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June 30, 2012

Albemarle Planning Commission kicks off review of affordable housing policy

DailyProgressBy Ian Lamb & Brian Wheeler
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Saturday, June 30, 2012

Albemarle’s Planning Commission is working to improve the way the county can best provide affordable living choices to its residents.

The commission’s recommendations will be reviewed by the Board of Supervisors later this year as it considers changes to the 2005 Affordable Housing Policy and whether to make it part of the updated Comprehensive Plan.

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Ron White, Chief of Housing, Albemarle County

Current policy sets expectations for the development community as to the affordable housing support its members will need to include in a rezoning request. At a minimum, Albemarle expects 15 percent of new homes to be deemed affordable or for the developer to provide an equivalent cash contribution.

“It’s pretty much the developer’s decision,” said Wayne Cilimberg, Albemarle’s director of planning. “They craft the proffers based around what they interpret the policy to be and, in discussions with staff, what we’ve indicated what we could look at.”

Proffers are the voluntary contributions made by a developer to mitigate project impacts and to help gain the support of local officials for a rezoning request. They may include cash, open space, transportation improvements, school sites, but always some contributions toward affordable housing.

Albemarle’s housing director, Ron White, told the commission at a work session earlier this week that recent cash proffers for affordable housing have been used either as down-payment assistance or to repair existing affordable housing units. Since the policy was approved, $476,809 has been received and of that amount, $411,385 has been invested for those purposes.

“If you want to look at a comprehensive affordable housing goal, it’s not just creating new units, but also, in some way, maintaining the existing stock,” White said.

Continue reading "Albemarle Planning Commission kicks off review of affordable housing policy" »

June 16, 2012

Soundboard 6-15-2012 - Charlottesville's news straight from the source

Soundboard

Soundboard: Charlottesville's news straight from the source

A collaborative local news radio program by WTJU 91.1 FM, Charlottesville Tomorrow, and C-Ville Weekly.

Each Friday from 4-5 PM, tune in to hear area journalists and guests discuss local news, culture, and community issues in the Charlottesville area. Whether we're talking about city politics, scientific innovations, or the local music scene, you'll get to hear in-depth discussion about stories that matter.

Soundboard is co-hosted by WTJU's Lewis Reining and Charlottesville Tomorrow's Jennifer Marley.

Podcasts may be downloaded from this website, via RSS, and via Charlottesville Tomorrow on iTunes.

Listen using player above or download the podcast: Download 20120615-Soundboard

The June 15 show features contributors Giles Morris, Graelyn Brashear & Laura Ingles (from C-Ville Weekly) and Sean Tubbs (Charlottesville Tomorrow) discussing: 

  • Teresa Sullivan's resignation and its impact on the community
  • disappearance of four visiting Afghani women
  • guest Geoff Skelley from the UVA Center for Politics to discuss the Virginia GOP primaries
  • funding discrepancies for the low-income housing complex on Fourth Street
  • development of the Lochlyn Hill neighborhood has stalled
  • recycling in Charlottesville...and beyond
  • Guest John Casteen, lead photography and writing instructor at the iConnect Workshop, to discuss summer program for school children to meet local photographers and writers

Soundboard is produced by Robert Packard and Nathan Moore. We hope you enjoy it, and we look forward to your feedback!

 
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June 13, 2012

Lochlyn Hill development stalls; applicant seeks deferral

DailyProgressBy Sean Tubbs
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The developer of the proposed 204-unit Lochlyn Hill neighborhood in Albemarle County and Charlottesville has asked for more time to revise his plans after it appeared the city Planning Commission would recommend denial of a rezoning. 
 
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A rendering of how Lochlyn Hill will look (Source: Milestone Development)
Three of the four commissioners present at public hearing Tuesday said they could not recommend approval because Milestone Development’s project did not comply with the city’s affordable housing guidelines. 
 
“Staff believes that the current application comprises many great things that we want to see in a [planned unit development] application, but there are still holes,” said city planner Michael Smith. 
 
Smith said the rezoning would be consistent with the city’s Comprehensive Plan but that Milestone has not guaranteed that 15 percent of the homes will be designated as affordable. 
 
Instead, Milestone has proposed that at least 15 percent of the homes be in the form of accessory dwelling units. These are smaller units in cottages, above garages and in basements. 
 

Continue reading "Lochlyn Hill development stalls; applicant seeks deferral" »

May 22, 2012

Land trust tested as new approach for creating affordable living choices

DailyProgressBy Courtney Beale
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Habitat for Humanity of Greater Charlottesville and the Thomas Jefferson Community Land Trust have combined forces to create two affordable homes on Cleveland Avenue in the city. The collaboration is the first of its kind in Virginia.

