Albemarle County Planning Commission

September 19, 2006


The Albemarle County Planning Commission held a meeting and a public hearing on Tuesday, September 19, 2006, at 6:00 p.m., at the County Office Building, Room 241, Second Floor, 401 McIntire Road, Charlottesville, Virginia. Members attending were Bill Edgerton, Eric Strucko, Calvin Morris, Vice-Chairman; Pete Craddock, Duane Zobrist, Jon Cannon and Marcia Joseph, Chairman. Julia Monteith, Senior Land Use Planner for the University of Virginia, representative for David J. Neuman, FAIA, Architect for University of Virginia was absent. 


Other officials present were Wayne Cilimberg, Planning Director; David Pennock, Senior Planner; Rebecca Ragsdale, Senior Planner; Bill Fritz, Chief of Current Development; David Benish, Chief of Planning & Community Development; Amelia McCulley, Director of Current Development/Zoning Administrator; Mark Graham, Director of Community Development; Francis MacCall, Senior Planner and Greg Kamptner, Deputy County Attorney.


Call to Order and Establish Quorum:


Ms. Joseph called the regular meeting to order at 6:00 p.m. and established a quorum.



            Regular Items:


SUB 2006-224 Rolling Meadows – Request for Private Street to serve 4 lotsRequest for preliminary subdivision plat approval to create 4 lots on 18.62 acres zoned RA. The property, described as Tax Map 56 Parcels 112 is located in the Whitehall Magisterial District nine hundred (900) feet west of Normandy Drive and two hundred (200) feet off the Rockfish Gap Turnpike (US. Route 250). The Comprehensive Plan designates this property as Rural Areas in Rural Area 3.  (Gerald Gatobu /Bill Fritz)


Mr. Fritz pointed out that all of the items that remain on the agenda tonight were finished by staff where another staff person started the review. He summarized the staff report. 




Ms. Joseph asked if there were any questions for Mr. Fritz.  She asked if the parcel adjacent to 250 would be using this.


Mr. Fritz replied that there is an existing drive. The applicant did a boundary line adjustment.  The plat is in the staff report.  They will be building over top of the existing driveway and this lot will continue to use the road.  The driveway will serve the remainder of the development.  This lot has the option to discontinue the use of it and access directly to Route 250.  This lot is not part of this subdivision in any way and just happens to be an adjacent property.  The fee for this portion of the road is actually owned by this parcel.  There is no easement across this lot, which is why this lot is not engaged in the subdivision in any way.


Mr. Edgerton asked if VDOT would not allow 12 percent grade.


Mr. Fritz replied that typically they don’t.


Mr. Edgerton asked if they don’t grant the private road, then they can’t develop the four lots.


Mr. Fritz replied no.  It was staff’s opinion that they could build the road, but they would just have to grade down farther.  There would be a significant grading difference.  Staff believes that it is constructible as a VDOT road, but with a significant volume of earth work.


Mr. Morris noted that the earth work difference is unbelievable.


Mr. Fritz agreed that it was a significant difference between the 10 and 12 percent.


Ms. Joseph asked why the applicant did not use the other development right, and Mr. Fritz replied that he did not know and that she would have to ask the applicant.


Mr. Edgerton noted that there use to be a road standard allowable in the rural area called the Mountainous Road Standard where they did not need to do as much grading and it would serve up to four lots.  He was curious why they did not do that because it is a lesser standard that allows for a steeper grade.


Mr. Fritz replied that VDOT does not typically grant that request in the County for public roads built to Mountainous Terrain Standards.  But, private roads by our own ordinance and Design Standards Manual can be approved at Mountainous Terrain Standards.  VDOT only approves that for the western part of the state or the mountainous part of the state.


Ms. Joseph asked if the applicant has approached VDOT, and Mr. Fritz replied that they would have to ask the applicant.


Mr. Craddock asked if it was the same number of lots whether it was a public or private road.


Mr. Fritz replied that they actually have five development rights.  They have not used one of the development rights.  There are two lots that are over four acres, being lot 4 and 3.  So in the final platting process they will have to assign the development right somewhere.  It could be either lot 4 or 3.  He did not know why they did not use it.  It could have been because of the lay of the land or it may have been difficult to find a really good building site due to the critical slopes shown on the plat.


