The Charlottesville City Council has cleared the way for the construction of three single-family homes in the Belmont neighborhood. In a 4-0 vote Monday, councilors approved an infill special-use permit and rezoning for two parcels on a combined 0.2 acres on Lyman Street. Once the proposed site of a small apartment building, the vacant lots now are planned to be the site of three-story contemporary homes of about 2,280 square feet that also could include 700-square-foot accessory dwelling units in the basements. One parcel once was a portion of the Belmont Lofts condominium’s property and the other once belonged to CSX railroad. The properties have been zoned up to R-2 residential zoning, and the infill special-use permit relaxes rules on small lot sizes, reduced setbacks and minimum required road frontage.

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Bruce Wardell in 2013 first tried to have the properties rezoned to downtown extended, a designation that would have allowed for buildings between 35 and 101 feet in height. Due to the side of the lot, Wardell said then that a building at the maximum height allowance would not have been possible. After facing criticism from nearby residents, he withdrew the proposal and returned in 2014 with a plan that would have allowed no more than six dwelling units. City Council rejected that request. After a joint public hearing with the Planning Commission and City Council in March 12, Commissioner Rory Stolzenberg was the lone vote against the special-use permit because the current plan led to homes that are likely to have a high price point, a lower density than possible on the property and no contribution to the city’s affordable housing fund. The project does not require a contribution because the gross floor area of the homes is smaller than the square footage of the combined lots. The land is 8,612 square feet, and the homes will be a combined 8,546 square feet. No public hearing was held at the City Council level because there was a quorum of councilors at the Planning Commission meeting. Additionally, the first reading of such items usually comes after a presentation to the council, but these were in the April 1 consent agenda. Mayor Nikuyah Walker said during Monday’s meeting that the second and final reading outside of the consent agenda of was a correction of that. Councilor Mike Signer was not in attendance Monday due to a family matter.

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Elliott Robinson

Elliott Robinson has spent nearly 15 years in journalism and joined Charlottesville Tomorrow as its news editor in August 2018 through 2021. He is a graduate of Christopher Newport University.

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