Albemarle County Planning Commission

February 6, 2007


The Albemarle County Planning Commission held a meeting, work session and a public hearing on Tuesday, February 6, 2007, at 6:00 p.m., at the County Office Building Auditorium, Second Floor, 401 McIntire Road, Charlottesville, Virginia. Members attending were Eric Strucko, Calvin Morris, Vice-Chairman; Jon Cannon, Marcia Joseph, Chairman; Bill Edgerton; Duane Zobrist and Pete Craddock.  Julia Monteith, Senior Land Use Planner for the University of Virginia, representative for David J. Neuman, FAIA, Architect for University of Virginia was absent. 


Other officials present were Wayne Cilimberg, Planning Director; Judy Wiegand, Senior Planner; Amy Arnold, Senior Planner; Claudette Grant, Senior Planner and Greg Kamptner, Deputy County Attorney.



Deferred Item   


SP 2006-00037 Camp Watermarks Amendment (Sign #24)

PROPOSED: Amend existing Special Use Permit, extending camp sessions allowed from 4 weeks per year to 16 weeks per year

ZONING CATEGORY/GENERAL USAGE: RA -- Rural Areas: agricultural, forestal, and fishery uses; residential density (0.5 unit/acre)

SECTION:;; 5.1.05

COMPREHENSIVE PLAN LAND USE/DENSITY:  Rural Areas - preserve and protect agricultural, forestal, open space, and natural, historic and scenic resources/ density (0.5 unit/ acre)


LOCATION: 1145 James River Drive, west of Route 726 and Hatton Ferry Road;

TAX MAP/PARCEL: TM 136, Parcels 6B, 9D, 9D1, 9E


STAFF: Amy Arnold



Ms. Arnold summarized the staff report.  (See Staff Report.)


·         The request to amend the special use permit by the applicant.


·         Staff distributed letters of support for the proposal from Tracy H. Cleveland, Connie Knight – formerly Connie L. Worrell and Edna Tapscott Anderson.  (Attachment B:  Three (3) letters of support)


·         At the Planning Commission meeting on January 9, 2007 the public hearing for the amendment to the Camp Watermarks Special Use Permit was deferred until February 6, 2007 due to an error in adjacent property notifications. 


·      Staff received a letter dated January 9, 2007 from Catherine J. Womack of Feil, Pettit & Williams PLC Attorneys at Law on behalf of adjacent property owners Mr. and Mrs. Roy Wissel objecting to the proposed amendment to a Special Use Permit.  The Wissel property is comprised of lots 1A, 1B, 2A, and 2B of Tax Map 136, parcel 10 (SUB 2006-78 Hatton Grange Farm) of which lots 1A and 1B are adjacent to the Critzer property. The letter outlines the following concerns regarding the proposed amendment and respectfully request the amendment to the Special Use Permit be denied:


§         “The usage previously approved counted for about 8% of the calendar year; now almost 31% of the calendar year will be devoted to camp session, further reducing the use of the property for farming.”


·         It is staffs understanding that camp activities have not reduced farming activity to date and the Critzers plan to continue to operate the camp and the farm simultaneously.


§         “They (Mr. and Mrs. Wissel) acquired their property with the expectation that they would be located in a quiet, bucolic agricultural setting, not next to a camp serving 720 children and 160 staffers.  The applicants’ proposed use would without a doubt change the character of the district, increasing traffic and lighting and reducing the farm use of the property.”


·            Camp Watermarks is limited by the conditions of the Special Use Permit to 36 to 45 children at a time with 10 supporting staff per session.  

·            Traffic impacts are limited in the conditions of the Special Use Permit, no changes are proposed: The maximum number of bus trips (round trips) to and from the camp, each session shall be six (6)

·            All lighting on site is by-right under agricultural use; for this reason the Special Use Permit does not address lighting issues. 


·      Staff has received the following additional correspondence regarding the Camp Watermarks amendment:


§         Two emails from members of the local community in support of amending the Special Use Permit for Camp Watermarks from 4 week long session per year to 16 week long sessions per year. (Attachment H)

§         Four letters from neighbors and members of the community expressing support for the proposed amendment.  (Attachment H)  

§         Paul Bryant, neighbor closest to the camp site (parcel 136 6E), contacted staff by phone on January 8, 2007 to express his support for the proposed 16 weeks of sessions at Camp Watermarks. 


