Planning Commission – Minutes : 11.17.10


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Present: Ms. Philippa Proulx, Ms. Emily Hunt, Mr. Mike Harman, Ms. Linda Russell,
Mr. Mike Tapager and Mr. Allen Hale (Board Liaison)

CLASS II COMMUNICATION TOWER WITH EXCEPTIONS/CENTRAL VIRGINIA ELECTRIC COOPERATIVE (CVEC): The applicant has applied for a permit to erect a 94-foot monopole at Waterworks Lane at Wintergreen Resort. In addition, the applicant has requested the following:

1. Section 20-7-5K Landscaping waiver as the facility will be enclosed by a wood stockade fence and screened with existing trees.

2. Section 20-7-2a Distance to Property Line to reduce the required fall area from 117.5 feet to approximately 90 feet.

3. Section 20-7-2b as there are no existing tower options.

4. Section 20-7-2c Maximum height on mountain ridge or peak as the proposed tower will be more than 30 feet above the existing tree canopy and must be tall enough to communicate with the High Top tower near Lovingston.

5. Section 20-7-4c, 8 foot chain link fence

6. Section 20-7-3 Proximity to an Existing Tower as none of the existing towers in the area have the required height or location to provide the connectivity to CVEC’s network.

7. Section 20-7-2e Viewshed of Scenic Byway as the site will be within 1.0 mile of the right of way of the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Mr. Boger noted that Wintergreen Property Owners Association (WPOA) owns the site and is trying to cluster communication towers into specific areas of Wintergreen. He also reported that the tower will be visible from the restaurant south of the site but that a representative of WPOA has signed the application indicating that they have no major concerns with the tower’s height.

Ms. Russell asked Mr. Robert Harris (representing CVEC) whether the Blue Ridge Parkway had been notified as required. Mr. Harris said that a letter was sent last week. Ms. Russell said that she has issues with the fact that the tower will be visible from the restaurant and Mountain Inn but that having heard nothing from Wintergreen, she will take that as the answer. She said that she would like to see any approval contingent on a positive or no opinion response from the Blue Ridge Parkway.

With no public comment, Commissioners voted 5-0 to approve the tower permit with the following conditions:

1. Approval of exceptions to Sections 20-7-5K Landscaping and 20-7-4c 8 foot chain link fence.

2. Recommendation of approval to Sections 20-7-2a Distance to Property Line; 20-7-2b Existing tower options; 20-7-2c Maximum height on mountain ridge and peak; 20-7-3 Proximity to an Existing Tower.

3. Unwilling to waive the Blue Ridge Parkway’s right to comment so permit contingent on receipt of a favorable or no opinion response.

4. Tower and appurtenances to be painted “Wintergreen” brown to minimize light reflection.

Mr. Hale noted that the county seems to grant exceptions to every tower so perhaps the county should throw out the ordinance and let anyone put towers anywhere they want at any height they want.

CLASS III COMMUNICATION TOWER WITH EXCEPTIONS/CENTRAL VIRGINIA ELECTRIC COOPERATIVE (CVEC): The applicant has applied for a permit to construct a 120-foot lattice tower with a 4-foot lightening rod on the north side of Cooperative Way in Colleen. The property is zoned Limited Industrial, M-1. In addition, the applicant has requested the following:

1. Section 20-7-5k Landscaping waiver as the site will be surrounded by trees and brush on three sides and the elevation of the tower base is below the nearest road.

2. Section 20-8-2 Standards for Location special exception to reduce the required setback of 155 feet to 119 feet in order to achieve the required line-of-site requirements to communication with the High Top Tower site. Relocation to achieve the setback requirements would also lower the elevation requiring a taller tower.

3. Section 20-8-3 Proximity to an Existing Tower exception as an AT&T monopole does exist within 2 miles but is not suitable for microwave communication.

Mr. Robert Harris (CVEC) explained that a lattice tower is necessary in order to maintain a stable platform for the microwave antenna. In addition, the County will collocate on the tower to bring broadband to the area, eliminating the need for a second tower in the area.

With no public comment, Commissioners voted 5-0 to recommend approval of the 124-foot tower with the following conditions:

1. Approval of a waiver of Section 20-7-5k Landscaping.

2. Exceptions to Sections 20-8-2 Standards for Location and 20-8-3 Proximity to an Existing Tower.

3. Permit contingent on approval from Thomas Jefferson Soil & Water Conservation District.

PROPOSED ZONING ORDINANCE AMENDMENT/COMPOSTING: Commissioners voted 5-0 to direct staff to advertise for Public Hearing a proposed amendment to add Composting, Commercial as a Use Permitted by Special Use Permit in Agricultural, A-1 and Industrial, M-2 Districts with the following definition:

“Composting, Commercial – The process by which organic wastes are combined in proper ratios to which might be added bulking agents, such as wood chips, to provide air space and by using controlled temperature, moisture, and oxygen, achieve accelerated decomposition, thereby producing a stable humus material. “Organic wastes” includes, but is not limited to, yard trimmings, agricultural by-products, food wastes, or manures.”

SMALL WIND ENERGY ORDINANCE: Ms. Russell reported that the Board of Zoning Appeals had considered a request for a 40-foot variance to the allowed 100-foot height for a small wind energy system on a 170-acre property in Faber. The applicant’s expert stated, at the BZA meeting, that due to the tree canopy height on that property, the best wind resources would require a 140-foot tower to eliminate turbulence from surrounding trees. Ms. Russell said that the BZA felt that a variance to the tower height was a legislative issue that should be referred back to the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors for consideration.

During discussion, Mr. Dan Boyle, Central Virginia Wind Energy, said that while there are probably not a lot of properties in the county with this same scenario but that there could be some. He suggested allowing a tower at 30 feet over the tallest tree or object in the immediate area. Commissioners directed staff to draft an amendment for consideration including technical specifications to serve as justification for any increased tower height.

COMMUNICATION TOWER ORDINANCE: Tabled until the December meeting.

COMPREHENSIVE PLAN REVIEW: Mr. Hale reported that he and Ms. Russell attended a very informative meeting with the Economic Development Authority regarding the Comp Plan review and that that body would be forwarding their comments on areas of the Plan related to economic development. Ms. Russell asked Mr. Boger for an update on the progress of the review. Mr. Boger said that the transportation plan from TJPDC is almost complete. Ms. Proulx suggested that each Commissioner review the Plan with notes on which sections are working and which need to be considered for amendment. She suggested that the Commission set a date for a work session after the holidays during their December meeting.

Meeting adjourned.

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