Albemarle County Planning Commission

October 9, 2007


The Albemarle County Planning Commission held a meeting, work session and a public hearing on Tuesday, October 9, 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, Bill Edgerton, Calvin Morris, Vice-Chairman; Marcia Joseph, Chairman; Eric Strucko; Duane Zobrist and Pete Craddock. Mr. Zobrist arrived at 6:15 p.m. Julia Monteith, AICP, Senior Land Use Planner for the University of Virginia was absent. 


Other officials present were John Shepherd, Chief of Current Development; Wayne Cilimberg, Planning Director; David Pennock, Principal Planner; Rebecca Ragsdale, Senior Planner; Scott Clark, Senior Planner; Allan Schuck, Senior Engineer and Greg Kamptner, Deputy County Attorney


Call to Order and Establish Quorum:


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


Other Matters Not Listed on the Agenda from the Public:


Ms. Joseph invited comment from the public on other matters not listed on the agenda.  There being none, the meeting moved to the next item.


The Planning Commission took a ten minute break at 7:55 p.m.


The meeting reconvened at 8:04 p.m.



ZMA-2007-00012 Blue Ridge CoHousing (Sign # 71, 77)

PROPOSAL:  Rezone 7.3 acres from RA -- Rural Areas: agricultural, forestal, and fishery uses; residential density (0.5 unit/acre) to PRD Planned Residential District - residential (3 - 34 units/acre) with limited commercial uses to include a maximum of 26 dwelling units, a community center, and no commercial uses.


EXISTING COMPREHENSIVE PLAN LAND USE/DENSITY:  Community of Crozet; CT-3 Urban Edge: single family residential (net 3.5-6.5 units/acre) supporting uses such as religious institutions and schools and other small-scale non-residential uses


LOCATION: Approximately 300 yards from Three Notched Road along Parkview Drive near the crossing of Parrot Branch creek.

TAX MAP/PARCEL: Tax Map 57, Parcel 67A and a portion of Tax Map 56, Parcel 67B.


(Rebecca Ragsdale)


Ms. Ragsdale provided an overview of the project with a power point presentation.  (See Staff Report.)



PROPOSAL:  Rezone 7.3 acres from RA -- Rural Areas: agricultural, forestal, and fishery uses; residential density (0.5 unit/acre) to PRD Planned Residential District - residential (3 - 34 units/acre) with limited commercial uses to include a maximum of 26 dwelling units (single-family detached and 2 multi-family units), a community center, and no commercial uses.  Single family detached and 2 multi-family


A pre-application meeting was held with the Commission in April, 2007 to discuss how it fits into the Crozet Master Plan, some design issues and received public comment from adjacent property owners.   The adjacent property is zoned Rural Area and most of it to the east is designated CT-3 in the Crozet Master Plan.


The proposal plans to utilize the existing entrances into the site.  Cohousing has some different aspects that they would prefer that might not be seen in conventional development such as clustering the houses together away from parking.  The plan is attempting to respect the 100’ stream buffers.  The Planning Commission voiced concerns about the parking and how it is relegated. Therefore, the applicant is proposing extensive vegetation in the front between the parking and the roadway.  There are 2 buildings proposed with 4 units each.  The pedestrian access and parking is broken up.  Some of the paths are intended to provide for emergency access. 


The proposed road section for Park View Drive is for a private road or a rural section with an 8’ trail on one side. Staff did not process the private road waiver request because there is still the issue of not having the documentation in hand regarding the applicant’s ability and authorization to use Park View Drive. 


There are still outstanding issues staff has discussed with the applicant that are listed in the staff report.  The applicant is anxious to address these issues.  Staff will provide an update on what the applicant has been doing. But, they do have the submittal from September before the Commission that has been reviewed by staff.





The proposed density is 26 units, which is within the Crozet Master Plan Guidelines. It specifies a net density of 3.5 to 4.5 for this property.  It would be 6.5 if additional affordable units are provided.  This project falls at 4.5, which does not exceed the maximum.  They have met some of the principles of the Neighborhood Model design and provided 19 percent affordable housing.


Some of the outstanding issues are related to the application plan and it not being in a form that can be approved. With regards to grading and the workable concepts for storm water management, there are still some outstanding questions related to whether or not fire rescue requirements had been adequately factored in the plan conceptually that would not result in new design.  The storm water and proffers do not meet the Board expectations.  With regards to VDOT comments, they provided additional comments as to standards for intersection upgrades they were requiring for Route 240 and Park View Drive that have been changed since the rezoning request and the need to provide site distance verifications and easements on the plans to satisfy VDOT. 


