Subject: Woolen Mills Conservation District petition
Memorial Day, May 30, 2016
Dear City Councilors,
The purpose of this letter is to seek your support for establishing a Historic Conservation Overlay District (CV) for a 60 acre portion of the Woolen Mills Neighborhood (that same portion which was listed on the National Register of Historic Places April 12, 2010).
For decades, the Woolen Mills Neighborhood has partnered with the City in an effort to retain the character of our community located in a bend of the Rivanna River at the foot of Monticello Mountain (a world heritage site). The Woolen Mills Village (both in Charlottesville and Albemarle County) contributes significantly to the architectural, archaeological, recreational, residential and historical offerings of our central Virginia region.
In 2006 the Virginia Department of Historic Resources (DHR) recommended that the Woolen Mills neighborhood contained a historic district potentially eligible for listing in the Virginia Landmarks Register (VLR) and the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP). Neighborhood residents initiated a project through DHR with the generous support of the city and county, to pursue an architectural and historic building survey to document properties within the neighborhood that resulted in the listing of the Woolen Mills Village Historic District in the National Register of Historic Places and the Virginia Landmarks Register. The map of the Virginia/Federal historic designated area and the National Parks Service Registration Form are included as Attachment A.
While the historic places designations did provide welcomed recognition of the worthy status of our community, as well as limited tax credits for preservation and restoration of contributing properties, they do not provide a reliable, legal basis for the continued protection of the historic structures and character of the neighborhood. The CV offers a starting point in a progression toward a small area plan to address land use issues for the entire 268 acre Woolen Mills Neighborhood. Additionally, the CV would help to avoid the loss of affordable housing, the loss of historic resources and the out of scale residential development we have seen elsewhere in the City.
The Woolen Mills Neighborhood Association meets monthly, the 2nd Monday at 7:00 p.m.. Discussion began at these meetings in September 2013 regarding the possibility of the neighborhood applying for a CV overlay. Minutes of the meetings are posted electronically at the WMNA webpage and physically at a bulletin Board in Meade Park. Subsequently, the WMNA Board approved a mailing to affected property owners to float a trial balloon about a CV. (February 2016, attachment B).
April 11, 2016. The WMNA hosted a community meeting with NDS Preservation and Design Planner Ms. Mary Joy Scala to educate residents on the pros and cons of a CV and to answer questions. The audio from this meeting is posted on the Internet.
May 6, 2016, the WMNA mailed ballots to the 68 owners of the 80 parcels which would be affected by the proposed CV overlay. In the two weeks that followed, 72% (49) of the owners responded. Three voted “no”, forty-six voted “yes”. (Attachment C)
On the basis of the positive affected property owners response to this initiative the Woolen Mills Neighborhood Association petitions to create the Woolen Mills Village Historic Conservation District and seeks official city action and approval. This letter constitutes that formal application and request.
Bill Emory (WMNA Board Secretary)
1604 E Market ST Charlottesville VA 22902
All cities contain areas, sites, or structures of architectural and/or historical interest or significance. Such structures and areas contribute to the particular uniqueness of each city and form an important part of that city’s physical and cultural heritage which, if lost, cannot be replaced. The loss of its heritage deprives the city of its individuality. Unless means can be found to retain important structures and areas in urban areas, our communities face a future of historical and architectural sterility.—Historic Landmark Study, Charlottesville, Virginia, 1976
p.s.- The petition is for the City portion of the NRHP “Woolen Mills Village” district, site #002-1260.