ZMA-2004-00022 Treesdale Park (Sign # 33)

PROPOSAL:  Rezone 6.60 acres from R4 residential zoning district which allows residential uses (4 units per acre) to PRD (Planned Residential District) - which allows residential uses (3 - 34 units/acre) with limited commercial uses. This request proposes a total of 90 units at a density of 14 units per acres and no commercial uses.


COMPREHENSIVE PLAN LAND USE/DENSITY:  Urban Density Residential (6 - 34 units per acre).


LOCATION: The property is located in the Rio Magisterial District at 640 E. Rio Road, south of Towne Lane on the west side of East Rio Road.

TAX MAP/PARCEL: Tax Map 61, Parcels 182, 183, and 183A.

(Elaine Echols)


Mr. Echols presented a power point presentation and summarized the staff report.  (See staff report.)


This is the project for Treesdale Park, which the Commission has seen previously.   The property is zoned R-4.  The Comprehensive Plan designates this parcel as Urban Density Residential and the applicant would like zoning that is more in keeping with the Comprehensive Plan. The project was submitted in December, 2004 and over 2005 the applicant met with residents on the project, worked on it a little bit more and held work sessions with the Commission on October 31, 2006 and August 28, 2007.


AHIP is the owner.  The request is to rezone 6.6 acres to PRD foot 14 dwelling units per acre.

It is obviously much higher on a net density because most of the rear of the parcel is not developed.  One hundred percent of the units will be for families of up to 60 percent of the median household income.  It is an affordable housing project.  The application plan was reviewed.  The parking is relegated.  Earlier proposals had a different orientation of these particular buildings.  There is a greenway easement in the back proposed.


There have been a number of issues and concerns over the last few years.


Unfavorable Factors:



Favorable Factors:



Staff recommends that the Board of Supervisors should only approve it when they get the provision of the easement of the binding agreement with the adjoining owners, when the applicant provides some architecture commitments and qualifications of the drawings that they have provided and provide for terrace walls or at least leave open the opportunity that the plan could change and provide terraced walls; allow for the greenway easement on the adjoining property; and a decision needs to be made on the appropriateness of the blasting proffer.


James Barbour, of Fire Rescue and Glenn Brooks, County Engineer are present to answer questions.


Ms. Joseph asked if there were any questions.


Mr. Edgerton asked staff to point out where the retaining walls would be located and where they would propose terracing.


Ms. Echols pointed out that the retaining walls were located at the back of the parking lots. 


With the retaining walls staff is concerned with the safety of children.  There will be guard rails out there at 18í to 25í, which is fairly tall. Terracing in that area will require additional grading.  But, there is going to be some grading in the area anyway.  Staff believes that if it is a question of preserving trees and not grading they would have a preference that there would additional grading for the retaining walls.


Mr. Edgerton asked if the additional grading would have to be in critical slopes.


Ms. Echols replied that there were critical slopes in the back of the property.


Mr. Edgerton said that for that trade off they would have to destroy more critical slopes, and Ms. Echols replied that was correct.


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


Mike Fenner, of Cox Company represented the Albemarle Housing Improvement Program, said that the members of their team present included Teresa Tapscott, Joyce Dudek, Kirk Hesecker and Bruce Woodell. 

         Staff has done a good job of articulating the changes they have made to the plan and proffers since the last meeting.  They have worked hard with staff on bringing a better plan before the Commission.  The biggest change is in the proffer for the 100 percent affordable housing.  They plan to provide 90 affordable housing units.  The previous proffer before them was a 15 percent.  They are comfortable with the conditions outlined by Ms. Echols and certainly with respect to the agreement.  The agreement outline is attempting to speak to the issue with respect to the shared BMP facilitator.  The facility was located in 2 separate locations previously.  They noted the wetland issue, which was addressed in the last work session in the easterly direction.  So they have moved the facility to one shared facility to the west of where it was shown previously.  That is sized appropriately to serve both Treesdale and the Stonewater facility that is planned towards the south. 

