Albemarle County Planning Commission

October 6, 2009


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


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


Other officials present were Wayne Cilimberg, Director of Planning; Elaine Echols, Principal Planner; Mark Graham, Director of Community Development; Scott Clark, Senior Planner; David Benish, Chief of Planning; Bill Fritz, Director of Current Development; Francis McCall, Planner; Amelia McCulley, Director of Zoning/Zoning Administrator 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.


            Work Sessions:


ZTA-2009-00017 Zoning Fees

Review Board Direction on Zoning Ordinance Fees. (Mark Graham)


Mr. Graham presented a PowerPoint presentation and summarized the executive summary. (See Executive Summary)   


The purpose of this work session is to review the County Board of Supervisor’s (Board) direction on staff recommended changes to Zoning Ordinance (“Ordinance”) fees prior to a Planning Commission public hearing.   Proposed changes to fees in the Zoning Ordinance were discussed with the Board at an August 5th work session and a Resolution of Intent to amend these fees was adopted by the Board on September 2nd.  The August 5th report to the Board and Resolution of Intent are attached to the executive summary. 




Goal 5:  Fund the County’s Future Needs.




At the August 5th Board work session, staff provided several attachments to help understand the issues with the fees.  Those include:



As noted at the August 5th work session, there were several fees considerations where the proposed fees differed from those initially recommended in the fee study.  Those included: 


1.       Special Use Permits (SPs) - In considering SPs, staff determined it was appropriate to simplify the fee structure into two groups.  Minor SPs, which are those uses listed under a.1. and Major SPs, which are all other special permit uses listed under a.2.  In addition, staff determined it was appropriate to recognize that many SPs do not require numerous reviews.  As such, staff recommends a base fee, which includes the submission and resubmission to address comments, then a separate fee for those complex applications that require multiple resubmissions.  Attachment D shows these fees would be lower in some circumstances and higher in others.  Overall, staff believes they are comparable. 

2.       Zoning Map Amendments (ZMAs) – Staff used a similar approach for ZMAs to that for SPs, recognizing that both larger and more complex applications will involve a higher cost to the County.  Attachment D shows the very wide range of fees for these applications.   In considering these fees, staff determined that it would be more appropriate to charge on a per review basis rather than trying to estimate the average number of reviews and charging everyone the same.  Applicants who view a submittal as a negotiation point can still make a number of submittals, but the County will recover the costs of the additional reviews necessitated by this approach. 

3.       Appeals – Under the Board of Zoning Appeals and Final Site Plan fees, staff has listed fees associated with appeals.   Staff is recommending a much lower fee recovery than proposed in the Fee Study.  After consulting with the County Attorney, staff believes there may be due process issues associated with these fees and those fees should reflect the administrative cost of processing the application, but not any of the costs associated with reviewing or preparing staff reports for those applications.  Costs associated with required advertising would be handled separately as a new fee.  

4.       Notices and Advertisements – Staff has included new fees for both required notifications and advertisements. The recommended fee for notifications is identical to that recently adopted in the Subdivision Ordinance.  For required legal advertisements, staff is recommending the County recover the actual cost of advertising the application.  While those advertisement costs can vary a little, they appear to average around $200-$250 each time the advertisement runs in the newspaper. As such, if an application requires two notices for the Planning Commission public hearing and two for the Board of Supervisors public hearing, the cost of advertising is in the range of $800 to $1,000.  If an applicant chooses to request deferral after an advertisement has run, the applicant would be responsible for the additional advertising cost.     

5.     Architectural Review Board - These are also new fees proposed by staff.  With respect to revisions to a Certificate of Appropriateness or a Certificate of Appropriateness required for a building permit, staff concurs with the Fees Study’s recommended fee. With respect to Site Plan reviews, staff has simplified the fee structure to include only reviews requested by an applicant or required for a Certificate of Occupancy.  Staff’s recommended fee is a compilation of several fees in the Fee Study, but lower than the Study’s recommendation. The staff-recommended fee reflects staff’s assessment of costs for these reviews and recently proposed changes that staff believes will lower review costs.  



Budget impacts were discussed in the August 5th Executive Summary.  No changes or additional information are included at this time. 



The purpose of this work session is to review the Board’s direction in advance of a proposed November 10, 2009 public hearing.  The Board was content with the proposal and asked that it be brought forward in a public hearing.


Mr. Strucko invited questions for staff.


Ms. Porterfield asked what percentage of costs staff estimates will be able to recover across the board.


