By Connie Chang

Charlottesville Tomorrow

Sunday, November 22, 2009

A request by the

Charlottesville Abundant Life Ministries

(CALM) to increase the number of dwelling units at their location at 834 Prospect Avenue location has been deferred. At their meeting on Tuesday, November 10, 2009, members of the

Charlottesville Planning Commission

t said they were hesitant to move forward with a decision due to a lack of information regarding the upzoning’s impact on adjacent properties.

The petition called for a rezoning from the existing R-2 Residential to McIntire-Fifth Street Residential (MR) zoning at the 834 Prospect Avenue location. The applicant’s request proposed to rezone 0.75 acres on the rear of the approximately 1.25 acre site. With the MR rezoning, CALM would be allowed an increase of 15 dwelling units to 21 dwelling units per acre by right.

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Residents surrounding the CALM site have expressed concern that the upzoning will negatively impact the adjacent low-density properties. According to the Charlottesville zoning ordinance, the purpose of the McIntire Fifth Street Residential corridor designation is “to encourage redevelopment in the form of medium-density multifamily residential uses, in a manner that will complement nearby commercial uses and be consistent with the function of McIntire Road/Fifth Street Extended as a gateway to the city’s downtown area.”

The MR zoning does not require a setback for side yards or rear yards, which is a concern for both Commissioners and local residents. The current R-2 zoning requires that side yards have a minimum setback of 50 feet for non-residential corner properties and 20 feet for street properties. The maximum building height allowed with the MR zoning would also be increased from a 35 feet to a 5-story maximum height.


John Santoski

expressed his discomfort with the proposed upzoning.

“It seems we’re taking a residential neighborhood and we’re basically going to allow for development of something we’re not even sure what it’s going to be,” said Santoski.

Although the applicant has not proposed a specific use for the site, potential uses could include:

According to


Principal Architect Bruce Wardell, the applicant’s intent was to “preserve the residential frontage on Prospect Avenue” and to obtain MR zoning to correspond to the adjacent property designated MR to the north of the site. With the MR zoning, the applicant would have “more flexibility” regarding items such as the disturbance of critical slopes and the impact on the existing landscape.


Bill Emory

outlined his concerns over the effect an MR rezoning would have on issues such as parking and traffic flow.

“MR allows a much larger building envelope than R-2,” said Emory. “Assuming the worst case scenario with an MR, it scares me.”

According to Neighborhood Planner Brian Haluska, with the current rezoning proposal, proffers would be the only way to require the applicant to adhere to certain design standards, such as implementing buffers to mitigate the impact of a larger building footprint.


Michael Osteen

and several others expressed the need for more information regarding the use of the property and for another opportunity for the public to weigh in on the project.

“The idea that we’re moving towards something like this I find is a very attractive idea, but I do feel like there probably needs to be some discussions about mitigations that can be applied to this piece of the site at a minimum that would alleviate some of the concerns,” said Osteen.

The item was the first time two Commissioners had to recuse themselves because of their affiliations with the project.

Dan Rosensweig

is Executive Director of

Habitat for Humanity of Greater Charlottesville

, which has interest in the property and

Kurt Keesecker

is an employee of BRW Architects.



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