Plans are being made to build a pedestrian and bicycle bridge over the Rivanna River and the Charlottesville Planning Commission got an update last night. The Thomas Jefferson Planning District Committee is leading the efforts and a stakeholders group has been meeting to review options. One of its members is Planning Commission Karim Habbab.
“The two options that we’re looking at are a connection near Riverview Park on Chesapeake and the other would be at the Wool Factory,” Habbab said. “One would span between city and county and the other would be basically on county land.”
An official group of planning officials from around the Charlottesville area got a preview last month on a major rezoning on land at the University of Virginia Foundation’s North Fork research park. The Land Use Environmental and Planning Committee was created in 2019 when elected officials agreed to cease meeting in public as a body known as the Planning and Coordination Council. One of its members is Hosea Mitchell of the Charlottesville Planning Commission.
“They are actually asking for a rezoning and the rezoning is to allow for residential to be included in the industrial developments that they’re doing there,” Mitchell said.
Last week, a group of citizens filed a lawsuit in Charlottesville Circuit Court against the validity of the Comprehensive Plan. The argument cites four specific failures and asks that Council’s vote be held null and void. The seven plaintiffs are Charlottesville residents seeking to withhold their identity. They argue the Future Land Use Map “radically increases density within the city” in a way that violates state code. (read the argument)
“Unlike the Comprehensive Plans that are contemplated by the General Assembly…the Plan at issue is very specific, and assigns new zoning designations to each specific parcel in the City,” reads paragraph 15 of the argument. “As a result of this approach, the City’s actions are already having a direct impact on property owners.”
In their first land use items of the year, and the first rezonings since the Comprehensive Plan was updated in November, Council appeared to approve two projects on Park Street submitted by the Piedmont Housing Alliance.
Let’s hear City Planner Dannan O’Connell describe the one at Park Street Christian Church.
“The proposed PUD development plan calls for 50 multifamily units and about 54 parking spaces to be constructed at the rear of the existing church site,” O’Connell said.
Deputy City Manager Sam Sanders has explained what the city is going to address safety concerns on Fifth Street Extended. According to crash data from the Virginia Department of Transportation, there were three fatalities in 2020 on the divided highway. Police have confirmed there was another on the night of New Years Day.
“We very much remain concerned about the serious safety concern along that corridor,” Sanders said. “Our traffic engineer has been working to effect improvements with a few updates. We are pursuing a speed limit reduction. We have been working on that and you will have that matter before you at your next meeting.”
In one of their last actions of 2021, the Albemarle Board of Supervisors voted to approve a rezoning in the Rio District that will bring over 300 rental units to the county’s urban ring. The project had originally been developed by a Virginia Beach firm who opted to not continue with the review process after Supervisors appeared ready to deny the project on a tie-vote on June 3, 2020.
Local company Stony Point Design Build took over and have since purchased the 27-acre property. The company also built Dairy Central in Charlottesville. Stony Point Design Build renamed the project Rio Point but more or less kept the development, though they made a few changes. Cameron Langille is a planner with Albemarle County.
“To the northeast is the Dunlora subdivision, to the southeast is the Dunlora Forest neighborhood,” Langille said. “The property is bounded by the north by the John Warner Parkway and across John Warner Parkway is the CATEC site and to the east is actually land that’s within the city of Charlottesville’s municipal boundaries.”
In their final item of the year, Council agreed to cancel a project to build a sidewalk on Franklin Street using federal funds that come through the Community Development Block Grant process. The project had been selected by a task force but was defunded earlier this year because it could not be completed by a federal deadline.
Deputy City Manager Sam Sanders recommended Council consider moving away from the task force model.
“Routinely, a task force model doesn’t necessarily help to meet the regulatory conditions because typically what you’re doing is simply allowing community members to pick projects and they don’t necessarily always know the details that go into executing,” Sanders said.
A firm hired to conduct an audit of the Charlottesville Affordable Housing Fund presented preliminary results to City Council at their final meeting of the year in the early morning of December 21.
HR&A had already completed an affordable housing plan as part of the Cville Plans Together initiative but Council paid an additional $165,000 to the firm for that audit, as well as creation of a program to ensure that the upcoming rewrite of the zoning code is inclusionary. The adopted plan called for the city to spend $10 million on housing for at least ten years.
The Charlottesville City Planning Commission has made its recommendations for how to amend the draft capital budget for the next five years. That came at the end of a public hearing Tuesday that featured a discussion with City Council. Elected officials will make the final decision next spring as they adopt a budget that will be prepared under the supervision of a yet-to-be-named interim city manager. (draft FY23-FY27 CIP presentation to Planning Commission) (adopted FY22 budget)
The Commission got a look at the information at a work session on November 23, and heard it a second time from Senior Budget Analyst Krissy Hammill in advance of the public hearing. To recap, the capital budget is close to capacity due to the increase of spending in recent years, including a $75 million placeholder for the reconfiguration of middle schools. Council has also authorized a reorientation of priorities to find more money for the schools project. (previous story)
Rebecca Ragsdale is now the county planner overseeing the implementation of the initial rezoning and the preparation for the next one, taking over from Megan Nedostup who now works as a planner for the firm Williams Mullen.
“It does include 93.32 acres and is the remainder and is the existing mobile home community along with a couple of smaller parcels,” Ragsdale said. “There’s three parcels in total. And the code of development proposes a minimum of 531 units or up to a maximum of 1,000 units.”