STAFF PERSON:                                                                  JUDITH C. WIEGAND, AICP

PLANNING COMMISSION:                                              NOVEMBER 15, 2005







Request for Critical Slopes Waiver


Applicant’s Proposal: The applicant, Charlottesville Power Equipment, is requesting to rezone 2.142 acres from C-1 (Commercial) to HC (Highway Commercial) to allow a 12,000 square foot, two-story building for equipment sales, offices, and limited repair and storage facilities. Behind the building, a yard area will be used to store equipment waiting to be sold or repaired. A second smaller building will most likely be built after the first building, and its use is undetermined at this time. The use is expected to be either offices, a garden center, or other small, specialized retail. Tax Map 78, Parcel 4B contains 1.871 acres and will be the location of the two buildings and storage yard. Tax Map 78, Parcel 4A1 contains 0.271 acre and is the site of a slope easement essential for development of the main parcel. (See Attachment B)


Access to the site will be from Rte 20 via an easement that runs parallel to the driveway into the adjacent McDonalds. The applicant has provided a letter dated November 2, 2005, with a diagram of a portion of the site that shows the layout of the entrance to the Charlottesville Power Equipment site and its relationship to the entrance to the McDonalds. See Attachment C for the layout of the proposed entrance in the easement. This revised layout meets the requirements of the County Engineer.


Originally, the site had access from Free Bridge Lane. However, most of Free Bridge Lane is located in the 100-year floodplain. It is a deadend road, and its entrance onto Rt 250 is not at a crossover. Due to these characteristics and the County’s decision to establish a greenway facility along the road, the County has been discouraging establishment of any new access onto Free Bridge Lane. Also, the topography of the site would make vehicular access to Free Bridge Lane very difficult and costly.


In response to staff comments, the applicant has worked with McDonalds to expand the width of the easement. The expansion will allow construction of both the access road and a sidewalk from Route 20 to the proposed building. A letter from McDonalds supporting the revised easement and realignment of retaining walls is included as Attachment D.


This rezoning request is accompanied by applications for two special use permits to be considered with the rezoning. These special use permit applications are for filling in the floodplain and for outdoor display and storage in an Entrance Corridor. A request for a critical slopes waiver has also been submitted with the application for the rezoning.

The first special use permit would allow placement of fill in the floodplain, in accordance with Section The second special use permit would allow outdoor storage and display in an Entrance Corridor, in accordance with Section of the Zoning Ordinance. The property is located on the northwest corner of the intersection of Rte 20 and 250, behind the McDonald’s restaurant.


The applicant has submitted proffers (Attachment E). The first proffer states that the development on the site shall be “general accord” with the application plan, last revised on October 10, 2005. The second proffer limits the number of uses allowed under the proposed rezoning to “machinery and equipment sales, service, and rental” as allowed under the HC District, in addition to the by-right uses in a C-1 district. The third proffer addresses the form, massing, character, and detailing of any building facades that “are not governed by a certificate of appropriateness issues by the Albemarle County Architectural Review board.” This proffer indicates that those facades will be “in general accord with the building elevations” submitted by the applicant, dated December 28, 2004. These elevations are included in Attachment F.


Petition: 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-2004-36 and SP-2004-37 below). 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). General usage within the HC zoning district permits commercial and service uses and residential use by special use permit (15 units/acre).


Request for special use permit to allow fill in the floodplain in accordance with Section of the Zoning Ordinance which allows for filling of land. See concurrent requests, ZMA-04-11 and SP-04-37.


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.  See concurrent requests, ZMA-04-11 and SP-04-36.


Character of the Area


The properties subject to the application are located behind the McDonalds restaurant on the northwest corner of the intersection of Routes 20 and 250. Uses surrounding this property include two fast food restaurants, two gas stations, and a muffler repair facility. Free Bridge Lane (Rt. 1421) borders one side of this property. A greenway proposed for the area will incorporate Free Bridge Lane as a paved trail and the area between Free Bridge Lane and the Rivanna River.




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.


Planning and Zoning History


There have been no changes in the zoning classification of these two parcels since the County’s current Zoning Ordinance was adopted in 1980.


Planning Commission Input to Date


On November 16, 2004, staff presented Charlottesville Power Equipment to the Planning Commission in a worksession. The applicant requested the worksession 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:


  1. Is the proposed use appropriate at this location? Does the Planning Commission find that this site should contain a use that is oriented towards the Greenbelt and River?


