Cville Area Land Use Update: Week Ahead for December 4, 2023

There are really only three functional weeks left in 2023, and this week may be one of the biggest of the entire calendar year. Then again, haven’t I said that before?  

Some highlights this week: 

  • The Albemarle Board of Supervisors will meet three times this week and the Charlottesville City Council will meet twice. Nelson Supervisors have an extra meeting, and Louisa Supervisors meet on a Tuesday rather than the usual Monday. The University of Virginia Board of Visitors also meet. 
  • The results of the election in Nelson County have created a situation where the outgoing Sheriff wants to pay out annual leave to deputies who are quitting, and the incoming Sheriff wants that money to be in place for the people he wanted to hire on January 1. 
  • Charlottesville City Council will take a vote on two projects near the University of Virginia that have been altered slightly since the public hearings with the Planning Commission in November. 
  • How can Albemarle create incentives for developers to build more affordable units, allowing requirements to finally be implemented? There’s a joint meeting of the Albemarle Supervisors and the Planning Commission on Monday.
  • The public hearing for Charlottesville’s zoning code rewrite is on Tuesday at 4 p.m. and I really would like another week to finish writing up all of the meetings. WIll Council hold a vote, or wait until December 13 or later? 
  • Louisa Supervisors will consider deleting an ordinance that provides design standards for properties along the Lake Anna shoreline. 
  • The final report for the Regional Transit Governance will go before the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission on Thursday, a day after Fluvanna Supervisors take a look. 

Thanks also to the Piedmont Environmental Council for their sponsorship of this newsletter. 

Monday, December 4, 2023

Nelson Supervisors to hold special meeting to consider requests from outgoing and incoming Sheriffs 

The five members of the Nelson County Board of Supervisors will meet for a special called meeting at 10 a.m. in the General District Courtroom in the Courthouse in Lovingston. (meeting info) (packet)

After the Call to Order, there will be consideration of a subordination agreement related to the financing agreement for the Nelson Heritage Center. The county government previously gave the property at 1653 Thomas Nelson Highway in Arrington to the Millennium Group, the entity that runs the center. The site is being upgraded to accommodate the local health department.

“The project involves roughly 3500-4000 square feet of space being renovated and retrofitted to house the Nelson County Health Department,” reads a November 27 letter from Johnette Burdette, executive director of the Millennium Group. 

However, there’s a small snag. 

“The County’s deed transferring the property to the Millennium Group contains a reverter clause which states ‘if the use of the Property as a community center and for recreational and athletic activities should cease, the Property shall revert to the County,’” reads the staff report from Administrator Candy McGarry. 

That has presented a problem for Virginia Community Capital, the financial institution providing the roughly $1 million loan. If the Millennium Group were to have to foreclose, the county would not be obligated to pay the debt. The subordination agreement resolves in this some manner. 

“The Deed as written requires that the property remain a Community Center, VCC is asking that they be named as First Deed of Trust,” Burdette’s letter continues. 

Next, there will be a discussion of some logistical issues related to the transition from Sheriff David Hill to Sheriff-elect Mark Embrey. Embrey defeated the incumbent 3,387 votes to 2,997 votes according to the unofficial results. That seems to have caused many to look for other work. 

“Since November 7, 2023, our office has received numerous resignation letter from deputies actively serving within our office,” Sheriff wrote in a November 30 letter to the Board and Administrator McGarry. 

Hill said about half of his staff have announced they are leaving, with many citing prospective offers from other agencies. Hill is seeking the pay-out to keep these deputies on the force until Embry is sworn in. 

“Sheriff Hill has submitted a letter requesting the ability to offer employee retention incentives for 20 full time employees,” reads that staff report. 

This would cost the county $94,728 to pay out 3,270.5 hours of leave. 

A spreadsheet calculating the amount for Sheriff Hill’s request. 

