COUNTY OF ALBEMARLE
Montessori Community School Appeal
Appeal of ARB Decision
Messrs. Tucker, Foley, Davis, Kamptner, and Cilimberg; and Ms. Maliszewski
LEGAL REVIEW: YES
January 9, 2008
ACTION: X INFORMATION:
The ARB conducted an advisory review (ARB-2006-14) of the Special Use Permit request for the expansion of the Montessori School at Pantops in February 2007. The SP (SP-2006-38) was approved by the Board of Supervisors on March 14, 2007. A preliminary site plan (SDP-2007-44) received administrative approval in June 2007 and the applicant is currently seeking ARB approval for Phase 1 of the development. (ARB approval is not required prior to preliminary site plan approval, but is required prior to final site plan approval.) The ARB has held three meetings on the Phase 1 proposal. In its final review on October 1, 2007, the ARB determined that the building design, and other site elements, did not meet the Entrance Corridor Design Guidelines and voted to deny the request. An outline of the actions taken at the ARB meetings is included as Attachment A.
Goal 1: Enhance Quality of Life for All Citizens. The goal of architectural review in the Entrance Corridors is to insure that new development reflects the traditional architecture of the County and to promote orderly and attractive development. This contributes to the quality of life of the County’s residents, which is a goal of the Strategic Plan.
The purpose of ARB review is to ensure that new development in the Entrance Corridors is compatible with the historic architecture of the County and to promote orderly and attractive development.
The ARB prefers to review preliminary architectural designs with Special Use Permit submittals so that potential design problems can be identified as early in the review process as possible. No architectural designs were submitted with the SP application, so the ARB was unable to provide specific guidance for the applicant or identify specific areas of architectural incompatibility with the guidelines. The ARB identified this issue in its advisory comments on the Special Use Permit, by stating: “There is insufficient information to comment on architectural design…” (See Attachment B for the action letter from the ARB advisory review meeting.)
The proposed building design is based in large part on the school’s desire to use the building as a teaching tool and to obtain LEED certification for the building. In its October 1, 2007 review of the Montessori proposal, the ARB found that the design for the upper and lower elementary school building was not compatible with the building on site, or with the historic architecture of the County, or with the surrounding context. The incompatibility derives primarily from the roof form and the window and door arrangement of the proposed building. The proposed building has a single-slope shed roof. The administration building has a gabled roof. Although some traditional agricultural buildings in the county have shed roofs, a shed roof in the immediate context of the Montessori site and the general Pantops area was determined to be inappropriate. Similarly, the arrangement of windows and doors is a modern one that does not draw on historic examples. The ARB also noted outstanding site design issues in its October 2007 review. Many of these issues were related to landscaping, with a particular concern being the insufficient information provided to confirm an appropriate year-round appearance for the “meadow mix” proposed on the Rolkin Road hillside.
The proposed building design is based in large part on the school’s desire to use the building as a teaching tool and to obtain LEED certification for the building. The ARB noted that the “sustainable” aspects of the applicant’s proposal were admirable, but the Entrance Corridor Design Guidelines do not allow for consideration of “green building” or “sustainability” issues in building design, or to consider teaching philosophy in its review of architecture and site design. Furthermore, the ARB specifically noted that sustainability could be accommodated with a different design – one that was appropriate for the Entrance Corridor.
This item has no budget impact.
Staff’s recommendation to the ARB at the October 1, 2007 meeting was to provide a list of recommended changes to the proposal, including a revision to the form of the classroom building to make it more compatible with the forms and features of the significant historic buildings of the County and, particularly, the on-site Administration Building. (See Attachment F for the staff report.) As noted earlier, the ARB denied the application as presented. The ARB has recommended a number of revisions that would bring the proposal more in line with the Entrance Corridor Design Guidelines. Those recommendations are outlined in the action letter that is Attachment G.
Staff recommends that the Board affirm the decision of the ARB as stated in the October 17, 2007 action memo (Attachment E).
A – Brief History of ARB reviews on the Montessori School Phase 1 proposal
B – Action letter from the ARB advisory review for the Special Use Permit
C – Action letter from the July 2, 2007 ARB review
D – Action letter from the August 6, 2007 ARB review
E – Action letter from the October 1, 2007 ARB review
F – October 1, 2007 staff report
G – October 1, 2007 ARB meeting minutes
H – August 6, 2007 proposed architectural elevations for the upper and lower elementary building
I – July 2, 2007 proposed architectural elevations for the upper and lower elementary building
J – October 1, 2007 proposed architectural elevations for the upper and lower elementary building
K – Preliminary site plan for the Montessori School expansion
L – Phase 1 site plan for the Montessori School expansion
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