Albemarle County Planning Commission

April 1, 2008



The Albemarle County Planning Commission held a meeting and public hearing on Tuesday, April 1, 2008, at 6:00 p.m., at the County Office Building, Lane Auditorium, Second Floor, 401 McIntire Road, Charlottesville, Virginia.


Members attending were Marcia Joseph, Bill Edgerton, Eric Strucko, Thomas Loach; Jon Cannon, Vice Chairman; Linda Porterfield and Calvin Morris, Chairman. Julia Monteith, AICP, non-voting representative for the University of Virginia was absent. 


Other officials present were Wayne Cilimberg, Planning Director; Joan McDowell, Principal Planner; Elaine Echols, Principal Planner; Scott Clark, Senior Planner; Megan Yaniglos, Planner; Bill Fritz, Chief of Current Development;  Jonathan Sharp, Engineer; Glenn Brooks, County Engineer; Amelia McCulley, Director of Current Development & Zoning/Zoning Administrator and Greg Kamptner, Deputy County Attorney. 


Call to Order and Establish Quorum:


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


Public Hearing Items:


SP-2007-00064 Camp Watermarks Amendment (Sign # 29)

PROPOSED: Amendment of special use permit for day camp to permit increase of an activity building from 800 square feet to 2,160 square feet.

ZONING CATEGORY/GENERAL USAGE: RA -- Rural Areas: agricultural, forestal, and fishery uses; residential density (0.5 unit/acre); FH Flood Hazard - Overlay to provide safety and protection from flooding

SECTION:, Day camp, boarding camp (reference 5.1.05).

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: 1145 James River Drive, west of Route 726 and Hatton Ferry Road

TAX MAP/PARCEL: Tax Map 136 Parcels 6B, 9, 9A2, 9D, 9D1, 9E


(Joan McDowell)


Ms. McDowell presented a power-point presentation and summarized the staff report.  (See Staff Report)


The proposal is to amend an existing special use permit, SP-2007-08, that was approved last year.  Camp Watermarks is a religious based camp for children extending overnight care with weekly sessions for 75 campers and 20 staff.  It was originally approved in 2005.  It keeps its agricultural and forestal uses while allowing the children to come and enjoy those uses.  One stipulation of the approval was the allowance of a 20’ X 40’ accessory building.  This application would allow that building to be larger at 36’ X 60’ and allow multiple purposes within the building that include arts and crafts, staff overnight stays, meetings, play areas and other uses for the camp.  The applicant has stated that when the camp is not in session he would store agricultural materials inside the building. 


Staff has identified the following factors favorable to this application:

1.The camp environment remains well integrated into the surrounding landscape.

2.The camp experience contributes to Rural Areas goals by heightening awareness and understanding of agricultural processes and natural resources.

3.Farming and forestry activities will continue at the current levels on the subject parcels.

4.The expanded accessory building size would not be visible from adjacent properties and would not intensify the uses on the property.


Staff has not identified any factors unfavorable to this application:


Staff’s recommendation is for approval with changes to the conditions as noted in the staff report that includes having the fire marshal inspect the building.  The applicant needs to amend the building permit because it is for a storage building and needs to include the camp use as well as the overnight occupancy.


Mr. Morris asked if there were any questions for staff.


Mr. Edgerton asked if the building had already been built that the applicant was asking for an amendment for.


Ms. McDowell replied that the building was almost finished.


Mr. Edgerton noted that speaking personally he was troubled by that because the original special use permit that allows the camp to be there was after the fact as well.  It seems that this particular applicant has problems with doing things in the proper order.  He noted that he takes offense with that.  He felt that the applicant should have applied for the amendment to the special use permit before constructing the building regardless of what staff’s assessment is. 


Ms. Porterfield asked if the building had to have any special amenities, etc. to be able to be used for overnight stay.


Ms. McDowell replied that would be handled by the building permit process.  She believed that there was a restroom in the building.  The Commission does not have to worry about that.


Mr. Cannon asked if the fact of the building come to staff’s attention through an inspection or did the applicant come forward.


Ms. McDowell replied that she did not believe that it was an actual violation, but an inspector did go out and find that the building was larger than what was originally approved and it had a building permit for storage.  Since the building was approved as part of the special use permit for a camp they need to come in and get a special use permit amendment.  She deferred the question to the applicant.


Mr. Morris opened the public hearing and invited the applicant to address the Commission.


Travis Critzer said that they received permission to build a 20’ X 40’ building.  When they started on the building they realized that the area that they were building would be of no use for anything else and they did need more space.  He came back and applied for another building permit.  At that time he was told that he would have to go through this process again and he could build it as a storage building only with the idea that if the Commission did not allow them to use it that it would be used for the farm.  That is why they proceeded with building it with hopes that the Commission would pass it, but if they did not that it would be another farm structure that they would use.  So he did go through the appropriate channels this time.  The only inspector that came out has been there after they applied and paid for all of their permits.  They have been straight forward on inspections and everything is up-to-date with that.


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


Ms. Joseph asked if he was sure they were done with the growth of the camp.


Mr. Critzer replied that he was not sure they were done, but he felt very comfortable with this for a while.

That is why they wanted to build the building larger.  The 20’ X 40’ building would restrict them while the larger building would give them a little more room to maneuver and grow, particularly with rainy days. 


