The Albemarle County Planning Commission held a meeting and public hearing on Tuesday, August 26, 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, Thomas Loach, Linda Porterfield, Eric Strucko, Jon Cannon, Vice Chairman, Bill Edgerton and Calvin Morris, Chairman. Julia Monteith, AICP, non-voting representative for the University of Virginia was absent.
Other officials present were Summer Frederick, Senior Planner; Rebecca Ragsdale, Senior Planner; Mark Graham, Director of Community Development, Amelia McCulley, Director of Zoning/Zoning Administrator; Ron Higgins, Chief of Zoning; Wayne Cilimberg, Director of Planning; Bill Fritz, Chief of Current Development 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.
ZTA-2005-00007 Contractor’s Storage Yard
Amend Sections 3.1, Definitions, 24.2.1, By right, 24.2.2, By special use permit, 25.2.1, By right, 25.2.2, By special use permit, 25A.2.1, By right, 25A.2.2, By special use permit, 27.2.1, By right, 27.2.2, By special use permit, 28.2.1, By right, 28.2.2, By special use permit, of Chapter 18, Zoning, of the Albemarle County Code. This ordinance would amend Sec. 3.1 by defining "storage yard," "heavy equipment," "heavy vehicles," and "heavy equipment and heavy vehicle parking and storage yard"; Sec. 24.2.1 by adding "storage yards" as a by right use; Sec. 24.2.2 by deleting "contractor's office and equipment storage yard" as a special use; Sec. 25.2.1 by clarifying the C-1, CO and HC uses permitted by right in the PD-SC district and excepting "storage yards"; Sec. 25.2.2 by adding "storage yards" as a special use; Sec. 25A.2.1 by clarifying the C-1, CO and HC uses permitted by right in the PD-MC district and excepting "storage yards"; Sec. 27.2.1 by amending the "contractor's office and equipment storage yard" use classification to "storage yards"; Sec. 27.2.2 by adding "heavy equipment and heavy vehicle parking and storage yards" as a special use; Sec. 28.2.1 by amending the "contractor's office and equipment storage yard" use classification to "storage yards"; Sec. 28.2.2 by deleting "storage yards not elsewhere classified, excluding storage of nuclear products, by-products or wastes," as a special use. The introductory text of Sec. 25A.2.2 and all other sections cited above other than Sec. 3.1 was also amended to standardize the text and to correct a typographical error. A copy of the full text of the ordinance is on file in the office of the Clerk of the Board of Supervisors and in the Department of Community Development, County Office Building, 401 McIntire Road, Charlottesville, Virginia. (Wayne Cilimberg)
Mr. Cilimberg pointed out Ms. McCulley passed out a couple of modifications. One is an oversight from what was in the original staff report and what was in the actual amendment language received. The other is a correction at the end of one of the definitions and some simplified language that will make it easier to administer and understand how this would apply. Staff is trying to bring the storage yard aspect of businesses more in line with what would be considered to be the scale and intensity that needs to be differentiated, defined and listed as either by-right or special use permit depending on how intensive the operation is at the particular storage yard. In those districts where it would only be allowed by special use permit the amendment allows the use to be assessed on a project by project basis and appropriate conditions to be included when approved.
There are two types of storage yards being proposed to replace what had been referred to as contractor’s office and equipment storage yard. Essentially the amendment is intended to separate the very heavy contractor operations from the more typical contractors based on the nature of the equipment and vehicles that come to and from the contractor’s office. The storage yard is intended for the parking, storing and maintaining of equipment or vehicles that is not classified as heavy equipment or heavy vehicles and does not include storing explosives or other types of very intensive activities. The heavy equipment and vehicle parking and storage yard would be for maintaining, storing and parking heavy equipment and heavy vehicles that are used off-site, but may be maintained or just parked at the facility. It also would allow storage of explosives. It would not include the storing of things like nuclear products, by products or waste, storage of kerosene or other volatile materials other than what is reasonably necessary to maintain equipment and vehicles.
In the definitions staff originally gave the Commission they made reference to permitting by the Virginia Department of Transportation. In actuality it is the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles that does the permitting. Heavy equipment would be equipment that requires an oversize overweight permit from the Department of Motor Vehicles to be transported over public highways. Staff thinks that heavy vehicles might better be described as vehicles that have more than five (5) axles or haul heavy equipment being able to obtain overweight permits from the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles for weights in excess of 80,000 pounds. That was a definition that upon second thought seemed to be less easy to administer. A very direct definition is based on the number of axles or the fact that it is hauling heavy equipment, which is defined in the first bullet. Overweight vehicles and equipment have gross weights that exceed weight limits that are set out in the standards by the Department of Motor Vehicles. Oversize has width, length or height that exceeds certain standards. Staff tried to get pictures of the types of equipment that would fall under heavy vehicle parking and storage yard, which was presented in the Power-point presentation.
