Albemarle County Planning Commission

June 23, 2009



Deferred Items:


SP-2008-00060 Albemarle Baptist Christian School

PROJECT: SP200800060 Albemarle Baptist Christian School

PROPOSED: Private school with up to 40 students and up to 5 teaching staff on a 6.26 acre property in conjunction with the existing Albemarle Baptist Church

ZONING CATEGORY/GENERAL USAGE: RA Rural Areas - agricultural, forestal, and fishery uses; residential density (0.5 unit/acre in development lots); EC Entrance Corridor - Overlay to protect properties of historic, architectural or cultural significance from visual impacts of development along routes of tourist access

SECTION: Private schools

COMPREHENSIVE PLAN LAND USE/DENSITY:  Rural Areas - preserve and protect agricultural, forestal, open space, and natural, historic and scenic resources/ density ( .5  unit/ acre in development lots)


LOCATION: 1685 Roslyn Ridge Rd. at n/w corner of Hydraulic Rd. (Rt. 743) and Roslyn Ridge Rd.

TAX MAP/PARCEL: 061000000001E0


(Eryn Brennan)


Ms. Brennan presented a PowerPoint Presentation and summarized the staff report.


·         The Albemarle Baptist Christian Church is requesting a special use permit to allow a private school in an existing church, with a maximum of 40 students and 5 teaching staff. The school would operate from September to June, and hours of operation would be from 9 am to 3:30 pm; however staff has noted in the staff report that the hours of operation would extend to 4:30 pm to allow children to be picked up from the school and teaching staff to finish out their day.

·         As students would be transported by their parents, the school would not operate a bus. Students would also bring their own lunches since no lunch service would be provided. The concept plan shows the existing building, highlighted in orange, in which the school would be located. Staff parking would be located in the first row, and visitor and parent parking located in the second row. The playground and outdoor recreational area is shown shaded green, and you can also see in this slide the concept plan is superimposed on a site plan that was approved by the Board of Supervisors in May 2002.

·         In terms of conformity with the Comprehensive Plan, the Rural Areas chapter outlines the vision and goals for the Rural Areas, and recommends that land uses be consistent with traditional rural scales. The proposed private school does constitute a small-scale use in keeping with a traditional rural scale since a 40 student maximum is proposed. Furthermore, the private school would be utilizing an existing building, and therefore would not require an upgrade of the existing infrastructure. 

·         Staff does not anticipate any detrimental impacts to adjacent property given the distance of the school from neighboring residents, and because there will be no site development changes or new construction on the property.  VDOT has confirmed that the proposed school would not significantly impact traffic on Hydraulic Road, as the school will be limited in size to 40 students and 5 staff. VDOT has assessed that the proposed school would generate 36 additional trips in the morning and 24 trips during the afternoon from 2-4 pm, which would not impact evening peak traffic, generally from 4-6 pm.

·         In order to contextualize the scope of this proposal, this slide shows a cross-comparison of this Special Use Permit application with the Charlottesville Day School application that was preliminarily reviewed by the Planning Commission on September 16, 2008. The Charlottesville Day School was requesting permission for a private school to accommodate 185 to 228 students, and to construct two new buildings (in addition to the two existing buildings) on the site. The proposed site constituted a 21.8 acre parcel characterized by open space, creeks, and stream buffers, and the development most likely would have necessitated an intersection upgrade and new septic facility. Based on the large scale of the private school, staff determined that the proposal was not consistent with the Rural Areas chapter of the Comprehensive Plan and recommended denial.

·         In contrast, the application before us today, is significantly smaller than the Charlottesville Day School proposal, and is proposed to occupy an already existing building on the site. The site is a 6.26 acre parcel of land, with nothing in this application that would additionally impact natural resources on the site. Staff has found this application to be consistent with the Comprehensive Plan, because it does constitute a small-scale use in keeping with a traditional rural character, given the 40 student maximum and the fact that the private school would utilize an existing building. Furthermore, no upgrade of the existing infrastructure would be required.

·         The applicant is proposing a playground recreational area where the Phase 3 Building is shown on the concept plan. The applicant is aware that a playground in this area will require an amendment to the site plan, and that if and/or when Phase 3 is built, relocating the playground recreational area to another area on the site would require an amendment to this Special Use Permit.