The Planning Commission noted that it was not really so much whether this use is appropriate or not, but it is more about how the buildings are oriented based on the topography and how it falls down to the river.


  1. Does the Planning Commission believe that the request for “Outdoor Storage and Display” is appropriate at this site, given its location near the Route 250 Entrance Corridor and the Rivanna Greenway?


It was the consensus of the Commission that the proposed use would be appropriate at this location, depending on the design.


One commissioner stated that the Commission’s perspective may be different from the ARB’s because their point of view is the Entrance Corridor and the Commission’s may be from the river and other places.


  1. Does the Planning Commission believe that the request for “Fill in the Floodplain” at this site is appropriate to support a development such as the one proposed?


It was the consensus of the Planning Commission that the design should be more responsive to the floodplain. The Commission did not have the engineering information to know how much area will be filled, but they indicated that the applicant should be very cautious about filling in the floodplain.


One commissioner asked if the Commission felt that the request for fill in the floodplain at this site is appropriate to support the development that is being proposed. The basic question is whether this is the proper use for the infill in the floodplain.

The Planning Commission asked staff to look at the new FEMA maps, which will be in effect in February, to determine the fringe and buffer area towards the floodplain.


It should be demonstrated that the amount of fill is absolutely minimized, and whatever redesign is done to make the project a more sympathetic fit must take into account that fill in the floodplain should be minimized.


Concern was expressed that it appeared the critical slope was caused by the previous development on the McDonald’s site. The larger building in this proposal is right in the middle of the critical slopes on the site. The Commission was not opposed to the use, but would like to see a redesign that might be more respectful of the critical slopes than what the current proposal shows.


In general consensus, the Planning Commission agreed that utilizing buildings to take up critical slopes is often a very sensible thing to do.


Applicant’s Justification for the Request


The applicant has made the following key points: their plan responds to the requirements of the Neighborhood Model and will enable a good use of a difficult site.


Staff notes that the site represents a difficult infill challenge. It is zoned C-1, a district that allows retail, eating establishments, or other service uses by right. However, the applicant’s market research indicates that the site’s poor visibility (it is situated behind two gas stations, two fast food restaurants, and a muffler repair facility) makes it unlikely to support these uses because they rely on highway traffic from nearby roads. Secondly, the site slopes steeply down to the Rivanna River and floodplain covers a large percentage of the site. This results in a limited amount of developable land. Therefore, the applicant has chosen to proceed with specialized retail or office uses that will be a destination for shoppers. Since machinery and equipment sales and service are only allowed in an HC District, the applicant has decided to request rezoning of the property. The applicant has submitted a proffer stipulating that only the “machinery and equipment sales, service and rental” use permitted under the HC district would be applicable to the property, in addition to all C-1 uses.


By-right Use of the Property


With a C-1 zoning classification, the property could be developed with selected retail sales, service and public use establishments.


Comprehensive Plan and The Neighborhood Model


Chapter 2 of the Comprehensive Plan, entitled “Natural Resources and Cultural Assets,” sets goals for preserving those scenic resources that are recognized as essential to the County’s character, economic vitality, and quality of life. The Entrance Corridor Overlay Districts were established to meet the Comprehensive Plan objective of maintaining the visual integrity of important roadways. The Architectural Review Board (ARB) addresses the aesthetic impacts of development on those roads by applying the County’s design standards for development within Entrance Corridors. The ARB has reviewed the applicant’s conceptual site layout and building design for conformity with the County’s adopted design guidelines and recommends approval of the conceptual plan with conditions.


Requests for a zoning map amendment within the Development Areas are assessed for conformity with the Neighborhood Model (NMD) and the Land Use Plan.


The Land Use Plan shows this area as Regional Service:


·        Uses allowed within this designation include regional-scale commercial, regional malls, medical centers, mixed-use developments, hotel/motel/conference facilities, professional and corporate offices, interstate interchange developments and uses providing retail, wholesale, business, and/or employment services to Albemarle County and the region.

·        Areas designated as Regional Service typically encompass a large site (+30 acres), arterial road accessibility, water and sewer availability, and compatibility with adjacent land uses. Both vehicular and pedestrian interconnections are expected to nearby residential areas.

·        A mixture of Urban Density Residential uses and community service uses is anticipated within this designation.


