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City Council to consider regulations targeting affordable housing improvements

Charlottesville’s City Council soon could kick off an overhaul of policies and regulations aimed at improving its approach to affordable housing.

The council will vote on a resolution to send proposed revisions to zoning regulations and policies connected to affordable housing to the Planning Commission during its meeting Monday night.

The council held a work session in February to discuss several recommendations to create zoning incentives for affordable housing and better administer and replenish the Affordable Housing Fund.

City staff has recommended that the Affordable Housing Fund be transformed into a revolving loan program to guarantee continuous funding.

Another recommendation is to allow accessory dwelling units anywhere throughout the city by right. Property owners would be allowed to have as many as three accessory units as long as at least one remains affordable as a rental for 20 years.

The proposal would remove the requirement that an owner live on the property with an accessory dwelling unit; make loans available; reduce setback requirements; and eliminate additional parking requirements.

Staff also recommended amending the zoning ordinance to incentivize so-called middle-housing, such as duplexes and townhouses that are a stepping stone between apartments and single-family homes.

Staff recommended creating an affordable dwelling unit program that would oversee regulations.

Under the proposal, the 22-member Housing Advisory Committee would be revised to a 10-member panel that would advise the housing coordinator on administering the affordable housing program and establish regulations, such as rental and sales prices for projects that received city funding. That means the HAC possibly could be eliminated.

In other business, the council will consider an initial design of proposed improvements to the intersection of Barracks Road and Emmet Street.

In 2019, the city received $8.6 million from the Virginia Department of Transportation’s Smart Scale program to perform updates to the intersection. The state funding does not require a local match.

An average of 23,000 vehicles travel north on Emmet Street and 13,000 go west on Barracks through the intersection each day.

The project will include a pedestrian refuge island, a small section of concrete allowing walkers to stop halfway through a crossing, in the medians of Emmet and Barracks on each side of the roads. The existing Charlottesville Area Transit stop would be upgraded with a bus shelter.

It would include right-turn lanes from northbound Emmet Street onto eastbound Barracks Road.

Westbound Barracks would have four lanes at the intersection, of which two would be dedicated left-turn lanes.

The road would include a 10-foot-wide multi-use path with a 3-foot-wide grass buffer between the road and a retaining wall. It would stretch from Hessian Road to Hilltop Road.

The project isn’t expected to reach final design until summer 2021 and construction would begin in spring 2023.

Harris Street apartments

The council also will review a special-use permit request for a planned development on Harris Street.

Woodard Properties is planning a six-story building on 2.4 acres across three parcels at a sharp turn near Allied Street and McIntire Road.

The permit is required because the building would have a density of as many as 105 residential units and two more stories than allowed under the industrial corridor zoning.

By-right regulations allow four stories and 51 units on the property.

In addition to the residential units, the building would have retail space and underground parking. Access to the parking area would come from both Harris and Allied streets. The access off Allied Street would be at the end of the dead-end cul-de-sac.


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