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-2008-00025 Earlysville Service Center (Sign # 21 & 24) PROPOSED:  Special Use Permit to relocate an existing vehicular repair garage from the east side of an 11.833 acre parcel (zoned C-1 Commercial) to the west side of the subject parcel (zoned RA Rural Areas); the existing garage is currently located on the property would remain, but the garage use would be abandoned. ZONING CATEGORY/GENERAL USAGE: RA -- Rural Areas: agricultural, forestal, and fishery uses; residential density (0.5 unit/acre in development lots); C-1 Commercial - retail sales and service uses; and residential use by special use permit (15 units/ acre). SECTION: 10.2.2 (37) Public Garage. COMPREHENSIVE PLAN LAND USE/DENSITY:  Rural Areas - preserve and protect agricultural, forestal, open space, and natural, historic and scenic resources/ density (.5 unit/ acre in development density). ENTRANCE CORRIDOR:  No. LOCATION: West side of Earlysville Rd. (Rt. 743) approx. 775 ft. north of Reas Ford Rd. (Rt. 660). TAX MAP/PARCEL:  TMP 31-14. MAGISTERIAL DISTRICT: Rio (Joan McDowell)


Ms. McDowell presented a PowerPoint presentation and summarized the staff report. 

·        This is a request for a special use permit to relocate an existing vehicular repair garage from the east side of an 11.833 acre parcel (zoned C-1 Commercial) to the west side of the subject parcel (zoned RA Rural Areas); the existing garage structure currently located on the property would remain, but the garage use would be abandoned.

·        The garage would occupy approximately two acres of the parcel. Upon completion of the proposed garage, the existing garage use would be abandoned and the occupied residence located in the center of the parcel would remain unchanged. The proposed garage would contain approximately twelve bays, an office and waiting area, a restroom and a paved parking area with 46 parking spaces on an approximately 2.17-acre portion of the property with up to twelve employees.  A three-sided covered storage shed on the rear of the building would provide storage for an air compressor, tires and fluid containers.  The applicant has requested that the proposed garage retain the present hours of operation: 8 AM to 6 PM Monday through Friday.  The proposal would eliminate the need to park cars in the areas where they are currently being parked.

·        The applicant has proposed a site design that is sensitive to its Rural Areas environs through the following measures:   

o       the limited clearing of existing trees, landscaping around the impervious area;

o       offsetting the garage and parking from the access;

o       a 20-foot wide undisturbed buffer and a 10-foot wide evergreen screening planting buffer (with landscape materials relocated from the area being cleared, if possible) between the adjacent neighbor to the west and the parking area; and around the garage site; and

o       a 75-foot front setback that will include retention of a portion of the existing wooded area buffer between the garage and Earlysville Road.


Planning and Zoning History:

·        1970 Comprehensive Plan -- Earlysville was one of the original 14 Villages designated in the Comprehensive Plan (including the subject parcel);

·        1977 Comprehensive Plan -- Earlysville Village Land Use Designation;

·        1982 Comprehensive Plan -- South side of  Route 743 (including the subject parcel) was deleted from the Earlysville Village land use designation, since it drains into the South Fork Rivanna River Watershed, and was designated Rural Areas;

·        1989 Comprehensive Plan -- Earlysville Village (across Earlysville Road from the subject property) continued as a village designation;

·        1996 Comprehensive Plan -- all the Villages were removed as land use designations and became Rural Areas with the exception of Rivanna; and

·        ZMA 79-07 -- approved rezoning of a 2-acre portion of the property from A-1 (Agricultural) to B-1 (Commercial); the remaining portion remained in the A-1 (Agricultural) district; the B-1 was later changed to C-1 (Commercial); the existing garage is in this rezoned 2-acre portion of the property.

·        RA public garages – previously approved public garages in the Rural Areas (Attachment C).



Staff has identified the following factors favorable to this application:

1.      The public garage is an existing operation that provides a service to the community.

2.      The proposed garage would provide an interior space to repair cars and provide adequate, organized parking arrangements.

