Albemarle County Planning Commission

August 14, 2007


The Albemarle County Planning Commission held a meeting, work session and public hearing on Tuesday, August 14, 2007, at 6:00 p.m., at the County Office Building, Lane Auditorium, Second Floor, 401 McIntire Road, Charlottesville, Virginia.


Members attending were Jon Cannon, Eric Strucko; Duane Zobrist and Pete Craddock.  Absent were Marcia Joseph, Chairman; Calvin Morris, Vice-Chairman and Bill Edgerton.  Julia Monteith, AICP, Senior Land Use Planner for the University of Virginia was absent. 


Other officials present were Wayne Cilimberg, Planning Director; David E. Pennock, Principal Planner; John Shepherd, Chief of Current Development; Tamara Ambler, Natural Resources Manager; Allan Schuck, Senior Engineer; Judith Wiegand, Senior Planner; Rebecca Ragsdale, Senior Planner; Amy Arnold, Planner; Amelia McCulley, Director of Current Development & Zoning/Zoning Administrator and Greg Kamptner, Deputy County Attorney. 


Call to Order and Establish Quorum:


Mr. Cilimberg called the meeting to order at 6:00 p.m. and established a quorum. 



            Work Session:


ZMA-2007-00005 Avon Park II

PROPOSAL:  Rezone 5.17 acres from R-1 Residential (1 unit/acre) to R-6 Residential (6 units/acre) The proposal is to allow development of 31 townhouse and single family units.


EXISTING COMPREHENSIVE PLAN LAND USE/DENSITY:  Neighborhood Density Residential - residential (3-6 units/acre) and supporting uses such as religious institutions and schools and other small-scale non-residential uses.


LOCATION: Avon Street Extended, approx. 1,000 feet north of the intersection of Avon Street Ext. and Route 20, south of existing Avon Court

TAX MAP/PARCEL: Tax Map 90, Parcel 31

MAGISTERIAL DISTRICT:  Scottsville (Rebecca Ragsdale)


Ms. Ragsdale presented a power point presentation and summarized the proposal.


·         This is a work session to review the proposal.  The project is still under review and the public hearing is scheduled for October 16.  Staff requests comments from the Commission on some of the issues staff has been discussing with the applicant mainly relating to the proposed design and layout and private street request.   


·         The request is to rezone from R-1 to R-6 with a proffered application plan.  The project is located beside the Avon Park project that is under construction.  The 31 units proposed include 1 single-family residence that would be preserved on the site with a mix of housing types on about a 5 acre property.  It would be 6 dwelling units per acre.  It is designated Neighborhood Density.  Therefore, that is within the Comprehensive Plan guidelines.


·         Staff provided an introduction or overview of the project and explained where it is within the context of some of the other projects in the neighborhood.  In the staff report the primary concerns raised is regarding what is happening in the area.  Hathaway Street would be extended as a public street and meet the Neighborhood Model street sections that staff desires.  Stratford Way would serve the proposed units within the project and is proposed as a private street.  It does not propose the planting strip that staff desires. The planting would be provided on the individual lots.  It ends in a hammer head with access to the existing house that would be preserved and to the new unit would come around.  There is pedestrian access proposed to the green space/open space amenity area within the project, which will also have a storm water management pond.


·         There would be the need for grinder pumps.  Staff typically defers to the Service Authority on that.  The Service Authority has said that they are okay with them.  Grinder pumps were approved in Avon Park I.  Staff generally has concerns regarding easements and maintenance.  The applicant has submitted a plan showing how they have worked out those easements for the grinder pumps. 


·         Draft proffers have been submitted and reviewed by staff, which commits them to the application plan.  The applicant is meeting the affordable housing goals by providing 15 percent as the number of units as affordable and then a cash equivalent because 4 ½ if how it works out for this project. The cash proffers are slightly less than what the Board has considered in their Cash Proffer Policy.  The applicant was seeking initially credit for Neighborhood Model Design and the Board has said they would not be entertaining any additional credits to the Cash Proffer Policy for that.


·         The main purpose of this discussion was to talk about staff’s concern regarding the lots and how the access is provided to them; how the open space amenity area relates to the residential units; and then comments regarding the private street requests.   In general staff is supportive of that if the section is revised to accommodate the street trees.  Staff’s concern is that this would function as an alley and not as a street that pedestrians would be comfortable walking on.  This project has front loaded garages within the development and parking is relegated in that manner.    


