Monday, March 20, 2006

Levy Avenue for sale, eminent domain bills to be heard Monday

The Housing Authority board met January 10 to discuss a sale that has had no takers for decades. The agency will only sell the land if you build what they want-- "30 units, single-family homes and town houses and on-site parking." The housing board must approve your blueprint. Howard Evergreen said that CRHA has owned, free and clear, nearly one acre on Levy for many years. [CRHA rents the parcel to the city as an employee parking lot for $1 a year.]

(Charlottesville Independent Media, Feb 3 2006)


January 10, 2006

The Redevelopment Committee of the Charlottesville Redevelopment and HousingAuthority met in Regular Session on January 10, 2006 in the Maintenance OfficeConference Room.

Committee Members Present: Rick Jones, Howard Evergreen, Kendra Hamilton, JasonHalburt, Ron Higgins, Jeff Sties and Richard Funk

Staff Present: Noah Schwartz, Executive Director

Jeff Sties introduced himself as an independent architect operating his own firm. His current work centers mostly on single-family homes.

Mr. Evergreen summarized the committee’s efforts to develop housing at the Levy Avenue site to date. He explained that CRHA has owned, free and clear, nearly one acre on Levy for many years. With the intent to build affordable housing on that site, the committee released an RFP for architectural services in February, 2005. From that RFP, the committee chose to negotiate with one architect. From that negotiation, it was determined that the cost of the proposed architectural services was beyond what CRHA was willing to commit to.

The committee then re-thought the process and decided to pursue an architecture/builder team in an effort to create positive synergy and lower the cost. An RFP for those services was released in July, 2005. Though the committee held a number of discussions with interested firms, with the award date looming and many questions still to be considered, the committee decided not to make an award at that time and to re-think the project again.

While considering the RFP process for the third time, the committee received guidance from CRHA’s legal representation that suggested a combined RFP for architectural and construction services was not the optimum route. Further, it was strongly suggested that the committee develop a more concrete set of ideas as to what this project would look like before writing and issuing an RFP for architectural services.

Today’s meeting, with two new committee members (architects) was being held to try and come up with a more detailed project plan to serve as the basis to issue and RFP for architectural services.

Committee members asked how much detail does the committee want to get into? Do we want to look at exterior finishes?

Mr. Sties suggested that more detail is better though it will allow less flexibility down the road in terms of builder alternatives.

Committee members asked about building costs associated with modular structures. Mr. Jones asked if there might be a modular package CRHA could use for building town homes on the site. Mr. Evergreen responded that, in his experience, we may be able to do so but that anything we did would required some amount of architectural design work.

Mr. Halbert stated that decisions about how green or how affordable a project should be are best done in early stages.

Members of the committee asked if Mr. Halbert had any recommendations on the green issue.
Mr. Halbert and Mr. Sties responded that there are any number of models available, from EnergyStar to Earthcraft to LEED. He explained that EnergyStar really focuses on energy usage, such as with appliances, while the Earthcraft model focuses more on energy systems such as insulation, framing, air infiltration and other building envelope features. The LEED system gets into issues such as site location, transportation issues, etc.

It was asked if we should take the LEED standard in doing site review and focus on key points. Mr. Schwartz asked if there was any consensus as to whether or not that approach sounded reasonable.

Mr. Jones suggested that we take a look at cost factors first and then decide what energy efficiency measures we can afford.

Mr. Funk suggested the committee look at our market before we get into too much detail on these points.

Other committee members asked if we were talking about home ownership? Are CRHA’s residents the target market? Do we want condominiums? Do we want apartments?

The committee discussed two separate development models. The first model was consistent with how this project had originally been pursued with the profit from market rate units used to subsidize below market unit sales to low-income families. The other model is dependent on external revenue streams like those from private foundations or government sources to subsidize the entire project.

The committee discussed these points and whether or not they could be merged.

Additionally, the committee discussed who the target low-income population was and came to some agreement that units should be affordable to market rate buyers (70%), low-income buyers at 50% of the regional AMI (15%) and low-income buyers at 80% of the regional AMI (15%).

Mr. Higgins stated that the original goal of the project was to develop a model of mixedincome development and that we need to decide if that is still the intent. The committee appeared to support that original goal and targeting three buyer groups; market rate buyers (70%), low-income buyers at 50% of the regional AMI (15%) and low-income buyers at 80% of the regional AMI (15%).

The committee agreed to pursue two sets of tasks at this time. First, Mr. Halbert would begin to investigate the availability of grant funds for this type of project. Second, the committee would continue to pursue the project consistent with the original goal. Mr. Funk and Mr. Sties agreed to review previously submitted plans and try to come up with some general ideas for the group to consider. Their basic assumptions would be that there would be about 30 units, single-family homes and town houses and on-site parking.

The next meeting is planned for January 24 at 8:30 AM. at the Maintenance Office.