Additionally, Sheriff-elect Embry is seeking $110,362 in local salary supplements as well as another $29,000 to implement restructuring. In his letter dated November 24, 2024 (sic), Embry said he is aware of the pending vacancies.

“Of our current staffing, at least seven sworn deputies have accepted positions with neighboring services, as these individuals have been presented financial offers that significantly exceed their existing pay-scale here in Nelson,” Embry wrote. 

Embry also said he’s contacted employees of other law enforcement agencies and enough of them have said they will come to work for Nelson County. He doesn’t want Supervisors to grant Hill’s request and he wants the money for their unpaid leave to be ready to hire his deputies. 

“In order to properly compensate each sworn personnel, I would respectfully request the authority to ‘reallocate’ the County Supplemental, funding that is presently allocated to each ‘departing’ Deputy,” Embry writes.

Embry also wants his reorganization to take place on January 1, and the reorganization comes with the implementation of ranks, with one Major, two Captains, three Lieutenants, and three Sergeants. 

This demonstrates an interesting wrinkle when Constitutional officers are elected by the people, but the revenue to fully fund their budgets is not under their control. I’m curious to follow this one.

Nelson County Supervisors will next meet on December 12. 

The organizational chart that Sheriff-elect Mark Embry wants to put in place

Charlottesville City Council to consider two large buildings on UVA’s periphery

The five member Charlottesville City Council will have two very long meetings back to back beginning Monday at 4 p.m. for another work session on department budgets followed by a regular meeting at 6:30 p.m. (meeting overview)

The budget presentation will cover Information Technology, the Charlottesville Police Department, the Charlottesville Fire Department, and the Office of Police Civilian Oversight. (view the report)

Of the four listed above, there are only further details by the Office of Police Civilian Oversight. The office currently only has one employee but a management and policy analyst position is in the process of being hired. Two other positions appear to be requested for FY2025 pending budget approval. In fact, the request is to increase the total budget for the office from $546,468 in FY24 to $686,125 in FY25. (detailed presentation)

The FY24 work plan for the Office of Police Civilian Oversight (Credit: City of Charlottesville)

The very full meeting begins with a report on the financial audit for FY23.

“The Annual Comprehensive Financial Report (ACFR) is available on the City’s website,” reads the memo. 

Except that FY23 is not on that website at publication time. 

Next is an amendment of a three-party agreement from 2012 that led to construction of a new dam at the Ragged Mountain Natural Area. 

“Construction of the New Ragged Mountain Dam was completed in 2014, and, in 2016, the initial filling of the expanded reservoir was completed to the pool level of 671 feet above sea level,” reads the staff report. 

The earthen dam is tall enough to allow for more storage and the agreement sets out conditions for when the pool level can be increase to 683 feet above sea level. Since then, there is a sense among the four parties that the bigger bathtub should be activated before those conditions are met. 

“The capacity of the reservoir needs to be increased due to the current and projected future effects of a changing climate, including but not limited to more frequent and severe storms, more severe and longer periods of drought,” the report continues. 

The water supply plan also calls for a new pipeline between the Ragged Mountain and South Fork Rivanna Reservoir, a project that is being expedited. The Ragged Mountain Reservoir is currently fed by a pipeline from the Sugar Hollow Reservoir that will be discontinued when the nine mile waterline is completed and operational. The Albemarle County Service Authority will pay for 80 percent of the cost of the bi-directional pipeline. (view the staff report)

Next, Council will consider a lease extension for 1,117 square feet of space that Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital uses for a health clinic in the Jefferson School City Center. The health care company wants to use the space for another year before relocating to a building that they own. The Parks and Recreation Department will take over the space upon their departure. (staff report)

After that, the Omni is seeking a reduction in their lease for city-owned right of way for an outdoor cafe. After renovations, the space the Omni needs is 25 square feet smaller than before. (staff report)

Two big rezoning requests near UVA

On the day before the public hearing for the Development Code, there will be decision points on two major rezoning requests that have already had their public hearing at a joint public hearing with the Planning Commission in November. 

