Monticello United Soccer Club can now use its fields on Polo Grounds Road for more hours a day during more months of the year.
The Albemarle County Board of Supervisors on Wednesday evening approved amendments to a special-use permit that now allows the club to use the fields from 8 a.m. to 30 minutes after sunset daily and removes a prohibition on game play during July and August.
Maynard Sipe, an attorney representing MonU, said the changes will better enable the organization to serve the youth players and their families.
“Some of the restrictions from 2012, particularly hours and times of the year, have proven too restrictive,” he said.
The amended permit also increases the number of fields from four to seven. No more than four fields can be used for competitions at any one time, but the additional fields allow the club to have warmups and non-game uses on the extra fields, and rotate uses among more fields.
When the original special-use permit was approved, concerns were raised about traffic impacts on Polo Grounds Road. Since that approval, the Polo Grounds Road-U.S. 29 intersection has been signalized, three turn lanes have been added to Polo Grounds Road at the intersection and westbound access to Rio Mills Road has ended, according to the staff report.
“There’s a lot more road capacity, and a lot of the difficult or dangerous movements have been eliminated at the signalization,” said county Senior Planner Scott Clark. “Our transportation planning staff reviewed this proposed amendment against the upgraded transportation facilities and found that there would not be a significant impact to the road capacity from this proposal.”
Another prior condition — prohibiting uses on the MonU site on the same days as specific SOCA events — also was removed due to road improvements.
The club also is allowed to irrigate the fields for 28 days after they are seeded using water from the Rivanna River with a temporary over-the-bank hose.
The Planning Commission supported the request in April with some changes in the conditions, such as that watering of the fields from the Rivanna should be limited to seven days to avoid year-round watering.
“But in our research, we found that seven days was insufficient to establish the grass — at least 28 days was needed, so we put the 28-day recommended limit in there instead,” Clark said.
Dan Ivory, the club’s director of coaching, said pesticides and herbicides are not used on the property.
“There’s no chemical spraying or anything like that,” he said. “Any watering we would do would be one field at a time. We just don’t have the money and the resources to do a big sprinkling operation.”
Other conditions, such as bans on amplified sound systems, outdoor lighting and overnight parking remain in place.
The board on Wednesday also approved amended special-use permits for the Blue Ridge Swim Club, which will extend the season for camps at the club and allow it to add a pavilion with bathrooms and a kitchen, as well as a garage/storage structure.
The day camp and boarding camp can now operate from April 1 through Nov. 15 each year for camp and environmental education programs on weekdays. Previously, it was allowed to operate weekdays from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend.
The camps can run from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. during the week, and on Thursdays, overnight stays are permitted.
The swim club can operate between Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day weekend, from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., and the only amplified sound allowed is a megaphone used on Fridays for field games, radios and electronic sound producing or reproducing devices, provided that any comply with the county’s noise regulations.
Weddings are not allowed on the site, as that would be a separate use that is not currently permitted, county staff said at a prior meeting.
The Blue Ridge Swim Club is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and the Virginia Landmarks Register, according to the staff report, and the pool is among the oldest known concrete outdoor commercial swimming pools remaining or in use in both the state and the country.
“We felt that allowing these additional uses as far as the season goes would help to provide income for the protection of a historic resource. The addition of the structures would not significantly change the character of the use on the site,” Clark said.
The conceptual plan includes screening trees, and requires them to be native evergreen species at least six feet in above-ground height at time of planting.
Supervisor Liz Palmer questioned how they will make sure the new screening trees stay alive.
“I would like to make sure that we have a plan for that, because this is quite visible from some of … those houses,” she said.
County Attorney Greg Kamptner said a clause could be added that the trees will be replaced if they die. Ultimately, the board approved that the screening trees identified in the conceptual plan will be maintained for a minimum of three years.