ALBEMARLE COUNTY PLANNING

STAFF REPORT SUMMARY

 

Project Name:  SDP 2009-00009 Arden Place: [Critical slopes waiver, buffer disturbance waiver, open space recommendation to the BOS, and action on the preliminary site plan].

Staff:  Gerald Gatobu, Principal Planner, Amy Pflaum Senior Engineer

Planning Commission Public Hearing: 

September 8th , 2009

Board of Supervisors Hearing:

N/A

Owners: Charlottesville Realty Corporation

Applicant: Coleway Development, LLC

Acreage: 19.03 , [11.35 acres for the R15 portion]

Rezone from: Not applicable

Special Use Permit for: Not applicable

TMP: Tax Map 61, Parcel 124

Location: Rio Road East [State Route #631], about 900 feet from the intersection of Rio Road East [State Route #631] and Seminole Trail [State Route #29].

By-right use: R15 Residential and EC, Entrance Corridor Overlay

Magisterial District: Rio

Proffers/Conditions:  No

Requested # of Dwelling Units: 212

DA - X                        RA -

Proposal: Request for preliminary site plan approval for a 212 unit multifamily residential apartment complex with a club house on the R15 residential zoned portion of Tax Map 61 Parcel 124 which consists of 11.35 acres. Associated waivers include section 4.2 (critical slopes) and section 21.7.c (disturbance of a buffer zone adjacent to a residential district).

 

Comp. Plan Designation: Community Service and Urban Density in Urban Area 2

Character of Property: 

The property is wooded and undeveloped.

Use of Surrounding Properties:  

Multi -family Residential Homes, Albemarle Square Shopping Center, and Woodbrook Subdivision single family homes.

Factors Favorable: See Report

Factors Unfavorable: See Report

Recommendations:

Waiver of Section 4.2 – disturbance of critical slopes - Staff recommends approval of the critical slopes waiver.

Waiver of Section 21.7.c - buffer zone adjacent to residential and rural area districts - Staff recommends approval of the buffer disturbance waiver.

Preliminary Site Plan review: Staff recommends approval of the preliminary site plan with conditions.

Planning Commission Action: open space recommendation to the BOS (Approval or Denial)

 

     

 

 

STAFF CONTACT:                           Gerald Gatobu; Amy Pflaum

 

PLANNING COMMISSION:               September 8th, 2009

 

AGENDA TITLE:                              SDP 09-00009: Arden Place Preliminary Site Plan

 

PROPERTY OWNER:                      Charlottesville Realty Corporation

 

APPLICANT:                                  Coleway Development, LLC

 

Proposal:

 

Request for preliminary site plan approval for a 212 unit multifamily residential apartment complex with a club house on the R15 residential zoned portion of Tax Map 61 Parcel 124 which consists of 11.35 acres. Associated waivers include section 4.2 (critical slopes) and section 21.7.c (disturbance of a buffer zone adjacent to a residential district) The property, described as Tax Map 61, Parcel 124 is 11.35 acres in size, is located in the Rio magisterial district and is zoned R15 Residential and EC entrance corridor. (Attachment B)

 

COMPREHENSIVE PLAN:

 

The Comprehensive Plan designates this property as Community Service and Urban Density in Urban Area 2.

 

CHARACTER OF THE AREA:

 

This property is located on Rio Road East (State Route #631), about 900 feet from the intersection of Rio Road East (State Route 631) and Seminole Trail (State Route #29). Currently, there is no active use of the subject property. The surrounding area is developed with commercial uses (Albemarle Square), multifamily housing and the Woodbrook subdivision (Attachment B).

 

STAFF COMMENT:

 

I. CRITICAL SLOPES WAIVER

The proposed development will require the disturbance of critical slopes. A modification to allow critical slopes disturbance is necessary before the site plan can be approved by the Planning Commission. The request for a modification has been reviewed for both the Engineering and Planning aspects of the critical slopes regulations. Section 4.2.3.2 of the Zoning Ordinance restricts earth-disturbing activity on critical slopes, while Section 4.2.5(b) allows the Planning Commission to waive this restriction. The applicant has submitted a request and justification for the waiver [Attachment C], and staff has analyzed this request to address the provisions of the Ordinance.