Staff is not able to recommend approval of this rezoning or to provide analysis on the waiver requests.  Staff has discussed with the applicant and it could be treated as a work session with a request for deferral.  Based on the plan that staff reviewed they cannot recommend approval.


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


Mr. Edgerton asked if the other owners of the private street refuse to grant the appropriate improvements would this parcel be inaccessible.  Is there another way that the applicant can access the property?


Ms. Ragsdale replied that Park View Drive is the sole access.  Since the staff report was sent the applicant has sent in various documents such as deeds on how Park View Drive is deeded as an access easement. Staff needs to look at that information to determine what the status of that is. It is the sole access.  Staff wants to avoid that type of situation and have that information up front.


Mr. Edgerton noted that he lived on a road that has not been widened because a few of the owners that own to the center of the road and refuse to grant an easement. That continues to be an issue. He wondered how valuable their discussion will be without a determination on that.


Ms. Ragsdale replied that the applicant feels comfortable with it, but staff has that information to review.


Mr. Strucko asked how many easement holders are there on the road.


Ms. Ragsdale replied that there were more than a dozen folks that use Parkview Drive that were under different road agreements depending on their access points on the road. She was not sure if all of the owners on that road would have to sign the easement.  She would seek guidance from Mr. Kamptner.


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


Collin Arnold, part Community Housing Partner, said that he was present to represent the applicant and the owners.  Regarding the road improvements, they presented the necessary documentation to the County.  The deeds indicate that they have right to improve Park View Drive as part of their right to improve that roadway.  He understands that has to be reviewed.  But, it is their position that they have the necessary documentation.  From the previous work session they did take into consideration four issues that the Commission had from their previous presentation.  Those were density, parking, housing types and neighborhood outreach.  They have reduced the number of units from 32 to 26.  The parking has been radically changed.  The previous presentation indicated one single parking lot.  They have relegated the parking into five areas breaking it down in scale and working in into the existing land forms and taking advantage of the existing landscape features existing along Park View Drive.  Regarding the housing types, the previous application indicated to be more consistent with the townhouse form of design.  They have provided duplex units and 4 single family units.  There is some documentation in the packet that really indicates some of the architectural character they are talking about in the packet.  All the units mimic a single family resident. Regarding the community outreach, members of the Blue Cohousing have been discussing this project with concerned neighbors.  This included a formal meeting at Crozet Library in July.   They have been making strives to address the staff report comments received last week.


Mr. Cannon asked if he is asking that this be treated as a work session.


Mr. Arnold replied that they are actually requesting an action and not a work session.   They will address any concerns of the staff and have the information back in by the 19th of the month.


Ms. Joseph asked if he realized that staff is recommending denial, and Mr. Arnold replied yes.


Ms. Joseph invited public comment.


Tom Makend said that they were not here for profit, but to build a home for themselves.  He asked that the request be approved.  He thanked the Commission for giving this opportunity.


Nancy Chapel, a 15 year resident of Crozet, asked that the Commission recommend approval of the request to the Board of Supervisors.  She chose to join this particular community for many reasons.  This would give her the opportunity to purchase her first home in a wonderful neighborhood.  The affordable housing is a serious concern in this community and they are proposing to provide 19 percent.  This is greater amount than is currently required by the County.  She is a single parent who has worked in a nonprofit organization in Crozet since 1992 and she asked that they consider the needs of low income workers who hope to provide housing for their families.  They have made many attempts to revise their plans according to their comments.  It is now a better plan.


Elizabeth Hoover, 11 year resident of Albemarle County and a member of Blue Ridge Cohousing asked that the Commission approve the rezoning request.  She was at the meeting at the library in July with the community.  It was well attended.  They want them to know that they are still available for their questions and concerns.  One of the things that make this type of community different is that they have a system in place to hear these concerns and to find solutions


Alford Hoover, 15 year resident of Albemarle County, asked that the County embrace and encourage this proposal.  The applicant has been working hard to meet the requirements of the County to be a good steward of the land and a good neighbor in order to live in an environmentally sustainable community. This is a unique situation and would be a benefit to the community.  He asked that the Commission approve the request.


