STA-2008-00001 RA 2 Lot Road Standard/SPOA

Amend Sections 14-404, Lot location to allow access from lot onto street or shared driveway, 14-412, Standards for private streets only, and 14-434, Completion of on-site improvements required prior to plat approval, of Chapter 14, Subdivision of Land, of the Albemarle County Code.  This ordinance would amend Sec. 14-404 by requiring that the first subdivision plat approved for a parcel after the effective date of this ordinance (the "parent parcel") must establish a single public or private access from an existing public or private street outside of the parent parcel to the lots within the subdivision, and would require that the proposed street provide such access for all future subdivisions within the parent parcel, and would delete the requirement that all subsequent divisions of the residue enter only onto such streets shown on the approved final plat and have no immediate access onto any public street; Sec. 14-412 by deleting the standard for residential private streets serving 2 lots and requiring such streets to meet the standard currently required for streets serving 3 to 5 lots; Sec. 14-434 by deleting the exception for certain private streets from the requirement that all on-site improvements be completed prior to approval of the final plat where surety in lieu of completion of the improvements is not authorized.  A copy of the full text of the ordinance is on file in the office of the Clerk of the Board of Supervisors and in the Department of Community Development, County Office Building, 401 McIntire Road, Charlottesville, Virginia. (Amelia McCulley)

 

Ms. McCulley presented a Power-point presentation and summarized the staff report.  (See Staff Report)

 

This is a Subdivision Ordinance amendment that achieves two things:

 

The first is to establish a road standard for a private road serving two (2) lots.  This shall be the same as the existing standard for a private road serving 3 to 5 lots.  Therefore, the new road standard would become a 2 to 5 lot private road standard.

 

 

The second is to require that all subdivision of property (from the effective date forward) to share the same access road / entrance onto any public street.

 

The current Albemarle Subdivision regulations do not have a specific construction standard for a private street serving two lots.  It only requires a “travelway passable by ordinary passenger vehicles in all but temporary extreme weather conditions.” 

 

Establishing a road standard for these streets will establish and effectively increase the minimum design and construction standards for private streets serving two lots.  In addition, it will result in improved emergency access to these properties.       

 

 

 

 

 

Mr. Morris opened the public hearing and invited public comment.

 

Katherine Russell, resident of North Garden, felt that the changes were unnecessary.  Currently a surveyor can determine when a lot is requested to be filed if an emergency vehicle can get to the lot.  There is already a sight distance requirement that is sufficient.  She did not think that they need to increase the bureaucracy of the county and increase their control for things that have not presented big problems.  It will restrict what people can do with their land even further.  It will mean that a lot of people who may want to do something won’t be able to afford to do it.  Unfortunately, the county continues to find ways to infringe upon on the owner’s ability to utilize their property.    Property owners have vested interest in their properties.  Every time another regulation is adopted that does not serve the public as a whole they are trampling on people’s interest.  She opposed the amendments since it would allow the county to continue to infringe upon the property owner rights to use their property.  She felt that the general public does not understand the proposal. The county should work on its current responsibilities and does not need more control.

 

Gorky Shackelford said that he had a farm in Stony Point in the Rivanna district.  He was asked by other directors of the Albemarle Farm Bureau to come and represent them tonight.  He would like to use his own situation as an example. Some time ago they had their property divided out on paper in case they had to sell a lot or two in order to keep the rest of the farm, which he hopes does not happen.  The picture shows one 5-acre lot, two 10-acre lots and the others 21 to 30 acres.  He tried to make the lots fit into the terrain and not interfere with the appearance of the farm as a whole.  With this ordinance, if it is passed, it would look very differently.  The county would effectively be taking away every division right that they have with the sight distance requirement on the country road, which they don’t have, and the stream crossing regulations that has already been passed.  He wondered if it was worth it because there is a great deal of loss in it.  There are already a lot of private entrances on the country roads, which can’t be changed, and a lot of people are going to have to use the same entrance anyway.  He did not think that all situations would allow the lots to come out on one road as presented.  He did not think that one or two commercial entrances were going to improve the safety.  If safety is the purpose of this proposal he did not think that it would accomplish much.  If down zoning is the purpose of it, then it is a very effective ordinance.