The critical slopes in the area of this request appear to be man-made. Staff has reviewed this waiver request with consideration for the concerns that are set forth in Section 4.2 of the Zoning Ordinance, entitled “Critical Slopes.” These concerns have been addressed directly through the analysis provided herein, which is presented in two parts, based on the Section of the Ordinance each pertains to.

Section 4.2.5(a)

 

Review of the request by Current Development Engineering staff:

 

Description of critical slope area and proposed disturbance:

The original request for a waiver to develop on areas of critical slope for grading incorporated with proposed development on TMP 61-124 was received on 1 June 2009. A revised waiver request, reflecting changes to the site plan based on discussion at the June 23rd Planning Commission meeting, was received on 13 July 2009.  The existing critical slopes and proposed grading are shown on the Preliminary Site Plan dated 13 July 2009.

 

 

The engineering analysis of the request follows:

 

Description of critical slope area and proposed disturbance:

 

The critical slope areas within TMP 61-124 contain both natural and presumably manmade critical slope areas.  Please see the applicant’s waiver request for details on these areas and the percentages of disturbance.

 

Some of the disturbance to the slopes impacted in the construction of the roads connecting the Arden Place development to Putt Putt Place and Rio Road can be considered exempt from the requirement of a waiver under Section 18-4.2.6.c for accessways.  Critical slopes disturbed for installation of the sanitary sewer are also exempt under 18-4.2.6.c. The remainder of the critical slopes disturbance is for the construction of the Clubhouse, adjacent parking, and the accessway directly to Rio Road. This is in the area of the presumable manmade critical slopes.

 

Access to the Arden Place development is unattainable from Putt Putt Place without the disturbance of critical slopes; no alternatives to this disturbance exist. The accessway connecting to Rio Road could be built in a different alignment, potentially lessening the critical slope impact.  However, the proposed alignment is the most logical considering future development of the commercial portion of the property. This alignment also causes the least disturbance to the existing vegetation on the property, thereby maintaining the forested appearance preferred by the County ARB. Critical slopes disturbed by this alignment are those that are presumably manmade.

 

Below, each of the concerns of Zoning Ordinance section 18-4.2 is addressed:

 

1.      “rapid and/or large scale movement of soil and rock”:   The areas of critical slope disturbance are slim bands of what is presumed to be a fill area from the construction of the mall.  Large scale movement of soil and rock is not anticipated to occur as a result of this construction.

2.      “excessive stormwater run-off”:   Conceptual stormwater management, as shown on the preliminary site plan will be refined prior to Current Development engineering approval of the final site plan.  Excessive stormwater run-off is not expected to occur. 

3.      “siltation of natural and man-made bodies of water”:   The applicant will submit an Erosion and Sediment Control Plan with the Final Site Plan which will be reviewed for County and State compliance.  Proposed E&S measures are anticipated to reduce sediment-laden runoff from leaving the site.  Inspection and bonding by the County will monitor maintenance of the erosion control facilities during construction.  Proper stabilization and maintenance will achieve long term stability.

4.      “loss of aesthetic resource”:  The disturbance of the existing critical slopes with this development involves the removal of existing vegetation. 

5.      “septic effluent”:   The existing subdivision is served by public sewer and there are no septic drainfields within the area of this disturbance.

 

No portion of this site plan is located inside the 100-year flood plain area according to FEMA Maps, dated 04 February 2005.

 

Based on the above review, the applicant has satisfactorily addressed the technical criteria for the disturbance of critical slopes.

 

The critical slopes areas disturbed are not delineated as a significant resource on the Open Space and Critical Resources Plan. Staff believes there is no significant loss of resources related to the disturbance of the critical slopes.