The Pantops (Neighborhood Three) Development Area profile includes the following recommendations:


·        Construct a greenway along the South Fork of the Rivanna River and the Rivanna River. This provides a pedestrian connection of the Ivy Creek Natural Area to the Urban Area and an opportunity for passive recreation adjacent to the Urban Area. Develop the greenway to meet the recreational and conservation needs of the residents in the Neighborhood, and the entire County.


The proposed development includes a pedestrian path linking the site to the proposed greenway.





How Principle Is Addressed in This Application

Pedestrian Orientation

The concept plan offers a pedestrian circulation network within the site, between parking areas and the two buildings. A sidewalk is proposed to connect the building with the existing sidewalk along Route 20 and with the proposed greenway along Free Bridge Lane.

Neighborhood Friendly Streets and Paths

The concept plan shows paths connecting the site with Free Bridge Lane and, eventually, with the greenway. Landscaping will be provided around the site to improve views to/from the site and make the paths more attractive.


Interconnected Streets and Transportation Networks

This development is so small that the only realistic interconnections are the sidewalk that connects the site to Rt. 20 and the paths between the site and Free Bridge Lane/the proposed greenway.

Parks and Open Space

Much of the site will be preserved as floodplain. The paths mentioned above will be part of this area. Some landscaping is provided.

Neighborhood Centers

This development is being added to a cluster of existing fast food restaurants, gas stations, and car repair shops that function more as highway-oriented regional uses.

Buildings and Spaces of Human Scale

The two-story building is human scale and the site is designed for human activity, especially the walking paths.

The ARB has reviewed this plan and generally supports it. 

Relegated Parking

The plan provides most parking behind the main building, with a few spaces along the front. It is a good response to the objective of relegated parking.

Mixture of Uses

This is a very small site on which a single use is proposed, so this principle does not apply.

Mixture of Housing Types and Affordability

There is no housing proposed, so this principle does not apply.


This is a greenfield development, so this principle does not apply.

Site Planning that Respects Terrain

This is a difficult infill site to develop. Because of the amount of floodplain, the existence of steep slopes, and difficult access, development of this site it very constrained. Grading will result in some 2:1 slopes that will need to be stabilized with vegetation. The applicant has applied for a critical slopes waiver, noting in his application that some, if not all, of the critical slopes are manmade.

The buildings are designed to make use of the grade; the first (main) floor will be at the level of the parking lot, while the lower (basement) floor will open onto the storage area behind the building.

The applicant will need to place a small amount of fill in the floodplain to accommodate the access road.

Clear Boundaries with the Rural Areas

This project is well within the Development Area, so this principle does not apply.



ZMA 2004-11 – Rezoning from C-1 to HC (Highway Commercial)




Relationship between the application and the purpose and intent of the requested zoning district


The site is currently zoned C-1 (Commercial). C-1 districts permit selected retail sales, service, and public use establishments. These districts are intended to be established only within the urban area, communities, and villages as set out in the Comprehensive Plan. The by-right uses permitted in C-1 districts are those that require a certain level of visibility from a highway in order to attract sufficient customers.


HC (Highway Commercial) districts permit development of commercial establishments, other than shopping centers, primarily oriented to highway locations rather than to central business concentrations (e.g., downtown areas). It is intended that HC districts be established on major highways within the urban area and communities in the comprehensive plan. The by-right uses permitted in HC districts are those that require proximity to a highway for access, but do not necessarily require visibility to attract customers. These businesses are destinations that customers plan to patronize, rather than ones they may select “on impulse” as they drive by.


The site does not front directly on either Rte 20 or 250; Tuffy Muffler, Wilco, Wendy’s, and  McDonalds are all between the site and Rte 20 and 250. Thus, the site has little visibility from either highway. The applicant’s market research indicated that the uses permitted under the current C-1 zoning would not be financially feasible due to this lack of visibility. Instead, the applicant is proposing a use—machinery and equipment sales, service and rental—that they feel is more likely to be successful on the site. This use is a highway-oriented destination, the type permitted in HC districts. However, many of the other uses permitted in an HC district would not be appropriate in this location. So, the applicant has proffered that the only HC use permitted will be machinery and equipment sales, service and rental, along with all C-1 uses.


Public need and justification for the change


Staff believes that rezoning this property from C-1 (Commercial) to HC (Highway Commercial) will make the property more developable for the purpose of regional services and sales.


