COUNTY OF FAUQUIER

PLANNING COMMISSION STAFF REPORT

FEBRUARY 28, 2002 

COMPREHENSIVE PLAN AMENDMENT #CPA02-S-04, AND SPECIAL EXCEPTION CASES #SE 02-S-13 and SE 02-S-14, SUFFIELD MEADOWS CONTINUING CARE FACILITY

OWNERS:

Semple Family Limited Partnership

 

 

5600 Lee Highway
Warrenton, VA  20187

 

APPLICANT:

Gary Hill, AML Development Corporation
7700 Brickyard Road
Potomac, MD  20854

 

 

REPRESENTATIVE

H. Ben Jones
31 Winchester Street
Warrenton, VA  20186

 

 

PROPOSALS:

Amend the Comprehensive Plan to allow public water to be extended beyond a Service District boundary to serve the subject property and the proposed use.  Obtain special exception approval to allow the use of a continuing care facility in the Rural Agricultural zoning district and obtain special exception approval to allow the use of a private sewage treatment system (mass drainfield) that would serve the proposed continuing care facility.

 

LOCATION:

On the west side of Lee Highway (U.S. Routes 15/29) at its intersection with Fosters Fork Road (State Route 673), adjacent to the western boundary of the New Baltimore Service District.

 

 

MAGISTERIAL

DISTRICT:

 

Scott District

 

 

PROPERTY I.D.

NUMBER AND SIZE:

 

6995-79-4111-000, 120 acres

 

 

CURRENT ZONING:

RA (Rural Agricultural)

 

EXISTING ZONING AND LAND USES OF ADJACENT PROPERTIES

N

R-1 (Residential)

Residential (Snow Hill)

S

RA (Rural Agricultural)

Residential and Farm Use

E

R-1 (Residential)

Mixture Commercial/Residential/Agriculture

W

RA (Rural Agricultural)

Vacant Agricultural

         

SUMMARY RECOMMENDATIONS:  Staff recommends deferral of these combined applications to allow Planning Commission consideration of the comments received at public hearing and to allow the applicant to address the issues identified in the Staff Analysis section of this report. 

STAFF PLANNER:            Brian Davis 

Project Description  

Special Exception to Permit a Continuing Care Facility 

The applicant is proposing to construct a continuing care facility on the subject property, which consists of approximately 120 acres of land with frontage on the west side Lee Highway (U.S. Routes 15/29) at its intersection with Fosters Fork Road (State Route 673).  The property is bounded to the north and east by the New Baltimore Service District boundary and is approximately 4 miles northeast of the Town of Warrenton.  A total of 152 varied living units are proposed.  The proposed facility would consist of the following components in an age-restricted community:  

·         An assisted living facility with a 40-bed capacity,

·         Two condominium buildings with a total of 32 individual units,

·         50 detached cottage units, and

·         30 duplex units.   

The assisted living facility would offer 24-hour assistance to residents.  According to the applicant, this facility would be licensed by the Virginia Department of Social Services and an independent operator would be selected for facility management.  Approximately 30 full time equivalent employees are proposed.  A clubhouse, fitness center and swimming pool are also planned as community features.  The community is also proposed to include a bank facility, gift and convenience shop, pharmacy delivery service and dining room.  There are also walking trails, a wetlands boardwalk and other open space/garden features proposed for use by the community’s residents.  The 120-acre parcel would remain intact under one common ownership, so there would be no subdivision of the land into individual lots.  Rather, each individual unit would be independently owned on land that would be owned and maintained by the Homeowner’s Association.   

The main entrance to the site is proposed from Lee Highway, aligned with the crossover for Baldwin Street (Route 673.)  The existing farm entrance on Route 29 would be closed.  There are also two (2) proposed entrances from Fosters Fork Road, one secondary in nature and the other as an unpaved emergency access.  A majority of the development is proposed to be clustered roughly in the center portion of the property, with the exception of the assisted living facility, which is proposed along the Route 29 frontage near Fosters Fork Road.  The community would be served by a private road network, with a 24-hour security gate at the main entrance.  The community would operate as an age-restricted facility under an exemption from the Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988.  This allows housing intended and operated for occupancy by persons of a minimum age of 55 years.  In addition, this proposed community would not permit children under the age of 19 to live on the premises. 

