The Albemarle County Planning
Commission held a meeting and a public hearing on
Other officials present were
Call to Order and Establish Quorum:
Mr. Rieley called the regular meeting to order at and established a quorum.
Other Matters Not Listed on the Agenda from the Public:
Mr. Rieley invited comment from the public on other matters not listed on the agenda. There being none, he stated that the meeting would move on to the next item.
SUB 03-175 Tucked Away Preliminary Plat - Request for private road approval in conjunction with a preliminary plat to create 10 lots on 75.35 acres. The property is zoned RA - Rural Areas. The property, described as Tax Map 55, Parcels 87, 88A and 88A1, is located in the White Hall Magisterial District on Half-Mile Branch Road [Route # 684] approximately 3/4 miles south from its intersection with Jarmans Gap Road [Route # 691]. The Comprehensive Plan designates this property as Rural Area in Rural Area 3. (Yadira Amarante)
Mr. Rieley asked if any Commissioner would like to pull the item off the consent agenda for further discussion. There being none, he asked if there was a motion.
Mr. Thomas moved to approve the consent agenda as presented.
Mr. Edgerton seconded the motion.
The motion carried unanimously (6:0). (Hopper – Absent)
Public Hearing Items:
ZMA-03-03 Eckerd Drug Store (Sign #73) – Request to rezone 1.753 acres from R-15 Urban Density to
C-1 Commercial to allow a drug store with a drive through window. The property, described as Tax Map 78 Parcels
12, 12B and 55A4 is located in the Rivanna Magisterial District on Rt. 250E
(Richmond Road), at the northeast
intersection of Route 250 East and Rolkin Road. The Comprehensive Plan
designates this property as Urban Density Residential, recommended for 6-34
units per acre in the Pantops Neighborhood (N3). (
Eckerd Drug Store (Sign #73) - Request for special use permit to allow
a drive-through retail use in accordance with Section 188.8.131.52 of the Zoning
Ordinance which allows for drive in windows serving or associated with
permitted uses. (
Ms. Gillespie summarized the staff report. She pointed out that a handout had been distributed this evening on the proffers and staff comments. She stated that the applicant submitted some additional materials last week that she wanted to share, but noted that staff had not been able to review them. The Planning Commission last reviewed this item on July 1st when they reviewed the conceptual road network for the Pantops Comp Plan Amendment. The Commission asked staff to expand the scope of that CPA study to include the land use plan designations as they relate to the road network. Due to contractual obligations the Eckerd applicant has chosen to proceed with the rezoning request prior to our CPA study. The plan that is before the Commission tonight is slightly modified from the July 1st plans that you saw. That plan did not meet a required 20-foot side yard setback to the adjacent residential property. Therefore, the applicant increased the area to be rezoned in order to meet that setback requirement, which was at staff’s request.
The property is designated for Urban Density Residential and the Pantops Development Area profile recommends limiting strip development along Route 250 East by preventing commercial development along the north side of the roadway from the interstate interchange to the Regional Service Area, which is just west of this site. Staff analyzed this proposal in relation to the Comprehensive Plan and found it to be in conflict with the intention of the Land Use Plan and with the Development Area Profile.
Staff has identified two favorable factors to this request. The first is if the drive-through is relocated to the rear of the property, which was in response to staff feedback. The second is that the area to be rezoned has been oriented to accommodate the construction of Rolkin Road Extended, which staff believes will enhance the connectivity within this development area.
Staff has identified several unfavorable factors to this request at this time. The first is that the proposed use conflicts with the Land Use Plan designation and with the Development Area Profile. The second is that at the previous work session, the Planning Commission advised that zoning changes for this area should be considered after the review of the land use issues as part of the Comprehensive Plan Amendment (CPA). Due to their resubmittal, staff has not yet reviewed the draft proffers. Further, the applicant has not yet proffered the application plan at all, but is simply asking for C-1 zoning. Additional information is needed to complete analysis of the storm water management system. Due to the recent receipt of the traffic study, VDOT has not had the opportunity to assess what are any transportation improvements that are necessitated by this development. Staff is also concerned about the vehicle ingress and egress patterns as part of the internal circulation on the site plan that is presented. As a result of these outstanding issues, staff cannot recommend approval of the zma or the sp at this time.
Mr. Rieley asked if there were questions for staff. There being none, he opened the public hearing and asked if the applicant would like to address the Commission.
of Mid Atlantic DSD who was the contract purchaser for the parcel, stated that
they were proposing an Eckerd pharmacy at this location. She pointed out that
also present were Katurah Roel representative for North Pantops Townhouses, who
was the owner of the property, and Kelly Strickland, of Rivanna
Engineering. Basically, they fell that
the Eckerd Pharmacy is consistent with the Comprehensive Plan because the
current zoning allows for neighborhood service.
There is an existing Eckerd Drug Store in the
Strickland, with Rivanna Engineering, stated that they had been working with
Mid-Atlantic DSD with this rezoning application. First of all he pointed out that they had
gone through several iterations of the site plan trying to make things work a
little better on the site. He noted that
they still had some issues with the parking reductions and working the
circulation of the traffic through the site a little more. He stated that they would love to eliminate
the four parking spaces that are down in the corner next to Route 250 and
provide landscaping there instead of the parking. He pointed out that they would appreciate any
help that the Commission might be able to provide with that. The big question that came up at the work
session this summer was the road network and the master planning of the concept
of road network behind this property.
This road, Rolkin Road Extended extends and connects to Avemore
Mr. Rieley asked if there were questions for the applicants. There being none, he closed the public hearing to bring the matter back to the Commission for discussion and possible action.
Mr. Thomas stated that he would like to ask staff a couple of questions. He stated that the Planning staff does not recommend the approval of this due to the Comprehensive Plan Ordinance and the way that it was written.
Ms. Gillispie stated that staff does not believe that this proposal is in accord with the Land Use Plan designation of Urban Density Residential. Staff believes that this use is a little bit more than a Neighborhood Service due to the building’s 14, 000 square footage and the way the building was oriented towards Route 250 rather than being an internal service integrated into a residential neighborhood. Staff was also very concerned about the Development Area profile, which recommends against allowing commercial development on this portion of Route 250.
Mr. Thomas asked if it was kind of an internal project anyway with the roads going down behind it and beside it and not coming directly off of Route 250.
