After a long planning process, controversy and death threats, the small town of Scottsville could see its first major housing development in the city’s modern history if its city council approves a special use permit Monday night.
The council is due to vote at its monthly meeting on the permit for 36 homes on about 12 acres of property on Bird Street next to the old Hyosung Tire factory. The mayor of Scottsville, who partly supports the plan to stem an exodus of residents in the town of 524, can cast a deciding vote.
The permit application and a possible increase in population have raised concerns among Scottsville residents and members of the surrounding community, who are concerned about maintaining the area’s small-town character.
“Could this be the best thing to happen to Scottsville? May be. Could this be the worst? Maybe, but I think we’ve done our due diligence and we have to decide whether we want to have more people in Scottsville or not,” Councilman Stuart Munson said in an interview.
People also read…
Since the Special Use Permit application was submitted last year, the number of homes on offer has risen from 48 to 36. Another application for 24 homes on Blenheim Road has been put on hold.
The proposals have already sparked controversy and even threats. A former councilor quit in November, sold her house and left the area after being threatened and bullied by community members who were against the proposals.
“A rotten apple only taints the whole lot, and 99.9% of the people of Scottsville are kind, decent, honest, neighbor-minded people, but there are three or four who have shown themselves to be of real morons,” Mayor Ron Smith said during a business session after the resignation.
He said people had said things to the adviser like ‘we know where you live’ and ‘if this thing passes… we’ll deal with it’.
Community members who spoke at public meetings about the permit expressed concerns about traffic, stormwater runoff and the size of the development.
“We want development, but we want responsible growth commensurate with the size of our city,” said Cenie Re Sturm, a resident of the city, at several town meetings. “We want growth to be community driven, not developer and landowner driven.”
Retreading a factory site
Since the tire factory closed more than a decade ago, the city has discussed visions for the revitalization of the old factory and surrounding lands.
The Bird Street plant was purchased in 2011 by Charles W. Hurt, a local real estate entrepreneur, developer and founder of Virginia Land Co., for $600,000. The plant sits on 41 acres and is adjacent to an empty parcel of nearly 20 acres, both owned by limited liability companies, or LLCs, under Hurt.
A company that produces apple spirits considered buying the building in 2010, and it was suggested as an alternative to an outdoor shooting range proposed by police in 2012. The former factory and neighboring property have no not been sold since the purchase of Hurt.
Scottsville City Administrator Matt Lawless told a council business session this month that part of the work he’s been doing with state economic development officials is to trying to recruit another industrial user to the factory, with only a handful of visits and responses from potential codename companies.
“I’ve done five of these codename projects over the years, and none of them have gone very far,” he said. “The feedback I get from the state government is that the Hyosung building is outdated,” mainly due to its distance from the highway and its 15-foot ceilings, which are low by today’s standards. today.
Since 2018, when the city’s Comprehensive Plan was last updated, Scottsville has been planning and trying to get someone interested in redeveloping the old factory into a mixed-use site. The city received several grants totaling $341,000 for the study, area planning, and preservation of publicly accessible wetlands, which resulted in a market study and a small area plan for West Downtown.
In 2020, the council approved the small area plan, which included recommendations for the factory site, as well as support for private sector construction of houses on the factory hill.
The city has taken a number of other steps to promote the redevelopment of the specific Bird Street property where the Housing Special Use Permit is proposed. Last year, council voted 4 to 3 to rezone it from industrial to village residential. Council also voted to add incentives for cluster development on residential-zoned land in the village where there is public water and sewer service.
A $123,000 grant awarded last year is funding a survey and modification of the floodplain map for the town and plant site.
Last week, it was announced that the city had won a $75,000 planning grant from the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development’s Industrial Revitalization Fund, which it can use for more detailed environmental studies, surveys and site metrics and traffic studies around what the community expects. to see in the redevelopment. Lawless said it could be used as a “data packet” to give away to investors who might be interested in the site.
The special use permit has been making its way through municipal processes since September. The Planning Commission in November voted 2 to 1 to recommend approval of 36 houses instead of 48 houses.
The city also worked on permit conditions, which now include a requirement for the final site plan to generally conform to the concept plan submitted in the application; the construction of at least six and at most ten duplex houses on the site, the remainder being detached single-family houses; a phase two environmental impact study on the site; trails accessible to the public; sidewalks; and native plants used in development.
“It was certainly an iterative process; we worked with our client every word of those terms,” said Kelsey Schlein, project manager at Shimp Engineering, the company representing Hurt on the permit application.
Most special use permit and rezoning applications do not include the direct involvement of potential homebuilders during the public part of the process, but as has been a concern of some councilors, a Southern Development representative, Charlottesville-based company, which will continue development of the site if approved, will be at Monday’s meeting, said Justin Shimp, founder and principal engineer of Shimp Engineering.
In February, the board voted 4-3 to defer the final vote on the special use permit until its March 21 meeting to answer additional questions and hear from the builder.
Munson, the councilman who has said he wants to see a contract from a builder, said he wants to see a serious attempt to move forward on houses being built if that permit is approved.
“This is the heart of my concern – [I want] to be sure, as much as possible, that what we see offered is going to be what we get, and we get it as soon as possible,” he said.
The town, which spans about 1.5 square miles, lost 42 residents between the 2010 and 2020 censuses. The mayor, who only votes to break ties, is supporting the project, in part to support the township.
“If we added 50 new residents over the next two or three years, we would be back where we need to be right now,” he said. “In terms of our residents, it’s hard for me to understand why some people can’t grasp this particular concept that in order to keep a community vibrant and to make that community and the city work, you need residents.”
City Council will meet at 7 p.m. in council chambers at Victory Hall, 401 Valley Street. Virtual access is also available via Zoom, and a link is available at Scottsville.org.