it is time for the planning commission meeting, always a treat

the full agenda packet is here: charlottesvilleva.civicclerk.com/web/UserContro…
alex ikefuna from neighborhood development services says that one city planner and a GIS analyst are both leaving their positions soon, which planning commission chair hosea mitchell says the commission should keep in mind in terms of staff capacity.
"no decision has been made regarding that," ikefuna tells commissioner stolzenberg who asks where the city is with hiring for a long term planner (it sounds like the city hasn't totally made up their mind WHETHER to actually hire for this position)
so they did post the position, which is a solid indicator that they mostly intended to hire someone for this job...? but this posting closed ages ago so i guess they changed their minds about... planning for the future?

kimber hawkey from the belmont neighborhood association called in to speak against a special use permit for more density at 1000 monticello, this time arguing it's because she's concerned about trees (it's not about the trees, she just hates anything that isn't R1)
kimber is also concerned that she is no longer able to find on the city website the direct contact information for members of the planning commission, saying she does not WANT to have NDS "filter" her comments because she doesn't have faith in the way they operate.
next commenter, laura goldblatt, also asks for the SUP at 1000 monticello to be denied, saying it will drive gentrification, "trickle down housing doesn't work," and creating anything other than truly affordable housing doesn't create affordable housing.
nancy carpenter has questions about how the property owner will move forward if granted the SUP - will rents be raised to finance construction? will residents be displaced? will he choose to accept section 8 vouchers?
brandon collins, an organizer with the public housing association of residents, is also speaking against the 1000 monticello rd SUP. brandon says holzworth, the property owner, has already demonstrated a willingness to displace residents & adversely impact the community.
"even at 60% AMI, you're still talking about $1000/mo for a one bedroom apartment," brandon reminds the commission. "that's not affordable by any human measure" and isn't what we need during the upcoming eviction crisis.
emily dreyfus called in to echo similar sentiments about the 1000 monticello ave SUP having adverse impacts on the community, recounting the story of a family displaced by this property owner in 2019.
maddy green also asks the planning commission to deny the SUP. sounds like drew holzworth's past conduct is a real sticking point for folks in charlottesville. when you force little old ladies out of their homes, people remember.
"it's not really clear to me how these market-based solutions are ever going to make a dent in the 4000-unit affordable housing shortfall," walt heinecke says. approving SUPs that don't address the problem isn't the answer, he says.
don gathers urges the planning commission to "choose morality or mortality over money" and deny the SUP.
hearing now from the consultants about the cville plans together process. i swear i went to some of the community engagement sessions but everything that happened more than 2 weeks ago is wiped from my memory.
just one public hearing tonight - a proposed small area plan amendment brought by residents of fifeville. matthew alfele with NDS says planners & residents worked on this proposed change for years.
nick morrison from the thomas jefferson planning district says they had initially intended to do the standard 3 public meetings & done model of public engagement, but that wasn't right for this project -
from the TJPD presentation about the proposed cherry ave small area plan update
a truly exhaustive amount of information about this project is available on the TJPD website

tjpdc.org/reports-archiv…
in the public hearing, sarah malpass says since the recommendations were passed on to TJPD by the fifeville neighborhood association in 2019, the neighborhood as been working on applying for grants for historic preservation & residents have restored park paths.
carmelita wood reads a statement on behalf of the fifeville neighborhood association, urging the planning commission to approve the small area plan amendment. she says they realize there is undeveloped, valuable property there & it should be used to benefit the the neighborhood.
brooks hefner, who participated in the cherry ave think tanks, echoes much of what ms carmelita said, specifically that they don't want their neighborhood to just be a thoroughfare or a site of extraction. it's their home & they want it to be something to be proud of.
jean gratz, a longtime cherry ave resident, says "it's not just a parking strip or a commuter street." she says she was able to buy her house for $35,000 30 years ago & is lucky to be able to own a home & live car-free, something she hopes other people will be able to do.
matthew gillikin says this process could really serve as a blueprint for how planning could work in charlottesville. the plan the community came up with "reflects the values of the fifeville community & provides tangible things that can be accomplished"
NDS asst director missy creasy's insistence on calling rory stolzenberg "mr stolenzburg" has got to be intentional at this point right? it's been... years? how long has this been going on.
the planning commission has recommended that the cherry ave small area plan amendment be adopted into the comprehensive plan. we’re in a brief recess now but i immediately forgot i was in a meeting at all and wandered away from the computer.
on to discussion of the 1000 monticello ave SUP - acting city attorney lisa robertson says they can't require more affordable units or a deeper affordability rate than stated in the ordinance. the applicant can OFFER this, but the city can't mandate it.
"at this point i would almost rather see a blank parking lot than see another unaffordable unit go up in this city," says planning commissioner taneia dowell. "i cannot say i am fighting for affordable housing" and approve projects like this.
over half the people on the housing voucher waitlist are waiting for single units, rory says, countering previous arguments from commissioner dowell that we need more housing for families & these units won't help meet local need.
the developer has proffered 5 of the 11 proposed units will be affordable (more than the 10% required by the ordinance). commissioner dowell says this isn't enough - "we need real affordable units at real livable square footage."
commissioner lahendro had previously objected on the grounds that the proposed design was "not harmonious" with the neighborhood but he's ok with the developer's changes since he offered that criticism. (they don't have to use the design offered at this stage)
they're adding some conditions - all the affordable units will be in the newly constructed building, adding a small stepback, and the architecture has to be substantially similar to what was presented tonight.
commissioners dowell, heaton, and russell voted no but everyone else voted to recommend approving the SUP for 1000 monticello ave, so the motion carries. it'll go to council next.
now on to a proposed zoning text amendment, presented by rory.
"i don't have any questions and frankly i don't quite understand it," says commissioner liz russell, basically reading my mind.
no one on the commission seems at all interested in or engaged with rory's proposed zoning text amendment.
i do think he's right about there being way more office space than anyone wants or needs in this town, especially now. but like liz said, i also do not quite understand what's being proposed.
chair hosea mitchell agrees with lyle that we should take a more comprehensive approach to reworking how mixed use zoning works in the city & perhaps this should get kicked to the comp plan consultants (since staff doesn't have the bandwidth right now)
alex ikefuna, who once called the city zoning ordinance "a wastebasket of errors," says one of the problems we have is that we've always taken such a piecemeal approach. he says staff would prefer to see this addressed in the comprehensive plan.
missy creasy says "these changes in staffing" (2 people in NDS putting in resignations) came in after this agenda packet was written & considerations have changed. they went from stretching to meet new work to struggling to manage the day to day.
rory counters arguments for waiting for the full comp plan rewrite by reminding the commission that he brought a ZTA in 2019 & was told the same thing... waiting for the rewrite "does not absolve us" from trying to address current problems.
rory makes a motion to initiate the work of the ZTA now, rather than asking the consultant to work on it. everyone votes no except rory & commissioner gary heaton.
lyle says he supports the idea but there just isn't capacity right now. taneia dowell seems to agreee & says the consultant should look at it closely. hosea mitchell agrees - it's a good idea & mixed use zoning needs to be reformed city wide.
until next time, this has been the charlottesville planning commission.

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