The Albemarle County Planning Commission held a public hearing and meeting on Tuesday, August 18, 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 present.
Other officials present were Rebecca Ragsdale, Senior Planner; David Benish, Chief of Planning; Eryn Brennan, Senior Planner; Wayne Cilimberg, Director of Planning; Elizabeth Moratta, Senior Planner; Glenn Brooks, County Engineer; Ron Higgins, Chief of Zoning; Scott Clark, Senior Planner; Bill Fritz, Director of Current Development and Greg Kamptner, 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.
Other Matters Not Listed on the Agenda from the Public:
Mr. Strucko invited comment from the public on other matters not listed on the agenda. There being none, the meeting moved to the next item.
SP-2009-0016 Music Festival
PROPOSED: Special Use Permit to allow a special event at the Misty Mountain Camp Resort
ZONING CATEGORY/GENERAL USAGE: RA Rural Areas - agricultural, forestal, and fishery uses; residential density (0.5 unit/acre in development lots). SECTION: 10.2.2.50 Special events .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 lots)
ENTRANCE CORRIDOR: Yes. LOCATION: 56 Misty Mountain Road, approx. three-quarters of a mile west of 64E junction. TAX MAP/PARCEL: 07100000000300. MAGISTERIAL DISTRICT: Samuel Miller
Ms. Brennan presented a PowerPoint presentation and summarized the staff report.
· The applicant is requesting a special use permit for a special event that would allow one three-day music festival per year. The festival has already been scheduled to be held this year from October 2 – 4.
· The 47 acre parcel where Misty Mountain Camp Resort is located is bifurcated by Misty Mountain Road. The camping area is located in the northeast portion of the parcel closest to Rockfish Gap Turnpike. The Community Building and bathhouse, are located in the northwest portion of the parcel, also along Rockfish Gap Turnpike. A large, open field is located south of the Community Building and bathhouse. Stockton Creek passes through the property approximately 70’ south of the field. The entire parcel south of the Creek is densely wooded, and large swaths of critical slopes exist adjacent and perpendicular to the Creek in this area. The properties surrounding the campground are designated Rural Area in the Comprehensive Plan, and are included in the Rural Area Zoning District. These properties are generally characterized by large farms and single-family residential lots. Several parcels north of Rockfish Gap Turnpike are under conservation easement, and the parcel directly northwest of Misty Mountain Camp Resort is located in the Yellow Mountain Agricultural/Forestal District.
· The concept plan shows the layout of the location of the stages, vendors, parking areas, entrance, emergency access, gates and portable toilets. This concept plan will be tied to the conditions of approval for the special use permit. The primary stage will consist of a semi-truck that converts into a stage and it would be located in the open field south of the proposed parking area as shown in the concept plan. A building permit would not be required for the temporary stage. The second temporary stage would be located inside the community building.
· The applicant is asking that the special use permit limit the number in attendance of the music festival to 500. However, this number is in addition to the approximately 600 people allowed on site with the campground use of the property. The applicant is also requesting a waiver of the number of people allowed to attend this special event in the Rural Areas, which is 150. They are also requesting a waiver from the noise restrictions which limits the noise limits in the Rural Areas to 55 decibels at night.
· The Virginia Department of Transportation has determined that the proposed use would not detrimentally impact traffic in the area because the event is temporary and would only constitute a three percent increase in traffic. However, some increase in traffic is anticipated over the course of the proposed three-day event.
Staff has identified the following factors favorable to this application:
1. The proposed use would minimally impact the character of the site, given that the festival is a temporary special event and no permanent structures or improvements would be constructed.
2. There are no anticipated detrimental impacts on adjacent property resulting from the proposed use.
Staff has identified the following factors unfavorable to this application:
1. The use does not directly contribute to the goals outlined in the Rural Areas section of the Comprehensive Plan.
2. The use would increase traffic in the area during the three days of the festival.
· Staff recommends approval of Special Use Permit 2009-016 Music Festival with the conditions listed in the staff report.
Mr. Strucko invited questions for staff.
Ms. Porterfield asked where the other 600 people would park.
Ms. Brennan replied that the other parking will be included with the campground special use permit. The campground activity already has parking accounted for 600 people and the cars associated with that.
Mr. Cilimberg pointed out that the campground was approved with camp sites where the campers will park.
Ms. Brennan noted that the proposed parking areas are not normally parked in and would solely be used for the music festival. The temporary parking was allowed on the grass, but the area would have to be reseeded after the event.
Mr. Strucko noted that there could be 600 people camping with an additional 500 to attend the music festival and the 600 campers could attend the music festival. Therefore, there could be 1,100 people allowed on the site.
Ms. Brennan said that there would be a total of 1,100 people allowed on the site.
Mr. Loach asked if this event was similar to the 2007 event.
Ms. Brennan replied yes noting that the 500 tickets are how staff determined it.