 

Clara Belle Wheeler, resident of Stony Point Rd, objected to the proposed amendments.  We live in a world where our property rights in Albemarle County, as have already been stated, are being restricted on a daily basis by ordinance being passed by elected and non-elected bodies.  They live in an area, which is the bedrock and foundation of this country, where personal freedoms were fought and died for. Choices and consequences should be the standards by which each of us lives.  If should be her choice if she wants to live at an end of a dirt road that she can only get to in a four-wheel drive vehicle.  .  If she has a heart attack in the middle of the night and an ambulance cannot get to her, then that is her choice and she will die with the consequences.  It is not up to any one else to decide where she can or cannot live because she can’t spend $100,000 to build a road that meets some arbitrary standard.  Property rights are personal and are important and they are trying to restrict them.  The people in the community are tired of being told what they can and cannot do with their property.  She is an environmentalist and a farmer who felt that they would do less damage by putting in a little road to their house as opposed a huge asphalt covered road.  She objected to the proposal for many reasons, but the cost alone would prohibit people from being able to build on their property.  She felt that this was a sneaky underhanded way by going around the back door to restrict property owner rights.  She asked that they not pass this amendment because building two houses on a piece of property should not require the Planning Commission or Board to restrict them.

 

Kathy Rash, farmer and owner of two pieces of property in the White Hall District and southern Albemarle, pointed out like many others she just found out about this meeting.  She was taken back by the rules and regulations imposed.  It seems that more and more regulations are being added to small farmers and people in the rural area.   Most of the other farms in her area have 50 to 60 acres.   Every time she turns around the county is taking more rights and putting more restrictions on them.  If their intention is to prevent them from building on their land by taking away their property rights, then the county should just say so.  The small farmers feel that they are being imposed upon.  She stressed that they need to have the same goals and be able to work together to keep the county beautiful and the way it is now.

 

Rose Scarlet Myers, owner of a farm in Earlysville, said she came to this area in 1994.  When they moved here it was a very rural area.  There has been a lot of development in the area, which has taken the quality down in the county.  The quality of the streams has been affected by the added asphalt and not taking care of the land.  Every time they continue to cut up the land in that way they are creating more havoc in the streams.  She asked the Commission to defeat this motion

 

Sarah Henley, resident in the Crozet area, said her husband and family had a farm in this area since 1900.  This land that the bureaucrats and Albemarle County are talking about is very dear to the people who live on the land that they are talking about. She asked that they consider their heritage and life style. They have made a lot of sacrifices.   She has been involved recently with people involved with developers and real estate who feel that they have more of a vested interest in the property than the people who live on it.  It is important that they are able to continue to farm this land.  She looked at it as an investment that they have held onto for their families.  People in this county may have $100,000 in the bank in case someone gets sick, but they have made sacrifices and their $100,000 is in a little parcel of land on the end of their farm.  They need to be able to sell that if it is necessary.  There is no one that wants to do it.  The restrictions being placed on their farm land is making it impossible for farmers to manage their investment.  She opposed the additional regulations being adopted.  She questioned if others would like to have their investments put on the line for the county to decide what they can keep.

 

There being no further public comment, Mr. Morris closed the public hearing to bring the matter before the Planning Commission. 

 

Mr. Strucko said that from listening to the speakers and reading the staff report and looking at some of the information that he has several questions.  He wrestles with the notion of Albemarle County maintaining its rural character and to allow folks to farm and use their land as they see fit.  But, as soon as the land is subdivided and that lot is put on the market he was also considering that consumer and what rights he should have.   That parcel’s consumer should have some guarantees that protect their public health, safety and welfare.  As he reads the resolution that was unanimously adopted by the Board of Supervisors that is how it starts. So he was wrestling with the County continuing to impose restrictions, which he felt were standards that the purchaser of the lot should expect when the lot was placed on the market.  He asked if this road requirement that minimum standard.  He asked if the standard includes impervious surface.

 

Mr., Fritz replied that the standard for 2 to 5 lots proposed would be a 14’ travel way and would only be paved if the grade exceeded 7 percent.  It would be gravel otherwise. 