Ms. Gillispie stated that you could see it that way, but staff saw it being oriented along the Route 250 strip.
Mr. Thomas stated that there was a term that was talked about years ago on Pantops about no strip between the Montessori and I-64.
Mr. Benish stated that this site was more highway oriented than it was oriented to the neighborhood with this center. He stated that the neighborhood center really appeared to be across the street at the Giant Food and the shopping center area there. Based on the last work session, the Commission actually corrected us to begin to evaluating some of the road connections as they relate to land use issues. That helps to clarify what the expectations are within these corridors. He pointed out that he was not present at the last meeting, but that was the approach that staff was taking with this plan amendment.
Mr. Thomas asked if staff felt that these roads are not appropriate with what is there now. He asked what else they could put in there that would change the road there anyway.
stated that staff does not have a concern about the location of
Mr. Thomas asked what could be built there.
Mr. Benish asked if he was asking under the Comp Plan designation.
Mr. Thomas stated under the Comp Plan designation.
Mr. Benish stated that the Comp Plan designation was Urban Density Residential, which provides for essentially high-density residential development. The Urban Density Residential does call for within an urban density area the possibility for some mix, but within the concept that it was supporting residential development. The zoning designation was R-15.
Mr. Loewenstein asked if this was the only parcel on that side of Route 250 for some distance that was not already in commercial zoning.
Ms. Gillespie stated that there was a strip just east of this piece that had a setback problem.
Mr. Loewenstein stated that his question was that up to a couple of parcels distance east beyond this development, everything on that side of the road already carries commercial designations and this was the only parcel that does not. Except for redevelopment you are not going to achieve what the profile calls for anyway because they had already gone way beyond that.
Mr. Benish stated that most of the parcels have not been developed at this point of time. He pointed out that there were some plans that had been approved for the Martha Jefferson Development and Aunt Sarah’s.
Mr. Loewenstein stated that the lots were zoned for commercial use.
Ms. Gillespie stated that this was correct, except for the property between Nieguil Gray and this site.
Mr. Finley asked what was the recommendation of the ARB.
Ms. Gillespie stated that the ARB had recommended approval with conditions.
questioned the status of the development of roads, especially the extra roads
going down to
Ms. Gillespie stated that staff was reviewing the Comprehensive Plan Amendment (CPA) and hoped to bring that to hearing within the next several months. There are some development proposals on the table, which are not in conflict with that process or setting.
stated that the roads in this general area were going to be developed as part
Mr. Thomas asked Mr. Benish if he understood him to say that these roads were designed and in place and this was the location where they were designed to go.
stated that he was responding in relationship to the CPA that they have under
way. He stated that the CPA was generally going to accept the location of the
Mr. Rieley stated that when the Commission looked at this before a few weeks ago that a number of Commissioners had some misgivings about the current Comprehensive Plan’s designation and how the pieces were fitting together. Some of the points that Mr. Thomas and Mr. Loewenstein just made were made then as well. For that reason the Commission asked that this current study of the road locations in that area be expanded into a CPA that would look more fully at the land uses in that area. That would give the Commission a reassessment so that they would be in a better position to make this determination. Now the Commission still does not have any more information than they had at the last meeting. He stated that the proposal was not in compliance with the Comprehensive Plan. The only way that you could say that it was in compliance with the Neighborhood Plan was to say that it was a Neighborhood Service and not Highway Commercial. He pointed out that from the illustration it was very clear that this proposal was oriented to Route 250. This was exactly the kind of development that the Comprehensive Plan says should not be there. He stated that his misgiving about this was not with the points that Mr. Thomas and Mr. Loewenstein made, even though they were good points. But, he pointed out that he was extremely reluctant to support a plan that is categorically a rezoning that is categorically at odds with both the Comprehensive Plan and the Neighborhood Plan. He stated that the applicant was here because the current zoning would not allow this use.
Mr. Thomas stated that he liked the plan, the design of the building and the location of the roads. He pointed out that the property was just not zoned properly.
Mr. Loewenstein stated that was why they were here, which was why he was prepared to support the request. He pointed out that the rezoning would fix these problems.
Mr. Finley stated that he was prepared to vote in favor of this request.
stated that he felt strongly that this proposal was contrary to the
Comprehensive Plan and there was really no use in having a Comprehensive Plan
if they were going to ignore it. He
stated that it was more than a stretch to refer to this as Neighborhood
Service. The reason why they wanted to
locate here is to take advantage of the strip development model to be closer to
Regional Service. He doubted seriously if just the residents located behind
them could support the economy of the Eckerd Drug Store. He felt that they
would depend on the traffic from Route 250.
The applicants have tried with their façade treatment to address both
the Route 250 and
Mr. Craddock asked if the circulation would be improved if the four parking places were eliminated towards the front so that they could get a bigger planting median.
Ms. Gillespie stated that she did not think that would help the area in question around the building.
stated that if one tried to enter off
Mr. Rieley stated that this rezoning plan does not have a proffered plan with it and, therefore, it does not have any proffers that have been evaluated by staff. He pointed out that he did not recall a time that the Commission has approved something without a proffered plan particularly with a plan with so many concerns.
Mr. Edgerton pointed out that in order for the applicant to do this plan they would need three access points.
Mr. Benish pointed out that if there was a favorable action, it would be advisable the Commission advise the Board of Supervisors that their actions should be based on submittal and evaluation of the proffers that would allow the third access point.
Action on Rezoning:
Mr. Edgerton moved to recommend denial of ZMA-03-03, Eckerd Drug Store, for the reasons presented in the staff report.
Mr. Rieley stated that the motion failed for the lack of a second. He asked for another motion.
Mr. Loewenstein moved to recommend approval of ZMA-03-03, Eckerd Drug Store.
Mr. Finley seconded the motion.
Mr. Rieley asked if the Commission would like to see as Mr. Benish suggested that they add language that requests that the proffers be fully worked out before it goes to the Board of Supervisors.
Mr. Kamptner asked if that motion includes amending the 1995 proffer dealing with the access.
Mr. Loewenstein agreed that the motion did include both of the suggested conditions to be met before the Board review.
Mr. Finley agreed to add both conditions to his second.
