With one member absent, the Charlottesville City Council has unanimously approved a special use permit for additional density and height on Jefferson Park Avenue. They did so despite concerns from three Councilors that did not rise to the level of a “no” vote.
Aspen Heights is a developer of student housing projects across the United States based in Austin, Texas. They needed the special use permit for additional density and to increase the height from 45 feet to 75 feet. There were other changes as well, according to city planner Matt Alfele.
“Reduce the rear-yard setback from the required 75 feet to 36 feet and reduce the on-site parking by 22 percent from what is required by code,” Alfele said. “These modifications to a by-right density and form are being requested in order to build a 119-unit multifamily building.”
Cherry Avenue runs for a mile and a half through central Charlottesville and serves as a major roadway for people seeking to get to the University of Virginia Health System. It also runs through a residential neighborhood and passes by both Johnson Elementary School and Buford Middle School. That’s not the only reason people have been asking for the speed limit to be lowered, but it’s a big reason for why it’s happening now.
“Especially with the renewed push for safe routes to schools and the recent school bus shortage, staff’s attention has been redirected to some of our older efforts,” said Brennen Duncan, the city’s traffic engineer.
The University of Virginia plans to build a new pedestrian bridge across Emmet Street just north of an existing one that crosses from the Curry School of Education to Brown College at Monroe Hill. The new structure would span from the new Contemplative Commons building to Newcomb Hall Plaza.
“So this new bridge is both in a better location for pedestrian circulation and would be fully [Americans with Disabilities Act] accessible,” said James Freas, the city’s director of Neighborhood Development Services.
On Monday night, Charlottesville City Council heard the first of two readings on $30,000 toward a governance study being overseen by the Thomas Jefferson Planning District to determine the best way to move toward a Regional Transportation Authority. I’ll have more details on that in a future installment of the newsletter, but earlier in the meeting they got a presentation from Ted Rieck, the executive director of Jaunt.
“Our sole purpose for existing is to really empower people and give them independence in their lives,” Rieck said. “People want to have their own way of living and we think our transportation service provides people that opportunity.”