1. Mr. Steven Blaine - Commissioner Term Expires: 6/30/07
2. Ms. Christina Delzingaro - Commissioner Term Expires: 6/30/08
3. Mr. Jason Halbert - Commissioner Term Expires: 6/30/08
4. Ms. Kendra Hamilton - Chair/Commissioner Term Expires: 6/30/06
5. Mr. Richard H. Jones - Vice-Chair/Commissioner Term Expires: 6/30/07
6. Ms. Brynda Loving-Kotter –Resident Commissioner Term Expires: 6/30/07
7. Ms. Debra Godfrey - Resident Commissioner Term Expires: 6/30/08

(Accessed Feb 3 2006. I'm not sure why the minutes refers to Howard Evergreen as a committee member and the same website excludes him from the official list.)


"City has plan for Levy site: Mixed-income idea novel for housing," Jun 19 2003, The Daily Progress.

"Levy Avenue Design Workshop," Belmont-Carlton Neighborhood Association Newsletter, Summer 2003.--"This spring, neighborhood residents and city leaders, including Mayor Maurice Cox, gathered for a design workshop sponsored by the Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority to explore options for development of the Housing Authority property at 405 Levy Avenue, next to Walker's Auto Repair... On the ground level at the Avon Street and 6th Street corners of the property, participants recommended higher density buildings, housing apartments above, and uses like cafe, video store, laundromat for the spaces at sidewalk level. At the center of the block, participants recommended construction of rowhouses, like those in Richmond's Fan District, with a shared private park/garden behind, and garages with 'Granny-flat'studio apartments."

****************************************In the General Assembly:

Monday morning [Feb 6] at 9 AM the Senate subcommittee of Courts of Justice will hear all Senate Eminent Domain Bills and possibly a new version of HB94, which, though modified because of property owner opposition, is still totally unacceptable.

Every Coalition member, please take a minute to contact the Chair of this subcommittee, Senator Tommy Norment and let him know you are opposed to SB394 patroned by Senator Stolle, as well as HB94, which will be heard in the Senate soon, and that you support the SB631 substitution patroned by Senators Obenshain, O'Brien, and Cuccinelli.

Let them know clearly that you expect the General Assembly to protect you from the Kelo decision as they promised to do with clear straightforward language that does not have loop holes designed to protect developers and allow your property to be used for local development.

It is not hard to define public use or to exclude the use of eminent domain for econimic development, if the will to do so it present. Support:SB631 Patroned by Delegates, Obenshain, O'Brian, & Cuccilelli Oppose: HB394, Patroned by Senator Stolle HB94, Co-patroned in the Senate by R. Creigh Deeds, Jay O'Brien , Frank M. Ruff HB 94 is the bill universally supported by the developers and the local governments, which in itself speaks volumes. If you are a constituent of any of these Senators, contact them immediately and urge them to drop their support of this bill and consider the language in SB 631

Nancy McCordPresident, Virginia Property Rights Coalition

SENATE BILL NO. 631 Offered January 16, 2006 A BILL to amend and reenact § 15.2-1900 of the Code of Virginia, relating to definition of "public use." ----------Patron-- Cuccinelli ----------Referred to Committee on Local Government ----------Be it enacted by the General Assembly of Virginia:

1. That § 15.2-1900 of the Code of Virginia is amended and reenacted as follows:
§ 15.2-1900. Definition of public uses.

The term "public uses" mentioned in Article I, Section 11 of the Constitution of Virginia is hereby defined to embrace [strike]all uses which are necessary for public purposes[strike]
[replace with] only the possession, occupation, and enjoyment of land by the general public or by public agencies, or the use of land for the creation or functioning of public utilities. Public benefits or potential public benefits, including economic or private development, or an increase in the tax base, tax revenues, employment, or general economic health, shall not constitute a public use. The question of whether a taking of private property is for a public use shall be a judicial question to be determined without regard to any legislative declaration regarding the nature of the use.

HOUSE BILL NO. 94 Offered January 11, 2006 Prefiled December 19, 2005

A BILL to amend and reenact §§ 15.2-1800 and 15.2-1814 of the Code of Virginia, to amend the Code of Virginia by adding a section numbered 1-237.1, and to repeal § 15.2-1900 of the Code of Virginia, relating to eminent domain; definition of public uses. ----------

Patrons-- Suit, Albo, Athey, Brink, Callahan, Cole, Cosgrove, Crockett-Stark, Dudley, Frederick, Gear, Hugo, Hurt, Johnson, Kilgore, Landes, Lingamfelter, Lohr, Miller, Morgan, Nutter, Orrock, Parrish, Peace, Purkey, Rust, Tata, Waddell, Ware, R.L., Wittman and Wright;
Senators: Deeds, O'Brien and Ruff

----------Referred to Committee on Counties, Cities and Towns ----------Be it enacted by the General Assembly of Virginia:

1. That §§ 15.2-1800 and 15.2-1814 of the Code of Virginia are amended and reenacted and that the Code of Virginia is amended by adding a section numbered 1-237.1 as follows:

§ 1-237.1. Public uses.

