Development near Free Bridge is worrying residents
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- The city has been dealing with a number of controversial development projects, including the proposed Dairy Market expansion and the 245-unit apartment building that would be built near Free Bridge.
A recent planning commission meeting was packed with concerned community members who wanted to share their input before any decisions were made.
Some people fear the development plans near Free Bridge would have a negative ecological effect on the nearby Rivanna River and the floodplains on which it would be built.
"People use it for recreation, for exercise, for nature, for just exposure to the outdoors," said Rebecca Reilly with the advocacy group called No Floodplains Buildings Group.
A 245-unit development near Free Bridge has a lot of people on edge, because it would sit on seven acres of land near the Rivanna River on the floodplain.
At a standing-room-only city meeting, opponents of the project shared their thoughts.
"The objections that we have stem from the scale and the impact that it would have on not just the river and the neighborhood, but also surrounding businesses and traffic patterns," said Reilly.
The development is a by-right project, meaning no rezoning or special use permit is required from the city.
"We are more concerned with just shutting down the inappropriateness of the project," said Reilly.
Reilly says the land should be developed differently.
"We definitely have always known that this land could be developed and I would say that many of us would not have had an objection to a development of some sort," she said.
"The bottom line is they are the ones that will have to as the public live with this, be part of their community, so we want the best project possible," said City Councilor Juandiego Wade.
Wade says, although the developer can build what it wants, there are some features that are shared with the public like roads, trails and parks.
Maintaining those would keep the site in line with the city's comprehensive plan, which outlines priority areas, including the environment, affordable housing, and public transportation.
"What we have to do as decision-makers have to look at what's best for the city of Charlottesville and its residents," Wade said.
It's important to note that the proposed project is in the very early stages. It would need to be passed by the planning commission first before the council could even take it up for a vote.