City Council Just Passed A Hotly Controversial Future Land Use Map That Proposes Significant Increases In Authorized Housing Density In Charlottesville

Higher intensity

While the 2013 land use map only had two categories of residential land use, low density and high density, the new FLUM has three: general residential, medium intensity residential and high intensity residential. high. The general residential category is the lowest density area on the map, and it will allow a maximum of three housing units (think triplex) on all residential plots. Medium intensity allows 4 to 12 units per plot, and a high intensity residence will allow 13 or more units.

“We recognize and stress that each site cannot and will not support 12 units per lot,” Stolzenberg said, and these details will be addressed during the zoning process. The map simply breaks the city down into broad categories. It will be further broken down during the zoning phase, when authorities take a close look at neighborhoods, city blocks and individual lots to determine if and to what extent higher density is possible.

Despite the caveat, the inclusion of the medium intensity category was the most controversial part of the plan. Councilors Lloyd Snook and Heather Hill spoke vehemently against the inclusion of the designation on Monday night, before finally joining the three other council members to vote in favor of its passage.

Both Hill and Snook were concerned that the designation of medium intensity areas was premature, given that those areas would likely change during the zoning rewrite process. Snook wanted to remove the medium intensity category, while promising to add it back after the zoning process showed which plots could actually support that density. “If we say up front ‘we’re going to have medium intensity residences, we just haven’t figured out where it’s going to go,'” it sounds “more honest,” he said.

Hill also said she preferred to add the medium intensity category after the zoning process because she was unsure why certain neighborhoods were selected for that particular land use category. She wanted to remove this category on the condition that everything that falls under the general residential category (except sensitive community areas) could become of medium intensity during the rezoning process. “I’m not convinced there was such a thoughtful process as we need it” on a street-by-street placement of the medium intensity category, Hill said.

Conversely, Vice Mayor Sena Magill expressed concern about the omission of the medium intensity designation. Planners have indicated that things tend to become more restrictive than less restrictive throughout a zoning process. Leaving it in would allow people to ‘see and have time to sit down with’ it could happen ‘. If we deleted it [then] later when the zoning is changed next to someone’s property, they will be even more upset, ”said Magill, who ultimately proposed to vote on the plan.

Mayor Nikuyah Walker said Magill made a good point there, that a lot of people who oppose the card don’t want the medium-intensity residential category to exist at all, and remove it from the card now. would allow them to see the whole map that way. . Walker said she would prefer to “start with more” and then reduce the density in the zoning when a property requires it.

Councilor Michael Payne sided with Magill and Walker on maintaining the medium intensity residential land use category.

Triplexes and quads

The new FLUM has most of Charlottesville in general residential (bright yellow on the map). Medium intensity areas are scattered throughout the city – many are near public schools, so more families with young children could live nearby. Most of the “high intensity” areas surround the University of Virginia.

All of this means that the FLUM will allow developers to build triplexes, quads and other small apartment buildings throughout the city. Homeowners will be able to convert larger houses into multiple apartments without also changing the exterior facade of the building, which is not allowed under the current zoning. (This was allowed in the past – for example, many of the older grand homes on Jefferson Park Ave. were converted into multiple apartments years ago, before zoning prevented it.)

Every neighborhood in the city already contains multi-unit apartment buildings, Stolzenberg said, but it is largely illegal to build them today. (There is only one place in town that does not have at least one duplex, noted Stolzenberg, and that is on Arlington Boulevard near the Barracks Road shopping center, where each housing unit is part of a ‘an apartment complex.)

The new FLUM and the Master Plan as a whole also provide more incentives for landowners to build accessory housing units such as cabins on their property. Charlottesville has a lot of them, Stolzenberg said, and they’re often quite affordable, but most of them are decades, built before they were regulated.

Another new and important element of FLUM’s new project is how it seeks to scale up areas where AVU students already live, “with the goal of preventing students from expanding further into non-residential areas. students, as they have been doing for many years, and to contain them, even reduce that footprint, ”said Stolzenberg, especially as the AVU increases its number of students each year, regardless of the number of housing units in Charlottesville.

Students want to live close to Grounds, Stolzenberg noted, so providing them with enough off-campus housing means they won’t overflow more.

There is a precedent for this work in Charlottesville. When the three apartment buildings marketed to AVU students moved up to West Main St., “school districts observed, in fact, more families living in places like 10e and Page and Fifeville, in houses that were previously filled with students, ”Stolzenberg said. Students “have been removed from these neighborhoods and the houses have been converted into non-student accommodation. So that’s a big deal in this shot.

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