PUBLIC HEARING AGENDA REQUEST
Owner/Applicant: Board of Supervisors Meeting Date:
D.C. Diamond Corporation December 15, 2003
Staff Lead: Department:
Richard Calderon, Senior Planner Community Development
Magisterial District: PIN(s):
Lee 6889-31-7311-000(former) & 6888-39-2530-000
Service District: Bealeton
Topic: A Resolution Denying the Pelham Village Applications: CPA03-L-07 Comprehensive Plan Amendment, RZ03-L-10 Rezoning
The applicant proposes to develop +/- 105 acres of land presently designated for very low intensity and low density residential to medium density residential uses. The property is located between Remington and Bealeton, and had been planned as a green buffer between the two service districts. To accomplish his goal, the applicant seeks a Comprehensive Plan Amendment, a Special Exception to cross a floodplain with a road, and a variety of stormwater management facilities, and a Rezoning from RA (Rural Agricultural) to PRD (Planned Residential District).
The applicant proposes to develop about 89 acres, outside of floodplains, with 199 single-family lots. The lots would range from 1/7 – 1/5 acre, 5,400 to 8,500 square feet in size. Additionally, the applicant proposes to develop two lots, totaling 2 acres, in commercial uses. As proposed, the property would be developed in 5 phases, with not more than 50 lots developed in any one calendar year.
To support this development, the applicant proposes that the County extend public water and sewer service to the west of Craig Run in the Bealeton Service District, and that the County designate this location for higher density housing and retail uses. If the plan amendment and rezoning were approved, the applicant would proffer:
1. $783,000 to be allocated for schools and public facilities, and
2. Donate some 205 acres of land, on the west side of Route 29.
Neighboring Zoning/Land Use:
North: R-2 (Residential)/ South: R-1 (Residential) East: RA (Agricultural)
West: RA (Agricultural)
Planning Commission Recommendation
After several months of consideration, and numerous meetings with the applicant and his representatives, on November 20, 2003 the Planning Commission moved to forward the series of related applications to the Board of Supervisors with a unanimous recommendation to deny; on the grounds that these were not consistent with the recently adopted Bealeton Service District Plan, the density was too high, and a variety of unanswered and unresolved technical issues.
Action Requested of the Board of Supervisors:
Conduct a public hearing and consider the adoption of the attached.
Staff and appropriate referral agencies have reviewed this request for conformance with the Comprehensive Plan, the Zoning Ordinance, and other relevant policies and regulations. Staff and referral agency findings, comments, and recommendations are summarized below. The actual responses from key referral agencies are included as attachments. The Staff Report below will address the proposal from Comprehensive Plan and Current Planning perspectives as follows.
A. Comprehensive Plan Analysis
The newly adopted Comprehensive Plan Update for the Bealeton Service District designates the area west of Craig Run for low density residential uses with no public water or sewer. This designation followed extensive discussion by the Citizen Committee, which prepared the Plan Update draft. The Committee felt that the Bealeton Service District should not merge into the Remington Service District, and that the two communities should have distinct, “green” boundaries. Furthermore, both adopted Service District Plans propose lower density residential development at their perimeters, with higher density residential development at the core.
Secondly, the adopted Comprehensive Plan identifies this portion of the applicant’s property as the terminus for the Route 17 / Route 29 Spur connector. Until the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) has conducted engineering studies to precisely locate the necessary freeway and grade separated Route 17 / Router 29 Interchange, this land should not be encumbered with expensive structures which would render the project infeasible. (A further discussion of these considerations will be developed in the second section of this report.)
With regards to the ball field park component of the applicant’s proposal, the adopted Service District Plans identify two major park locations at the north and south end of the Bealeton Town Center, and a park between Perrowville and the Helm Farm for this use in the Remington Service District. The logic underlying the Bealeton Plan proposal involves the creation of a major north-south bike route, within the Bealeton Town Center and adjacent to the newly created Church Street, which would assist Middle and High School students to reach Cedar Lee and Liberty Schools, and gain access to the Parks already mentioned. This bike route would connect to the Liberty High and Grace Miller Elementary Schools, via a bridge over Route 17, which would be constructed with school access, Federal TEA-21 funds, and four boardwalk bridges over the western floodplain to Bealeton’s western neighborhoods. This comprehensive approach was intended to remediate a perceived mobility issue for non-automobile drivers, such as children, created by conventional suburban developments west of the Town Center. The centrality and accessibility of the Remington Park is evident.