 

Ms. Joseph asked if family divisions can be done without any restrictions.

 

Mr. Fritz replied that the proposal has no effect on family division.  It would still require reasonable passage by a passenger vehicle as currently required in the ordinance.

 

Ms. Joseph asked if the farmer needed the $100,000 he could subdivide the land as a family division and sell it to a family member.

 

Mr. Fritz replied that was correct.

 

Ms. Porterfield said that they heard from some that this will truly affect their ability to sell off land.  She asked staff to address that issue.

 

Mr. Fritz replied that this does not affect development rights.  This is a design standard and does not affect the utilization of development rights.  Right now for 3 to 5 lots the road has to meet X standard.  What is being proposed was for  2 to 5 lots it has to meet that standard. 

 

Mr. Cannon noticed that the elected official made a unanimous decision to bring forth this resolution.  He assumed that there was a set of facts and concerns that gave rise to this resolution.  He asked staff to summarize or explain that information.  He assumed it has to do with the purpose and intent to provide for orderly subdivision, minimize the points of access on public roads and to bring roads that are going to be used to open up land to develop to meet a standard.    He asked what other things lead to this proposal.

 

Mr. Fritz replied that the Board asked staff to come before them and explain how three separate provisions of the ordinance were applied on a day to day basis and what the resulting developments were.  The first was the two-step process where there were two large lots and further division of those lots.  The other was what the road standards were.  The other provision had to do with frontage for the rear lot.  Staff is only bringing two of the three before the Commission tonight.  The Board asked staff to explain how the ordinance allows development to occur in the County.  That is the resolution that staff has brought before the Planning Commission tonight.

 

Ms. Porterfield asked if there was consideration of individual for safety for fire department and police access to these lots. 

 

Mr. Fritz replied that Board acknowledged that the road standard is a higher standard to provide improved access.  But, he was not sure of the particulars on it.

 

Ms. Joseph asked for comments from Mr. Loach and Mr. Strucko from their experience in their volunteer fire/rescue service.  She noted that the County does spend money on rescue squads and the equipment.  She would like to hear about the conditions of these roads.

 

Mr. Strucko said that as a volunteer fire fighter at Earlysville Fire Department and member of Western Albemarle Rescue Square that he has experienced many situations on rural roads where they don’t know that a road is substandard until they are actually confronted with a very narrow access point or driveway.  There are many safety issues involved.  Occasionally they have to abandon some of the bigger vehicles.  There have been instances when response time has been delayed due to substandard road.  It is more of a safety issue particularly for larger vehicles such as pumper trucks.

 

Mr. Loach said that he was a volunteer fire fighter with Crozet Fire Department.  When someone calls 911 they expect someone to show up. He voiced concerns about the safety of the consumer and the members risking their lives in the trucks from substandard roads.  Not only are they risking the lives of the fire fighters, but the cost of the trucks is enormous.  It is a problem.  So if they are setting a standard for safety for the consumer, then he supported the notions presented.

 

Mr. Kamptner noted that the one thing this text amendment does is close an inconsistency. Several months ago the Board adopted the ordinance that establishes driveway standards.  One of the things that drove that was to have standards to ensure that emergency vehicles could reach houses on driveways.  The standard that exists right now for two-lot subdivisions is not a standard that requires access by emergency vehicles.  So there is an inconsistency between the existing and the current driveway standards.  What came out of the driveway text amendment was the example given by fire/rescue and it touches on one of the issues that a speaker raised if they want to die because an emergency vehicle can’t reach then that it is their right.  Fire/rescue pointed out that the house that is not accessible might catch on fire and that fire might spread if the emergency vehicle can’t reach that house.  That was one of the public concerns that Fire/rescue had in supporting the driveway standards.

 

Motion:  Mr. Cannon moved and Mr. Edgerton seconded for approval of the resolution of intent put forward in STA-2008-0001 RA 2 Lot Road Standards/SPOA as presented.

 

Ms. Joseph noted that it was the actual text that they were talking about.

 

Mr. Morris replied that it was the zoning text in Attachment C.

 

Ms. Joseph pointed out that this action affects her because she has five development rights.  Therefore, she was not sitting here imposing regulations on people that she was not imposing on herself.