·         Although a school on this site would increase the number of vehicles on Hydraulic Road in the morning and afternoon, VDOT has determined that the increase would be minimal and would have no detrimental impact on traffic patterns in the area.

·         Based on the school's relationship to the existing church, the relatively small scale of the school conforming with the Comprehensive Plan, and the facts demonstrating no impact on health, safety and welfare as provided by the Health Department, VDOT and other reviewers; staff did not find a legitimate basis for recommending denial.

·         Staff recommends approval of SP2008-60 with the conditions listed in the staff report, as follows.  Please note that in Condition 1 – the attachment should read Attachment A and not Attachment C.


1.       The school is limited to the existing building and grounds, as indicated on the concept plan (Attachment A). Any additional building or site changes beyond those shown on the approved site plan for SP 2001-47, prepared by Dex A. Sanders and dated November 28, 2007, will require an amendment to this Special Use Permit.

2.       Maximum enrollment of students and staff shall be limited to forty (40) students and five (5) staff. Any increase in enrollment and/or staff shall require an amendment to this Special Use Permit (SP 2009-60) and a traffic study shall be required to be submitted with the amendment. 

3.       Hours of operation for the school shall be from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, from September to June; and days of operation shall not exceed 336, excluding special school events.

4.       No additional outdoor lighting shall be allowed without an amendment to this Special Use Permit.

5.       Food preparation for the private school use shall not be conducted without an amendment to this Special Use Permit.

6.       All requirements of the Architectural Review Board of Supervisors shall be met, including the site plan indicating the existing tree line and specific trees of six (6) inches or greater and retaining significant trees.

7.       The area of assembly shall be limited to a maximum four-hundred-thirty-five (435) seat sanctuary.

8.       Health Department approval of well and septic systems prior to final site plan approval.

9.       Commercial setback standards, as set forth in Chapter 18, 21.7.2 of the Albemarle County Zoning Ordinance, shall be maintained adjacent to residential uses or residentially zoned properties.

10.   Any number of parking spaces in excess of the required minimum shall not be paved.

11.   There shall be no day care center or private school on-site without the approval of a separate special use permit.

12.   Construction of Phase 1 [6,800 sq. ft. sanctuary] shall commence within forty-eight (48) months or this special use permit shall expire.

13.   All requirements of VDOT shall be met prior to final site plan approval, including approval of one entrance from Roselyn Ridge Road, with a one-hundred (100)-foot-right-turn lane and one-hundred (100)-foot taper lane.


Mr. Strucko invited questions from the Commission.


Mr. Edgerton asked how the traffic count was calculated by VDOT. 


Juan Wade, Transportation Planner, replied that it was done based on the IT Trip Generation. The Seventh Addition is the book staff uses to determine trip generation during peak hours and total trip generations for various uses.  That was what it was based on.  That is why it is exactly 36 and 24.


Mr. Edgerton asked if the traffic count was taken out of the table and not by on site verification of what is happening.


Mr. Wade replied no.


Mr. Edgerton said that the school as noted in the staff report has been very open about the intent of ultimately expanding the school.  He asked if anybody calculated what that would involve.


Mr. Wade replied no, but that staff let the applicant know that if they plan to expand past 40 students then they would have to come back and do a more thorough traffic analysis.  Staff felt comfortable that the road network could accommodate 40 students without any problems.  The applicant would have to come back in and do a more thorough traffic analysis to expand past 40 students. 


Mr. Edgerton noted that he was a little surprised in the staff report on top of page 5 where it talks about traffic information that there were no fatal crashes.  He asked if the accident involving the police officer just about a year and half ago was in this area.


Mr. Wade replied that he believed that accident was on Hydraulic Road just a little past The Rocks Store.  It was in the vicinity, but it was not at this exact location.  Staff can get crash data at a pretty precise location between certain points and it was not in this area.


Mr. Morris asked what grade levels are represented with the 40 students.


Ms. Brennan replied it was grades 3 through 8. 


Ms. Porterfield questioned the hours of operation being September to June.  She would read that to mean September 1 to June 1 and questioned if the school would really want to be done by the end of May.


Ms. Brennan replied that was what the applicant requested in the application. 


