April 11, 2006                                                  

re: Franklin Street PUD

Dear Charlottesville Planning Commissioners,

In the past you have been faced with difficult decisions concerning the Woolen Mills Neighborhood, most recently there was the Burgess Lane issue, (1)

 Tonight, before you for preliminary discussion is a PUD request regarding 8/10ths of an acre fronting on Franklin Street. That 0.8a fragment of the Woolen Mills Village Lot #1 surveyed in 1885 by Jon Simms (see The Fabric of History, page two.)

I attended your work session February 28, 2006, so I have a unique view on PUDs. You hope to end PUDs!

At the work session 2/28/06 there were several discussion items that bear on this proposed Franklin Street Project:

 The Infill Development Redline-

a) There was talk of drawing a line around downtown Charlottesville. Within the boundaries of this line would be the urban area suitable for dense infill development. The Woolen Mills neighborhood did not fall within the boundaries of this line.

b) SUPs will replace PUDs. One point of discussion was Planning Commission’s ability to deny a SUP:

 because it is not in the character of the neighborhood.”-Karen Firehock

 Historic Surveys-

You are aware of efforts within the Woolen Mills Neighborhood to become a historic district and an architectural design control district.

Alas, there is a long list of neighborhoods to be surveyed and the Woolen Mills neighborhood has the unfortunate distinction of being both last on the list and being unfunded!

So, in the meantime, we, the Woolies, work individually and collectively to try and preserve our quality of life.

Oh! If you would re-read our Neighborhood Plans of 2001 and 2006! The disappointments have been so real. We have asked to be considered for down-zoning, our cemetery is zoned R2! (2)


These are the Woolen Mills neighborhood’s perennial requests:

a)    Freedom from cut through traffic

b)   Freedom from sewage stench

c)    Freedom from industrial development of our residential land

d)   Freedom from inappropriate residential development.

e)    Appreciation of our historic heritage(3)

 The Franklin Street PUD is the wrong project at the wrong place at the wrong time.

What I hope you’ll do? I hope you will talk to the developer and bring these neighborhood issues to the fore-front of their collective consciousness in a way that they can hear and understand. We, the neighbors, met with them, but they were unable to take seriously our earnest pleas. I suppose they believe that their academic and professional credentials enable them to make better choices for our neighborhood than we, mere citizens, are capable of making.

The Woolen Mills is “Williamsburg in Diapers.”  We have hopes to reestablish the walking path (4) from Monticello across Moore’s Creek and up the Rivanna Turnpike into the Mill Village. We hope to be a cultural tourist destination within the boundaries of Charlottesville. The Virginia Department of Historic Resources says we would be the first Mill Village historic district in the State of Virginia. VA DHR folk are excited by the prospect.

 We need your help!(5)


Bill Emory

1604 Woolen Mills Road (aka East Market Street)

Charlottesville Virginia 22902


 (Note to Developers: I’ve noticed some open land over at UVA between the Rotunda and old Cabell Hall.)

1- JLK Inc. hopes to rezone from R-2 Residential to B-3 Commercial the property at 1417 Burgess Lane. The R-2 zoning allows single and two-family residential. The B-3 zoning allows all types of residential and commercial. This property is identified on City Real Property Tax Map #56 as parcels 29 and 30, having collectively, 90 feet of frontage on Burgess Lane and containing approximately 19,600 square feet of land or .45 acres. The general uses called for in the Land Use Plan of the Comprehensive Plan are industrial uses.

You good folk went out on a limb for our neighborhood. Despite the fact that the 2025 LUP called for this area to be industrial you resisted the requested upzoning.

Since that time, life on Burgess Lane is good. Artisan Construction is now the Herman Key Apartments (thanks to Preston Coiner). The street, which was at the tipping point between industrial and residential is now more solidly residential.


2- Over 20 residential properties have been carved out of it, not to mention the environmental disaster which ensued because of soil and erosion BMP failures.

3-In the early ‘80’s neighborhood president Roy Baltimore requested an East Market St to Woolen Mills Road name change.

 I’ve included two newspaper articles. The first deals with the land behind 1512 East Market (Charlottesville Observer, 7/14/88). The second regards Woolen Mills Neighborhood Association president Joe Rhames request (Daily Progress 8/2/88) for relief and comprehensive vision from the City.

4- footbridge

 5- Take the developer by the hand and suggest that they maintain the character and Historic Fabric of the built environment of the Woolen Mills neighborhood. Suggest that they build one house. If they simply must have a PUD, maybe a 2 unit development sharing a common curb cut.

Be sure to point out that cut-through traffic on Franklin is destroying the quality of life in the Mill Village. Secure a proffer from them that they will support, and that their successors in title will support Franklin Street being one way south from its intersection with Market Street AND Franklin Street being closed to Commercial traffic.

Naturally, they will point across the street to Woolen Mills Self Storage. Don’t get me going. One horrible zoning error doesn’t necessitate making another!