The motion carried by a vote of (4:2) with the two conditions to be met before the Board review. (Rieley & Thomas – No)
Mr. Rieley stated that ZMA-2003-003 would go to the Board with a recommendation for approval.
Action on Special Use Permit:
Mr. Loewenstein moved to recommend the approval of SP-03-47, Eckerd Drug Store.
Mr. Craddock seconded the motion.
Mr. Kamptner ascertained that thee were no conditions of approval of this special use permit.
The motion carried by a vote of (4:2). (Rieley, Edgerton – No)
Mr. Rieley stated that SP-03-47 would go to the Board with a recommendation for approval.
Action on Waiver of Buffer:
Mr. Loewenstein moved for approval of the waiver of Section 21.7.3 buffer of the Zoning Ordinance as requested by the applicant.
Mr. Craddock seconded the motion.
The motion carried by a vote of (4:2). (Rieley, Edgerton – No)
Mr. Rieley stated that the buffer request was approved.
Mr. Thomas recollected that there was a request to move four parking spaces so that they could landscape that corner. He asked how they would handle that.
Ms. Gillespie stated that the modification would have to be granted by the Zoning Administrator and she was in the process of working with the applicant on completing that application.
Mr. Rieley pointed out that the special use permit was obviously conditional upon the Board of Supervisors concurring with the recommendations of the ZMA. The Board of Supervisors will hear these requests on November 5th.
The Planning Commission took a 15 minutes break at to move the meeting to the Auditorium.
The meeting convened at in the Auditorium.
SP-03-19 (Sign #84 & 88) &
SUB-03-43 Vineyard Estates Rural Preservation Development Preliminary Plat - Request for special use permit to allow a Rural Preservation
Development of 30 development lots, ranging in size from 4.1 to 7.5 acres with
one preservation tract of 328.7 acres, in accordance with Sections 10.2.2.28 and
10.2.2.30 of the Zoning Ordinance which allow for divisions of land as provided
in section 10.5 and permitted residential uses as provided in section 10.5. The
property, described as Tax Map 103 Parcels 3, 7, 8,9,10 and 15, contains 510.6
acres, and is located in the Scottsville Magisterial District on
Mr. Rieley stated that when the applicant for this proposal came before the Commission with a proposal for a farm store a couple of years ago he reclused himself because of consulting work that he had done for the applicant. Now enough time has passed so that he no longer had any reason to recluse himself and he would participate fully.
Ms. Doherty summarized the staff report. This is the Vineyard Estate Preservation Development. The applicant is proposing to develop 510 acres into a Rural Preservation Development of 28 development lots ranging in size from 4.1 to 7.5 acres with preservation tracts totaling 333.3 acres, in accordance with Section 10.2.2.28 and 10.2.30 of the Zoning Ordinance which allows for divisors of land as provided in Section 10.5. Three of the existing parcels are currently in the Lanark Agricultural/Forestal District. A portion of the property is currently being used by the applicant for vineyards. A National Register property, known as Blenheim, is located on and adjacent parcel. The proposed development shows areas for vineyards, orchards, meadows and sheep grazing. The layout does not meet the design standards for rural preservation developments and does not meet the goals and objectives of the Rural Areas as found in the Comprehensive Plan. Therefore, staff finds that the purposes and intent of the Zoning Ordinance have not been met with this proposal and recommends denial of the special permit for a Rural Preservation Development. The preliminary plat and private road request rely on the special permit approval and have not been found to meet the requirements of the subdivision ordinance, and are therefore not ready for Planning commission action. Should the Planning Commission favor this proposal in concept, staff recommends further design of the Rural Preservation Development in accord with ordinance requirements before the special permit is approved.
Mr. Thomas asked how low ground water availability was determined.
Ms. Doherty explained that this was determined by using existing water studies undertaken by the Water Resource Planner.
Mr. Rieley asked if there were questions for Ms. Doherty.
Mr. Rieley noted that on page 6 of the staff report, there is an analysis by zoning regarding the determination of allowable lots. It seems that the plans presented by the applicant have a numbers of lots that are questionable. It seems that is a fundamental a beginning point for this assessment. Is this correct? If so, why do we have a plan in front of us for which we don’t know the number of allowable lots?
Ms. Doherty stated that this was correct. The applicant decided to pursue the special use permit. These comments were provided to the applicant earlier, but have not yet been revised. Your analysis of our analysis is correct. The applicant wanted to proceed with the public hearing to discuss the concept. This is why we do not have any analysis on the preliminary plat or public road request because it has not been found to comply with ordinance and is not yet ready for action. If the Commission favors the special use permit then the applicant would get the preliminary plat in a position where it could be approved if the special permit was approved.
Mr. Rieley ascertained that he presumes this is the reason that the special use permit is before the Commission, but the preliminary plat is not. He noted the analysis on the impact of roads from VDOT that seems to be contradictory.
Ms. Doherty stated that this is Code language and is a standard that has to be met. In other words they are not meeting these criteria.
Mr. Rieley noted staff’s summary of findings on page 17, in which there are nine unfavorable conditions. Condition # 6 deals with traffic. # 7 deals with the fact that access road falls across a forested stream valley, #8 deals with the fact that a number of lots would be located in an area of relatively low ground water availability. And # 9 deals with the effects of interspersing residential development among working vineyards. Is seems each of these factors would be equally true of a by-right development as it would a rural preservation development. By definition a rural preservation development cannot exceed the number of lots that are available to a landowner by right.
Ms. Doherty stated that #9 speaks to a specific layout proposed so you would need to know the layout by right and #7 is a specific proposed access road. These could be different in a by-right scenario.
Mr. Rieley stated that it was important for everyone to understand that typically the benchmark for rural preservation developments is the by-right development and the degree to which the arrangement of the development lots is better or not better than that that could be achieved by right. The number of development rights and whether or not the property can be developed is not before the Commission at this time.
Mr. Finley noted that #6 states that “VDOT finds that the increase in traffic associated with this development will create unsafe conditions on Rt. 627. VDOT cannot approve the entrance onto Rt. 795 shown on the concept plan unless improvements are made to the intersection of Rt. 705 and 620.” Is it possible to make these improvements and has the applicant indicated a willingness to do this?
Ms. Doherty stated that is was possible to meet VDOT’s requirements; however the applicant has not done any design work to date.
stated that #7 speaks to the access road for
stated that the access road for
Mr. Finely stated that # 9 speaks to the public health impacts and asked if there were any facts provided?