The first is VERVE Charlottesville, a multistory building at the intersection of Stadium Road and Jefferson Park Avenue very near the University of Virginia. The project has twice received recommendations of approval from the Planning Commission with the second in November. (staff report)

The plan has been changed slightly since November 14. The total cash contribution for affordable housing has now been increased to $6 million, 17 parking spaces have been added, and non-residential space has been added at the corner of Stadium Road and Emmet Street. There will also be fewer places for people to live. 

“The enclosed revisions resulted in a net reduction of approximately 70,000 gross square feet and approximately 175 bedrooms,” reads the memo from Dylan Lambur, the Development Manager for Subtext. (read the full list)

This project also requires:

  • Council to remove the Individual Protected Property designation for 104 Stadium Road (staff report)
  • A previous agreement to close public right of way on the former Woodrow Street to be amended (staff report)
  • An ordinance May 2, 2011 authorizing the sale of city-owned 409 Stadium Road to be amended to drop requirements of that acquisition by the developer. (staff report)
  • A critical slopes waiver to be granted. (staff report)
  • A sidewalk waiver for residential development needs to be granted. (staff report)
According to the materials, “the 12-story building has been separated into 2 buildings at the northwestern corner of the property (Stadium Road and Emmet Street), with a 2-story connection at the primary corner containing active residential and non-residential uses.” (Credit: ESG Architecture & Design)

The University of Virginia has sent a letter to the City Council expressing concern over Verve Charlottesville as well as a letter to 2117 Ivy Road.  Despite the letter and perhaps in spite of it, the Planning Commission recommended 6-0 for Council to approve, according to the staff report.

However, only Council gets a vote and the project has been altered as a result. Some of the changes include:

  • The amount to be paid into the Charlottesville Affordable Housing Fund is to be increased to a maximum of $2.75 million, four times higher than what the developer calculates under the existing rules. 
  • If affordable housing is built on site, the term will be 30 years rather than 25 years. 
  • The maximum building height would be reduced from 142 feet to 124 feet. 

Finally, the Department of Social Services will present their annual report to Council. (staff report) (read the report)

The new look for 2117 Ivy Road. (look at the new plans)

Albemarle Supervisors to meet with Albemarle PC on affordable housing incentives

It’s been nearly two and a half years since the Albemarle Board of Supervisors adopted the Housing Albemarle policy to adjust expectations of developers to provide units to households at a level defined as affordable. Mandatory affordability levels were delayed until a series of incentives could be identified for developers. 

The Central Virginia Regional Housing Partnership is an initiative of the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission. They’ll convene a discussion at 1:30 p.m. at the University of Virginia’s North Fork Meeting Center to discuss the results of a July 12, 2023 roundtable. 

“Work session participants discussed a variety of incentives, covering financial, programmatic, and policy options to support both affordable rental housing and affordable homeownership opportunities,” reads a summary from Dr. Stacy Pethia, who now has the title of assistant director of housing. 

A summary in the packet reviews various pieces of enabling legislation allowed by the Virginia General Assembly, as well as what the existing incentives used in the county. There’s also a review of what Supervisors have previously discussed since Housing Albemarle was approved such as an affordable housing overlay, an affordable dwelling unit ordinance, and an affordable housing grant program. A lot of those materials are available here.

Under the item “Incentive Scenarios” there is no advance material. Will this be live-streamed? 

In other meetings:

  • The Albemarle Architectural Review Board will review an addition to the Mountaintop Montessori Middle School and get an update on the review of the cell tower policy. (agenda)

Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Louisa Supervisors to consider repeal of shoreline ordinance 

The seven member Board of Supervisors in Louisa County will meet on a Tuesday evening rather than a Monday but at the usual time of 5 p.m. They gather first for a closed session in the Louisa County Public Meeting Room and will go into full session at 6 p.m. 

