Charlottesville panel defers decision on T&N rezoning

The owner of T&N Printing in Charlottesville will need to submit more information before a city advisory group will make a recommendation on a rezoning for his company’s future expansion.

The Charlottesville Planning Commission voted Tuesday to defer a rezoning at 209 12th St. NE from residential to light industrial after hearing several concerns from neighbors.

“The character of the street will definitely change,” said Ann Mercer, a nearby resident. “T&N are good neighbors, but once the house is gone, there will be no one left to say they are good neighbors.”

A single-family home currently sits on the property. A house next door at 207 12th St. is already zoned with the same industrial category that permits T&N to operate at the corner of Market Street and 12th.

The owner of T&N has “imminent” plans to tear down the building at 207 but does not have any specific details for how 209 would be developed.

“It might not happen next year, but I’d like to have it available,” said Lynwood Napier, who has owned the company since 1982.

“While the Comprehensive Plan denotes the area as low-density residential for future land use, staff believes the expansion of the existing low-scale commercial development of T&N Printing is appropriate and harmonious with the surrounding area,” said city planner Carrie Rainey.

As part of the rezoning, T&N agreed in legally binding proffers that the only possible commercial activity would be photographic processing. They also proffered that any new structure would be no higher than the existing T&N building.

“He doesn’t want to infringe upon the neighbors, but his business is at a point where it’s in need of expansion,” said Mark Kestner, an architect assisting Napier with the rezoning. “I think the proffers that are in place address the concerns that we heard from our neighbors at the community meeting in February.”

Four people spoke out against the rezoning during the public hearing.

“I don’t understand how it could make sense to make a change without plans,” said Jen Lucas, who lives at 217 12th St. NE. “As a neighbor who is two doors down, I would rather see 207 developed first, and if they need a change, ask for the rezoning then.”

Commissioners wrestled with two conflicting goals.

“We all feel housing is very important, but at the same time, we recognize the importance of local businesses,” said commission Chairman John Santoski. He agreed the discussion would be easier if there was a plan for 209.

Commissioners asked Napier why he was asking for a rezoning without a specific plan.

“I don’t think I’ll ever do anything with it, but I’m getting old,” Napier said. “That’s the whole reason behind this. I’m never going to upset the neighbors. I just didn’t want to wait. I want to think 10 to 15 years ahead.”

Commissioner Jody Lahendro pointed out that another house on the other side of the street is also zoned for industrial use despite having a home on the property.

“I understand the community’s concern and worry,” Lahendro said. “But what gives me pause is, as I look at the zoning map, I see that 208 is already zoned for industrial. There’s some rationale for alignment between the two sides of the street.”

Commissioner Genevieve Keller said she was torn about how to vote because she wanted to sup-port an established business but didn’t want to potentially remove one house.

“I’m not ready to vote for approval without additional proffers, but I can see supporting this be-cause business retention is as important as housing retention,” Keller said.

The commission deferred the item until the regular June meeting so more details about how the property might be developed can be submitted.

In other news, commissioners recommended approval of a special-use permit to allow a daycare and elementary school at 209 Maury Ave. and three neighboring properties.

An existing home built by Eugene Bradbury in 1910 will be renovated for use by the International School of Charlottesville beginning with the 2018 school year. A new 6,500-square-foot building would be constructed, as well.

The International School currently operates at 830 Monticello Ave. and recently got permission to operate a second facility at 750 Hinton Ave. If the permit is approved, the new facility would consol-idate both into a school that could have up to 150 students.