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Albemarle planners approve permits for detailing business, private school

Two special-use permits were recommended for approval during the first livestreamed Albemarle County Planning Commission meeting on Tuesday.

A permit for an auto detailing business on Avon St. Extended received a unanimous recommendation from the commission, while an amendment to a special-use permit to reduce the acreage of a prior permit for the Field School of Charlottesville also received unanimous recommended approval.

During the meeting, public commenters could not see how much time they had left, and Planning Commissioner Rick Randolph got stuck in the waiting room on the Zoom video conferencing platform.

“We’re going to a season of flexibility,” Commissioner Julian Bivins said. “We’re all learning on how to do this, and since no one tossed a cat and I see no m&ms being tossed in the air, I’d say that we’re getting close to a very successful meeting.”

A planning commissioner in Vallejo, California resigned after he was seen throwing his cat and drinking alcohol during a meeting.

The auto detailing business, H+H Quality Car Care, needed the permit because the property is zoned light industrial, which allows certain commercial uses including auto detailing by special-use permit. The business will use an existing 1,800 square-foot building and an existing parking area.

Albemarle has a limited supply of industrially-zoned land but the county’s Economic Developement Office had no objections to this application because business owner Rod Howard has worked diligently, without success, to find a commercial space, according to the staff report. Staff also looked for opportunities beginning in November and found none.

During the public hearing, Sean Tubbs with Piedmont Environmental Council asked for a more detailed explanation about why the community meeting for this proposal was waived.

“At a time like this, it’s crucial that the process that we have had and that we’ve respected now in Albemarle County for decades, continues to be respected,” he said. “We aspire to be a nation and a community of rules and laws, and as we are meeting temporarily in this new setting, the need for transparency and clarity is paramount at this time.”

Charles Rapp, the director of planning, said the meeting was waived in this case because the project was unlikely to generate any significant public concerns, and was not visible from the roadway.

“We do have a process that we have set up for engaging the public through multiple different avenues, through virtual meetings, through mailers, through recorded presentations and other feedback loops to ensure that we are engaging the public as we work through these projects and try to maintain our typical process,” he said.

The request is tentatively scheduled to go before the Board of Supervisors on June 17.

The Field School needed an amendment to a previously approved permit to reduce the area to which the permit and its conditions apply from 24.57 acres, which is the current size of the parcel, to 21 acres. A permit was approved for the site off of Barracks Road in 2017, and private schools are allowed in the rural area with a special-use permit.

Other minor changes, such as a shift of a tree buffer, were also included in the proposal.

Todd Barnett, head of the Field School, said that portion of the property is across a creek.

“It is just not anything that we ever imagined that we would be able to use, and we had a neighbor who wanted it, so we made a transaction to just pass that on to the neighbor,” he said.

Some commissioners were concerned with hours of the school and sporting events that were previously stipulated as original conditions, but ultimately agreed that any changes to those should be made by the Board of Supervisors. The proposal is not yet scheduled for a future board meeting.


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