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Tuesday, Aug. 8, 2023

We have a lot of news today about various development plans in Charlottesville.

First, a big one: Charlottesville’s proposed new zoning ordinance is at long last being reviewed officially by the Planning Commission. This is a big deal because it is the last step before City Council can vote to adopt the ordinance.

After six years of work, Charlottesville’s proposed new zoning ordinance is about to be reviewed by the Planning Commission

Charlottesville has been working on this rezoning for six years now. The plan calls for increasing allowable housing density everywhere in the city — meaning, more apartments, townhomes and duplexes will be allowed where only single family homes currently stand. (The current ordinance restricts almost all of Charlottesville’s lots to single-family homes.)

Opinions about the plan vary widely. But, very basically, many of those opposed say that the new zoning code will allow developers to run rampant across the city, destroying Charlottesville’s quaint neighborhoods with massive apartment complexes targeting high income earners. On the other side, many of those in favor say that the current zoning system allows for only a limited number of wealthy individuals to live in the city. Charlottesville’s population is growing, and in the next decade people will need different types of housing options.

The planning commission has 100 days to make a recommendation to the City Council. Before the commission makes its recommendation, it will hold a public hearing where anyone can offer their thoughts. As of Tuesday morning, the date of the public hearing had not been set. But we’ll let you know as soon as it is!

A vacant lot that is fenced off with a chain link fence is pictured from across the street. There is a pole and box to hold a sign in the foreground and a brick building behind a large area of asphalt.
Credit: Erin O'Hare/Charlottesville Tomorrow

A proposal for a grocery store and an apartment building on Cherry Avenue is back before the Planning Commission

In other development news, tonight the Planning Commission is reviewing a proposal from Woodard Properties to build several large, mixed-use structures on what is now a vacant lot in the Fifeville neighborhood. Those structures would include a grocery story, space for nonprofit organizations, and more than 100 apartments.

This is Woodard Properties’ second try with this proposal. The developers went before the commission five months ago, and the commissioners turned them away, asking, among other things, for more affordable housing.

Woodard Properties took the instructions seriously. The developers held community meetings and began negotiating with the Fifeville Neighborhood Association and the local housing nonprofit the Piedmont Housing Alliance to come up with a new plan. The plan they reached is the result of that collaboration, and includes a signed memorandum of understanding between the three groups.

That said, not everyone in the neighborhood is on board with this new plan. The commission’s meeting is a public hearing, so if you have thoughts about the proposal you’d like them to hear, we’ve included instructions on how to attend and speak here.

If the Planning Commission votes to recommend City Council approve Woodard’s proposal as is tonight, the Council will hold a second hearing where residents will have another chance to speak.

Metal rails flank a stairwell leading to a mid rise building, with a sign on a gate that reads, "No trespassing, Courtyard access for 10th & Dairy residents only."
Credit: Angilee Shah/Charlottesville Tomorrow

Dairy Market neighbors mobilize to have their say in the development of more large, mixed-use buildings that most of them can’t afford to live in

Woodard’s proposal in Fifeville is much further along than another proposed development making headlines in Charlottesville — Stony Point Development Group’s plan to expand Dairy Market in the city’s 10th & Page neighborhood.

Stony Point opened the Dairy Market in 2021. This new expansion is in the initial planning stages. The group has not yet applied to the city for a special use permit, so no city planners or officials have reviewed the proposal.

But the developers did share their initial plans for the lots southeast of Dairy Market with Charlottesville residents at a public meeting last month — and neighbors were not happy. The initial plan includes large, mixed-use structures with space for commercial enterprises at the bottom and apartments on top. There was no mention of space for nonprofits or affordable units.

The lots on which Stony Point wishes to build currently house the nonprofit thrift store Twice is Nice, the laundromat Preston Suds and the gardening store Fifth Season. (Twice is Nice announced yesterday that it plans to move the Preston Avenue store to the Woodard Properties’ proposed development in Fifeville.)

After hearing concerns from 10th & Page residents, the Dairy Market developers decided to postpone their plans in order to learn about what nearby residents want from the site.

“I’m hearing concerns about what we’re proposing,” Stony Point President Chris Henry said after the meeting. “But what are you looking for?”

Many residents shared their views at the community meeting, and more have already shared what they’d like in a survey we launched at the end of July. So far, residents are asking for affordable housing, and to build in space for existing businesses, especially the crucial laundromat.

We’d like to know more about what you would want from a development on Preston Ave. If you’ve not answered the survey yet, please do by clicking here! We are interested in hearing from everyone, but especially those who live near the proposed development, to help inform our future reporting.

Also, you can find us at two upcoming events: We’ll be on stage with our partners in Charlottesville Inclusive Media at Soul of Cville this weekend, and join us Aug. 22 for a conversation about how we are renaming our institutions. More below!

Thanks for reading today,
Jessie Higgins, managing editor

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Credit: Courtesy of Soul of Cville

Telling our stories at Soul of Cville

Charlottesville Inclusive Media will be featured at the Soul of Cville 2023 festival at IX Park.

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Credit: Illustration/Charlottesville Tomorrow

Renaming History: A conversation about the names we give our institutions

Charlottesville Tomorrow is pleased to partner with the Albemarle Charlottesville Historical Society for a critical conversation about how we understand our local history and future.

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I'm Charlottesville Tomorrow's managing editor and health and safety reporter. If there’s something you think we should be investigating, please email me at jhiggins@cvilletomorrow.org! And you can follow all the work we do by subscribing to our free newsletter! Hablo español, y quiero mantener a la comunidad hispanohablante informada. Si tienes preguntas o información que debo saber, por favor, envíame un correo electrónico a jhiggins@cvilletomorrow.org.