Lay-out for the new development Credit: Credit: Shimp Engineering

A new 26-home development in Belmont has finally got the go-ahead, just two months after being sent back to Charlottesville’s Planning Commission.

The City Council voted 3-2 early Tuesday morning to approve a rezoning for the project, which will extend Stonehenge Avenue to Quarry Road.
 
The neighborhood originally was platted in the 1890s, but was not developed according to plans at the time due to the area’s difficult terrain.
 
Developer Andrew Baldwin sought a rezoning to “planned unit development” in order to have more flexibility than what is depicted in the legally binding plats.
 
In February, the Planning Commission voted 6-0 to recommend denial of the rezoning, in part because Baldwin had only planned the neighborhood with a single vehicular access through Quarry Road.
 
Rather than deny the rezoning, the City Council sent the application back to the Planning Commission and Baldwin added an extension of Stonehenge Avenue.
 
A by-right development would have meant a steep climb on Stonehenge Avenue extended. The rezoning allows the road to be placed in a different alignment.
 
In April, the Planning Commission voted 3-3 on a motion to deny the rezoning.
 
Councilor Kathy Galvin, an architect, said she wanted certain details written into the narrative of the rezoning, including language that said there would be no garages.
 
“Why wasn’t that written into the PUD? That would have made a big difference,” Galvin said. “All along, people have wanted you to put down more details about the architecture, the massing and the elevations. All of that would have made your case.”
 
Baldwin said those details will come in at the site plan level, and that work is underway.
 
“We’ve been inching into this in the site plan,” Baldwin said. “I was hoping that we could meet, if nothing else to talk about ideas as far as implementation.”
 
Councilor Dave Norris said he could support the project, given Baldwin’s assurance that the builders would put accessory apartments in every unit.
 
“I think [this project] has come a long way and they’ve made some very good changes,” Norris said. “The neighborhood is behind it and that to me is most important.”
 
Galvin said she could not support the project because it did not guarantee certain design standards in writing.
 
“What the applicant has just verbalized to us tonight is very different from what is written in the application,” Galvin said. “If I could read some language that really did tell me the relationship of the parking … that kind of language would give me more assurances.”
 
When a motion to approve the rezoning was made, Norris and Mayor Satyendra Huja voted yes and Galvin and Councilor Dede Smith voted no. Councilor Kristin Szakos had not yet made up her mind.
 
“I think that as a city we try to be great and try to be proactive and try to do things as well as possible so the quality of life in our community is better than average,” Szakos said. “This has just been barely skimming that line all the way … if the neighborhood were solidly against it I would absolutely vote no, and that’s why I’m torn.”
 
When learning that a motion to deny the application would mean Baldwin would have to wait a year before resubmitting a new application, Szakos voted yes.
 
“Time will tell,” Szakos said.
 
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