A rezoning at a church in the Locust Grove neighborhood will proceed to a vote by City Council rather than going back to the Planning Commission for a new public hearing. Four out of five Councilors were satisfied Monday with changes to the plan for the Planned Unit Development planned for Mount View Baptist Church.
“The PUD development plan proposes up to 72 dwelling units at an approximate density of 22 dwelling units per acre,” said Carrie Rainey, the city’s urban planner.
Block One consists of the existing church which would not be redeveloped at this time. However, the PUD calls for commercial space to be allowed in the existing building, perhaps for a daycare. Up to 12 dwelling units would be allowed in this location in the future.
“Sixty multifamily residential units within six structures are currently proposed within Block Two,” Rainey said.
The Planning Commission recommended denial at their meeting in September on a 4 to 1 vote with one member abstaining. They generally supported the density but had concerns that the level of affordability for the required below-market units was not deep enough and that the term was not long enough.
“Subsequent to the public hearing, the applicant submitted a modified PUD plan and updated a final proffer statement,” Rainey said. “Generally the modifications to proffer one revise rent and income limits and extend the affordability period from ten years to 20 years.”
The city’s Office of Community Solutions would like to see that period extended to at least 30 years as called for in the Affordable Housing Plan. The draft inclusionary zoning requirements would set that at 99 years.
Another change to the Mount View PUD was the addition of 270 linear feet of sidewalks on River Vista Avenue.
Only three of five Councilors were present for the public hearing in September.
Council had a choice to proceed with their deliberations or send it back to the Planning Commission to review . City Attorney Lisa Robertson found that no new public hearing would be required if Council wanted to proceed.
Council was willing to proceed.
“This is a better application than what was in front of us in terms of the affordability components,” said City Councilor Brian Pinkston.
However, Pinkston had concerns about the impact on the transportation network of the northern side of Charlottesville but not enough to cast a no vote. Pinkston is himself a resident of the Locust Grove neighborhood, as is Juandiego Wade
“We’re putting in two new developments on Park, MACCA and Park Street [Christian] and I think all three are exceptional projects,” Pinkston said. “Our road infrastructure… I don’t want to say it doesn’t meet capacity because I can’t say that, but there’s the perception of a lot of cut-throughs happening in that area and this would simply drive it up.”
City Councilor Sena Magill said she thought the project as a whole could use more review.
“I would be much more comfortable with it going back to the Planning Commission to make sure that that is what they felt and that they have a chance to sign off on that,” Magill said.
City Councilor Michael Payne said he was concerned that developers appear to be getting the density they would be getting under the Future Land Use Map, but are not being held to the affordability requirements that will be a part of the future zoning ordinance.
“We’re much closer here but I am concerned that the length of affordability is dramatically different from what would be required in our inclusionary zoning ordinance,” Payne said.
Pinkston said he would prefer to proceed toward Council approval.
“The reason they rejected the proposal wasn’t because they hated the project,” Pinkston said. “They liked the project. They weren’t satisfied that the affordability components, mostly the affordability pieces, were really fleshed out.”
Wade agreed with Pinkston.
Charlottesville Mayor Lloyd Snook was torn. He was not present at the September Planning Commission meeting but watched it while visiting family members who recently had a child. He said on one hand, sending it back to the Planning Commission would be good practice.
Magil repeated several times during the meeting that the Planning Commission had voted unanimously to recommend denial, but the vote was 4 to 1, with one member absent and one member abstaining. The staff report for Council did not list a vote count.
“I also have some further concerns about this being a [Planned Unit Development] and there are concerns here about whether or not it is fulfilling what a PUD is supposed to be or whether it’s a way around zoning,” Magill said.
Magill said she would be a no vote but might be persuaded to vote yes if it went back to the Planning Commission.
Kelsey Schlein with Shimp Engineering represented the applicant. She said the project should not have to wait until the city’s future land use rules are completed, and that the application had been changed to reflect Commissioner feedback.
“This project really just got caught in the change of things where we had the public hearing for the Planning Commission on September 13 and the draft inclusionary zoning analysis was released a week and a half after the advertisement had already gone out,” Schlein said.
Snook asked City Attorney Lisa Robertson if the developer would consider another change before the second reading is held.
“If the affordability period was increased to 30 or to 99 years, could that change be made at the second reading?” Snook said.
Robertson said if changes are made and Council wants to proceed toward a vote, there will need to be a new document created.
“The agenda materials for the next Council meeting should include an updated cover sheet prepared by the developer showing not only the proffer changes that were presented to you tonight, but adding an item showing any further changes made between tonight and the next reading,” Robertson said.
Schlein’s boss, civil engineer Justin Shimp, said the reason they did not ask for a deferral at the September 13 meeting is that they felt comfortable they understood the Planning Commission’s objections and subsequently made the changes.
“I think they had spent two and a half hours talking about it and felt like they had vetted it very thoroughly,” Shimp said.
The item will come back for second reading at Council’s next meeting on December 21. Snook said he was hopeful there would be additional changes related to affordability.
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