The developer of the proposed 204-unit Lochlyn Hill neighborhood in Albemarle County and Charlottesville has asked for more time to revise his plans after it appeared the city Planning Commission would recommend denial of a rezoning.
Three of the four commissioners present at public hearing Tuesday said they could not recommend approval because Milestone Development’s project did not comply with the city’s affordable housing guidelines.
“Staff believes that the current application comprises many great things that we want to see in a [ planned unit development ] application, but there are still holes,” said city planner Michael Smith.
Smith said the rezoning would be consistent with the city’s Comprehensive Plan but that Milestone has not guaranteed that 15 percent of the homes will be designated as affordable.
Instead, Milestone has proposed that at least 15 percent of the homes be in the form of accessory dwelling units. These are smaller units in cottages, above garages and in basements.
Developer Frank Stoner said this style of housing would be affordable “by design” because they are smaller.
Commissioner Dan Rosensweig said he was a supporter of using accessory dwelling units to build the city’s housing stock, but did not see them as a viable strategy to increase affordable living choices.
“I just don’t think there’s anything in any of our policies that allows us to count these as affordable housing units,” Rosensweig said.
During his presentation, Stoner spent several minutes explaining to the commission why he thought the city’s affordable housing policies were flawed.
“Our sense is that housing policy needs to be comprehensive in addressing the needs of all residents at all ages, incomes, and lifestyles,” Stoner said. “Our concern and frustration with the current policy is that it really only addresses a small slice of that.”
Stoner said the price range of homes for sale would be between $200,000 and $700,000. Rental opportunities will range between $600 and $1,500 a month.
Stoner also said Lochlyn Hill provided one of the only opportunities to build single-family detached houses within city limits.
Several Albemarle County residents appeared before the commission to make requests. The section of the development located in Albemarle would be developed by-right, meaning that no public hearings are required.
Morris Reynolds of the Rio Heights neighborhood said Lochlyn Hill would be a well-designed community, but that his street will be overpowered by traffic from the new development. Lochlyn Hill would only connect to Pen Park Lane and Vegas Court. The latter road is currently a cul-de-sac.
“Any traffic routed through Vegas Court will simply filter back onto Pen Park Lane, the primary proposed vehicular access point,” Reynolds said. “We believe a more appropriate solution would be a road that connects the community directly into the city.”
Stoner said he had no options to provide a second entrance elsewhere on the property.
He said that since his company purchased the land in 1998, the city has sold lots on Holmes Avenue to Habitat for Humanity. He suggested those lots could have been used for a second connection.
“We can talk about concerns for transportation, but it is what it is,” Stoner said.
Commissioners Rosensweig and Natasha Sienitsky both said they could accept the proposed vehicular access, but could not accept the housing proffers as proposed.
When it appeared the commission was set to recommend denial, Stoner asked for a deferral. A new public hearing will be held at a later date.