A last aspect of the applicant’s proposal involves locating retail uses midway between Bealeton and Remington, on Route 28 / Business 29, a road that is planned to be the major connector between these two communities. The adopted plan is very sensitive to the economic challenges sustained by Remington’s Main Street with the construction of the Route 29 Bypass. As a consequence of the citizens’ recommendations, the plan deliberately did not locate or advocate additional commercial uses on Route 28 / Business 29, and incorporated a number of specific provisions to allay Remington’s concerns on this matter. While the actual commercial square footage requested by the applicant is quite modest, a highway related gas and retail center and a small neighborhood store/dry cleaning center, nevertheless this aspect of the application may generate community concern.
Fauquier County has a policy of making changes to the Comprehensive Plan between five yearly updates, only if the proposals meet certain tests of planning oversight, of greater creativity, of some new solution better meeting overall plan goals, or of changed conditions since plan adoption and so forth.
Since the Bealeton and Remington Plans were only recently adopted, an argument of changed conditions does not seem to apply.
Furthermore, it should be noted that as part of the Bealeton Plan preparation, the Citizen Committee discussed, specifically at D. C. Diamond’s request, the property here in consideration, and
1. Decided to extend the Bealeton Service District Plan sewer service boundary to the eastern side of Craig Run, (thereby granting DC Diamond development bays A – E or 66 lots), but not to extend sewer service beyond Craig Run; and
2. Decided to maintain a “green” buffer between the Bealeton and Remington Service Districts and Route 29; and
3. Decided to reserve highway engineering options for the interchange of the Bealeton Bypass with Route 29; and
4. Decided that the appropriate locations for ball fields in the Bealeton and Remington Service Districts would be towards accessible centers of these areas; and
5. Decided to restrict retail uses within the Service Districts to the Bealeton Town Center and the Town of Remington.
The Pelham Village applicant’s claim that the Citizen Committee overlooked this property cannot be sustained. Thus, the planning oversight test is not met.
In terms of creative concepts, the applicant has offered to donate land on the western side of Route 29 for County ball field use. The proposed acreage was not contemplated in the newly adopted Plan for the reason that this creative concept overturns a reasoned policy to place ball fields at the focus of community path networks in the Town Center of Bealeton and north of Perrowville in Remington.
The applicant’s ball field proposal also fails to meet the test of better meeting planning goals, since the location of the proffered ball field creates a host of unaddressed accessibility questions – how would youngsters ride their bikes through a major interchange on Route 29, and how would they reach this interchange in the first place? Fauquier County’s transportation consultant raises such accessibility issues. Kellerco notes a need in the short-term for some sort of at grade, signalized entrance to the park and, long-term, a vehicular bridge over Route 29 from the center of the Pelham Village development. Assuming that the Pelham Village homeowners were happy to provide passage for regional park visitors, and were the applicant to proffer this bridge, its considerable cost would not be of concern to the County. However, acceptance by future Pelham residents of this regional park access is questionable, and the construction of a signalized entrance and/or a bridge is not proffered.
A similar issue of not meeting the test of better meeting planning goals involves the provision of sewer and water services on the proposed ball field. The adopted Plan does not recommend extension of sewer service beyond Craig Run, hence to this proposed location. Soils in this portion of the County are generally poor, and the County Soil Scientist cautions that providing necessary services will be neither easy, nor inexpensive. (The County’s current attempt to provide a very limited system for the Airport property this year may cost in excess of $150,000.) Again, were the County relieved of this burden; such cost would not be a concern. But, the provision of these potentially expensive facilities has not been proffered.
Regarding the hardship created by the proffered second road agreement associated with the approved Southcoate Village rezoning, this plea does not constitute a hardship. (A hardship is some ‘Full Nelson’ generated by factors outside the control of the property owner – such as a road widening that captures a significant portion of a front yard, and renders a house non-conforming.) The cost of crossing Craig Run was known when the applicant obtained from the County its significant density increase in the Southcoate rezoning application. One must assume that they then factored that cost into the price of Southcoate lots.