Mr. Doherty stated that the Rural Areas Comprehensive Study provides some information on this. Staff has asked for more information from the applicant. It is an important issue that has not been entirely flushed out, but if you were to mix residential with the agricultural use there is a potential conflict, but it is separated from the agricultural use as a traditional rural preservation development there is less of an issue.
Mr. Finely stated that he has been in many old farmhouses in his lifetime which were adjacent to all kinds of pesticides and fertilizers.
Mr. Finley noted that #3 stated that the proposed development does not meet the goals and objectives for the Rural Area. Residential development is not prohibitive in the Rural Areas. Should this not read that it does not meet all of the goals?
Ms. Doherty stated that on page 2 of the staff report, notes that the main objective of the Rural Area Plan is to discourage rural residential development other than dwellings related to a bona fide agricultural/forestal use. Limited amount of residential development, which is permitted in the Rural Areas, shall be located in a manner to minimize impact on rural resources and to minimize conflict with agricultural/forestall activities.
Mr. Benish pointed out that staff does not have any verification as to the number of by-right development lots, noting that this analysis is an important element of the evaluation.
Mr. Finley noted that it is staff’s opinion that the proposed development should be accomplished without any negative impact to the historic property and it scenic setting. Are there guidelines for determining what would have diverse effects?
Ms. Doherty stated that this comment comes from the Design Planner who uses the National Guidelines for Historic Properties.
Mr. Craddock noted that three of the six parcels are in the Lanark Agricultural/Forestal district. When do they expire? How many lots could be provided?
Ms. Doherty stated that she will provide this information to the Commission.
Mr. Rieley stated that before opening the meeting to public comment, he would like to review the basic ground rules and make a few requests. The applicant will have 10 minutes for a presentation of its application. Then each person who would like to speak on the proposal and has signed in will be called one at a time. Each person has three minutes. After going through the list, anyone else can address the Commission for three minutes each. After that the applicant has five minutes to respond to comments/issues that were made by other speakers. The Planning Commission’s action on the special use permit is advisory to the Board of Supervisors. When and if the preliminary subdivision and private road requests are submitted, they are approved by the Planning Commission, but can be appealed to the Board of Supervisors. The issues before the Commission is land use decisions that run with the land and are not with any individual person. Personal comments about individuals are not pertinent. As one of our speakers stated we can disagree without being disagreeable. Please do not applaud as it takes allot of extra time and makes it difficult to hear the next speaker. Some speakers have asked that everyone that agrees with their points to stand up. Doing this once gives the Commission an idea of the feelings of the group. Following these basic guidelines will allow us to move forward in a timely fashion.
Mr. Rieley asked if the applicant had any comment.
Mr. Rieley asked if there was any public comment regarding this petition.
Brewster stated that she and her husband own Lanark Farm, which is adjacent to
the Kluge Vineyard proposed development. She noted that there are 500 signed
petitions, which have been presented to the Planning Commission, from both
noted her concern regarding the flood and storm water control. She noted that
last year there was an enormous amount of rainfall. During that time a levee
broke on Wellesley Farm, which is now owned by the
Bob Rash presented
a video showing the damage sustained on Rt. 627, Carter’s
Houchens stated that she has lived in this area for 73 years. She has always been fond of history and has
worked at Ashlawn and
stated that she lives on Keelona Farm, which was purchased by her mother in the
1950’s. There have been four generations of her family living here. She pointed out a couple of things that she
feels is difficult in combining a residence and a vineyard. The first one is the problem of deer
control. Are there barricades or
vineyard fencing to keep them out? Will
there be organized shoots with permits from the Department of Inland Game and
Fisheries? She noted that in 2002, 106
deer kill permits were issued and 944 deer were killed in
stated that he lives on Lanark Farm, which abuts the Kluge property. In 1988 he put his farm in the Lanark
Agricultural/ Forest District because he felt preserving agricultural and
forestal areas were important to the county and neighborhood. Given the
development he has seen since 1988, he believes more strongly in the benefits
of the agricultural/forestal districts. People choose to live in
stated that three generations of her family has lived at Colle on Route
53. Sixty years ago her father-in-law
saw the possible loss of farm and forestland in the County. As a result of this, he placed all of his
farm and forestland under easement. His
actions have been beneficial to the county, wildlife and to the tourist who
visit our area. According to the last
asked the Commission to put themselves in their shoes. In the neighborhood, which
she lives in the residents, have been there for many years. The average
cost of their homes is $85,000 to $175,000.
The homes in this proposed development are higher, which means that
taxes will be increased. She noted that
middle income people do not want to be taxed out of their homes. Twenty-eight new homes will have a
substantial impact on the roads as well as schools in the area. She also noted that there was a quarry in
this area. Another concern was the
impact to natural resources in the area.
She asked that the Commission take into consideration concerns such as
increased taxes, water resources, roads, schools, etc.; and not just increased
representing the Southwest Mountain Coalition stated that the decision the
Commission makes tonight will affect development in agricultural/forestal
districts in other parts of the County.
We understand the legal argument that approval of this application does
not set precedent for development in other parts of the county; however, it
will be very hard for the Commission to deny a similar request in the future if
you approve the Vineyard Estates. We are also concerned that this application
might set a standard for cluster development in the County. As you are aware,
the arrangement of lots does not allow for preservation tract that is removed
geographically or factor ally and visually from the residential lots. As a
former employee of the Albemarle County Zoning Department, I know that folks on
adjacent residential lots perceive many agricultural uses as nuisances. There are other factors that make this
development difficult to accept. One is
the argument that the lot placement has been done to preserve prime vineyard
land. According to the staff report,
saving the suitable vineyard elevation and soils is not the overriding element
in the design as presented. The
applicant proposes a private road that uses 21 acres of the site; which equates
to ¾ of an acre of road per lot. One of the benefits of clustering to a
community is to minimize the length of impervious roadways, thereby minimizing
the runoff and construction into existing fields and woodlands. This particular
subdivision road does not ride like a like ribbon on the landscape. There are bridges, and streams with 25’ of
fill. It is not a gentle intrusion in
the environment. This gated community
with sheep pastures and attention to architectural detail, may be an attractive
area to drive through but does not present a cluster development that should be
approved or replicated in
Annette Patterson, representing Wanda Collier who could not be here tonight. We are very concerned about development in the community. We as well as other residents in the area are concerned with increased taxes, which will create a hardship for many in the area. She noted that this development could dramatically change the character of the area. It has been a dream of Ms. Collier to own this home for many years.