3.      The use is consistent with the Rural Area with the mitigation of impacts.


Staff has identified the following factor unfavorable to this application:

1.      The proposed garage site would be closer to an existing residence on an adjacent property and would be across the street from a residential subdivision.



Based on the findings contained in this staff report, staff recommends approval of SP200800025 Earlysville Service Center, subject to the conditions in the staff report.


Mr. Strucko invited questions for staff from the Commission.


Mr. Loach questioned if they need conditions about noise limitations since a garage uses power equipment or is that just a taken that there is a Noise Ordinance they would have to meet.


Ms. McDowell replied that the applicant would have to meet the Noise Ordinance.


Ms. Porterfield asked if there was any consideration in keeping the garage in the C-1, Commercial zoning.  In other words, if the applicant could rebuild the garage in the C-1 zone rather than moving it to the rural side of the property.


Ms. McDowell replied that the applicant’s representative was present and could address that. 


Ms. Joseph pointed out that there was a C-1 zone with an existing use and it is non-conforming in the way it has been used.  She assumed that there was no site plan to establish this use.


Mr. Herrick replied he was not familiar with the history of that location.


Ms. Joseph asked if the current use was abandoned could it be reestablished.  In other words, could they have two garages going on simultaneously? 


Mr. Herrick replied theoretically yes, because whatever is by-right in a C-1 zone would remain by-right on that particular property.  However, condition #2 is that a public garage use in the existing building shall be permanently terminated.  So if the Commission were to recommend approval of the special use permit with this condition and if a garage were hypothetically to reopen in the existing location, while it might not be in violation of the existing zoning, it would be in violation of the special use permit if it were adopted with these condition.


Ms. Joseph asked if the special use permit did not only cover the portion that was zoned Rural Areas, but the entire property.


Mr. Herrick replied that was correct.


Mr. Edgerton asked to follow up on that.  The C-1 zoning designation that allows the existing garage operation is going to stay regardless of what they do here. 


Mr. Herrick replied that there was no request to downzone the property.


Mr. Edgerton said that with the restriction of abandoning the existing garage use that if they tried to open it up it would be in violation of the special use permit.  But if they tore the existing garage down and wanted to put up another garage there would be nothing to stop them from doing that if the use is allowed under the C-1 zoning.


Mr. Herrick pointed out that the way the condition is worded the public garage use shall be permanently terminated and does not reference a specific existing building.  It talks about the public garage use. 


Mr. Edgerton asked if that would apply to the whole C-1 district.


Mr. Herrick replied that was correct in that it would apply to the reconstruction of a new building that was being used as a public garage.


Mr. Edgerton noted that the site plan in Attachment B there appears to be quite a bit of land there that is C-1.   He asked would an additional public garage activity be forbidden in any of that area. 


Mr. Herrick replied that the condition as written does not preclude that, but a differently worded condition might.


Mr. Edgerton noted that one of the concerns is that there will be a second garage on the property.  He asked staff if this property was rezoned after the concern was noticed about being in the Rivanna Watershed.  According to the staff report when the property was in the Village designation there was thought of it. but then the land in the watershed was downzoned to RA.


Ms. McDowell replied that the land was rezoned in 1979 and was considered the Earlysville Village since the 1970’s and maybe before that. 


Mr. Edgerton asked when it was downzoned was there already a garage there. 


Ms. McDowell replied that there was a garage there when it was rezoned.  The property used to be zoned A-1 and then it was rezoned to B-1.  Then the B-1 category changed to C-1.  The garage has been existing since the 1930’s.  According to old file there was a building and there was some consideration of tearing it down and redoing the garage on that site. 


Mr. Herrick noted that if the Commission is concerned about demolition of the existing building and replacement of a new garage on the same site that one way to address that would be to rephrase recommended condition #2 to read a public garage use on the property shall be permanently terminated and delete the words “in the existing building.” 


Ms. McDowell noted that they wanted to clarify on the property because it is split zoned.