Anticipated impact on public facilities and services


No adverse impacts are expected on streets, water, and sewer.


Anticipated impact on natural, cultural, and historic resources


No impact is anticipated on cultural or historical resources of the County. The pedestrian path that ties-in to the proposed greenway will be a benefit for the County. Eliminating the access to Free Bridge Lane will simplify the greenway planning process.




Staff has identified the following factors that are favorable to the rezoning request:


  1. The rezoning will enable more efficient use of a development area site without adversely impacting environmental resources.
  2. The plan incorporates many of the principles of the Neighborhood Model.
  3. The site will feature a pedestrian connection to the adjacent greenway.
  4. Access to the site will be provided via an easement on the adjacent McDonalds site, rather than from Free Bridge Lane. This alternative access supports the County’s intention to convert Free Bridge Lane to a paved pedestrian path within the proposed greenway.


Staff has identified no factors that are unfavorable to this request.




Staff recommends approval of the rezoning with the attached proffers.





Applicant’s Proposal


The applicant proposes to place a small amount of fill in the floodplain, outside of the stream buffer, to accommodate grading necessary for the buildings and parking areas. Placing the fill will create some 2:1 slopes and require retaining walls on both sides of the access road and at the corner of the parking lot near the Wilco facility.




Staff has reviewed the request for a special use permit for fill in the floodplain. From the information on the concept plan and in the application, the property is in an area of detailed study on FIRM 287, and as such will require the use of the FEMA model or its equivalent.


The fill in the floodplain will cover an area of approximately 62 square feet, a small area in comparison to the width of the floodplain and the river in this vicinity. So, staff does not believe that the fill will have a significant impact on the flood-carrying capacity of the river. However, because this is a detailed study area for FEMA that was recently updated, staff would like to keep the study area maps up-to-date. Requiring the applicant to obtain a letter of map revision also keeps FEMA informed in case they should have a concern with the fill.




Staff recommends approval of  SP-2004-36, 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.




Applicant’s Proposal 


The applicant proposes to store and display equipment outside the building in the locations indicated on the plan shown in Attachment G. Some of the for-sale equipment will be displayed outside the building or under the tower, and some of the equipment waiting for repair will be stored outside in the lot at the rear of the building.




Staff has reviewed this request for compliance with the provisions of the Comprehensive Plan and Zoning Ordinance Sections and, and recommends approval of SP 2004-37, with conditions.


Architectural Review Board (ARB)


The ARB reviewed this proposal at its meeting on September 6, 2005. The ARB had no objection to the request for the rezoning. The ARB has no objection to the request for the Special Use Permit, with conditions. The ARB’s comments are in Attachment H.




Staff will address each provision of Section of the Zoning Ordinance.


The Board of Supervisors hereby reserves unto itself the right to issue all special use permits permitted hereunder. Special use permits for uses as provided in this ordinance may be issued upon a finding by the Board of Supervisors that such use  will not be of substantial detriment to adjacent property,


It is anticipated that the storage and display of lawn care and similar equipment will have no negative impact on the surrounding uses or on the site itself. The conditions proposed by the ARB will prevent the equipment from being visible to drivers and pedestrians in the Entrance Corridor.


that the character of the district will not be changed thereby


It is anticipated that the proposed use will not change the character of the district for the following reasons:

·        The site is surrounded by other commercial uses.

·        The conceptual layout demonstrates that the proposed use will respect the proposed adjacent greenway.

·        The display area is limited in size and will be screened by the building.

·        Recommended additional landscaping will help limit visibility of the display from the road.


The potential impact of the use on the character of the district has been addressed by the ARB. The ARB has recommended conditions of approval.


and that such use will be in harmony with the purpose and intent of this ordinance,


Staff has reviewed this request for compliance with the purpose and intent of the Zoning Ordinance, as stated in Section 1.4, and identified no conflict that would arise as a result of its approval.


with the uses permitted by right in the district,


The proposed display use will not have an impact on permitted uses on adjacent property. Visibility of the site from McDonalds will be limited by landscaping.


with additional regulations provided in Section 5.0 of this ordinance,


There are no additional regulations in Section 5.0 specifically addressing the display of vehicles.


and with the public health, safety and general welfare.


No adverse impacts on the public health, safety, and/or welfare are anticipated.




The proposed special use meets the requirements of the Comprehensive Plan and the Zoning Ordinance.




