Albemarle County Planning Commission

February 3, 2009


The Albemarle County Planning Commission held a public hearing and meeting on Tuesday, February 3, 2009, at 6:00 p.m., at the County Office Building, Lane Auditorium, Second Floor, 401 McIntire Road, Charlottesville, Virginia.


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


Other officials present were Wayne Cilimberg, Director of Planning; Bill Fritz, Chief of Current Development; Claudette Grant, Senior Planner; Elizabeth Marotta, Senior Planner; Amy Pflaum, Senior Planner; Megan Yaniglos, Senior Planner and Greg Kamptner, Deputy County Attorney. 


Call to Order and Establish Quorum:


Mr. Strucko called the regular meeting to order at 6:01 p.m. and established a quorum.


Deferred Item:


SP-2008-00057 Charlottesville Kingdom Hall

PROPOSED: Renewal of expired S.U.P. - SP2004-002 currently in site development process.  Request for S.U.P. to allow a Church.

ZONING CATEGORY/GENERAL USAGE: R-2 Residential - 2 units/acre and R-4 Residential - 4 units/acre.

SECTION: Sections and of the Zoning Ordinance which allow for Churches.

COMPREHENSIVE PLAN LAND USE/DENSITY:  Neighborhood Density Residential - residential (3-6 units/acre) and supporting uses such as religious institutions and schools and other small-scale non-residential uses in Neighborhood 5.


LOCATION: 665 Old Lynchburg Road (Route 631), at the intersection of Old Lynchburg Road and Sunset Avenue Extended.



(Claudette Grant)




Ms. Grant presented a Power-Point presentation and summarized the staff report.  (Attachment – PowerPoint Presentation)


The applicant is requesting re-approval of an expired special use permit, SP-2004-2, which is currently in site plan review process.  The special use permit allows a church in a residential district.  The current plan is very similar to the plans that were approved with SP-2004-2.  This plan no longer provides an apartment as originally intended.  That basically is the main change. 


Factors Favorable:

·         The permit provides an institutional use, which is supported by the Comprehensive Plan on Neighborhood Density Residential.

·         The site design is appropriate given the topography.

·         Accommodation is made for a possible future road, which could connect to the adjacent property.

·         The factors supporting approval of the original special use permit have not changed.

·         No ordinance changes have taken place which would affect development of the site.


Factor Unfavorable:


·         The site will not currently be served with public sewer.  However, a recommended condition would require hook up whenever sewer is available near by.


There being no questions for staff, Mr. Strucko opened the public hearing and invited the applicant to address the Commission.


Hardy Johnston, representative for the congregations, pointed out that there are now four congregations using an existing building at Kingdom Hall.  As the needs have grown over the years the congregations have expanded which has created the need to enlarge the building. The proposal is for two auditoriums instead of one that will allow the scheduling of the use of the building.  As noted in the staff report nothing has really changed from the application made five years ago.  The only thing unresolved at this time is the sewer.  Some recent developments with the change of ownership in Southwood have opened up some other possibilities for hooking into the public sewer.   Their intention is to hook into the public sewer when possible.


Mr. Strucko invited questions for the applicant.


Ms. Joseph asked if there is some reason the storm water is located where the proposed roadway is located.


Mr. Johnston replied that the site is relatively tight for the use and has relatively steep topography.  That location was the only available space short of having an underground system.  The thought was that if the road was developed that it would have its own storm water system and absorb this one as part of that.  But, that road may be a long ways off.


Ms. Joseph said that the storm water was part of the plan.  She was trying to envision when that road comes in who will then be responsible for their storm water. If the county pays for the road does the county have to pay for the storm water?  If there is a condition that says a reasonable location or distance for sewer how do they figure out what reasonable means?   She asked what that means to him.


Mr. Johnston replied that there are two options.  There is 400’ to the subdivision across the road where they can connect to a private sewer line.  But, they have to bore under the Old Lynchburg Road and pump the sewage to that point. The other option, which they had put in the background because they could not work with the former owner of Southwood, is down on Hickory Lane that was 2,000 feet away.  But, they are right in the middle of weighing that option.  They have not had a chance to completely explore that option.  It is looking favorable.  He noted that Mr. Tom Wilfong, who is put on that task, is here tonight.   But, they have not completely worked that scenario out.