“This is a pilot project to work out some of the kinks but we hope this is the first of many Habitat and land trust partnerships,” said Dan Rosensweig, Habitat’s executive director, at a Tuesday groundbreaking ceremony.

“This is the beginning of a new type of sustainable, affordable housing,” said Frazier Bell, chair of the land trust. “We are looking forward to many more sustainable, affordable housing units in the area and to working with Habitat.”

The partnership, which has been in the works for several years, combines the two organizations’ methods to achieve one common goal — provide affordable housing.

Habitat creates affordable housing through volunteer work. The TJCLT, a nonprofit formed in 2008, provides affordable housing by purchasing land and then leasing it to homeowners for a nominal fee. This allows the owners to only purchase the building, lowering the cost of homeownership.

“The beauty of this is that it is an effective mechanism to maintain affordable housing, especially in a place like Charlottesville,” said Robert J. Adams, a staff member of the land trust.

The collaboration ensures that by separating the price of the land from the price of the house, the property will remain affordable into the future. Because real estate prices tend to increase, the land trust’s lease will last for 90 years, stabilizing the price and ensuring the affordability of these homes for generations.

“In the year 2100, we can come back to this property and it is still going to be affordable,” said Melissa Thaxton, grants coordinator in the city’s neighborhood development services office.

Continue reading "Land trust tested as new approach for creating affordable living choices" »

May 14, 2012

Soundboard 5-11-2012 - Charlottesville's news straight from the source

Soundboard

Soundboard: Charlottesville's news straight from the source

A collaborative local news radio program by WTJU 91.1 FM, Charlottesville Tomorrow, and C-Ville Weekly.

Each Friday from 4-5 PM, tune in to hear area journalists and guests discuss local news, culture, and community issues in the Charlottesville area. Whether we're talking about city politics, scientific innovations, or the local music scene, you'll get to hear in-depth discussion about stories that matter.

Soundboard is co-hosted by WTJU's Lewis Reining and Charlottesville Tomorrow's Jennifer Marley.

Podcasts may be downloaded from this website, via RSS, and via Charlottesville Tomorrow on iTunes.

Listen using player above or download the podcast: Download 20120511-Soundboard 

The May 11 show features contributors Graelyn Brashear & Laura Ingles (from C-Ville Weekly) and Sean Tubbs (Charlottesville Tomorrow) discussing: 

  • Bids opened for U.S. 29 Western Bypass
  • City agrees to sell land near Oakwood Cemetery for affordable housing project
  • A look at the local biotechnology sector
  • guest Dorrie Fontaine, Dean of the UVA School of Nursing
  • guest Michele Claibourn, a researcher with UVa's Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service on her report "Blacks in Virginia"
  • Charlottesville City Council supports legalization of marijuana

Soundboard is produced by Robert Packard and Nathan Moore. We hope you enjoy it, and we look forward to your feedback!

 
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April 28, 2012

Soundboard 4-27-2012 - Charlottesville's news straight from the source

Soundboard

Soundboard: Charlottesville's news straight from the source

A collaborative local news radio program by WTJU 91.1 FM, Charlottesville Tomorrow, and C-Ville Weekly.

Each Friday from 4-5 PM, tune in to hear area journalists and guests discuss local news, culture, and community issues in the Charlottesville area. Whether we're talking about city politics, scientific innovations, or the local music scene, you'll get to hear in-depth discussion about stories that matter.

Soundboard is co-hosted by WTJU's Lewis Reining and Charlottesville Tomorrow's Jennifer Marley.

Podcasts may be downloaded from this website, via RSS, and via Charlottesville Tomorrow on iTunes.

Listen using player above or download the podcast: Download 20120427-Soundboard

The April 27 show features contributors Giles Morris, Graelyn Brashear & Laura Ingles (from C-Ville Weekly) and Sean Tubbs   (Charlottesville Tomorrow) discussing: 

  • guest Elizabeth “Bitsy” Waters for Arbor Day festivities
  • the Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority’s new executive director
  • the debate over mining uranium in Virginia
  • guest Katherine Loflin on placemaking, the topic of Charlottesville Tomorrow's 2012 annaul event held April 26
  • Love lawsuit and George Huguely trial
  • lawsuit against the Meadow Creek Parkway interchange
  • and a recap of the Dining Out for Life event for the AIDS/HIV Service Group

Soundboard is produced by Susan Gravatt and Nathan Moore. We hope you enjoy it, and we look forward to your feedback!