Some items on the consent agenda worth noting:

  • There’s a request to authorize a budget supplement of $24,036 to the Louisa County Industrial Development Authority. This is to cover the cost of a financial incentive to Klockner Pentaplast of America related to a November 2020 performance agreement. (staff report)
  • There’s a resolution for a budget transfer for the Louisa County Water Authority related to the Louisa Regional Waste Water Treatment Plant’s Ammonia-Nitrogen that has been deemed necessary to move forward. (staff report)
  • There’s a resolution for a letter of support for grant application to made of the United States Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service. The company Lignetics operates a wood pellet plant in Buckner that’s been closed since 2016 due to emissions issues. The company is seeking the federal funding to help update the plant. (staff report)

Under information items, there will be a presentation on the Louisa County Annual Comprehensive Financial Report. This is not available in the packet but you can review previous reports on the website of the Virginia Auditor of Public Accounts

There will be a discussion on the potential repeal of the county’s shoreline ordinance. Lake Anna was constructed by Virginia Electric and Power Company over 50 years ago to provide cooling water to the nuclear power station. The company is now known as Dominion Energy. 

“Louisa County adopted the Lake Anna Shoreline Use and Design Standards ordinance in 2005, with design standards for structures including, but not limited to, fixed or floating docks, piers, boardwalks, slips, accessory buildings, or other types of development on, or attached to, Dominion’s property,” reads the staff report.

Staff is suggesting dropping these standards because they mirror ones Dominion already has in place. 

“Louisa County maintains a measure of control for building code standards through the building permit process,” the staff report continues. 

There will be a discussion on Freeman Field, the airport owned by the Louisa County Industrial Authority. There are no advanced materials. 

Under new business there will be a resolution to amend the contract for the construction for engineering and design work for synthetic turf fields at Louisa Middle School. Supervisors approved a plan to proceed with the project earlier this year but there’s a complication. 

“Subsequent to this authorization, it has been discovered that there is a force main under one of the proposed field locations, requiring a relocation of one of the turf fields to ensure safety and structural integrity,” reads the staff report. 

An additional $10,000 is required to be added to the $180,000 already authorized for the project. 

But what’s a Force Main?

“Force mains are pipelines that convey wastewater under pressure from the discharge side of a pump or pneumatic ejector to a discharge point,” reads a fact sheet from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

There will be a public hearing on a conditional use permit for a couple who want to conduct an agricultural operation on 42.51 acres of landed zoned for residential use in the Mineral Growth Overlay District. (staff report)

“Staff is of the opinion that while this proposed use may delay low density residential development of the Property and surrounding parcels, the long- term effects would not have an adverse effect on the future land uses planned for the growth area,” reads the staff report

Supervisors will next meet on December 18. 

A location map for the properties seeking a conditional use permit to be farmed (Credit: Louisa County) 

Public hearing on Charlottesville’s Development Code

There were a total of 110 speakers at the Charlottesville Planning Commission’s public hearing on the Development Code back on September 14. Since then, there have been multiple changes and multiple work sessions. I’m going to hold off on any major summary at this point because I’m still working to catch up on the two work sessions I’ve not had the chance to write-up. 

I only caught the very last minute of the November 29 work session which I wrote up here

There is no write-up summarizing any of the changes that have been made since the September 14 public hearing but community members are directed to:

. Here’s what I’ve been able to write up since the beginning of October.  

Council has reserved December 13 and December 18 as dates to take a vote if they decide to wait until after the public hearing. 

If any one has one of those devices that stop time, I’d love to borrow it.

