bye bye


This is a tale about the 22 houses on the left. The 1300 block of Chesapeake Street.


The lots are long and skinny, they are zoned R1s, they are intended for residential use.


The crow’s eye view.

1300 Chesapeake

The houses’ average age is 75 years old, half of them were built by the end of World War II, the other half were finished at the end of the Korean War.

1302 Chesapeake Street

The homes were built by blue-collar people.

1304 Chesapeake

To this day, not one of them features a garage or a swimming pool.

1306 Chesapeake

Nine of the houses are rented, thirteen are owner occupied

1308 Chesapeake

The houses don’t tend to flip, the average last date of sale was twenty-two years ago.

1310 Chesapeake

Over the years I’ve made the acquaintance of a handful of the residents while walking by.

1314 Chesapeake

I’ve met a librarian, a plumber, a teacher, a postal worker, a United States Marine

1316 Chesapeake

a boat captain, students, an X-ray tech, a museum worker and an IT person.

1318 Chesapeake

These houses average 1100 square feet finished living area.

1320 Chesapeake

The average lot the houses sit on is 0.18 acres, that is five dwelling units per acre (DUA).

1322 Chesapeake

Their average assessment is 290 thousand dollars.

1324 Chesapeake

The 22 homes, are stable, they are occupied, they are the refuge of families who moved to the neighborhood and planned to stay.

1326 Chesapeake

I believe that painting this block with a medium intensity residential (MIR) land use designation is not acceptable planning.

1328 Chesapeake

The MIR designation is unfair to the residents

1330 Chesapeake

The designation will target their houses for demolition, it is an economic bulldozer.

analysis

.

1332 Chesapeake

The Woolen Mills neighborhood requested a small area plan from the City in 1988.

1334 Chesapeake

If the City had provided a framework for public and private investment decisions to the Woolen Mills by means of a small area planning process decades ago the current action could make sense.

1336 Chesapeake

But there has been no small area plan.

1338 Chesapeake

I encourage Council to get scientific, to use the tools of Archimedes and Galileo, math and maps.
Pick some baselines to trigger small area plans in neighborhoods with significant proposed up-zoning.

1340 Chesapeake

For example, if a rezoning will potentially displace 50% of the area’s existing residents, perform a Small Area Plan.
If a rezoning will increase DUA by more than 10X, perform a Small Area Plan.

1342 Chesapeake

Effective city planning is done by having comprehensive neighborhood plans that share the benefits and burdens required to keep the City humming along in an equitable, healthy fashion.

1344 Chesapeake

The 2021 Comprehensive Plan is intended to guide the coordinated harmonious development of the territory within the City to promote the health, safety, order, convenience, prosperity and general welfare of the city’s inhabitants.

The 22 are in the beige, outlined in red.

City Council will decide on the fate of these 22 houses in the next few weeks when they vote on the Future Land Use Map, a part of the not yet approved Comprehensive Plan. Currently, the map shows these humble houses being “redesignated” to a much more intense use known as “medium intensity residential”.

About the medium intensity residential (MIR) the urban planners say:

Medium Intensity Residential: Increase opportunities for housing development including affordable housing, along neighborhoods corridors, near community amenities, employment centers, and in neighborhoods that are traditionally less affordable.

In the case of the 22. These houses, on the spectrum of CHO housing, are affordable. To me, they don’t seem to fit the planners’ criteria. These houses are on a neighborhood street not a “corridor”. The houses aren’t near employment centers.
The MIR designation will potentially result in the demolition of these residences.

What could replace one of these houses once it was demolished? The planners say:

Form + Use:
Allow up to 12 residential units (depending on site characteristics and context, to be further defined in the zoning ordinance; many areas may be limited based on lot size and other factors)

Allow structures up to 4 stories (depending on site characteristics and context, to be further defined in the zoning ordinance; many areas may be limited based on lot size and other factors)

draft Land Use Plan

All the neighborhoods in beige are similarly threatened.

Bye-bye.

(I would encourage all concerned to write to City Councilors and to participate at the Council meeting on this subject November 15, 2021. Details of how to participate are available here) https://cvilleplanstogether.com/

Medium-Intensity Residential: Maximum-Intensity Pain

Medium-Intensity Residential needs to be scaled back in both scope and intensity. It is too much to ask people who bought in R-1 neighborhoods (over 60% of the parcels designated for Medium-Intensity Residential) to accept 12-unit (and possibly larger) buildings and 4+ stories, and it is not necessary for making our housing market more flexible, given other changes under the FLUM. The areas designated – changing up the last minute — do not make sense. MIR areas actually have a lower average Walkscore than General Residential. They lack critical infrastructure and some are so far below required density to support commercial amenities that their ultimate arrival is highly uncertain. There is no precedent for buildings above 3.5 stories in most of these areas. High-Intensity residential, on the other hand, shows clear differences — high walkability, transit access, existing infrastructure and height. With MIR, we could end up with a “worst-of-all-worlds” situation of having a scattering of MFH buildings isolated from amenities. And folks living in MIR feel targeted, because there is no compelling explanation of why their blocks should face a much more extreme transformation than nearly identical blocks nearby. If you need the MIR category to exist, scale it back to a few areas already adjacent to amenities, existing density and infrastructure.–CFRP

