Author Archives: WmX
Bye-bye Part II
CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA – The Charlottesville Department of Utilities is excited to add the Arbor Day Foundation’s Energy-Saving Trees Program to its lineup of energy conservation initiatives. This partnership provides 200 free trees to Utilities customers within the City of Charlottesville, encouraging them to conserve energy and reduce energy bills through strategic tree planting.
The strategic planting of trees provides a variety of benefits for individual households, as well as the broader community. Properly planted trees can reduce the amount of energy a home requires to remain comfortable by providing a barrier to cold winter winds and delivering shade in the summer. When planted properly, a single tree that grows over time can save a homeowner up to 20% on energy costs. Trees also provide a number of benefits for the entire community, such as increasing capacity for carbon sequestration, improving air quality, and providing more effective stormwater filtration and runoff reduction to help keep pollutants out of water supplies.
With guidance from the Charlottesville Tree Commission, available tree varieties include Southern Red Oak, Serviceberry, Sycamore, Willow Oak, and Black Gum. Tree reservations are limited to one tree per service address and made on a first-come, first-served basis beginning Monday, March 14th. Reservations can be accessed through Utilities’ interactive tree portal provided by the Arbor Day foundation at www.arborday.org/charlottesville. This user-friendly portal provides simple step-by-step instructions that focus on homeowner education, and maximizing environmental impact, to calculate where to specifically and strategically plant trees for the greatest energy- and money-saving benefit.
Safety is essential to a successful landscaping project, and this program serves as a great opportunity to reinforce safe digging practices with the community – especially with the outdoor project season almost here. Prior to planting a tree, customers are expected to follow the law, and contact Virginia 811 at least three working days before planting to have the location of buried utility lines on their property marked by a professional. Knowing the location of buried utilities helps prevent their damage, and a potentially hazardous situation. The service is free, and allows customers to dig safely while planting their tree.
For more information about the Energy-Saving Trees Program and the Arbor Day Foundation contact Utilities Outreach at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 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.
The homes were built by blue-collar people.
To this day, not one of them features a garage or a swimming pool.
Nine of the houses are rented, thirteen are owner occupied
The houses don’t tend to flip, the average last date of sale was twenty-two years ago.
Over the years I’ve made the acquaintance of a handful of the residents while walking by.
I’ve met a librarian, a plumber, a teacher, a postal worker, a United States Marine
a boat captain, students, an X-ray tech, a museum worker and an IT person.
These houses average 1100 square feet finished living area.
The average lot the houses sit on is 0.18 acres, that is five dwelling units per acre (DUA).
Their average assessment is 290 thousand dollars.
The 22 homes, are stable, they are occupied, they are the refuge of families who moved to the neighborhood and planned to stay.
I believe that painting this block with a medium intensity residential (MIR) land use designation is not acceptable planning.
The MIR designation is unfair to the residents
The designation will target their houses for demolition, it is an economic bulldozer.
The Woolen Mills neighborhood requested a small area plan from the City in 1988.
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.
But there has been no small area plan.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
All the neighborhoods in beige are similarly threatened.
(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
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
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.
Nothing to worry about.
Urban Renewal 2.0
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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…
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
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
View from the right bank of Moores Creek
Flu Time—Memories of a child.
I had a little bird,
Its name was Enza.
I opened the window,
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