There were cheers, hugs and tears as the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors approved the first phase of the redevelopment of Southwood Mobile Home Park on Wednesday night.
The unanimous vote followed a long discussion about potential issues with the proposal.
Habitat for Humanity of Greater Charlottesville bought the property off Old Lynchburg Road near Fifth Street Extended in 2007, and it plans to redevelop the site into a 700- to 800-unit mixed-income, mixed-use development. Habitat expects to do the project without displacing any of the current residents.
The current rezoning request would apply to about 34 acres of vacant land and allow for a maximum of 450 residential units and up to 50,000 square feet of nonresidential buildings.
“I will say, the things that are said are wonderful,” Supervisor Liz Palmer said. “I'm worried about what's actually in the code of development so we can be assured before we do any upzoning like this that we're getting what we think we’re getting.”
The county Board of Supervisors in June approved an agreement with Habitat for the redevelopment of the site that could give the organization $3.2 million if certain milestones are met.
The project was recommended for approval by the Albemarle County Planning Commission in July, but at the next meeting, five commissioners unanimously passed two resolutions based on ongoing concerns, such as a desire for a detailed rehousing plan for all 341 Southwood homes and more information about rentals for Southwood families, among other issues.
Nearby residents have also expressed concerns about Habitat’s plans to sell some of the parcels to for-profit developers, potential traffic problems and the height of buildings along Old Lynchburg Road.
County staff on Wednesday went over some of the concerns about the proposed location for the “neighborhood center” and the building heights.
“Since the Master Plan designates a center at this location, which was discussed through a community-vetted process during the update to the Master Plan in 2015, and the Comprehensive Plan states that centers are the most intensive — along with the guidance that Southwood should be a mixed-income, mixed-use community with retail and or services area provided for the neighborhood — staff found the increase in height is appropriate in this location,” said county principal planner Megan Nedostup.
Supervisors asked questions about stormwater facilities, long-term affordability, safety and green space.
Don Franco, from Roudabush, Gale & Associates, spoke on behalf of Habitat about the project.
More than 25 people spoke during the public comment period. All were in favor of the project.
This story will be updated.