Dear Planning Commission and Council,
November 13 there is a public hearing for a zoning map amendment of 4.885 acres on the north side of Carlton Avenue. The agenda materials are a lot to digest, 80 pages, 20,000+ words.
A rezoning from M-I to PUD would allow a dwelling unit per acre (DUA) density increase from the current 21 DUA to 34 DUA.
On your way for a Carlton Avenue site-visit stop by Timberlake Place, 1512 E Market. The Timberlake Place residential development was made possible by a zoning map amendment (R1s & R1sH to PUD) and was approved by Council in 2010.
The Timberlake PUD, located in the Woolen Mills Neighborhood, is comprised of 26 age and income restricted units and 2 market rate units. Timberlake Place paid careful attention to the PUD ordinance guidelines throughout the design and construction phases of the development. LIHTC and CAHF funds were involved and the City got sustainable affordable units added to its housing inventory.
A unique aspect of the PUD zoning classification, it allows a developer to build a neighborhood, particularly when the site acreage provides as large a canvas as the Carlton site.
Building a livable and well-loved neighborhood via the PUD ordinance is facilitated by community involvement, thoughtful design and adherence to the zoning code’s 34-490 PUD objectives. First in all of our minds, is the well being of the residents in new development.
In my opinion, a rezoning on the Carlton site would help the City toward its 15% affordable housing goal but the rezoning would not serve the majority of the PUD residents or be in accordance with planning principals
(Comprehensive Plan, Land Use Plan, Zoning Code).
In 2013 this Carlton area was on the verge of a small area plan (SAP). The plan wasn’t funded.
There is a lack of coordinated vision for the east side of Charlottesville. On the high altitude level this is visible from the zoning map.
Manufacturing-Industrial, B3, R1s, R-2, R-3, PUD, Highway Commercial. Do you have a junk drawer in your kitchen? East Belmont Carlton is the planning junk drawer of Charlottesville. It has a history of being a politically disenfranchised community which makes it the ideal location for projects which organized neighborhoods (involved organized residents like PHAR) would attempt to shape, make better.
Imagine, for a moment, that the East Belmont-Carlton neighborhood had been organized in 1958 when the sewer plant was built. With organization they could have pushed for a properly designed, minimum stink, waste water treatment plant. Now, 60 years later, that environmental justice disaster is finally being rectified.
At a more granular level, we discuss the vendor navigation of the West2nd parking lot, we do not discuss wheel chair navigation in the Carlton Views bathrooms. The edges of town deserve the same detailed discussion and careful planning as the vaunted Downtown neighborhood.
The PUD Application Plan Narrative
A narrative from rezoning applicants is somewhat of a sales pitch. I want to disagree with the Carlton Avenue applicants on several points. My statements are my opinion, I can’t claim that they are “fact”. I leave the verification of facts up to you.
The applicants say:
“A strict application of the Zoning Ordinance would not allow for the unit density necessary to
develop additional housing on this site and would effectively prohibit the build‐out of the project as initially conceived.”—Page 124 (emphasis mine)
Response: As initially conceived the site was to host 6 buildings with 102 dwelling units overall. The residential buildings were smaller than those currently being built. The density increase is a new idea. Did they deliberately plan to paint themselves into this corner? (Images above and below are from the February 19, 2013, concept plan)
The applicants say:
Building on the success of the current 54‐unit apartment building that is currently providing accessible and universally designed units for low‐income elderly and disabled residents, …Page 109
Carlton Views is a multifamily development. Its higher level of density and relatively small unit size allows for land use efficiency and the preservation of landscaped and open space. The preponderance of elderly and disabled tenants without automobiles will allow for a cooperative parking arrangement, greatly reducing the number of parking spaces required to serve the residential development.—Page 124.
