Albemarle County Planning Commission

November 15, 2005

Draft Minutes for SP-2005-021, American Spirit Institute,

ZMA-2005-012 Sandridge and

ZMA-2004-011, SP-2004-036 and SP-2004-037 Charlottesville Power Equipment


The Albemarle County Planning Commission held a meeting and a public hearing on Tuesday, November 15, 2005, at 6:00 p.m., at the County Office Building, Room 241, Second Floor, 401 McIntire Road, Charlottesville, Virginia. Members attending were William Rieley, Rodney Thomas, Pete Craddock, Jo Higgins, Calvin Morris; Bill Edgerton, Chairman; and Marcia Joseph, Vice-Chair.  Absent was David J. Neuman, FAIA, Architect for University of Virginia.  Ms. Higgins arrived at 6:11 p.m.


Other officials present were David Pennock, Principal Planner; Judy Wiegand, Senior Planner; Sean Dougherty, Senior Planner; Stephen Waller, Senior Planner; Rebecca Ragsdale, Senior Planner; Juandiego Wade, Transportation Planner; David Benish, Chief of Planning; Bill Fritz, Chief of Current Development and Greg Kamptner, Deputy County Attorney.


Call to Order and Establish Quorum:


Mr. Edgerton called the regular meeting to order at 6:07p.m. and established a quorum.


            Deferred Items:


ZMA 2004-011 Charlottesville Power Equipment (Sign #37) - Request to rezone approximately 2.142 acres from C-1 (Commercial) to HC (Highway Commercial) to allow 12,000 square feet of commercial space in two buildings with proffered plan. The proposal also includes requests for special use permits for fill in the floodplain and for outdoor sales and display in an Entrance Corridor (see SP-04-36 and SP-04-37). The property, described as Tax Map 78, Parcels 4A1 and 4B, is located in the Rivanna Magisterial District on the northwest corner of the intersection of Route 20 and Route 250 East behind McDonald's Restaurant.  The Comprehensive Plan designates these lands as regional service in the Neighborhood Three (Pantops) Development Area. General usage for regional service is regional-scale retail and service, wholesale, office, lodging and conference, employment center, and residential (6 - 34 units/acre). General usage within the C-1 commercial zoning district permits retail sales, service, public use and residential by special use permit (15 units/acre). (Judy Wiegand)


SP 2004-036 Charlottesville Power Equipment – Fill in floodplain - Request for a special use permit to allow fill in the floodplain in accordance with Section of the Zoning Ordinance which allows for filling of land. 


SP 2004-037 Charlottesville Power Equipment – Outdoor Sales and display - Request for a special use permit to allow outdoor sales and display associated with permitted uses, which would be visible from an Entrance Corridor Street in accordance with Section of the Zoning Ordinance.  DEFERRED FROM THE OCTOBER 25, 2005 PLANNING COMMISSION MEETING.


Ms. Wiegand summarized the staff report.


The applicant, Charlottesville Power Equipment, is requesting rezoning from C-1, Commercial to HC, Highway Commercial to allow construction of a 12,000 square foot, two-story building for equipment sales, offices, and limited repair and storage facilities. The application is accompanied by two SPs, one for fill in the floodplain and the other for outdoor storage and display in an Entrance Corridor. The applicant has also requested a critical slopes waiver.


The character of the area is basically uses surrounding the property include two fast food restaurant, two gas stations and a muffler repair facility.  Free Bridge Lane, which is adjacent to the river, borders on one side of the property.  The greenway is proposed for this area and would incorporate Free Bridge Lane as a paved trail in the area between Free Bridge Lane and the Rivanna River as the greenway.  Access to this site will be from Route 20 with an easement that runs parallel to the driveway of the adjacent McDonald’s. 


On November 16, 2004, staff presented Charlottesville Power Equipment to the Planning Commission in a work session. The applicant requested the work session in response to staff’s comments on the first project submittal. In their comments, staff expressed concern about the appropriateness of this use in this location, especially in close proximity to the Rivanna River and proposed greenway. Staff raised several questions for the Commission to consider and to provide guidance to staff. It was the consensus of the Commission at that time that the proposed use would be appropriate at this location, depending on the design.  Copies of the staff report and minutes from that meeting were included in the packet.