Susan Perry said that she hated development and liked things to stay the same, but it can’t. She was proud of what they are doing in keeping the land the way it is supposed to be.  They are only taking down 8 trees.  They are taking staff’s comments very seriously.  She asked that the Commission recommend approval of the request so the request can go to the Board next month.


Alonzo Forehand requested that the Commission approve this rezoning change.  The plan is designed according to the Neighborhood Model concept and has many good features. 


Jen Song Mega smith, resident of Albemarle County for 13 years, spoke in favor of the request because of what the proposal would give back to the community and environment.  This proposal is a real gift to the community in the spirit of the County and should be supported. 


Jay Perry, Executive Coach and a member of Blue Ridge Cohousing, said that he lives at home and wanted to speak in favor of the request.  There has been some concern expressed by the neighbors about the amount of traffic added to the road.  He took that very seriously because if he lived there it would be his concern. Some of the residents would work at home.  The traffic created from the community would not be a problem.  There is a lot of hard work that goes into a request like this.  When he found out that they received staff’s comments at the end of last week for this meeting he was angry.  He was angry because they were so committed to responding to everything, but did not have adequate time to respond.  He felt that it would be grossly unfair to be held up for 3 to 4 months.  He requested that they approve the request with conditions or make it possible for them to move forward recognizing this time factor.  They need some kind of reasonable time frame to respond.


Chris Murray, of JABA, supported the Cohousing as a concept.  Anything that allows the opportunity for the aging to live in the community is something that he would support.  This concept supports social support systems, which includes sharing cars and all sorts of other things making less support system having to come from the government.  Cohousing is affordable and provides a way for low income workers to own a home.


Ego Trim, member of Blue Ridge Cohousing, said that he lived outside of Washington.  He wanted to this community.  The traffic impact will be less in this type of community, particularly because of the number of persons working from home.  The data shows that the cost to us when have 26 units that the traffic impact will be much less than what one would see with traditional townhouses.  The traffic will be less. A lot of the folks will work at home and have various times to come and go.  There are many cohousing communities in the Washing area.  Cohousing tends to keep its value and pace with the local community.  He asked that the Commission give conditional approval.  He wanted to live in Albemarle County in this cohousing community and was very committed.


Steve Melton, an adjacent property owner, said that in the interest of time he would speak on behalf of all of the adjacent owners present.  The meeting in July at the library was very productive.  The adjacent owners were also trying to keep an open mind and acknowledged their passion for the project.  But, they were just as passionate about their privacy.  He had lived there for 25 years and others have lived there longer.  They have used Park View Drive as their sole access.  There are a lot of concerns. They are not against the concept, but feel that this is not the right area for the cohousing development. Their main issue is about Park View Drive and all of the issues that include sight distance.  The second entrance does not have adequate sight distance.  He asked what type of road surface is proposed.  The road improvements are a significant issue.  What happens if the cohousing concept fails?  It is a unique project and does not have the standard type of home.  Does the Cohousing Association have a mechanism for repurchasing these houses when someone moves out?  These things concern them as neighbors.  They feel that the property is better suited for 3 houses or a mini estate which would compliment the adjoining area.   There are a lot of issues yet to be discussed. They will keep an open mind, but feel that they need to think about this a little more.


Annie Hill, long time resident of this area, said that this spot has been designated as a development area.  Therefore, some type of development is going to occur.  All of the issues about the easement are going to come up.  Their group is willing to work out these issues.  They will work with the neighbors.  She asked that they give approval with conditions.


Martin Schulman said that he attended the prior work session and felt that the plan has been greatly improved.  He felt that the proposal would benefit the community.  The closest residential neighbor is over ˝ mile away.  He is the only person who will see this development from their backyard.  He appreciated the revised parking and the changes to address the number and type of homes.  He supported the approval of the request and felt that the applicant would address all of the outstanding issues.  He supported the proposal because it would provide work force and affordable housing for the employment center in the growth area. He asked that Commission recommend approval of this request conditional upon the applicant addressing all of the outstanding concerns that have not been addressed during the past several days.


Peter La Zore, Manager of the Blue Ridge Cohousing, LLC, said that they just decided today to request approval on the request even if staff recommended denial.  They strongly believe that they have come up with the solutions to all of these concerns that just need to be reviewed by staff. It would be a waste of time to come back for a full public hearing before the Commission again.  They have worked very diligently during the last week to come up with the solutions. 


