Fry’s Springs Downzoning Proposed Again

The perils of zoning rear their heads in Fry’s Springs.

The Charlottesville City Council has agreed to consider a request from the Fry’s Spring Neighborhood Association to study rezoning of three streets.

“Essentially, they are asking for the properties on Stribling, Crestmont and Shamrock to be downzoned,” said Jim Tolbert, director of the city’s Neighborhood Development Services.

Specifically, the neighborhood association has been asking for the city to change the zoning on all properties classified as R-2 to R-1S. Properties in R-2 can have up to two families, whereas R-1S allows only one. Accessory apartments could still exist, but only if the property owner lives on site.

In all, there are 213 properties in the Fry’s Spring neighborhood with R-2 zoning.

This is an interesting development, so to speak. On one hand, what’s the harm in having the conversation about downzoning (besides staff time and resources)? The harm is that by contemplating downzoning, the City is discussing changing the property rights of owners.

R-2 and R-1S zoning presumably provide affordable housing options, and by eliminating this zoning the City would presumably be eliminating some affordable housing options … but with all the apartments coming to West Main Street, maybe the City is ok with this.

Curious – do off-site owners have lesser rights than owner-occupants?

“Councilor Dede Smith, a Fry’s Spring resident, said that half of those owners do not live in Charlottesville.”

If you’re curious to see the City of Charlottesville’s zoning map, start here (the West Main study that’s there is interesting, too).

This is why government needs to be watched, folks.

The challenge with doing neighborhood videos is that 18 months later, they look worse than they did when originally taken. Darn it.

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  1. Stormy June 23, 2014 at 12:15

    Great article from the folks at Cville Tomorrow. The city attorney uses the word “taking,” which becomes a big red flag for many folks when it comes to governments and private property.

    1. Jim Duncan June 23, 2014 at 12:46

      Agreed. They’re doing great work.

      If the City proposes “taking” it will be interesting to see how they address “compensating.”

  2. Mark June 23, 2014 at 13:33

    I lived there for 3 years. There are a lot of accessory apartments, which would seem to be the property owner’s right. Jim, I share your queasiness about privileging “owner occupants” over “out of town” owners. Both pay equal property taxes; the latter presumably don’t use the services.
    To boil this down I’d say Dede Smith wants her neighborhood to be less dense, and is using her seat on City Council to make it so. The same hypocrites on Council will blather about affordable housing. Actions like this show that it is just talk. In no way will the new apartments be affordable housing, though the resulting increase in supply will keep rents down until demand catches up.

  3. Simon Campbell July 10, 2014 at 09:40

    “Curious – do off-site owners have lesser rights than owner-occupants?” That is a really interesting question. I wonder what is the city’s reasoning behind this restriction. Would having the owner on-site really make that much of a utility difference? It would definitely restrict the resale to owner occupants only. Could impact selling the property down the road.


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