By. Neil Williamson, President
Adapted from comments presented to Charlottesville Planning Commission November 20, 2018
I want to be encouraged, but I don’t know that I should be.
Earlier this year, City Council received the Housing Needs Assessment. This study indicated the City needed over 3,000 affordable units added to the inventory to meet the current need. One might think the Comprehensive Plan that was being drafted by the Planning Commission would seek to address this need by increasing density. One might be wrong – in fact you may have done the reverse.
Based on our reading of the proposed fuzzy line maps, before Saturday’s meeting, you are designing a City with significantly fewer by right residential units than your current comprehensive plan. We do not know what the by right density of the new plan compared with your current plan. We again ask for that data before you move this forward to City Council.
As we alerted you to back in January [Cville PC Paradox — Build Less & Increase Affordability], the plan reduces ‘by right’ building height (and therefore capacity) across nine of the City’s thirteen zoning districts.
Considering the importance of the “Missing Middle” Housing that we discussed back in August [ Affordable Housing Policy Makes Building Affordable Housing Impossible], the Free Enterprise Forum is disappointed at the dominance of yellow “Low Intensity” land use that dominates the proposed map.
Two days ago, you held your ill timed Saturday afternoon work session – which was required because you were unable to plan and complete your work on schedule in the previous work sessions. – I understand in that meeting you recolored the map to allow increasing “intensity” by right. I do not know because I had other plans on Saturday afternoon [William & Mary vs. Richmond Football] and I missed your matinee program.
Neither does the rest of the public because as of 4 pm today, the map has not been changed on the website.
Absent any information for the public to review, we can only be hopeful that the map of your plan for growing Charlottesville will see the yellow move to higher intensity.
I beg of you to be honest with the public and tell them exactly what this plan, as drafted, will allow is fewer units to be constructed without a special use permit (SUP).
The political reality of the day is if an SUP is required the project is DOA because a vocal NIMBY minority, sometimes citing community values, will be empowered to show up at the public hearing and stand in the way of the additional density that could help the City meet its growing housing needs.
A Planning Commission, worthy of the name, should be planning for a future for all its future citizens not just preserving the status quo. Failing to properly allow and plan for growth in a land locked City, will result in a failing “World Class” City.
I do hope the new map will have more purple and more intensity.
Thank you for the opportunity to speak.
Neil Williamson, President
Neil Williamson is the President of The Free Enterprise Forum, a public policy organization covering the City of Charlottesville as well as Albemarle, Greene, Fluvanna, Louisa and Nelson County. For more information visit the website www.freeenterpriseforum.org
Photo Credit: www.missingmiddle.com