ZMA 2004-07, Belvedere



Request to rezone approximately 206.682 acres from R-4, Residential to NMD, Neighborhood Model District, to allow up to 775 dwelling units, with an overall density of 3.74 dwelling units per acre, ranging from a density of 1.6 dwelling units per acre in some areas to 9.4 dwelling units in others.  The property, described as Tax Map 61 Parcels 154, 157, 158, 160 (portion) and 161, Tax Map 62 Parcels 2A (portion) 2B (portion), 2C, 3, 5, and 6A, and Tax Map 62A3 Parcel 1, is located in the Rio Magisterial District on the east side of Rio Road (Route 631) immediately east of the Southern Railroad.  The Comprehensive Plan designates this property as Neighborhood Density in the northern portion of the property (3 to 6 dwelling units per acre), Urban Density in the middle and southern portions (6 to 34 dwelling units per acre), and Community Service adjacent to the railroad, in Neighborhood Two.



Cilimberg, Dougherty







June 28, 2005


ACTION:     X          INFORMATION: 



  ACTION:              INFORMATION:   











On March 29, 2005, the Planning Commission reviewed ZMA 2004-007, Belvedere. This proposal is to rezone 206.682 acres from R-4 residential to NMD Neighborhood Model District. Due to errors in advertising the hearing, the Commission could not act on the request. However, discussion of the more significant issues regarding this project did occur. There were a number of outstanding issues identified in the staff report. The applicant was asked to address these issues before submitting a request for another hearing. Any issues identified in that report, but not found this summary have been sufficiently addressed.






The following issues were discussed by the Commission at the March 29 public hearing:


The applicant included two parcels in the last rezoning that they did not own. At the hearing, the applicant provided letters that demonstrated control of the parcels they had included in the rezoning. One letter was from Nelson Sprouse, who is the former owner of the embedded parcel that negated the December 7, 2004 hearing. In addition, staff has received a letter from Jacob Levenson. His access easement to Belvedere Farm is incorporated in the application plan. The ownership issue is sufficiently resolved and the legal requirements needed for the Commission to act on this proposal (as it relates to ownership) are now satisfied. The location map is Attachment A, the General Development Plan is Attachment B, and the Code of Development is Attachment C.


During the latest hearing, the Commission heard from concerned residents of the Rivercrest neighborhood in Dunlora. Their concern was that multi-family residential buildings proposed behind their homes would be visible from Rivercrest. The applicant has since increased the preservation space (containing mature trees) between Rivercrest and the multifamily portion of Belvedere from .6 acres to 1.2 acres. Please see Attachment D, which illustrates the increased preservation space and the original proposal. Staff is in support of this provision. In addition, the applicant has moved parking and a recreation area initially located behind these multifamily buildings (between the rear of the Rivercrest homes and the multifamily buildings) to the other side of the multifamily buildings.


Staff requested that the applicant acquire no less than a 58 foot right-of-way along Belvedere Boulevard between Tax Map 61 Parcel 159C and 160B (the Fairview Swim Club and land belonging to Philip Brown) to insure a safe condition for motorists, pedestrians, and bicyclists. The existing right-of-way is 44.45 feet. The right-of-way planned for Belvedere Boulevard from Rio Road to roundabout #1 is 100 ft. From roundabout #1 to roundabout #2 (the area that contains insufficient right-of-way), the proposed right-of-way is 76 ft. The applicant identified a willingness on behalf of the Fairview Swim Club to work with the applicant to establish a deal for a small amount of land near the club that would be required to provide sufficient right-of-way for Belvedere Boulevard near the swim club. The Commission agreed that the applicant should acquire sufficient right-of-way. The applicant has provided a plan (Attachment E) that illustrates how Belvedere Boulevard, including bike lanes and sidewalks, may be designed through this area if 56’ feet of right-of-way is acquired. However the design does not conform to VDOT standards and at this time, no agreement has been reached between the Belvedere Land Trust and the swim club to provide this right-of-way and no proffer has been offered that would commit to this.


As there were a number of other outstanding issues, the Commission requested that the staff and the applicant work out these issues, using the March 29, 2005 staff report as a guide. The applicant met with staff and Rodney Thomas on April 25. At the conclusion of that meeting, the applicant indicated an understanding and agreement with the substantive suggestions and recommendations made. Unfortunately, the documents that were submitted do not contain a number of the changes requested. Several of these issues are substantive and many others are minor revisions and corrections that are required for the ZMA application to be approved. The applicant has acknowledged that some of these were oversights. However, due to the submittal and review timing and the applicant’s desire for a hearing, these oversights have yet to be addressed by the applicant.





