FAX (540)341-3444


DATE:            March 22 2002

TO:                 Members, Planning Commission

FROM:            Brian K. Davis, Senior Planner

RE:                 Suffield Meadows Continuing Care Facility

                        SE # 02-S-13; SE #02-S-14 and CPA #02-S-04


The applicant is requesting special exception approvals to allow for the establishment of a continuing care facility and to construct a private sewage treatment facility.  There is also an associated Comprehensive Plan Amendment to extend public water beyond the New Baltimore Service District boundary.  The proposal calls for the construction of 50 cottage units, 32 condominium units in two buildings, 30 duplex units in 15 structures and a 40 bed assisted living facility on 120 acres at the intersection of Route 29 and Route 673 north of Warrenton and adjacent to the Snow Hill residential community.

The Planning Commission held a public hearing on this case on February 28, 2002, and voted to defer decision for at least 30 days to allow the applicant time to address certain issues raised in the February 28, 2002 staff report and comments received at the public hearing.  A work session on this application was held in the 4th floor conference room of the County Office Building on Thursday, March 14, 2002 at 4:00 p.m.

Prior to the March 14th work session, the applicant provided each Commission member and staff a written response to the issues raised in the original staff report, as well as responses to the citizen concerns raised at the public hearing.  The applicant has indicated a willingness to relocate the assisted living facility and reduce the building mass to lessen visual impacts from Route 29 and keep the structure closer in scale to the character of the area.  However, the applicant has indicated that the proposed density cannot be lowered from their perspective, as a certain density is required so that sufficient revenue can be generated to provide the level of services that are proposed.  The applicant also states that traffic volumes on Route 29 are already high; however, they have consented to conduct actual traffic counts from three similar communities in Virginia which should provide more accurate trip generation estimations beyond what has previously been submitted.

At the March 14th work session, the applicant distributed revised open space calculations, a traffic count chart from a similar community in Martinsville, and some sample covenant language from another age-restricted community.  The applicant has discussed different possibilities for relocating the assisted living facility and moving the location of the sewage treatment plant closer to Route 29 so that the effluent would be pumped up hill away from Route 29, and also moving the primary drainfield locations further from the Fosters Fork Road property line.  In addition, the applicant also indicated that vehicle counts were being conducted at three similar facilities in Virginia, but that the information was not yet available.


There has been no additional information submitted by the applicant since the work session on March 14th.  The applicant and the Planning Commission have scheduled a site visit to the property on the morning of the March 28th Planning Commission meeting and the applicant has further agreed to “stake-out” different proposed building locations on the property.  Staff anticipates that the applicant will submit revised plans to the County, along with the new traffic count information prior to the April meeting.  Staff also recommends that a draft set of covenants specific to the project also be submitted at that time.  The applicant should be advised that April 10, 2002 is the deadline for any new materials to be reviewed by staff and presented to the Planning Commission for its April 25, 2002 meeting.

Regarding the revised open space calculations presented by the applicant at the work session, staff would note the following:

Ø      The applicant has indicated that all open space will be classified as common, with no non-common open space. 

Ø      The delineation of common open space indicates that 9.25 acres is to be designated for specific residents’ use (i.e. private open space or yard areas).  Private yards are typically not calculated towards open space calculations.  With the removal of this 9.25 acres from the calculation, the effective open space provided for the project would be 94.96 acres, or 81% of the site area (exclusive of right-of-way dedications).  Under the calculations provided by the applicant, staff would be of the opinion that open space is not provided to an amount at least equal to that specified for the zoning district in which the proposed use is located.  (This requirement is one of the standards that must be met for a special exception use, per Sect. 5-006.4 of the Zoning Ordinance).

Staff has prepared a first set of draft conditions (Attachment 1) at this time for review and discussion purposes as the deliberation of this project continues.  The conditions are broken down into seven (7) major categories: general provisions, emergency services, environmental conditions, landscaping, lighting, transportation and private sewage treatment system.  These conditions serve as a discussion point for deliberation by the Planning Commission and address many concerns raised in the staff report and at the public hearing, such as:

Ø      Overall project density

Ø      Timing for construction of the assisted living facility in relation to other residential units

Ø      Placement of the open space into a conservation easement

Ø      Age restrictions for residents as indicated in the applicant’s submission materials

Ø      The establishment of a maintenance funds for facility operations

Ø      A contribution to the New Baltimore Fire and Rescue Squad

Ø      Perimeter landscaping and tree preservation

Ø      Road frontage improvements and a financial contribution for a portion of funding a new traffic signal

Ø      With relation to the private sewage system, a series of conditions that would be required before the applicant could apply for a site plan to ensure proper design of the system, and subsequent conditions to ensure adequate operation and maintenance of the system.


Staff recommends that the Planning Commission postpone action for 30 days.  This will allow for the site visit and any resultant application modifications to be submitted by the applicant and reviewed by County staff prior to the Planning Commission taking action.  This additional time will also allow for adequate review and discussion of the draft conditions by the interested parties. 

cc:            Applicant