         Other changes they have made are that they have shown a directional island that would prohibit anything beyond a right in and right out of the Treesdale proposed facility.  VDOT has weighed in and said that a median would not be acceptable there so as not to prohibit existing residents across Rio Road from making that left hand turn out onto Rio Road heading towards the city.  The directional island is a compromise and one in which they have acknowledged that opposed folks could attempt to make the left out.  They feel that is an appropriate design solution to force people to follow AHIPís direction all along, which is a right in and a right out only facility.  So the agreement is not a problem at all.

         Of the other conditions, the drawing on the front page is provided as an illustrious measure as have been all of the architectural exhibits they have shown to the neighborhood meetings and to the Planning Commission.  In terms of what their commitment is to the architecture is they feel that they have made a certain level of commitment.  They have agreed to absolute maximum building height of 35í; the location as shown on the application plan both in terms of building orientation, which they have shifted in response to neighborhood concerns to orient the buildings short wise and not long wise adjacent to the adjoining neighborhood.  Also, included are the orientation with the parking below, relegating the parking, moving the entrance road to the northern boundary and to the middle of the property and in terms of their proffer for the Earthcraft  Certification process they are committed to taking part in seeking certification so that it will be a sustainable design.  They are not allowing any vinyl materials on the siding.  Short of providing documentation in terms of what the actual exterior faÁade will look like or what the materials itself will or the colors, they feel that they have given them a pretty good sense of the form, massing of buildings and how they will be viewed from the neighbors.  At this point in the process with costs being what they are and it is so critical to bring an affordable project forward they are just not at a point where they are able to have the drawings in place to commit to any other level of detail beyond that.  

         Staff described the terrace wall issue very well.  They would be happy to include the note on the plan as requested by staff with the understanding that they will need a little bit of flexibility of where they are defining the limits of disturbance and expanded on the critical slopes impact area.  The concern about the retaining wall height is a sound one. They understand it, but it is a trade off and they are happy to take direction on that issue.  In terms of the greenway easement possibly being on the adjoining Stonewater property they are happy with that and will accommodate the path on the Treedale property. They are committed to doing that.  They worked with the Stonewater property owners to allow for the shared path and vehicular access to provide access to the shared BMP facilitator.  Within that they are fine with accommodating that statement. 

         They are happy to work with the statement regarding working on modifications with the County Attorney.  Within the blasting proffer their intent there was hearing from the neighbors and their concern in the neighborhood meetings and the last Planning Commission work session.  Their intent there is to promise the neighbors that the same procedure and processes that were in place for the construction of the Charlottesville Catholic School just to the north on Rio Road would be put in place for the construction of Treesdale.  With that they feel that this is a better design and project from last time.  They appreciate staffís help and the Commissionís direction.  It is very important to AHIP the process for the tax credit application.  The application deadlines are shortly after the first of the year.  The zoning needs to be in place for AHIP to have any opportunity to compete.  The tax credits are an integral piece of the economics to enable AHIP to deliver the 90 affordable housing units proposed in the project.  From their standpoint, they have worked with the neighbors and staff on a challenging site in order to bring a better plan to provide a badly needed 90 affordable housing units within the community.  


Ms. Joseph invited public comment.


Jeanette McCarthy, a County resident, said that she was here on behalf of IMPACT.  They are an organization of 27 diverse religious organizations in Charlottesville and Albemarle County.  Their mission is to create a greater degree of justice for local residents.  One of the key focuses of IMPACT is affordable housing. They are most interested in creating more housing opportunities for families earning under $20,000 a year or 30 percent AMI.  There are about 6,000 families in the Planning District that fall into this income category.  There are valuable service workers, including teacher aids, house keepers for service workers, cashiers and landscapers.  For this population there is a deficit of almost 4,000 units of affordable housing.  The Treesdale project will help the community deal with this critical need.  The housing crisis has had an especially bad effect on school children.  The Albemarle County Schools shared these statistics with us. 

