Council to allocate additional money to Cville Plans Together initiative

It’s been three years since Charlottesville City Council opted to hire a consultant to create an affordable housing strategy, update the Comprehensive Plan, and rewrite the zoning code. Rhodeside & Harwell has been working on the Cville Plans Together initiative for over two years, and has accomplished the first two tasks.

Work is underway now on the zoning code and the Department of Neighborhood Development Services is seeking additional resources. 

“The first part is for $143,810 for community engagement and projects management as an ongoing activity,” said James Freas, the director of NDS. “And then the second part is for a housing market outcome modeling at $45,000.”

Freas said the community engagement work is necessary because the original scope with Rhodeside & Harwell was for them to do that work for 25 months. 

“And now we’re in month 28 with another 12 to 13 months or so left to go,” Freas said. 

Freas said the work to actually rewrite the zoning is funded, but the additional funding will go to create the model, which is intended to predict how the housing market might respond to the land use changes already embedded in the Comprehensive Plan as well the new zoning.

“That would be essentially looking at what would be the scale or pace of new housing development that might happen, what types of housing, what level of affordability, etcera,” Freas said. “And we really consider this essential work for both the Council, the Planning Commission, and the public to get an understanding of what these changes in zoning would produce on the ground.” 

Freas said subcontractor HR&A will look at housing trends and data to attempt to project what might happen when the zoning code is rewritten to enable more units on every residential lot across the city.

“To put it more clearly, how many housing units will we see on a year-by-year basis with the changes in zoning,” Freas said. “What types of housing units? Is it going to steer more toward two-families or more towards [AccessoryDwelling Units]? Looking at different parts of the city, is it going to lead to tear-downs or is it going to lead to reuse of existing buildings?” 

This model will be developed as HR&A is also working on a build-out analysis of what can now be built under the Comprehensive Plan. This is the first phase of the zoning process. 

In August, Council allocated another $165,000 to the firm HR&A to further work on ways to ensure the zoning rewrite is “inclusionary” and to audit how Charlottesville Affordable Housing Fund has been used since it was created in 2007. 

This funding will come from money in the city’s Capital Improvement Program budget for small area plans. Freas recommends the city produce a small area plan for the Tenth and Page neighborhood as well as the Preston Avenue corridor. However, that work would not begin until after the new zoning code is adopted. 

The second reading of the item will be on the consent agenda for the March 21 meeting. 

See also: 

Additionally, the Steering Committee for the Cville Plans Together initiative met on March 2. You can watch that event here: 

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 14, 2022 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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