 

 

Review of the request by Current Development Planning staff:

Summary of review of modification of Section 4.2:

Section 4.2.5 establishes the review process and criteria for granting a waiver of Section 4.2.3. The preceding comments by staff address the provisions of Section 4.2.5(a). Staff has included the provisions of Section 4.2.5.3 here, along with staff comment on the various provisions.

The commission may modify or waive any requirement of section 4.2 in a particular case upon finding that:

A.     Strict application of the requirements of section 4.2 would not forward the purposes of this chapter or otherwise serve the public health, safety or welfare;

 

Strict application of the requirements of section 4.2 would require the relocating of the proposed pool house and adjacent parking. The applicant would have to redesign the apartment complex and change the proposed layout. This would not forward the purposes of this chapter or otherwise serve the public, health, safety, or welfare. Approving the waiver will allow infill development in the development area.

 

B.      Alternatives proposed by the developer or subdivider would satisfy the intent and purposes of section 4.2 to at least an equivalent degree;

 

The developer or subdivider has not proposed any alternatives that would satisfy the intent and purposes of section 4.2 to at least an equivalent degree.

 

C.     Due to the property’s unusual size, topography, shape, location or other unusual conditions, excluding the proprietary interest of the developer or subdivider, prohibiting the disturbance of critical slopes would effectively prohibit or unreasonably restrict the use of the property or would result in significant degradation of the property or adjacent properties; or

 

Prohibiting the disturbance of critical slopes would not effectively prohibit or unreasonably restrict the use of the property. Adjacent properties will not be impacted by the pool house that is sited at the area with the critical slopes; therefore, there should be no detrimental effects to public health, safety, and welfare. Approving the waiver would not be detrimental to the orderly development of the area and would not result in significant degradation of the property or adjacent properties.

 

D.     Granting the modification or waiver would serve a public purpose of greater import than would be served by strict application of the regulations sought to be modified or waived.

 

Granting the waiver would serve a public purpose of greater import. Granting the waiver will allow the construction of an apartment complex on the R15 portion of the property. The public purpose served will be the availability of market rate apartment units developed as infill development. The project will enrich and provide a mix of housing within the area.

 

 

CRITICAL SLOPES WAIVER RECOMMENDATION:

 

Staff recommends approval of the critical slopes waiver.

 

II. BUFFER DISTURBANCE WAIVER

 

21.7(c) buffer zone adjacent to residential and rural area

Section 18-21.7.c.1 provides that a 20’ undisturbed buffer is required between commercial and residential uses, however, the Planning Commission may waive the prohibition of construction activity, grading, or the clearing of vegetation in the buffer if the provisions of Section 21.7.c.1 are satisfied.

 

[Section 21.7.c] Buffer zone adjacent to residential and rural areas districts.  No construction activity including grading or clearing of vegetation shall occur closer than twenty (20) feet to any residential or rural areas district.  Screening shall be provided as required in section 32.7.9.  (Amended 9-9-92)

 

[Section 21.7.c.1] Waiver by the commission.  The commission may waiver the prohibition of construction activity, grading or the clearing of vegetation in the buffer in a particular case where the developer or subdivider demonstrates that grading or clearing is necessary or would result in an improved site design, provided that: (i) minimum screening requirements are met; and (ii) existing landscaping in excess of minimum requirements is restored.  (Added 7-10-85)

 

DISCUSSION

The access to the proposed development crosses the C1 (commercial) zoned portion of the property. A 20 foot undisturbed buffer is required between Commercial zoned property and residentially zoned (R15) property. The proposed access crosses the commercially zoned property into the (R15) residential property where it disturbs the 20 foot buffer. Staff has reviewed the buffer waiver request in light of Ordinance requirements:

 

[Section 21.7.c.1] Waiver by the commission.  The commission may waiver the prohibition of construction activity, grading or the clearing of vegetation in the buffer in a particular case where the developer or subdivider demonstrates that grading or clearing is necessary or would result in an improved site design, provided that:

