SP 2009-0001 Montessori Community School (Pantops) Extension




Request for extension of time allowed special use permit (SP 06-038) for 48 months




Rebecca Ragsdale




February 17, 2009



March 11, 2009



OWNER/APPLICANT:  Montessori Community School of Charlottesville; represented by Hunter McCardle, Water Street Studio



A special use permit (SP 06-038) for new buildings and campus improvements at the Montessori School was approved by the Board on March 14, 2007. The campus improvements include a phased plan to replace temporary modules with permanent classrooms and to develop the site with features such as an amphitheatre, ball field and ball court, playgrounds, gardens, lawns, and other associated site improvements like parking. (Refer to Attachment C-Staff Report for SP 06-038, page 20-Attachment H)There was no increase in enrollment, staffing or change in operating hours associated with SP#2006-038 and it was approved with the following conditions. (Attachment A-Approval letter, Attachment B-PC minutes)


At the time SP 06-038 was reviewed, a zoning violation existed on the site (VIO-2006-239) because a fence was installed without site plan or ARB approval. Most of the fence is chain link and visible from the Entrance Corridor. The applicant agreed, following ARB discussion of the matter at their meeting on February 5, 2007, to address the fence violation. The fence issue has not yet been resolved.



The existing special use permit is due to expire on March 14, 2009 and the applicant has not yet started construction to prevent its expiration. The applicant is requesting an additional four years and is nearing final site plan approval for Phase I of the project. It is uncertain when the school will begin construction on Phase 1 so this additional time is needed. The purpose of the time period provision for special use permit approvals in the ordinance is to allow any ordinance changes to be applied at the time the extension is reviewed. It allows the County to consider whether there have been changes in circumstances such that the granting of the special use permit should be revisited. In the case of this request for extension, there is no reason to revisit the special use permit and there have been no ordinance changes since the SP was approved in 2007. Staff does not foresee any upcoming amendments or changes of circumstance to suggest the use will not be appropriate at this location.


The applicant has gotten preliminary site plan approval and final site development plans are under review for phase 1, which will address the fence issue with the ARB. It is the consensus of the ARB that the new fence shall be erected by September 1, 2009. Alternatively, an extensive landscape plan showing landscaping that will completely screen the fence from the EC can be submitted for review, with the planting to be installed by September 1, 2009. Staff is concerned, however, that the fence issue be resolved to the ARB’s satisfaction in a timely manner. For that reason, an additional condition has been recommended below. (Condition #3)




Staff has found no unfavorable factors to this request, other than the ongoing fence issue, and recommends approval of SP 2009-0001 with the conditions below. These include the same conditions as those previously approved, with #2 modified to use new standard condition language, #4 and #5 are new conditions. (Updates/new conditions in bold italics.)

  1. Maximum enrollment shall be three hundred (300) students.
  2. The site shall be developed in general accord with the plan entitled “Montessori Pantops Mountain Community School Sheets SP01-SP-03”, prepared by Neal R. Deputy, Architecture & Master Planning, last revised January 16, 2007.  Development of the use shall be in conformity with the  “Montessori Pantops Mountain Community School Sheets SP01-SP-03”, prepared by Neal R. Deputy, Architecture & Master Planning, last revised January 16, 2007, as determined by the Director of Planning and the Zoning Administrator. To be in conformity with the plan, development shall reflect the general size, arrangement, and location of proposed Buildings A, B, C, D, and E, Central Lawn, Amphitheatre, playgrounds and ball fields, wooded natural area, and parking areas.  Minor modifications to the plan which do not conflict with the elements above may be made to ensure compliance with the Zoning Ordinance.
  3. Fencing shall be provided at a minimum around the perimeter of the Central Lawn, Lower Elementary Playground, and Children’s House Playground, or at other locations as required by the County to ensure safety of children adjacent to Route 250 and Rolkin Road. Final design of the fence shall be subject to review and approval by the Architectural Review Board. However, to address safety concerns, the fence details shall include:

a.       At least forty-eight (48) inches tall;

b.       No more than a two (2) inch gap under the fence;

c.       Openings shall be small enough that a four (4) inch sphere will not pass through;

d.       No ornamental indentations that can be used as a ladder;

e.       Maximum mesh size for chain link fences is two and one-quarter (2-1/4) inches; and

f.         Maximum mesh size for diagonal lattice fences is one and three-quarter (1-3/4) inches.

  1. The existing chain link fence shall be replaced with a new fence that satisfies the requirements of the Architectural Review Board by September 1, 2009. Alternately, planting shall be installed by September 1, 2009 that will screen the fence from the Entrance Corridor. That planting shall be in accord with an approved landscape plan that satisfies the requirements of the Architectural Review Board.
  2. Special Use Permit 2009-01 shall be valid for forty-eight (48) months from [date of approval].



  1. SP 2006-038 Board of Supervisors approval letter with conditions, dated April 5, 2007
  2. Planning Commission February 20, 2007 meeting minutes for review of SP 2006-038
  3. Staff Report for SP 2006-038 Montessori Community School, dated February 20, 2007

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