Ms. Schulman said that there is an issue that needs to be addressed.  She lives on the old farm and with the cutting of the 8 trees it will destroy the gardens.  It is an historical home.  When this development is made there was the old clinic on the home.  The clinic is now on an adjacent parcel.  She felt that the beautiful view of the mountains would be destroyed.  She questioned how the adjoining property would be affected if this rezoning was approved.  She encouraged the Commission to preserve the historic house and the view of the mountains.


There being no further public comment, the public hearing was closed and the matter before the Commission.


Mr. Strucko asked that they start with the proffers.  He asked if the applicant was requesting a $20,000 credit for each affordable unit.


Ms. Ragsdale replied that the applicant did not speak whether they want to keep that in the standard proffers.  But, that is what staff had. 


Mr. Cilimberg said that the policy regarding cash is that any affordable units will not be subject to the dollar amounts. This would assume additional credit.  He was not sure if they were still looking for that.  It is written in the other standard language that they have used in other proffers, which Mr. Kamptner could speak to.  Then it would be structured in such a way that any of the affordable units would not be subject and all market units would be subject based on the rates of $17,500, $11,900 and $12,400.  Staff would recommend that to the Commission and Board of Supervisors.


Mr. Strucko said that the 26 units would have an effect on the Crozet community whether it is schools, fire/rescue, various parks, etc.  He could not see giving an additional credit of $20,000 per affordable unit on top of the fact that those affordable units are exempt from the regular cash policy.


Mr. Edgerton said that the proffer language and discussion by the applicant indicated that they were only asking for the additional credit for the number of affordable units above what was required, which was one unit.  Page 49 of the Code of Development has this statement.


Mr. Strucko thanked Mr. Edgerton for his explanation.


Mr. Cilimberg noted that this matter needs to be squared away here. The Board will take up this policy tomorrow.  There are not credits for units in excess of the number required by the County. That is not in the policy.  They simply don’t charge those units in excess.  So if they are providing 1, 5 or 10 whatever number above what is required under the 15 percent policy they simply don’t have a cash proffer assigned to them. They don’t get a credit. 


Mr. Strucko said that he was confused by the $20,000 language, but supported the cash policy as written.  He asked if the cash proffer includes a transportation component. 


Mr. Cilimberg said that it would cover transportation projects in our CIP, but this is not a project in the CIP. 


Mr. Strucko said that this was a private street with 26 units.  He asked how many vehicle trips that would generate per day.


Mr. Cilimberg replied that it would be upwards of 260, but the applicant indicated that it would be less.


Mr. Strucko felt that it was still an intensity of use. He asked why they were not considering a public road there.  Is that possible given the easement?


Ms. Joseph replied that she did not know because they just received the information.


Ms. Strucko noted that he had a concern about a private road serving this number of units.  He felt that public road standards would certainly be more appropriate.  To be able to walk to and from work sidewalks and curb and gutter would be needed.  If this community was indeed to facilitate that type of walk ability, sidewalks on an adequate road width would be required.  Therefore, he had a concern about that.


Ms. Joseph said that many of these issues if worked out now will save the applicant a lot of time later during the site plan process.  The applicant will have to have these things working properly, such as the storm water management, or they will have to come back for an amendment.  There are many issues that still need to be worked.  She appreciated that the applicant did not want to waste the Commission’s time, but cautioned the applicant of potential problems in the future site plan process.  She asked if it can be worked within the perimeters of the storm water because of the buffer.


Mr. Stucco noted concern about encroachment on the stream buffer, which will be greatly impacted by the grading.   


Mr. Zobrist said that there are a lot of unresolved issues.  He pointed out that pushing urban edge density is wrong.


The Commissioners agreed with staff’s recommendation concerning the unfavorable points listed in the staff report.


Motion: Mr. Zobrist moved, Mr. Craddock seconded, to deny ZMA-2007-00012, Blue Ridge CoHousing as recommended by the staff and to not approve the requested waivers for the 30’ building separation and the Section 12.4 curb and gutter in the parking areas and along the travel ways.


The motion passed by a vote of 7:0. 


Ms. Joseph stated that ZMA-2007-00012, Blue Ridge CoHousing will go before the Board of Supervisors on November 14, 2007 with a recommendation for denial.


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