Mr. Graham replied that as an aggregate it would be around 35 percent of the costs.  In looking at comparables they found that other localities were not able to recover a significant part of the costs for zoning fees.  The one exception was Stafford County who operates as an enterprise.  The proposal is scheduled for public hearing on November 10 by the Planning Commission.


Ms. Joseph said that if people are abiding by the rules that the community sets up does the community have some responsibility in helping to pay for the review of it because they want their community to look a certain way.


Ms. Porterfield suggested that the applicant should pay more than 75 percent and at least 50 percent.


Mr. Graham noted that what was before the Commission was what he brought before the Board in August and they did not make any changes on it.


Mr. Morris said that they have two different sets of figures.


Mr. Graham replied that was correct.  As he noted with zoning fees a lot of localities are all over the map, but there seems to be a lower level of cost recovery than with other ordinances.   


Ms. Porterfield said that government can’t pay it all. 


Mr. Strucko supported what the Commission recommended initially on this for the 75 percent and then the Commission could lower it. 


Mr. Graham noted that they could recommend higher fees in the advertisement and the Board could adopt a lower amount, but could not go up.


Mr. Kamptner noted that one of the reasons the Board agreed to the 35 percent is that they are recognizing that a lot of the things the County requires through the public process has a public benefit as well.  It is not just the developer’s benefit to get the approval, but the public’s benefit that comes about through architectural review, the development of wireless regulations and things like that.  So that was kind of the counter balance to a different type of fee structure. 


Mr. Strucko noted that there would be some discussion about this issue at the public hearing.


Mr. Graham noted that this work session was to review what happened at the Board meeting.


Mr. Edgerton noted that the Commission agrees that the fees need to be raised and comparable to other localities.  He asked that the Commission go on record saying that they don’t think the fees are high enough.  In order to provide more support for staff he felt that the fees should be increased.


Mr. Loach said that from what he has seen the public within Albemarle County feels the development should do more to pay for itself. 


Mr. Franco noted that they have discussed limiting the review so to keep that cost low.  He asked what level of review they want to associate with requests. He was necessarily pushed to see a higher level come forward.


Mr. Graham noted that the Board did not specify a percentage. 


Mr. Strucko said that this would be a debate at the public hearing.


Ms. Porterfield asked if it has to be advertised for a specific percentage.


Mr. Kamptner said based on what he had heard when they draft the advertisement they will set the possible fees high enough so that the Commission has the flexibility when they make their recommendation.


Mr. Strucko asked if they have to determine those levels tonight.


Mr. Kamptner replied no.  When the public hearing is held they will have to determine those levels.  When staff prepares the advertisement it will not be based simply on the ordinance that he has been working on.  Some flexibility will be built into it to go up or down.


Ms. Porterfield noted that last time they set it at 75 percent so they would have a lot of wiggle room.  She suggested that they set it at 75 percent.


Motion:  Ms. Porterfield moved and Mr. Edgerton seconded to draft the advertisement for the fees to be 75 percent.


Mr. Franco said that they were not making a motion.  Staff was going to move forward to draft an ordinance that will be going through for public hearing based on this work session.


Ms. Porterfield noted that it has to be advertised.


Mr. Strucko asked when it would be advertised.


Mr. Kamptner replied that the advertisement for the Planning Commission meeting will be going out next week.  The content would identify the fees and probably list an amount not to exceed.  It will be pretty high and probably 75 to 100 percent.


Mr. Strucko asked if the Commission could determine what the advertisement level would be this evening through a motion.


Mr. Kamptner acknowledged that they need to build flexibility into the advertisement. 


Mr. Strucko asked for the sake of clarification if the Commission feels comfortable with at least a 75 percent level.  The Commission wants to make sure that the fees are high enough.


Mr. Graham noted that staff could come up with fees that are comparable to recovering 75 percent of cost.


Ms. Porterfield noted that there was a motion on the floor and asked if they could make it official.


Mr. Strucko said that they could proceed.   He asked for a vote.  It has been moved and seconded that the advertised rate be at least recovering 75 percent of staff processing cost.  He asked for a roll call vote.


The motion passed by a vote of 4:3.  (Mr. Franco, Mr. Morris and Ms. Joseph voted nay.)


Mr. Strucko asked if there was any public comment.  There being none, the meeting proceeded.


Mr. Strucko noted that he had not asked for public comment.  Therefore, he invited public comment.  There being none, he noted that staff would proceed to the public hearing incorporating the Commission’s comments.



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