Planning Commission gets a spoiler on third module of Charlottesville’s draft zoning

It pays to listen to the pre-meeting of the Charlottesville Planning Commission as there is often material that is discussed that may be relevant to those interested in matters such as the rewrite of the zoning code to allow for significantly more residential density than currently allowed. 

Before I begin, I still want to go through the rest of the March 29 meeting between the Charlottesville Planning Commission and the City Council on the zoning. The first two modules for the draft code are out with a third waiting to be released. Today we learned that the third module will now not be ready until the first week of May.

The Planning Commission had another scheduled discussion of the work to date at the end of their April 11 meeting but they discussed the matter at their pre-meeting which was posted to the video archive. Here’s chair Lyle Solla-Yates. 

“Zoning… another big topic,” Solla-Yates said. “Table of authority, a term I had not heard before.”

There were no new written materials made available to the public on zoning for the April 11 meeting, according to Missy Creasy, the city’s deputy director of Neighborhood Development Services.

“We don’t have any new material on that for this evening,” Creasy said. 

But Solla-Yates had raised the curiosity of another Planning Commissioner. 

“What was that phrase that you just used?” asked Commissioner Rory Stolzenberg.

“Table of authority!” Solla-Yates said.

“Where did you read that?” asked Commissioner Liz Russell.

“Someone told me it and you’ll hear more about it later,” Solla-Yates said. “This is a spoiler. Table of Authority. Tell all your friends. Everyone’s talking about it.” 

The third module will be on the administration of the zoning code in the future. That information has not been released yet, but as chair of the Planning Commission, Solla-Yates must have been given at least a sketch of what to expect. NDS Director James Freas stepped in to explain. 

“It’s a table that would sit at the beginning of module 3 of that portion of the zoning ordinance and its basically a quick reference table that tells you: If I’m trying to do this, who do I go to?” Freas said. “So if I’m trying to do a special use permit, I know that goes to the Planning Commission and the City Council. If I’m trying to get a variance, I know that goes to the zoning administrator and the BZA.” 

It pays to always watch the pre-meeting because you never know what you may learn that isn’t really on the agenda. I also learned that planning is in the works for a joint meeting of the Albemarle and Charlottesville Planning Commissions. The two bodies have not met since January 24, 2017 according to Creasy. That was 2,270 days ago.

Back to zoning the comment period for Module 1 and Module 2 is open until April 30, and there’s a second open house scheduled for Saturday morning downtown in CitySpace at the same time as the Dogwood Parade. 

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 April 13, 2023 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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