Cville Area Land Use Update: Week Ahead for November 27, 2023

I often begin writing this summary of upcoming meetings with the words “this is a slow week” but often I write that phrase out and wind up writing down over 4,000 words. I don’t think that’s going to be the case for this week that has a fifth Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. 

In fact, this one clocks in at just over 2,000 words and I anticipate catching up on a lot of stories I’ve been meaning to write. Here’s some of what will happen this week: 

  • The Charlottesville Planning Commission will get a first look at the proposed capital budget for FY25 as well as the overall five-year capital improvement program.
  • Charlottesville City Council will have their final work session on the Development Code before the December 5 public hearing.
  • The Albemarle Planning Commission will have public hearings on the proposed High School Center II as well as a rezoning for 21 units on Avon Street Extended. 
  • There are no meetings in Greene County, Louisa County, or Nelson County 

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

Monday, November 27, 2023

Albemarle Audit Committee to meet 

All localities in Virginia have to have their books reviewed by an external auditor. Many elected bodies have committees that review this work before the accounts are closed for a given fiscal year. Albemarle’s version meets on Monday morning.

“Its primary function is to assist the Board in carrying out its oversight responsibilities by reviewing financial information provided in the County’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, by reviewing any material weaknesses in the County’s system of internal accounting controls, as reported by the external auditor, and by reviewing the annual audit process and its results,” reads the website for the Albemarle Audit Committee

The Albemarle County Audit Committee will meet at 10:30 a.m. in Room 241 of the county office building at 401 McIntire Road. There’s no agenda but the meeting can be watched online. (meeting info)

On November 15, the Board of Supervisors had a work session on the five-year financial outlook, a key step in the development of the budget for FY2025. I hope to write up that discussion sometime this week. 

Albemarle Historic Preservation Committee to review AC44 goals

The Albemarle Historic Preservation Committee will meet at 4:30 p.m. in Room 241 of the county’s office building at 401 McIntire Road. (meeting info)

“The Committee takes an active role in identifying and documenting cultural resources of importance to the community and provides assistance and advice concerning the County’s historic preservation program,” reads a description on the committee’s website.

As such, the committee has been weighing in on the update of Albemarle County’s Comprehensive Plan. There are currently a series of questionnaires about the draft goals and objectives in the plan and the Committee will discuss at this meeting. One of the chapters is the Historic, Scenic, and Cultural Resources and those goals are:

  • Goal #1: Albemarle County will recognize, celebrate, and increase awareness of the broad range of historic, cultural, and scenic resources that contribute to Albemarle’s unique sense of place. 
  • Goal #2: Albemarle County will protect its historic, cultural, scenic, and rural resources and natural environment whole considering the future trajectory of development in the community. 
  • Goal #3: Albemarle County will have opportunities for all community members to access and enjoy local historic, scenic, and cultural resources. 
  • Goal #4: Albemarle County will have attractive and scenic entrance corridors and other important county roadways that support the county’s natural environment and unique sense of place.

Take the survey if you are so inclined.

The Historic Resources Committee will also review a list of recent and pending demolitions. They will not meet in December but will be back on January 22, 2024. 

As for the AC44 process, the Planning Commission discussed the Housing and Economic Development goals and objectives at their meeting on November 14, 2023. I wrote up a summary of the housing section

In other meetings:

  • The Charlottesville Social Services Advisory Board will meet on the 2nd floor of the City Hall Annex at 120 7th Street N.E. There will be an overview of the refugee assistance program. (meeting agenda)
  • The Board of Commissioners of the Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority will meet at 6 p.m. at Crescent Halls. There will be an amendment to the camera policy as well as a resolution recognizing the service of Commissioner Judy Sandridge. (agenda)
The cover of the Historic, Scenic, and Cultural Resources chapter. Learn more in the AC44 topic report that’s linked in the survey  

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Albemarle PC to hold public hearings for High School Center II, rezoning at 1906 Avon Street

The Albemarle County Planning Commission will meet at 6 p.m. in Lane Auditorium in the office building at 401 McIntire Road. 

There are two public hearings. The first is for a rezoning required for a new educational institution to be built at Albemarle County Public Schools’ Lambs Lane Campus. A study conducted in 2022 identified this land as the ideal location for High School Center II rather than a site at Mill Creek near Monticello High School. 

“Locating Center II on the campus addresses issues of logistics and student equity because of the property’s central location, adjacent to the County’s most densely populated neighborhoods, as well as the greatest numbers of low income residents,” reads the narrative. 

The property is in the county’s rural area, as Hydraulic Road marks a hard edge of the growth area boundary. The request is to increase the zoning to R-10, though no homes will be built. 

The conceptual plan for the entire Lambs Lane Campus and how Center II will fit into the project. 

The second public hearing is for a request to rezoning 3.643 acres of land at 1906 Avon Street Extended from R-1 to R-10 to allow for the construction of up to 21 units. There are currently two structures across the three parcels of land under review and one of them will be incorporated into the development. The property is designated as Neighborhood Density Residential which calls for a range of 3 to 6 dwelling units per acre. 

This project was last before the Planning Commission on February 14 but the applicant sought a deferral to further work on the plan after opposition from neighbors to a proposal that was sought a density of 11 units per acre. 