Comprehensive Plan Amendment to Extend Water Beyond Service District Boundary 

The applicant is proposing to serve this community with a centralized water system that would be an extension of the Fauquier County Water and Sanitation Authority’s (WSA) New Baltimore system.  Because this property is not located within the Service District boundary, a comprehensive plan amendment is required to extend public water services beyond the Service District boundary.  The applicant states that the property provides an opportunity for the WSA to complete a regional water loop between Snow Hill and the Jamison tract, while also allowing access to the well on the subject property as a backup water supply for future needs in the New Baltimore area.  The applicant maintains that this regional looping, which would be created through the approval of this request, would enhance water pressure and fire protection reliability for the Service District. 

Special Exception to Allow Construction of Private Wastewater System 

The applicant is also proposing the construction of a privately owned and operated central wastewater system, due to the property location beyond the Service District boundary.  The proposed system would include gravity sewers and single pump station.  The treatment process proposed by the applicant involves the application of treated water to a closed, subsurface drip/drainfield system that would eliminate contact to open air and minimize odor potential when combined with minimized flow retention times in the conveyance hydraulics.  The proposed wastewater treatment building would be located in a screened area near the western property boundary.  The primary drainfied areas are concentrated in a rectangular area extending from the southern property boundary towards the center of the property.  The required 200% reserve areas are scattered throughout the property.  It is noted that all collection, conveyance and treatment for the wastewater system would be underground or in building designed to a residential character. 

Order of Applications 

The applicant has submitted a letter requesting concurrent processing of these combined applications.  As such, the Planning Commission has 90 days from the date of its public hearing to make a recommendation to the Board of Supervisors on the comprehensive plan amendment and the two (2) special exception applications. 

Attachments 

1.       Staff Analysis

2.       Applicant’s Statement of Justification

3.       VDOT Review

4.       Health Department Review

5.       Soil Scientist Review

6.       County Engineer Review

7.       Library Board Review

8.       Zoning Review

9.   Map 1, Map 2

ATTACHMENT 1 

Staff Analysis of the Applications 

I.                   Establishment of the Continuing Care Facility – Special Exception, Category 6

A.      Proposed Use/Density 

As proposed, the continuing care facility would include a total of 152 living units, dispersed among a 40-bed assisted living facility, 32 individual condominium units, 50 cottages and 30 duplex (villa) units.  Also proposed are numerous accessory uses such as a banking facility, salon, gift/convenience shop, pharmacy delivery, transportation service, clubhouse and dining room facilities, recreational trails, community gardens, a swimming pool and pool house. The Zoning Administrator has issued a written determination that the intent of the Continuing Care Facility use was to allow cottages or single family units as independent structures and/or condominium buildings as part of the facility, which appears to support the mixture of uses proposed in this application.  This concentration of mixed uses is planned for a 120-acre parcel adjacent to the New Baltimore Service District on Lee Highway (Routes 15/29).  Under existing RA (Rural Agricultural) zoning regulations, the parcel has the ability to be divided into a maximum of six (6) residential lots, one of which would be required to comprise 85% of the acreage, or 102 acres.  While staff agrees that the proposed use is beneficial to the County, there is concern that the overall density of 112 cottages and condominium units (excluding the 40-bed assisted living facility) is equivalent to the density of a conventional R-1 subdivision in a Comprehensive Plan designated rural area.  (Comparison made by factoring the property size of 120 acres and multiplying the R-1 density rate of 0.9 dwelling units per acre).  Additionally, the scale and bulk of two (2) condominium buildings combined with an assisted living facility is not consistent with the existing patterns of development in the area.  Staff is of the opinion that there should be some consideration to reducing the overall effective density in this proposal to mitigate both land use and transportation impacts.  Additionally, the current plan design includes the placement of the assisted living facility in close proximity to the highway, separated from the remainder of the planned residential units, both in distance and further segregated by a gate.  Consideration should be given to a redesigned community that provides all of the combined components within a cohesive, inter-connected design that is more in the intent of the continuing care “facility” use category, and also demonstrates the applicant’s stated intent to provide a community for individuals to “age in place.” 