Mr. Edgerton said that with all the history it appears that there was some consideration given to the fact that there was an existing commercial activity on this corner of the property when all of the rezoning occurred, which is still there and is not being abandoned.  That is not being downzoned. So if this special use permit is approved they are basically giving another special use permit for the commercial activity in the Rural Area, in which an earlier Planning Commission and Board were concerned about the watershed impacts.  He felt that they need to have their eyes wide open in what they are doing here.  This particular individual wants to clean the site up and make it a better thing, which is great.  But the C-1 zoning is going to stay there and if somebody wants to come in and do something different unless they address that they are basically putting a pocket of commercial into the current Rural Area.  It is a fairly significant size operation.  He thinks that the Commission needs to focus on that.  He likes the design and felt it was good proposal, but was concerned with the intensification of use of the property.  He suggested that perhaps the applicant could reassure him.


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


David Wyant, engineer for the applicant, Mr. White and the present garage operator, Roger Perkins spoke for the application. 

·        To address the concerns expressed by the Commission there is no intent to have a second garage.  Mr. White has wanted to provide a cleaner operation, provide a waiting space for customers and to have public restrooms in the facility.  The structure they looked at and talked about is located in south side Virginia.  They want to have a pull in lane by the waiting room where customers can drop their cars off for service.  The parking spaces are needed on the lot for the drop off of cars.  In these tough economic times they have problems with folks paying for the repairs.  This will avoid the cars from being parked across the street because they don’t have enough parking spaces on site.   This is a way to clean up the Earlysville area. 

·        Environmentally he really likes what they are working on to handle the oil and grease.  The stormwater will be handled and run into storage containers.  He has done a number of these projects in the city where it will be detained.  They work the oil and grease off of the parked area through a bio-filter and then it goes into the same storage container. Then they recycle that and use the water on the plants on the property. They have a separate pump that operates out of that storage container.  It is a kind of recycling system that minimizes the amount of runoff, which protects the drainage area and reservoir.  It is a fairly gentle slope in that area. 

·        He suggested that the wording of condition #2 be worked on so that the area on the northeast corner of that portion of the 11 acres to be designated to never to be a public garage or to be permanently abandoned.  He acknowledged that staff has worked with other operations in giving a month’s grace period to move equipment.   He asked for that same kind of consideration so that he would not have to deal with violations and come back again. 

·        Regarding Mr. Loach’s question raised about noise, vibration and the engineer’s report, he pointed out that the new compressors are very quiet.  The old compressors use to make a lot of noise.  The air compressor that runs most of their equipment will be in the shed, which is on the back side of the building.  In addition, that is where the tires and barrels to store the fluids will be stored.  DEQ approval is required on this as on all garages.  He proposed a berm in case there is a spill.  They will make sure that they put a roof over top of it so that the rain water does not get in there and cause spill over. 

·        The applicant is asking not to have to install the fence on the west side.  They have a 20’ buffer and felt that the evergreen trees would screen the west side.  They have a concern that when people park their cars that the leaves will pile up. 

·        This operation has been in the family since the 1930’s and the applicant’s sons want to continue the business operation.  The addition of the restrooms will be a big improvement.  He asked that the Commission recommend approval of the special use permit.


Mr. Strucko invited questions from the Commission.


Ms. Porterfield said that part of this property is zoned C-1 and it seems logical to keep this use on the C-1 property and rebuild the garage on that property.  She asked why they are not doing that.


Mr. Wyant replied one reason was that the current garage does not have restrooms.  The biggest difficulty would be that tearing the current garage down would require the applicant to not operate the garage for 7 to 10 months.


Ms. Porterfield suggested with this amount of space they could build behind the existing garage and then tear it down and make the entrance into the new facility.  She was concerned that they would now have a pretty heavy commercial use in the Rural Areas and have the ability for more commercial in what is already zoned commercial.  They would be trapping a piece of Rural Area land in between, which she had a problem with.


Mr. Wyant said that the commercial use is not going to be any heavier than it is today.  The proposal would clean up the area.  Currently there are cars parked everywhere and they have been doing that for many years.  This will be a site where the cars will be parked out of the way


Mr. Strucko invited public comment. 


Jimmy Heyward, a resident of Earlysville, said that his farm was adjacent to the garage proposed.  He had nothing but good things to say about Mr. White and Mr. Perkins and was really in favor of the request.  He hoped the Commission would go ahead and take care of it for him.   