Mr. Cilimberg noted that if 300 campers wanted to go to the concert, then they would have to buy 300 tickets that would be out of the 500. It was assumed that there would be 500 at the concert and 600 campers who were not going to the concert to get a maximum.
Mr. Strucko noted that the maximum ticket sales would be 500, and Ms. Brennan agreed.
Ms. Joseph noted that there still could be 1,100 people on the site.
Ms. Brennan agreed that 1,100 would be the maximum, which was larger than the 2007 festival. In 2007 they had about 250 the first day and maybe 300 the second day. The applicant is asking for 500 because they would like to allow the possibility to expand. The applicant has indicated that they would not feel comfortable with more than 500 people on the site just from a management type of perspective. But they are asking for more than what they have had in the past.
Mr. Cilimberg pointed out that one of the conditions was that the applicant was starting out with a two year permit basically to allow us to see how it goes and then it would be their responsibility to come in for continuation of the special use permit through a reapproval.
Ms. Porterfield questioned condition 11 regarding the minimum 20 security persons. She asked if that was 20 at any one time or is that 20 over the entire event.
Ms. Brennan replied that it was 20 at any one time.
Ms. Porterfield reiterated that they must have 20 security persons at any one time for the entire time that the festival is operating.
Ms. Brennan replied that is correct, which would be from the hours of 12 noon to 10 p.m.
Ms. Porterfield noted that at 10 p.m. the security would still be needed to get them out of the parking lots and back onto the main highway. Therefore, she assumed that staff would not leave at 10 p.m.
Ms. Brennan replied yes, that is correct because staff would be there to assist the people leaving.
Mr. Edgerton asked if staff had heard any concerns from the neighbors.
Ms. Brennan replied that she had spoken to two neighbors who were present to speak this evening. She also spoke with another set of neighbors. The primary concern expressed from the neighbors has been the noise.
Mr. Edgerton pointed out that from the previous application he remembered that two dogs barking was110 decibels. Therefore, he was trying to figure out how they were limiting this to 65 decibels. He asked if 65 decibels was reasonable.
Ms. Brennan replied that staff considered 65 decibels because that was what was allowed during the day in commercial areas. Staff also considered 65 decibels from adjacent property owners understanding that music as measured from the stage area festival area or perhaps even the entrance to the site would exceed 65 decibels, but given the distance from the adjacent property owners the decibels would be measured from the adjacent property owner’s property. She asked if the Commission wanted to tailor that condition to their front door step or to their parcel lot line, which is something that can be discussed. She noted that Ron Higgins did some great work on decibel levels and the average music festival measured at about 110 decibels near the stage. With every 20’ to 30’ the level significantly degreased. At 40’ it dropped down at least 20 decibels. She noted that Mr. Higgins’ research is more accurate than her memory. But that is the suggestion that staff came up with, which is open to discussion.
Mr. Strucko opened the public hearing and invited the applicant to address the Commission.
Mike Leal, property manager at Misty Mountain Camp Resort, said that the first concert was held last year. From their standpoint it went off without a hitch. They had no traffic concerns, public drinking concerns or issues of any kind that were brought to their attention by the law enforcement or fire department. They want to do the festival as a community event for the local businesses in their area. Most of the proceeds from the festival are for the rescue squad. That is what they want to continue to do with this festival each year. They do not want to exceed the maximum of 500 people due to the topography of the land and the layout of the facility and parking. The 500 people would be the maximum number they would ever want for that type of festival. He would be happy to answer questions.
Mr. Strucko invited questions for the applicant.
Ms. Porterfield asked if they had a full campground when they held the last festival.
Mr. Leal replied that the campground was approximately 70 percent occupied at the time of the last festival. He noted that October is typically a busy time of year for the campground.
Ms. Porterfield asked how that works with the existing traffic flow.
Mr. Leal replied that the festival traffic is immediately diverted to the west when entering the property into the parking area. All of the other registered guests proceed straight ahead to either the lower camping area or across the bridge to the upper camping area. There are 65 camp sites located across the bridge on the west side of Misty Mountain Road in the dense forest area. There are only about 35 camp sites in the lower park area. A lot of the camping is past Stockton Creek.
Ms. Porterfield asked if any of the campers wanted to buy tickets to attend the festival would they have to move their cars.
Mr. Leal replied no because most campers would just walk down to the festival and leave their cars at the camp site. When checking in last year they told the campers to leave their cars at the camp site.
Ms. Porterfield asked how many employees they normally have in operating the campground.
Mr. Leal replied that there were approximately 10 employees during normal operating times and at the festival there would be approximately 25. Out of the 10 employees only 5 handle the office and ground site work. The other 5 employees are mainly for security and management personnel and would be part of the 20 persons for the event.
Mr. Strucko invited public comment.
Kelly Strickland, resident of Crozet, said that he was a big supporter and fan of the festival and had attended the last two festivals. He loved what they were doing for the community and Crozet. He thought that this is a great spot for it. He was present to show his support.