Mr. Strucko invited public comment. 


David. Mitchell, resident of 1242 Hatcher Court, voiced concerns about being the private landowner for the potential tap on for the sewage system for the church. He came tonight to learn more about the development.  He commended the community for possibly allowing them to build a larger church, which would be a fantastic asset for the neighborhood and community.  However, his concern was being the private landowner for the tap in.  When he purchased the property 3 ½ years ago he was unaware of the tap in, which was in his backyard. The contractor showed him the plans for the potential tap on.  His concern as the landowner was how they would actually put that in.  It would disturb their conservation area, which is to the backside of his property.  Since he put his name on the list he had since learned that there is another potential tap on in that area, which he hoped that the committee would allow them to do since it was to his benefit.  He hoped that it would be beneficial to the other portions of the community as well.  He asked for additional elaboration about potential sewer tap on.


Mr. Morris requested that the individual working on that particular phase of the proposal come forward and address this. 


Mr. Strucko invited Mr. Wilfong to address the Commission.


Tom Wilfong, a Class A contractor in the state of Virginia and the project coordinator for the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah Witnesses, said they had two options.  One was to do the force main up and under Old Lynchburg Road and in to the Mosby Mountain project and tap in to their public sewer that runs in the back of Mr. Mitchell’s property. The other option, which was more favorable, is to go out the south of their property down through the Southwood Mobile Home Park all the way to Hickory Street.  That is 2,000 feet of sewer line, but it is all gravity flow.  There are no pump stations.  They have talked to Ms. Audrey Storm with Habitat for Humanity who has spoken very favorably of this.  It will take studies and a period to determine exactly how to run the line and how it will benefit both Southwood and the church.


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


Ms. Joseph asked if staff recalled the church on Avon Road that the Commission approved without hooking up to sewer conditioned on hook up as soon as the sewer was available or within a certain distance.


Ms. Grant replied that she did not recall.


Mr. Cilimberg noted that there have been a few instances of uses approved without hooking up to sewer conditioned on hook up as soon as the sewer was available or within a certain distance.  He was not sure if staff has a magic distance.  He asked Mr. Kamptner if he recalled any similar prior considerations.


Mr. Kamptner replied that the only case he recalled was Kappa Sigma Fraternity Headquarters where the timing of their connection was related to the development happening on Avon Road.  Ultimately, he believed that they did connect. That is the only example that comes to mind.


Ms. Joseph said that the seating will be determined by the size of the septic site that they can find.  She assumed that was what the Health Department would do.


Ms. Grant said that the Health Department was involved in the review of the original request.


Mr. Strucko asked if the septic expansion will be underneath a paved parking lot, and Ms. Grant replied yes.


Mr. Strucko asked to hear more about the concerns regarding the storm water and the new proposed road.


Ms. Joseph noted that the proposed road that will connect to Sunset is right under that road.  If and when that road is ever built the storm water facility serving the church and the pavement will be gone and that will have to be taken up by someone else


Mr. Strucko asked if there is an alternative site, and Ms. Grant replied yes.


Ms. Joseph pointed out that Mr. Johnson was saying there is a little space behind the one parking area, but there are also pricey underground facilities that could potentially happen.


Mr. Strucko asked if that is the case, and Ms. Grant agreed.


Mr. Strucko asked if that road goes in if the church will be required to find an alternative.


Ms. Grant agreed that was her understanding after talking with Jack Kelsey. Mr. Kelsey said that if the county were going to put in a road at that location then the county would have to accommodate the storm water. Typically what they do is tie in with whatever storm water they use for the road improvements. 


Ms. Porterfield asked if they have done four-year extensions before.


Mr. Cilimberg replied yes that they have had five-year extensions and the Board recently granted a ten-year extension for a church.


Ms. Porterfield said that they were not setting any kind of precedent for that.


Ms. Joseph asked staff if they are getting the sidewalk area graded in and who they expect will eventually put the sidewalk in.


Mr. Cilimberg replied that it would have to be a county project in a future plan, which they don’t have at this point.


Ms. Joseph asked where the closest sidewalk is to this place.


Mr. Cilimberg replied that there is an asphalt path on the other side of Fifth Street, which runs on the north side.


