Albemarle County Planning Commission

March 20, 2007

 

 

 

            Informational Session:

 

ZTA 2006-00001, Country Stores: Resolution of Intent and Draft Proposal to Amend the Zoning Ordinance regarding Country Stores.  (Amy Arnold)

 

Ms. Arnold summarized the staff report and gave a power point presentation.

 

The Comprehensive Plan’s Rural Areas Plan identifies the protection of historic, archeological and cultural resources as a guiding principle for the Rural Areas.  In addition, the Historic Preservation Committee presented “Position Statement on Albemarle County’s Historic Country Stores” (May 6, 2003), further prompting the Board of Supervisors to direct staff to propose ways to improve and preserve Albemarle’s country stores not only as an historic and cultural resource, but as an integral part of its rural crossroads communities. 

 

The Rural Areas Section of the Comprehensive Plan states that a strong rural economy is one of the elements of the County’s vision for the Rural Areas; the Rural Areas Guiding Principles encourage the support of localized rural economies and rural land uses providing rural landowners with economic viability. Currently, a large number of country stores throughout the County are either threatened or have been lost.  Amending the Zoning Ordinance can help to ensure that the remaining country stores continue to play an essential role in the culture, economy, and historic legacy of Albemarle County. To support the survival and proliferation of country stores in the County, Planning and Zoning staff, in consultation with several country store owners, propose the following potential amendments to the Zoning Ordinance:

 

1.        Revise the definition of country store included in the Zoning Ordinance; possible additions include:

 

·   A single building with no larger than a 10,000* square foot foundation and shall be no more that two stories of retail / food service space, or a combination of retail / food service and office or residential space, with an attic and / or basement, falling within one of the following categories:

 

o  Existing land use and / or building either currently in operation or formerly in operation as a country store included in the County inventory of country stores and former store sites being re-established as a country store.  (proposed as a by-right in the Rural Areas) 

 

o  Existing building having formerly operated as a country store and included in the County inventory of existing country stores and former store sites being re-established as a use other than a country store. (Would require a Special Use Permit; site plan waivers for store site; single family residential adaptive re-use by-right with site plan waivers)

 

o  New store building and new land use, or expanded existing country store building and / or use.  (Would require a Special Use Permit; full site plan review with waiver options) 

 

2.        Allow for the multiple uses within country store buildings and on parcels that currently or historically include country stores provided country store remains the primary use.

 

3.        Eliminate the current two-year window in which a country store loses its non-conforming status when vacant or used for other purposes.  (Establishes country store as a by-right use in former country store buildings or on former store sites included in the country store inventory.) 

 

4.        Revise the Zoning Ordinance requirements for required site improvements to include exceptions to accepted engineering practice and ARB guidelines that reflect typical country store paving, entrances, and minimum setbacks.  Provide the option to waive site plan and Architectural Review Board review for country stores included in the County inventory of country stores. 

 

5.        Examine the possibilities for well and septic ordinances adjusted to better serve store sites.  Explore the use of alternative septic systems on size restricted sites.

 

With these amendments the County could increase the means by which country stores are supported as viable rural businesses, integral components of crossroads communities and other localized rural economies, as a rural cultural resource, and as historic buildings and sites to be preserved.  In addition to these proposed amendments, staff would also:

 

1.        Establish an inventory to serve as a base line for identifying existing country stores and former store sites.  The inventory can be amended in the future based on the recommendations of the Historic Preservation Committee and County staff to include stores and former store sites.

 

2.        Evaluate the possibilities for adopting a program of property tax abatements for the renovation of country store buildings included in the County inventory of country stores.

 

Mr. Kamptner said that there is a use classification in the rural areas district by special use permit, restaurants and inns that are located within an historic landmark as designated in the Comprehensive Plan with some provisos and another provision that says that the structure shall be restored as faithfully as possible to the architectural character of the period and shall be maintained consistent therewith.

 

Ms. Joseph said that could be a supplemental regulation for country stores instead of by special use permit.

 

Ms. Arnold noted that zoning staff had suggested using the supplemental regulation as a model for the country stores.

 

 

Ms. Joseph said that staff had talked about other methods of septic.  She received something from Ms. McCulley on February 23 that talks about new information and recent decisions regarding private septic systems.  She suggested that staff look at that because it was very restrictive in what she was talking about. 

 

Ms. Arnold noted that a series of meetings are organized in April and one of them is on that subject with Ms. McCulley and the Health Department.

 

 

Motion:  Mr. Morris moved, Mr. Strucko seconded, for approval of the resolution of intent for ZTA-2006-00001, Country Stores to amend the Zoning Ordinance regarding Country Stores.

 

                                                           RESOLUTION OF INTENT

 

            WHEREAS, the Comprehensive Plan’s Rural Areas Plan identifies the protection of historic, archeological and cultural resources as a guiding principle for the Rural Areas;

 

            WHEREAS, country stores are an important economic, cultural and historic part of the Rural Areas and an integral component in the crossroads communities in the Rural Areas;

 

            WHEREAS, the Rural Areas Plan states that a strong agricultural economy is one of the elements of the County’s vision for the Rural Areas and its guiding principles encourage providing support to local agricultural economies and supporting rural land uses that provide rural landowners with economic viability;

 

            WHEREAS, a large number of country stores throughout the County are threatened; and  

 

WHEREAS, the conservation of historic resources is one express purpose of the Rural Areas zoning district and it is desired to amend the Zoning Ordinance to ensure that the remaining country stores continue to play an essential role in the culture, economy and historic legacy of Albemarle County.

 

 NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED THAT for purposes of public necessity, convenience, general welfare and good zoning practices, the Albemarle County Planning Commission hereby adopts a resolution of intent to amend Zoning Ordinance § 3, Definitions, § 5, Supplementary Regulations, and § 10, Rural Areas (RA), and any other regulations of the Zoning Ordinance deemed appropriate to achieve the purposes described herein.

 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT the Planning Commission shall hold a public hearing on the zoning text amendment proposed by this resolution of intent, and make its recommendation to the Board of Supervisors, at the earliest possible date.

 

The motion passed by a vote of 7:0 to adopt the resolution of intent. 

 

 

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