·         Questions raised in the staff report include the design and layout issues.  Is the design and layout appropriate given some of the background?  Does the Commission support Strafford Way as a private street?  Then any other issues that are in need of resolution should be addressed.


Mr. Strucko invited the applicant to address the Commission.


Frank Pohl, with Weatherhill Development, asked to comment on the site constraints. 


Mr. Strucko asked if there were any questions for the applicant.


Mr. Zobrist questioned how they plan to integrate the existing home with the planned development.


Mr. Pohl replied that the front porch on the house does not exactly line up; however they see it fitting in nicely with what they propose.  They plan to remodel the house, but not hide it.


Andrew Boserman, Architect with Weatherhill Development, said that home is actually surrounded by the single family component of the development.  The home was built in 2000.  Essentially the new houses will be similar. 


Mr. Zobrist noted that they were going to have some other members of the Commission to satisfy when they come back that are much more sensitive to those issues than others might be.  That is the reason he was asking the question.  They were going to want to see that integrated in some way into the development to where it looks like somebody thought about it. 


Mr. Pohl noted that a minor revision was done in part to address some concerns with the affordable housing and how it was attached to a townhouse.  It helps the situation that was brought up in regards to how this lot is laid out.  He explained the proposed townhouse layout.


Mr. Strucko invited public comment.


Gary Brooks, adjacent property owner, said that he represented the entire Brooks family.  He asked to expand and reinforce their concerns, which had been mentioned.  They want a privacy fence because they already have a driveway very close to that property that they have problem with vehicular and foot traffic cross over.  They are looking for something there to prevent that and try to keep their environment as close to what it is right now as possible.  Their water shed in this area is very delicate.  They only get 1 gallon per minute out of their best well.  They are looking at a development coming from Biscuit Run.  They fear along with droughts coming more frequently that they are likely to see their wells dry up.  They have requested to be able to tap onto the water line.  Weatherhill has been working with them on this.  They are looking at the idea of a small park.  They would not have a problem with a utility road or a private road coming through there, but they would discourage any connecting road that would go into that park.  They fear what might take place in the park after dark. 


Rob Sprawls, resident of 1940 Avon Street for 22 years, said that his property was totally surrounded by this development.  The proposed development would be on the south side of his property.  He was a participant in the hearings that were conducted in 2003 with Avon Park 1.  He did not have any illusions because this area has been designated as a development area and this project will probably go through.  His main concerns with the way Avon Park 1 has proceeded.    During that first phase when that property was bought and developed they were told that they would receive a privacy fence with trees planted.  The privacy fence has not been built and the trees have not been planted.  There is a storm water run off retention pond that is on the north side of his property.  That was done and it intermittently has some water or no water.  It is mainly a mosquito trap.  Their problem with it is that there was a dam built to retain the water there.  The dam was seeded with grass.  There was an ugly orange erosion control fence put on his north property line and also on the ridge of that dam.  There has nothing been ever done with that fence since then other than it is falling down.  The grass was planted about two years ago, but has never been cut.  He has not gotten a fence or any trees.  There has been no communication with the developer in terms of any concerns that he might have.  He was being totally enclosed by this project with a lot of pavement and a lot of storm drains taking water off of his area that he pumps out of with his well.  He certainly has a concern in that regard.   The houses on the north west corner of his property are perhaps 20’ from the property line. On the new site plan it appears that a house going in 10’ from the property line on the south side in this new Avon Park II.  He urged the Planning Commission to consider carefully what their actual recommendation is since the recommendations for Avon Park I did not appear to provide for his concerns.    Nothing has been done since.   They are indicating that the existing vegetation will be preserved.  There is a line of evergreen trees that are right on his property line.  He would certainly hope that the evergreen trees would remain. He hoped that the road would be chained off from Avon Street.   It is a paved driveway with stone pillars that could easily be sealed off.  That would certainly be of a benefit to his family.  The staff report mentioned reducing the speed limit on Avon Street to 35 to 45 miles per hours.  He would highly endorse that.  There is a severe curve at his north property line.  Therefore, there is no visibility coming down off the hill to his driveway or any other driveways below that.  He did not understand their analysis that there would be 8 students that would live in this 30 unit development.  He felt that there would be a lot more than 8.  The traffic issue has not been addressed.  The elimination of the second driveway would help.


