Gary Heaton Credit: Submitted photo

The Charlottesville Planning Commission will see new faces after the departure of two members.

On Monday, the City Council appointed Gary Heaton and Rory Stolzenberg to the panel and reappointed Taneia Dowell and Jody Lahendro. Heaton and Stolzenberg replace Genevieve Keller, who has served two terms, and Hunter Smith, whose departure formally was announced Monday morning, city officials said.

Heaton, who said he learned in late September of being selected for an interview for a commission seat, is a downtown resident who is the senior pastor of First United Methodist Church. He is a graduate of both High Point College and Wesley Theological Seminary.

He said that he applied for the Planning Commission because of his previous expertise on the Round Hill Planning Commission in Loudoun County.

Stolzenberg, also a downtown resident, is a graduate of the University of Virginia with a bachelor’s in economics and foreign affairs. He is an alumnus of HackCville and the i.Lab at UVa and a member of the North Downtown Residents Association.

Stolzenberg said that he hopes to be a part of shifting the city toward embracing other uses and higher density. Currently, 55 percent of the city’s land is zoned for single-family homes, he said.

 “In a thriving, growing city that’s run out of greenfield land, this policy has reached its limit — there is no more room for sprawl. As a result, prices have begun to detach from reality, driven by static supply in the face of growing demand. … This fate is not inevitable; it’s driven by the choices we make in Planning Commission sessions, in City Council, in our Comprehensive Plan and in our zoning code. It’s time to reject the politics of no and embrace a culture of yes,” he said.

Dowell, a former candidate for Commissioner of Revenue, first was appointed to the Planning Commission in 2014.

She received a bachelor of science in business management from Virginia State University and is the Project Discovery director at the Monticello Area Community Action Agency.

“As a life-long resident of Charlottesville, I am interested in serving and giving back to my community,” Dowell wrote in her 2014 application for the position. “I’m also interested in the development of our city neighborhoods.”

Lahendro, a resident of Rugby Hills, has served on the commission for four years. He received a bachelor of architecture degree from Virginia Tech and a master’s in architectural history from UVa

He said that using his “40-plus years of experience as an architect in service of all current and future residents of Charlottesville” as why he was interested in continuing to serve on the commission.

Lahendro also is a volunteer at Camp Holiday Trails, the state review board of the Virginia Department of Historic Resources and a member of the American Institute of Architects.

Keller served two terms full on the Planning Commission before stepping down. She began her tenure on the panel in 2007 when she filled a vacancy and has served as commission chairwoman.

Smith, founder and president of Champion Brewing Co. and a resident of North Downtown, joined the Planning Commission on June 30. On his application for the position, he had written that “civic duty, opportunity to learn [and a] desire for meaningful engagement in city of my birth” were the reasons why he sought to the position.

This story will be updated.

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Elliott Robinson

Elliott Robinson has spent nearly 15 years in journalism and joined Charlottesville Tomorrow as its news editor in August 2018 through 2021. He is a graduate of Christopher Newport University.