            In 2003/2004 there were 84 homeless children.

            The next years there were 215.

            In 2005/2006 there were 284.

            In 2006/2007 there were 320 homeless children.

As a retired teacher she finds these statistics appalling.  They canít expect children to perform well in school when their lives are so insecure.  Often people are concerned that affordable housing reduces property values.  However, a study by the Center of Community Change showed that this does not happen.  Also studies reviewed that the lack of affordable housing has a negative affect on employers, seniors, poor people, entry level service workers and public sector professionals such as teachers, firefighters and policemen.  A shortage of affordable housing also has a negative effect on broader quality of life issues such as economic development of the region, traffic congestion, commute time and air quality.  In short, housing issues affects us all.  We as a community need more affordable housing.  IMPACT fully supports the Treesdale project.


Leon Blumrich said that he lived on the corner of Penn Park Lane and was an orchid grower.  He was concerned about the traffic.  One of the Commissioners said that this was a rural road and that these big boxes do not fit in this setting. VDOT indicated that it was a rural road.  This really affects the aesthetic values.  He was the one who brought up blasting because of his well and his business, which it could greatly affect as well as the plaster in the homes.  He did not feel that these large apartment complexes right on the road are fitting for their particular road.


Mary Dickens, of 605 East Rio Road right across from the Treesdale project, spoke in opposition to the rezoning request.  They need a report on the drilling that was done on this site for rock in the area of these buildings with the underground parking.  The drilling of rock has been completed since the last meeting with the Commission on August 28, 2007.  She asked if they could provide them with a report on this drilling at this time because they need answers to that.  This project is incompatible with their area of East Rio Road, which is zoned R-4 and should not be changed to PRD zoning.  Traffic congestion is overwhelming and causes delays for police, firemen and other services due to their overcrowded roadway with bumper to bumper traffic on this narrow 2-lane curvy road with no shoulders.  They cannot get a traffic count later than 2005, which VDOTís count was 26,000 cars daily.  Now the pick up in traffic would exceed more than 28,000 daily.  There are 3 schools within a fourth of a mile of this project that are private schools.  The students need their own transportation to and from school as the students are too young to drive creating extra traffic twice daily.  She asked that the rezoning request be denied.  She asked how much more traffic can Rio Road endure.


Brent OíMandy, member of IMPACT and County resident, spoke in favor of the project.  He had some previous experience that has shown him the critical need of affordable housing.  For 30 years he was superintendent of schools and 27 of those was in an adjoining county.  They had people there that moved back and forth from Albemarle County as they tried to find affordable housing.  This created a great problem for the children and their achievement.  Last year he worked on a study regarding the need for affordable housing.  He thinks that it has been well documented. He asked that the rezoning request be granted.  


Jen Cunningham, an abutting property owner on Town Lane, said she had no problem with affordable housing.  She questioned the diagram that showed the parking lot behind the third building.  She asked if that was a change from the last meeting.  She asked if there are sidewalks proposed coming in and out of Rio Road.  It would be helpful to have sidewalks along Rio Road.


Manna Greta, Resident in the City, said that he had been dealing with AHIP for a long time.  He bought his house from AHIP.  He did on a rent to own housing.  At present he was a behavior specialist with Region Ten Community Services Board.  He worked with a lot of refuge families and underprivileged low income families.  The Parks Edge project on Whitewood has been very helpful for the community especially people that they have been able to bring down from mental health and all of those things have been given places there.  They have gotten a lot of grants to provide affordable housing at that location.  They need more affordable housing in this area to accommodate these needs.  The Treesdale project is a much needed project.