B.      Transportation Impacts 

1.       Trip Generation - Using standard traffic count information, a residential development on the subject property under the existing zoning would generate 60 vehicle trips per day.  The applicant has submitted revised traffic count information indicating an estimated trip generation of 500 vehicle trips per day using a combination of elderly housing and congregate care categories.  When applying actual traffic counts from a similar development in New Jersey, the applicant’s figures drop the estimated trip generation to 359 vehicle trips per day.  The applicant estimates it would take 36-50 conventional single family lots to generate an equivalent amount of traffic.  Because it would not be possible to locate 36-50 single family lots on this parcel without a Comprehensive Plan amendment and rezoning, staff questions the value of this comparison.  Rather, staff is of the opinion that it is more practical to focus on the trips that could be generated by this proposed use in conjunction with its location on the County’s major arterial highway, Route 29, which by the applicant’s own traffic count information carries as much as 25,000 vehicle trips in a 24 hour period, with a peak of 2,725 vehicles in a peak morning hour. (Figures from an actual count on Wednesday, January 23, 2002).  While the applicant contends that an age-restricted community does not generate the traffic of a conventional residential development, the age restriction of one owner being at least 55 years in age does not preclude one or both members of the household from working full-time, or other family members over the age of 19 from living in the community.  Additionally, the employees of the community and its service features (i.e. bank, salon, etc.) will also generate traffic during peak hours, as well as delivery traffic.

Staff does concur that the planned extension of the Circuit Rider bus system to the property will help to alleviate individual traffic trips and that the 40-bed assisted living facility will not generate significant traffic counts.  However, the trip generations from the balance of the planned community with 112 individual housing units is an unknown entity in Fauquier County in terms of traffic impacts.

2.       Route 29 Impacts – The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) has identified a series of issues in relation to existing conditions on Route 29 and recommended improvements that should be completed by the applicant in the event that this application is improved.  Recommended VDOT improvements are as follows:

a. An additional 35 foot dedication of right of way along the Route 29 frontage beyond the 35 feet shown by the applicant, for a total of 70 feet to allow for future lane expansion of Route 29 as planned by both VDOT and the County.  The applicant has agreed to such a dedication and this item can be incorporated into a final condition of approval.

b. Frontage improvements along both Routes 29 and 673 to include turn lane construction.  The applicant has agreed to these improvements and this item can be incorporated into a final condition of approval.

c. A contribution towards the ultimate signalization at the project entrance which would align with Baldwin Street (Route 673) would be warranted by this application.  The applicant has agreed to an escrow contribution of $40,000 payable to VDOT to mitigate the cost of a traffic signal.  This item can be incorporated into a final condition of approval.

d. The proposed waterline crossing for Route 29 must be bored through the right of way as cutting and trenching of the highway will not be permitted.  This item can be incorporated into a final condition of approval.

3.       Future Route 673 Intersection Alignment – There have been preliminary discussions between VDOT, the applicant and County staff regarding the possibility of the applicant to relocate and construct a new alignment for Fosters Fork Road (Route 673 on the north side of Route 29) through the subject property so that it crosses over Route 29 at Baldwin Street (Route 673 south of Route 29).  This would eliminate the existing offset intersection.  Such realignment would eliminate an existing access point to Route 29 and potentially assist in reducing turning movements on this heavily traveled highway.  The applicant has agreed in concept to this issue and has provided alternative drawings showing such an alignment.  VDOT supports the concept but does not want to commit to the applicant’s proposed configuration as the ultimate design.  This matter should be debated by the Planning Commission and considered through the public hearing process before a final recommendation is made to the Board of Supervisors. 

C.     Zoning Ordinance Standards 

The applicant sets forth in their Statement of Justification (See Attachment 2) how the application satisfies both the general standards for a special exception use and the additional standards for a continuing care facility.  Staff analysis of certain standards for the Planning Commission to consider follows:

Ø      Sec. 5-006, item 2. – The proposed use shall be such that pedestrian and vehicular traffic generated will not be hazardous or conflict with the existing and anticipated traffic in the neighborhood and on the streets serving the site.