Jim Rovnyak said that he and his wife Virginia have a few words to say. They live at 6861 Castlebury Court. Their property shares a boundary with Misty Mountain. They thank staff for their careful work and safeguards. They support the conditions and think they are important particularly for possible future additions of the music festival. Noise is their greatest concern. Their home is a haven and they enjoy the rural atmosphere very much. They think that this concern has been addressed in the staff report provided that the activity for the festival takes place in the area shown in the concept plan that is west of Misty Mountain Road and north of Stockton Creek. They don’t find in the staff report an explicit statement that says that the activities of the festival shall be located here. The plan for the moment appears that they would be. They would feel more comfortable and ask that this be made explicit. Along with that he suggested that for future events there be no amplified sound system placed outside of the specified area. If these conditions were met, they would agree that the impact on their property and the other properties on Castlebury Court would indeed be minimal.
Virginia Rovnyak noted that they do get noise sometimes from the campgrounds. The campground has a haunted house in the fall and they hear amplified organ music, screams and so on. There are other times that they get noise from the campgrounds. They hope very much that the Commission will add these two conditions to the special use permit. One would be that all festival like activities be confined to the area north of Stockton Creek and west of Misty Mountain Road. The concept plan pins down a few locations, the stages, the parking, the vendor area and the portable lavatories. But the concept plan does not say the activities must be all in this area. They would be very happy if the Commission would simply add that requirement as a condition and specifically underline that all sound amplification must be restricted to that area. The event as planned now seems to be very nice, but it is attached to the land and the land could be sold, the music festival could run out of money and somebody else might come in. So they are looking down the road. There is nothing in the special use permit that limits the kind of activities that could take place or the kind of music. Someone could have a festival featuring hog calling, acid rock, etc. There is no guarantee of the kind of music nor does it list or restrict the type of activities that could take place. Obviously they don’t want to specify the kind of music or make a list of allowed activities. Therefore, their request is that they contain whatever is going on to this area west of the road and north of Stockton Creek.
Dan Hunt, an abutting property owner to Misty Mountain Campground, pointed out that they had just heard some good comments from his next door neighbors. Misty Mountain has been a great neighbor and it sounds like they are doing a great thing in helping some organizations with their fundraising. The music festival sounds like a great idea. He would join his neighbors in their comments to say that the concept plan should explicitly detail where the activity should occur. They want to avoid having 500 people running through the woods doing whatever they want to on Sunday afternoon after three days of music and being served alcohol. That would be his only comment. He said that in general he felt that it was a good idea.
There being no further public comment, the public hearing was closed and the matter before the Planning Commission.
Mr. Loach noted that the Commission needs to craft the two conditions.
Mr. Cilimberg noted that Ms. Brennan had some additional language that could be used as part of the condition.
Ms. Brennan noted that staff checked with zoning who said the language in condition #2 says in conformity with the concept plan which would tie this concept plan to this special use permit. Staff has crafted some additional language to add prior to the sentence, “Minor modifications may be allowed. . .” to state “All activities related to the music festival shall take place within the area of the site bound by the Rockfish Gap Turnpike, Misty Mountain Road, Stockton Creek and the western parcel boundary.”
Mr. Strucko asked if the emergency service access was for fire/rescue, and Ms. Brennan replied that was correct.
Mr. Loach questioned if it would be possible to add the second change to limit all the amplified music to the stage area.
Mr. Cilimberg replied that it was all covered because the condition says all activities related to the music festival shall take place within those boundaries, which would include amplified music.
Mr. Loach asked if 65 dBA would cover the amplified music.
Mr. Cilimberg replied yes, that the noise level would be measured from the neighboring properties. This would apply in the case of the people who spoke whose property was some distance away.
Motion: Mr. Loach moved and Ms. Porterfield seconded to approve SP-2009-0016, Music Festival with the recommended conditions as amended by staff.
Mr. Kamptner asked staff if the decibel level of 65 dBA listed in condition #14 exceeds the standard in Section 4.18.04.
Mr. Brennan replied yes, it exceeds the decibel limit by 10 decibels.
Mr. Kamptner asked if a modification was requested and noticed.
Ms. Brennan replied yes, that a modification was requested to the Noise Ordinance in the Rural Areas.
Mr. Cilimberg pointed out that it was a modification of the decibel limit and the number exceeding 150, which are both noted in the conditions.
Mr. Strucko asked that the staff report be corrected to note that the property is in the White Hall District and not the Samuel Miller District.
The motion passed by a vote of 7:0.
Mr. Strucko said that SP-2009-00016, Music Festival would go to the Board of Supervisors on September 9, 2009 with the recommendation for approval with the following conditions.
To be in conformity with the plan, development shall reflect the following central features within the development essential to the design of the development:
All activities related to the music festival shall take place within the area of the site bound by the Rockfish Gap Turnpike, Misty Mountain Road, Stockton Creek and the western parcel boundary. Minor modifications to the plan which do not conflict with the elements above may be made to ensure compliance with the Zoning Ordinance.
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