Ms. Joseph opened the public hearing and asked if the applicant wanted to address the Commission.


Dustin Green, representative for Dominion Development Resources and C.W. Hurt, said that they wanted to get the private street approved.  They meet the guidelines for the rural areas zoning.  They also meet the guidelines that it would alleviate demonstrable danger on the environment because no more lots are proposed by this horizontal alignment and the total grading is less significant.  The application is pending the approval of the private street.


Ms. Joseph asked if there were any questions for the applicant.  She asked if they have approached VDOT and asked if they would accept the design with the 12 percent grade.


Mr. Green replied that they have submitted an application to the County.  There are a certain number of copies that they gave the County, but he was not sure if they have related that directly to VDOT or whether they need to do that. 


Mr. Fritz replied that staff only forwarded to VDOT the request that the applicant made, which was for a private road and not for whether or not they would grant a modification to allow Mountainous Terrain Standards in this particular case.  VDOT has commented only on the impact of the entrance onto Route 250 and that it is an adequate entrance.


Mr. Craddock asked about the one development right that was brought up.


Mr. Green replied that Mr. Fritz brought up the fact that there are a lot of critical slope areas and it was difficult to get the lots.  He felt that the owner would just like to have larger lots for this subdivision. 


Mr. Craddock asked if this was by-right.


Mr. Fritz replied yes, with the exception for the modification for private streets.


Mr. Craddock asked if there has been any consideration for any contribution to the County as far as volunteering contributions for schools or roads.


Mr. Green said that he could recommend that to the owner.  He noted that the Historical Society was suggesting a tree buffer between the lot on the east side and the motel.


There being no further questions, Ms. Joseph asked if there was anyone else present that wanted to speak to this item.  There being none, she closed the public hearing to bring the matter back before the Commission for consideration.


Mr. Edgerton said that he was going to vote against staff’s recommendation.  The staff report is very well written and clear.  It keeps a narrow focus on what the ordinance says.  There is no question that this proposal as shown for the private road will require less grading.  It will also make it much easier for the applicant to develop this property.  This is the exact sort of thing that he wished would not be happening in the rural areas.  He did not want to help the development of this property.  He felt that by allowing for a private road they would be doing just that.  The applicant has gone to a great deal of trouble to set this up.  If it is a by right development they need to do more engineering and more grading.  He did not want to relieve them of that duty and encourage the development of this property.


Mr. Morris said that simply due to the level of disturbance between the two he would have to support staff.  It is substantial and 3 to 4 times the amount of earth would be disturbed.


Mr. Cannon said that he had a question for staff.  There are two different views.  One view is that granting this would allow the applicants to protect the environment.  The other view is that granting this would allow the applicant to save a lot of money.  He asked which it was or whether it was both.


Mr. Fritz said that there was no question that they would be moving less earth and with the moving of less earth there is less expense involved.  The road standard is the same.  They still have to meet VDOT standards.  So they are still designing it to a public standard.  It is really the issue of earth work here.  Obviously, if they are moving less dirt, there is less expense.


Mr. Edgerton noted that staff said that VDOT will not allow mountainous terrain standards in this area.  So they would force more severe grading and not allow 12 percent slope.  That is pretty steep slope. 


Mr. Fritz said that if the private street request is denied, then the applicant can come back with a public road and put it in.   It would cost more because they would have to do more earth work.  But, he felt that was the question asked.


Mr. Cannon asked if they know how much more it would cost.


Mr. Fritz replied that he would not answer that.


Mr. Cannon asked if that cost would prohibit the development or would it add an additional penalty if you will on the cost of the development.


Mr. Fritz replied that he was no in the position to answer that question.


Mr. Cannon asked if the applicant could answer that question.


Mr. Green replied that one of the main reasons that they were trying to achieve this private road was to not have as much earth work affected by the proposed road.  But, there was also a ten foot grading easement that would be in place pending the approval of the private street, which was to avoid going up on to the Campbell property.  They have already given us the right-of-way in between.  Having a private street approved narrows the alignment of the road.  So instead of 9’ on either side of the center line of the road it was 7’.  That was another reason why wanted the private street approval.  It was both for the reduction in costs and to be able to fit it in the alignment and not be as much up on the Campbell’s property.