 

The motion passed by vote of 7:0.

 

Mr. Morris said that STA-2008-0001, RA 2 Lot Road Standards/SPOA will go to the Board of Supervisors with a recommendation for approval at a time to be determined with the following proposed ordinance language set out in materials distributed on 8/26/08 as Attachment C for STA-2008-00001 RA 2 Lot Road Standard/SPOA

 

ORDINANCE NO. 08-14(  )

 

AN ORDINANCE TO AMEND CHAPTER 14, SUBDIVISION OF LAND, ARTICLE  IV, ON-SITE IMPROVEMENTS AND DESIGN, OF THE CODE OF THE COUNTY OF ALBEMARLE, VIRGINIA

 

BE IT ORDAINED By the Board of Supervisors of the County of Albemarle, Virginia, that Chapter 14, Subdivision of Land, Article IV, On-Site Improvements and Design, is hereby amended and reordained as follows:

 

By Amending:

 

Sec. 14-404       Lot location to allow access from lot onto street or shared driveway

Sec. 14-412       Standards for private streets only

Sec. 14-434       Completion of on-site improvements required prior to plat approval

 

Chapter 14.  Subdivision of Land

 

Article IV.  On-Site Improvements and Design

 

Sec. 14-404  Lot location to allow access from lot onto street or shared driveway.

 

            Each lot within a subdivision shall be located as follows:

 

A.         The first subdivision plat approved for a parcel on and after [insert effective date] (hereinafter, the “parent parcel”) shall establish a single public or private street to provide access from an existing public or private street outside of or adjacent to the parent parcel to the lots within the subdivision.  The street shall also provide such access for all future subdivisions within the boundaries of the parent parcel as it existed on [insert effective date].  The requirement of a single access street shall not apply to any subdivision whose streets and access are subject to section 14-409.  

 

AB.       Each lot, other than a corner lot within the development areas, shall have reasonable access to the building site from only one street, shared driveway or alley established at the same time as the subdivision or the subdivision of the parent parcel as provided in subsection (A); provided that a lot may be located so that its driveway enters only onto a public street abutting the subdivision if: (i) the commission grants a waiver under subsection (C); (ii) the subdivider obtains an entrance permit from the Virginia Department of Transportation for the access; (iii) the entrance complies with the design standards set forth in sections 14-410(F) and 14-410(G); and (iv) the subdivider demonstrates to the agent prior to approval of the final plat that the waiver does not violate any covenants to be recorded for the subdivision.  For purposes of this section, the term “reasonable access” means a location for a driveway or, if a driveway location is not provided, a location for a suitable foot path from the parking spaces required by the zoning ordinance to the building site; the term “within the subdivision” means within the exterior boundary lines of the lands being divided. 

 

            B.         If the subdivision is within the rural areas, all subsequent divisions of the residue shall enter only onto such street(s) shown on the approved final plat and shall have no immediate access onto to any public street. 

 

C.         The requirements of this section may be waived by the commission as provided in section 14-225.1.  In reviewing a waiver request, the commission shall determine whether: (i) the county engineer recommends an alternative standard; or (ii) because of unusual size, topography, shape of the property, location of the property or other unusual conditions, excluding the proprietary interests of the subdivider, strict application of the applicable requirements would result in significant degradation of the property or to the land adjacent thereto.  In approving a waiver, the commission shall find that requiring the standard would not forward the purposes of this chapter or otherwise serve the public interest; and granting the waiver would not be detrimental to the public health, safety or welfare, to the orderly development of the area, to sound engineering practices, and to the land adjacent thereto.  In reviewing a waiver request, the commission may allow a substitute design of comparable quality, but differing from that required, if it finds that the subdivider would achieve results which substantially satisfy the overall purposes of this chapter in a manner equal to or exceeding the desired effects of the requirement.

 

(§ 18-36 (part), 9-5-96, 8-28-74; § 18-39 (part), 9-5-96, 10-19-77, 5-10-77, 8-28-74; 1988 Code, §§ 18-36, 18-39; Ord. 98-A(1), 8-5-98, §§ 14-500(C), 14-505; Ord. 05-14(1), 4-20-05, effective 6-20-05)

 

            State law reference--Va. Code § 15.2-2241(5).

