Charlottesville PC Welcomes New Member, Elects New Leadership, Reviews Entrance Corridor Applications

By. Amelie Bailey, 2011 Field Officer Intern

Charlottesville Planning Commission met on Tuesday (8/9) to discuss entrance corridor applications and rezoning on Elliot Avenue. At this meeting, the Commission welcomed its newest member, Natasha Sienitsky, who fills the position that opened when former chairman, Jason Pearson, stepped down earlier this summer.  The Planning Commission also elected Genevieve Keller as Chair and Dan Rosenweig as Vice Chair.

The Planning Commission, acting as the Entrance Corridor Review Board (ERB), approved a renewed entrance corridor certificate of appropriateness for the Fontaine Fire Station. The ERB previously approved the project in 2009 but that Certificate of Appropriateness has since expired. The Commission evaluated some modifications to the design including changes in fenestration, signage, building height, and some materials changes. The Review Board expressed some concerns with the design incorporating two different types of glass; one for windows, and a different glass used for a balcony railing. The project architect assured the Board that the balcony glass would essentially be unnoticed, and that using the two different glass materials would not be obvious or unsightly.

The ERB also considered an application for a Certificate of Appropriateness to renovate the Martha Jefferson Hospital Building for use as CFA Institute headquarters. The applicant, Octagon Partners, intends to demolish the current emergency room entrance and some of the mechanical buildings. They also plan to renovate the South wing to include more windows, and to create a new business entrance on the west side of this wing. The project will leave the Cardwell, Rucker, and historic Patterson wings untouched. Staff recommended that the concept and changes to the buildings be approved but also recommended that the Review Board see a detailed landscape plan (which was not available on Tuesday) at its next meeting.

The Review Board approved of the plan in concept and granted a certificate of appropriateness for the general location and basic massing of the new construction of the business entrance, as well as the demolition of the HVAC equipment area, and demolition of the emergency room entrance area. However, commissioners expressed interest in having more detailed documentation on the specific changes to the building, especially in regards to the landscaping plan including streetscape, fenestration in context of the existing buildings, and proposed lighting. The ERB decided to require that these elements be resubmitted for review to receive a separate certificate of appropriateness.

The Planning Commission initiated preliminary discussion for rezoning of 5.49 acres in the Elliot Avenue area as requested by Southern Development. This area will need to be rezoned to PUD in order to allow development of 45 dwelling units, 7 of which are to be affordable units. The Planning Commission expressed approval of the common woods area in the design, and voiced appreciation for the inclusion of neighboring property owners in the design process. The Commission also received clarification on the connectivity of roads through the development. The project will move forward to a public hearing in September.

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Amelie Bailey is the 2011 Field Officer Intern for the Free Enterprise Forum a privately funded public policy organization. If you find this report helpful, please consider supporting the Free Enterprise Forum. To learn more visit www.freeenterpriseforum.org

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