Two cluster developments containing a total of 72 houses could be coming to the town of Scottsville.
Shimp Engineering has submitted two special-use permit applications for clustering homes on properties on Bird Street and Blenheim Road.
While the process is just beginning for these proposals, town Planning Commission members have questioned the estimated price of the homes and expressed concerns about traffic, especially with the Bird Street proposal.
“There hasn’t been any construction at scale nearby here in a very long time,” Town Administrator Matt Lawless said in an interview. “The last time there was a cluster construction like this in Scottsville was in the 1960s.”
The special-use permit application for Bird Street is for 48 houses, and the application for Blenheim Road is for 24 houses.
In June, the Scottsville Town Council voted 4-3 to rezone the lot on Bird Street, which is next to the former Hyosung Tire plant, from Industrial to Village Residential.
At that same meeting, the council also unanimously approved zoning text amendments mainly around Village Residential zoning, including cluster development where there is public water and sewer service available. With a special-use permit, the Town Council can grant approval to a cluster development of up to four units per acre with smaller lots and smaller setbacks, and at least 33% of the project area has to be open space.
The former tire plant on Bird Street was purchased in 2011 by Charles W. Hurt, a local real estate entrepreneur, developer and founder of Virginia Land Co. The plant sits on 41 acres and is adjacent to the empty 20-acre parcel, both separate parcels but owned by LLCs under Hurt.
The site off Blenheim Road is also owned by Hurt, and is part of a 146.2-acre property located just south of the intersection of Blenheim Road and Albevanna Spring Road and directly north of the Stony Point subdivision.
Planning Commission public hearings will be held for both permit requests on Oct. 4, with a vote likely being taken at a later meeting.
The proposal on Bird Street, which would cover 12 acres of the almost 20-acre parcel, includes a 48-unit cluster development with 4,000-square-foot lots, a street network, sidewalks and a central open space with trails around an existing pond.
“These lots are 4,000 square feet, essentially 40 [feet] by 100 [feet], most of them, and these would be either small, single-family, like a 22-foot- or 24-foot-wide house, or a duplex, or it could even be a quadplex-type situation,” Justin Shimp, with Shimp Engineering, said at a recent Planning Commission meeting. “ So we’re asking for 48 dwelling units, but the actual mix here could and probably would vary.”
He said they’ve been asked about building a sidewalk down Bird Street to downtown Scottsville, but said there’s not enough existing right-of-way for the developer to do that without working with the town. Shimp said he’ll have a more solid answer on the matter in the future.
Commissioners asked about traffic during construction and once the houses are built. The Virginia Department of Transportation will review both projects, but traffic studies will not be required by the state’s standards.
“As someone who works in these numbers all the time, I think what you’re going to find is that the impact as measured by delays are far less than you might think,” Shimp said.
Commissioners Lisa Caltabiano and Shannon Strassner said it’s already hard to turn left onto Valley Street from Bird Street, and asked what could be done to make changes at that intersection.
“The town has some ability to work on improvements here absent the construction,” Lawless said. “If it’s already a problem, we can be expressing that to VDOT.”
He said the West Downtown Small Area Plan, adopted in 2020, discussed making certain streets one-way in that area, which could be cheaper than widening streets, and VDOT was supportive.
Shimp estimated the homes off Bird Street would be about 1,200 square feet if they were built as detached houses, and could sell for about $300,000, but there are no specific builders on the project yet.
Commissioner Shari Lambert asked Shimp to try to get some homes to be under that amount, even as high as $285,000.
“I’m just asking that if you could look at it as a goal to maybe have two, three or five houses within these two developments that could be in that price range,” she said.
Strassner said that she was disappointed to hear the estimated price point for the houses and that this does not answer the need for affordable housing in Scottsville.
“That is something we have been hearing over and over again is such a high priority and I don’t think either of these projects answers that need,” she said. “Maybe in addition to these projects, we also need to be pursuing something else because that is way out of the price range for most people.”
The proposal for Blenheim Road would cover nine acres and includes a 24-unit cluster development with 7,500-square-foot lots and a 10-foot access easement to allow for construction of a trail network to ultimately connect to the existing trail system in the Van Clief Nature Area.
The easement would connect to an existing easement at the end of Pine Road where there is a gate for residents to access the trail.
Albemarle County staff would enforce stormwater management and erosion control for both properties.
Shimp estimated the Blenheim Road houses would sell for about $350,000.
“There are opportunities to work with other housing partners folks like [Habitat for Humanity of Greater Charlottesville] and they haven’t specifically looked at this parcel, they looked at the other parcel, and that’s really the best opportunity to deeper affordability is with one of those partners,” he said.
Lambert asked if the developer and property owner saw this as a phase one to a broader development on the rest of the property.
“We would expect to see 24 [houses] and, over the years, if that builds out, we would gauge the opportunity for the next set,” Shimp said.
He said this would be a first phase, and in the future it’s possible that a similar pattern of development would be sought for more of the property.
“To think that 100 or more might happen in the next five to 10 years seems unlikely to us,” Shimp said. “We thought we’d test the waters with something that was a small amount, but a meaningful amount of homes, and go from there and see what the demand was like and see if the feelings of the town was about something of this scale.”