Woolen Mills Road (part 1)


Short history of the Woolen Mills Village, in a bend of the Rivanna River, at the foot of Monticello Mountain in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
United States Department of the Interior National Park Service Woolen Mills Village Historic District, site number 002-1260.
Click here for part two.

LUP


For decades, Woolen Mills neighbors have asked for the reversal of the split parcel industrial zoning overlaid on our residential backyards by the same City Council that authorized the removal of the Vinegar Hill neighborhood.

Having contiguous Residential and Industrial zoning with no buffer is an outrage. Preventing this very mix of development was the impetus for the adoption of zoning ordinances by municipalities in the early 20th century. Look at the zoning matrix, see the type of development allowed by right in the Manufacturing-Industrial zones. Brutal massing of structures and parking is allowed. Frenetic programming is permitted on M-I zoned land 24/7. Truck plazas and trash transfer stations are not compatible with a residential neighborhood.

By right one could construct an 85 foot tall parking garage with a party deck on the top floor and a drive through fast food retaurant at the ground level. Complete with big signs.
R1-S districts are meant to provide quiet, low density areas for people to grow up, to raise families, to flourish and to grow old.

Why has Council allowed this bad zoning practice to persist for 54 years? As Mr. Tolbert pointed out at your land-use plan work session in 2006:

(this is) a very hard line between industrial and residential. Not something that is typical in a land use plan or in a zoning ordinance.

We do not seek to evict our manufacturing neighbors. We have sought to change the land-use plan so, as the City continues to evolve, we will have a course plotted to leave this urban planning error in the past.

Our historic neighborhood has been stable for a long time. Our housing runs the gamut from public housing and affordable senior multi-family to detached, single family homes. But the Woolen Mills neighborhood cannot be the sacrificial anode, the Wild Zone as the City of Charlottesville experiments with yet another corridor or a code. Our people deserve peace and quiet. We are not asking for the almost exclusionary zoning of the Greenbrier or Barracks-Rugby neighborhoods, but we are asking for good zoning practice, quiet neighborhood streets, smell reduction, historic preservation and better communication with the City.

When I see projects proposed in Charlottesville which feature Brooklyn-like density of 37,000 people per square mile I am reminded of Jane Jacobs statement:

“But I hope no reader will try to transfer my observations into guides as to what goes on in towns or little cities or in suburbs which are still suburban. Towns, suburbs and little cities are totally different organisms from great cities. We are in enough trouble already from trying to understand big cities in terms of the behavior and the imagined behavior of towns. To try and understand towns in terms of big cities will only compound confusion.”
—The Death and Life of Great American Cities-Jane Jacobs

Timberlake Place


JABA held a ceremony today behind the historic Timberlake-Branham house to celebrate the ground-breaking of its income and age restricted multi-family housing project.


Mayor Satyendra Huja (center) joined by developers Preston Coiner and Chris Murray.


Timberlake Place has been in the planning stages since 1999 according to architect Charles Hendricks of The Gaines Group. Developer of this project is Jefferson Area Board for Aging, Inc.

Timberlake Place will provide 26 units of low-to-moderate income housing and one market-rate apartment for persons aged 55 and over. The new housing combines the historic rehabilitation of the Timberlake-Branham House with 22 newly constructed one- and two-bedroom apartments in three buildings behind the original house. The new construction has been carefully designed to fit in with the scale and character of the Woolen Mills neighborhood, and will feature both “senior-friendly” universal design, and energy-efficient EarthCraft construction throughout.–JABA

53 mgd part two


Scale / Character
The Woolen Mills has recently been designated a historic neighborhood both in Virginia and nationally. The proposed expansion is HUGE. The scale and character of the proposed building and use for Option A is incompatible. The building is massive compared to adjacent homes.


Feasibilty in Question
RWSA provided the information below on sizes of structures. A large portion of the staging area during construction would require tree clearing in the park and floodway. A portion of the site required for the development would be in the flood plain. The Charlottesville Zoning Regulations severely restrict construction in the flood way. Site is banked up against a stream (with no stream buffer) and destroys likely wetlands.