·      Since the reports were completed staff has received additional correspondence as follows:


§      A letter dated January 25 from Tracy Cleveland of Scottsville in support of the request.

§      A phone call on January 30 from adjacent property owner, E. Mitchell Carr in support of the request.

§      A Letter dated January 28 from Connie Knight in support.

§      A phone call on February 5 from Kenneth and Barbara Lake of North Garden in support of the request.

§      A letter dated February 6 from Edna Anderson of James River Road in support of the extension.

§      In addition, a phone call on February 6 was received from James Whitmore of CSX Railroad stated that CSX is neither for nor against the extension, but has concerns that campers not be allowed to cross the railroad at this point. The farm has legal access of the crossing only for farm use and not for the campers.  (Staff noted that it would be a violation to cross the railroad tracks for camp activities.)


·      Staff has found the following factors favorable:


1.      Farming will continue as the primary activity on these parcels; the camp remains a secondary use.

2.      The applicant’s approach to traffic management on James River Road reduces impacts on the neighborhood. 

3.      The camp environment remains well integrated into the surrounding landscape.

4.      The camp experience contributes to Rural Areas goals by heightening awareness and understanding of agricultural processes and natural resources.


·      Staff has found the following unfavorable factors:


1.      Increased traffic on James River Road.

2.     Increase in overall activity levels on and around the site.


·      Staff recommends approval with conditions.


Ms. Joseph asked if there were any questions for staff.


Mr. Craddock said that he had only received one letter against the proposal from the Wissel.  He asked if the Wissel’s home was any where near the camp.


Ms. Arnold replied that the Wissel’s property is part of the new subdivision of Hatton Grange on adjacent property as shown on the map. The Wissels live out of state and have not built on the property at this time.



Mr. Edgerton expressed concerns about the lighting issue and questioned if the camp lighting would have to comply with the lighting ordinance.


Mr. Kamptner replied that for camp specific activities the lighting ordinance would apply, which would be subject to zoning administrator review.


Ms. Joseph expressed concerns limiting the number of vehicular trips since it was not covered in the conditions.  She asked what would be responsible in terms of the number of trips.


There being no further questions for staff, Ms. Joseph opened the public hearing and invited the applicant to address the Commission.


Angela and Travis M. Critzer, applicants, spoke in favor of the request.  They made the following points concerning their special use permit request:


o        The existing lighting was all there before this property became a camp.  The lights are attached to a farm shop and used to work on farm equipment.  There has been no lighting added since the camp began.  The camp only has porch lights.

o        They are requesting to operate the camp for 16 weeks due to the large demand.

o        His family owns over 200 acres that could be subdivided and create 30 plus homes, which would create a lot more traffic than the camp. 

o        They want to create an environment where children can have a positive experience by being in a loving caring environment.  He asked for everyone’s prayer for the camp operation.

o        Regarding the collection of fees, the camp collects fees from the children that can pay.  They are in the process of becoming a non-profit organization.  It is free to all children that cannot pay.  The fee for a week is $200.

o        Regarding the issue of excessive deliveries, the applicants shop at Sam’s Club for their goods.  There are no regular deliveries at this time, but it was possible that they might need a food delivery every other week.

o        When they started the camp the applicant did not stop any of the agricultural activities.

o        The applicants request to use all of the parcels they own for the camp, increase the number of children per session, increase the total number of staff on site at one time to ten (10) and increase the total number of trips to the site.


Ms. Joseph invited public comment.


Kevin Fletcher, resident of the Scottsville District, said that he lived five miles on Route 627 from Camp Watermarks.  He spoke in favor of the project because it was a wonderful project.  It is a great use for the rural areas and helps preserve it. 


Tommy Tapscott, an adjoining property owner on the eastern side, spoke in favor of the camp.  The Commission’s concern about the lighting issue was important since it was rural.  But, they have not noticed any excessive lighting during the camp sessions.  He was glad to see something in the neighborhood to support children, particularly disadvantaged children.  Therefore, he supported the camp.