Mr. Morris said there are still a lot of loose ends here that made him hesitant to approve the request.  He wished that it was a lot cleaner and that a number of the questions raised tonight had answers.  He was a little concerned primarily with the storm water, which seems to be something that could turn around and bite the county.


Ms. Joseph asked if it was possible to add a condition that if and when that road is ever put in that this applicant will be responsible for providing its own storm water facility so that they could retrofit this site if they needed to.  Therefore, it would not be someone else’s expense or responsibility. 


Mr. Kamptner replied yes, that a condition could be added to address the storm water issue.  He was not aware of any county regulation that requires us to tie the existing facility into the road’s storm water system.   


Mr. Morris said that would be helpful.


Mr. Cilimberg pointed out that they should be careful because in fact a better storm water management solution may very well be tying into the public system especially in an urbanizing type of area.  If they start expecting every development to have storm water on site they might not be accomplishing in all cases what they want to accomplish.


Mr. Morris noted that his concern is not whether it is going to be on-site or not, but that it would be the applicant’s responsibility to do what has to be done.


Ms. Porterfield said that in other words the applicant would bear the costs.


Mr. Morris replied that is correct.


Mr. Edgerton said that he would play the devil’s advocate on that a little bit.  The road that is shown going across the applicant’s property, which was taking a large portion of their property, he believed was proffered as part of the Biscuit Run project.  The county has some resources coming in the future to help with this.  But, they don’t know when as the applicant pointed out.  The easement shown on the plat raised a question on how they took that proffer without this property owner being involved. 


Ms. Joseph noted that this was already approved and that road connection was already shown with this special use permit.


Mr. Edgerton said that it was shown in the original special use permit and is limiting their use of their land.  As such he felt that the county should have some responsibility if they are going to be putting a road across the property.   There might be a way to put it to the southeast of the parking lot where the existing church is now that will become a parking lot.  There is some substantial proffer funding available for this road.  He recalled that the proffer on Biscuit Run was that this has to go in before anything else.  He felt that will be an enormous benefit to the county ultimately to have this road.  They have already gotten it secured as step one of what is going to happen in the future.  He was not familiar with the previous plan, but it looks like there is a benefit.  For that reason he was comfortable in supporting the request.


Motion:   Mr. Edgerton moved and Mr. Loach seconded to approve SP-2008-00057, Charlottesville Kingdom Hall with the conditions recommended by staff.


  1. The development of the site shall be in general accord with the concept plan entitled Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses prepared by Hardee Johnston, A.S.L.A. Landscape Architect , Page T.1 dated January 9, 2006, Revised 12-08-08 and page C. 2 dated January 2, 2006, Revised 1-1-09 (hereinafter, the "Concept Plan"); In addition, the following elements shall be in strict accord with [or “conform to”] the Concept Plan: the relationship of parking areas to building areas, building areas to the street, location of the area for sidewalk dedication and reservation of area for the extension of the Southern Parkway.
  2. The area of assembly shall be limited to a maximum of two (2) auditoriums with one hundred seventy-five (175) seats in each;
  3. The final site plan shall show an area to be graded across the front of the site to allow the future installation of a sidewalk by others (the "sidewalk area").  The final site plan shall include a note reserving the sidewalk area for future dedication.  The area for dedication shall allow for a minimum width of a five (5) foot sidewalk and which shall meet all applicable VDOT and County standards per Section of the Zoning Ordinance.  The sidewalk area shall be graded in conjunction with the installation of other improvements on the site required by the site plan.  The sidewalk area shall be graded in compliance with the grading standards imposed by the agent.  Upon request by the County, the sidewalk area shall be dedicated for public use.  The owner shall grant all necessary temporary construction easements to allow the sidewalk to be installed; 
  4. There shall be no day care center or private school on site without approval of a separate special use permit and;
  5. Construction of the development plan referenced in Condition 1 above shall commence by [insert date 4 years after date of BOS approval] or this special use permit shall expire.


The motion passed by a vote of 5:1.  (Morris voted nay).


Ms. Joseph noted that she was encouraged that the applicant was working with the Habitat of Humanity on the sewer connection.   


Mr. Strucko said SP-2008-57, Charlottesville Kingdom Hall would go to the Board of Supervisors on March 11 with a recommendation for approval. 


Return to actions letter