Footbridge at Greenbrier Park Credit: Credit: City of Charlottesville

The Charlottesville City Council has reaffirmed a decision made late last year to sell land at the end of Kenwood Lane to a couple who wants to build a new home.

The approval Monday came despite the concern from one councilor who said the land should be used to increase access to the city’s Greenbrier Park.

“We had an opportunity to make one of our most beautiful parks more accessible to the public and we didn’t do it,” said Councilor Dede Smith, who added that doing so would be consistent with the city’s Comprehensive Plan.

The city’s parks and recreation department purchased the 1.7-acre parcel at the end of the street for $160,000 to increase trail access and to protect the flood plain.

“For many years, it was the site of a single-family home that had been rendered uninhabitable due to fire damage,” said City Attorney Craig Brown

Staff determined the city didn’t need to use the entire parcel and suggested the property be subdivided so the remainder could be sold.

The city asked for proposals from residents who wanted to build on the portion on which the previous house had stood. The city would retain ownership of a smaller lot to allow access to the Greenbrier Park, as well as the new Meadow Creek Stream Valley Park.

Hugh Scott and Susannah Wood submitted the winning proposal and plan to build a home for their family. They agreed to pay $101,850.

The council authorized the sale of the land in December, and had included a requirement that the buyer build an accessory apartment to increase the city’s stock of affordable housing.

However, the sale hit a snag when the city conducted a title search and found paperwork that dates back to when the Arlington Heights subdivision was built in 1957.

“A restrictive covenant is on the property which limits its use to one detached single-family dwelling,” Brown said.

The couple asked to drop the requirement and to also waive a required second reading of the ordinance change so they could secure financing. The latter required an affirmative vote from four of the five councilors.

Smith argued that the whole property should be used to increase access to the park by providing parking facilities.

“The operative question here is how truly accessible is this very large park?” Smith asked, adding that the city and the Nature Conservancy recently invested millions in restoring Meadow Creek, which runs through Greenbrier Park.

“I request there be a plan to officially tell people where they can park,” she added.

However, other councilors disagreed.

“I think you are trying to solve a problem which is not related to the sale of this land,” responded Mayor Satyendra Huja.

Councilor Kathy Galvin said she supports the sale because she thinks there needs to be more housing choices in the Greenbrier neighborhood. She said the land would better serve the city’s goals for housing rather than parking.

“Having housing that can support families is critically important to our city schools,” Galvin said.