Questions submitted about the CV

From: Lem Oppenheimer <[email protected]>
Date: Mon, Nov 28, 2016 at 11:27 AM
Subject: Questions for Meeting
To: <[email protected]>
Cc: John Frazee <[email protected]>

Mary Joy, thank you for coming back to the neighborhood. We look forward to hearing more about this. My initial questions that come to mind:

1. What, in simple terms, are the actual benefits of the historic overlay? What does it actually help or prevent in the neighborhood?

2. What do you say as any negatives of this?

3. Can individual properties opt out of it within the neighborhood? It seems like with the very patchwork nature of the overlay map, it would be permissible.

4. How much minimum and on average can a home owner expect to have to spend with BAR to make any changes to their homes, or build new, or additions? What are the rules that govern when BAR would be involved?

5. Why would this be considered at all for this neighborhood? Looking at the overlay map, and at my immediate neighbors – all within the overlay – there is little “historic” about any of it and little that connects them all besides being on the same street. I am looking at two small rental units built within last 30 years, a modern house built within last 10 years, a house that was moved from outside of the overlay area, a brick ranch that was built within last 30 years, and other houses that have no real historic connection to the woolen mills neighborhood. Why on earth should this be all grouped together into some historic overlay?

Lem Oppenheimer
Chief Operating Officer / Co-Founder
Easy Star Records


bill emory <[email protected]>
6:01 PM
to Mary, John, Melanie
Questions for Melanie Miller BAR Chair

  • In the 6 years under a CV overlay has the Martha Jefferson neighborhood experienced depressed real estate sales?
  • In the 6 years under a CV overlay has the Martha Jefferson neighborhood experienced a perceptible downturn in renovations and additions?
  • Have Martha Jefferson neighbors found the CV requirements onerous?


From: Connor Childress <[email protected]>
Date: Fri, Nov 18, 2016 at 2:29 PM
Subject: Woolen Mills CV
To: “Scala, Mary Joy” <[email protected]>
Cc: [email protected]

Mary Joy,

I own a house in the proposed Woolen Mills Historic Conservation District (“CV”).  I have some concerns about the implementation of the CV which I hope you can address.  Before getting to those concerns, I would like to outline my understanding of the process under a CV so that you can set me straight if I don’t understand it properly.

My understanding of process:
Under a CV, an applicant who wants to put a building, structure, or make an addition to a building or structure on their lot, must first take a basic plan of the alteration to the director (my understanding from our April meeting is that is you, although the code refers to the “director of neighborhood development services” which appears to be Alex Ikefuna) for review.  The director will then either confirm that no certificate of appropriateness (“COA”) is needed, or, if one is needed, will ask the property owner to submit 10 copies of the list of materials contained in 34-345 of the CV ordinance.  If no COA is needed, the review fee is $100 and upon a determination that no COA is needed the applicant may make their alteration (assuming receipt of a building permit, if necessary).  If a COA is needed, the review fee varies from $125-$375 and the BAR has 45 days to review the proposed alteration from the date of receipt of the complete application, unless the applicant agrees to extend the time period in order that their application not be denied or approved subject to conditions that they do not want.

Here are my concerns/questions:
1)      Is there a list of definitions for words used in the CV ordinance that supercedes the definitions in the zoning code?  Specifically, I am concerned about the following words:

a. Structure-  The zoning code defines a “structure” as “anything constructed or erected, the use of which requires permanent location on the ground, or attachment to something having a permanent location on the ground.”  If this definition applies, then, by the plain reading of the ordinance, the use of the word “structure” in the CV would require a COA or a determination that a COA is not needed for items which I previously did not think the CV applied to, such as: a back yard fence, children’s play set, play house, pool, gazebo, pergola, outdoor kitchen, trellis, back yard porch, back yard deck, etc… (“Potentially Prohibited Items”).

b. Construction- The CV ordinance in 34-340 provides that “All proposed new construction requires approval of a COA by the BAR.”  When I first read this I implicitly read it as meaning  “construction of a building” but the words “of a building” are not in the CV so it applies to a building, structure, or addition.  Does that mean that any of the Potentially Prohibited Items listed above that must be constructed (most of them) are automatically subject to review by the BAR?  I don’t see an exemption in 34-340(e) that would cover Potentially Prohibited Items (i.e. structures that are not buildings) but maybe I am missing it.