While the applicant has committed to several mitigation efforts to minimize traffic impacts, staff questions that the applicant’s traffic generation estimates adequately anticipate the amount of vehicular traffic associated with this use in comparison with the existing Comprehensive Plan designation and existing zoning district.

Ø      Section 5-006, item 4. – Open space shall be provided in an amount at least equal to that specified for the zoning district in which the proposed use is located.

The applicant has indicated that 88.85% of the site will be retained as common and non-common open space.  The special exception plat should delineate the common and non-common open space areas and further elaborate as to whether each individual housing unit will have an individual yard area and if so, remove that area from the calculations before the County can determine that this standard is satisfied.

Ø      Section 5-006, item 9. – Except as provided in this Article, all uses shall comply with the lot size, bulk regulations and performance standards of the zoning district in which located.

While there is no subdivision of the property proposed, it could be argued that the individual housing units as proposed could not meet the bulk regulations of the underlying (RA) Agricultural zoning district.  For example, individual cottage units are as close as 10-20 feet, providing effective 5 –10 foot side yards for each unit where the underlying zoning on individual lots requires 25 feet for side yards, or 50 feet between units.

Ø      Section 5-606, item 10 - The proposed use including all structures, roads and landscaping shall be sited, designed and constructed in a manner which minimizes the impact of the development on the neighborhood and the County.  The scale of the physical facilities shall be such that the appearance of the project will be visually harmonious and appropriate to the neighborhood and immediate area.

The effective density and traffic impacts proposed by this use at this particular location within the County will have some negative impacts as currently proposed.  Staff is of the opinion that a reduction in density and buildings could better serve to minimize impacts of the development and enable this standard to be satisfied, while also providing a scale that is more in character with the immediate area.

D.     Engineering Issues 

The County Engineer recommends that the private street system proposed by the applicant be dedicated to public use, with the roads designed and constructed in accordance with VDOT standards within 50 foot right-of-ways.  The County could make this a final condition of approval upon finding that such a change is deemed necessary in the public interest.  The unpaved emergency access proposed from Fosters Fork Road should be a minimum 15-foot width.

It is also noted that the property is located within the Occoquan Watershed, so best management practices for water quality treatment will be required with the stormwater management facilities design during the final site plan if the use is approved.
 

E.      Emergency Services 

The Emergency Services Coordinator has verbally indicated the need for at least one additional ambulance for the New Baltimore Rescue Squad will be generated by this proposed use.  The applicant has agreed to provide $50,000 towards the purchase of a new ambulance, which can be incorporated into a final condition of approval.  The Emergency Services Coordinator also indicated the preference for a public water system in terms of providing more reliable fire protection and recommended that the assisted living facility be limited to the proposed 40 beds. 

F.      Library Board 

The Chairman of the Library Board has noted that if the applicant’s assertion that 70% of the residents will be existing County residents, then the expected impact on library services would be minimal.  However, it is further noted that there is the potential for this proposed use to rely on the Warrenton Library’s outreach services which are already in heavy demand without adequate staff. 

G.     Other Environmental Concerns 

The Soil Scientist has noted that slope area in the 15-25% range should be monitored and protected carefully during site development.  In addition, many of the soils on the property are highly erosive, which will require filtration practices as opposed to standard sedimentation.  It is further noted that roads on certain soil types will require special design to overcome low bearing capacity.   

II.                Extension of Public Water Beyond a Service District Boundary – Comprehensive Plan Amendment

A. Applicant’s Justification 

To extend public water lines for areas not included within one of the County’s nine (9) service districts requires an amendment to the Comprehensive Plan.  Typically, approval of these applications has been limited to health remediation cases wherein the Health Department has opined that no other viable options were immediately or realistically available.  Nonetheless, an applicant can request the extension of public water beyond a service district boundary using one of the justifications outlined in the Zoning Ordinance for amending the Comprehensive Plan: creative concepts, oversights, change in circumstances, goals and/or hardship. 

