Albemarle County Planning Commission

May 19, 2009


The Albemarle County Planning Commission held a public hearing and meeting on Tuesday, May 19, 2009, at 6:00 p.m., at the County Office Building, Lane Auditorium, Second Floor, 401 McIntire Road, Charlottesville, Virginia.


Members attending were Don Franco, Linda Porterfield Marcia Joseph, Calvin Morris, Bill Edgerton, Thomas Loach, Vice Chair and Eric Strucko, Chairman. Julia Monteith, AICP, non-voting representative for the University of Virginia was absent. 


Other officials present were Gerald Gatobu, Principal Planner, Joan McDowell, Principal Planner; John Shepherd, Manager of Zoning Administration; Rebecca Ragsdale, Senior Planner; David Benish, Chief of Planning; Steward Wright, Permit Planner; Sherri Proctor, Permit Planner; Ron Higgins, Chief of Zoning; Bill Fritz, Director of Current Development and Andy Herrick, Deputy County Attorney. 


Call to Order and Establish Quorum:


Mr. Strucko called the regular meeting to order at 6:00 p.m. and established a quorum.


Public Hearing Items:


SP-2009-00002 Keswick Hunt Club (Sign # 107 & 108) PROPOSED: New treetop facility in an avoidance area (South West Mountains Historic District). ZONING CATEGORY/GENERAL USAGE: RA, Rural Areas-; EC Entrance Corridor overlay. SECTION: 10.2.2 (48) Special Use Permit, which allows for Tier III personal wireless facilities in the RA Zoning District. COMPREHENSIVE PLAN LAND USE/DENSITY: Rural Areas uses in Rural Area 2. LOCATION: Tax Map 80, Parcel 6A: in the Keswick area at the intersection of Louisa Road [State Route 22] and Hunt Club Road [State Route 744]. MAGISTERIAL DISTRICT: Rivanna (Gerald Gatobu)


Mr. Gatobu presented a PowerPoint presentation and summarized the staff report.


Staff has identified the following favorable factors:


Staff has identified the following factors as unfavorable to this request:



Based on findings presented in the staff report, staff recommends approval of this personal wireless service facility at the proposed height of ten (10) feet above the reference tree, with the conditions as listed in the staff report.


Mr. Strucko opened the public hearing and invited the applicant to address the Commission.


Valerie Long, representative for AT&T, presented a PowerPoint presentation to explain the request. Also present was Jerry Sharp, consultant for AT&T, who had been working on this site.

·        As Mr. Gatobu stated this is technically a special use permit because the property is in the historic district.  Otherwise, it would be a typical Tier II wireless facility. The wireless facility is exactly the same as other Tier II wireless facilities that the Commission has reviewed over the last few years.  The only difference is that it is located in the historic district. She explained the layout of the access road, the existing trees on the site, the horse show grounds and the proposed equipment.

·        On Sunday she visited the site during a horse show to confirm for their benefit that where they were locating the facility in the grove of trees was not going to be in the way and to get a feel on the way the circulation would work with the cars. She felt that it would work very well since the facility would not be visible from the arena and would be screened by the grove of trees.  There was some parking on the grassed area. She noted that there was a nice row of trees between the railroad and the property.  The trees in the area provide a nice buffer and provide screening. 

·        The driveway will be a small extension of the existing drive.  There will be a 10’ X 18’ concrete pad with two radio cabinets.  The area will be fenced with board fencing to protect the equipment, which was requested by the landowner to visually screen it from the public during their events.  The reference tree is #235. There is a perfect spot to tuck some equipment in the area without having to remove any trees.

·        She explained the balloon test which showed that even during the winter months they don’t expect the tower to have an adverse impact.  She reiterated that they don’t need to remove any trees. They think it is a very good location. The Historic Preservation Planner reviewed the plan, attended the balloon test and indicated that there would be no adverse impact on the historic resources or any other elements of the historic district. They have been working very well with the landowners.  They looked at the balloon tests from Keswick Hall and the visibility is very minimal.  She asked that the Planning Commission recommend approval to the Board of Supervisors.


Mr. Strucko invited questions for the applicant.


Ms. Joseph thanked Ms. Long for the chosen site. This is what was envisioned when the Commission was talking about the 25’ from the tree itself.  It was envisioned as something that was nestled within the trees. 


Ms. Long noted that Jerry Sharp and his colleagues worked really hard with the landowners to find a site that meets the criteria.  It is not easy to find a site with a willing landowner and still be located in the right spot for coverage purposes.  The real challenge is that they want it nestled in the trees like they said, but they don’t want to get it too close to any of the trees and start damaging the tree roots and things like that.  It is a tough balance.  They think that they have found it here.  They will continue to work towards that balance.


Mr. Strucko invited other public comment.  There being none, he closed the public hearing to bring the matter before the Commission.


Motion: Mr. Morris moved and Mr. Loach seconded to recommend approval of SP-2009-00002, Keswick Hunt Club for the personal wireless service facility at the proposed height of ten (10) feet above the reference tree, with the following conditions:


1.      The proposed personal wireless service facility must be developed in general accord with the plan prepared by BC Architects and Engineers with a revision date of 4-28-2009, and a certified engineer’s seal and signature dated 5-01-2009.

2.      AT&T must provide a tree conservation plan prepared by a certified arborist prior to issuance of a building permit. The installation, operation and maintenance of the facility shall be conducted in accordance with the tree conservation plan.

3.      Should use of the antenna site at this location become discontinued at anytime in the future, AT&T and/or its assignee(s) must remove the facility within 90 days.

4.      After the proposed personal wireless service facility has been installed, AT&T must submit annual reports updating the user status and equipment inventory of the facility within the required time period per section 5.1.40(c)(7):of the Albemarle County Code.

5.      Address all conditions outlined by the Architectural Review Board. The applicant must obtain a certificate of appropriateness from the Architectural Review Board staff.


The motion passed by a vote of 7:0. 


Mr. Strucko said that SP-2008-00002 Keswick Hunt Club would go to the Board of Supervisors on July 1 with a recommendation for approval.


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