COUNTY OF ALBEMARLE

PLANNING STAFF REPORT SUMMARY

 

Project Name:  SP2009-004 Old Crozet School

Staff: Rebecca Ragsdale

Planning Commission Public Hearing:

May 5, 2009

Board of Supervisors Public Hearing:

June 10, 2009

Owners:  County of Albemarle

Applicant: County of Albemarle

Acreage: 8.8 acres

Special Use Permit: Private School  18.10.2.2.5

TMP:  56, Parcels 61 and 62

Location:  1408 Crozet Avenue

Existing Zoning and By-right use:   

R2 Residential; Public school or residential uses

Magisterial District:  White Hall

Conditions: Yes

DA (Development Area)Crozet

Requested # of Dwelling Units:  NA              

Proposal:  Amend special use permit to allow reuse of the Old Crozet School for two private schools

Comprehensive Plan Designation: Crozet Transect (CT 1 & 2)  Development Area Preserve

Character of Property: School building and recreation fields

Use of Surrounding Properties:  Residential and public elementary school

Factor Favorable:

1.       The reuse of the building for private school uses and cultural arts instruction are consistent with desired community uses identified during the Old Crozet School reuse study.

2.       It will provide expanded educational opportunities to the community, located near residential areas.

3.       Approval of the special use permit would allow lease agreements to be completed and the lease of the building would result in a gross increase in revenue of $42,710.10.  The County currently spends approximately $29,214.25 annually from the Department of General Services operating budget for routine maintenance and utilities

Factor Unfavorable:

1.       No unfavorable factors have been identified.

 

 

RECOMMENDATION: Staff recommends approval of this Special Use Permit, with conditions noted on page 6 of this staff report.

 

STAFF PERSON:                                                                  REBECCA RAGSDALE

PRIVATE PLANNING COMMISSION:                                                  May 5, 2009 

BOARD OF SUPERVISORS:                                               June 10, 2009

                                               

 

SP 2009-004 OLD CROZET SCHOOL AMENDMENT

 

Petition: 

PROJECT: SP 2009-0004 Old Crozet School Arts

PROPOSED: Request to amend SP 91-10 to allow for the existing Old Crozet School building and grounds to be used for both a private school for arts instruction and also the Field School, a private middle school for boys.

ZONING CATEGORY/GENERAL USAGE: R-1 Residential - 1 unit/acre

SECTION: 18.10.2.2.5 Private Schools

COMPREHENSIVE PLAN LAND USE/DENSITY: Designated CT 1 Development Area Preserve for Parks and Greenways in the Crozet Master Plan and limited residential at densities of 1 dwelling unit per 20 acres.

ENTRANCE CORRIDOR: No

LOCATION: 1408 Crozet Avenue

TAX MAP/PARCEL: 56, Parcels 61 and 62

MAGISTERIAL DISTRICT: White Hall

 

Specifics of Proposal:

This is a request to amend the special use permit for a private school on the Old Crozet School property. (SP 91-10) The existing permit specifies that no students shall drive to school, but the proposed private school for arts instruction would have students, or parents of students, driving to the site for classes.  The request is to remove that condition that prohibits student driving. The County will lease the Old School building to two tenants: Old Crozet School Arts (OCSA) and the Field School.

 

OCSA is a non-profit organization that would offer classes to the community in dance, visual arts, music, theater, and other art forms to all ages. Additional information from OCSA is provided as Attachment C. The Field School of Charlottesville is a private middle school for boys that is currently located in the community building at Crozet Park and has a need for more space. The Field School will have an estimated maximum enrollment of 100 students and OCSA will have an estimated maximum of 84 students attending classes at one time or concurrent with Field School classes; however there may be more students total enrolled in OCSA. The recommended condition of approval on page 6 addresses the maximum number of students and not total enrollment.

 

Characteristics of the Site and Adjoining Area:

The property is zoned R2 Residential and consists of 2 parcels that total 8.8 acres. The overall building area is approximately 25,000 square feet, including the main level, basement, and an addition. The Old Crozet School is included within the potential Crozet National Register Historic District as a contributing structure. The school building is currently vacant and has been since the Charlottesville Waldorf School relocated. There is an existing paved parking lot, which upon field survey has a total of approximately 41 spaces and potentially more spaces could be provided if the parking lot layout is reconfigured and restriped. The zoning ordinance requirement is 37 spaces so there appears to be adequate parking. To verify parking, a parking sketch is required by Zoning. Other site features include a playing field, a ball field, and a basketball court. Parrot Branch runs along the southernmost property line boundary.

 

Surrounding the Old School property to the north, west, and south is the Crozet residential neighborhood Laurel Hills, zoned R2 Residential. Across the street to the east is Crozet Elementary School, which is zoned RA Rural Areas. The Crozet Development Area Boundary runs just north or the Old Crozet School and along the northern property boundary of Crozet Elementary School. Please refer to the attached location maps for more information. (Attachment A-Aerial, Attachment B-Zoning)

 

Background:

The Old Crozet Elementary School was built in 1924 and used as a public school until 1990 with a maximum enrollment of 271 students as a County school. From 1991 through 2007 the Charlottesville Waldorf School leased the facility.  SP 91-10 for a private school was approved June 5, 1991 with the following conditions:

 

  1. Total enrollment shall be limited to 271 students. No students shall be permitted to drive to school.
  2. Use shall not commence without approvals from the appropriate state, local, and federal agencies.

 

The restriction on students driving to school was intended to address concerns that a private school use would be a higher traffic generator than the previous public school.