A. The term "public uses" mentioned in Article I, Section 11 of the Constitution of Virginia is hereby defined to include any uses necessary for public purposes where a governmental entity is the owner of the private real property acquired by the use of eminent domain. However, where any private real property is acquired through the exercise of the power of eminent domain for public purposes and is conveyed to a nongovernmental person or entity, the power of eminent domain shall only be used where the property being condemned is acquired:

1. Pursuant to Chapter 1 of Title 36 generally known as the Housing Authorities Law;

2. By a local government for the purpose of conveyance to a public service corporation or company that is authorized to exercise the power of eminent domain pursuant to § 56-49;

3. Pursuant to § 33.1-96 by the Transportation Commissioner for the purpose of relocation of utilities or other facilities located in the highway rights-of-way;

4. For the purpose of constructing, maintaining or operating public highways or other transportation facilities of the Commonwealth or a locality;

5. For the purpose of being used as a qualifying project as defined in the Public-Private Transportation
Act of 1995 (§ 56-556 et seq.);

6. For the purpose of construction, operation or maintenance of local government facilities or infrastructure as designated in the capital improvements program of the locality pursuant to § 15.2-2239 or required as part of a land-use approval under Title 15.2, including but not limited to sanitary sewer, water, and stormwater management facilities;

7. Pursuant to Chapter 51 of Title 15.2 under the Virginia Water and Waste Authorities Act for water or waste facilities;

8. Pursuant to § 15.2-2306 A 4 for preservation of historic sites and architectural areas;

9. For the purpose of being used as a qualifying project as defined in the Public-Private Education Facilities and Infrastructure Act of 2002 (§ 56-575.1 et seq.);

10. Pursuant to § 15.2-1801 for acquisition of land adjacent to public parks;

11. For the purpose of acquiring clear title if one or more of the landowners consents in writing to the use of eminent domain; or

12. Pursuant to other general law expressly granted by the General Assembly.

B. Nothing herein shall be construed to prevent a governmental entity from conveying surplus property to a nongovernmental person or entity as otherwise provided by law.

C. Nothing in this section shall be construed to affect the power of eminent domain referenced in subdivisions A 1 through A
11. § 15.2-1800. Purchase, sale, etc., of real property.

A. A locality may acquire by purchase, gift, devise, bequest, exchange, lease as lessee, or otherwise, title to, or any interests in, any real property, whether improved or unimproved, within its jurisdiction,
for any public use. Acquisition of any interest in real property by condemnation is governed by Chapter 19 (§ [15.2-1900] 15.2-1901 et seq.). The acquisition of a leasehold or other interest in a telecommunications tower, owned by a nongovernmental source, for the operation of a locality's wireless radio communications systems shall be governed by this chapter.

B. Subject to any applicable requirements of Article VII, Section 9 of the Constitution, any locality may sell, at public or private sale, exchange, lease as lessor, mortgage, pledge, subordinate interest in or otherwise dispose of its real property, which includes the superjacent airspace (except airspace provided for in § 15.2-2030) which may be subdivided and conveyed separate from the subjacent land surface, provided that no such real property, whether improved or unimproved, shall be disposed of until the governing body has held a public hearing concerning such disposal. However, the holding of a public hearing shall not apply to (i) the leasing of real property to another public body, political subdivision or authority of the Commonwealth or (ii) conveyance of site development easements across public property, including but not limited to, easements for ingress, egress, utilities, cable, telecommunications, storm water management, and other similar conveyances, that are consistent with the local capital improvement program, involving improvement of property owned by the locality. The provisions of this section shall not apply to the vacation of public interests in real property under the provisions of Articles 6 (§ 15.2-2240 et seq.) and 7 (§ 15.2-2280 et seq.) of Chapter 22 of this title.

C. A city or town may also acquire real property for a public use outside its boundaries; a county may acquire real property for a public use outside its boundaries when expressly authorized by law.

D. A locality may construct, insure and equip buildings, structures and other improvements on real property owned or leased by it.

E. A locality may operate, maintain and regulate the use of its real property or may contract with other persons to do so.

F. This section shall not be construed to deprive the resident judge or judges of the right to control the use of the courthouse.

G. "Public use" as used in this section shall have the same meaning as in § [15.2-1900] 1-237.1.
§ 15.2-1814. Acquisition authorized by chapter declared to be for public use.

Any acquisition of property authorized by any provision of this chapter is hereby declared to be for a public use as the term "public uses" is used in § [15.2-1900] 1-237.1.

2. That § 15.2-1900 of the Code of Virginia is repealed.


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