Regarding the rezoning, staff notes that this site represents an infill development challenge.  It is currently zoned C-1, which is a district that allows retail eating establishments and other services by right. However, the applicant’s market research indicates that the site’s poor visibility from the two roads because it is behind the gas station and the fast food restaurant makes it unlikely that a use of that type will be successful because they are relying on impulse of people driving by the site to stop for a burger or whatever.  The site slopes steeply down to the Rivanna River and there is a floodplain covering a large percentage of the site.  This results in a limited amount of developable land. Therefore, the applicant has chosen to proceed specialized retail or offices because that would be a destination for shoppers.  They chose machinery and equipment sales and service which are only allowed in an HC District.  Therefore, they are requesting a rezoning to HC. 


The applicant has submitted three proffers with the application.  The first proffer states that the development will be in general accord with the application plan.  The second proffer limits the number of uses allowed under the proposed zoning to machinery and equipment sales, service and rental as allowed under the HC District in addition to those by right uses in the C-1 District that is the current zoning.  The third proffer addressed the form, massing and character of the building facades that comes from the Architectural Review Board.  This proffer indicates that there will be in general accord with building elevations that were included in the packet.  Staff believes that the proposed development meets the objectives of the Comprehensive Plan and the principles of the Neighborhood Model. 


Turning to the special use permit for the fill in the floodplain, the applicant proposes to place a small amount of fill approximately 62 square feet in the floodplain outside of the stream buffer to accommodate grading necessary for the buildings and parking areas.  The built area is small in comparison to the width of the floodplain and the river in this vicinity.  Staff does not believe that the fill will have a significant impact on the flood carrying capacity of the river.  Placing the fill will create some 2:1 slopes and will require retaining walls on both sides of the access road and at the corner of the parking lot down next to the Wilco facility. 


The special use permit for outdoor storage and display in the Entrance Corridor, the applicant proposes to store and display from the outside of the building from the locations that are indicated on the display plan that is include with your packet.  Basically, some display equipment will be displayed outside of the front of the building with small pieces of equipment.  There will be some under the tower and within the walls of the tower.  Some of the equipment waiting for repair will be stored outside in the lot at the rear of the building.  Staff believes that the proposed special use meets the requirements of the Comprehensive Plan and the zoning ordinance. The Architectural Review Board reviewed this proposal and has no objection to the request for the rezoning.  They also have no objection to the request for the special use permit and have added conditions that would prevent the equipment from being visible to drivers and pedestrians at either Entrance Corridor.


Regarding the request for the critical slopes waiver, the critical slopes are along the natural hillside between McDonald’s and Free Bridge Lane.  Also, in the former stockpile that is behind the Wilco site.  There is also a disturbance of man-made critical slopes along the entrance way, which is off that site within the easement.  It is on the embankment created by McDonald’s adjacent to Route 20 above the storm water basin.  The off site disturbance in a small corner of the on site disturbance are necessary to create the entrance and travel way to the site. 


One of this Commission’s concerns expressed during the work session is the impact of the development at the site of the proposed greenway.  This section of the greenway will be part of a larger County system and is expected to receive significant use.  The appearance of this site from the greenway is important.  Removal of the unsightly brush and debris from the area will benefit usage of the greenway. Further the applicant’s provision of a resting area with benches in front of the greenway connection to the site will be appreciated to the users.  She believed that the applicant’s have some photographs for the Commission.


Staff has reviewed the proposal for conformity with the Comprehensive Plan and the Zoning Ordinance and recommends approval of the Zoning Map Amendment with proffers and special use permits with conditions, if a critical slopes waiver is approved.


Staff recommends approval of SP-2004-36 for fill in the floodplain, subject to the following conditions:


1.       A letter of map amendment must be obtained from FEMA.

2.       Copies of state and federal permits (DEQ, Army Corps of Engineers) must be provided.


Staff recommends approval of SP 2004-37 for outdoor storage and display in the Entrance Corridor, subject to the following conditions:


1.       Site lighting shall be limited to the satisfaction of the ARB, as illustrated in the ARB-approved lighting plan, dated October 12, 2005, and prepared by Terra Partners, LLC.           .

2.       The storage yard fence shall be of material, character, and design that are coordinated with the building, as approved by the ARB.

3.       Regarding items for storage/display:

a.       Equipment shall be stored/displayed only in areas indicated for storage/display on the “Display Area Exhibit” plan dated October 12, 2005.

b.       Items located in the storage lot on the north side of the building shall not exceed 10 feet in height.

c.       Items located in the storage/display areas under the two easternmost awnings on the south side of the building shall be limited to small lawn mowers, rototillers, and other similarly sized items. Items on display shall not extend into sidewalk, landscape, or parking areas.

d.       Items located under the tower shall be fully contained within the structure of the roofed tower, as shown on the architectural elevation drawing sheet A3 (East/front Elevation) and A5 (South Elevation), dated December 28, 2004.

e.       Items for sale/storage/display shall not be elevated anywhere on the site.