In other meetings: 

  • The Albemarle Board of Equalization will meet at 9 a.m. (meeting info)
  • The Albemarle Economic Development Authority will hold a special virtual meeting at 1 p.m. to prepare for a future joint meeting with the Albemarle Board of Supervisors. There will also be a performance agreement for AgroSpheres. (agenda)
  • The Albemarle Broadband Authority will meet at 5 p.m. in Room 241 of the county’s office building at 401 McIntire Road. (meeting info) (agenda)

Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Albemarle Supervisors to meet with School Board 

The Albemarle Board of Supervisors will meet at 1 p.m. for their first regular meeting of the month. However Supervisors will defer the usual opening items of the meeting until 6 p.m. such as matters from the public and the consent agenda. (work session agenda) (meeting info)

The meeting begins with a joint work session with the School Board to discuss the other elected body’s budget request for the next five years. 

“As Albemarle County is expected to grow by 38 percent over 30 years, adequate capacity will continue to be a need for the School Division,” reads the executive summary of their 55 page request.

For many years, county schools have dealt with capacity issues by adding on to other schools, sometimes in temporary trailers. Last year, the long range planning committee recommended construction of two new elementary schools, a study of middle school capacity, the design of a new “high school capacity project,” and land acquisition.

Supervisors had a financial planning work session on November 15, as I wrote about last week. Let’s bring back a quote from that story:

“Long-range planning is really about [what] does our long-term trajectory look like in the county for the next five years and really asking ourselves ‘are we making decisions today that we’ll be able to afford in the future,” said Andy Bowman, the interim assistant chief financial officer for policy and partnerships. 

This work session is the only item in the afternoon work session. 

The School Board’s preferred scenario for funding in the Albemarle Capital Improvement Program (view the rest)

The 6 p.m. work session includes the consent agenda, announcements and matters from the public. (agenda)

Then there are four public hearings. 

  • One is for various amendments to the FY24 budget (materials)
  • The second is for a proposed addition to the Virginia Evans-Kinloch Agricultural Forestal District (materials)
  • The third is related to changes to the fee structure for the Community Development Department (materials)
  • The fourth is related to appointment authority. (materials)

Regional Transit Governance Study to go before Fluvanna Supervisors 

The five members of the Fluvanna County Board of Supervisors will meet at 5 p.m. in the Carysbrook Performing Arts Center at 8880 James Madison Highway in Fork Union. (meeting packet)

There are several items under action matters. 

  • There’s a resolution entitled “Supporting Israel, Condemning Terrorism, and Protecting Human Rights.” (page 5
  • There’s an update on the RISE project to expand broadband as well as a letter of support for an application for additional grant funding that’s due on December 19. (page 9). 
  • There will be an advertisement for a public hearing on January 17, 2024 to amend the county code to prohibit dogs running off leash on certain portions of county-owned property. Mainly Pleasant Grove Park. (page 13)
  • There will be a revision to the tourism strategic plan for minor and grammatical errors. (page 23)
  • There will be an update from the Virginia American Revolution 250 Commission. (page 41
  • There are carryover requests from both local government and Fluvanna public schools for items from FY23 to FY24. (page 45)
  • There will be an update on restoration of the former registrar’s office to be the new home of the Commonwealth’s Attorney and the county attorney do their work. Supervisors are being asked to spend an amount of money for the project to be determined based on the scope they decide. This calendar year is the first year of operation for the county attorney’s office which was previously a contracted position. (page 63)
  • There will be a recommendation for an appointment to the Board of Zoning Appeals. 
A map of the proposed off-leash area for dogs at Pleasant Grove Park (Credit: Fluvanna County) 

Next, Lucinda Shannon of the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission will make a presentation on the Regional Transit Governance Study. This begins on page 103 of the agenda packet. To learn more, I refer to you to recent meeting summaries:

After that, there will be a quarterly update from the Virginia Department of Transportation. (page 121)

There are no public hearings. 

Site plan conference to be held for Woodward Properties’ Cherry Avenue project 

On September 18, Council approved a rezoning and special use permit for Woodward Properties’ plans for the redevelopment of the former Estes grocery store at 501 Cherry Avenue. 