2)      Is there any precedential value in prior decisions of the director or the BAR?  If the director decides that a COA is not necessary for construction of a playset in a backyard, is the director then bound to always determine that a backyard playset does not need a COA?  Would a successor to the director be bound by that decision?  At the April presentation you said many things to soothe my concerns about the practical application of the two words I’ve highlighted above and to make me fairly comfortable that I could put a Potentially Prohibited Item in my rear yard with either no review or solely administrative review depending on the item.  I am concerned that your views of what is subject to approval may not match your successor’s views and also may not hold up in court in the event they are challenged by a neighbor (see #3 below).   Given that the CV will be in place long after you retire, I’m trying to find some comfort that what Woolen Mills property owners think they are signing up for based on the April presentation is what they are actually going to get over the long term.

3)      What is the appeal process in the event the director determines something does not need a COA?  For instance, if an applicant were to bring a proposed alteration to the director and the director determines that the applicant does not need to go to the BAR for a COA, can a neighbor challenge this determination based on the plain reading of the ordinance?

4) Once a neighborhood is designated as a CV can the CV ordinance be unilaterally amended by the City and applied to the neighborhood in its amended form? Or would the amended CV only apply to neighborhoods that received the CV designation after the amendment to the ordinance? [Note: Remainder of original question deleted due to clarification from Bill Emory].

Thank you for taking the time to read and consider these questions and concerns.  I also hope that you, or Alex if he is now tasked with determining whether a COA is need, will make the time to come back out to speak to our association.  My hope is that, much like your presentation in April, you will have answers that can both set me straight and alleviate my concerns.  For ease of reference, I’ve attached the cited portion of the CV Ordinance and here is the link to the definitions in the zoning ordinance:


From: Syme, Preston (pts8q)
Sent: Sunday, November 27, 2016 9:27 AM
To: [email protected]
Cc: John Frazee
Subject: CV Question

Mary Joy,
Re the upcoming meeting on the Woolen Mills proposed CV, two questions that it might be helpful to address.
1. When the ordinance talks about “new structures”, I assume this means those that require a building permit, not storage sheds < 256 sq. ft., chicken coops, etc. right?
2. Could you expand on how the documentation and fee requirements are applied. A personal example, I plan to replace my standing seam roof with another standing seam roof of the same design and color. Although this requires no permit, it does involve a demo partially in the front, so in a C V I would need BAR approval (I live in a contributing structure). Would this require drawings and specifications, paying the demo fee, admin fee, or what? Not that it matters all that much, given what the roof replacement is going to cost me, any fee is a trifling addition. However, the topic of unnecessary paperwork / fees has come up.

Thanks. See you on 12/1

Pete Syme
1600 E. Market St.
Charlottesville, Va. 22902

David Puckett <[email protected]>
Wed, Nov 30, 2016 at 3:37 PM
To: Louis J Schultz <[email protected]>, bill emory <[email protected]>, Woolen Mills List <[email protected]>

I am curious.

What exactly are the benefits of having this conservation district and by that I mean what’s in it that benefits the individual property owners?

Seems like a simple question that should have a clear concise answer.


bill emory <[email protected]>    Wed, Nov 30, 2016 at 7:33 PM
To: “Scala, Mary Joy” <[email protected]>, John Frazee <[email protected]>

Dear Mary Joy,
Does the CV overlay require BAR review for every new fence, post mounted bird feeder, gazebo and garden shed in the district?
Bill Emory

Scala, Mary Joy <[email protected]>
Thu, Dec 1, 2016 at 9:23 AM  To: “Emory, Bill” <[email protected]>
The ordinance is not specific on these items (all new construction is subject to BAR review) so I have taken a common sense approach in interpreting the ordinance. The ordinance does not provide for administrative reviews, so if I think approval is necessary, it must go to BAR.

Fences- there is a guidelines that fences or walls in the front yard (including fences in the side yards between the street and the front of the house) should not exceed 3.5 feet in height. So those would require BAR approval. On Rugby at Fendall we allowed them to build a taller fence along Fendall behind the front of the house.

Bird feeders, playground equipment, basketball hoops – I interpret that they do not require review.

Gazebo and garden shed – accessory structures are not permitted by zoning in the front yard, nor corner side yards, nor within 5 feet of side or rear property lines, nor closer than 8 feet to the main building. So I would only be concerned with accessory structures that are located legally, in the side or rear yard, but are still visible from the street. Then the question becomes, how large a structure rises to the level of  BAR review?

I responded to the same question from Laura Covert that, if a shed requires a building permit (at least 256 sq ft) and you can see it from the street, it requires BAR review. If you cannot see it from the street, then it does not require BAR review.

If a shed is small enough that it does not require a building permit, and is legally located, then I would make a determination that it does not require BAR review in a conservation district.

Mary Joy Scala, AICP
Preservation and Design Planner
City of Charlottesville
Department of Neighborhood Development Services
City Hall – 610 East Market Street
P.O. Box 911
Charlottesville, VA  22902
Ph 434.970.3130  FAX 434.970.3359
[email protected]

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