Planning Commission delays form-based code proposal
After much debate, the City Planning Commission has decided to table its plans to introduce an alternative kind of zoning, called form-based code, to the city’s Strategic Investment Area south of downtown.
Unlike conventional zoning, form-based code focuses on the physical form and scale of buildings in relationship to one another, rather than on building use. It can be used to encourage mixed-use and pedestrian-friendly development as well as streamline the development approval process.
The commissioners present at last Tuesday’s meeting were all in favor of implementing a form-based code but did not think the proposal was ready for approval.
“We want to have a code we’re comfortable with,” said Commissioner Lisa Green.
Dozens of Charlottesville residents came to the meeting, and 16 spoke out against the proposal. Many were concerned that the code did not place enough priority on affordable housing and could allow developers to use loopholes.
Under the proposed code, for example, developers would be allowed to build one to four additional stories if they provide a certain number of affordable housing units. However, affordable units would only be required to be a percentage of the units in the additional stories, not of the entire building.
Several residents recognized that outgoing Councilor Kathy Galvin, who has pushed for the code, wanted the proposal to go before City Council before its final meeting, but urged the commission to delay the proposal until it adequately addresses the city’s affordable housing needs.
“Kathy, I’m sorry that you’re leaving in December, but this plan can wait,” said Joy Johnson, chair of the Public Housing Association of Residents.
The commissioners will vote again on the form-based code sometime early next year.
Such great heights
A plan by Jeff Levien, owner of Heirloom Development (and the man behind 600 West Main), to erect a 101-foot building just off the Downtown Mall came another step closer to reality last week, when the Planning Commission voted to recommend approval of a special-use permit for 218 W. Market St.
Levien is seeking to construct a mixed-use building with commercial space and rental apartments on the site that’s currently home to the Artful Lodger, The Livery Stable, and other small businesses. The permit would increase the allowable height and density for the project from 70 feet and 24 units to 101 feet and 134 units.
If approved by City Council, the new building will become one of the tallest in Charlottesville.
Quote of the week
“Take it down and put it in a hall of shame.’” —Rose Ann Abrahamson, descendant of Sacagawea, on the proper course of action for the West Main Street statue of Lewis, Clark, and Sacagawea
Virginia’s Court of Appeals denied the appeals of two men convicted in the violent beating of Deandre Harris inside the Market Street Parking Garage during the 2017 Unite the Right rally. Jacob Goodwin and Alex Ramos were caught on video beating Harris, and the judge cited that footage in upholding Goodwin’s conviction for malicious wounding. Goodwin will continue his sentence of eight years behind bars, while Ramos is serving six.
UVA soccer teams continue their electrifying seasons. The men’s team raised the program’s 16th ACC tournament trophy last week and earned the top seed in the NCAA tournament. The top-seeded women’s team thumped Radford 3-0 in its opening tournament match.
Jumped the gun
UVA President Jim Ryan removed the 21-gun salute from the university’s Veterans Day program this year, but he’s rethought that decision, and says that next year’s ceremony will include the salute. “Sometimes you make mistakes,” Ryan said in a Facebook post. He had hoped to avoid class disruption and minimize the amount of guns being fired on college campuses, but others disagreed with his course of action. “My sincere apologies to any who may have doubted our commitment to honoring our veterans,” Ryan wrote.
Updated 11/21: An earlier version of this story contained an item that mistakenly attributed to city manager Tarron Richardson a claim that the camera found in Court Square Park last week belonged to the city. In fact, Dr. Richardson was talking about a camera on 8th Street and Hardy Drive.