There being no further public comment, Mr. Strucko brought the matter before the Commission.  He noted that they would go through staff’s questions that started on page 8 of the staff report.


·         Is the design and layout appropriate given some of the background?  Does the Commission support Strafford Way as a private street?  Then are there any other issues that are in need of resolution should be addressed.


Staff is concerned about how the layout of the private street is going to function in terms of vehicles and pedestrians through this area.  It does not meet the Neighborhood Model design standards as far as the planting strip and the sidewalk in place. 


Mark Keeler, of Terra Concepts, addressed the private road issue.  They have tried to lay out all of the utilities at the rezoning stage.  They have created setbacks for the lots such that they had the same amount of distance away from the travel way as one would have if they began at the back of the curb allowed for a 6’ grassed parkway and then a 5’ sidewalk and at a minimum an additional 18’ for a car to park outside so it would not obstruct the sidewalk as was discussed on an earlier project this evening.  When they got to the point when they had to overlay the easements that would be required for every single utility they realized that combining the water and the sewer in the street, which is the default method in designing these utilities, could be used.  He noted that one half of one easement can overlap that of the other.  So instead of two 20’ wide easements they would end up with a 30’ wide easement within which both water and sewer may reside.  Whenever possible it is advantageous for all parties to have those associated utilities located underneath the pavement.  There is a variety of reasons for that.  They get cut less and there is no plantings allowed in those easements.  Of course, they would not want to plant in pavement.  The road is 25’ wide from the back of the curb.  But, a 30’ easement for water and sewer needs to overlay that and be centered.  Part of the water and sewer easement overlays that 6’ grass strips that they would typically envision that would occur on these roadways.  They overcome that situation in projects like Willow Glen because they have links of roads and traffic volumes that warrants a little wider than a 24’ wide road.  Some of those roads in Willow Glen had on street parking.  They were inherently wider.  Here these roads are very short, dead ends with no anticipation of future extension.  Therefore, they flipped the 6’ grass parkway that would otherwise be sandwiched between the sidewalk and the roadway so that it actually became a component of a front yard so that that the grass or landscape area was now contiguous and move the paving for the sidewalk up behind the curb.  They feel that the trees will have a better opportunity to survive if they are not sandwiched between asphalt on a roadway and a sidewalk on another side.  Furthermore, they feel that the sidewalks will probably crack less.  They strive to design all of their projects to the standard protocol.  They have an extenuating circumstance and have a proposal that they wanted to put forward the Commission.  They think that in this very small and limited context that it was worthy of their consideration.


Mr. Zobrist said that they have some real challenges ahead to get this to work in order to get some consensus among the Commission.  He felt that it was a difficult site and the Commission needs to rely on the designer.


Mr. Strucko noted that the next question was about Stafford Way as a private street.  There are some qualifying statements in the staff report that says since this street is not expected to interconnect to an adjoining properties staff could accept a notion that this could remain a private street.


Ms. Ragsdale asked for comments on the street section proposed. 


Mr. Zobrist said that he was probably okay with it, but wanted to maybe sandwich another work session in before the public hearing due to the absent members.  It makes sense what Mr. Keller said because of the low traffic volume.  .


Ms. Ragsdale said that based on the discussion staff and the applicant know what to work on and bring back for discussion and what areas for them to pay attention to.


Mr. Cannon assumed that there was a reason why they wanted the trees between the sidewalk and the street.  He encouraged the applicant to pay attention to the concerns of the neighbors resulting from Avon Park I.  It would benefit the developer and neighbor to work the issues out.


Mr. Strucko echoed that the neighbor’s concerns should be addressed, particularly the privacy fence along the Brooks property and the availability to tap into the public water line.  He questioned if the trees would be planted on private property.


Mr. Craddock and Mr. Zobrist agreed.


In summary, the Planning Commission held a work session to discuss ZMA-2007-0005, Avon Park II.  Ms. Ragsdale presented a power point presentation to review the proposed layout, the private street request and any other issue the Commission thought would be important to resolve before a public hearing. Public comment was taken. The applicant’s representatives presented a concept for revising the proposed layout of the development, explained the proposal and answered questions. 


The Commission reviewed and discussed the proposal and answered questions posed by staff and made comments and suggestions. No formal action was taken. The Commission made the following comments and suggestions:





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