Albemarle County Planning Commission

June 12, 2007


The Albemarle County Planning Commission held a meeting and public hearing on Tuesday, June 12, 2007, at 6:00 p.m., at the County Office Building, Auditorium, Second Floor, 401 McIntire Road, Charlottesville, Virginia. Members attending were Bill Edgerton, Jon Cannon, Eric Strucko, Pete Craddock, Calvin Morris, Vice-Chairman and Marcia Joseph, Chairman. Duane Zobrist was absent.  Julia Monteith, AICP, Senior Land Use Planner for the University of Virginia was absent. 


Other officials present were Wayne Cilimberg, Planning Director; Amy Arnold, Planner; Rebecca Ragsdale, Senior Planner, Elaine Echols, Principal Planner; Scott Clark, Senior Planner; and Greg Kamptner, Deputy County Attorney.


Call to Order and Establish Quorum:


Ms. Joseph called the meeting order at 6:01 p.m. and established a quorum.


Regular Items:


SP2007-00011 Oakridge Church Pavilion (Sign #103)

PROPOSED: Construction: 20' x 40' picnic pavilion

ZONING CATEGORY/GENERAL USAGE: RA -- Rural Areas: agricultural, forestal, and fishery uses; residential density (0.5 unit/acre)

SECTION: Church building and adjunct cemetery

COMPREHENSIVE PLAN LAND USE/DENSITY:  Rural Areas - preserve and protect agricultural, forestal, open space, and natural, historic and scenic resources/ density (.5 unit/ acre)


LOCATION: 7734 Old Dominion Road, off Green Creek Road, Schuyler

TAX MAP/PARCEL: Tax Map 126, Parcel 21A


(Amy Arnold)


Ms. Arnold presented a power point presentation and summarized the staff report.


ß         The applicant is requesting a special use permit to construct a 20í X 40í picnic pavilion for church social gatherings, picnics, revivals and that kind of thing. 

ß         The parcel itself is split in three quarter/one quarter proportion by Old Dominion Road.  The fellowship hall, which is the historic building on site that is an old school house, Old Dominion Road, which is the gravel road, and then the wooded portion of the site that is where the picnic pavilion is proposed.  Parking is located around the church.  Staff presented photographs in the presentation of the site.


Ms. Joseph asked if there were any questions for Ms. Arnold. 


Mr. Edgerton questioned if this special use permit should be limited to a maximum number of people for the use of the pavilion since they typically do.


Ms. Joseph noted that the Commission usually based something like that on the existing congregation so that there is no expansion that they expect. 


Mr. Edgerton asked what the existing congregation is.


Ms. Arnold replied that it was 30 to 35 persons.


Mr. Edgerton said that since the special use permit goes with the land that it would be responsible to come up with a number that would include that and maybe have some room for growth. 


Mr. Morris said that the request was to build a pavilion on the other side of the road.  There will be no parking near the pavilion or no restroom facilities in that area.  He asked if anyone on staff has been out on site and checked that road as to the safety.  He saw a potential safety problem with children and others being required to go across that road.  He wondered about the safety aspect.


Ms. Arnold said that VDOT suggested an area be specified or marked in some way for people to cross.  As stated in the staff report, that is not something that staff felt was necessary.  VDOT did not require that.  Her experience with the road was she was the only person out there and never saw another sole coming down the road.  But, staff could back up and listen to what VDOT suggested that they do.  But, it was also a concern of staff that they have as little impact on an historic site that has been what it is for a while.  Staffís concern was impacting the rural character.


Mr. Craddock suggested that the applicant could tell them what the traffic count is.  But, he did not think they needed a full blown cross walk.  He suggested that a sign be placed each way saying church crossing.


Ms. Joseph opened the public hearing and invited the applicant to address the Commission.


Walter Smith, Trustee of Oak Ridge Church, said that as far as the traffic concerns nobody likes to use the dirt road.  There will be no parking at the pavilion.  The restrooms are inside the church. 


Ms. Joseph asked why the pavilion was not put on the other side of the road behind the church.


Mr. Smith replied that as he noted in the application the church was located at the edge of soapstone and is real rocky.  The rocky area is unusable.  There are only a few spots that can be used.


Ms. Joseph asked how many were in their congregation.


Mr. Smith replied that there were about 35 to 40 persons.  But, on some days they have a lot of visiting people.  It might be quite a few more. 


Mr. Morris asked if he was comfortable with the safety situation as far as people crossing, primarily children and the elderly going back and forth across the road for the facilities.


Mr. Smith replied that he felt comfortable, but they could get VDOT to come out and put up a couple of signs.  He felt that was all that they could do. 


Mr. Craddock suggested that they probably have a good turn out for homecoming and other events like that if they were thinking about a number.


Mr. Smith noted that they really could not put a number on it.  They donít know who will show up.  If someone shows up they donít want to turn them away.


Ms. Joseph invited other public comment.  There being none, the public hearing was closed and the matter placed before the Commission.  She noted that normally things like revivals, etc. are not counted in how many people they expect because those are unusual situations.  A lot of churches have a lot of different events that occur not on a regular basis.  Usually the number is based on what they expect to see on a regular basis.


Mr. Edgerton said that normally they require 150 people as the limit.  Once the shelter is up the church may find it attractive to let other people use it.  He felt that the Commission needs to be consistent with what they do on other facilities like this.  He suggested that the Commission put a limit on it.  He would defer that question to the other Commissioners.