The irony of discussions about road hardship is that the failure to secure a location for the Route 17 and Route 29 Interchange vitiates the adopted Bealeton Service District Transportation Plan, and creates very tangible impacts, amounting to hardship, on landowners in the Bealeton Town Center, and along Route 28. With the loss of the planned connection between Route 17 / Route 29 Spur, the County would be hard-pressed to find some alternative transportation solution to that proposed by VDOT:
1. A grade separated interchange in the middle of the Bealeton Town Center, and
2. The conversion of Route 28 into a multi-lane restricted access road.
Thus in terms of the qualifying tests required for an intra-scheduled Comprehensive Plan Amendment, the applicant has apparently failed to meet those tests required by the County Zoning Ordinance from the Staff’s perspective.
B. Current Planning Evaluation
In return for a rezoning from RA to a PRD overlay district, with a base district of, presumably, R-3, the applicant has proposed a development of three-clusters/ neighborhoods, with a gross density of 2.2 dwellings per acre, featuring the transformation of the Craig Run floodplain into a narrow pond, and a wetlands-park. Dwellings in bay (E) would back unto the pond, which has recreational opportunities. In addition to the 199 residential units proposed, the applicant has identified two small lots, totaling +/-2 acres, for a day care center, a dry cleaner, convenience store, video store, and a restaurant.
Current Planning Analysis
The Pelham Village application suffers from slight ambiguities regarding acreage and current development potential, due in part to some parcel split by Route 29 and possibly to some PIN number ambiguity, and part to an ambiguity regarding the size of the Craig Run floodplain. For the purposes of this report, the applicants are deemed to have a current development potential of 21 lots on some 89 acres, and to be proffering the County the properties west of Route 29 of 168.78, 4.25 and 32.25 acres.
The Comprehensive Plan is a guide concerning development within a general area. It is important that critical goals and policies not be disturbed, while allowing scope for individual property owner initiatives.
Should the County decide to implement the Comprehensive Plan as adopted, the applicants would remain with the 22 – 66 additional lot neighborhood granted by the Bealeton Citizen Committee reconsideration at D. C. Diamond’s request.
The Fauquier County Planning Commission attempted to explore some way to accommodate the applicant in part while maintaining critical goals. If Fauquier were willing to expose some homeowners to higher levels of highway noise, an additional neighborhood might be added to that allowed in the Comprehensive Plan, while still generally meeting the overall goals contained in the Bealeton Service District Plan,
1. To create a natural boundary between Bealeton and Remington; and
2. To provide a holding area pending determination of the relocated Route 17 and Route 29 Interchange,
These two neighborhoods are encompassed by development bays: [A, B, C, D and E] that constitute neighborhood 1, or 66 lots plus the day care center; and [CA, F, G, H, much of I, and J] that constitute neighborhood 2, or 73 lots. These two neighborhoods together total 139 lots plus bay CA, the day care center and might be capable of accepting bay CB, the convenience/video store. Notice how these two neighborhoods do not disturb the sense of open space between Bealeton and Remington, given the width of the Craig Run 100-year floodplain. These two neighborhoods, while impacted by future highway noise, would not infringe on the critical triangle of land associated with the planned Interchange. Accordingly, review of the Pelham Village application will focus on analyzing planning issues relating to these two neighborhoods.
By contrast, neighborhood 3 that includes 60 lots, and is composed of bays [CB, L, M, N, O and K] is inconsistent with the Bealeton Service District’s land-use plan, goals and policies. In addition, neighborhood 3 is also precisely where the County and VDOT will need land reservations for the Route 17 and Route 29 interchange.
Following the initial public hearing, the Planning Commission met repeatedly with the applicant and his representatives, to refine the proposal in terms of the ideas sketched out above, and resolve the issues identified in the Staff Report. Then the Planning Commission learned in late October that the applicant was unable to compromise on the 199 number of residential lots, the location of these dwellings, and the proffer package.
The first issue concerns the character of the roads in this proposed development. The VDOT reviewer notes that the applicant, despite requests, has not provided specific dimensions and cross sections of the proposed roads. Failure to address the issue of road geometry means that the County cannot move towards a favorable action on the Conceptual Development Plan and the rezoning application.
