ZTA-2008-00003 Administrative Waivers



Public hearing to consider zoning text amendment to establish a standard procedure for waivers by the agent of certain requirements of the Zoning Ordinance, and to amend the regulations and authorize the agent in delineated circumstances to grant waivers of critical slopes standards, buffer zones in commercial and industrial zoning districts, and the requirement for a site plan, and to authorize the subdivision and site plan agents to make determinations pertaining to open space currently made by the planning commission.



Messrs. Tucker, Foley, Davis, Kamptner, Graham, and Higgins; and

Ms. McCulley





January 7, 2009


ACTION:     X          INFORMATION:   



  ACTION:               INFORMATION:   










On May 2, 2007 the Development Review Task Force (DRTF) provided a report to the Board of Supervisors that outlined a series of recommendations regarding “improvements to the efficiency, effectiveness, quality and adequate public participation” in the development review process.  One of the DRTF’s recommendations was: “to establish staff authority for waivers and modifications in the development areas.”  The proposed zoning text amendment was developed in response to that recommendation.


The Planning Commission held three work sessions on the proposed ordinance (November 20, 2007; March 25, 2008 and August 26, 2008).  After conducting a public hearing on November 11, 2008, the Commission recommended an ordinance that would permit administrative waivers for: a) certain disturbances of critical slopes; b) buffer disturbance in limited circumstances; and c) waiver of the drawing of a full site plan.  The recommended ordinance would also move the review of certain open space issues from the Commission to staff.



Goal One:  Enhance the Quality of Life for all Citizens - Affordable Housing

Goal One:  Enhance the Quality of Life for all Citizens – Economic Vitality

Goal Four: Effectively Manage Growth & Development



Summary of Proposed Administrative Waivers Regulations:

The text amendment incorporates the Planning Commission’s recommendations.


The text amendment would add Section 2.5 to the Zoning Ordinance to establish a single, uniform procedure for waivers reviewed and acted on by staff under Sections 4.2.5 (critical slopes), 21.7 (buffer zones in commercial districts), 26.10 (buffer zones in industrial districts) and 32.2 (drawing of a site plan).  Section 2.5’s key requirements include notifying abutting owners, the Board, and the Commission about pending requests for waivers, allowing recipients of the notice to request Commission review, and appeals of agent or Commission decisions.  In order to fully achieve the DRTF’s recommendations, staff had recommended to the Commission that Section 2.5 not require notice to abutting owners and allowing those owners to request Commission review.  Staff noted that most of the applications for which a waiver would be sought already require notice (e.g., because a subdivision plat has been submitted) and authorize a recipient of the notice to request Commission review.  Staff’s opinion is that these additional procedural requirements would not streamline the process as recommended by the DRTF.  


Section 4.2.5(b) would authorize the agent to approve a critical slopes waiver on a parcel in any zoning district other than the Rural Areas (RA), Monticello Historic District (MHD) or Village Residential (VR) zoning districts if: (i) the critical slopes were created during the development of the property pursuant to a site plan approved by the County; or (ii) the critical slopes would be disturbed to replace an existing structure located on the critical slopes and the extent of the disturbance was the minimum necessary to replace the existing structure.  Staff had recommended that the Commission support a broader administrative waiver authority that would have authorized the agent to grant critical slopes waivers where the area proposed to be disturbed was below a maximum threshold and where the slopes were not deemed to be critical resources identified in the Open Space Plan.  


Sections 21.7(c)(2) and 26.10(c)(2) would authorize the agent to approve a waiver of the prohibition of construction activity, grading or clearing of vegetation within the respective 20-foot (commercial districts) and 30-foot (industrial districts) buffer zones adjoining residential and rural zoned parcels where: (i) existing landscaping provided inadequate screening and new landscaping would be installed that would exceed County standards; (ii) an arborist or landscape architect certified that trees in the buffer were dying, diseased or would constitute a fall hazard; (iii) the county engineer determined that disturbance of the buffer was necessary in order to address an existing drainage problem; or (iv) disturbance of the buffer would improve screening through the use of a berm, a retaining wall or similar physical modification or improvement.


Section 32.2(c) would authorize the agent to waive the drawing of a site plan if: (i) the site review committee found that all of the information required for a preliminary and final site plan would be unnecessary for the committee to review the proposed development; and (ii) the zoning administrator, in consultation with the county engineer and the manager of zoning enforcement, found that a site plan meeting all of the content requirements for a preliminary and final site plan was not necessary to determine that the site was developed in compliance with the applicable development regulations.


The text amendment also would reorganize Sections 4.2.5, 21.7, 26.10 and 32.2, preserve the authority of the commission to grant waivers in those circumstances that were not delegated to the agent, and establish the standards under which each request for a waiver would be considered by the agent.  


Summary of Proposed Open Space Regulations

The text amendment would reorganize current Section 4.7 and its subsections and move from the Commission to the agent the authority to determine which uses delineated in Section 4.7(b) would be permitted if the open space was not maintained in its natural state, and to determine the design and the quality of the lands appropriate for open space under Section 4.7(c). 



Staff anticipates that adoption of the proposed ordinance would reduce staff time and costs associated with preparing staff reports and making presentations at Commission and Board meetings.  The proposed ordinance also would likely reduce the time spent by the Commission in review and deliberation on waivers, providing additional time to focus on policy matters.          



After conducting a public hearing, staff and the Planning Commission recommend that the Board adopt ZTA 2008-00003 Administrative Waivers (Attachment A).



A – Proposed Ordinance (December 18, 2008)

B – November 20, 2007 Planning Commission Staff Report

C – Development Review Task Force (DRTF) Report

D – November 11, 2008 Planning Commission Staff Report

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