Regarding ZMA 2004-7, The following are issues needing resolution:


Land in flood plain changed from Preservation Space to Conservation Space


In the submission prepared for the Commission’s March 29, 2005 meeting, the applicant allotted 83.4 acres of the development as preservation space (areas to be left undisturbed). This included 67.3 acres lying in the flood plain and designated as the “Rivanna River Park”. The Code of Development currently offers only 3.1 acres of preservation space. The land comprising Rivanna River Park was changed from preservation space to conservation space. The applicant has done so to allow for sanitary sewer in this area. The applicant has offered language in Proffer #4.2 to minimize disturbance to these conservation spaces. However, if the applicant could determine what areas may need to be disturbed and delineate a larger area as preservation space than currently allotted, the proposal would be stronger.


Massing and urban design around the Village Green


Section 20A.4 d of the Zoning Ordinance clarifies that the following is a required element of the general development plan:


“d. Building footprints or graphic representations of central features or major elements that are essential to the design of the development, shown at the block level.”


The Village Green is an essential element. The architectural rendering of the Green suggests that the residences lining the Green will be attached and form an enclosed space. However, the conceptual lot layout shows single family detached lots forming three sides of the green. A nearly continuous street wall (continuation of attached buildings at a consistent setback) will not be the result based on the proposed lot lines around the Green. Staff is most concerned that the street wall massing will be weakest at the corners, particularly if detached garages are constructed to the rear of these lots. Staff believes the Village Green area requires a plan or system to ensure the quality of design and massing around it. Further, the graphic representation of the green is in conflict with the conceptual lot layout.


Affordable Housing


Regarding affordable housing, the Comprehensive Plan states the following:


“At a minimum, 15% of all units developed under rezoning and special use permits should be affordable as defined by the County’s Office of Housing and Housing Committee or a comparable contribution should be made to achieve the affordable housing goals of the County.”


Regarding Belvedere and affordable housing, Chief of Housing, Ron White has repeated previous comments and recommendations:


The proposed accessory units will add to the housing supply and we would hope that purchasers of the main units will take advantage of the potential income in renting these units at an affordable price.  I do not have any recommendations on how we would enforce this given that there would be up to 103 individual owners.  Without an enforcement mechanism, the units may not be rented but rather used by the owner for other purposes. 



Since this is the first proposal to include such a large number of accessory units, it is difficult to determine what the market for such units may be.  At some point we should consider that the applicant understands the market for this type of unit and believes that a market does exist - otherwise it’s not likely that these units would be proposed.  Having said this, I believe the proposal would be stronger if it included some other types of affordable units (townhouses, condos, apartments).  One question that has not been asked before but is tied to affordability is whether a property owner's association will be a part of this community and, if so, what the fee structure would be for various types of units.


Staff feels the applicant has provided a proposal for affordable housing that places the responsibility for providing such housing on the individual owners of the carriage units, rather than the applicant, without an enforcement mechanism. A commitment to provide for-sale affordable housing and a mechanism to insure the carriage house units will be made available and offered at an affordable rent would better address the intent for affordable housing found in the Comprehensive Plan.


Mixture of Uses


The proposed non-residential area, located in Block 1 of the development, proposes a maximum of 60,000 and minimum of 8,000 square feet of mixed use (retail, office, institutional, civic). At previous work sessions, the Commission suggested that once the applicant committed to an acceptable range of residential units (Code currently proposes a maximum of 775 and minimum of 602), the applicant should commit to a range of non-residential square footage that is relative to the residential range. Assuming an average of three persons per household, Belvedere would be the home to 2,325 people (based on maximum). No explanation of, justification of, or correlation between the proposed non-residential range amount and dwelling units can be found in the Code. The applicant’s proposal for non-residential uses is limited to Block One. Staff believes the applicant should provide an analysis of the development to generate some justification for the range proposed.


Code of Development


The Belvedere Code of Development has undergone numerous reviews, but requires further modification before the rezoning can be approved due to outstanding deficiencies listed in this summary and memos from the Chief of Zoning and the County Engineer (Attachment F) and Attachment G). Staff previously provided the applicant with significant direction regarding these matters and has given the applicant editing suggestions so that there would be no confusion, but many of the necessary changes have not been made. As a result, the Code is still not to the level it needs to be to allow for rezoning approval.