The whole idea was where the Light Industrial zoning is located in the County and where some of our other zones are located that these particular kinds of vehicles and equipment would not be appropriate in typical situations for the roads that lead to and from those sites. He noted photographs of examples of more standard less intense equipment and vehicle transport that would not be regulated under the same definition.
He explained the existing and proposed provisions for Contractor’s Office & Equipment Storage Yard as shown in the chart below, which was Attachment B.
Existing and Proposed Provisions for Contractor’s Office & Equipment Storage Yard
Existing category of use: Contractor’s office and equipment storage yard
Proposed categories of use: a) Storage yard; and b) Heavy equipment and heavy vehicle parking and storage yard
By Special Use Permit
Existing Regulations – contractor’s office & equipment storage yard
Light Industry, Heavy Industry, Planned Development Industrial Park I and II
Highway Commercial, Planned Development Mixed Commercial
a) storage yard
Highway Commercial, Light Industry, Heavy Industry, Planned Development Industrial Park I and II
Planned Development Shopping Center, Planned Development Mixed Commercial
b) heavy equipment and heavy vehicle parking and storage yard
Heavy Industry, Planned Development Industrial Park II
Light Industry, Planned Development Industrial Park I
Staff’s recommendation is for the Planning Commission to recommend adoption of the draft ordinance as passed out tonight, which reflects the two modifications in definition as noted. It also reflects one of the elements that staff missed in the original language for the Planned Development – Mixed Commercial to have storage yards by special use permit. Ms. McCulley and Mark Graham are also present to answer questions.
Mr. Morris asked if there were any questions.
Ms. Joseph questioned the photographs shown with more than five axles.
Mr. Cilimberg noted that the heavy vehicle is defined as having five axles or less and not carrying heavy equipment.
Ms. Porterfield noted concern with including those types of vehicles in a Planned Development Shopping Center. She asked if they have this happening right now, and if so where.
Mr. Cilimberg replied that he did not think that they have it for this degree of vehicle, but they do have vehicles associated with contractors or businesses in shopping centers.
Ms. McCulley said that as far as she knows there are none this large. There is a contractor staff is dealing with in a shopping center on the Route 29 Corridor with smaller trucks. What staff is proposing by this definition would actually give them more leverage than they had in dealing with that contractor in that shopping center because now it would require a special use permit very clearly in a PD-SC.
Ms. Porterfield voiced concern with allowing such a big vehicle to start running through a shopping center.
Mr. Cilimberg replied that is why storage yards would require a special use permit in shopping center.
Ms. Porterfield questioned if they really want to encourage people to ask for vehicles this big. She felt that the vehicles were too big.
Mr. Cilimberg said that they have to make that judgment in deciding what the Planning Commission wants to recommend to the Board of Supervisors. He offered that by having the use allowed by special use permit they have that chance in that case for a shopping center to not recommend approval of the special use permit.
Ms. Porterfield noted that personally she found it hard to visualize why anyone would want to encourage this in a Planned Development Shopping Center. It is one addition made to the list.
Mr. Kamptner noted that the PD-SC Shopping Center is pretty wide open and can be an intensive use not limited to stores, but open to a lot of other uses atypical to a shopping center, such as warehousing. The use classification allows a real broad range of uses. PD-SC Shopping Center zoning allows uses such as automobile and truck repair shops, service station, building materials sales, factory outlet sales, furniture, homes, light warehousing, machinery and equipment sales, service and rental, mobile home and trailer sales and service, modular building sales, motor vehicle sales, newspaper publishing, wholesale distribution, etc.
Ms. McCulley pointed out that some of these uses are pretty intensive and can involve pretty heavy trucking. The fact that it is by special use permit means that the use might not be appropriate in all locations. The Commission and Board would have to make positive findings that on that particular property it is appropriate. So they are not really saying that the door is open and it is appropriate in all shopping center zoning.
Mr. Cilimberg said that the special use permit requirement allows the request to be assessed on a project by project basis.
Ms. Porterfield asked if there are current situations this exists at shopping centers in the County.
Ms. McCulley replied that she could not definitely answer that question because she has not been everywhere and they really respond to complaints. She noted that staff has been receiving concerns from the smaller contractors who are having difficulties finding a place to park their trucks. They may have a home location in the country, but may need a place to park their equipment closer to where they do their work.
Ms. Porterfield asked if those contactors are not working their businesses out of those shopping centers or that is not their office location.
Ms. McCulley replied that she had not studied it and could not speak very knowledgeably about it.