Mr. Edgerton asked if they would have to go back and get another easement from the Campbell’s to go for the public road.


Mr. Green replied yes, but that he would like to avoid that.


Mr. Cannon asked if he had made an estimate on the costs.


Mr. Green said that he had not done a personal cost analysis.  But, he was assuming that they would have to possibly acquire land from the eastern side of the proposed road and maybe give a division right to whoever is going to give the extra bit of land to make a public road.


Mr. Cannon noted that it would not just be a matter of moving more earth, but they would have to acquire additional property in order to make this work.


Mr. Green replied that is correct.


Mr. Strucko said that his concern was expressed earlier by Mr. Morris in that this project would involve significant amounts of earth work.  But, the staff report says that in this case the environmental impacts and the volume of earth work will not be significantly different between a public road and a private road.  He would also vote against this request because of the fact that he would like to keep the public road standards available for a variety of reasons especially in this area.  This area right next to the Greenwood Motel is within striking distance of what is potentially going to be a lot of commercial activity with a new supermarket not too far down the road, the Blue Ridge Homeowner’s Supply and the commercial activity across the street.  Therefore, he did not see the environmental impacts really entering into this particular area that significant as opposed to other environmentally sensitive areas around the County. So he would like to maintain the public road standards in this instance.


Mr. Craddock said that the floating right bothers him.  He asked since there is one development right that is sitting out there if he had to go back and do the public entrance can he assign that right to some adjacent land or does it have to stay with this land.


Mr. Fritz replied that the development right has to stay on parcel 112.  It is not a floating development right because right now it is currently unassigned. Before staff would sign the final plat the applicant would have to assign it to parcel 3 or 4. 


Mr. Edgerton asked if the applicant could assign the development right to parcel 3 or 4 and then do a boundary line adjustment later to create a parcel.


Mr. Fritz replied no, because the kernel rule requires the applicant to get 2 acres and a building site from parcel 112 in order to use the development right.  They can then add land to it, but you have to get at least 2 acres and a building site from the parcel that has the development right.  They would not be moving the development rights from parcel 112. The lot has to be developed on the parent parcel, but they can add additional land to it after that.  There is a boundary line adjustment as described on the property to the west.


Mr. Craddock agreed with Mr. Edgerton noting that he would vote against it also.


Mr. Zobrist asked if this was beyond the turn lane.  He thought that the turn lane was back at the crest of the hill.


Mr. Fritz pointed out that the third lane is at this location.


Mr. Zobrist said that his concern was due to the steep grade and the safety of the people trying to get in there if they increased the use of the driveway.  On Route 250 there are a lot of problems with people slowing down to turn in.  He was concerned with the steepness of the grade and the safety factors of trying to access it off of Route 250.  He was also concerned about a pretty long standing policy of the County not approving a private road unless they meet the public standard. 


Ms. Joseph expressed concern because the plat was created in 2005 and it creates a 40’ right-of-way.

She felt at that point in time there was an opportunity to add some more right-of-way in that area.  They are looking at a 28.89’ setback, but there could have been a little more wiggle room if the intent was to put in a road back there so that they would have enough room for a public road.  That was only last year when that happened.  She was also concerned that nobody talked with VDOT whether or not a public road could get in there.  They could have had some sort of email or something from VDOT that would have helped to make this decision.  But, again she was not in favor of private road for a number of reasons.  A lot of it has to do with getting people back and forth with the rescue squad.  If the roads are not maintained properly in the winter time because they were being privately maintained she did not want to put anyone in jeopardy.


Motion:  Mr. Strucko moved, Mr. Edgerton seconded, to deny SUB-2006-224, Rolling Meadows – Request to allow a private street to serve 4 lots.


The motion passed by a vote of 6:1.  (Commissioner Morris voted nay.) 


Ms. Joseph stated that SUB-2006-224, Rolling Meadows – Request for Private Street to serve 4 lots was denied.


Mr. Kamptner noted that the action could be appealed to the Board of Supervisors within ten days.


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