Some homeowners in a historic Charlottesville neighborhood fear a request to rezone hundreds of properties would take away their rights.
The Fry's Spring Neighborhood Association is asking City Council to restrict the properties to single-family homes where apartments and duplexes are allowed now. But two-thirds of property owners on Crestmont Avenue signed petitions asking council to reject the rezoning, and they're not alone. The planning commission shot down the request. Now, council will have the final say.
Deb Grotenhuis expected her family's investment to grow when they moved from Northern Virginia to their home on Broad Avenue in Fry's Spring. Grotenhuis pictures a renovated basement apartment to rent out.
“We bought the house going, ‘oh, wow, this is a potential really good thing for us. We could turn it into an apartment and it could put our kids through college,'” Grotenhuis said.
Now, she worries a request to rezone her property and 355 others around Fry's Spring will destroy her dream. “We suddenly felt insecure with the idea that we had just invested this money and now the idea that it would make something for us could be taken from us,” she said.
The Fry's Spring Neighborhood Association wants the city to downzone three areas, including along Stribling Avenue. Properties now zoned to allow two-family homes - like duplexes - would be limited to single-family homes. The association is requesting the rezoning to prevent what it sees as a trend toward higher-density housing in neighborhoods near the University of Virginia.
“What we're concerned with when we're talking about historic structures is they'll be demolished and the maximum density will be built in its place,” said Charlottesville Vice Mayor Dede Smith.
Grotenhuis doesn't believe rezoning is the answer to prevent single families from being crowded out of Fry's Spring.
“I'm not drawn to the big apartment building on Main Street. I didn't think that's what made Charlottesville cute. I think these neighborhoods do,” she said.
Homes that are already divided into duplexes would be grandfathered in. Attached apartments would also be allowed as long as the homeowner lives there.
City Council will take up the rezoning request at its meeting Tuesday night.
Below is an email sent to council from the Fry's Spring Neighborhood Association.
Dear Charlottesville City Council,
The Fry's Spring Neighborhood Association expresses its gratitude for your vote to allow a public hearing regarding the corrective rezoning of three areas within our neighborhood. This is an issue that has been discussed within the neighborhood for over ten years and we applaud your decision to allow for a larger public debate.
At the public hearing, we heard many constructive comments from residents in the potentially affected areas. Unfortunately, some of the areas that are included in this request fall outside the boundaries of our neighborhood and because of this those residents and properties owners were never included in the many years of discussions on this subject. It was not our decision to include those areas in this request.
As you deliberate on this matter, FSNA would like to reaffirm its long-held principles to conserve and enhance the Fry's Spring neighborhood as an attractive, safe, enjoyable place to live, and to protect and improve the quality of life for all our residents. We celebrate the eclectic nature of Fry's Spring, and continue to believe that a fair balance among the diversity of residences within our neighborhood needs to be affirmed and strengthened. We also ask that you recognize the historic fabric of our neighborhood and the value that it brings to Charlottesville.
We respectfully ask that you take these principles into account as you make your decision, and we look forward to working with you in the future to develop policies that make our neighborhood, and the City as a whole, an attractive, safe and enjoyable place to live.
With warm regards,
President, Fry's Spring Neighborhood Association
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