Belmont development to go before Planning Commission

The Charlottesville Planning Commission will consider today the future of one of the last undeveloped sections of the city’s Belmont neighborhood.

Simeon Investments is seeking a rezoning to “planned unit development” and a critical-slopes waiver for 5.5 acres north of Quarry Road and east of Stonehenge Avenue.
“The Stonehenge PUD project is not about an increase in density of developing new tracts of land,” developer Justin Shimp wrote in a letter to the city. “It is about realigning an existing platted street and lots to be more compliant with current regulations and to limit the environmental impacts of the development.”
The PUD zoning would allow the developer flexibility by waiving buffer and setbacks required under the existing single-family home zoning.
“The PUD option allows us to reduce some lot sizes, reduce the amount of grading/clearing of land and gives us a through pedestrian and bike connection from Quarry to Druid Avenue,” Shimp said in an email to Charlottesville Tomorrow.
The original subdivision for Belmont was created in the late 19th century, and plans show 34 lots that have never been developed.
“Some of the lots lack road frontage or adequate size to be granted building permits,” city planner Brian Haluska wrote in his staff report. “In reality, 24 lots could be developed with the extension of Stonehenge in a by-right scenario.”
Shimp’s conceptual plan calls for 29 single-family homes by bypassing the grid system that exists on paper in favor of a plan that follows the shape of the land.
Under the conceptual plan, vehicular access would come from Quarry Road, and not the extension of Stonehenge Avenue.
However, Haluska wrote in his staff report that there are concerns with the proposed road.
“First, the slope of the road must be 10 percent or less,” Haluska said. “Secondly, the end of the road does not currently show a city-approved turnaround necessary for fire department access.”
Staff has recommended that the City Council grant the critical-slopes waiver because developing by-right would result in the removal of nearly all of the trees on the site.
“The proposed PUD responds to the existing topography of the site, avoids [a] stream crossing, preserves 70 trees on the site and guarantees 15 percent open space by virtue of being rezoned to PUD,” Haluska wrote.
However, Haluska recommended the rezoning itself be deferred until questions about the road can be answered.
Several neighbors have written to the city to raise questions about the rezoning and to express their opposition.
“A wooded tract of land inside this city is unique,” wrote Michael and Katrina Hennigar in an email. “While we understand that this makes it a candidate for development, it should also be noted that its sloping woodland serves as both a sound buffer from Interstate 64 for much of the Belmont neighborhood.”
Peggy Tobias wrote a letter supporting the PUD.
“While I am unhappy to see so much green space go, I recognize that the development of this wooded site is a ‘how’ not an ‘if’ prospect,” Tobias said. “The by-right zoning would have a much more negative impact on the neighborhood than the proposed PUD, which shows planned use of the land.
The Planning Commission’s public hearing on the item is scheduled to begin after 6 tonight in City Council Chambers.