Ms. Joseph questioned the text in 25.2.1 where it says by right and then it specifically has excluded except for storage yards and then under special use permit storage yards has been added again.
Ms. McCulley said that storage yards are to be by-right in the Highway Commercial. Since the by-right PD-SC includes the by-right in the HC staff wanted to make sure it was clear that storage yards, which is a by-right use in HC, is excluded and made subject to a special use permit in PD-SC because it might not be appropriate.
Mr. Cilimberg said that an important feature is under the industrial districts. Right now you can have any type of contractor’s use storage yard for any type of equipment or so forth in the Light Industrial by right. Now they are differentiating between the scales of those uses and saying to a certain level it could be by- right, but beyond that it has to be by special use permit in the LI.
Mr. Cannon said that the five axle truck shown was big, but the more than five axle truck was bigger. He asked what the basis was for drawing that line between the two.
Mr. Cilimberg asked that Mr. Graham speak to that issue.
Mark Graham said the real distinction with the five axle truck seen in the photography is that is a truck you would see at any shopping center or delivering to a grocery store. Trucks delivering to a grocery store would be like this and would be licensed to carry up to 80,000 pounds. One really would have trouble making a distinction when you get to the five axles and below and the 80,000 pounds. That really includes almost every truck coming down the highway. Essentially that would not allow trucks into the development at all unless you recognized the trucks going into an oversize or overweight category.
Ms. Porterfield noted that it talks about items that are the explosives that can’t be there. She asked how they take care of the storage of ammunition. She asked if that would be under explosives.
Ms. McCulley replied that is regulated through the Fire Code and Fire/Rescue would have to permit it, which would be subject to those regulations.
Ms. Porterfield asked if that would take care of it and ammunition would not have to be mentioned in this. She noted that there have been a lot of problems with ammunition across the country.
Ms. McCulley replied that staff would work with them because they would want to make certain that whatever they approved would be consistent with any local and state requirements specifically for explosives.
Mr. Cilimberg said that there would be a need to categorize ammunition as explosives under this definition. If it were ammunition for firearms, for example, that is not going to fall under an allowance under this district.
Ms. Porterfield questioned if it should be put in even though it was not mentioned specifically.
Mr. Kamptner pointed out that the explosives would have to be used as part of the off-site activity that the heavy equipment or heavy vehicles are used for. Unless ammunition is used as an accessory component of the primary use it would not be allowed under these district regulations. To the extent that explosives are allowed it would have to meet any Fire Code requirements and federal and state laws.
Mr. Edgerton said that in the staff report on page 3, second paragraph, it talks about one impact of this change would be that the existing by-right contractor office storage yards in the Light Industry District would become classified as Heavy Equipment and Heavy Vehicle Parking and Storage Yards would be non conforming. He asked what would be the implications of that.
Ms. McCulley replied that they would not be able to expand or get a building permit to expand any of the structures. There would be limitations on how they could expand their activities on the property even separate from a building permit for a structure.
Mr. Cilimberg noted that would be without a special use permit.
Mr. Edgerton said that they could continue what they are currently doing, but if they wanted to make any kind of adjustment they would have to get a special use permit.
Ms. McCulley pointed out if the adjustment was an expansion they would need a special use permit because of their vested rights under the State Code.
Mr. Edgerton asked if this had not come before the Planning Commission in a work session.
Mr. Cilimberg replied that the Board had asked for this to be done.
Mr. Edgerton noted that the Commission had a lot of questions and it was hard to take all of this information in at once.
Mr. Loach assumed that the bulk storage of gas or diesel fuel on the site would not be allowed, which would include any other kind of gas or propone.
Ms. McCulley replied that is correct if the bulk storage of petroleum products is what the entire use is and not accessory to a building contractor, as an example. That is called out as a separate use in the zoning ordinance and extremely limited to where it can be.
Mr. Morris opened the public hearing and invited public comment.
Phillips Marx, resident of Ivy, thanked the Planning Commission for considering this. This is something that the residents of Ivy have been requesting for 10 to 12 years in relationship to the Ivy Industrial Park and specifically Faulconer Construction. He had several questions since the text he had reviewed had been changed. He asked about the non-conforming portion and how it affects sites that are not yet built but have a construction permit. From a layman’s perspective it seems trucks with more than five axles is two vehicles put together. There is a five axle truck and a three axle trailer on some of those things, which he felt was a loop hole. He suggested they might want to look at the definition because even if it is simpler to deal with it might be putting them in a box. Regarding explosive he saw a specific mention of blasting caps. That could leave it open to a different interpretation in allowing other explosive and not allowing blasting caps. They went though this with the Ivy Industrial Park and in determining that any explosive use even for a short period of time really came under homeland security. Staff at one time permitted the applicant to store explosive there for a certain period of time. Therefore, staff should be careful what they put in that regulation. He felt that the Commission had their interest in heart by the questions raised, which he felt might result in it being more restricted that he supported. In the Ivy area there was an industrial park approved and later a buffer put in that was deemed to help the community. A subsequent rezoning, which was a mistake, took away the buffer. Now they have an industrial park in the middle of a residential neighborhood. Everybody agreed that the use was not appropropriate, but there was nothing in the zoning text to disallow it. This proposal gives the teeth to encourage that. He encourages the Planning Commission to support the request to help protect their homes and community.