 

Sec. 14-412  Standards for private streets only.

 

In addition to the minimum design requirements set forth in section 14-410, the following minimum design requirements shall apply to private streets authorized by this chapter:

 

            A.         Residential private streets.  Each private street serving detached residential uses authorized under sections 14-232 or 14-233 shall satisfy the following:

 

                        1.         Streets serving two lots.  Each private street serving two (2) lots shall satisfy the following: (i) easement or right-of-way widths shall be thirty (30) feet minimum; (ii) the required materials and minimum depth of base shall satisfy the minimum requirements described in the design standards manual; and (iii) the surveyor shall include the following wording on the final plat: “The existing and/or proposed right-of-way is of adequate width and horizontal and vertical alignment to accommodate a travelway passable by ordinary passenger vehicles in all but temporary extreme weather conditions, together with area adequate for maintenance of the travelway, as required by section 14-412 of the Albemarle County Code.”

 

21.        Streets serving three two to five lots.  Each private street serving three (3) two (2) to five (5) lots shall satisfy the following: (i) vertical centerline curvature shall meet a minimum design K value of five (5) for crest curves and fifteen (15) for sag curves; (ii) sight distances shall not be less than one hundred (100) feet; (iii) turnarounds shall be provided at the end of each street per American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials guidelines; (iv) street easements or right-of-way widths shall be thirty (30) feet minimum; and (v) the radius for horizontal curvature shall be forty (40) feet or greater, unless otherwise authorized by this chapter.  Any standard in this paragraph (2) may be reduced to the standard for streets serving two (2) lots where a driveway departs from the street and two lots remain to be served, and a turnaround is provided.  In addition, the following shall also apply:

 

            (a)        Private streets in the rural areas.  For such private streets in the rural areas: (i) travelway widths shall be fourteen (14) feet minimum, with three (3) feet minimum shoulder widths, and a minimum of four (4) feet from the edge of the shoulder to the ditch centerline; (ii) if any portion of the street exceeds seven (7) percent in grade, the entire street shall be surfaced as required by Virginia Department of Transportation standards; streets of lesser grade may use a gravel surface.

 

                        (b)        Private streets in the development areas.  For such private streets in the development areas: (i) an urban cross-section street design shall be provided, with a minimum width of twenty (20) feet measured from the curb faces or such alternative design, including a street easement or right-of-way width, deemed adequate by the county engineer to be equivalent to or greater than the applicable standard in the design standards manual, so as to adequately protect the public health, safety or welfare; additional widths shall be provided for gutters to control drainage at the discretion of the county engineer; and (ii) the entire street shall be surfaced as required by Virginia Department of Transportation standards. 

 

32.        Streets serving six lots or more.  Each private street serving six (6) or more lots shall satisfy Virginia Department of Transportation standards, provided:

           

            (a)        Private streets in the rural areas.  For such private streets in the rural areas, the commission may approve Virginia Department of Transportation standards for mountainous terrain if the subdivider demonstrates, for a specific, identifiable reason, the general welfare, as opposed to the proprietary interests of the subdivider, would be better served by the application of those standards.

 

            (b)        Private streets in the development areas.  For such private streets in the development areas, the agent may approve Virginia Department of Transportation standards for mountainous terrain or an alternative standard deemed adequate by the county engineer to be equivalent to or greater than the applicable standard in the design standards manual, so as to adequately protect the public health, safety or welfare. 

 

            43.        Streets serving family or two-lot subdivisions.  Each private street authorized to serve a family subdivision under section 14-232(B)(1) or a two-lot subdivision under section 14-232(B)(2) shall satisfy the following: (i) easement or right-of-way widths shall be ten (10) feet minimum; and (ii) the surveyor shall include the following wording on the plat: “The existing and/or proposed right-of-way is of adequate width and horizontal and vertical alignment to accommodate a travelway passable by ordinary passenger vehicles in all but temporary extreme weather conditions, together with area adequate for maintenance of the travelway, as required by section 14-412 of the Albemarle County Code.”