Mr. Strucko suggested clarifying that with the applicant.


Ms. Brennan noted that the first day of school would be on Wednesday, September 2 and the final day of school would be Friday, June 4. 


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


Mark DeLoach, Pastor of Albemarle Baptist Church, said that the school’s administrator, Jim Haddock, was present.  He pointed out that Mr. Haddock had been a public school teacher for more than 39 years.  He thanked the Commission for their consideration of their application. He said they understand the Commission’s concern for traffic.  Everyday they come to the church and it is always some problems in getting in and out for everybody.  That is just the way it is even without a school.  Since their school will be closed enrollment and not open enrollment they do not believe it will be a major problem at all for the traffic situation there. They will strongly recommend ride shares for the school in order to lessen the traffic.  In fact the Christian School community lends itself to ride shares.  Of course, their goal is to be a positive influence in the community. There are only around ten or so families that are involved and two of the families already come into the property every day anyway. Therefore, they don’t believe the school will severely impact the 2,200 other cars that use that road in the morning and evening. He offered to answer questions.


Mr. Strucko invited questions for the applicant.


Ms. Joseph noted in the staff report that the peak time is between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m.  She asked if would be difficult for the school to move up the time from 4:30 p.m. to sometime before 4 p.m.


Mr. DeLoach replied they would plan on ending school by 3:00 p.m. and that changing the time would not be a burden.


Ms. Joseph asked if the school curriculum was directly related to the church and a function of the church.


Mr. DeLoach replied that it is.  They will use one of three different kinds of curriculum which is typically what their kind of schools use.  The curriculum would be connected from a Christian viewpoint although academically sound.


Mr. Edgerton noted that the staff report indicates their intention to expand the school to twelfth grade.  He asked how quickly they plan that to happen.


Mr. DeLoach replied that the phase one scope is not going to be any time soon and in phase two the school would expand some. Their goal is not to have a large school, but to simply have a school mainly for their own church people.  At best they hope the expansion would occur within five years.


Mr. Edgerton asked if they have any idea what their maximum enrollment might be.


Mr. DeLoach replied that their guess is that it would never be more than 100 students. 


Mr. Loach noted that the staff report says private school.  He asked if the school would be run under the offices of the church and directly related to church functions.


Mr. DeLoach replied yes that it was a church school.


Mr. Strucko opened the public hearing and invited public comment. 


Debbie Goodman, resident of Roslyn Ridge Subdivision and a Board member of the Roslyn Ridge Homeowner’s Association said she was speaking on behalf of the neighborhood.  Several of their neighbors are present tonight, but several were not able to attend this meeting.  There are many reasons why they oppose the proposed school at the Albemarle Baptist Church. 

·         Number one is traffic and safety.  When she takes her child to Albemarle High School between 8:30 and 9:00 a.m. it takes 5 minutes to turn right from Roslyn Ridge Road onto Hydraulic.  A left hand turn is out of the question.  After dropping her son off at school it takes up to ten minutes to make a left hand turn from Hydraulic Road back onto Roslyn Ridge Road to get back in the neighborhood.  The afternoon traffic is often worse.  Several years ago in the late afternoon her car was hit from behind as she waited on Hydraulic Road for a safe opportunity to make a left hand turn from Hydraulic onto Roslyn Ridge Road. 

·         The proposed school would add traffic to an area that is already saturated with traffic especially in the mornings and the afternoons.  The four public schools in this corridor make the largest school complex in the county and Albemarle High School is the largest school in the county.  These schools create traffic that includes school buses, new teenage drivers, bicyclists and children walking to school.    Increasing traffic in this area is a safety issue.  Anyone that travels this corridor regularly has witnessed many accidents on Hydraulic Road between Earlysville Road and Georgetown Road. 

·         Another concern is that the church and the proposed school are in the designated no growth area.  Since more growth has already been planned and approved in the adjacent designated growth area, including the Oak Tree development, this plan growth must be absorbed by the existing already saturated road network.  There does not appear to be any transportation funding in foreseeable future to improve these roads or expand the capacity.  It does not make sense to generate additional traffic in the no growth area.