stated that she resides in the
Scott Smith stated the developer is aware that the County is reviewing the Comprehensive Plan with an eye to limiting the density of rural development. The developers must also be aware of the County’s on-going ground water study and its impact on the subdivision ordinance. The special use the applicant seeks would cease to be in existence once the land ceases to be an exception once the land ceases to be under state protection as an agricultural/forestal district. It is not clear that the vineyard can be sustained as part of a residential development or productive agricultural land. Special permission now is in the interest of the developer since is ensures that the interfering interest of the public will not have a chance to manifest. To grant the special permission sought by the developer would not be the same thing as allowing them to break the law, but by effectively removing the publicly sponsored protection enjoyed by agricultural land would ensure that the law would be broken, useless and stripped of its power to protect the public still required to pay for it.
stated that he lives in the
stated that he lives on rural property in the southwest mountain district. He is concerned with the rapidly changing
stated that he lives in the southern part of
represents Defenders of Property Rights, the nation’s only national public
interest foundation dedicated to protect private property rights. Defenders
believe that the Vineyard Estates request is exactly the type of development
stated that he is a retired forester living in the Scottsville district. As a forester he was trained to manage
forestland to root products, wildlife habitat, and quality of water, recreation
and aesthetics values. The priorities for these values may vary with individual
owners. The way to accomplish this is to maintain biological diversity on a
landscape basis. Fortunately an
experienced forester can maximize any one of these values without seriously
minimizing any of the other values. He
noted the large amount of
representing the Earlysville Area Residents League, stated that they support
development consistent with the preservation of the quality of life and
environment as articulated in the County’s Comprehensive Plan. Each year they conduct a survey of the
Earlysville residents to get feedback on development, quality of life, and the
state of public feelings in our area.
The 2003 survey produced some interesting feedback. Relative to today’s discussion our survey
indicated that residents in the Earlysville area favored the rural attributes
of open space, agricultural activities and county roads as most worthy of
preservation. It is because these value features of
stated that she is representing Ben & Antionette Brewster. There has been a great deal of discussion and
still unresolved confusion about what the applicant can do by-right with these
parcels. The staff report concludes
that, it is safe to say, that the applicant can develop by right up to 30 lots
on these parcels, one more than the 29 proposed. Which fact the applicant used to argue that
this proposed development is not more intensive than that allowed by
right. That argument assumes that
intensity is measured solely in terms of number of lots with no consideration
given to the size or the configuration of those lots. An assumption, which flies
in the face of the Code itself, which does not simply count lots when looking
at a proposed development. The
fact is the question of what the applicant would do by right is a diversionary
one. The 30 lots the applicant could
allegedly have by right are not by any means the measure of the same 29 lots
the applicant wants. This is why we have
this application for a special permit rather than a by-right development. And the question is should the special permit
be granted. As the staff report
eloquently explains the answer to that question is no. This development does not qualify as a rural
preservation development. The applicant
candidly admitted that in the process calling the guidelines for such
developments antiquated, fundamentally flawed, and inconsistent with the new
paradigm, which is allegedly been created by contemporary vineyard planners of
mixing up scaled residential estates with producing vineyards. Whether such a new paradigm has been, in
fact, been created elsewhere is not the question. The fact is not the paradigm that this County
has chosen after much thought and deliberation.
Nor does this development qualify for a special use permit. It is not consistent with the purposes of
either the rural area district or the agricultural/forestal district. Nor does it comport with the precepts of the
rural area plan. Even though the granting
of a special use permit does not necessarily constituent binding precedent in
the strictly legal sense, the request still constitutes a radical departure
from the policy set forth in the County Code and would send the wrong signal to
future applicants all of whom, I think, you can expect will undoubtedly cite
this precedent, if granted, loudly and often.
So my clients along with the other 400 signatories of petitioners
opposing this petition ask that the Commission defend and protect the property
rights which are really at issue here.
And these are not the property rights of the applicant, which acquired
land subject to strictures, which it now seeks to have
lifted pursuant to a special use permit.
A special use permit for which it does not qualify. Instead the rights that need to be protected
are the rights of the adjacent landowners such as my clients. Not to mention the incoherent rights of all
those citizens of
John Marquis voiced his support for the Vineyard Estates project. He has lived in the area more than 20 years and his late father, John Marquis, Sr., actually owned the Blenheim tract that is part of this project. He and his father started a vineyard in 1980 at Blenheim Farm. Personally he finds the reasoning of lack of water to be unfounded as he can personally state that the area around Blenheim Farm has an abundant source of water. There are three wells at Blenheim Farm with roughly a 50-gallon per minute flow. Water was used to water and spray grapes and for different farm operations. This project is appealing as it serves the rural environment by devoting roughly 65% or more than 300 acres to vineyards, orchards and lakes. His complaint in the past on rural development in general is that so little land remains once all the houses are built. He hopes that more developers will emulate this type of project and preserve more land. This project can only benefit the community. He asked the Commission to support the project.
Mr. Rieley reiterated that outbursts from the audience will not be tolerated. If this happens again you will be asked to leave.
stated that she lives on a farm in southern
Madison Spencer stated that did not think the irony of this should all go unnoticed. This is a situation where a couple is committed to actually returning a thriving agricultural enterprise back to the County. To deny them the opportunity to continue their success with what they have already established as one of the most important vineyards in our State I think is foolhardy. This is an opportunity to take into account a precedent setting strategy that does what it should do. That is returning a thriving, re-enforce the agricultural enterprise. I also have to say that the two people behind it, Bill Moses and Patricia Kluge have done nothing but conduct themselves in the most forthright manner in terms of philanthropy or commitment to agricultural undertakings. It has been success after success. If there was an operation that we should be embracing in terms of setting a new standard by how we build and combine agricultural enterprises in this community, I think this is it. I have not seen anything before the Commission that speaks to the heart of the matter in the way this project does. It is a project we should embrace more than anything. I really do. I will leave it at that.