 

(i)                 minimum screening requirements are met; and

(ii)               existing landscaping in excess of minimum requirements is restored.  (Added 7-10-85)

 

i.) Minimum screening requirements are met:

 

The applicant in his waiver justification has expressed that the primary access road connecting the development with Putt Putt Place/Rio Hill Drive must cross through the commercial portion of the property in order to access a public street for the residential portion of the property. The road is necessary and required, and cannot be routed through another location that would avoid disturbance of the commercial buffer area. The applicant has agreed to provide landscape screening to satisfy ordinance screening requirements.

 

ii.) Existing landscaping in excess of minimum requirements is restored

 

Architectural Review Board staff has reviewed the preliminary site plan and will be working with current development staff to make sure that the entire 50 foot buffer/setback is landscaped in excess of the minimum requirements. In an ARB action memo dated May 8th 2009 the ARB states that it supports the maintenance of the buffer as well as a road configuration that minimizes impacts to the buffer.

 

SUMMARY OF STAFF REVIEW:

 

Staff review has resulted in favorable findings:

 

Favorable factors:

1.      The applicant will screen the buffer per the requirements of Section 32.7.9.8.

2.      No alternative location exists for road access to the residential portion of Tax Map 61 and Parcel 124.

 

Unfavorable factors:

1.      None

 

BUFFER DISTURBANCE WAIVER RECOMMENDATION:

 

Staff recommends approval of the 20 foot buffer disturbance waiver.

 

Review of the Preliminary Site Plan: 

 

BACKGROUND: The preliminary site plan has been called up for planning commission review by the agent. The preliminary site plan has been reviewed by the Site Review Committee. Staff’s analysis of pertinent issues is as follows:

 

TRAFFIC IMPACT AND ANALYSIS

 

The proposed Arden Place development met VDOT thresholds to require a Traffic Impact Analysis. To incorporate changes made to the plan after the June 23rd Planning Commission Meeting, the study was revised. The scope of the revised study is shown below [Figure 1]. VDOT has approved the revised Traffic Study. The new study shows less delay time for the left-turn movement from Putt Putt onto Rio than was anticipated with the original study. Signal warrants are not met for the Putt Putt Place / Rio Road intersection and it can remain as a full-access intersection.

 

Per section 32.7.2.4 of the Zoning Ordinance, a multi-family development with 50 or more units must have two connection points to public streets.  One of these connection points is proposed at Rio Road and Putt-Putt Place.  To meet the requirements of the ordinance two additional connection points have been studied as options for making that second connection.  These connections include a direct link from the property to Rio Road as shown on the Site Plan and an alternative connection to the Carmike Theater parking lot north of the Albemarle Square shopping center. From the Carmike parking lot, the path to Rte 29 passes directly in front of the cinema causing potential traffic hazards, and then travels north and west on Gardens Blvd where it allows a right-turn-out onto Rte 29 N. Staff has determined that either of these options will meet the criteria of section 32.7.2.4. The proposed Carmike connection will be discussed in greater detail at the end of the staff report.

 

The favorable and unfavorable features/factors of the direct connection to Rio Road as shown on the preliminary site plan are as follows:

 

Direct Connection to Rio Road

 

Favorable:          

                        The full length of the connection can be designed and constructed to meet the standards of the Ordinance for private streets or travelways.

 

Unfavorable:

 

Construction of the Access up to Albemarle Square

 

Construction of the Access to Albemarle Square.

 

Access to Albemarle Square is not shown because there is a proposed second point of access to a public street through a new access easement to Rio Road as shown on the preliminary site plan. The owners of Albemarle Square have not agreed/declined to give an access easement through their property.

 

Construction of Pedestrian/Bike Access to the Albemarle County Lagoon Project.

 

An informal system of trails currently crosses the Arden Place property. These trails link the Mallside development with Gardens Shopping Center and Woodbrook. The trails appear to be regularly used. The informal system of trails demonstrates that connectivity will be utilized if it is incorporated into the Arden Place development. 