Jackie Bailey, resident of 1700 Roslyn Ridge Road adjacent to the school, agreed with Ms. Goodman’s comments.  She noted the contour of the road slopes down at the driveway where the children would be dropped off.  It is not a commercial road and something that should be considered.  She questioned if there would be extra curricular activities at the school.  She asked if the school could be used for night events or other related school activities that would also impact the traffic.  In the report it said there were about eight accidents in the past eight years.  The demographics have changed dramatically.  Therefore, those statistics are somewhat outdated when looking at the impact of traffic and accidents. 


Tom Hubbard, resident of Roslyn Ridge, said he was saddened to be in opposition to a neighbor, Albemarle Baptist Church.  He thought that this proposal is a bad idea.  It is supposed to be a rural area.  There are already traffic problems and the idea of adding a school here and somehow coupling it with a religious function is a mistake.  He opposed the school and hoped the Commission would take that into consideration.


Sadura Hundarali, resident of Roslyn Ridge, said that of all the spots on Hydraulic Road that this spot is the least able to take on any more traffic.  The traffic information indicates that the accidents are not related to the junctions of Hydraulic and Roslyn Ridge.  But there have been many accidents further along the road certainly on Earlysville Road. Many of those accidents further down Hydraulic Road have been caused by the pressure of the traffic turning into and off of the Hydraulic Road with people trying to beat the turn light and trying to turn right and left ahead of ongoing traffic.  At peak hours everyone is in a hurry and that just creates the possibility for future accidents.  The road into the Roslyn Ridge neighborhood was built as an entrance into a residential neighborhood and not as something that could be used for commercial purposes.  As Ms. Bailey mentioned it impacts the residents who go in and out of the neighborhood and they don’t know what kind of extra curricular activities the school is going to engage in.  As new facilities are built the temptation is always there to use them for other purposes to raise revenue by renting this facility out to other organizations.  Other churches in the area rent their facilities out to others, which she acknowledged they have the right to do.  But these activities do add to the pressures of traffic and the ability of the residents to enter and exit their neighborhood if the school does choose to use this facility in that way.


Kim Craig, resident in the Roslyn Ridge area, represented his parents who were out of the country.  He noted that their biggest concern was growth. It starts small at 40 students, but potentially will grow.  The number of students can really multiply.  He grew up in Charlottesville and went to Tandem, which has really grown.  He was concerned with the progress and potential growth of the school.


Mr. Strucko closed the public hearing to bring the matter back before the Commission


Mr. Loach asked if they finalized the issue about the start and end date of the school year. 


Mr. Strucko noted that it was the beginning of September to the beginning of June.


Mr. Morris noted that the end date was June 4.


Ms. Porterfield suggested if the motion passes that they try to give them September 1 to June 10 because they were basing it on this year’s calendar.


Mr. Edgerton said that he could not support the special use permit for the following three reasons.  One of the reasons is not covered in the staff report.  The other two reasons are covered in the staff report.  


1.       Traffic – He lived in the neighborhood and this is his district.  With all due respects to Mr. Wade’s calculation in vehicle trips per today he did not think it was a realistic way to analyze what is happening on this road.  It is a very dangerous turning situation. The existing traffic at these hours is already in a dangerous zone. He happens to agree with a number of speakers on that. 

2.       Expansion – The school hopes to expand to a K to 12 in 5 years if they could raise the funds and grow that much.  They may have as many as 100 students within a 5 year period. They need to realize that the intent is to expand this program.  Right now they are talking about using an existing building and obviously there is not going to be any impact.  If they look at the school’s phase 2 and 3 plans they are intending to expand the project considerably. 

3.       In comparison with the school the Commission had a work session on the adjacent property over on the original Roslyn home site.  There was quite a bit of discussion at that work session about the concern about having to add a sewage line on this side of Hydraulic Road.  As they know the rural area line has been fairly inflexible for about 30 years along the center line of Hydraulic Road because everything to the west of Hydraulic Road drains into the Rivanna Reservoir, which is a fairly significant environmental impact.  For that reason many proposals in the past 30 years that have been proposed other than by right proposals have been turned down along there.  Therefore, from a planning perspective he did not think it made sense to expand the potential for future growth on the west side of Hydraulic Road. For these three reasons he was not going to be able to support this application.


