At its meeting October 12 the Albemarle Board of Supervisors made relatively quick work of the vote over whether to amend the Special Use Permit it issued in 2010 to allow the creation of the ReStore’N Station gas station and convenience store on Rt. 250 near the Interstate 64 interchange.
Station owner Jeff Sprouse had asked for an amendment to the original permit that would change its conditions limiting hours of use, the number of pumps, overnight parking and building area. He also offered to phase development if his request was approved and to first build a proposed auto repair building and show, after six months of operation, that the property’s water use was still under 80 percent of its daily limit of 1,624 gallons. Then he would build the addition to the existing building.
The amendment request had come up for a vote September 14, but when the tally seemed about to go against the station, development consultant Jo Higgins asked for a deferral to try to come up with more attractive plan.
Bill Fritz, chief of special projects for the county’s planning department, recapped the proposal for the board and no supervisor had a question on it.
Board chair Liz Palmer, supervisor for the Samuel Miller District, opened up board comments by saying that she has experience in water demand and water capacity analysis.
“I know it’s never the average that’s used, it’s always the peak use. There are reasons for that. If you use the average, all the days you’re above the average you’re going to be getting into trouble. I looked at these numbers and I thought that 400 gallons per day was a more reasonable value to use than 250 as the peak value.”
She calculated that the enlargement shown by Sprouse would easily reach the daily water limit.
Palmer said she had read the minutes of the Planning Commission’s 6-0 vote to deny the amendment and noted that the plan to expand the size of the operations on the property five-fold had raised a concern by one commissioner, as well as other speakers from the public, that if the changes were granted and the new businesses in fact needed more water than was available, that they would request access to public water. It would be hard for Supervisors not to help. But public water hook-ups to properties outside growth areas are not allowed.
“I’m concerned it would be very difficult to say no to changing the limit or allowing a hook-up to public water,” she said. “I don’t want to put any future board, or the applicant, in that position, so I’m going to vote no.”
Scottsville Supervisor Rick Randolph followed. “The proposed expansion of the size of the building and the nature of the operation, in my judgment, will have a high probability of exceeding the maximum of 1,62 gallons per day and thus be inconsistent with the Comprehensive Plan. So, I will vote against.”
White Hall District Supervisor Ann Mallek said, “We have an existing permit which was decided by the Board of Supervisors with clear intent on the size and consumption.”
She reminded the board that the history of ReStore’N Station includes a Board of Zoning Appeals ruling and a Circuit Court ruling that “upheld the original intent of the board,” she said.
She noted that Sprouse had not appealed that ruling. “The owner has a reasonable use of the property,” Mallek said. “The larger buildings were also asked for in 2010 and they were denied then and they should stay denied now.”
She cited negative impacts on Rt. 250 traffic and to Freetown, which was represented at the meeting by Jason Crutchfield.
“If the board eliminates part of the original conditions set, we will truly be setting a precedent and we’ll be beset by others looking to undo their special permits,” Mallek asserted. “The application is neither compelling or even warranted.”
At this point it appeared that the vote that had stood in September, 3-3, a tie, could be coalescing again.
County Attorney Greg Kamptner proposed that he be allowed to draft a motion.
Then Rio Supervisor Norman Dill announced that he would be voting against as well.
That simplified the task of drafting the motion. In the end, the vote against was 6-0. The Station has the deal it started with.