Charlottesville approves Future Land Use Map after yearslong process

Charlottesville Future Land Use Map (FLUM)
Charlottesville Future Land Use Map (FLUM)(WVIR)
Published: Nov. 15, 2021 at 11:57 PM EST
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Charlottesville City Councilors voted unanimously to approve the Future Land Use Map after years of discussion, debate, revisions, and a public hearing on Monday that lasted more than three hours.

The plan as it was approved can be viewed here.

“Broadly, the Charlottesville plan is addressing the question of how the city manages and accommodates growth while retaining its values and supporting prosperity for all,” said James Freas, the city’s director of Neighborhood Development Services. “Encompassed within this question are well-stated values around producing affordable housing, addressing racial equity, and responding to the challenge of climate change and preserving historic and cultural aspects of the city’s built environment.”

According to Cville Plans Together, the group leading the Comprehensive Plan, only 30% of the city’s residential-zoned land can be used for higher-density development now.

The Future Land Use Map as passed allows for dwellings of up to three units, and 2.5 stories high, in general residential areas. This includes existing single-family splits, accessory dwelling units, and new housing infill. Additional heights and units could be allowed in more sensitive community areas under the general residential category for “greater and deeper affordability than non-sensitive areas.”

At Monday’s public hearing, more than 70 people spoke. More people were in favor of the proposal, though there were dozens opposed.

For those in favor of the FLUM’s passage, they said the opportunities for increased density can help bring down housing costs, will reduce displacement (especially in historically sensitive areas), and will encourage environmentally-friendly actions.

Opponents have spoken out against medium-intensity in specific communities and said they weren’t supportive of finalizing this plan before the zoning rewrite or before the city finds a permanent city manager.

When councilors were given a chance to discuss the FLUM, Lloyd Snook and Heather Hill raised concerns about medium-intensity areas.

Snook proposed leaving off the “mustard color” on the map with the understanding that there would be medium-intensity areas added at a later date.

“The result is that we have basically inflicted anxiety on twice as many people as we need to for, what again, we will not end up building any units any faster,” he said.

“Another way of looking at it is looking at all the general intensity and medium intensity as it is right now and saying any of it is up to becoming possibly medium intensity after it’s been looked at on a parcel-by-parcel basis,” Hill said.

Council Sena Magill said she would be “concerned” if they took it out.

“I also think it’s a good idea to have it as a guiding idea of the areas that we’re talking about so that people can see and have the time to kind of sit with that this might be happening,” Magill said.

Mayor Nikuyah Walker supported keeping medium-intensity areas.

“The people who would be most afraid about this plan are not afraid about this plan because what is currently in place is what is displacing us and them,” Walker said.

Ultimately, both Snook and Hill said they supported the majority of the FLUM and voted in favor of its passage, sealing the unanimous vote.

Councilors, including Michael Payne, said that this is just “a first step” and that the map, on its own, wouldn’t bring affordable housing to the city. He called on community members to work with the council through the process.

“The question is ‘What can we do throughout the zoning rewrite process to help ensure that the implementation is actually working correctly to meet our goal of affordable housing?’” Payne said.

Copyright 2021 WVIR. All rights reserved.

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