 

The Old Crozet School has been vacant since September 2007 when the Charlottesville Waldorf School lease expired.  A reuse study was conducted with community input gathered on preferred ideas on reuse of the school. The final report was presented to the Board on September 3, 2008.  The Board directed staff to continue to explore long term uses, as well as interim uses of the property, until a long term use of the building is determined.  Based on criteria from the study and other County goals, two of the proposals were deemed potentially suitable and advantageous to the County: the Field School of Charlottesville and the Old Crozet School of Arts.  Because neither entity proposes to use the entire facility, it is possible to lease to both, maximizing the use of the facility.  Lease agreements are currently being negotiated with the two schools underway and will be reviewed by the Board, with required public hearings to be held prior to lease approval.

 

Conformity with the Comprehensive Plan:

 

Crozet Master Plan

The Crozet Master Plan (CMP), Place Type & Built Infrastructure Map (inset below)

designates the Old Crozet School property as Crozet Transect (CT) 1 Edge Development Area Preserve. This CMP land use designation was applied to all schools and parks in Crozet. Both the CT 1 and CT 2 land use recommendations are described together in Table 1 and Table 2 of the CMP. These areas are intended to be predominately parks and preserved open space, with agricultural and civic uses such as schools, usually defining the edge of the Crozet Development Area or neighborhood edges. Limited residential uses are intended in theses areas at a density no greater than 1 unit/20 acres. The CMP Green Infrastructure Map also designates the Old Crozet School site as a park and recommends a proposed greenway trail along Parrot Branch, which runs along the southern property line of the Old School site.

 

 

 

 

Place Type & Built Infrastructure Map

 

The CMP, Recommendation #14 for Downtown-Reuse Historic Crozet Elementary School states the following: “The former school could eventually serve as an Albemarle County satellite facility for county services, public meetings and other community uses. If north downtown is included in an adjusted definition of the Development Area, it could be adaptively reused with some public and private residential functions in relation to the surrounding residential neighborhood.”

 

Neighborhood Model

The Neighborhood Model describes the more "urban" form of development desired for the Development Areas. This special use permit request is for reuse of the school building and no site development changes are proposed. As such, staff has not undertaken an analysis of its relationship to the 12 Principles of the Neighborhood Model, but notes that the school does serve as a neighborhood center. Also, there is sidewalk access to the site from Downtown Crozet. The County has a sidewalk improvement project underway to upgrade sidewalks to the site from St. George Avenue.

 

Staff Comment:

Staff will address each provision of Section 31.2.4.1 of the Zoning Ordinance as follows:

 

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,

Staff believes, due to the existing character of the site and past use as a school this use will not be of detrimental impact to adjacent properties. There are no proposed changes to the building or site and the two private school tenants would have similar use of the site to prior uses.

 

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

This is a proposal for reuse of a historic elementary school building for two private school uses so it is consistent with the historic character of the district. Schools are typical located in residential areas.

 

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

The purpose of the R2 Zoning District as stated in the zoning ordinance is to provide a transition density between higher and lower density areas established through previous development and/or zoning in community areas and the urban area. This use is supportive of residential

 

with uses permitted by right in the district,

Private schools are permitted special use permit in the R2 zoning district and this property has historically been a school supporting by-right residential uses in the surrounding area

 

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

There are no additional regulations in section 5.0 that address private schools.

 

and with the public health, safety and general welfare.

The public health, safety, and general welfare of the community are protected through the special use permit process which assures that the proposed uses are appropriate in the location requested. The existing school is served by public water and sewer. There are no safety issues identified with reuse of the building for the two private schools.

 

Vehicular access to school property is by Crozet Avenue (Rte. 810). VDOT and the County Engineer have found that the existing entrance and sight distance are adequate. There are no concerns with additional traffic impacts, as the uses proposed would be less intense than previous use of the site. The condition that students shall not drive to school was intended to mitigate traffic concerns. Since the 1991 special use permit was approved, entrance improvements to the site and turn lane and other improvements have been made to Rte. 810.  The Field School is currently required to make a bus available to students at their current location in Crozet Park so this is also a recommended condition of approval for this site.

 

There is an existing paved parking lot with approximately 41 spaces, although not all spaces are clearly delineated, and potentially more spaces could be provided if the parking lot layout is reconfigured and restriped. The zoning ordinance requirement is 37 spaces so there appears to be adequate parking. To verify parking, a parking sketch is required by Zoning. The County General Services department is working to provide a parking plan and improvements. Parking can also be managed on the site by coordinating the schedules of the users of the facility and flexibility provided to the private school tenants, which can be managed with Zoning Clearances.

 

SUMMARY:

 Staff has identified the following factors favorable to this application:

1.      The reuse of the building for private school uses and cultural arts instruction are consistent with desired community uses identified during the Old Crozet School reuse study.

2.      It will provide expanded educational opportunities to the community, located near residential areas.

3.      Approval of the special use permit would allow lease agreements to be completed and the lease of the building would result in a gross increase in revenue of $42,710.10.  The County currently spends approximately $29,214.25 annually from the Department of General Services operating budget for routine maintenance and utilities

 

Staff has identified one factor unfavorable to this application:

1.      No unfavorable factors have been identified.

 

RECOMMENDED ACTION: 

Based on the findings contained in this staff report, staff special use permit 2009-004 with the following conditions:

 

1.       Maximum number of students on-site attending private school use(s) shall not exceed 185 students.

2.       Private schools that operate during normal school hours (8:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.) shall provide shuttle or bus service for students each school day.

 

ATTACHMENTS

A.      Aerial Map

B.     Zoning Map

C.     Old Crozet School Arts Narrative

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