Since that time, the number of dwellings has been reduced from 38 to 21 and maximum building heights of 40 feet for one block and 35 feet for the other block. 

The plan is to build condominiums for sale rather than rent. 

“When the owner acquired the property nearly 20 years ago, they always envisioned a creative housing development for the site and in recent years, they’ve seen an opportunity to create condominium housing that would appeal to residents, such as empty nesters or young professionals, that desired to own property without the same maintenance and costs of a detached home or townhome,” reads the narrative.

The Planning Commission will next meet on December 4 for a joint meeting with the Board of Supervisors on the AC44 process. 

The location map for 1906 Avon Park (Credit: Shimp Engineering) 

Charlottesville PC to review capital improvement program

Public deliberations of Charlottesville’s next budget begin at the Charlottesville Planning Commission’s work session at 5 p.m. They’ll convene at CitySpace. (meeting info)

“What is being presented to the Planning Commission reflects what we know currently regarding the City’s total revenue and expenditure needs for FY 2025,” writes Krisy Hammill, the director of budget and performance management. 

The current draft anticipates spending $35,350,763 in FY25 with a total five-year capital improvement program of $136,057,995. This reflects a trend toward the city spending more money on various projects. For reference, the amount for FY15 was $16,966,241 with a five-year total of $76,220,197. (view that year’s budget document)

Some notable items:

  • There’s $4.217 million anticipated for a project to build a sidewalk on Stribling Avenue. That infrastructure was a condition for approval of a rezoning in the 200 block. The project was in the design phase when I last reported on it this past May. The revenue side shows $2.9 million in funds from Southern Development. 
  • There’s an additional $750,000 for the Fontaine Avenue Streetscape, a project that Council approved the design for in July 2021. The project will be a key piece of infrastructure for a corridor that will not only have its building potential increased by the new Development Code, but will also support the planned Manning Institute of Biotechnology at Fontaine Research Park. 
  • $270,000 is slated for the Forest Hills splash park
  • $600,000 is slated for the Dogwood Vietnam Memorial
  • $5000,00 is slated for the Lower Meadowcreek Trail from Homes to Locust Avenue
  • $400,000 is slated for the YMCA Trail
  • $3 million is slated for “public housing redevelopment” for both FY25 and FY26
  • A total of $15 million over three is slated for redevelopment of Westhaven per the Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority’s request from September. Read my story for more details. CRHA has received solicitations for an architect to work on the project and a selection may be announced in January, according to a report from CRHA’s Monday meeting
  • Piedmont Housing Alliance will receive millions for various projects in the CIP, but in FY25 they would receive $500,000 for infrastructure improvements at Kindlewood, $1.885 million for their project at the MACAA site on Park Street, and $1.125 million for the Park Street Apartments. 
  • Piedmont Housing Alliance would receive a total of $3.2 million in FY26 and FY27 for their portion of 501 Cherry Avenue. 
  • Another $100,000 is in the plan to repurpose the existing fire station on the U.S. 250 bypass. 

There are many items not yet included, such as investments to address homelessness, as well as a pre-K center at Walker Upper Elementary School. That has a cost estimate of between $25 million and $30 million. Another project looming on the horizon is the renovation of the Central Library on Market Street. 

An image from the presentation on the draft Capital Improvement Program 

In other meetings:

  • The Rural Transportation Advisory Committee will meet virtually at 1 p.m. (meeting info)

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Council to hold final work session on new zoning code before Dec. 5 public hearing

Charlottesville has spent several years reviewing land use policies through a process known as Cville Plans Together. Council is expected to approve a new zoning code by the end of the year, completing a three-tier initiative that’s already seen adoption of an Affordable Housing Plan and a new Comprehensive Plan.

The Planning Commission made its recommendation on the Development Code on October 18 and Council has been holding a series of work sessions. I’m still hoping to write up the November 8 and November 13 editions, but was able to write up the November 1 meeting at which there was consensus on supporting more legislative review of buildings in commercial corridors. 

At 6 p.m. there will be a final work session at which Councilors will offer direction on specific changes to the draft zoning map. 

“The proposed zoning map responds to the policy objective of increasing the supply of housing and, over time, stabilizing the market, by increasing the opportunity for housing development citywide,” reads the staff report. “The [Residential-B] and [Residential-C ] districts are focused near community amenities like parks, schools, and transit, to promote access to these important resources.”

I’ve not had a chance to finish my September property transactions yet, and that anecdotal research may not strictly be data. But, on September 5, a firm called Tiny Torch LLC purchased 705 Druid Avenue for $425,000. There’s a pending demolition permit for the existing structure and the purchase price is over 171 percent over the 2023 assessment of $156,800. Is it possible the property’s designation of Residential-C drove up the purchase price? 

Areas to be discussed during this work session are: Plymouth Road, Davis Avenue, Jefferson Park Avenue, Rugby Avenue, Orange Street, Preston Avenue, and the intersection of Locust & Calhoun. 

An overview of the “mapping logic” document that guided the development of the zoning map (Credit: City of Charlottesville)

Thursday, November 30, 2023

There are no meetings today that I’m aware of, but I possibly missed one. 

Friday, December 1, 2023

The Fluvanna County Electoral Board will meet at 10 a.m. at the Registrar’s office at 265 Turkeysag Trail, Suite 115. That’s the only meeting I could find today. (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.