At the December 7 public hearing, the Planning Commission advised the applicant that a dedication should be made (rather than a reservation with offer for the County to purchase ROW) for the Northern Free State Connector. However, instead of a reservation for dedication upon request by the County, the applicant’s proffer states: “Until this date (12/31/2014) the County shall retain the option to purchase the Right of Way…for the current appraised value of $40,000 per acre.”  Staff notes that such reservations of right-of-way are customarily for dedication, not purchase.



In addition, as a result of further investigation of the proposed roadway’s optimal alignment, engineering staff have clarified to the applicant that an alignment following the CSX right of way would be the most cost effective and require much less disturbance than alignments previously examined. The applicant shows two possible alignments. The only alignment that should be shown is that which is directly beside the CSX right-of-way.


Staff has directed the applicant to provide a scheme or mechanism that demonstrates how the Northern Free State Connector can be accommodated in conjunction with this plan. No such resolution to this issue can be found in the submittal documents. Staff remains concerned that no such consideration for the Northern Free State Connector has been made and that the general development plan proposed may not sufficiently accommodate the road in the future. One suggestion staff has made is that the applicant designate a small portion of Block 2 to be left undeveloped until the Northern Free State Connector is designed in order to avoid substantial constraints in the future.


Staff also discussed the proposal for Belvedere with Chuck Procter of VDOT on June 16. Though his formal comments were not received by staff prior to the distribution of this executive summary, those comments will be distributed to the Planning Commission as soon as they are received by staff and no later than Friday, June 24. Following is a summary of the issues identified by Mr. Procter during the June 16 meeting:


  1. Demonstrate how the general development plan can accommodate construction of the Northern Free State Connector.


  1. Free State Road must take access off of Road K.


  1. Move the location of the traffic circle in Block Two to provide a more regular alignment of Belvedere Boulevard and to accommodate:


    1. The potential replacement of Free State Bridge to be raised to a higher level in accordance with railway specifications (currently the bridge does not conform to the clearance the railway requires). The increased height will require the span of the bridge to be longer and therefore impact the location of the traffic circle as it is currently shown.


    1. VDOT design standards for roadways leading to traffic circles. Curve data for traffic circle #1 must be reviewed by VDOT.


  1. Accommodate multimodal access through area of insufficient right-of-way to include sidewalks, bike lanes, and vehicle travel ways. VDOT can accept a right-of-way of no less than 58’ to accommodate all transportation modes.


  1. Provide no less than a four foot wide median through the area of insufficient right-of-way (near swim club). A median is required between roundabouts to avoid left and U-turn traffic. The minimum median width allowed is four feet (including curb).


  1. Eliminate median cuts (3 total) between roundabout #1 and the Village Green. This eliminates left and U-turn movements and associated traffic conflicts. With VDOT standards, the use of traffic circles requires that motorists travel with the direction of traffic and reverse direction at the traffic circle.


Historic Resources


Staff requested that the applicant meet with the County’s historic preservation planner to insure all issues related to historic resources on the property would be addressed. The applicant agreed to make this effort, but failed to do so before resubmitting. The applicant has provided a mechanism for dealing with historic resources, but some additional considerations need to be addressed. First, the applicant has received updated information that, by the terms listed in the code, trigger a Phase II study. This should appear in the Code. Currently, the Code does not recognize the findings of the Phase I survey (Attachment H). Second, the applicant should identify minimum requirements for any consultant implementing additional reconnaissance and analysis of historic resources found, who will determine archeological significance of any findings, and a time frame for completing additional reconnaissance on the site as it relates to development of the site.


The historic preservation planner recommends that the applicant examine the Guidelines For Conducting a Cultural Resource Survey in Virginia established by the Virginia Department of Historic Resources in order to formulate a satisfactory proposal. She also recommends the following:


1. Code of Development, Sec. 5, Page 19: strike "numerous" in the last line of the first paragraph since this assertion has not yet been substantiated.


2. Proffer Statement: Add "pending staff review and approval of the proposed language and marker location."


The County Attorney can also assist in developing an appropriate response regarding preservation of historic resources.


Additionally, staff recommended that more than one historical marker would be appropriate to clarify the history and the significance of the Free State Community. It was suggested that one be placed along Free State Road, near the most significant portion of the former community, and another be placed in the Village Green. The applicant is proffering only one marker.


There is strong agreement among the local historic preservation community that the Free State Community is a resource of great value and should be carefully surveyed, with any found items or information catalogued for public information.


Parks and Recreation


Based on discussions with the applicant, Dan Mahon, County Parks and Recreation Department Outdoor Recreation Supervisor, has identified inconsistencies between what he and the applicant discussed and what is contained in the proffers. He provides the following comments:


The greenway and park proffer statements should include the following clarifications.