stated that he is living with the smart growth imposed on us in Middleburg,
where I live. I live next to a 53-acre
parcel of land where we now have 50-acre minimum growth. I am a contributor to PEC. My wife lived in
Tom Olivia stated that he lives in the Scottsville district. In the judgment of staff the Vineyard Estate proposal does not meet a range of requirements for rural residential development. As designed it would burden the sources on the surrounding landscape. Public roads in the vicinity are narrow and winding. VDOT has stated that additional traffic would generate unsafe conditions on Rt. 627. Part of the proposed development lies in an area classified as generally low in ground water. As a biologist I’m particularly dismayed by the sprawling layout of the proposed residential lots. Fragmentation of habitats by sprawl is recognized in the Albemarle County Comprehensive Plan as a major threat to survival of vital biological resources. To quote briefly from the Natural Resources Chapter of out Comprehensive Plan, Page 70, Paragraph 1, Sentence 1 “the decline of many plant and animal species in Albemarle can be attributed to large scale tree clearing or by development activities such as woodlands, subdivisions, power lines and roads. The clustering of development is a strategy developed by the County with wide public support to help protect essential natural resources.” I have concern that if this project is approved it will set a precedent that undermines County efforts to protect rural resources that are essential to the long term well being of our community. In short, I think this project would be a detriment to the Scottsville District’s rural areas and I urge the Commission not to grant the special permit needed for it to proceed.
Vanderwalker, representing the Albemarle Smart Growth Initiative and the
Piedmont Environmental Council.
We were delighted to hear of the applicant’s desire to start a new
vineyard in the area because we are most interested in economically useful and
productive use of rural lands. Vineyard
Longnecker lives on
Mr. Rieley stated that staff can provide answers to this question. Typically, the Commission does not engage in question and answer.
Ms. Longnecker asked if staff could let her know why this was not done in this case.
Rausse stated that he came to
stated that she lives on Rt. 627. She
agrees that there should be more vineyards in Blenheim, but not a development.
It is one of the most beautiful rural areas in
lives on Rt. 727 at Quandary Farm. She
is here tonight to express her concern over the request for the special use
permit by Vineyard Estates and the implications it has not only for this
neighborhood, but for the entire County.
She and her family are recent members of the community. They have loving and painstakingly restored
an 1860’s farmhouse and become stewards of the surrounding acreage. What drew us to the property was the
agriculture and rural nature of the area.
With narrow roads, loose cows that you often run into and the farms and
homes of significant beauty and heritage.
The proposed Vineyard Estates with the request for a special use permit
promises to forever change the nature of the area in
stated that he has been asked to give a brief overview of the historic houses
within this district. The district
Tim Morris stated that he just recently relocated to this area. He is in support of this particular project due to its harmonious blend that will be utilized within the environment. Instead of doing by right where you have a large area and each individual landowner has the ability to do what he wants on his particular property. This is a flowing project which will have less of an impact, better utilization of tax dollars. I just really support it.
representing Preservation Piedmont, which is a local preservation organization,
composed of several hundred members who all live in the Central Virginia
Piedmont. The applicant’s proposal as
presented tonight is only beneficial to the applicant. It is not beneficial to the majority of the
county citizens. It is not beneficial to
the local environment. It is not
beneficial to the areas historic resources.
And it is clearly not beneficial to the residents who live in the
Cindy Patterson stated that she lives in the Blenheim neighborhood. I would like to tell you a little bit about the water out there. Eighteen years ago we brought our home. The first weekend we were living in the home I turned the water on and out came mud. We have had about eight wells dug before we hit good water on our land. It is not just a problem with my section of the road. The area is predominant with water problems. She has talked to countless people who have had to have wells dug. These are extremely deep wells—300 to 400 feet deep and still not a great water supply. Half of the land that is proposed to be developed falls in a category 3 which by the County standards is the lowest level water grade you can have in the county. The rest of the property that is proposed for development is in category 2 zone, which is a medium. C R Moore Well Drilling has records dating back past the 70’s in this area noting water problems. Morven Farm gets ¾ of a gallon per minute. One house in the area had to have a tank system, where the well is constantly pumping into the tank to store the water because there was not enough available water in the ground to the home. Frankly this has nothing to do with a water issue, but you need to know that we have terrible where we live. To us who live here and love the area, it is an issue. It is a major issue when you don’t have water. The main issue of this tonight is the special use permit. When we were put in the agricultural/forestal district we took pride in it. We felt it afforded our area some protection. To grant this is really infringing on the agricultural/forestal district and the integrity that it stood for over the year. I want to ask the Commission to deny this request so that it will not open the county to development.
stated that he lives in the Scottsville district and has lived in
stated that she does not have a great deal to add to what the Commission has
already heard tonight. She lives in
Roijen stated that he is a member of the Agricultural/Forestal Committee;
however, he is before the Commission solely as a concerned citizen and not a
spokesman for that group. This
application has given me a lot of sleepless nights because in the past rural
areas have had to defend themselves against commercial developers and
residential developers chipping away at the character of the county. He was afraid that a new force to defend
against was ruling its ugly head. That of a vineyard development. I was wrong. This is not a proposed from a
new foe; it is simply a residential developer in disguise. Mrs. Kluge has stated that they must develop
the property because only a portion of the acreage is ideal for vineyards and
the cost to establish the vineyard is very high. The costs are high because the best land for
vineyard is not being used and the layout is designed for best residential return
rather than an agricultural one. At this
point I would refer you to the report and file developed by the County
staff. The letter from Tony Will,
Professor of Horticulture at Virginia Tech describes the current property and
proposal. He states these vineyard
locations are generally located on elevations of 500 to 600 feet above sea
higher elevations would be preferable (i.e. 800 to 1500 feet above sea level). As may be seen on the map provided by
Virginia Tech there are also many excellent locations for vineyards as such in
stated that he lives in
stated that he is a landowner on Rt. 627.
He thanked the Commission for serving.
He is opposed to this development.