Environmental Impact in the Chesapeake Bay Region
The likely site of the expansion for Option A is bordered by nearby streams on two sides. The green circle indicates an area that may qualify as wetlands. Several years ago, then City Councilor Kevin Lynch indicated the City wanted to preserve this site as wetland. Surely, when this information is further confirmed, RWSA would not consider, in destroying wetlands or occupying important stream buffers, trading one set of water quality measures, for another?


Not NIMBY
The Woolen Mills is still more affected by Option D than Pantops households. The majority of homes in the Pantops neighborhood are a half-mile distant and unaffected by Option D.


Not NIMBY
Option D puts the new pumping station more distant from the Woolen Mills and still considerably distant from the nearest Pantops residents.




Smelly, Noisy
Since the 1960’s RWSA has occupied the existing site. When the first facility was installed, the neighborhood was promised there would be no smells, no noise. The Woolen Mills have lived with smells and noise these fifty plus years. We are told if the equipment is enclosed in a building the smells be be mitigated. RWSA acknowledges though there will always be smells and noise. It’s time to reverse poor planning and move the infrastructure out of the neighborhood. When someone flushes a toilet in Forest Lakes or UVA or Belmont, we don’t want to smell it in the Woolen Mills!


Good Urban Planning
Industrial zoning adjacent to residential neighborhoods is not considered appropriate zoning. This is a new facility – we’d like to see any examples of a new facility of this scale in a neighborhood in the United States. We believe few or none exist as testimony to the inappropriateness of these adjacencies.


Parkland lost
The site for Option A is parkland and is situated at the entrance to Riverview Park and is estimated to clear 1.5 acres of parkland for construction. That’s 1.5 acres of cleared park land to be turned into an industrial use! Please keep the “PROTECT” in “Public Park Protection.”


River“view” Park
A view of the river? Or, a view of a massive industrial complex? The image below imagines the view from historic homes toward a meadow and river views – a park restored as a gateway to the Rivanna River.

53 million gallons per day

















Click here to download a high resolution version of this document. The document above was prepared and presented to Charlottesville City Council by Woolen Mills resident Allison Ewing during the “matters from the public” portion of the March 7, 2011 Council meeting. The text below is a repeat of the text above, included so it can be found by Internet search engines.
To facilitate search engine function I add the following keywords: sewage pumping plant, floodplain, Park, DEQ, residential neighborhood, EPA, Executive Order 12898 of February 11, 1994, Environmental Justice.–Bill Emory

Feasibilty in Question

RWSA estimates the size of the site infrastructure will be two acres and the building will be 50’x90’. The additional capacity required, however, (2.12x current) would require a 90’x90’ building 35’ tall, based on the existing size and capacity. This drawing indicates that only approximately .8 acres of the assumed expansion will fit in the flood plain. The remainder of the two acres would have to be located in the flood way. The Charlottesville Zoning Regulations severely restrict construction in the flood way.

In the 1980’s when the pumping station was first built, the neighborhood was promised there would be no smells, no noise. The Woolen Mills have lived with smells and noise these thirty plus years. We are told if the equipment is enclosed in a building the smells be be mitigated. RWSA acknowledges though there will always be smells and noise. It’s time to reverse poor planning and move the infrastructure out of the neighborhood. When someone flushes a toilet in Forest Lakes or UVA or Belmont, we don’t want to smell it in the Woolen Mills!
Over the past twelve years, RWSA has spent considerable money trying to improve the unsightliness, smells and noise.
Why continue to spend good money after bad?

Scale/Character

The Woolen Mills has recently been designated a historic neighborhood both in Virginia and nationally. The proposed expansion is HUGE. The scale and character of the proposed building and use for Option A is incompatible. The building is massive compared to adjacent homes.

Parkland Lost
The site for Option A is parkland and is situated at the entrance to Riverview Park and is estimated to occupy two acres of land. That’s two acres of cleared park land to be turned into an industrial use! Please keep the “PROTECT” in “Public Park Protection.”

Environmental Impact in the Chesapeake Bay Region
The likely site of the expansion for Option A is bordered by nearby streams on two sides. The green circle indicates an area that may qualify as wetlands. Several years ago, then City Councilor Kevin Lynch
indicated the City wanted to preserve this site as wetland. Surely, when this information is further confirmed, RWSA would not consider, in destroying wetlands or occupying important stream buffers, trading one set of water quality measures, for another?