Mr. Donnie Foster asked if they know how many contractor yards are approved in the County now.
Ms. McCulley replied no.
Mr. Foster pointed out that there was one on Avon Street Extended, but he was not sure there were any other. He had a meeting about 18 months ago at the County to talk about building a contractor’s storage yard and parking facility. The staff he met with thought it was a wonderful idea because there is a real need for a place for people to park their equipment. He was even told that they were sending 15 to 20 letter per month to people who were in violation of parking equipment such as big dump trucks, front end loader, etc. in non-approved areas. He felt that there was a need for contractors to have a place to park equipment in the County. He gets 3 to 10 calls per month from people asking to park vehicles and equipment. A contractor’s storage yard is important to the County.
Morgan Butler, representative for the Southern Environmental Law Center, noted that he had one question for clarification by Mr. Kamptner. He questioned allowing even allowing by-right the smaller contractor storage yards in the Highway Commercial because many Highway Commercial districts have been grandfathered along Entrance Corridors. One thing that gives him some relief is that a special use permit is required for outdoor storage that will be visible from the Entrance Corridor. He questioned if outdoor storage visible from the Entrance Corridor in the Highway Commercial District would continue to require a special use permit.
Mr. Morris closed the public hearing to bring the matter back before the Planning Commission.
Mr. Kamptner replied yes to Mr. Butler’s question. The special use permit would be required for outside storage in the Highway Commercial District on the Entrance Corridor. Regarding Mr. Marx’s comment regarding what happens to storage yards that have obtained some type of governmental approval and not operational, staff will have to look at each one on a case by case basis to determine if their rights have been vested. If they have spent money, entered into contracts or pursued the development diligently most likely those would be found to be vested and be able to proceed under the existing regulations.
Mr. Cannon asked if there was nothing they could do with the ordinance to change that outcome.
Mr. Kamptner replied no, because that was a principal that operated independently that they are doing by ordinance here.
Mr. Strucko said he was concerned about Mr. Marx’s comment with respect to a potential loop hole for axle counts. He asked if VDOT looks at the cab or trailer or a combination.
Mr. Cilimberg noted that their intention was the total axles with trailer and tractor.
Mark Graham, Director of Community Development, said that they need to make sure that the ordinance defines the vehicle as the sum of the parts including the tractor, the trailer and whatever extensions they have, especially for overweight loads.
Mr. Cilimberg said that staff would make sure that is clear.
Mr. Morris noted that was an excellent point.
Mr. Cilimberg said that staff will make sure that is clear.
Mr. Loach asked if there is anything that precludes them from having a storage yard in a commercial district in a Neighborhood Model District. He wanted to make sure that a storage yard could not be right in the middle of the Neighborhood Model neighborhood.
Mr. Cilimberg replied that staff would have to look into that. It was not the intention of the Neighborhood Model District to incorporate storage yards.
Mr. Morris asked that it be clear in the motion what attachment they were talking about being either Attachment E or the new information distributed tonight.
Mr. Strucko said that he generally was in favor of making these clarifications and distinctions between the zoning categories.
Ms. Joseph noted there were other things Mr. Marx talked about regarding what can be controlled or not with explosives. She suggested that staff do more research so they were very clear on what the regulations are.
Mr. Cilimberg said that blasting caps are included under explosives in the definition. In storage yards if they can’t have explosives they can’t have blasting caps. In the Heavy Equipment and Heavy Vehicle Storage Yard they can have explosives so they can have blasting caps.
Motion: Mr. Strucko moved and Ms. Porterfield seconded to approve ZTA-2005-00007, Contractor’s Storage Yard, as recommended by staff in the materials distributed August 26, 2008 referencing the ordinance language with additional language clarifying if ammunition is considered part of explosives (and if not, add to text) and clarification that reference to number of axles is the total for both truck and trailer.
The motion passed by a vote of 7:0.
Mr. Morris said that ZTA-2005-00007, Contractor’s Storage Yard will go before the Board of Supervisors with a recommendation for approval at a date to be determined.
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