4.       Retaining wall materials are subject to ARB approval and shall be indicated on the ARB-approved site development plan.


Lastly, staff can recommend approval of the critical slopes waiver because most of the slopes being disturbed are man-made and the proposed regarding and vegetation shown in the concept plan conform to the recommended erosion and sediment control measures.



Mr. Edgerton asked if on the critical slopes if this would be coming back to the Commission again.


Ms. Wiegand replied that the site development plan will be coming back to the Commission.


Mr. Edgerton stated that they have been shown that the critical slopes shown under the building are all man-made.


Ms. Wiegand stated that many of those are that were pushed from the Wilco site back there.  What will happen is that their building will take advantage of those slopes by basically being one story in front and two stories in the back.


Mr. Edgerton asked to waive a flag about that because it would be unfair to approve the rezoning with this specificity outlined if they were not comfortable with the critical slopes, even though it was not before the Commission this evening.  He felt that it was actually before the Commission this evening indirectly.


Mr. Rieley stated that he did not think that all of the critical slopes are man-made.


Ms. Wiegand agreed that not all of the critical slopes were man-made.  The ones right next to Free Bridge Lane is not man-made critical slopes.


Mr. Edgerton stated that on page 7 when staff is evaluating the proposal against the Neighborhood Model the first one regarding pedestrian orientation that there is a sidewalk that is proposed to connect the buildings with the existing sidewalk along Route 20.  He noted that he was not sure which what sidewalk that was.  He asked staff to point that out on the plan.


Ms. Wiegand pointed out that the sidewalk locations would enable pedestrians to walk to the parking lot and go all the way out to Free Bridge Lane.


Mr. Edgerton asked if there were any other questions for staff.


Mr. Craddock asked if Free Bridge Lane was a dead end road.


Mr. Benish stated that technically it is by VDOT standards.  The cul-de-sac was a connection that was made by an agreement to allow from the end property to have access to Elk Drive.  But, he thought that it was treated as a cul-de-sac road.


Mr. Rieley stated that he had several questions.  Under the evaluations of this relative to the Neighborhood Model under mixture of uses it says this is a small site under which a single use is proposed so this principle does not apply.  Is staff’s reading of the Neighborhood Model that if a single use is proposed then the mixture of uses is no longer applicable.


Ms. Wiegand stated no that she would not turn it around that way.  Staff just said that because they were proposing that use in that building that there was no mixture of uses.


Mr. Rieley asked if she did not think that it would be better and more consistent with the Neighborhood Model to have a mixture of uses rather than a single use.  It just seems that it was dismissed in a remarkable way.  If they were to apply this to somebody else who were making a proposal within a single use it just struck him as surprising.


Mr. Benish stated that as he recalled staff’s discussion that they felt like with that being the remaining site with limited develop ability it for the most part linked itself to have a single use to fill in the site given the zoning and given the by right type of uses that could be made.  He felt that they could have articulated that clearly.  But, as he recalled that was sort of their thinking that they kind of dismissed that as a result by right that it was going to be a single use.


Mr. Rieley stated that what bothered him about that was the proposal aspect of it and he felt that was irrelevant. He thought that if you say that this is a site that is only suitable for a single use that is a very different argument than saying well this is what was proposed.  He was also a little confused about the description of the relegated parking.  It says that there were few spaces along the front and most of it is in the back.  When in fact the parking is at 90 degrees and a few spaces are at 90 degrees to the majority of it so that the front is the front and the other one has to be the side and not the back.  And furthermore, that side is the side that is closest to Route 250.  So in fact if they regard the front of this building the way they typically regard the front of buildings as the proximity to and the orientation towards the major roadways and in fact it is on the front side of the building.  It is only technically on the side of the building because of the way that you come in.  But, they sure did not make that reading of what the front of the building was when they were looking at Kappa Sigma because they would not have had to get an ARB revision for their height if it had not have been reviewed that way.  So really this is not relegated parking if they look at it by those standards.


Ms. Wiegand stated that she looked at it in the sense of the idea that relegated parking is to screen it from view and since they put it on that side it was not visible from the Entrance Corridors because of the topography.   Also, it is less likely to be visible from the greenway area if they put it there.