  1. The greenway proffer statement should clearly indicate that the dedication will be made to the County of Albemarle.


  1. The area of flood plain described as “Rivanna Park” should be reserved for future public park dedication.


In addition, staff recommended signage leading the public through Belvedere from Rio Road and the trail proposed in conjunction with the Meadow Creek Parkway would be appropriate for Belvedere. The applicant verbally agreed, but has provided for no such signage.




Proffers (Attachment I) have been reviewed by the County Attorney, who has identified significant problems. His comments are Attachment J. The applicant has requested a hearing date that allows for the minimum amount of time between submitting materials and the public hearing. As a result, an opportunity for the applicant to address the issues with the proffers has not been available. The proffers need significant revisions before the rezoning can be approved.


Critical Slopes


The applicant’s conceptual grading plan suggests the need to disturb critical slopes. This is a modification that can be requested at the site plan stage. However, staff suggests that requesting the modification with the rezoning can avoid delays at the site plan stage.


Adjacent Owner Issues


On May 12, staff  received a letter from Philip Brown, who lives along Free State Road and who owns four parcels either adjacent to or in the vicinity of the Belvedere rezoning. His letter is Attachment K. Mr. Brown raises several valid points. However, his request is that the Belvedere rezoning not be approved until pending legal decisions are resolved and that the parcels that he owns be considered as part of a comprehensive approach to planning in this area. While staff can agree that inclusion of these parcels could provide a more comprehensive development proposal, staff does not believe Mr. Brown’s issues are grounds for delaying a decision regarding the Belvedere rezoning as proposed.



Staff has identified the following factors favorable to this rezoning request:


1. With NMD zoning, the proposed form of the development more closely embodies Neighborhood Model Principles than a conventional R-4 development. 


2. Open space is interspersed throughout the development, alleviating what otherwise might be an overly intensive development pattern.


3. The applicant has conducted a Phase I survey of the historic Free State Community as requested at the December 7, 2004 public hearing.


4. The applicant is now showing the correct street section (curb, no gutter pan, and multi-use trail) recommended for the Northern Free State to match Phase I of the Meadow Creek Parkway.


5. The greenway dedication across Belvedere will be an important addition to the Rivanna Trail system.


6. The proffer to contribute $20,000 for a pedestrian bridge across the Rivanna River to Darden Towe Park is a meaningful contribution to the County’s larger trail system and connectivity.


Staff has identified factors that are of concern or have not been sufficiently addressed:


1. While a plan has been provided showing how Belvedere Boulevard could be accommodated within a 56’ right-of-way between the Fairview Swim Club and land owned by Philip Brown, no commitment to providing this right-of-way has been made.


2. The right-of-way for the Northern Free State Connector is reserved for the County to purchase rather than reserved for dedication upon demand by the County.


3. The alignment of Belvedere Boulevard from Rio Road to Roundabout #1 does not accommodate a future widening, as requested by engineering staff.


4. The applicant has not demonstrated that the residential to non-residential mix is appropriate at this location.


5. The applicant’s commitment to affordable housing places the responsibility for providing such housing on individual, future owners of carriage house units and provides no enforcement mechanism.


6. Regarding the Village Green, conflicts remain between the general development plan and graphic representations offered in the Code.


7. Preservation Areas have been decreased to 3.1 acres (from 83.4 acres) and Conservation Areas have been increased to 91.2 acres (from 10.3 acres).


8. A table required by the zoning ordinance illustrating uses permitted by each block is missing from the Code of Development.


9. The County Attorney has identified significant problems with the proffers.


10. Deficiencies with the Code of Development listed in the attached memos from Jan Sprinkle and Jack Kelsey.


11. Regarding archeological resources located on the ZMA parcels, applicant does not address the most recent findings of a Phase I study conducted this winter. Additionally, the findings of this study have not been identified in the Code of Development and the mechanism proposed for dealing with new information does not sufficiently address the County Attorney’s concerns for the guidance for the recovery process.


Recommended Action

The outstanding issues noted above must be resolved before ZMA 2004-007 can be approved and, therefore, staff cannot recommend approval at this time.



A – Location Map

B – Application Plan

C – Code of Development

D – Rivercrest Buffer Illustration

E– Plan for Insufficient right-of-way

F – Zoning Administrator Comments

G – County Engineer Comments

H – Phase I Archeological Study

I – Proffers

J – County Attorney’s Comments on Proffers

K – Letter from Philip Brown
Return to work session executive summary