City Council approves Flint Hill development
After nearly an hour of discussion, and midway through a meeting that lasted until 2:30am, City Council voted July 20 to move forward with the Flint Hill housing development, a set of new homes to be constructed in Fry’s Spring.
Last year, council rejected an initial proposal for the project, but Southern Development has since made substantial changes to its plan. It now wants to build 37 single-family homes and two eight-unit condominium buildings, dumping its original plan for 50 townhouses.
The developers have also boosted the number of affordable units, from 10 percent to at least 15 percent. The units will be affordable for 30 years, and priced to house residents from 25 to 60 percent of area median income.
With a density of six units per acre, there will be some room left for homeowners to add accessory dwelling units, such as a basement apartment or guest house. And there will be almost five acres of green space along Moores Creek, including trails and places to gather.
Last month, the Charlottesville Planning Commission unanimously endorsed the revamped plans.
Habitat for Humanity of Greater Charlottesville has partnered with Southern Development, and will build 30 percent of the units. Because the average area median income for Habitat families is 32 percent, Habitat’s president, Dan Rosensweig, said that Flint Hill would be “really good” for them, and for the city.
“It’s the kind of neighborhood our families have told us they’d like to live in,” he added. “This isn’t an answer to all affordable housing issues…[but] we’re really excited to be part of this project.”
Multiple people voiced their support for the development during public comment, including a current Habitat homeowner.
While Mayor Nikuyah Walker had several concerns, including when families would be able to move into the affordable units, she admitted the project was “better than anything” she’s seen regarding affordable housing since she’s been on council.
Two ordinances and a resolution for the development will be put on the consent agenda for council’s next meeting on August 3, and the project will move forward from there.
Quote of the week
“As you consider defunding the police, my message to you is to fund diversity in crisis responders…[The public mental health system] has just as much systemic bias issues as law enforcement.”
—Black mental health advocate Myra Anderson, speaking to City Council.
On Monday, City Council voted to ban the Charlottesville Police Department from obtaining weapons from the military and participating in military training. But ahead of the meeting, Planning Commission member Rory Stolzenberg pointed out a variety of loopholes in the resolution—military equipment could still be purchased from private sellers, and the resolution doesn’t address the military-style equipment already in CPD’s arsenal. Stolzenberg, along with other public speakers, urged council to pull the policy from the consent agenda and strengthen it, but council passed the resolution anyway. “Just because it’s not pulled tonight, doesn’t mean we’re not going to work on this,” said Vice-Mayor Sena Magill.
Beer and spirits
Three Notch’d Brewing Company is the latest local business to strip Confederate imagery from its brand. For years, the Charlottesville-based brewers have been selling The Ghost APA, which is named for John S. Mosby, a Charlottesville native and Confederate officer nicknamed the Gray Ghost. The beer will now be called Ghost of the James, a reference to the reserve fleet of U.S. military boats currently stored on the river. The packaging has shifted from gray to blue.
Freitas tries again
Last week, Nick Freitas won the Republican primary to challenge freshman U.S. Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger for Virginia’s competitive 10th District seat. Freitas lost to far-right statue defender Corey Stewart in the 2018 Republican U.S. Senate primary, and won his current seat in the House of Delegates through a write-in campaign, after failing to file paperwork to get himself on the ballot. He nearly made the same mistake this year, but the Virginia Board of Elections extended the deadline for filing, a move the Democratic Party has contested.