Supervisor has eye on regional funds for mixed-income housing development

Residents of the Kents Store/Ferncliff area listen at an Aug. 21 meeting at Kents Store Agricultural Recreation Building as Heidi Shalloway and Greg Hosaflook (seated at table) share their concerns about a possible mixed-income housing development.

The county is hoping to tap into $2 million in regional funds for future affordable housing needs, possibly including a mixed-income housing development in Ferncliff or another location, said Bob Babyok, Louisa County Board of Supervisors chairman.

Babyok told participants in an Aug. 21 meeting at the Kents Store Agricultural Recreation Center that the county is also still hoping to receive $775,000 in federal funds. Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger submitted the county’s request to a House of Representatives budget committee earlier this year, and the funds were included in legislation now pending in the Senate.

The $2 million was awarded to Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission in July by Virginia Housing. The planning agency said it would partner with a local for-profit or nonprofit developer to create new affordable homes in the region.

Supervisor Fitzgerald Barnes (Patrick Henry District) also attended the meeting to speak with community members and discuss their concerns and questions about the proposed Ferncliff housing development.

Heidi Shalloway, who lives next door to the Ferncliff site and is opposed to the housing proposal, helped organize the meeting. She said some 50 people attended.

Habitat for Humanity of Charlottesville wants to develop 80 to 120 homes and a community center on the property, which is located near the corner of Three Notch Road (Route 250) and Mallory Road. Twenty-five of the houses would be designated for families making 25 to 60 percent of the area median income.

Shalloway and Greg Hosaflook, another neighbor of the 13-acre county-owned Ferncliff site, said the location is inappropriate for a such a dense housing development.

Habitat prepared an application in early 2021 to rezone the property from agricultural use to planned unit development. It delayed moving forward with the rezoning after holding a neighborhood meeting in April. Barnes later said it did not make sense to move forward unless the federal subsidy is secured.

“I object to rezoning it to the highest-level zoning in the county,” said Hosaflook. “The Ferncliff area does not have the amenities, roads and infrastructure right now. If it gets built up like Zion Crossroads, it might fit here in 20 to 25 years.”

Shalloway said it was upsetting to her that county officials and Habitat were not more transparent about their plans.

Dan Rosenzweig, Habitat of Charlottesville executive director, said he has heard a lot of misinformation about the Ferncliff project, such as the suggestion that Habitat might build apartments on the property. He said they “have never been in the mix.”

A rezoning package shared with the CV in early July says that while single-family homes are Habitat’s priority, two-family attached homes, townhomes and multifamily dwellings are also possible.

Rosenzweig said he would have liked to have been invited to the Aug. 21 meeting to explain Habitat’s position.

Habitat typically expects local governments it partners with to provide some funding to make the project work, he said. It’s too early to know whether the $775,000 would be enough of a subsidy.

Babyok plans to form a committee at the next supervisors’ meeting on Sep. 7 to look at the property in Ferncliff and additional sites that may be considered for the housing development. Barnes said once a site is chosen, a community meeting will be held for people who live in the nearby area.

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