A brief history follows:

 

·        SP 89-023 Amendment of SP 412 to reduce the setback of the sign

·        SDP 00-72 -- changes to circulation approved on site plan

·        Letter of Revision to site plan approved December 5, 2000

·        SP 02-06  Amendment to allow for 40 children

·        SDP 06-55 – changes proposed to address as-built conditions

·        VIO2004-167 – Notice of zoning violation for failure to build in accordance with approved site plan

·        VIO2007-156 – Notice of zoning violation for failure to comply with special use permit conditions

·        AP 07-02 – Appeal of notices of violation/decision of Zoning Administrator.  BZA upheld decision of Zoning Administrator

·        Appeal of decision by Zoning Administrator appealed to Circuit Court; decision dated September 24, 2007 for Applicant to abate the zoning violation; civil penalties assessed until conformity was achieved

·        December 2007 - Conformity achieved

 

Attachment C contains the staff report, minutes of the Planning Commission meeting and approved conditions for SP 02-06. 

 

Comprehensive Plan: The Comprehensive Plan shows this area as Urban Density Residential in Neighborhood 1.  Because no changes are proposed to the site, the project has not been assessed for conformity with the Neighborhood Model.  There are no environmental features on the site which should be preserved, according to the Open Space Plan.

 

Details of the Proposal:  The applicants have requested an increase in students to help meet demand of families in the community who need day care for their children.  No building additions are proposed and the facility can accommodate the 64 children, according to the licensing division of the Department of Social Services.

 

The site, with the additional children, requires 13 parking spaces (1 space per 10 children plus 1 space per employee).  Nine spaces are accommodated on–site.  The applicant has requested that the additional parking be allowed on-street.  The Zoning Administrator has determined that there are 4 spaces adjacent to the facility on Lakeview Drive which can be used to provide required parking.  The site meets requirements of the zoning ordinance for the expansion and the Zoning Administrator will allow 4 on-street parking spaces to be used.

 

STAFF COMMENT:

 

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,

 

In evaluating whether a use will be a detriment to adjacent properties, the intensity of the use and other impacts are evaluated.  Comments and concerns of neighboring properties are also considered.  One measure of the intensity of the use in relation to nearby and adjoining properties is the traffic impact and the biggest complaint from neighbors on Lakeview Drive has to do with traffic.  Based on the number of students proposed for the day care facility, the

Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) Traffic Generation Manual, 7th Edition there are 200 trips generated by the current facility.  An additional 120 trips from the 24 additional students would yield 320 trips per day.  Calculated with 190 trips from the existing residential uses, there will be a traffic increase from 51% to 63% of the traffic on Lakeview Drive.

 

The second biggest complaint from the neighbors has to do with on-street parking.  In order to keep the parking lot available for parents picking up and dropping off their children, employees often park on the street in front of the houses on Lakeview Drive.   Occasionally, parking on-street results in blocked entrances to driveways.  From time-to-time employees must be asked to move their cars away from the driveways.  Also, residents use on-street parking at times.

 

In the County’s designated development areas, on-street parking is expected and encouraged, especially near “centers”.  A distinction which could be made in this setting is the fact that the street is a cul-de-sac, rather than a through-street.  On-street parking is encouraged more often in a “grid network” situation than on cul-de-sacs.  It should be noted, however, that the streets in the Four Seasons development are public streets.  Even though property owners often consider the area on the street in front of their house as belonging to their lot, the spaces are available for public parking if allowed by VDOT.  Joel DeNunzio with VDOT has said that the spaces are available for parking and that on-street parking is not restricted at this location (See Attachment D.)

 

Noise is the only other possible impact from this use.  The noise of children playing outside is expected with this type of use.  No complaints have been received regarding noise.

 

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

The Four Seasons development is a PUD – planned unit development -- which was originally developed in the 1960’s.  It has a mixture of uses and dwelling types.  The day care facility is located on a corner across Four Seasons Drive from the Four Seasons Apartments.  At this location, it acts as a transition between the higher density of the apartments and the lower density of the detached units on Lakeview Drive.  Increasing the intensity of the day care use at this location by 24 students and associated traffic will likely affect the character of a portion of the district, specifically Lakeview Drive as a single-family residential street, although it would not have much effect on the apartments across the street. 

 

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

The purpose and intent of the PUD is to provide for a mixture of uses and housing types.  Commercial uses are intended to be limited to a scale appropriate to the support of the residential uses within the PUD.   Of course, as with most non-residential uses including religious institutions, users of the facility come from beyond the geographic boundaries of the development.  In this case, the assessment is whether the scale is appropriate to the district.

 

When this day care facility was first permitted, it was limited to 32 children.  There were two employee/owners and the facility was smaller.  Over the last 6 years, it has grown to 40 children and the building has been expanded.  The issue in this case is whether the scale is appropriate to rest of the development.  Staff believes that the scale of the operation at 40 students is the upper end of what should be allowed.  Expanding the use to allow for 24 additional children will create a use that is out of scale with neighborhood due to the traffic impacts, discussed below.

 

with uses permitted by right in the district,

Residential uses are the primary uses allowed by-right in the district.  Day care facilities are considered supporting uses to residential uses in all residential districts.

 

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

Supplementary regulations from Section 5 of the zoning ordinance require conformity with licensure requirements of the Virginia Department of Social Services and periodic inspections by the Fire Official.  Because of concerns for the safety of children these types of facilities are inspected regularly by the Fire Official.  Their records indicate the last inspection was in December of 2007.

