The Fry’s Spring Neighborhood Association will ask the city of Charlottesville to downsize property along three streets to eliminate the possibility of future duplexes from being constructed.
Earlier this month, the group’s members voted to ask the City Council to initiate a rezoning for Crestmont Avenue, Shamrock Road and Stribling Avenue.
All are currently zoned R-2, which stands for “two-family residential” and allows for duplexes.
“We have not voted against what currently exists,” said Hardy Whitten, president of the neighborhood association. “We voted to promote the future of the neighborhood.”
Most of the neighborhood is currently zoned R-1, which is for “single-family.”
“The single-family residential zoning districts are established to provide and protect quiet, low-density residential areas,” reads the city’s zoning code.
Whitten said the change to R-1S would ensure that the entire neighborhood has consistent zoning.
The neighborhood association has long sought to preserve the character of Fry’s Spring, which is to the southwest of the University of Virginia.
Under R1-S, owners would reserve the right to create a separate accessory apartment, something Whitten said his association wants to retain.
Any existing structures would be grandfathered. However, if a current two-unit structure were destroyed, it might need to be rebuilt within two years if the property owner wanted to use the former zoning.
One group is concerned about the potential downzoning.
“The Free Enterprise Forum is concerned that the organized neighborhood association is effectively attempting to dictate to the private property owners using the city staff to initiate a downzoning,” said Neil Williamson, the group’s president.
Williamson said the association should instead work with owners of the properties that would be affected to initiate the process.
Whitten acknowledged that some in the neighborhood are opposed, but that they haven’t attended neighborhood meetings. He said every one present at the association’s March meeting voted to support sending a letter to the city to formally ask for the rezoning.
The ongoing Comprehensive Plan rewrite has addressed the issue, despite the fact that the rezoning has not yet been initiated.
“We still recommend having the possibility of a rezoning in the plan and allow time for the neighborhood to provide input on a resolution,” said Missy Creasy, the city’s planning manager.
One specific goal in the Comprehensive Plan update urges Charlottesville to “continue to grow the city’s housing stock for residents of all income levels.”
“We understand that residential density is an interest of the city of Charlottesville and there are various zones of the city that provide for that density,” Whitten said. “We feel that the city needs to maintain a neighborhood.”
The topic is likely to come up at tonight’s City Council town hall meeting with the Fry’s Spring and Johnson Village neighborhoods.
Whitten said his organization raised the issue at the last such meeting, in 2011.
“We presented a list of items that we would like to see addressed by the city,” Whitten said. “On that list was consistent zoning in the neighborhood.”