The area is such a gem and without exaggeration for people living in the
Werner representing the Piedmont Environmental Council. PEC was creat4ed in 1972 to protect the rural
landscape of the
Marquis stated that Albemarle County Water Resources Manager notes in a memo
dated in an August memo “that the project in an area considered to have the County’s lowest groundwater availability.” What is this person’s name and where and when
was this memo published? I am not a
report, however, as a person trained with a scientific venue I would certainly
want substantiation of the writer of this mystery memo as well as what specific
type of data was used to gather this information. As the geologist explained
Mark Holmes stated that he just moved to the area from Crozet. One of the biggest things I like about the property is the fact that when you stop and you look around what you hear is nothing; which means it’s quiet. When you are in Crozet, you stop and listen; you hear many cars whizzing by. As for the issue of the well, we just had a well dug with 1 gallon per minute. I would also like you to think about the winding country road, which is quiet. If this is made a straight road, you will have the racecar drivers, people cutting through, etc. I hope you make sure that everything stays the way it is; which is nice and quiet.
Glen Gibson stated that he moved into Albemarle County 22 years ago. I have a well that is 150’ deep that was producing just enough water for the house and slowly going down hill. Three years ago, it gave out. It took six months for the well drillers to finally get there. I have a well now that is 320’ deep that is producing enough water for my house and my family. However, I live one mile below Blenheim Farm, so I am not getting ten gallons a minute as it is on Blenheim Farm. The County has lot millionaires; we also have many people that are poor like me. Therefore, you cannot compare this person with that person. Same thing with wells. This is a very poor area. Mrs. Patterson said she had to drill eight wells before they got water. She is only about 300 yards from Blenheim Farm
Eldridge speaking for her father, James Monroe, who lives in the Blenheim area. We go to
Cory Miller stated that her father is in the army and she has lived in ten different places over the years. Of all the places that she has been, this is one the most beautiful places. I’d hate to see the beautiful woods and wildlife get wasted by development.
With no further comment, Mr. Rieley pointed out that the applicant has five minutes to speak to these concerns.
Blaine, representing the applicant.
He expressed on behalf of his client’s appreciation for all of the remarks
heard tonight. We have had some town
meetings where we have tried to interact with neighbors. We have heard some of the same concerns and
questions raised here tonight. We’d like
to see this as a continuation. I know
there were some specific questions the Commission had and I would like to take
the opportunity to address some of those.
Mr. Rieley, I think you asked the client why the by-right plan did not
address some of the zoning concerns. We
chose to come before the Commission and get a sense of what the policy
implications were of this approach to a RPD.
As we know, the RPD analysis requires us to do a comparison on what can
be done under the permitted zoning. We
used this as a baseline to analyze the proposed zone. That is why when you hear about the permitted
zoning—30 lots—we do a comparison of the impacts of the proposal versus the
permitted zoning. Sometimes the reaction
when the developer or property owner says “I can do this by right” tends to sound
arrogant. Had this come across in this
process, I want to apologize for that that is not the intention of the
applicant. It is part of the relative
analysis. When we talk about traffic we
are not comparing the traffic that will be generated by this site to no
traffic, we are comparing making relative comparison of what the proposal will
have to the permitted uses. When we talk
about other impacts we are talking about the number of houses. We have a model, we
are not suggesting that it is going to replace the current model for the
RPD. We are asking the Commission to
consider a new innovative model, one that combines a profitable and vital
agricultural use. What we have
experienced in some of the rural analysis going through the Comprehensive Plan,
we are seeing a loss of farmland. We are
seeing less and less farm use every year.
This is partly because of the economics.
What we have in
To conclude, we take issue with staff on a number of issues noted in the staff report, but we feel we can work with staff to address to those issues. We did not conduct a complete by right plan, we were focusing on the plan that we planned to pursue. We felt we had established sufficient alternative use with the division rights. If we need to demonstrate that we can do another plan, we will do this. We will, if necessary, have a hydrologist meet with staff and satisfy the concerns related to ground water. The reason why Blenhem has 10 gallons per minute and only a gallon a minutes on adjacent properties is the nature of the groundwater in the community. We would not propose this development without conducting on site testing. There is a way to test for adequate ground water and is not necessarily from aerial photographs or from maps. We are prepared to do it on the ground.
Mr. Finley stated that the report explains clearly why the applicant is not meeting the zoning and planned requirements for a rural preservation development. He asked if the applicant felt they could prepare a plan that would meet County requirements for a rural preservation development, particularly clustering
Mr. Blaine stated that the applicant feels they can meet the requirements of the ordinance. The ordinance does not have one-design criteria. It does have design criteria that have been implemented as a tradition in the community. The ordinance actually says that the Planning Commission, where practical, should follow these criteria. What we are proposing is a practical alternative. It is actually impractical to pursue the agricultural development and apply a traditional clustering because you would be intruding on what is planned for agricultural, the orchards and the open spaces. We take issue with the staff in identifying, based on soils, not all of the aspect in elevation and other criteria that are used to identify appropriate vineyard properties. Again, we have a vineyard culturist who has actually been on the site and located these prime vineyard sites. We would be happy to take staff to the site and show them that we are intruding on prime vineyard land. So, yes, can we do an alternative plan? Certainly, but this is a plan that meets both the agricultural component and meets the clients vision to create a vineyard community.
Mr. Thomas asked what portion of the proposed development is in the agricultural/forestal district.
stated that approximately 378 acres are in the agricultural/forestal
district. He pointed out that no
property is being removed from the agricultural/forestal district. The client was guided by the County and the
Mr. Rieley asked if anyone else present would like to speak on Vineyard Estates. There being none, he closed the public hearing to bring the matter back before the Commission for discussion and possible action.
stated that his grandparents went to went to
Mr. Loewenstein stated that he was puzzled as to how this petition got this far, it is really not ready for prime time. First of all he commended staff for preparing a very detailed staff report which has made this difficult job slightly easier. How did we get here? This issue is approved would conflict with the agricultural/forestal provisions; which was the opinion of the Agricultural/Forestal Committee. It does not meet the rural area goals from the Comprehensive Plan. It does not meet the current design standards for RPD’s. VDOT has suggested that increased traffic can cause unsafe conditions on Rt. 627. There is a potential for low groundwater availability among other things. There is an enormous amount of citizen input regarding this application. The vast majority of citizen input has been in opposition to this request. He pointed out that he has been on the Commission for four terms and never in his experience has he seen this much citizen input about any application. During his for terms, he has operated on the principal that the Commission should do the greatest good for the greatest number of citizens in this community. As the at-large commissioner he is very focused on this goal. Having said this, he is unable to recommend approval of this special use permit. Echoing, Mr. Craddock, he would vote for denial of this request.