Staff recommends approval of SP 2004-37, 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.


Request for Critical Slopes Waiver


The applicant has requested a Critical Slopes Waiver. Staff has reviewed the request for a Critical Slopes Waiver. The engineering analysis of the request follows:


Description of critical slope area and proposed disturbance


The areas of critical slope are along the natural hillside between McDonald's and Free Bridge Lane, and in a former stockpile area behind the Wilco site. There is also a disturbance of man-made critical slopes along the entrance, which is off-site, on the embankment created by the McDonalds adjacent to Route 20, above their existing stormwater basin. After temporary disturbance for erosion control measures, it is expected that most of the critical slopes on the site will be disturbed.




Total site

2.139   (tm.78-4B & 78-4A1)

Critical slopes


0.22% of site

Critical slopes disturbed


85% of critical slopes *

* the area of off-site critical slope disturbance for the entrance is an additional 0.10 acres.


Exemptions to critical slopes waivers for driveways, roads and utilities without reasonable alternative locations


The off-site disturbance and a small corner of the on-site disturbance are necessary to create the entrance and travelway to the site.


Compliance with Zoning Ordinance 18-4.2


Staff will address each provision of Section 4.2 of the Zoning Ordinance.

These provisions are created to implement the comprehensive plan by protecting and conserving steep hillsides together with public drinking water supplies and floodplain areas and in recognition of increased potential for soil erosion, sedimentation, water pollution and septic disposal problems associated with the development of those areas described in the comprehensive plan as critical slopes. It is hereby recognized that such development of critical slopes may result in: rapid and/or large-scale movement of soil and rock;


Proper slope and wall construction, control of drainage, and vegetative stabilization will prevent any movement of soil.


excessive stormwater runoff


Stormwater runoff will be increased by impervious areas and steeper slopes being placed on the site. A waiver has been requested for detention, and will likely be granted with the site plan review according to 17-314F6, provided adequate channels are satisfactorily addressed through off-site improvements. Staff had recommended to the applicant that some benefit could be provided by improving the existing basin for the McDonald's site, but the applicant has been unable to interest McDonalds in sharing this facility. Instead, the applicant has chosen an alternative means of managing stormwater


siltation of natural and man-made bodies of water;


Inspection and bonding by the County will ensure siltation control on-site during  construction. Proper stabilization and maintenance will ensure long term stability, on-site.  The off-site disturbance will likely cause siltation in the McDonalds basin, which lies directly below the disturbance and a proposed retaining wall.


loss of aesthetic resource;


This area is visible from the greenway trail and Free Bridge Lane, and has a limited view from Route 20. It has been recently cleared of small trees and brush in some areas. There is trash and debris on the site.


The Comprehensive Plan Greenway Plan Trail Locations Map shows this greenway trail as a “Class A” trail. Class A trails are to be eight feet wide, either paved or compacted crushed stone, and ADA and bicycle accessible. Thus, this section of the greenway is expected to receive significant use.


This section of the greenway will be a part of the larger County system and can expect to receive significant use. It will be available to both users of the site and to County residents. The appearance of the site from the greenway is important; removal of the unsightly brush and debris will benefit users of the greenway. Further, the applicant’s provision of a resting area with benches as part of the greenway connection will be appreciated by users.


and in the event of septic system failure, a greater travel distance of septic effluent, all of which constitute potential dangers to the public health, safety and/or welfare.


This is not a concern, as the site will be serviced by public sewer.




Staff can recommend approval of the critical slopes waiver because most of the slopes to be disturbed are manmade and the proposed regrading and vegetation shown on the concept plan indicate conformity with recommended erosion and sediment control measures.




Attachment A – Application Plan (5 sheets)

Attachment B – Location Map

Attachment C – Letter from C. W. Hurt Contractors, Dated November 2, 2005, transmitting    revised proposed entrance layout.

Attachment D - Letter from McDonalds, dated August 25, 2005

Attachment E – Proffers

Attachment F – Proposed Building Elevations

Attachment G – Display Areas Map

Attachment H – ARB Letter
     A. Concept Plan, 10-19-2004
     B. Letter from applicant, 10-19-2004
     C. Letter from staff to applicant, July 20, 2004

Attachment I – Staff Report for Planning Commission Meeting on November 16, 2004

Attachment J – Minutes from Planning Commission Meeting on November 16, 2004
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