Lisa Hoy, at 1075 Town Lane, said that she lived right in front of the storm water management facility.  She did not oppose affordable housing.  But, she would have to sell her house if this project were developed as is.   She did not think that they were clear on the stormwater management.  That was a big issue at the last meeting.  She saw a lot of things in this project that have changed.  She did not think that they could say at this meeting that it was a go deal.  There are still a lot of concerns such as crime and traffic.  It is a great thing, but not behind her house. It would be a good project in another location.  There are too many unanswered questions.


Dan McCrellos, resident of Townwood Lane, said that this project would be a detriment to the surrounding community.  It is out of character with the neighborhood.  He asked if Meadowcreek Parkway is not completed on time what would happen next. The traffic on Rio Road was already at the limits that the road could sustain. There is no bus access, which would be needed for an affordable housing project. The homeowners in the surrounding neighborhood would be greatly impacted. Therefore, he asked that the project be carefully considered with these concerns in mind.  He asked if it was not an affordable housing project would the project be approved.


Robert Daniels spoke in opposition to the request due to the negative impacts the project would create.  Whitewood Village was developed by the same developer for 96 units.  The impact of that project is very great.  He asked that the rezoning not be approved particular due to the tax impacts on the schools and roads.  They are looking at the clear cutting of many trees on the site.  The plans are not complete.  He was concerned about no recreation being provided for the children and the high retaining walls.  Also, he was concerned with the potential erosion problems created on his property.


There being no further public comment, Ms. Joseph closed the public hearing to bring the matter before the Commission.


Mr. Craddock asked Mr. Barbour to comment on the blasting regulations of Fire & Rescue.


James Barbour, of the Albemarle County Fire Marshallís Office, explained the blasting permit requirements.  Anyone who is going to blast in Albemarle County has to go through certain steps.  There are 3 layers of regulation that company or person would be held to.  They start at the federal level with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Fire Arms.  The next level is at the state level with the State Fire Marshallís Office.  Lastly, they are regulated by Albemarle County and through the Fire Marshallís Office.  When a person applies for a blasting permit there is a process that they go through whereby they show their blasting plan, proof of insurance and that they have contacted residents within 300 or 500 feet.  There is an entire chapter in the Statewide Fire Prevention Code and there are other restrictions on top of that to which they are held when someone wants to blast in a built up area.  The concern is for occupied dwellings, occupied buildings and existing roads and utilities.  There are precautions that are in the State Code and the National Standards that they inspect and look for when someone wants to blast. 


Mr. Cannon asked whether in his view those procedures are adequate to ensure that any blasting done on this site would not threaten the wells or structures of houses adjacent to the site.


Mr. Barbour said that there is not a 100 percent guaranteed.  But, there are things that are done.  If someone is going to blast within 300Ďof an occupied dwelling you would be required to use a sizema graph.  That will measure the ground vibration and the air disturbance.  Most blasting companies will do a pre-blast survey.   They will contact the residents and go in and inspect for damage before any blasting occurs.  Then they will do an assessment afterwards. If they have a blast that goes out side of the range of what is acceptable in the blasting standard, then there is a potential that damage could occur. The likelihood of that is very little with todayís technology and the blasting standards that folks are held to today.


Mr. Cannon asked if he had a percentage or range that he could on that.


Mr. Barbour replied that he had been in the Fire Marshallís office for ten years and they have investigated complaints and have had 5 that have resulted in damage in those ten years.  They have had hundreds of cases.


Mr. Craddock asked if he had an estimate of how many blasting days for a project like this.


Mr. Barbour replied that he did not.  It was going to depend on the type of rock that is there and what they are able to do.   Typically the blasting permits that they issue last for a 30 day period.  Only on the largest jobs, like Hollymead Town Center, etc. do they have to apply for an additional permit.  Most of the jobs can be done within 30 days.


Mr. Craddock noted that the extensiveness of blasting on this site is unknown at this point until they get their drilling reports and etc. back along those lines.  Maybe the architects know more about that.


Ms. Joseph asked what happens if something happens to the integrity of the well or to someoneís foundation.


