Transcription of Charlottesville City Council’s 6/4/07 discussion of the “taking by typo.”

 Mayor David Brown (DB)
City Attorney Craig Brown (CB)
Councilor Kendra Hamilton (KH)
Councilor Kevin Lynch (KL)
Councilor David Norris (DN)
Councilor Julian Taliaffero


DB                  Mr. Norris? You had some things you wanted to bring up?

DN                  Thank you Mr. Mayor, just first of all I want to get an update either from Mr.O'Connell or Mr. Brown on the issue regarding the property behind the Mary Williams Senior Center which was recently before the Board of Zoning Appeals. There is some sentiment, in certain quarters, that Council needs to step up to the plate and get involved and I am just curious to know where, where the issue is, and what, if anything, we might be asked to do.

CB                  Um, Mr. Mayor, members of the Council, this particular issue as Councilor Norris referenced involved a piece of property in Woolen Mills Neighborhood. The Zoning Administrator was asked to make a ruling as to whether it was um, covered by the City's Historic Preservation Ordinance. His conclusion was that it was not.

An adjoining property owner appealed that ruling to the Board of Zoning Appeals and the Board of Zoning Appeals affirmed his ruling, finding that um, the property was not included... more specifically that the basis upon which the ruling was challenged was not within the jurisdiction of the Board of Zoning Appeals.

The property owner has thirty days from that decision to appeal it, to appeal the BZA's decision to Circuit Court, I don't know if they've done that, I haven't any notice of that.

In terms of Council's role, Council can initiate a rezoning of the property if there is grounds to include this property as part of a historic district.

I would caution you though that, I believe that a preliminary and final site plan has been approved for the site and with that comes certain vested rights than can proceed, regardless of any subsequent change in zoning.

KL                  I think a related question too is going to be what is our policy with regard to the subdivision of an individually designated property which, it seems to me, that the BAR, the Planning Commission and tonight, we've affirmed that, is that, those properties can be subdivided. Provided that they are done in the right context. So, it seems, it seems to me that the Board of Zoning Appeals made a decision that is consistent with what we just decided tonight. I think there is a legitimate issue as to what point do you say the property is part of the historic structure, but, so far, our policy has been not to look at that.

CB                  Historic Individually designated historic properties can certainly be subdivided and I think that the approach we have always taken is that both of the new lots, the subdivided lots, remain subject to the City's Historic Preservation Ordinance.

In this particular case, a subsequent event, specifically, the new Zoning Ordinance that was adopted in 2003, only included one of those two lots when it was adopted in 2003. And that's, that's I think why you see some reference to allegations that that there was a mistake made.

KL                  Right

DN                  I have to say, I am sympathetic to allegations of that nature, and without indicating where I might vote if the issue were to come before Council. I do think that... I guess I am just wondering out loud if Council does want to take this up for consideration now. But, I am hearing you say that the formal step that needs to be taken next is an appeal to the Circuit Court. Um, would that preclude Council taking it up as well?

CB                  No, no, those are not mutually exclusive.

KH                  I guess my reaction is that there are a number of lots, that orphan lots in which neighborhoods have asserted that mistakes have been made. There is one on my street, uh, in which it is zoned B-1 but there it has no access to Preston because of the former access to Preston Avenue. When the street was redesigned and there was a ten foot you know diffference in height between you know  the level where the houses are and the level that the street is, the zoning remained. And so, we've got these orphan lots in every neighborhood of the City. In simple fairness it seems that if we are going to seek out and pursue you know, intervening in this particular instance, in fairness to the other neighborhoods we should be, we should have a consistent policy of intervening and clearing these loose ends up so I don't have any necessarily have any objections to looking at the situation in Woolen Mills but when we know that this is a situation that pertains all over the City it doesn't seem fair to single this one situation out. because there you know um is a strong advocacy around it.

KL                  But I think what we are really questioning is if the property was divided, would any new development be subjected to BAR review which is a little different than what at least I think some people in the neighborhood have questioned, at least that I've heard is should the lots have been developed or divided in the first place because they were historic property, maybe that is no longer an issue. I think uh, it's really, are we just talking about whether the new development comes under BAR review?

(Silence for 9 seconds)

DB                  Anything anybody wants to do?

(Silence for 6 seconds)

It's a difficult situation. I think the fact that time has gone by, plans have been made and site plans approved and it puts it in a, it’s hard to just have a straight-forward discussion on it. You know, plus, we are a long way removed from the decision-making that went on at the time.

It’s very difficult to figure out

CB                  Mr. Mayor, if I could add, I will, I was in attendance at the BZA hearings and, um, it was an issue that I believe the BZA decided unanimously, but one which they struggled with, and the Chair of the BZA did encourage the property owner, who, as you know, is a member of the BAR, to work with the BAR in terms of what any development is going to look like. So um, I don't know that he will do that, he certainly didn't make any representation to that effect but, that was kind of a desire, a spoken desire from the BZA even though it wasn't part of their decision.

DB                  OK

DN                  Will this project be coming before Council at any point?

CB                  I don't know whether its a by-right development or not. If it is a by-right development I don't think it would come before Council. But I don't know if it requires any type of Special Use Permit or any other Special land-Use approval.

DB                  Other comments or other issues to bring up?

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