The Comprehensive Plan can go forward without a finalized land use map. Move head with the CP, move ahead with the many non-map aspects of the Affordable Housing Plan. But the map ought to be done in conjunction with plot-by-plot zoning. This is how planning usually works.–CFRP

Sean Tubbs reports

Wednesday June 2 the Albemarle Board of Supervisors will receive an update on a project to extend the Old Mills Trail along the Rivanna River. “Implementation of the Old Mills Trail Extension between Pantops and Milton will require the acquisition of easements across multiple properties,” reads the report. “This easement acquisition process is partially complete. The remaining properties where greenway easements must be obtained are now all owned by the Thomas Jefferson Foundation (Monticello) following their recent acquisition of the last remaining privately-owned riverfront parcel in this planned greenway corridor.” 

The above from local independent journalist reporter Sean Tubbs. Sean thoroughly covers local events. Subscribe and support his efforts!

land use maps comp plans etc

intersection Franklin and Broadway
People in the City are nervous about the planning currently going on. What will the plan do to the City? How does the land use map work with zoning? What will it mean? The photo above is Franklin Hill, a forested hillside northwest of Monticello. Once upon a time the site of the Woolen Mills Park. The county land use map addresses this area, no worries! It is shown on the map. Parks and Green systems.
parks and Green systems
Nothing to worry about.

Urban Renewal 2.0

neighborhood mixed use node infographic

page 17 of a slideshow shown at the 3/30/2021 Planning Commission work session. https://boxcast.tv/channel/iweiogrihxlnnvn2sxqx

From the fog of COVID, a draft land use map has emerged. The planning document looks to be a blue print for urban renewal and the starting gun for the teardown of affordable housing in the Woolen Mills Neighborhood.
detail from draft land use map

mixed use node characteristics

The above map is a detail from the draft Land Use Map which was discussed at the Charlottesville Planning Commission’s 3/30/2021 work session. Of particular interest, the purple “Neighborhood Mixed use node” placed on the Woolen Mills neighborhood. At 40 acres, this is the largest such node proposed in the City.

Dorothy Herring Deane used to live here

.

People have lived in houses lining the south edge of Market Street between Meade Avenue and Franklin Street for 135 years. You do not know their names. They are not rich or famous. They call this area their home.

1935 topo map

detail from 1935 topo map. In 1935, 19 houses lined the southern edge of Market Street between Meade and Franklin

Since its first comprehensive Plan in 1958 the City has represented the bifurcated planning laid across the backyards of these Market Street residential properties in a series of zoning and land use maps.
For 60 years these maps have recognized two elements. The maps show proposed manufacturing, industry, and business in the southern 70% of the land and residential uses bordering Market Street and Franklin.

1976 zoning map detail

1976 zoning map detail

This bifurcated zoning/land use was placed in the backyards of houses and residential properties fronting on the southern edge of Market Street. This allows manufacturing-industrial-business adjacency to residential use, cheek to jowl.

Land Use Plan detail, 8/13/2013

Land Use Plan detail, 8/13/2013

The Woolen Mills Neighborhood has appealed for thoughtful, community-based study and correction of this poorly thought out land use/zoning layout for decades. The Woolen Mills first formal request for a small area plan was made of the City Council at their August 1, 1988 meeting.

In 2013 the Woolen Mills Small Area Plan request had risen to the top of the SAP list, but was bypassed for more exigent planning challenges (Route 29 North, Starr Hill and Cherry Avenue).

Future Diagrammatic Land Use Map

Future Diagrammatic Land Use Map-1956 HBA

The “new” draft Land Use Map mimics the “Future Diagrammatic Land Use Map” produced by Harland Bartholomew and Associates for the City of Charlottesville in October 1956 in regards to its blanket treatment of the residential community south of Market between Meade Avenue and Franklin Street.
(HBA were the primary architects of “urban removal” in the United States back when neighborhoods were torn down with bulldozers.)

Hoping against hope that the powers that be will rethink the proposed upzoning and destruction of the residential neighborhood fronting on the southern edge of Market Street.
We live here. Please…

houses in question on the right

The area of concern outlined in green.


City Planning Commission member Sue Lewis advised residents from the Woolen Mills neighborhood that “you should have mobilized sooner. When you are living in the middle of a potentially unwanted development, you should act before something happens.”—7/14/1988 Planners approve warehouses in Woolen Mills district by Kay Peaslee Observer staff writer

2002 Land Use Plan petition


I think this issue about, you probably can go all throughout the City and find properties that are, inconsistencies between the land use and comprehensive plan and I think it behooves citizens to be
alert to every single one of those fragments that are left in the City. And I think we are working overtime to try and identify them all and I think it is grossly unfair that everyone should anticipate these areas that are caught in between.