Mr. Edgerton stated that there was one issue that kind of jumped out at him, which he wanted to bring up before they got into discussions.  He urged the Commissioners to consider this.  On page 9 it is explained in great detail that the applicant’s market research as in the third paragraph indicated that the uses permitted under the current zoning, C-1, would not be financially feasible due to the lack of visibility.  Then it goes on to say what they are proposing.  Then in the next paragraph, public need and justification for the change, it says the staff believes that this rezoning from C-1 to HC will make the property more develop able of the purpose of regional service sales.  He stated that he did not believe that it was the County’s responsibility to try to help make property more develop able.  Philosophically he really had problems with that approach.  He asked if other Commissioners share this concern.


Mr. Rieley stated that some Commissioners do.


Mr. Thomas felt that it was up to the County to make things more economically viable as the best that they can do within the perimeters of our ordinances.


Ms. Higgins stated that the property was within the growth area designation and it was part of the infill.


Mr. Edgerton stated that one could argue that maybe if it is not viable that maybe it shouldn’t be developed.


Mr. Thomas stated that it sounds like an opinion.


Mr. Edgerton suggested that it be discussed further later in the meeting.  There being no further questions for staff, he opened the public hearing and asked the applicant to address the Commission.


Katurah Roel, representative for the applicant, stated that he appreciated their comments.  As far as the use of the area, the biggest motivation for the rezoning is for the specific intended use.  Someone working for them at the time that use to work here prepared that letter.  But, the basis of it is the desire to provide some place for Charlottesville Power Equipment to expand its operation.  It is currently on Market Street right next to the wheel alignment shop and is kind of jammed in a hole there.  They felt like in order to find some place for him in the County that it was more of a discrete location and not so much on the street.  They felt that behind the Wilco Station might be appropriate to provide him a use for his equipment with some display and yet it is not real visible from Route 250 and well landscaping behind the Wilco that will help screen it.  Certainly an office building and many uses in the C-1could be built on this site in a very similar building that would be equally appealing.  They have been working with this applicant for a year and a half in this process to try to provide him with this particular location.  They have spent quite a bit of time with the ARB, engineering and planning staff trying to address a safe entrance, minimal impacts in the floodplain.  They are not disturbing any of the critical slopes along the portion of the greenway at all.  Largely the portion that they are disturbing is the result of either the residual slopes pushed off from the Wilco site that were flattened and the little curbed knoll of critical slopes that you see is now filled with paradise trees and various shrubs.  They have worked extensively with McDonald’s and the engineering staff to come up with something that would provide a safe transition area from the McDonald’s entrance, which is the point of impact since they were obviously not using Free Bridge Lane.  They were preserving that because they have closed off the three previously entrances off of Free Bridge Lane as well as provided for pedestrian access.  As pointed out, they tied that sidewalk all the way through all the way back through that bench.  Then again, even where it crosses the fringe of those critical slopes they have already talked with Dan Mahon about trying to weave that sidewalk through there so that it is pedestrian friendly and does not disturb things.  As well as you see dashed through that portion there is an 18 foot fiber option line that also does not allow impact, but is also maintained, mowed and cleared.  He noted that he brought pictures of Free Bridge Lane so that they could have a current example of the growth that will be left from a visual standpoint along there.  The rezoning is simple a matter for the use of the intended user.  Again, Mr. Rieley, to address your concern about the mixed use, there is actually two spaces in the building.  The large square if for the power equipment use and then the small offset space to the left is for a secondary independent user not necessarily associated with power equipment.  At this point that use does not require a special use permit and is intended for office and some other retail.  So they did create a dual use in the building.  If for some reason this special use permit for his equipment display or the rezoning is denied, then they will provide it for typical retail use.  They felt that tractors went hand and hand with gas stations and muffler shops and would be somewhat important.  Ever effort has been made to make it a pleasing attractive building and it is well screened from the greenway with a minimal impact on the floodplain.  They have gone through several ARB reviews and presented their retaining wall materials, which were found to be acceptable.  The gentleman that represents McDonald’s Corporation that owns the land has reviewed three or four different versions of the entrance and has agreed to the latest version that Glen Brooks of engineering has accepted, which provides for safety from current parking spots and ingress and egress to the entrance.  Again, they used retaining walls to create a minimum impact in the floodway.  They have already applied to FEMA and expect their comments or amendment within 60 days hopefully.  That has been in for six months.  That will be completed very shortly.  On page 23, it shows the amended entrance that they worked out with County engineering that will provide for proper safety ingress and egress that misses the existing parking spots and creates a transition stop and a flow through the right into this spot.  Again, this power equipment use is for lawn mowers, small tractors and so forth has a minimal amount of traffic, which is one of the pluses that they are in favor of.  It is not a restaurant or something that conducts retail sales or a hardware store that are uses in the C-1 zone by right.  It does reduce the amount of traffic that comes and goes from that location given that use.  He passed around the photographs for review.    


