Charlottesville Council to consider Cherry Avenue plan

Tonight, Charlottesville City Council will take action on whether to add the Cherry Avenue Small Area Plan to the city’s Comprehensive Plan. Council’s public hearing was held on January 12, 2021 during the Planning Commission and they wanted some revisions. City planner Matt Alfele said at that meeting that this plan has been a long time in the making. (read the draft plan)

“I know one of the driving principles of our community is engagement and letting the neighborhood drive the planning process,” Alfele said. “This is very true with the plan in front of you tonight.” 

In 2015, the Fifeville Neighborhood Association created a visioning document to position their location to be the next area chosen to receive the master planning treatment. The Thomas Jefferson Planning District was hired to develop the plan, which Alfele said will fit into the overall city planning process in Charlottesville including the Comprehensive Plan.

“The Cherry Avenue Small Area Plan if adopted is a high-level policy document that will help with the completion of these other documents, most notable the zoning rewrite,” Alfele said. 

Some background on the small area plan process in the draft Cherry Avenue Plan

TJPDC planner Nick Morrison explained why Fifeville residents wanted this plan.

“Residents of Fifeville had noted the specter of displacement specifically of long-time residents and the need for additional affordable housing,” Morrison said. “Stresses on the neighborhood from traffic, particularly along the commercial corridor of Cherry Avenue.” 

The neighborhood came up with a series of goals they wanted from the plan. Morrison stated one of them.

“To lift up and preserve Fifeville’s legacy of African-American leadership and highlight its unique sense of place as a culturally diverse neighborhood,” Morrison said. 

A chart in the plan states that residents do not want to see large apartment buildings such as the ones on West Main Street, but do want to see preservation of existing housing and creation of new subsidized housing. 

There are several undeveloped parcels on Cherry Avenue and Roosevelt Brown Boulevard within a mixed-use district. A medium-density residential district runs along 5th Street Extended which would allow some multifamily apartment buildings by-right. A special use permit would be needed for projects between 22 and 43 dwelling units per acre. 

Councilor Lloyd Snook noted a tension between the desire of the neighborhood to remain at a low residential density on the one hand, and a push for the city to build more units to increase supply on the other.

“I’m just conscious of the fact that in the next year when we’re going to be having an affordable housing plan, a Comprehensive Plan, and a zoning code, we’re going to have to confront sort of the second order issue here and focusing only on information and opinion on only the first order issue may not help us in the long run in our analysis,” Snook said. 

Before recommending approval, commissioners asked for more information on renovations and teardowns that have taken place between 2010 and 2020. 

One of the transportation recommendations is already funded. T-3 calls for the widening of a turn lane from Cherry Avenue onto Ridge Street. Charlottesville was awarded a $6.1 million Smart Scale grant for a project called 5th Street SW Corridor Improvements

Before you go: The time to write and research of this article is covered by paid subscribers to Charlottesville Community Engagement. In fact, this particular installment comes from the March 1, 2021 edition of the program. To ensure this research can be sustained, please consider becoming a paid subscriber or contributing monthly through Patreon.

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