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January 09, 2009

New Bellair lots approved by County Planning Commission

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The Albemarle County Planning Commission reluctantly approved the creation of a new lot in the Bellair Neighborhood subdividing a 2.4 acre parcel at the request of developer Lane Bonner.  The preliminary plat for this project was approved unanimously by the Commission in February 2008 with the condition that it return for review of the final plat.  The County’s R1 zoning allows Bonner to build a home by right on parcels that are at least 0.97 acres and meet other County zoning requirements. 

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Listen using player above or download the podcast: Download 20090106 -BellairSub

Bonner owns other nearby lots in Bellair including one that was sub-divided by the Board of Supervisors in June 2008.  Bonner said in February that he plans to develop what had been 3 parcels in Bellair into 5 lots on a total of 7.3 acres.

Several neighborhood residents and community members spoke in opposition to the project, as they have at past public hearings.  Last year residents expressed concern that the increased number of homes would not be in keeping with the style of the neighborhood.  Commissioners Bill Edgerton (Jack Jouett), Eric Strucko (Samuel Miller) and Linda Porterfield (Scottsville) initially voted to deny its approval.  However, with only three of six votes, and more importantly because the Commission could not articulate an unsatisfied condition, they did not have sound legal footing to deny the project.

Planning Commissioner Marcia Joseph (At-Large) expressed concern regarding the size and location of septic drainfields on the site.  Due to the small lot sizes, topography and location of wetlands, non-traditional septic systems might need to be installed and the health department’s requirements for these systems were unclear to the Commission. 

Planning-commission 
Albemarle County Planning Commissioners

Bellair resident Ellen Holmes told the Planning Commission that she did not believe the delineation of wetlands on the site plan was accurate.  Senior Engineer for Albemarle County, Glenn Brooks, told the Commission he was confident that the plans are accurate and that from an engineering standpoint, the site meets the criteria for septic systems.  In response to concerns regarding the non-traditional septic systems, Environmental Health Manager, Jeff McDaniel told the Commission that these types of systems have been approved and used in many other subdivisions throughout the County.

Joel Loving, a Bellair resident, expressed concern that the site is not an adequate size for two new homes and said that the developer, Lane Bonner, had not adequately communicated with neighbors during the site planning process.  “There’s barely enough room for one home much less the two that are proposed,” he said.  “The developer has gone to ridiculous extremes to put a large square peg into a very small round hole.”

Commissioner Porterfield asked planning staff if Bonner has more proposed subdivisions in the area that will be coming before the Planning Commission.  Staff responded that there is one more that has been approved by staff. 

The Planning Commission approved the final site plan for subdivision of the property in the Bellair neighborhood with a vote of 5 to 1 with Commissioner Edgerton opposing.  Commissioner Jon Cannon (Rio) was not present.

Brian Wheeler and Fania Gordon

TIMELINE FOR THE PODCAST

  • 01:00 -- Planning staff Megan Yaniglos introduces the request.
  • 02:00 -- Commissioner Joseph asks how drain field could be made lower than the building site
  • 03:00 -- Staff responds that there was administrative approval of modification of building shape
  • 04:00 -- Bill Fritz, Chief of Current Development for Albemarle County describes location of buildable area
  • 04:30 -- Commissioner Edgerton asks if there is a prohibition against building on wetlands.
  • 06:15 -- Matter opened to public comment.
  • 07:30 -- Joel Loving representing the Bellair neighborhood opposes this proposal.
  • 11:15 -- Frank Featherstone claims Lane Bonner has not worked with the neighborhood.
  • 13:00 -- Ellen Holmes questions the accuracy of the mapped wetlands on the site plan.
  • 14:15 -- Commissioner Morris asks if Engineering Staff has looked at this property.
  • 15:30 -- Glenn Brooks Senior Engineer for Albemarle County says that site does meet criteria for septic drainfields.
  • 15:45 -- Commissioner Joseph asks that if they cannot do traditional septic systems when does the process stop?
  • 17:30 -- Commissioner Edgerton asks if County staff has verified findings.
  • 19:30 -- Fritz explains that the entire building site is not necessarily where a house is built.
  • 20:30 -- Commissioner Porterfield asks if there is concern about homes being built in front of one another.
  • 22:30 -- Commissioner Loach asks if there is increased County liability with non-traditional septic systems.
  • 24:00 -- Commissioner Loach thanks staff for due diligence regarding this application.
  • 25:00 -- Commissioner Loach moves for approval
  • 26:15 -- Deputy County Attorney Greg Kamptner says that Commission must articulate reasons for denial of final plat.
  • 27:30 -- Commissioner Edgerton asks if concern about health department report is grounds for denial.
  • 28:30 -- Fritz says ordinance requires that health director approve soil suitability
  • 33:45 -- Commissioner Porterfield asked if sizes of features on site plan have been field verified.
  • 34:00 -- Jeff McDaniel, Environmental Health Manager, Thomas Jefferson Health District says  these systems have been installed all over the County.
  • 36:00 -- Commission reconsiders final plat
  • 37:45 -- Commission approves SUB2008-00109

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