Mr. Edgerton said that he could not believe that he had any confusion over what was approved with the special use permit. He did not think that he had gone through the appropriate channels.  They should not be building buildings bigger than what they have been given permission to without checking with the county first.  He felt that was the proper way to do it.  If they call it a farm building it would be exempt from permits.  He did not appreciate that.  The Commission has supported him and tried to help him increase the size of the camp.  When someone comes in and asks for one thing and is given permission, but then ignores it and goes out and constructs a larger building that he did not feel they were putting him through a hardship.  He asked if the Commission turns it down if they were going to use this as a farm building.


Mr. Critzer replied that he would be forced to do that.  Before they built the building he came back in and changed the building permits and met with zoning and building.  He was told that he needed to come to the Commission if he was going to use the building for the camp.  But if he does not use it for the camp he could build a 300’ X 1,000’ for farming.  The idea was that it would be used for the farm if they disallowed it.  Their hopes are that the Commission will allow them to use it for the camp. 


Mr. Morris invited public comment.


Scott Moral said that he had been a neighbor of Mr. Critzer’s for over 30 years with no problems.  He has been operating a camp for four years.  His property backed up to the camp site and they have never had any problems. Mr. Critzer is not increasing the number of campers, but just constructing a little larger building than he planned for, which he could understand having been a farmer.  He did not see any problem with it. 


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


Ms. Joseph supported the request.  She appreciated the great staff report that provides all of the necessary background.


Mr. Strucko said that the applicant has amended the camp several times since it was created in 2005.  He questioned at what point they say this camp is large enough for the rural areas.  He had no problem with the building, but wanted to note that the camp started off about one-half of this size.


Mr. Morris noted that at the second session they had a counselor from one of the churches and she stated that the response to this experience is just growing and growing.  Apparently the camp is still growing.  To answer his question he did not have the answer to how much is too much.


Mr. Edgerton noted that Mr. Critzer has been working the difference in the requirements between agricultural buildings and the special use permit required buildings.  He has done this consistently and actually said that if he wanted to he could build a much bigger building.  He felt that he was taking advantage of the situation.  The question raised by Ms. Joseph is a good one in where does it end and do they put a cap on this.  That is what the special use permit process is all about.  It is a good use as noted in the staff report, but at the same time it is making a mockery of the whole system.  If he comes back next year and decides to build another agricultural building of any size, then it gets built and again comes back and tells us that it is already there and is not going to bother anybody.  He would not be surprised to see that happen.  He would go ahead and support the request, but was deeply troubled by the approach taken. 


Motion: Ms. Joseph moved, Mr. Cannon seconded to approve SP-2007-00064, Camp Watermarks Amendment, with the conditions recommended by staff, as follows:


1.        The improvements, and the scale and location of the improvements authorized by Special Use Permit 2007-08 2007-64 Camp Watermarks, shall be in general accord with the concept application plan dated May 29, 2007, February 15, 2008, prepared by Angela and Travis Critzer, and titled “Watermarks Christian Ministries Camp” (Attachment A).  However, the Zoning Administrator may approve revisions to the concept application plan to allow compliance with the Zoning Ordinance. 

2.        Compliance with the Virginia Statewide Fire Prevention Code shall be verified by the Fire Marshall prior to issuance of a zoning compliance clearance.

3.        Amendment of the building permit for a storage building (permit # 2007-2448 NNR), as shown on the concept application plan (Attachment A), shall be required to allow overnight occupancy of staff, as well as other camp uses. 

4.        Prior to issuance of the zoning compliance clearance, compliance with the Virginia State Department of Health (VDH) regarding minimum septic requirements shall be required. The VDH shall re-review the status of septic standards within one year of the date of the approval of the special use permit.  At that time, and if necessary, systems shall be upgraded or enrolment reduced based on VDH recommendations.

5.        Prior to issuance of the zoning compliance clearance, compliance with the Virginia State Department of Health regarding kitchen and food service approvals shall be verified.

6.        Total number of staff (in addition to the applicant and their family) on site at one time shall be limited to twenty (20).  

7.        Camp sessions shall be limited to a maximum of sixteen (16), each one (1) week long, overnight sessions per year.

8.        The maximum number of children per session shall be limited to seventy five (75).

9.        The maximum number of bus or van trips (round trips) to and from the camp, each week long session shall be six (6).  Bus or van trips shall be the primary means of transportation for the children.

10.     Five food deliveries by truck shall be permitted per week long session.

11.     Camp activities are permitted on Tax Map 136, Parcels 6B, 9, 9A2, 9D, 9D1, 9E.

12.     Outdoor amplified sounds or bull horns shall be prohibited.

13.     Compliance with the Virginia State Department of Health regarding water supply shall be verified by the Health Department prior to issuance of a zoning compliance clearing and the commencement of the special use. The VDH shall re-review the status of water standards within one year of the date of the approval of the special use permit.  At that time, and if necessary, systems shall be upgraded or enrolment reduced based on VDH recommendations.

14.     This special use permit does not include approval for additional lighting subject to Chapter 18, Section 4.17 of the Zoning Ordinance.


The motion passed by a vote of 7:0. 


Mr. Morris noted that SP-2007-00064, Camp Watermarks Amendment would go before the Board of Supervisors on May 7 with a recommendation for approval.


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