Secondly, the applicant’s required traffic study was transmitted to VDOT, but VDOT has not provided written review and comments. However, the County transportation consultant, Kellerco, was able to perform an independent assessment of the development’s impacts using a separate transportation model that focuses on intersectional performance of the neighboring road network. The report, which is appended below, raises the regional Route 17 and 29 spur issues noted in the Comprehensive Planning report above, as well as a number of intersectional issues involving local intersections and road segments: Route 28/Pelham Entry, Route 28/Lucky Hill Road, Route 28/ Southcoate Village and Route 28/Schoolhouse Road. Given the poor traffic performance demonstrated in the Kellerco model, the County consultant sought some explanation for the discrepancy in the applicant study. The differing performance was due to the applicant’s study assuming that existing Route 28 is a center median divided highway, with convenient left turn lanes.
Kellerco has strongly advised that the applicant consult with VDOT to arrange for proffered intersectional improvements. But such meetings did not take place. Clearly, the County cannot move towards a favorable action while such transportation matters remain unresolved.
A third issue concerns inter-parcel access to three lots adjoining Route 29. The proposed Route 17 and Route 29 Interchange will preclude driveway access for a minimum of ¼ mile. Consequently these tracts located just west of Pelham Village will need to be accessed through the development. It is recommended that the Conceptual Development Plan identify access points for these properties and that the applicant proffer such access from neighborhood 2 [CA, F, G, H, much of I, and J].
A fourth issue involves short and long term access to the proffered park land west of Route 29. In the short term, Kellerco believes a variety of access options are available. The simplest of which would be an entry from Route 657, Kings Hill Road. In the longer term, the construction of the Route 17 and Route 29 connector Interchange jeopardizes this option and the preferred entrance would be 1/3 of a mile north. This option would probably require a costly bridge overpass. Road reservations would need to be identified in the Conceptual Development Plan, and during later subdivision of the Pelham tract. The concern is that the Pelham Village home owners will oppose regional park traffic flowing through the community.
A fifth issue concerns the nature of the proposed pond (the water feature) and wetlands park associated with the development. Construction of ponds in floodways is not consistent with County Stormwater Ordinance. Furthermore, it is unclear what the applicant proposes to do with this land in the way of landscaping, trails, and other amenities. In past years, the labeled ‘open space’ of some clustered subdivisions was, essentially, left unimproved. Subsequently, the County was approached by home purchasers within these subdivisions with the request that Fauquier accept the land with the view of improving it. The County does not have a policy of building neighborhood wildlife centers for specific subdivisions, and is unlikely to develop such a policy. Greater specificity about developer plans for this area would be welcomed. Furthermore, the applicant’s companion application for a Special Exception to allow an additional floodplain crossing and to allow the creation of a stormwater management facility in the floodplain raises additional concerns about unnecessary disturbance of a floodplain. Staff is not supportive of additional disturbance of the floodplain and has recommended that these facilities be not located in other developments elsewhere in the County – such as White’s Mill near Warrenton.
A sixth issue concerns the PRD requirement for some 2.5 acres of active recreational parkland – see Section 4-109 (b) of the Zoning Ordinance which defines the nature of such facility, play structures, multipurpose courts, swimming pools etc. This land is intended to contain structures and uses not consistent with floodplains or wetlands, and the applicant has not identified where these 2.5 acres would be located, nor specified what would be constructed on them.
The seventh issue involves very poor soil conditions on much of the property subject to the rezoning: such as high seasonal water tables within 6 inches of the surface, bedrock within 18 inches of the surface, and plastic clay within 12 inches of the surface. Both the County Soil Scientist and the County Engineer believe that these soils should be recognized and appropriate planning and engineering steps taken, such as keeping development off the worst soils, and not building basements in those soils with high seasonal water tables. Specifically, the County Soil Scientist would not recommend basements in soil mapping units 74B, 78A and 78AX.
An eighth issue concerns the applicant’s failure to request modifications to the underlying or base zoning requirements. A PRD is an overlay district that permits the County to modify requirements of the underlying or base district. The applicant appears to be asking for a base district of R-3 whose minimum cluster lot is 8,500 square feet, minimum lot width is 80 feet and so on. Some of the applicant’s lots measure 5,400 square feet, others 6,500 square feet and some may measure 60 feet in width. The applicant has not asked for the modifications needed to realize the plan.
