Charlottesville‘s City Council indicated Monday that a new 26-home development in Belmont is moving in the right direction to get its support for a rezoning.

Councilors could not support Andrew Baldwin’s request when they last considered it in March and sent the application back to the Planning Commission.
 
“I think you have made significant changes for the better and I would be in support of this kind of development,” said Mayor Satyendra Huja.
 
The land is currently zoned for single-family homes, and a rezoning to “planned unit development” would allow Simeon Investments more flexibility over how to develop the site.
 
The Planning Commission first recommended denial of the rezoning in February, and did so again earlier this month.
 
“Among the cons were they wanted more streetscape details, were not happy with the parking arrangements, and they did not like that only single-family units were proposed,” said city planner Willy Thompson.
 
However, members also indicated the project had improved because Stonehenge Avenue will be extended to serve as a second entrance to the neighborhood. They had been concerned there would only be one entry to the neighborhood, on Quarry Road.
 
“The neighbors who live on Stonehenge do not want the additional traffic on their street and that’s understandable,” Baldwin said. “But from a development standpoint and connectivity standpoint, I think it is a much better approach.”
 
On affordable living choices, Baldwin said there was the possibility that some of the units would have accessory apartments.
 
“That would certainly help people who could typically not afford that product to be able to actually get financing for it because of the rental from the accessory units,”  Baldwin said. 
Belmont was originally platted in the late 19th century, and the Stonehenge property is one of the last remaining undeveloped sections of the neighborhood.
 
City Councilor Kathy Galvin said she still had concerns the neighborhood would be against the feel of the rest of Belmont and that it would be too car-centric.
 
“Very few of the traditional streets in Belmont have an attached garage that’s part of the house,” Galvin said. “There are no indications of porches.”
 
“We want this community to fit in to the point where it feels like you’re continuing through Belmont and not coming into a new community,” Baldwin said.
 
Galvin suggested that Baldwin consult the city’s Place Design Task Force to improve the plan.
 
Another councilor who previously expressed reservations about the plan said he was moving in the direction of supporting it.
 
“You’ve come a real long way and it seems to me that every neighbor I’ve heard from now supports the proposal,” said Dave Norris. “I don’t think it’s a perfect plan but I appreciate the comments about the accessory apartments.”
 
Szakos said the 3-3 vote from the Planning Commission led her to not be able to fully support the project.
 
“I’m comfortable with it going forward to a second reading but I still have [questions],” Szakos said.
 
The council must take a vote on a second reading for the rezoning and must also approve a critical-slopes waiver in order for the project to go forward. They deferred that vote until after the second reading is completed.
 
That won’t occur until May 20 because Szakos and Norris will be visiting Winneba, Ghana, one of Charlottesville’s four sister cities, during the next council meeting. 
 
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