Mr. Loach supported the proposal.  From what he had heard religious education is certainly consistent with the mission of the church.  It is a community church and he would assume that most of the students in the church would be coming from the community.  He noted that this proposal is limited to the 40 students.  In the conditions should they want to expand the school it would come back for a more intense traffic study.  He thought that to deny this request might be in conflict with the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 as it is written.   For those reasons he would support the request.


Ms. Joseph asked for comment from Mr. Kamptner on how this proposal fits within the Religious Act.


Mr. Kamptner replied that this application is a little bit different than the ones the Commission has seen in the past because they do have a church that is already established.  He noted that probably the biggest issue that arises under the federal law is the decision that needs to be based upon substantial evidence and on what the courts have identified as legitimate concerns.  They have heard the recommendations from VDOT regarding the traffic impacts here.  They have also heard the statements from the citizens who have raised some traffic concerns.  So it comes down to a question of the Commission on that issue weighing the competing evidence that they have heard in the staff report, Mr. Wade and the members of the public.  As long as their decision in this particular case is based upon what the courts have called substantial evidence and that is creditable evidence that a reasonable person would rely upon in either way that would support the Commission’s recommendation.


Ms. Joseph questioned several of the conditions.  Staff struck condition #6, but she felt it was important to retain the significant trees.  She felt that it was important to remind everybody that the significant trees need to stay there.  She also felt it was important to get something in writing from the health department saying that this is not going to cause a problem.


Ms. Brennan pointed out that staff did get comments from the health department that said the septic would be fine.


Mr. Morris pointed out that he had seen the traffic on Hydraulic road at various times and it can be substantial. However, he thought that the evidence the Commission has been presented really leaves him with a fairly safe feeling that he can support the request.


Mr. Kamptner suggested that one condition the Commission may want to discuss is clarifying the hours of operation.  There was a statement from the Pastor that they would be ending by 3:30 p.m.  He assumed that was just class time and not necessarily when the teachers would be leaving the premises.


Mr. Strucko asked Pastor DeLoach to come forward and address the issue.


James Haddock said that in terms of setting the hours the school would start at 9:30 a.m. with student arrival at 9:15 a.m.  In order to meet the guidelines set by the Department of Education and other operating standards the day would end at 3:15 p.m. with hopefully everybody picked up by 3:30 p.m.  There has to be some allowance of time there in case there has to be other kinds of adjustments.  One of the things they did when talking about hours of operation was to consider the traffic associated with other schools in the area which included Albemarle High School.  He pointed out that everyday he goes to Albemarle High School from Garden Court.  So he understands the concern there.  They have tried to make an adjustment in that way that would make the hours fit.


Mr. Morris asked Mr. Haddock to address the issue about before and after school extra curricular activities.


Mr. Haddock replied that at this time they have not entered into any agreements with any of the Christian school associations and have no plans for extra curricular activities or any kind of athletic event. They may at one point be the one that would host a Bible quiz evening.  That goes on between the member schools and would happen about once a year.  It would be after joining in with other associations.  At this time there are no plans for extra curricular activities in terms of any kind of sporting events or any of that.  Everything would be confined to the school day.


Mr. Strucko asked if there were any other comments.


Mr. Franco asked staff with respect to the health department if they gave a maximum number of students that the existing facilities would support.


Mr. Brennan replied that the health department did not, but their comments are included in the staff report.  Staff tried to ask them that question, but they could not answer that and said that the 40 students was fine.


Ms. Porterfield noted that she was having trouble with this issue because she was not opposed to the Charlottesville Day School’s proposal. She felt that they need to go back and look at what the Commission as a whole said about that because it was very similar.  That particular site had public water, but not public sewer.  She asked if this site does not have public water or sewer.


Ms. Brennan replied that is correct.