The ninth issue involves some double counting in the applicant’s proffer statement, contained in their Justification Statement. The statement notes that the proffered land west of Route 29 carries an assessed value of $1,312,000. This property has development potential of 9 lots, which lots are proposed to be transferred to the Pelham tract on the eastern side of Route 29 as by-right credit lots. Using a modest figure of $20,000, associated with County Purchase of Development Rights program, the gifted parkland would be reduced by $180,000. Thus the post-rezoning value of the western land property should be reduced by at least $180,000. Since the County would anticipate a minimum proffer package of $2,644,000, the Pelham proffer package is below that minimum anticipated. Furthermore, the adopted Board of Supervisors Proffer Policy established threshold costs for environmental services, libraries, fire and rescue, sheriff and schools, as well as parks. The school component alone of these anticipated proffers represents $ 2,116,420 – actual school construction is three times that amount. Staff is not supportive of any ‘park’ proffer that would compromise anticipated contributions to the school account. However, this is a Board of Supervisors decision.
A tenth issue involves the actual quality of the proffered regional parkland itself. The County Soil Scientist performed a limited survey of the site, for the Fauquier County Department of Parks and Recreation, some time ago. Initial survey results revealed unpromising environmental qualities, namely the high seasonal water table, shallow rock and plastic clays – making grading for ball fields untenable – and such, and the survey was discontinued. The County Soil Scientist strongly cautions that a thorough investigation should be undertaken before any decision is made to acquire this land. The Planning Commission repeatedly requested that the site be bush-hogged to permit the environmental study, but this request was never satisfied.
The applicant’s Special Exception request to build a road through, construct a variety of stormwater management structures within the 100 Year Floodplain of Craig Run represents an ancillary proposal conditional on approval of the Comprehensive Plan Amendment and the Rezoning. This request is not without its own issues but, given the denial recommendation of the Planning Commission, these issues do not need to lengthen the report.
Summary and Recommendation:
On November 20, 2003 and at the request of the applicant for action, regardless of the outcome, the Planning Commission voted to forward the Pelham applications to the Board of Supervisors with a recommendation to deny approval.
A RESOLUTION DENYING THE PELHAM VILLAGE APPLICATIONS: CPA03-L-07 COMPREHENSIVE PLAN AMENDMENT, AND RZ03-L-10 REZONING
WHEREAS, D.C. Diamond Corporation has applied to Fauquier County for a Comprehensive Plan Amendment and a Rezoning to create a subdivision known as Pelham Village between the Bealeton and Remington Service Districts; and
WHEREAS, in the months of August, September, October and November 2003, the Fauquier County Planning Commission held an extended public hearing on these applications; and
WHEREAS, the Fauquier County Planning Commission made every effort to restructure the proposal in a manner appropriate for the County; and
WHEREAS, in November of 2003, the applicant indicated that the initial proposal would remain unchanged and requested that the application be forwarded to the Board of Supervisors for action; and
WHEREAS, the Planning Commission acceded to this request by forwarding the application with a recommendation of denial based on the following reasons:
1. The proposal for a Comprehensive Plan Amendment fails the tests established by the Zoning Ordinance;
2. The Concept Development Plan proposed could not be implemented under the existing Zoning and Stormwater Management Ordinances. No refinements were made to address the substantive issues raised in the August 26, 2003 staff report, which also identified remedies;
3. The proposal is not consistent with the Bealeton and Remington Comprehensive Plans;
4. The proposal would seriously jeopardize realization of the Bealeton and Remington Comprehensive Plans, most notably the Route 17 / Route 29 Spur Road and Bealeton Town Center, if it were constructed; and
WHEREAS, on December 15, 2003, the Fauquier County Board of Supervisors held a public hearing and concurred with the judgment of the Planning Commission; now, therefore be it
RESOLVED by the Fauquier County Board of Supervisors this 15th day of December 2003, That the Pelham Village Comprehensive Plan Amendment (CPA03-L-07) and Rezoning (RZ03-L-10) requests be, and are hereby, denied.