Property Values and Fairness
The difference between the costs of Option A (the least expensive – $25,000,000) and Option C (the most expensive – $37,000,000) is only 6 cents/1000 gallons. The average household uses roughly 5,000 gallons/month so the difference is only 30 cents/month for the average household – the equivalent to the price of a cappucino, on a yearly basis. Realtor Roger Voisinet estimates the property value of the adjacent home to be negatively impacted by $50,000.
The pumping station serves neighborhoods in the City and County and as distant as Forest Lakes, yet it has to solely bear the burden of the expansion? It seems only fair the pumping station expansion be
relocated and the costs of approximately 30 cents/month shared by all users.

Good Urban Planning
The City of Charlottesville supports infill development. This policy is good for the vitality of downtown and reduces automobile traffic while mitigating the pressure that fuels suburban sprawl. Good urban planning doesn’t mix industrial with residential uses. It is time to confront infrastructure demands in a manner consistent with these goals and with the City of Charlottesville’s motto, “A Great Place to Live for All of Our Citizens.”
This is NEW infrastructure (as stated in RWSA CIP document). No community would consider putting new infrastructure of this scale in a neighborhood today.

River “view” Park
A view of the river? Or, a view of a massive industrial complex? The image below imagines the view from historic homes toward a meadow and river views – a park restored as a gateway to the Rivanna River.–Allison Ewing

changing styles

lola holloway and ?
At the beginning of 1923 postwar adjustments seemed to be over and the outlook was bright. By the end of the year, however, a dark cloud of depression hung once more over the industry. This time it lasted for a long period: 1925 and 1927 were two of the worst years in the history of American woolens. Old and well-known mills failed. The giant in the field, the American Woolen Company, lost money for five of the ten postwar years; in 1927 it ceased paying dividends even on preferred stock. The huge Pacific Mills of Lawrence, Massachusetts, after earning $2,000,000 in 1925, was forced the next year to pass its dividends for the first time in forty years. Only occasionally did a wave of prosperity raise the woolen industry from the sand-bar of depression.

Several factors lay beneath this condition. One was the impact of steadily advancing wages. More important was the effect of changing living habits. American homes and offices were better heated than before the war. Automobiles and other conveyances came to be enclosed and heated. Dresses were shortened and men’s suits were made less full. As a result, Americans demanded lighter woolens and per capita consumption increased. Furthermore, rapidly changing styles continued to create problems. Manufacturers more and more found themselves operating on short-term contracts. Meanwhile, worsteds declined in popularity. Woolens, even the cassimeres of the 1870’s, surged forward to perplex manufacturers who just recently had shifted their machinery to worsteds. And other fibers began to vie with woolens for the business of clothing Americans.–Harry Poindexter

tarrifs and protectionism

Cutie Harlow and Hallie Johnson Shisler
Recovery was hampered by uncertainties. Wool prices fell sharply when the government suddenly started disposing of the 525,000,000 pounds on its hands at the close of the war. Before January, 1919, three rapid auctions reduced prices about twenty percent, handing woolen mills heavy inventory losses and bringing a plague of erratic prices.
Tariff debates also created worries. Visions of disaster came to owners whenever they thought of the possible effects of the existing tariff. Passed in 1913, the act had swept away all but the shadow of protective duties. In the first seven months of its life before the war, imports of foreign cloth suddenly tripled. To American manufacturers it seemed that the home market might be lost if barriers were not quickly erected to stem the tide.

A new dike soon appeared in the form of the emergency tariff of 1921, and its high duties were buttressed in the following year on a more permanent basis. Most foreign cloth was effectively barred by an ad valorem rate of fifty percent and a compensatory duty of unprecedented height. As far as tariffs were concerned, woolen manufacturers had every reason to be happy during the twenties. Nor did they complain when the Hoover Administration, against the advice of economists, revised the tariff structure upward in 1930 and increased ad valorem duties on woolens to sixty percent.–Harry Poindexter