Mr. Barbour replied that the blaster is responsible for any damage that he causes whether it is accidental or through negligence. That is why they are required to have proof of insurance.  They are responsible for making that right.


Mr. Zobrist asked if there was a bonding requirement or if it was just proof of insurance. 


Mr. Barbour replied that they do not have to post a bond, but just have to show proof of insurance.


Mr. Zobrist suggested that blasters in the County put up bonds instead of having insurance. 


Ms. Echols pointed out that there were 2 other staff members in the audience to answer questions.


Ms. Joseph asked Ron White to come forward and answer questions.


Ms. Joseph said that she was surprised to see this go to 100 percent affordable housing.  She asked if he had any comments on that.


Ron White, Director of Housing, said that whether it was all proffered for affordable or under a 15 percent proffer the reality is that if it is a tax credit project 100 percent will be affordable. In discussions with the applicant about the idea of doing 100 percent because if they donít develop the project or get the tax credit it puts a burden on the next owner.  In last work session there was some discussion that they might see a subsequent owner come back and want to rezone it for a less intensive use.  The Neighborhood Model is clearly mixing and dispersing housing.  They have to agree with that.  In order to do a project and utilize tax credits to keep the rents down unfortunately the way the tax credit program is set up 100 percent of the units would have to be affordable. 


Ms. Joseph invited Glenn Brooks to come forward and address the Commissionís questions.


Ms. Joseph said that they heard a concern from a citizen about where the stormwater is.  There were concerns expressed that there were erosion problems going on back there.  She asked for an update on that and how this might affect their property. 


Mr. Brooks replied that this stormwater proposal came on the adjacent development plan before staff saw it on this one. As far as the erosion and impacts on this property he did not think that any of that has really change.  They have moved their concept over a little bit to accommodate the neighboring development.


Ms. Joseph asked if it was not alleviating any of the problems.


Mr. Brooks said that he did not have that much detail and could not tell the.


Ms. Joseph asked if he had reviewed if they did some terracing how far it would go into the wooded area.


Mr. Brooks replied that it would pretty far.  They asked them to move their disturbance line back from the original submittal because they knew they could not build that wall without some disturbance adjacent to it.   He suggested that it would be at a 30í minimum and then terrace it.  But, a bigger concern with these highly development sites that are bounded by retaining walls is that they really cannot protect them with erosion control measures during construction.  They are using all of the available area and end up encroaching on the neighbors.  That is the most difficult part.  They have this difficulty that they are trying to preserve trees directly adjacent to the construction, which is very problematic.


Action on ZMA-2004-00022, Treesdale:


Motion:  Mr. Edgerton moved, Mr. Cannon seconded, for approval of ZMA-2004-00022, Treesdale Park, with the condition that the items outlined by staff will be addressed before the Board of Supervisors meeting.


The motion passed by a vote of 3:2.  (Mr. Craddock and Mr. Zobrist voted nay.) (Mr. Strucko and Mr. Morris were absent.) 


Ms. Joseph stated that ZMA-2007-00022, Treesdale, will go before the Board of Supervisors with the following recommendation:


The Planning Commission recommended approval with the condition that the following items be addressed before the Boardís public hearing:


  1. Provision of extra landscaping at the property lines and along Rio Road.
  2. Provision of terraced walls where high retaining walls are currently shown on the application plan.  Since areas of critical slope will be disturbed, trees should be replanted in this area.
  3. Provision of enhanced erosion and sediment control measures.
  4. Provision that, if parking waivers are provided, the parking lots shown near the adjoining property can be eliminated or adjusted along with adjustment of proposed grading shown on the application plan.
  5. The preliminary site plan should be reviewed by the Planning Commission prior to approval.
  6. Removal of the proffer for blasting.


The Planning Commission also said that architectural commitments are not necessary and that a critical slopes waiver was not granted with the recommendation for approval.  At the time that the preliminary site plan is provided to the Commission, they can act on the critical slopes waiver.


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