I believe though that the Woolen Mills Neighborhood has not had the benefit of a real plan for how these acres and acres of M1 and B3 uses are going to be developed over ten or twenty years and other neighborhoods have had the benefit of that and it’s made a significant difference in how land will develop.

I know Ridge Street neighborhood had a neighborhood plan done for it, for properties that were zoned what we thought was inappropriate for the neighborhood. That project looked at it through another lens, it recommended down-zoning, it recommended a different kind of housing, and seven years later, the kind of housing that the City had anticipated was done because we dared imagine what a different and better use would be for those properties.

I think it is long overdue for the Woolen Mills that they have a clear signal of where their neighbor-hood is going, and not be done in this piecemeal fashion.
So I guess my hope would be that out of this process, given the talent that they have in their neigh-borhood, that they get together and decide that proactively we are going to tell you what the future of our neighborhood is going to be, and it is not going to continue to be an erosion of the things that they have come to feel anchor their neighborhood, that’s the residential use and some of the mixed use strategies that they have.
So that is one thing I would hope would come out of this process, and I guess you’ll have to wait to hear the outcome, for another two weeks.— Maurice Cox, April 7, 2003

Attention to Detail

The smokestack one sees most prominently entering Charlottesville from the east on I-64. Nowadays, a favorite roosting spot for crows and black vultures

The Charlottesville and Albemarle Railway (C&A) was a short electric street railroad operating within the city of Charlottesville, Virginia, United States, during the early 20th century. The line was preceded by several streetcar lines operating both horse-drawn and electric powered cars dating back to 1887. After facing financial difficulties, the predecessor lines were reorganized into the C&A in 1903. The C&A’s electric streetcars operated off of an overhead line system that was powered by the railroad’s own power plant. The C&A also offered electric power generated by its plant to the city of Charlottesville. During the mid-1910s, the line received numerous upgrades, including the construction of a new power plant on the Rivanna River, a new company headquarters building, expansion of track, and the purchase of new streetcars.–Wikipedia

Holsinger Studio Collection, Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library, University of Virginia

Flu Time—Memories of a child.

Roy and Bettie Baltimore

Bettie Frances (Baltimore) Harlow stands with nephew Roy. Bettie was a weaver at the mill, paid by out-put, seven cents per yard of cloth produced. Her husband, Marcellus Carter Harlow, worked in the millʼs wet-finishing department. The Harlows were Aunt Bettie and Uncle Cel to young Roy.

I had a little bird,
Its name was Enza.
I opened the window,
And in-flu-enza.

In October of 1918 200,000 people died in the United States
from the Spanish Flu. Thirty-seven year old David Baltimore,
a son of the Woolen Mills village died October 25, 1918.
How to tell a story of a neighborhood? Through maps
and legends, the reading of tea leaves, received mythology.
Imperfectly. Through the memories of a child.
Roy Baltimore and his parents moved in with Cel and Bettie Harlow in the west end of Woolen Mills village (1606 WMRd) shortly before his fatherʼs death…

I had the flu as I was coming here, and when I got here I had it. And I remember as clear as a bell what the treatment for flu was by this particular Doctor, it was a dose of castor oil, every morning, I used to dread it, that went on for several days, I donʼt know for how long.
I was born in Richmond. My father was a conductor on the railroad, a yard conductor, in Richmond. I would think that the date would have been around 1916 when he developed an illness, I was born in 1914. He developed an illness, had a leaking valve in his heart and it killed him. He died when I was four and I came to live with my Uncle Cel in that brick house across the street here (1606 Woolen Mills Road).
See my father was brought here, from Richmond before he died. I think he lived here maybe eight to nine months, I donʼt know how exactly how long, before he died.
I vaguely remember him because I was just a little over four years old when he died. But I remember once he was sitting on the porch, I have a picture of him sitting on that porch over there, and there was a snake in the yard, and I was getting close to the snake and he cautioned me about it.
I can remember that.
Itʼs a strange thing how your memory can go back and pick up little isolated items, because prior to moving here from Richmond, I can remember well the layout of the apartment we had over on Church Hill. The kitchen was back here, there was a combination dining room bedroom ahead of that and another small room ahead of that. And I can remember my mother telling me “Get your toys up because your daddy is going to be here pretty soon.” Words to that effect, and I couldnʼt have been more than four years old at that time. Thatʼs remarkable that memory is in your mind.–RB

Read more?

Renewal

Marion house, mill and water tower
Walked around the Charlottesville Woolen Mill/Willowtree site yesterday. It is beautiful. Historic tax credits and Brian Roy’s vision, grit and persistence in action.
Marion house, mill and water tower
It is thrilling to see the Mill buildings rehabilitated, revitalized. The quality of construction done 100+ years ago shines through. All framed by a pleasing landscape plan and a natural setting that humans have called home for millennia.