“Shimp Engineering, P.C., on behalf of the owner, WP 501 Cherry LLC, has submitted a Preliminary Site Plan for a mixed-use development with (65) residential units, (7,290) square feet of grocery/general retail, (15,856) square feet retail/non-specific, and (5,026) square feet educational,” reads a letter announcing a site plan conference to be held today at 10 a.m. 

The meeting will be held in the Neighborhood Development Services Conference Room at 10 a.m. 

“The purpose of this meeting is to give you the chance to become familiar with the site plan element of the development,” the letter continues. (meeting info)

In other meetings:

  • The Charlottesville Sister Cities Commission meets at 5 p.m. Where? You won’t find that information on the city website. The agenda for tomorrow’s meeting says this one is virtual. So, not a public meeting? (meeting info)
  • The Greene County School Board will meet at 6:30 p.m. followed by an open session at 7 p.m. They meet in the Greene County Meeting Room at 40 Celt Road in Stanardsville. This meeting will feature a public hearing on budget priorities for FY2025. 

Thursday, December 7, 2023

Albemarle Supervisors to meet with area legislators

The 2024 General Assembly is looming and it is the season where local elected officials meet with Delegates and Senators to discuss priorities. Albemarle is now within two House of Delegates rather than the four that had been within the county prior to redistricting. 

The first topic at this meeting will be the 2024 legislative priorities developed by the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission. (read the three priorities)

Next is a discussion of the county’s legislative priorities for 2024. These are:

  • “Provide state funding for the Rivanna Future project:” Albemarle has a contract to purchase 462 acres for $58 million. They want the state to match that amount in order to increase the site’s business-readiness to Tier 4 for the Intelligence and National Security Innovation and Acceleration Campus (INSIAC).
  • “Grant the County taxing authority for school division capital projects:” Local referendums for this purpose were allowed the last time Democrats held both Chambers of the General Assembly, but legislation to allow more failed in a legislature split across both parties. 
  • “Expand the authority to use photo speed monitoring devices:” Specifically, Albemarle wants to be able to use on rural roads.

There’s more in the staff report.

Finally, legislators themselves will have the opportunity to explain their priorities. This will be the first such event for Delegate-elect Katrina Callsen and Delegate-elect Amy Laufer. 

Regional body to get report on Regional Transit Governance Study

The final meeting for 2023 of the Board of Commissioners of the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission will be held at 7 p.m. The TJPDC website with the materials does not appear to be working (check here) nor do the materials for this meeting appear here on Sunday nightI uploaded the packet to cvillepedia for now

The first presentation is on the Regional Transit Governance Study, which was before the Fluvanna Board of Supervisors the night before and the Albemarle Board of Supervisors on November 1. 

After that is a presentation on the Watershed Improvement Program, a topic I’ve not covered for a while and hope to use this to provide an update. 

In other meetings: 

  • The Community Policy and Management Team meets at 9 a.m. in Room 231 at the County Office Building at 1600 5th Street (meeting info)
  • The Charlottesville Sister Cities Commission will meet in CitySpace at 4:30 p.m. (meeting info)
  • The Albemarle Natural Heritage Commission meets virtually at 5:30 p.m. (agenda) (meeting info)
  • The Albemarle Fire and Emergency Medical Services Rescue Board meets at 1800 hours in Room 246 of the county’s office building at 401 McIntire Road. (meeting info) (agenda)
  • The Places29-Rio Community Advisory Committee meets in Room 241 of COB-McIntire at 6 p.m. They’ll discuss the Transportation and Land Use portion of the AC44 Comprehensive Plan update. (agenda) (meeting info)
  • The Charlottesville Human Rights Commission meets in CitySpace at 6:30 p.m. but there’s no agenda as of Sunday.  (meeting info)

This post was contributed by Sean Tubbs. Sean is a journalist working to build a new information and news outlet centered around Charlottesville and Virginia. In 2020, he launched a daily newscast and newsletter and also created a semi-regular podcast on the pandemic.

Support for Sean’s “Week Ahead” update comes from The Piedmont Environmental Council.