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The Charlottesville Board of Architectural Review took several actions at their first regular meeting of the year Tuesday, including approving a landscape plan for the West 2nd building on Water Street.
“They’ve done the utility work and are getting ready to build it,” said Mary Joy Scala, the city’s preservation planner.
The West 2nd project is a nine-story, L-shaped building on Water Street that will be built on the former site of the City Market. Developer Keith Woodard was selected by City Council to develop the site in June 2014, and he and the city have been working together to place utility lines underground.
The BAR had previously granted a certificate of appropriateness for the project but needed to approve a new landscaping plan to reflect updated locations for street trees.
“They can’t plant the trees where they were originally approved,” Scala said.
Architect Gregory Powe said the need for this change came up during the fifth site plan review with the city.
“The big issue is that there is a gas line on Second Street Southwest that’s actually inside the curb,” Powe said. “We knew it was there, but no one from utilities raised any concerns about planting trees that would eventually grow around the pipe.”
But after Streets That Work became official policy last year, changes were made that require a wide barrier between roots and underground utility lines.
“We worked hard to figure out how to fit trees in there,” Powe said.
BAR Chairwoman Melanie Miller thanked Powe for working with the city to get the trees in place, rather than opting not to plant them.
Lexington Avenue accessory structure
The BAR also granted a certificate of appropriateness for a two-story accessory structure and screened carport at 615 Lexington Ave., a property within the Martha Jefferson Historic Conservation District.
“These structures are replacing a non-contributing garage structure,” Scala said. “The building permit for this project was issued without the required BAR review. A stop-work order was issued before Christmas when the mistake was realized, but the project was already underway.”
Scala said the director of neighborhood development services allowed construction to continue while the BAR conducted its review. She said the structure might look out of place, but it is technically allowed under zoning.
Nearby residents argued that the structure should not be allowed because it would set a precedent.
“We were surprised, having seen the footprint, [to see] what it actually looks like when it was built out,” said Mark Rylander. “This led me to question the zoning that allows this to happen.”
Rylander said there is a mismatch between the language in the historic conservation district and the zoning code.
“I am concerned that the guidelines and the laws within the city are in conflict, and the ones in the conservation district will always lose,” he added.
Miller said she would prefer to deny the certificate of appropriateness and allow the landowner to appeal to City Council. However, her fellow BAR members all disagreed and decided to grant approval.
“Based on the applicant’s presentation, it sounds like they did all the right things up to the [building permit],” said Corey Clayborne, the planning commission’s representative to the BAR.
“Zoning was put in place for a purpose,” said Carl Schwarz. “They allow for accessory structures in this neighborhood because it’s less than a five-minute walk to Court Square. Zoning can allow for increased density without changing the historic nature of the neighborhood.”
Preliminary rooftop terrace discussion
Architects for Congregation Beth Israel also presented the BAR with preliminary plans for a two-story addition to an annex built in 1994.
“In 1992, the synagogue and its congregation chose to stay in town,” said architect Bruce Wardell. “They had looked at suburban sites around Charlottesville and decided they wanted to stay downtown.”
Now, the congregation wants to expand to offer more classroom and administrative space, but Wardell said the actual design won’t come back to the BAR until a capital campaign is conducted.
“The desire is to create a rooftop terrace that will be an assembly and congregating space next to a moderately sized meeting room,” Wardell said.
BAR members were generally supportive of the idea.
Other actions taken by the bar included approving a rooftop terrace at 103 W. Main St., approving a new roof at the Main Street Market and approving a certificate of appropriateness for a controversial apartment complex on Ridge Street.
The MSC Corporation will build a 27-unit apartment as the second phase of the William Taylor Plaza. City Council authorized a rezoning in 2009 that allowed for commercial and residential uses. The first phase — a Fairfield by Marriott hotel — is currently under construction.