 

Staff has also been in touch with the Virginia Department of Social Services and ascertained that the size of the facility would support up to 79 children, based on the requirement of 25 square feet of area per child.  Although the law recently changed to require 35 square feet per child, this facility is grandfathered because the building addition allowed under SP 2002- 06 was completed before July 1, 2008.  If Four Seasons Learning Center were just starting out after July 1, 2008, it would only be allowed 51 students.

 

and with the public health, safety and general welfare.

Traffic is the biggest concern that exists for an expansion of this use at the corner of Four Seasons Drive and Lakeview Drive.  With the expansion, staff expects another 120 vehicle trips per day (inclusive of both staff and parent trips).  As indicated earlier, expansion of this use will make it a larger traffic generator than the rest of the uses combined on Lakeview Drive.  This is of most concern during the mornings when traffic leaving Lakeview Drive is mixing with parents dropping off children at the child care facility.  Added to this are neighborhood concerns about poor sight distance at the corner of Four Seasons Drive and Lakeview Drive. 

 

One resident said this, “Ingress and egress is so close to the corner that it is treacherous to all vehicles traveling along Four Seasons Drive and especially to those who turn into Lakeview Drive from the Commonwealth Drive side.  The right turn into Lakeview is “blind” to those vehicles existing the day care parking lot (and vice-versa) and I have seen dozens of close calls there.”

 

VDOT has indicated (see Attachment D) that there is adequate sight distance at the corner of Lakeview and Four Seasons Drive.  The perception of residents is different.

 

Another traffic issue relates to driver behavior around day care facilities.  Oftentimes parents are in a hurry to drop their children off and are not always cognizant of the fact that the facility is in a residential neighborhood.  All of these factors in combination suggest that increasing the number of children at this location is not advisable. 

 

 

SUMMARY

 

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

 

  1. There is a need for child care facilities in Albemarle County. 
  2. The addition of 24 students and associated parking requirements can be accommodated on-site or adjacent to the site.

 

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

 

  1. Additional traffic from the 24 students will have a negative impact on the neighborhood due to the increase in vehicles and opportunities for conflict, especially in the morning when children are being dropped off.
  2. The enlarged day car enrollment will create a use that is out of scale with this part of the Four Seasons development.

 

RECOMMENDED ACTION

 

Although residents along Lakeview Drive may disagree, staff believes that the current facility operates adequately within the neighborhood.  With 24 additional students and the traffic patterns and volumes already existing on Lakeview Drive staff believes that the facility will exceed an acceptable limit and change the character of a portion of the Four Seasons PUD.  For that reason staff recommends denial of the request.

 

However, if the Planning Commission wishes to recommend approval, staff recommends that previous conditions be carried through with reference to the letter of revision approved in 2000:

 

  1. This permit is approved for an office OR nursery school and day-care center.  The conditions below apply to the nursery/day-care center.

a.      Development of the site shall be in general conformity with the Minor Site Plan Amendment approved July 18, 2000 by the Department of Planning and Community Development and later approved by Letter of Revision dated December 5, 2000.  If modifications are made to the site, a twenty-foot buffer shall be provided and retained between the property and Lot B shown on the Minor Site Plan Amendment approved July 18, 2000 and later approved by Letter of Revision dated December 5, 2000 by the Department of Planning and Community Development.

b.      The maximum number of children shall not exceed 64 at any given time or the number approved by the Department of Social Services, whichever is less.

c.      An outdoor play area with equipment shall be provided and maintained by the applicant. The play area shall be fenced with a chain link fence. 

d.      The fence across the front of the property shall be a barrier fence, 4 ˝ feet high, set back 25 feet from the property line.  The fencing on the other three sides of the property is to be chain link.

e.      No certificate of occupancy for BP 2000-01520 (one-story addition with finished basement) and no zoning clearance for any increase in the number of children more than the 32 allowed under SP 74-412 shall be provided prior to completion of i.) construction of the building addition, and ii.) parking lot approved in the Minor Site Plan Amendment approved July 18, 2000 and later approved by Letter of Revision dated December 5, 2000 by the Department of Planning and Community Development

f.        No residential use of the property shall be allowed without abandonment of the special use permit.

1.      If the building is to be used for an office, the following conditions shall apply:

a.      The maximum number of employees shall be ten employees.

b.      A twenty-foot buffer shall be provided and retained between the property and Lot B shown on the Minor Site Plan Amendment approved July 18, 2000 and later approved by Letter of Revision dated December 5, 2000 by the Department of Planning and Community Development.

c.      No residential use of the property shall be allowed without abandonment of the special use permit.

2.      No sign shall be located less than five feet from the right-of-way of Four Seasons Drive.  It shall be placed in the general location depicted on the Minor Site Plan Amendment approved July 18, 2000 and later approved by Letter of Revision dated December 5, 2000 by the Department of Planning and Community Development. It shall be single-faced and not exceed eight square feet.  Materials, color, and lettering shall be consistent with the photograph initialed RSK and dated May 17, 1989, in the file of SP 89-23.  Any replacement sign shall be of materials, color, and lettering compatible to the Four Seasons Patio Homes sign, as approved by the Zoning Administrator.

 

If the Board approves this special use permit, staff also recommends that the Board require the applicant to provide a site plan that reflects as-built conditions to better assist staff and the applicants. The approved site plan waiver is difficult to read and some improvements are not accurately shown.  In addition, the prior site plan will not suffice because this Special Permit allows additional students and therefore requires additional parking which needs to be shown on an approved site plan.

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ATTACHMENTS:

A --      Site Plan Waiver/Amendment (July 18, 2000) and Letter of Revision for the facility (dated December 5, 2000)

B --      Location Map

C --      Staff report, Planning Commission minutes and approved conditions for SP 02-06

D --      VDOT comments

E --      ACSA comments

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