 
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April 19, 2012

Social entrepreneurs share their innovative community building projects

DailyProgressBy Brian Wheeler
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Tom Tom Founders Festival launched a series of weekly innovation talks Wednesday with a panel discussion examining “social entrepreneurs,” local people starting projects focused on social change.

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The first innovation panel at the Tom Tom Founders Festival.  (L to R) Oliver Platts-Mills, Dave Norris, Kim Suyes, Toan Nguyen, Wendy Brown, and Paul Beyer

“The underlying idea [of the festival] is that Charlottesville is a creative hub among many different disciplines,” said Tom Tom co-founder Paul Beyer, making introductions to a gathering of almost 30 people.

“Specifically with this series, we want to highlight innovation,” added co-founder Oliver Platts-Mills. “Place-based innovation is highly influenced by the place itself, Charlottesville.”



Listen using player above or download the podcast: Download 20120418-TTFF-IS

Belmont resident Michelle Oliva is a consultant supporting social enterprises. After moving here in 2010, Oliva said she is seeing a critical mass of people getting interested in this issue.

“Social entrepreneurship should be built into the DNA of a company,” said Oliva. “It should be something that is sustainable and that generates benefit to society.”

Continue reading "Social entrepreneurs share their innovative community building projects" »

City and county planning commissioners discuss affordable housing

DailyProgressBy Sean Tubbs
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission continued its $1 million livability project Tuesday with a joint meeting of the Albemarle and Charlottesville Planning Commissions. 
 
“This project is based on the recognition that this is one community,” said Stephen Williams, the executive director of the TJPDC
 
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The project is funded through a grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. One of its goals is to coordinate updates of the Charlottesville Comprehensive Plan, the Albemarle County Comprehensive Plan and the federally mandated Long Range Transportation Plan.
 
Over the past year, several workshops have been held to provide opportunities for the public to interact with staff and elected and appointed officials on topics ranging from transportation, land use policy and affordable housing
 
Over 300 people participated in the workshops and more than 700 comments have been received online. 
 
“A lot of the comments focused on affordable housing and the need to increase affordable housing in the community, both in the city and the county,” said Mandy Burbage, a planner with the TJPDC. “There was interest in ordinances supportive of affordable housing and a review process that made it easier for developers to create it.”

Continue reading "City and county planning commissioners discuss affordable housing" »

April 12, 2012

Supervisors approve Estes Park rezoning

DailyProgressBy Sean Tubbs
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Albemarle Board of Supervisors approved Wednesday a new 68-unit neighborhood north of the Forest Lakes community despite concerns from two members who objected to the way an affordable housing requirement was phrased. 
 
Estes Park is being developed by River Bend Management, which needed a rezoning of 12.75 acres in order to allow for that number of homes. 
 
At issue was River Bend’s desire to pay a cash proffer of $754,000 towards capital improvement projects, an amount that assumes a certain level of affordable housing. 
 
“That’s based on an amount that reflects a deduction for 10 affordable housing units being built,” said David Benish, the county’s chief of planning. “That [number] is reflective of the 15 percent required under the [county’s] affordable housing policy.”
 
However, River Bend has not decided yet whether to designate those units as affordable.
 
“I would love to build those affordable units, but we’re not the company who will be building the houses,” said Alan Taylor, River Bend’s vice president. 
 
Instead, the company plans to prepare the lots and turn them over to a builder. 
 

Continue reading "Supervisors approve Estes Park rezoning" »

February 16, 2012

EcoMOD project expanding efforts to build energy efficient affordable housing

DailyProgressBy Courtney Beale
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Thursday, February 16, 2012

A University of Virginia architecture professor who specializes in modular housing briefed the James River Green Building Council Tuesday on his work to bring down the cost of constructing energy efficient homes.

“The people who are at the lower end of the income level are the ones who need the most help in reducing their energy inefficiency, and yet they are also the ones who can least afford the services,” said John Quale, director of the ecoMOD research project.

Since 2004, ecoMOD has partnered with affordable housing organizations such as Habitat for Humanity and the Piedmont Housing Alliance to show that environmental awareness in construction and renovation does not need to be limited to high-end remodels and expensive new developments. Quale said each experience has translated into new insights for both ecoMOD and its partners.

Their collaborations have resulted in the construction of a single-family home on Elliott Avenue, renovations to historic homes on Ridge and 5th streets and a two-unit condominium in Fifeville, as well as projects in Mississippi and Jamaica.

Continue reading "EcoMOD project expanding efforts to build energy efficient affordable housing" »