 

B.         Private streets serving non-residential, non-agricultural, attached residential, multi-unit residential and combined residential and non-residential uses.  Each private street authorized to serve non-residential, non-agricultural, attached residential, multi-unit residential and combined residential and non-residential uses under sections 14-232 or 14-233 shall satisfy Virginia Department of Transportation standards or an alternative standard deemed adequate by the agent, upon the recommendation of the county engineer, to be equivalent to or greater than the applicable standard in the design standards manual, so as to adequately protect the public health, safety or welfare.  The agent may require minimum travelway widths to provide for on-street parking upon a determination that the provisions for off-street parking may be inadequate to reasonably preclude unauthorized on-street parking.

 

C.         Clearing land for improvements.  A private street constructed to Virginia Department of Transportation standards shall not be subject to that department’s clear zone requirements.

 

            D.         Landscaping and other improvements permitted.  Subsequent to construction of a private street, a subdivider may install ornamental plantings and any other improvements provided that they do not conflict with sight distance, drainage facilities or other required improvements.

 

            E.         Waiver.  The requirements of section 14-412(A)(2)(a) 14-412(A)(1)(a) relating to street easement or right-of-way widths may be waived by the commission as provided in section 14-225.1.  In reviewing a waiver request for a lesser street easement or right-of-way width, the commission shall consider whether: (i) the subdivision will be served by an existing easement or right-of-way of fixed width that cannot be widened by the subdivider after documented good faith effort to acquire additional width; and (ii) the existing easement or right-of-way width is adequate to accommodate the required travelway and its maintenance.  If the waiver pertains to minimum street easement or right-of-way widths over an existing bridge, dam or other structure, the commission shall consider whether: (i) the long-term environmental impacts resulting from not widening the bridge, dam or other structure outweigh complying with the minimum width requirements, as determined by the county engineer; or (ii) whether the bridge, dam or other structure is a historical structure.  In approving a waiver, the commission shall find that requiring the standard street easement or right-of-way widths would not forward the purposes of this chapter or otherwise serve the public interest; and granting the waiver would not be detrimental to the public health, safety or welfare, to the orderly development of the area, to sound engineering practices, and to the land adjacent thereto.

 

(§ 18-36, 9-5-96, 8-28-74; § 18-37, 9-5-96, 11-21-79, 3-29-78, 8-28-74(part); 1988 Code, §§ 18-36, 18-37, 18-38; Ord. 98-A(1), 8-5-98, § 14-514; Ord. 02-14(1), 2-6-02; Ord. 05-14(1), 4-20-05, effective 6-20-05)

 

            State law reference--Va. Code § 15.2-2242(3).

 

Sec. 14-434  Completion of on-site improvements required prior to plat approval.

 

            Except as provided in section 14-435, all on-site improvements required by this chapter, other than a private street authorized under section 14-232(B)(1), 14-232(B)(2), 14-233(A)(2) or 14-433(B)(2) serving less

than three (3) lots, shall be completed prior to approval of the final plat.  Prior to approval of the final plat:  

 

            A.         The subdivider shall submit to the agent a certificate of completion of all of the improvements prepared by a professional engineer or a land surveyor, to the limits of his license; and

 

            B.         The subdivider shall certify to the agent that all of the construction costs for the improvements, including those for materials and labor, have been paid to the person constructing the improvements.

 

9-5-96, 12-15-82, 4-21-76, 2-19-76, 8-28-74 (§ 3); 1988 Code, § 18-18; Ord. 98-A(1), 8-5-98, § 14-412; Ord. 05-14(1), 4-20-05, effective 6-20-05)

 

            State law reference--Va. Code § 15.2-2241(9).

 

I, Ella W. Jordan, do hereby certify that the foregoing writing is a true, correct copy of an Ordinance duly adopted by the Board of Supervisors of Albemarle County, Virginia, by a vote of _____ to _____, as recorded below, at a regular meeting held on _________________________.  

 

                        __________________________________                                        

                            Clerk, Board of County Supervisors

 

Aye      Nay

Mr. Boyd                       ____     ____

Mr. Dorrier                     ____     ____    

Ms. Mallek                    ____     ____

Mr. Rooker                    ____     ____

Mr. Slutzky                   ____     ____

Ms. Thomas                  ____     ____

 

 

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