Ms. Joseph stated that previously they had discussed how this was going to be viewed from the walking trail or the greenway trail itself.  They talked about that and how this related to that.  What she was concerned about was when you are walking that trail if there is a way that the parking area in the back and the building itself could be screened.  The wax myrtle proposed will get about 10 to 15 feet high.  She felt that those in conjunction with some taller evergreens would allow this use to settle in so that you won’t be looking at the back of the building.


Mr. Roel stated that he thought there were some hollies along that back area.


Ms. Joseph stated that there were some tiny hollies that he had suggested.  But, the dwarf variety usually means that the plants are short. 


Mr. Roel agreed to use some taller hollies in combination with some evergreens along that back wall that would probably be better.  When the leaves fall off the evergreens would still provide an evergreen screen.  He stated that they would be happy to accommodate that.


Mr. Edgerton invited public comment from other members of the public.


Alice Ewing, of 1900 Chesapeake Street and President of the Woolen Mill Association, stated that they have been keeping an eye on what is going on at Pantops, particularly along the river.  They are concerned about the adjacency to the river and the amount of displaced vegetation that currently now is absorbing runoff.  With the large parking lot and building combined with the steep slope between it and the river creates a situation that the landscaping won’t have a chance of absorbing the water runoff before it reaches the river. So that is the concern.  The amount of cut and fill from looking at the drawings that is being suggested, that she thinks that a balanced cut and fill would be a much more appropriate approach. Also, they are concerned with the use.  They would love to see a use that would further the enjoyment of the green belt and the river, and this is clearly not such a use.  In looking through your report all of the critical slope issues have all been echoed here, but yet the staff recommendation seems to just brush them aside.  She finds that troubling especially with the neighborhood plan. She felt that with the location of Martha Jefferson Hospital on Pantops that there is really a lot of pressure in this area and there is a lot of opportunity to start turning it around with the kind of uses they are seeing with the McDonald’s and the car lots to other kinds of uses that would make it a much more interesting corridor. She hoped that the Commission would help direct the development to be more of a positive approach to the corridor.


There being no further public comment, Mr. Edgerton closed the public hearing to bring the matter before the Commission for discussion and a possible action.


Ms. Higgins asked if staff could expand a little regarding the lighting plan.  She asked if the lighting plan has already been approved.


Ms. Wiegand stated that the applicant has a conceptual lighting plan that the ARB has seen twice and the ARB is comfortable with it at this time.  The ARB has reviewed the proposal and has made a recommendation on the rezoning and special use permits.


Mr. Rieley noted that the ARB’s preview is only from the Entrance Corridor.  Therefore, they don’t have any control over the scale of the building from the riverside nor do they have any interest in it.


Ms. Wiegand noted that they might have a personal interest in it.


Ms. Higgins stated that from that perspective, the scale of the building if it was under a C-1 use and they were not looking at a rezoning they would not have control over that any way.


Mr. Rieley stated that was quite true, but when this came before the Commission previously they had serious concerns about this design, its configuration and its impact on the river and the critical slopes.  His recollection was that they stated pretty explicitly that they did not have a problem with the use depending on whether or not it could be successfully resolved at the detailed align.  From that perspective these details are enormously important and also pertinent.  The Commission did not give any indication that they would support this rezoning if those issues could not be resolved.  One of the things causing concern is as if the scale of the building, the parking and all of that is sort of a given, but they did not say do the best you can with what you have got and that will be okay.  They said demonstrate to us that this intensity of use and this particular use on this particular piece of property can be done gracefully and well into a level that justifies changing the zoning. This is a requested changed.  Therefore, if they came in with a site plan that was done within the existing zoning then those issues would not be pertinent.  But, he felt that they were extremely pertinent in these circumstances.


Ms. Higgins stated that when the Commission reviewed this proposal in the work session they felt that it was premature and needed to go through a thorough vetting with the ARB and that they put some responsibilities back on the ARB to deal with those kind of issues like the scale.


Mr. Rieley stated that was not his recollection at all because they very specifically said that the ARB has very limited control on this because they were only looking at it from an Entrance Corridor.  Actually, the really serious issues were from the river and the ARB does not even look at it.


Mr. Thomas stated that the Commission felt that the proposal needed to be reviewed very carefully because of the river.  They were really concerned about the view from the river and what it looked like from both ways.  He pointed out that was in the minutes.