Carlton Views is committed to providing affordable and accessible rental housing set aside for low‐income elderly and disabled residents. As such, the majority of the units in the project will be one and two‐bedroom units designed to meet UFAS accessibility requirements and/or VHDA universal design standards. There is a very limited supply of this housing type in the City of Charlottesville.—Page 124)
Response: The applicant makes multiple use of the descriptors “Frail” Elderly” and “Disabled”. The housing proposed for these sites is currently marketed with income limits but there is no proffered, reserved number of units being offered to tenants on the basis of age, disability or frailty. What percentage of tenants does the current “preponderance” of elderly and disabled tenants comprise?
The applicants say:
The additional density will meet the objectives set by the Charlottesville Housing Policy and Comprehensive plan by growing the affordable housing stock in Charlottesville, providing a minimum of 30% affordability for the residential units for a minimum of 20 years, accommodating the housing needs for low-income seniors and those with disabilities, and increasing density in the areas near employment and transit services. —Page 109
As an in‐fill project on an abandoned site, Carlton Views epitomizes efficient, attractive and sensitive design. Approving a PUD rezoning will ensure the completion of this innovative effort, provide an appropriate level of housing density, and increase affordable housing options in close proximity to community services.—Page 124
Response: The east Belmont Carlton area is not walkable, there are few nearby businesses, no grocery, no library, no social services. While the PUD site is mixed use, those current uses are all provided by the PACE center. PACE Center services are only available to PACE members who have paid the capitation fee and are signed up. You are unable to walk in, even if you are a Carlton Views resident, and receive services based on your residency in the Carlton PUD.
The applicants say:
By designing for affordability, accessibility and universal design, Carlton Views/PACE will provide much needed housing opportunity for frail elderly and disabled tenants. Residential buildings shall be comprised primarily of one and two‐bedroom units. The number of bedrooms in any residential building shall not exceed three‐bedrooms.—Page 123
Response: The maximum number of bedrooms is not listed as a proffer, statement in the narrative does not make it so. The PUD is located in the Clark School district which has historically had a high reliance (82%) on the National School Lunch Program. Will the “low-wealth” profile of this development have a negative effect on the school?
The applicants’ narrative addresses the 10 PUD objectives paraphrased below (34-490-Z.O.). They feel that the objectives have been realized. In my opinion, the objectives have not and will not be realized.
1. Equal or higher quality?
2. To encourage innovative arrangements of buildings and open spaces.
The build-out proposes four massive buildings floating in a sea of asphalt. Little of the site’s open space is usable by children or the elderly.
3. To promote a variety of housing types
4. To encourage the clustering of single‐family dwellings for more efficient use of land and preservation of open space.
These are large apartment buildings, people storage units, with inadequate recreational open-space.
5. To provide for developments designed to function as cohesive, unified projects.
Tenancy is not restricted to the users and workforce of PACE. PACE services are not available to all residents.
6. To ensure that a development will be harmonious with the existing uses and character of adjacent property. Yes.
7. To ensure preservation of cultural features, scenic assets and natural features such as trees, streams and topography.
8. To provide for coordination of architectural styles internally within the development as well as in relation to adjacent properties along the perimeter of the development.
No. The architectural styles, to date, are not coordinated any more than a Best Buy located in close proximity to a Motel 8.
9. To provide for coordinated linkages among internal buildings and uses, and external connections at a scale appropriate to the development and adjacent neighborhoods.
yes/no. There is not a City bus stop on site. Walking to the Pace Center will be a challenge for the frail and elderly if they live on site, because of topography and weather.
10. To facilitate access to the development by public transit services or other single-vehicle-alternative services, including, without limitation, public pedestrian systems.
The developers did not build a covered stop or a seating area on Carlton Avenue. The nearest CATS bus stop is 2/10ths of a mile (strenuous uphill walk) west at the intersection of Rives Street and Carlton Avenue. Seven out of eight of the bikes in the CVI rack are not operational. The shared bike lane markings mentioned for Carlton Avenue (page 94) have yet to manifest. Carlton Views has exhibited little interest in existing pedestrian infrastructure (picture above, the Franklin Street sidewalk earlier this month) In contrast, the developers at Timberlake Place designed and built with the PUD objectives in mind. Timberlake Place meets all ten objectives.