Bill Archambault, an adjacent property owner, said that he lived directly behind the current C-1 property on Village Woods Lane.  He had an opportunity to watch the garage operation.  By all appearances it is a well run business.  From his perspective having looked at the plans and having had the opportunity to meet with the folks that have worked through this seems like a reasonable approach and he had no objections. 


Nora Archambault said having pulled in and out of the property she felt that it is in a dangerous location right at the intersection on the road.  Due to the large amount of cars on the road she felt that moving the business away from that congested area will be make it safer.  She asked the Commission to support the special use permit request.


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


Mr. Morris said that based on the input this evening as well as the emails received this makes a lot of sense.  He understands that they are moving the business from C-1 to a Rural Area, but there are reasons for it.  It will be safer and easier to access.   However, he agreed with Mr. Edgerton that a modification of the second condition might make it clearer in the long run.


Mr. Strucko asked Mr. Edgerton if he would like to talk about the second condition.


Mr. Edgerton said that he liked Mr. Herrick’s suggested rewording.  If the intent is not to have another garage there that it should be applied to the whole C-1 piece and not just the specific building, which is the way it is written.


Mr. Loach agreed with Mr. Morris.  He supports the family business that has been there for several decades that seems to have support from the community and neighbors.


Ms. Joseph said that this is a good example of what the Commission is hopefully going to talk about with the Board about different ways that they can allow some businesses to be of a certain size to be able to be in the Rural Areas.  That is what they have been talking about as their loss of industrial land, etc.  The other thing that she was reminded of was that she used to shop in Mr. White’s store and it is hard to conceive of that area as Rural Areas because it is very built up.  That is another issue.  It was a village, but fortunately they have people in the Agricultural/Forestal District that are adjacent to this area.  There were a lot of residential properties in the area and considering the fact that the garage is beloved and they do great work because they seem to be very busy is another reason.  The garage keeps people off the roads by having customers that are near by.


Mr. Strucko noted that it is a cross roads village and there is a lot of long standing commercial activity there with Mr. White’s Store and others.  He agreed with Ms. Joseph’s point.


Mr. Porterfield asked if they eliminate the public garage from the C-1 what else can be put on that property. 


Ms. McDowell replied that the rezoning to B-1 had a lot of proffers that eliminated quite a lot of uses, but she did not have that information. It did not eliminate a public garage, which was called something else.


Mr. Benish pointed out that it precluded a service station, which was defined differently and could not have gas sales.  But under that old ordinance a garage was permitted.  Staff will make sure that information is available to the Board as to the remaining uses.


Ms. McDowell suggested that if the Commission wants to reword condition #2 it could state something like a public garage use on the C-1 portion of the parcel shall be permanently terminated upon issuance of a Certificate of Occupancy for SP-08-25. 


Mr. Strucko noted that change in wording of condition #2 would help the Commission move forward.


Mr. Franco asked if staff has any comment with respect to Mr. Wyant’s request to eliminate the fencing.


Ms. McDowell pointed out that the fence was not put up just for the visibility because certainly the landscaping would certainly help with that.  The fence was also put up as a sound barrier because it is a wooded parcel now and it is much closer to the residents next door.  Staff was really concerned because this is a new use next door to the neighbors and it would help to have a permanent wood fence to help with the sound.  There are going to be a lot of cars coming in and out. It was really more about the sound than visibility at that point.  But it does help with visibility.  She knows that the applicant was concerned about leaves and she was a little confused about that because there is a curb and gutter on the other side of that 10’ new landscaping according to the plan. 


Mr. Strucko asked for thoughts on the fencing requirements.


Mr. Loach said that he did not know if there was a way to have your cake and eat it too.  In other words to meet the fence requirement, but make it optional based on future noise levels. Then later on if there was a need from the neighbor’s perspective that it be installed at that time.


Mr. Porterfield noted that another possibility was that they should get a rake and rake up the leaves.