Mr. Rieley pointed out that staff report refers to the building as being two stories, but if you add up the elevations it is a three story building.  It is 40 feet high as far as he can tell.  It may not be two floors because of the size of the equipment that is in it.  That is a significant size building right on the edge of a river.  It does not put his mind at ease that the applicant has successfully gone away and resolved the issues that they were concerned about.


Ms. Joseph felt that the site plan was the same one that they looked at previously.


Mr. Rieley felt that the site plan was identical.


Mr. Edgerton stated that it was very close, but that they have attached the building. Previously there were two separate building and they have attached them, but it is in the same location with the same scale and orientation.  He hoped to see a more creative response to the topography.


Mr. Thomas stated that it was a plus that the building was built into the critical slope, which was a very good use of that slope.


Mr. Rieley agreed with Mr. Thomas.


Mr. Morris pointed out that the building was really going to be visible from across the river.  As far as the bridge of people walking along Free Bridge Lane he did not think that they were going to be able to see it.


Mr. Rieley pointed out that the staff report says that the plan incorporates many the principles of the Neighborhood Model.  There are 12 listed, but most of them staff says were not met or don’t apply.  But there are only 3 cases that he can see in the parks and open space because of the paths, the neighborhood friendly streets and path just because of the connection of the paths and sidewalks and the pedestrian orientation for exactly the same reason.  Those are the only ones that apply.


Ms. Joseph suggested that they have to look beyond the site when they are reviewing a site that is 2.41 acres and do an analysis of how that fits into the Neighborhood Model.  She asked if it was a component that works because it is connected or providing whatever. She felt that when they get down to the little bits and pieces that they really need to look further beyond it to see what is happening around it so that the expectation are that not every one of the 12, but how does the 12 fit into this particular neighborhood.


Mr. Rieley agreed with Ms. Joseph, but that it was partially for that reason that he was concerned about the description under neighborhood centers.  It says that this development is being added to a cluster of existing fast food restaurants, gas stations and corridor repair shops that function as a more highway oriented uses.  It sounds almost as if they give up on those areas even if they happen to be located right on the edge of the river.  He stated that he was troubled by that.  He agreed with Ms. Ewing that it seems as if these are dismissed rather easily and quickly when in fact there are opportunities to make more of all of these principles.  But, he agreed that they have to back up and look at how they tie in with the adjacent area.


Ms. Joseph asked if it was walkable from the adjacent properties and the river itself. She asked how it relates to the adjacent area.


Mr. Rieley stated that he was absolutely sympathetic with the idea of finding a good home for Charlottesville Power Equipment because he felt that it was an important business and so forth.  He pointed out that they should be thinking about the long term land use because if the use does not work then the property will be sold.  They need to think about what it is about a piece of property that merits rezoning.  They should not be thinking in personal terms about what is going to make an accommodation for a specific business or individual.


Mr. Morris agreed with Mr. Rieley.  He pointed out that there was nothing on that side of town that services power equipment or tractors for the residents and farms in that area. He felt that it makes sense to have that type of business on that side of town.


Mr. Rieley agreed, but was just concerned about it.


Ms. Higgins felt that this was a use that was needed on that side of town.  She pointed out that they don’t have an entrance corridor designation for rivers and greenways.  She felt that they ought to be talking about that because it was in essence a viewpoint that the ARB is not involved in and they were going to be seeing more and more of it as time passes.  Under a rezoning they can capture this by requesting that more buffers be put in.  If they don’t have a rezoning, then the applicant can put in as much square footage as can be fit on the site with no controls.  In a way this would be a tool.  She felt that the plan has limited visibility and that there should probably be some more screening.  If this use would require a higher traffic need, then the parking lot would be overwhelming.  So she would be willing to trade building for parking lot.  So from that perspective she did not think it was a terrible fit.  She felt that the applicant had satisfied the ARB’s concerns about the parking, which goes a long way towards what the requirements are.


Mr. Edgerton stated that the scale of the building was going to have a significant impact on this because it is a very sensitive piece of land.  He felt that they have tucked it back behind and the river gets most of the impact because it is not visible from the entrance corridor.  He pointed out that he was having great difficulty with that.  He stated that he did not understand the need for the storage yard being so big.  It was a lot of pavement that was going between the building and the river. If the County is serious about promoting the greenway, then they need to be cognitive of what they are allowing beside it.  The most brutal side of this proposed project is on the river side because of the topography and the way it was laid out.


