Planning Commission : Minutes : 10.27.10


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Present: Ms. Philippa Proulx, Ms. Emily Hunt, Mr. Mike Harman, Ms. Linda Russsell,

Mr. Mike Tapager and Mr. Allen Hale (Board Liaison)

FINAL SUBDIVISION/MR. & MRS. JACK MILLER: The applicants had submitted a plat at the September meeting to divide 16.11 acres into 2 lots consisting of 5.188 acres and 10.917 acres for property located at 1280 Walkers Mountain Road in Arrington, in the Walkers Mountain Subdivision. The original plat showed two 50-foot pipe stems being created out of the 100-foot wide pipe stem. The lot is already non-conforming because of the pipe stem portion and would have been made more non-conforming without the minimum road frontage of 125 feet. At the September meeting, Mr. Boger noted that the pipe stem could remain at 100 feet with a 30-foot easement for the new lot as a family division. He reported at that time that the subdivision does have covenants prohibiting further division of the lots. Mr. Boger said that the county is not a party to the covenants; therefore, if the division meets county ordinance requirements, it must be approved. The Commission deferred a decision on the division pending receipt of a revised final plat showing the 30-foot easement.

Upon review of the revised plat, Commissioners voted 6-0 to approve the final plat. (Note: The public hearing on this issue was held in September.) Mr. Tapager noted that the county has no choice but approve the division if it meets county ordinance requirements. Mr. Hale said that this issue illustrates an ongoing problem with lots in subdivisions.

SPECIAL USE PERMIT/MR. AND MRS. ADAM H. KNOTT: The applicants submitted an application in June to establish the Living Earth School on their property on Glass Hollow Road in Afton. The original application was for a summer camp with cabins, bath houses, an outdoor cook kitchen, etc. Given the opposition of neighbors, the applicants requested a deferral for July and August. In September, they submitted a revised application removing the summer camp use as well as the construction of cabins, bath houses and the kitchen. In addition, the revised plan moved all activities further up on the property and out of sight of the road. Sanitary facilities would be portajohns and the only building construction would be a pavilion built to look like a farm building with walls on three sides. After discussion and noting the major changes to the proposal, Commissioners directed staff to advertise for another public hearing at the October meeting.

Mr. and Mrs. Knott reported that the revised plan includes an actual 16 days per year with the application requesting a maximum of 30 days in case they decide to do a fall program. They said that the revised plan creates no additional impact on the area and if there were any construction, it would be a farm structure. They noted that the programs are quiet by nature.

Ms. Proulx asked for the maximum number of attendees at any program. Mr. Knott said approximately 20 people. Ms. Knott said that they had listened to the community concerns and tried to accommodate them in the planning.

During the Public Hearing, MS. VALERIE MITCHELL, Glass Hollow Road, expressed concern about vehicle crashes and litter on the road.

MR. RUSSELL FITZGERALD, Fox Hollow Road, said that he hikes in the mountains and had found trails and teepees. He said that he does not want to see the mountains destroyed.

MR. MIKE GARTH, adjoining landowners, said that he does not want to see a business on that property as it will expand. He said that he has lived in Glass Hollow for 30 years and does not want to see it change.

MR. RAYMOND GLASS opposed the permit, saying that he does not want increased traffic or change.

MS. CHERYL CASH, Glass Hollow Road, said that the plans are not clear and she is worried about fire, safety, increased traffic, crime, fire & rescue capacity, noise and water quality downstream. She said that she has no faith that the Knotts will conform to the requirements.

MR. JOE MURRAY, part-time resident of Glass Hollow, supported the permit saying that he has known the Knotts for many years and that they were one of the reasons he purchased land there. He said that if the Knotts say they will do something, they will do it.

MR. CRAIG VANDERHOFF, Glass Hollow Road, expressed concern with traffic and safety issues.

MR. BO TRIMBLE, Glass Hollow Road, said that any permit granted will alter Glass Hollow and open it up to amendments and changes. He said that he cannot trust what the Knotts say. He said that given their past history, there is no guarantee that any restrictions or conditions will be followed. Mr. Trimble said that the neighbors do not want to be monitoring what goes on on the property.

DIANE GARTH, Glass Hollow Road, said that the Knotts will affect how she lives and she distrusts what they have said. She said that their driveway faces her property and her grandson plays there.

MS. CELIA MCCORMICK, property owner on Glass Hollow Road, said that she owns her grandfather’s property and hopes to move there after retirement. She said that the road there is hazardous and that she does not want to see change.