 

Current Development is requesting that the Planning Commission consider Pedestrian/Bike access that would connect Albemarle Square to the adjacent Albemarle County property. The pedestrian/trail access from Arden Place would connect to the Albemarle County Lagoon Project as shown below [Figure 2]. The construction of the access would be consistent with the Neighborhood Model for development and the 2008 Citizen Survey. The pedestrian/bicycle access would facilitate access to a public open space area.

 

FIGURE 2: ALBEMARLE COUNTY WOODBROOK LAGOON PROJECT

 

 

The Neighborhood Model describes the more "urban" form of development desired for the Development Areas. It establishes the 12 Principles for Development that should be adhered to in new development proposals. These first 3 principles are: 

 Pedestrian Orientation

 Neighborhood Friendly Streets and Paths

 Transportation Networks and Interconnected Streets

 

The 2008 Citizen Survey ranked “Provide safe places to walk and bike where you want to go” and “Ensure safety for walkers and bicyclists” with moderate importance. Providing trails across the Arden property is consistent with the results of the Citizen Survey. Staff is aware that Woodbrook residents have raised concerns about providing a pedestrian trail in the Arden Place development that would connect to the Woodbrook Subdivision. The proposed trail(s) will link to the Albemarle County Lagoon project. Staff recommends that the current trail(s) on the ground be made permanent within the Arden Place development and then have the trail(s) connect to a public space.

 

15.4.2 DEVELOPMENT STANDARDS (Open space dedication to the County for a density increase)

 

The Ordinance states;

 

For dedication of land to public use not otherwise required by law, density may be increased as follows: The acreage of the land dedicated and accepted shall be multiplied by twice the gross density standard level, and the resulting number of dwellings may be added to the site, provided that the density increase shall not exceed fifteen (15) percent. The dedication shall be accepted by the board of supervisors prior to final approval. For provision of road improvements to secondary or primary roads not otherwise required by this ordinance or Chapter 14 of the Code of Albemarle, a density increase up to twenty (20) percent shall be granted, to be agreed upon by the commission and the applicant, based upon the relative need for transportation improvements in the area. The need for such improvements shall be established by the Virginia Department of Highways and Transportation. (Amended 8-14- 85)

 

The applicant has requested that the County consider acceptance of open space that would contain a walking path to connect the Woodbrook Lagoon Project to Rio Road. In analyzing whether staff can recommend acceptance of the open space to the Board, staff consults the Comprehensive Plan.

 

The Comprehensive Plan speaks to open space and paths in general, pedestrian connections, and greenways.  The County shows its planned greenways on the adopted Greenways map and there is not one specifically at this location. Paths, though, are important features of the designated development areas because of their ability to create a pedestrian orientation and interconnections (goals from the Neighborhood Model) and an alternate transportation option (Land Use Plan). Open space in the designated development areas is also a goal of the Neighborhood Model. 

 

In this particular case, staff believes that the proposed open space with a path helps to achieve several goals of the Comprehensive Plan. It helps to provide a pedestrian connection between two public areas -- County owned open space (the Lagoon area) and Rio Road. It provides the opportunity for pedestrians to walk to the Movie Theater/shopping center as well. The recreational areas of the County land can be accessed from the path. Finally, it helps to provide alternatives to automobile transportation.

 

Since density bonuses are available through several means, including dedication of open space or provision of affordable housing, staff has analyzed the request for the benefits of affordable housing at this location. There are two other affordable housing complexes nearby, with one being adjacent to the property in question.  After discussing this issue with the Director of Housing, staff believes that while affordable housing is desirable everywhere, an abundance of affordable housing in one spot is not as desirable. Dispersing affordable housing is in keeping with the Neighborhood Model’s recommendation that affordable housing be integrated into many areas, not established as an enclave.