In this particular case, the applicant argues as its justification that three of these elements apply to this case:

(1)    The proposed use is a creative concept not contemplated in the Comprehensive Plan. 

(2)    There have been changes in circumstance since the original plan adoption, including the creation of the continuing care facility use in rural agricultural zoning districts and the completion of a groudwater study by Emery and Garett including the drilling of a well on the subject property to determine the adequacy of groundwater available for the County.

(3)    The Comprehensive Plan goal of encouraging economic development that will result in a net tax benefit, create job opportunities and support other adopted goals would be better met by this application.  Specifically, by stating that the uses will generate approximately $480,000 in property taxes for the County, have no impact on the school system, contribute $50,000 for the purchase of an ambulance for New Baltimore Fire and Rescue and provide certain transportation infrastructure improvements.   

The applicant also states the following as reasons that a Comprehensive Plan amendment should be considered favorably: 

Ø      A water supply well indicated in the Master Water and Sewer Plan is located on the property,

Ø      The line connection on this property would allow a looping of existing line systems at Snow Hill and High Rock Farm,

Ø      The property is adjacent to the Water and Sanitation Authority water system,

Ø      The property is adjacent to the New Baltimore Service District boundary and to parcels that have public water service,

Ø      The use will allow for positive tax consequences if approved with the provision of public water, and

Ø      The property has significant frontage on a major highway collector. 

B. Staff Analysis 

The requested amendment to the Comprehensive Plan is for provision of public water beyond the service district boundary.  While this is related to the applicant’s plan for the proposed use of a continuing care facility, the proposed use can be established without the extension of a public water system.  Therefore, staff is of the opinion that the first and third justifications listed above by the applicant are not applicable to the request.  In addition, the proximity to the Service District boundary and adjacent parcels with public water does not necessitate the need for expansion, because the intent of service district boundaries is to provide maximum limits for public service provision.  Unless properly justified, the expansion of services beyond the boundaries could establish precedence for future extensions that could eventually render the service district concept invalid.  However, staff does find that there is some merit to the applicant’s statement that a change in circumstances after the original plan adoption was established when the Master Water and Sewer Plan was subsequently adopted showing the subject property as a water source for the New Baltimore water system and the Emery and Garrett water study showed this property as a viable indication that groundwater sources were sufficient to serve the County’s development needs.   

The fact that there is no other public water well site outside of a service district boundary indicated as a planned water source in the adopted Master Water and Sewer Plan, this justification could be used as a change in circumstances to merit the applicant’s request to extend public water to this site while also setting a standard that could not be replicated at future sites. 

III.             Establishment of a Private Sewage Disposal System – Special Exception, Category 20 

The applicant is proposing to utilize a private community wastewater system to serve the sewage disposal needs generated by this use.  The basic design of the system would include one pump station structure combined with gravity sewers and a treatment plant, with “mass drainfields” and delineated 200% reserve area for those drainfields.  The concentration of primary drainfield area are located in the south central portion of the property near Foster’s Fork Road, in close proximity to the planned Treatment Building which is proposed along the western boundary in excess of 100 feet from the property line with landscaped screening shown.   

The County Soil Scientist has noted that the predominant soil type in the proposed disposal area is well drained for conventional drainfields and that the 60 mpi (minutes per inch) rate used to determine the disposal area is reasonable for the soil type.  However, it is recommended that saturated hydraulic conductivity (K-sat) tests should be conducted to determine a permeability rate.  Also, the Soil Scientist questions the production amount of bio-solids and what off-site disposal arrangements have been made.   

The Health Department has not yet approved the disposal system proposed by the applicant, but has noted that the concept is viable if all state and county regulations are applied.  It is noted that the success of such systems relies heavily upon good design practice, adequate soils and continued maintenance and monitoring. 

The Zoning Ordinance allows the approval of a private sewage treatment system provided that the system is operated by either the Fauquier County Water and Sanitation Authority or a Class III wastewater operator licensed by the State.  (The applicant is proposing a licensed Class III operator).  The County may condition approval subject to use, maintenance and testing.  These items will be addressed in final conditions of approval.