Following the Public Hearing, the Knotts said that they will be encouraging carpooling by adding that to the information they send each family and by posting signs at the beginning of the road to ask that drivers drive carefully. They noted that they do carry insurance and are first responder certified. They reported that they do background checks on all staff. Mr. Knott noted that there are already businesses when you drive into Glass Hollow and one in Fox Hollow. He said that children are not allowed to wander off the property and that portajohns with handwashing stations meet Health Department regulations. Ms. Hunt asked whether they are licensed by the state and Mr. Knott said that they are. Ms. Knott said that you can see the environmental impacts of humans every day but that it gives her hope to have children out in the woods in a beautiful place. She said that their business would not change Glass Hollow but would add joy to the area.

Mr. Hale said that if a permit is approved, it needs to be very specific and that it should include a report to the Planning Director. Ms. Proulx said that she would not consider supporting a permit without conditions. She suggested a specific number of days and participants, that it be non-transferrable. She said that she likes the idea of a report on activities. Mr. Harman suggested another public hearing after one year. Mr. Hale said that he would be amendable to a one-year permit with an option for renewal after a review. Ms. Russell questioned whether a review is necessary if the applicants file acceptable reports and there are no complaints. Mr. Hale said that given the sentiments, he anticipates little enthusiasm for the project and that it does not hurt to have a review. He noted that any resident in Glass Hollow could do a lot of activities on their property that disturbs the peace a lot more than this business and nothing could legally be done about it.

Ms. Hunt said that as an educator, she knows the impact of children being outside and she knows how much work goes into this type of school. She said that she does not think the proposal has been well thought out. Ms. Proulx said that she has spent a lot of time talking to the parents of children who have participated in the Knott’s programs and to others who have worked with them. She said that all comments have been very positive with nothing negative reported. She pointed out that the applicants have been doing this work for 9 years so it is not new to them. Mr. Tapager said that this issue is not about who is good and who is bad – the Knotts or the neighbors. He said that if the original proposal had been for 16 days, there would not have been a problem but that changing the proposal midstream created confusion. He said that two standards have to be met in order for a permit to be issued – 1) that the use not change the character of the area and 2) that the use be in harmony with the uses permitted by right. Mr. Tapager said that he has no problem with the second standard but that the first is a concern as the proposal seems to have already changed the community by the way it was proposed. He said that the Knotts are in a difficult position as they are going to have to prove a negative, that their proposal will not do something – change the community.

Ms. Russell moved to recommend approval of a one-year permit as outlined in the proposal submitted by the Knotts and per the site plan submitted without the pavilion with the following conditions:

1. Limited to 20 operating days per year with overnight stays counted as two days;

2. Limited to 20 participants per program with maximum staff of four people;

3. No use of electronic sound equipment;

4. Beginning June 30, 2011, and every six months thereafter, the permit holders must submit a report to the Planning Director that includes the type of program, number of participants and days for the previous six month period; and

5. The permit is non-transferrable.

Commissioners voted 4-2 (Mr. Tapager and Ms. Hunt voting no) on the motion.

Mr. Hale said that he hopes this will work out with the Knotts doing everything they can to limit the impact on the neighborhood and the residents keeping an open mind.


CLASS II COMMUNICATION TOWER AMENDMENT/VERIZON WIRELESS: Mr. Boger reported that the applicant has applied for an amendment to an existing tower permit to install a set of antennas (6 total) on an existing 95-foot monopole with three existing flush mounted antennas on property located at 695 Stage Road. The proposal includes a new ground equipment shelter and an emergency backup generator. He said that the new antennas will be attached to the existing tower at the 83-foot level and there will be approximately 2 feet, 4 inches separation between the antennas and the monopole. Mr. Boger noted that the original permit approved in 2009, included three sets of flush-mounted antennas. Mr. Stephen Waller, representing Verizon Wireless, said that the original consideration was for an application for new tower site. He said that Verizon had opted instead to co-locate with an alternative mounting system.

With no public comment and after discussion of whether to require that the applicant come back to the Commission for approval if there were to be a third set of flush-mounted antennas, Commissioners voted 6-0 to approve the amendment, noting that if there were to be a third set of antennas added that were anything but flush-mounted, the applicant would have to come back to the Planning Commission for approval anyway. The Commission requested that Verizon paint the antennas the same dark-brown as the existing tower and place the cables inside the tower.

COMMUNICATION TOWER ORDINANCE: Tabled until November meeting.

COMPOSTING PROPOSAL: Commissioners directed staff to provide information on area definitions and requirements for composting businesses for their consideration. The Supervisors have requested that the Commissioners consider and make a recommendation on a definition of permitting process for composting facilities.


Meeting adjourned.

Note: The November meeting will be on Wednesday, November 17th at 7:30pm due to the Thanksgiving holiday.

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