Questions for staff.
1. “Staff finds that the Open space requirements are also achieved.”–page 86
Sec 34—493 As used within this article, the term “open space” shall mean land designated on an approved development plan for a PUD as being reserved for the use, benefit and enjoyment of all residents of the PUD.”
Question: If a resident is not a PACE client do they have use of the “open space” associated with the PACE building? (the fenced in area below)
3 Carlton Views I residents are authorized to use PACE facilities
How does the “open space” benefit the residents? Is there an outdoor location for a mother to watch her young children? Is there any location suitable for young children? Is there a covered place for the frail elderly to sit? Are there any level areas not covered by asphalt or concrete? Is there anywhere to set up a grill? Is there any location for recreation?
Carlton Views I east open space
CVI south open space
CVI north open space
View from CVI plaza looking north to green buffer
view from north buffer looking towards CVI north open space
View from north CVI open space looking toward PACE. The dumpster doors are always open.
“Residents in Carlton Views I utilize the services of the PACE Center. Expanding on this model, as proposed in the Development Plan, would make sense though the establishment of a PUD.”—Page 55
Question: What percentage of Carlton Views I residents utilize PACE?
(4%, 3 out of 78)
Question: Does the proposed amendment conform to the general guidelines and policies contained in the comprehensive plan?
“Staff finds the proposed rezoning is not consistent with the City’s Comprehensive General Land Use Plan Map, but may contribute to other goals within the Land Use chapter of the Comprehensive Plan.”—Page 55
Question: How does staff evaluate goals in the Comprehensive Plan that seem out of step with the proposed development? A list follows:
Goal 3.3, Housing Chapter, Comprehensive Plan page 63:
“Achieve a mixture of incomes and uses in as many areas of the City as possible.”
Goal 5.4, Housing Chapter, Comprehensive Plan page 64
“Perform an inventory across the City and use GIS technology to analyze where and how much affordable housing is available, where opportunities exist to create additional units and/or rehabilitate existing units and how to improve access for lower-income households to adult learning and employment opportunities, job training, healthy food sources and public amenities such as parks, recreational facilities, shopping destinations and libraries, with the goal of reducing family isolation, deconcentrating poverty, and enhancing neighborhood and school health and economic mobility.”
Goal 5.7, Housing Chapter, Comprehensive Plan page 65
“Support housing programs at the local and regional level that encourage mixed-income neighborhoods and discourage the isolation of very low and low income households.”
Goal 8 Housing Chapter, Comprehensive Plan Page 67:
ENSURE THAT THE CITY’’S HOUSING PORTFOLIO OFFERS A WIDE RANGE OF CHOICES THAT ARE INTEGRATED AND BALANCED ACROSS THE CITY TO MEET MULTIPLE GOALS INCLUDING: INCREASED SUSTAINABILITY, WALKABILITY, BIKEABILITY, AND USE OF PUBLIC TRANSIT, AUGMENTED SUPPORT FOR FAMILIES WITH CHILDREN, FEWER POCKETS OF POVERTY, SUSTAINED LOCAL COMMERCE AND DECREASED STUDENT VEHICLE USE.’’
Encourage mixed-use and mixed-income housing developments.*
Encourage housing development where increased density is desirable and strive to coordinate those areas with stronger access to employment opportunities, transit routes and commercial services.
Question: Is there a need and justification for this zoning change?
Staff finds the only substantial and realistic change the rezoning to PUD will achieve is an increase in residential density.—(page 60)
The PUD, when used as intended, can provide wonderful results. This use (to increase density without a commensurate quality increase) is improper. For the sake of future residents of LIHTC CAHF funded developments please recommend denial of this rezoning.
Thanks for reading,
p.s. The apartments in CVI are really nicely appointed, they border on fancy (granite countertops). The development has spectacular mountain views to the south.
The view from a CVI apartment
Timberlake Place market rate
Timberlake Place, one of several raised beds for gardening
some of the eastern Timberlake Place open space
a Timberlake Place apartment
Westhaven open space