 

The pedestrian path proposed would be built to ADA standards, would be ten feet in width, and would meet the County’s standards established in the Design Standards Manual. This is a benefit to the County as a public path. The features of construction will ensure that the County’s need for maintenance will be minimal in the first years. It is expected that the owner of the apartment complex will provide the grass mowing in the associated easement as part of the general maintenance of the facility.

 

Staff recommends that the full density increase be given for the open space and construction and dedication of the pedestrian path that will connect two public areas.

 

SUMMARY OF STAFF REVIEW:

 

Staff recommends approval of the preliminary site plan with the following conditions:

 

    1. Must comply with the Virginia Statewide Fire Prevention Code. Approval is subject to field inspection and verification. [Fire and Rescue]
    2. RWSA capacity certification is required before final site plan approval can be granted.
    3. Proposed wooded area must meet the definition of “wooded area” found in section 3. [Albemarle County zoning ordinance]. An arborist report and a tree preservation plan must be submitted with the final site plan.
    4. A conservation plan checklist must be shown on the final site plan. The conservation plan checklist will have to be checked and signed [Albemarle County Code section 32.7.9.4.b.]
    5. Applicant must obtain VDOT approval before final site plan approval can be granted.
    6. Albemarle County Current Development Engineering approval must be obtained.
    7. Add the following 2 notes to the Arden Place ADA Trail Feasibility Exhibit dated 8-5-09, and include the exhibit in the final site plan. The first should go above the part that begins, "Trail width...”  It should say, "ADA Standards Listed in the Virginia Trail ways Toolbox".  The second note should say, "The trails shall be accessible and also conform to standards for Class A- Type 2 Trails as described in the Albemarle County Design Standards Manual."
    8. Applicant must address all outstanding ARB conditions before final site plan approval can be granted.

 

DISCUSSION: ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: [Proposed Carmike Connection]

 

The applicant is pursuing a vehicular connection through the adjacent Carmike Parcel [Tax Map 45- Parcel 104B5] shown below. If the connection/easement is acquired, the applicant would like to use this connection as the project’s second point of access to a public street with the first connection being the access to be constructed to Putt Putt Place [See Figure 3] below. Consequently, the connection to Rio Road with a right turn out as shown on the current site plan would not be built. The applicant has submitted an exhibit of the proposed connection to the Carmike property.

 

 

 

 

Figure 3: Connection to Carmike Theater Parking Lot

 

 

Favorable and unfavorable factors/features of the connection to the Carmike Property are as follows:

 

Favorable:          

Unfavorable:      

§         Further impacts to natural critical slopes (although disturbance is exempt under access provision).

§         Only the new portion of this travelway can be designed and constructed to meet the standards of the Ordinance for private streets, the majority of this connection to Rte 29 already exists and may meet a lesser standard.

§         A portion of the travelway to the state road has abutting parking (Carmike Theater parking) which can cause a potential traffic hazard.

 

The updated traffic study took the Carmike property connection into account, and the relevant data was included in the traffic analysis. The applicant is requesting that if the easement through the Carmike property is acquired, they be allowed to show/build the connection to the Carmike property at the final site plan stage, without having to come back before the Planning Commission for approval. Staff has received all the necessary data and analysis related to the proposed Carmike Connection, and has no objection to the applicant’s request. Staff has no objection to the Planning Commission choosing to approve the preliminary site plan with the knowledge that the Carmike connection could be feasible. With Planning Commission consent, the change in the approved preliminary site plan would not necessitate further action by the Planning Commission. Without Planning Commission consent, the connection to the Carmike property would require additional Planning Commission review.

 

ATTACHMENTS:

 

  1. Site Plan
  2. Vicinity Map
  3. Applicant’s Justification Letters
  4. Critical Slopes for TMP 61-124
  5. Arden Place Carmike Connection and letter
  6. Woodlands Exhibit with Carmike Connection
  7. Open Space Dedication with Carmike Connection
  8. Woodbrook Lagoons Enhancement Project Details
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