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City Council pans rezoning for Carlton Avenue apartments
1206 Carlton Avenue
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Credit: Emily Hays, Charlottesville Tomorrow
1206 Carlton Avenue stands vacant across from Chestnut Street in Belmont. The owner, Chris Hulett, hopes to build a six-unit apartment building on the lot.
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Elliott Robinson | Tuesday, October 16, 2018 at 8:11 p.m.

A proposal for a housing development in the Belmont neighborhood has been halted.

The Charlottesville City Council voted, 4-0, to deny rezoning a property at 1206 Carlton Ave. from two-family residential to multifamily to allow the construction of six two-bedroom apartments. Councilor Mike Signer was absent from the meeting.

Developer Justin Shimp has said one unit would have been designated affordable for people who make up to 80 percent of the area median income. This designation would have been in place for 10 years.

There was little discussion about the property in advance of the vote. The rezoning request had been pulled from the consent agenda because councilors were unsure whether an item could be denied in that portion of the meeting.

Earlier concerns about the rezoning included the appropriateness of an apartment building on the 0.26-acre lot and it only having seven parking spaces. Other concerns included the lack of a sidewalk on the north side of Carlton Avenue, the road’s narrowness and traffic concerns. The development would have had an entrance from the street and an exit on a private alley.

The lot is near retail areas on both Carlton Road and downtown Belmont, and it is the only lot on that stretch of Carlton Avenue with a two-family residential zoning.

Shimp tried to anticipate similar problems in a work session with the Albemarle County Planning Commission on Tuesday. River’s Edge, the project before the commission, would replace the seven houses and six duplexes currently on the site with 145 one-bedroom and studio apartments and commercial space.

The property falls within the county’s development area and lies between the National Ground Intelligence Center, the University of Virginia Research Park, and the planned North Pointe development.

The North Fork Rivanna River and Flat Branch, a stream that flows into the river, divide the parcels and limit the space that can be developed.

“This limits opportunities to provide additional emergency access points. Allowing higher densities would increase the number of dwellings, which may be impact[ed] in a[n] emergency situation,” the staff report on River's Edge said.

Earlier in the meeting, the City Council approved the authorization of small-cell wireless equipment on utility poles and some new structures in city rights-of-way. Recently passed state laws prohibit localities from regulating the installation of this equipment, but these laws still require a public hearing on proposals.

No one spoke at the public hearing.

Small-cell facilities function as cell towers and are under 50 feet tall. According to the Federal Communications Commission they often are for enhancing service in densely populated indoor or outdoor areas. The legislation creates a unified statewide procedure for the approval for the equipment.

Cellco Partnership, doing business as Verizon Wireless, has submitted a permit to place small-cell wireless equipment in the city. Cellco will pay the city a $250 permit fee. The city also may charge $100 per small-cell facility for the first five and $50 each for each additional one.

In the consent agenda portion of the meeting, the City Council approved the first permit parking area in the Belmont neighborhood.

Earlier in October, the City Council approved an ordinance establishing a parking zone stretching from Sixth Street Southeast to Carlton Road and from the CSX tracks to Monticello Avenue. With the zone in place, streets within it can be considered for parking permits. The creation of the zone came from requests from Belmont residents to have permit parking on their streets. Per the city’s code, permit parking only can be established in parts of the city under a zone that allows it. The goal of the permit areas is to allow residents reasonable access to their properties and “preserve the residential character of such areas and the property values therein,” according to city code.

Of the five applications in Belmont, only the 600 block of Hinton Avenue met the requirements for permit parking. To be eligible, a street must have at least 75 percent of its on-street parking spaces occupied, and commuters must be the users of 50 percent of those spaces.

Once the permit area is formally established, residents would be able to register for permits and guest passes at the city treasurer’s office. The permits are renewed yearly, and they cost $25. Exceptions to the fee include the first two permits for residents of homes that do not have off-street parking.

The general hours for the permit restriction would be from 5 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday

City staff was tasked in September to explore solutions for overflow evening parking in the neighborhood’s commercial strip.

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