Mr. Craddock suggested that the applicant could supplement plantings along the river to screen the storage area where the equipment would be stored while waiting to be prepared and moved into the building.  Years ago there was a gas station on that corner that did not exactly have a good appeal, and the last remnant of that is the little building that is still there.  The location of this tucked in behind Wilco and McDonald’s he thinks is a good location as opposed to doing something located right along the road.  It will be screened by buildings and vegetation.  He felt that it was a good use for the property, maybe not the best use, for a use that does not require a high visibility. 


Ms. Joseph agreed with Mr. Craddock that they are really using infill, which was good.  She felt that there was a good argument that it was a use that the people in the rural areas need and they do need to allow something like this to happen. She felt that it was the way the site was being laid out that was troublesome.  She would love this to be something that is river oriented, but they have steep slopes getting down there.  They have also decided that they are not going to use this road.  So the connection with people and the uses to that road and the trail becomes problematic because of the steep slopes that are going down through there and the floodplain. 


Mr. Rieley stated that there was 16 feet of vertical change from the storage area down to Free Bridge Lane.  He noted that the corner of this building was only 80 feet from Free Bridge Lane and it was 16 feet higher.  He felt there was no vegetation that was going to hide that building from Free Bridge Lane, the river or the other side of that river.  So he felt that it was going to be seen. If they were comfortable with that, he was deferred.


Ms. Joseph stated that she was not comfortable with that this time or last time because the elevations were the back of the building with a huge parking area. 


Mr. Edgerton noted that the huge parking area was a storage yard, which he was not sure exactly what it would be used for.


Ms. Higgins pointed out that Ms. Joseph had some suggestions regarding the double row of landscaping proposed that the applicant has said that needs some addressing.  She guessed that the idea was that you don’t hide the buildings completely, but a better job could be done with some vegetation that grow larger.  The building is brick and has some interesting fixtures with windows.  Actually, the use on the second floor is office use and was not equipment repair that would overlook the river.  The river is the first item on the plate.  She had one question about the proffer statement.  The way the proffers read it is very clear that the sheet prepared by such and such latest revision and she would like the conditions to read in a similar manner that says the date on the sheet and then the latest revision.  This would help clarify the condition in case there were questions later.  She suggested that they might want to call out some things like the limits of clearing that are shown and put in some buffering requirements.


Mr. Benish stated that staff would coordinate with the County Attorney’s Office to make sure that there are consistent references to the dates.


Ms. Higgins asked that condition 1 be changed to clarify the lighting plan reviewed by the ARB last revised October 12 prepared by Tara Partners.  Then in 3 d) it should reflect that it was prepared by C.W. Hurt, LLC and last revised December 28.  She suggested that the buffering be included in the outdoor sales and display requirements under the special use permit.


Ms. Joseph stated that the Commission was referring to the buffering on the river, which was not covered by the ARB’s conditions.  Therefore, she suggested that the Commission keep them pure and clear to make it clear that the outdoor sales and display ARB conditions only deals with the Entrance Corridor visibility.


Mr. Edgerton asked the applicant to come back up and explain the type of fence proposed for the storage area.


Mr. Roel stated that it would be a vertical 4 foot opaque vinyl fence along the edge of the retaining wall along that whole area, which would be an earth tone color. The ARB had reviewed and approved the proposed fence because it will have to go all the way out to McDonald’s.  It would go around the small loading dock space with the rest of the area to maneuver a truck in and out and be able to turn around a truck pulling a trailer that has a lawn mower on the back of it.  They would not be able to reduce the size of that area.  He agreed to amend the proffers to provide for taller evergreens along the back side.  He noted that they would not disturb anything outside of the blue line on the plat.  They would only be disturbing a third of the property with infill development.  The rest of it will remain intact and undisturbed other than a pathway, which will be maintained with some landscaping and a fence to Free Bridge Lane.


Ms. Joseph stated that as she looks at this site they were thinking of this as looking at the back of these buildings and how unattractive it is so why don’t they just go ahead and put a repair place there because it is unattractive anyway.  But, she plants trees for a living and felt that if he planted a buffer along this way they could face the river and do something that has some sort of relationship to the river and not to the backs of the buildings.  So she was not so sure she could support the rezoning to the HC even though it only allows this one use because she felt that they were missing an opportunity here. 


Regarding action on ZMA-2004-011:


Motion:  Mr. Morris moved, Mr. Craddock seconded, that ZMA-2004-11, Charlottesville Power Equipment, be approved subject to the amended proffers as offered by the applicant to increase the buffering and the fence be opaque.

·         The additional buffering to be provided included taller vegetation/evergreens.