Susan Tapscott, resident of the Scottsville community and a tax payer in the County, expressed her support and approval for the expansion of Camp Watermarks.  The camp is a compliment to the Scottsville community.  She has not been bothered by the camp visitors or their activities. She felt that the camp was well run.  Therefore, she requested that the request be approved.


Reverend June Clifford, of Fluvanna County, said that she had been involved with the Critzers for many years in terms of development and leadership skills and ministry to young people and children as well.  Her husband has also been involved.  She hoped that more people can have access to the camp.  They have set perimeters for the parents of the children to work through their stop off points where their bus and vans load to prevent excessive traffic to and from the camp. Therefore, that is something that they don’t want to see increased at all. The community at the camp is not well run if there are a lot of interruptions of people coming in and out. She asked that the request be approved by the Commission.   


Peter Way, resident of southern Albemarle County for over 45 years, spoke in support of the project.  This is an excellent project that is supported fully by the community.  Nothing has changed since this project was fully supported by the Commission over a year ago.  He hoped that the Commission could not try to impose too many restrictions on something that is working very well right now.  He asked that the Commission support the special use permit tonight.


There being no further public comment, the public hearing was closed and the matter before the Commission.


The Planning Commission held a discussion concerning the applicant’s request to raise the number of campers and staff and to expand the special use permit to include all of the parcels they owned, which was limited to the one parcel.


Mr. Kamptner noted that the request would have to be readvertised to add the parcels and the changes in the conditions.


Mr. Critzer said that he would like to get the number of campers and staff raised during this special use permit review.  He wanted to avoid having to go back through another nine month process for the change.  It seems that the Commission is in favor of what they are doing.  He felt that it would be in their best interest if they did not have to wait months.


Ms. Joseph pointed out that what he was asking for was an indefinite deferral.  There was no guarantee on how long it would take to have the hearing rescheduled.


Mr. Critzer asked that the Commission take an action on the request now without the suggested increases.  He felt that an indefinite deferral sounds like a long time and that he would prefer to come back with another request if he could not be guaranteed that it be heard within sixty days.  He asked that the Commission go ahead and vote on the request tonight and he would reapply for the other amendments.


Motion: Mr. Morris moved, Mr. Craddock seconded, to approve SP-2006-037, Camp Watermarks Amendment, subject to the conditions recommended by staff.


1.       The improvements, and the scale and location of the improvements authorized by Special Use Permit 2006-37 Camp Watermarks, shall be in general accord with the concept application plan dated February 22, 2006, prepared by Angela and Travis Critzer, and titled “Watermarks Christian Ministries Camp” (Attachment D).  However, the Zoning Administrator may approve revisions to the concept application plan to allow compliance with the Zoning Ordinance. 

2.       Compliance with the Virginia Statewide Fire Prevention Code shall be verified by the Fire Marshall prior to issuance of a zoning compliance clearance and the commencement of the special use. 

3.       Compliance with the Virginia State Department of Health regarding minimum septic requirements shall be required prior to the commencement of the special use.

4.       Compliance with the Virginia State Department of Health regarding kitchen and food service approvals shall be verified by the Health Department prior to clearance and the commencement of the Special Use Permit.

5.       Total number of staff (in addition to the applicant and their family) on site at one time shall be limited to ten (10).  

6.       Camp sessions shall be limited to a maximum of sixteen (16), each one (1) week long, overnight sessions per year.

7.       The maximum number of children per session shall be limited to forty five (45).

8.       The maximum number of bus or van trips (round trips) to and from the camp, each session shall be six (6).  Bus or van trips shall be the primary means of transportation for the children.

9.       Outdoor amplified sounds or bull horns shall be prohibited.

10.   Compliance with VDOT requirements for the entrance shall be verified prior to the issuance of a zoning compliance clearance for the commencement of the special use.

11.   Compliance with the Virginia State Department of Health regarding water supply shall be verified by the Health Department prior to issuance of a zoning compliance clearance and the commencement of the special use.


The motion passed by a vote of 7:0. 


Ms. Joseph stated that SP-2006-037, Camp Watermarks Amendment, would go before the Board of Supervisors on March 14, 2007 with a recommendation for approval.


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