Mr. Finley stated that he lives on a farm in the rural area. He values his development rights and respects them as rights. He has a constitutional right to own private property and feel that his property rights starts at his property line although he may wish otherwise. There are approximately 30 development rights on this property and one way or the other something will be done with them. As the Commission, knowing this will happen, we need to decide what route to take. Is a rural preservation development the best way to go? By right? Or just close our minds and let it lie dormant—those rights will never spring up. He is not ready to vote yes for the project, but he is not fully ready to vote denial. He recognizes the enormous amount of work that has been done. He reiterated that something will happen, the Commission can not take away those rights, what is the best way to go?
Mr. Edgerton stated that the proposed subdivision really is the issue here. In revising the application and the plan, there is no question that the subdivision as proposed is not allowed in the agricultural/forestal district. It is actually asking for more lots than would be traditionally allowed in a RPD. Having worked on several RPD’s he is familiar with the ordinance and this request does not approximate the RPD standards. Personally, he has problems with the model that is being proposed by the applicant. He deeply values the agricultural/forestal ordinance and can not support granting the special use permit for a project that is working counter to what the ordinance stands for.
Mr. Thomas stated that he agrees with Mr. Edgerton on the fact that this is not a project that is incompliance with anything in the agricultural/forestal district. He supports property rights and is being pulled left and right on making a decision. He is an avid fan of property rights. I believe the applicant has all the rights to develop their land. In order to support the vineyard, he feels this is a creative way to utilize the property rather than just a by right development. It is neat the way it is tucked into the vineyards. Even though 313 acres will remain untouched, it still is not in compliance with the agricultural/forestal district; which he also supports. The decision is whether it is worth giving up the land to a by right development or save it for a vineyard or some other purpose. The terrain is roughed in certain places. At this time he is not ready to vote he would like to hear more discussion from the other commissioners.
Mr. Rieley stated that he would like to thank all of the speakers who are remaining for tone of the comments tonight. This hearing was one in which, he felt, the substance could be heard. He agrees with the comments made by Mr. Craddock, Mr. Loewenstein and Mr. Edgerton. The staff builds an irrefutable argument against the passage of the special use permit. He takes issue with items #6, #7, and #8 in the staff report, because he feels they apply equally to a by right development as they do to a rural preservation development. The fact that this is in an agricultural/forestal district is the overwhelming issue. If this were approved by special use permit, which would not be approvable administratively if it were less than 20 acres, because it would require a special use permit. He felt the agricultural/forestal district essentially governs this. A scheme whatever its lure, is directly contradictory to the objectives of the Comprehensive Plan. The mosaic of residential and agricultural land locked together served by a huge amount of roadway. In looking at the schemes which the applicant said were to establish a baseline, the amount of roads in the by right scheme looked like there were not as many as in the cluster developments. Certainly, they were very comparable. The by right scheme is more clustered than the proposed scheme, which is spread out all over the entire property. There may be 30 development rights, to be at this stage to have a special use permit before the Commission and we don’t know how many development rights we are talking about is incredible. It is appalling. It is an incomplete application. The plan does not comply with the Zoning Ordinance. For all of those reasons, but primarily because of the agricultural/forestal district I certainly could not support this special use permit.
Mr. Finley stated that the residences proposed in this request are not in the agricultural/forestal district.
Mr. Rieley stated that the residences were in the agricultural/forestal district.
Mr. Finley asked why in 2008 there may be more parcels.
Mr. Rieley stated that in 2008 the property could be voluntarily withdrawn from the agricultural/forestal district.
Mr. Finely stated that they are not talking about the additional ones that may become available in 2008. Does the request for a special use permit include the property that may be withdrawn from the agricultural/forestal district in 2008?
Mr. Rieley stated that this was a different level of development in 2008. The parcels that are within the agricultural/forestal district are, in fact, included in this proposal.
Mr. Finley ascertained that out to the 28 parcels, 18 are in the agricultural/forestal district.
Mr. Thomas stated that he would like to know the number of development rights on this property.
Mr. Rieley stated that this was required by the applicant as part of the application process; which has not been done yet.
Ms. Doherty stated that a determination can be made by the Zoning Administrator. The applicant can request a determination of the number of development rights or he can show the number of division rights you have and staff will do the research to determine whether or not this is correct. In this case they went with the later, but they were not shown correctly according to our ordinance. This is why we can not definitely say that they met the ordinance requirements. Division rights are different from how many potential lots they could create because of the agricultural/forestal district. With the agricultural/forestal district at least 30 development rights and up to 43 development rights is the agricultural/forestal district goes away.
Mr. Craddock moved for denial of SP-03-19 The Vineyard Estates.
Mr. Loewenstein seconded the motion. The motion carried by a vote of 6:0.
Mr. Finley stated that he found, on page 15 of the staff report, as Mr. Craddock had previously said that part of these parcels were in the agricultural/forestal district and for that reason he would vote aye.
Mr. Rieley stated that the motion to deny SP-03-19 would go to the Board of Supervisors and this will be heard by the Board at their December 10th meeting. He asked if there was any old business.
Mr. Loewenstein stated that because of the unexpected retirement of
Mr. Craddock seconded the motion.
The motion carried by a vote of 6:0.
Mr. Rieley stated that Mr. Thomas was the Vice-Chairman.
Conflict of Interest Act:
Mr. Kamptner distributed a memorandum to the Commission prepared by Mr.
Rural Area Work Sessions: Mr. Benish stated at the last Commission meeting they attempted to set some dates for future work sessions in the Rural Areas and the Crozet Plan. He stated that there was an agreement on the Crozet Plan to go to October 28th. At the meeting the Commission opened up and closed a public hearing on the Meadows and deferred that to October 21st. That is the only item on that meeting and the applicant will be requesting, again, a deferral. He pointed out that the Commission would have to convene just on one item just to open and close the public hearing for another deferral. Therefore, he proposed that they take the Crozet work session from October 28th and move it to October 21st to give the Commission more items to cover and make the October 28th meeting a little shorter.
Mr. Rieley stated that sounded like a good idea.
Mr. Thomas asked if there was a work session scheduled for October 4th.
stated that there will be a joint City/County work session on the 14th. Topics of discussion include the
further items, the meeting adjourned at p.m. to the