Ms. Porterfield noted that the Charlottesville Day School proposed to construct new buildings and this proposal plans to use existing structures.  The Commission’s big concern was the fact that it is on the opposite side of what has been the demarcation line between the rural and development areas for approximately 30 years. That is a substantial amount of time. The Commission also was worried about impacts on the South Fork Rivanna River being with the septic and in this case also with the water usage.  The Commission indicated as a whole that they were not in support of the other possibility, but would want to know more about things like quantity and possible contamination of water supply, septic capacity and impacts on the drinking water reservoir and wanted a more detailed plan for buildings on the site.  These were the things that they were going to build before they started to talk about the school.  She was in the minority on those things. She could see from having driven by the site today that there are a number of churches on that side of Hydraulic Road.  If they open this up for one she did not know how they close it for the rest of them.  Even though a church is an allowed use in the rural area, which is obviously why they are there, she felt there is a lot of comparison whether it is a church school or another type of school.  They are all schools.  Personally she was having a lot of trouble with this issue.


Mr. Strucko noted that he was in general agreement with what Mr. Edgerton’s has described earlier for the three reasons that he very clearly stated.  He felt that Mr. Edgerton’s discussion of the impact of this proposal on the road and the traffic count is an important one.  But also the school’s intent to expand to a greater number of students and the impact it would have on a very sensitive area in their designated rural areas is enough for him not to be able to support this. It was also for something that Ms. Porterfield said about maintaining a consistency with what they did in the past.  He felt that her concerns were very valid in terms of setting a precedent for other religious institutions that are on that side of the street.  But he did think that on this particular issue as Mr. Kamptner announced that they have had some creditable evidence stated that the traffic impact is a problem.  For those reasons he would not be able to support this particular proposal. 


Motion: Mr. Morris moved and Mr. Loach seconded for approval of SP-2008-00060, Albemarle Baptist Christian School subject to the conditions recommended by staff.


Mr. Kamptner clarified that condition 1 would be amended to refer to attachment A.  Condition 3 regarding hours of operation would be amended to say something like hours of operation for student arrival shall not be earlier than 9:15 a.m. and class instruction shall end by 3:15 p.m. Monday through Friday from September 1 to June 10.


Mr. Morris asked that it be June 15.


Mr. Kamptner noted the change from September to June 15, the reinstatement of condition 6 and continuing with the rest of the conditions. 


Mr. Morris agreed with the changes to the conditions as noted by Mr. Kamptner and Mr. Loach agreed.


Mr. Strucko asked for other discussion.


Mr. Franco noted that he was really on the fence on this issue.  He thought that the arguments or points that Mr. Edgerton and other Commissioners have made about the expansion bothers him.  That is not before the Commission right now.  What was before the Commission was the 40 student version.  Therefore, he was inclined to say that at that scale knowing it will use the existing facility and building that even though there are some traffic issues on that road that scale is appropriate at that location. He was stuck on the intent and did not want to set a precedent that they are approving or laying the ground work for expansion of that facility to 100 students.  If that can be worked somehow into the motion he would support it.  It does not need to be a condition because it is already a condition of the special use permit.  He wanted it to at least go in the record that any expansion or intensification of that use is inappropriate in that location.


Mr. Morris asked if any expansion would have to come back to the Commission, and Ms. Brennan replied absolutely.


Mr. Morris agreed with Mr. Franco that it does not belong in this motion at this time.


Mr. Loach noted that they also heard from Mr. Wade that if it went larger than 40 students that it would entail a much more detailed traffic study to be done.  So at that time the Commission as Mr. Edgerton said they would have more specific data to make a decision on.  He agreed with Mr. Franco that at this 40 student level that he was fairly comfortable.


The motion failed by a vote of 3:4.  (Mr. Franco, Mr. Morris and Mr. Loach voted aye)  (Ms. Porterfield, Ms. Joseph, Mr. Strucko and Mr. Edgerton voted nay.)


Mr. Kamptner noted that an affirmative vote was required under the Commission’s rules.


Motion: Mr. Edgerton moved and Ms. Porterfield seconded for denial of SP-2008-00060, Albemarle Baptist Christian School for the three reasons stated.

  1. The existing traffic concerns,
  2. The anticipated expansion as outlined by the applicant, and
  3. The potential negative impacts on the reservoir.


The motion passed by a vote of 4:3.  (Ms. Porterfield, Ms. Joseph, Mr. Strucko and Mr. Edgerton voted aye.)   (Mr. Franco, Mr. Morris and Mr. Loach voted nay.) 


Mr. Strucko said that SP-2008-00060, Albemarle Baptist Christian School would go to the Board of Supervisors at a date to be determined with a recommendation for denial.


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