Ms. McDowell noted that staff has not had a request for a waiver from paving requirements.  The applicant has a site plan on hold right now until this is taken care of. The applicant could ask for a waiver and have it gravel.  Right now until that happens it is supposed to be asphalt or some kind of surface material.


Mr. Strucko said that he thought he saw it specifically mentioned.


Mr. Loach agreed that if they had a problem with leaves and fire he felt they could remove the leaves.


Ms. Porterfield said they supposedly were going to have innumerous people working here.  So it seems that if they have a leaf problem they could just clean it up when it needs to be. She would think they would want to keep their facility looking good


Mr. Strucko noted that the Commission would want to require the fence there for the reasons outlined by Ms. McDowell and they are looking to modify condition #2.


Mr. Herrick noted after hearing comments from Mr. Wyant and Ms. McDowell he agreed that the better wording would say, “A public garage use in the existing C-1 zone of the property shall be permanently terminated.”


Motion: Mr. Morris moved and Mr. Loach seconded to approve SP-2008-00025 Earlysville Service Center with the conditions recommended by staff with the modification of condition 2.


1.         Development of the use shall be in accord with the conceptual plan titled “Special Use Permit Earlysville Service Center, 4036 Earlysville Road Earlysville, VA 22936”, prepared by DW Enterprises and dated March 23, 2009 (hereafter, the “Conceptual Plan”), as determined by the Director of Planning and the Zoning Administrator.  To be in accord with the Concept Plan, development shall reflect the following major elements within the development essential to the design of the development:

2.         A public garage use in the existing C-1 zone of the property shall be permanently terminated.

3.         The size, height and location of the proposed building  (no more than 5,000 square feet / maximum 35’ high)

4.         The location of the perimeter landscaping and limits of clearing, with the exception of minimum clearing possible to install drainfields and utilities

5.         The number of parking spaces (maximum 46 spaces) and general location / arrangement of the parking spaces;

6.         A public garage use in the existing building on the property shall be permanently terminated upon issuance of a Certificate of Occupancy;

7.         Additional landscape materials, either replanted from the area to be cleared for the garage site or new landscape materials, shall be installed in the undisturbed buffer area inside the boundary of the special use permit as may be necessary to achieve very little visibility between the garage site and the public right-of-way and adjacent properties, as depicted on Attachment B;      

8.         A minimum 6’ high fence shall be constructed in the location shown on Attachment B (20’ inside the special use permit boundary and outside the 75’ front setback) to provide an additional buffer for the adjacent property (TMP 31-14H); 

9.         The sale or rental of vehicles or other motorized equipment is prohibited;

10.    Gasoline sales are prohibited;

11.    The outdoor storage of parts, equipment, machinery and junk is prohibited.  All storage shall take place inside the storage shed and/or inside the building;

12.    The sale or rental of vehicles or other motorized equipment is prohibited;

13.    All repairing or equipping of vehicles shall take place inside the existing garage;

14.    Parking of vehicles associated with the public garage shall take place only in the parking spaces depicted on the Concept Plan; 

15.    The hours of operation shall not exceed (earlier or later) than 8 AM to 6 PM, Monday through Friday.  These hours do not prohibit customers from dropping off vehicles before or after permitted the hours of operation; 

16.    A maximum of twelve (12) employees shall be permitted on-site at any one time; 

17.    All outdoor lighting shall be only full cut-off fixtures and shielded to reflect light away from all abutting properties.  A lighting plan limiting light levels at the north, west, and south property lines and the east boundary of the area designated to the special use permit to no greater than 0.3 foot candles shall be submitted to the Zoning Administrator or their designee for approval;

18.    Approval from the Department of Environmental Quality shall be required prior to issuance of the Certificate of Occupancy;

19.    Approval from the Health Department shall be required prior to issuance of a building permit;

20.    Commencement of SP 200800025 shall begin within five (5) years of the date of its approval by the Board of Supervisors.


The motion passed by a vote of 6:1.  (Porterfield voted nay) 


Mr. Strucko said that SP-2008-00025 Earlysville Service Center would go to the Board of Supervisors at a date to be determined with the recommendation for approval.


The Planning Commission recessed 7:20 p.m. and reconvened at 7:28 p.m.


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