Local group comments on apartment complex project near Rivanna River
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- Members of the public were sounding off on a proposed apartment complex near Free Bridge on Wednesday morning because they're concerned about what that might mean for the area.
People on both sides spoke, including the developer who says what is being proposed is safe.
During a nearly two-hour-long meeting Wednesday morning, citizens were able to voice their concerns about the project off High Street.
"This project as presented would have considerable negative impacts on the functionality and health, not just of the Rivanna, but of the city," said Zoe Edgecomb, a member of the Free Bridge Floodplain Advocacy Group.
The project is in a floodplain maintained by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. People like Rebecca Reilly, a member of the Free Bridge Floodplain Advocacy Group and a would-be neighbor of the complex, say it has issues.
"The river has already flooded that backfield multiple times. Most notably and recently in 2018, the water was literally up to our back fence,” said Reilly.
Justin Shimp, president of Shimp Engineering that is working on the project, says it shouldn't be a problem.
"The Rivanna River hasn't come close to a 100-year flood since Camille in 1969, which was a terrible hurricane, but even then, based on the data we have studied, didn't actually trip what the 100-year floodplain level is on the site," said Shimp.
He also says, because it is a by-right project, they are allowed to build in the area. He doesn't know why it hasn't been developed already.
"This is a by-right site plan, so the zoning for this particular use, since I think the 70s, has been distinctly not developed and we aren't sure why," he said.
Edgecomb believes the city still has a say.
"Despite the fact that this project is superficially by right, the city has an obligation to its citizens to fully inspect how the project will affect the livability of the city and the function of its critical green infrastructure," she said.
Wednesday was the first time citizens had a chance to speak on the record about the project. Reilly says her group is working on a letter campaign for city officials.