Belmont Neighbors Raise Concerns Over Church's Proposed Housing Project
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - A Charlottesville church is facing some backlash from community members over a proposed housing project that would require rezoning a residential area.
The Hinton Avenue Methodist Church has spent years raising money for the Rachel’s Haven project, which would seeks to create 15 apartment units in the Belmont neighborhood.
Some community members have been opposed to the idea, because it would require rezoning the property from single-family residential to neighborhood-commercial corridor.
“It seems that the primary concern in the neighborhood is what might happen on this property should the church ever close its doors and have to fold, or sell the property,” said Charlottesville District of the United Methodist Church Volunteer Kim Crater.
Volunteers working on Rachel's Haven introduced new stipulations Monday, May 13, that would make sure that could never happen.
“I feel like we all kind of want the same thing, it's just these little details that are causing some concerns,” Crater said. “Our project is not a commercial project, so we are proffering all of that so that it's just residential.”
Neighbors are also worried the church’s project would add to issues of parking and noise for downtown Belmont.
“There's certainly not a desire by those neighborhoods to have that, you know, be extended any further than it is already,” Councilor Heather Hill said. “Some would argue that it is too intense as it is.”
The original goal of Rachel's Haven was to provide several units specifically for individuals with developmental disabilities. However, current language in the proposal does not reflect this, and instead refers to those units as affordable housing.
“That was taken out because the city attorney was worried that that proffer was not enforceable,” Crater explained. “We were trying to maintain some flexibility, but we see that the neighborhood is concerned about that and love our neighbors, right? So we're taking all of that out.”
Crater added, "But that has not changed our mission at all. Our mission is still the same: to address the needs of adults with developmental disabilities.”
Volunteers with Rachel’s Haven say the church would not be collecting rent from any potential tenants. They are also currently in talks with the nonprofit Community Services Housing, who they say would manage the apartments.