The motion passed by a vote of 4:3. (Commissioners Thomas, Morris, Higgins and Craddock voted aye.)  (Commissioners Joseph, Edgerton and Rieley voted nay.)


Mr. Edgerton stated that ZMA-2004-11 is approved with proffers.


Regarding action on SP-2004-036:


Mr. Kamptner suggested that condition 1 be amended to include a letter of map amendment or a map revision.


Motion:  Ms. Higgins moved, Mr. Morris seconded, that SP-2004-36, Charlottesville Power Equipment – Fill in floodplain, be approved subject to the conditions recommended in the staff report as amended.


  1. A letter of map amendment or a letter of map revision must be obtained from FEMA, if required.
  2. Copies of state and federal permits (DEQ, Army Corps of Engineers) must be provided.


The motion passed by a vote of 5:2.  (Commissioners Craddock, Higgins, Morris, Joseph and Thomas voted aye.)  (Commissioners Rieley and Edgerton voted nay.)


Regarding action on SP-2004-37:


Mr. Rieley suggested that they be careful about the way that they suggest additional screening between the river and the building because it was an existing wooded area.  He felt that ought to be looked at carefully with maybe something like hollies that will grow in the shade of other trees. There are not very many evergreens that will grow in the shade of other trees. They don’t want to be in the position of removing existing vegetation in order to put in something to eventually get some tall screening. 


Mr. Edgerton asked if they want that to come back to the Commission as a site plan.


Ms. Joseph stated that what they were approving had to do with outdoor sales and display and has nothing to do with the visibility of the storage area from the river.


Mr. Benish noted that for sales and display the conditions should only apply to the entrance corridor areas.


Ms. Higgins amended the motion to take out item 2f.


Motion:  Ms. Higgins moved, Mr. Morris seconded, that SP-2004-37, Charlottesville Power Equipment – Outdoor Sales and Display, be approved subject to the following conditions as amended:


1.       Site lighting shall be limited to the satisfaction of the ARB, as illustrated in the conceptual lighting plan, prepared by Terra Partners, dated October 12, 2005.          

2.       The storage yard fence shall be of material, character, and design that are coordinated with the building, as approved by the ARB.

3.       Regarding items for storage/display:

a.       Equipment shall be stored/displayed only in areas indicated for storage/display on the “Display Area Exhibit” plan dated October 12, 2005.

b.       Items located in the storage lot on the north side of the building shall not exceed 10 feet in height.

c.       Items located in the storage/display areas under the two easternmost awnings on the south side of the building shall be limited to small lawn mowers, rototillers, and other similarly sized items. Items on display shall not extend into sidewalk, landscape, or parking areas.

d.       Items located under the tower shall be fully contained within the structure of the roofed tower, as shown on the architectural elevation drawing sheet A3 (East/front Elevation) and A5 (South Elevation), plan prepared by C.W. Hurt Contractors, last revised December 28, 2004.

e.       Items for sale/storage/display shall not be elevated anywhere on the site.

4.       Retaining wall materials are subject to ARB approval and shall be indicated on the ARB-approved site development plan.


The motion passed by a vote of 4:3.   (Commissioners Thomas, Morris, Higgins and Craddock voted aye.)  (Commissioners Joseph, Edgerton, Rieley voted nay.)


Mr. Edgerton stated that SP-2004-037 is approved.


Regarding action on Critical Slopes Waiver:


Ms. Joseph asked that the site plan come back to the Commission.


Mr. Rieley asked that his condition about providing shade tolerant trees be appended to this motion.


Motion:  Ms. Higgins moved, Mr. Morris seconded, to approve the critical slopes waiver subject to the following conditions: 

1.       Placement of the landscape buffer along the edge of the storage yard facing the river shall be provided.

2.       Increase evergreen screening along the ARB evaluated fence line between the river and the storage area.  Provide shade tolerant trees.

3.       The site plan shall come back before the Planning Commission for review.


The motion passed by a vote of 5:2. (Commissioners Craddock, Higgins, Edgerton, Morris and Thomas voted aye.)  (Commissioners Rieley and Joseph voted nay.)


Mr. Edgerton stated that SP-2004-037, SP-2004-036 and ZMA-2004-36 would be forwarded to the Board of Supervisors on December 7, 2005 with a recommendation for approval.


Mr. Benish asked for clarification if they expect the applicant to amend the proffers to address the buffering issue along the rear of the site.  He felt that was the Commission’s expectation.


Mr. Edgerton stated that it was definitely their expectation and it was part of the motion.


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