Ms. Joseph agreed that was fair.  The other thing that they often do is just to remind people that they canít have a daycare center there, whether child or adult, and that takes another special use permit. 


Mr. Craddock asked if there is a fire code for a pavilion.


Mr. Cilimberg replied that there was going to be a building permit. That would be reviewed as part of the permit.  They will set the guidelines as to what the structure needs to be designed to and basically include.


Mr. Morris agreed with Mr. Edgerton that a cap should be put on it.  He felt that a 150 person limit is what he recalled, but would leave that to staff.


Mr. Cannon asked if the applicant has a response to that because there is a limitation on the purpose of the use of the facility.  It is for church related, family educational and social gatherings and the occasional holding of outdoor services.  So those would all be church related events, which by their nature would have some limit built into them.  He asked if the 150 person limitation be acceptable to the applicant for any event that he would anticipate holding there with his congregation and associated friends and followers.


Mr. Smith replied that he could not guarantee that because they might have a funeral that was over that. 


Mr. Cilimberg noted that the size limitations that the Commission has used in the past and many times have been recommended by staff have been associated with, as an example, the area of assembly to make sure that the size of the church and the number of people attending is going to correspond.  Many times it is related to how the Health Department might review it for septic suitability.  If the Commission is interested in using some of the standard conditions that have been used in the past staff will need to do some research between the Commission and Board meeting.  Staff could find that information.  If that is the Commissionís intent, staff will make sure that they cover that for the Board.


Ms. Joseph noted that one of the things it says in the staff report is that there is not site plan required because there is not intensification of use.  They say that there is no intensification of use because there is not going to be any extra people there.  So if they are only having 40 and they say it is 150 they are sort of putting them in an awkward position at this point.  They need to know how many it can seat or area of assembly, whichever is greater.  She asked Mr. Kamptner for his opinion.


Mr. Kamptner said that what Mr. Cilimberg described is what needs to happen and is correct.  This special use permit is not only authorizing the pavilion it is also making a nonconforming use conforming.  So the condition related to the number of people on site is usually tied into the place of assembly or the sanctuary, which is another term that is used in the conditions.  Staff will look at the issues that Mr. Cilimberg described. 


Mr. Cannon said that if there is a limit proposed that it ought to be related to the carrying capacity of the site rather than some arbitrary limit based on how many people might show up.  The applicant is saying that he does not know.  The use of the site is limited to the purposes related to the church and not allowed to be used for other purposes.  He did not think they need to worry about non-church related events.  He would think that the limitation would be related to the ability of the site to have a certain number of people on it. 


Ms. Joseph said that right now they have a nonconforming building and are making it conforming.  They are looking at the building to see what the area of assembly is, how many people can fit in there or the number of pews and how many people can fit in there by making it conforming.  So he was talking about another thing in the land itself maybe able to have more people, but the building itself canít at this point in time.


Mr. Cannon asked if they were limiting the use of the building or the pavilion.


Ms. Joseph replied both.  They are making a nonconforming site conforming now, which includes the entire church.  It is not just the pavilion.


Mr. Kamptner said that is what the Commission is doing.  It may be that there are two different numbers because the building may be determined by the number of pews or the number of people that can fit in.  The number of people who would attend a function at the pavilion or outdoors may be controlled by what the septic field can handle. 


Mr. Cannon noted that whatever numbers they come up with they should be related to the capacity of the building and the capacity of the site and not some arbitrary limitation imposed by the current number of members.  The congregation may grow and more people may want to come and they ought to be able to accommodate those people to the extent that his site and building allow.


Mr. Kamptner said that they have had other religious special use permits where the conditions acknowledge that there may be special events where they will have a spike in the number of people on site. 


Mr. Cilimberg noted that typically they have a standard of a number that is associated with the sanctuary and then have included and excluded uses. It is understood that there may be occasions where the activities covered by included uses could draw a number that canít be defined.  It is not necessarily based on the carrying capacity of the land because it is not anticipated that they are going to be regular users of any of any of the health, safety or welfare facilities.  Staff will go back and check on some of the other churches and standard conditions to find what is necessary before this goes to the Board.


Motion:  Mr. Morris moved, Mr. Edgerton seconded, to approve SP-2007-00011, Oakridge Church Pavilion with the conditions recommended by staff, as amended with the Planning Commissionís request for modifications.


  1. Special Use Permit 2007-11 shall be developed in accord with the concept application plan and building details, provided by the applicant and received February 26, 2007 (Attachment A.)  However, the Zoning Administrator may approve revisions to the concept application plan to allow compliance with the Zoning Ordinance.
  2. The picnic pavilion shall be limited to 800 square feet and shall not include bathroom facilities or vehicular access.
  3. Staff will work with the applicant regarding the capacity or size limitation issue before the request goes to the Board of Supervisors.  Staff will research similar projects to determine what standard condition the Planning Commission has used in the past associated with the area of assembly to make sure the size of the church and the number of people attending will correspond.   


The motion passed by a vote of 6:0.   (Mr. Zobrist was absent.)


Ms. Joseph stated that SP-2007-00011, Oakridge Church Pavilion will go to the Board of Supervisors with a recommendation for approval on July 11.  The applicant should get with staff to talk about some of the numbers discussed by the Commission so that they feel comfortable before the request goes to the Board.



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