Cville Area Land Use: Week Ahead for April 29, 2024

Several highlights this week:

  • Two out of the six localities in the Thomas Jefferson Planning District will adopt budgets this week. There wasn’t much controversy in either Albemarle or Louisa County.
  • People interested in transportation in Nelson County can travel down to Lynchburg on Wednesday to tell the Commonwealth Transportation Board what they think about what projects will be implemented.  
  • Louisa County will officially form a tourism advisory committee Monday to provide advice on marketing campaigns. They’re also pursuing a federal grant to hire 12 firefighters for three years. 
  • Fluvanna Supervisors on Wednesday will review progress made in the last two years towards their strategic plan, then will begin the process again 
  • An Albemarle County panel on Monday will weigh in changes to slightly reduce the amount of parcels that pay a reduced amount of taxes because they’re in open space.
  • Charlottesville will hold an old school site plan conference Tuesday for a replacement of Alumni Hall on Emmet Street. 
  • Affordable housing providers in Charlottesville disagree about whether new land bank should be a new agency or an existing one. They’ll hash it out again on Wednesday. 
  • The Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission will review a regional economic development strategy on Thursday. 
  • There are no meetings in Greene County. 

Thanks to the Piedmont Environmental Council for their sponsorship of this weekly newsletter and the time it takes to do the research. They’ve got an annual meeting coming up on June 1 if you want to check out the details. 

Monday, April 29, 2024

Louisa County Supervisors to adopt FY25 budget 

Today is the fifth Monday of April, the kind of day when there are almost never regular meetings of elected officials. Except when there are. 

The Louisa County Board of Supervisors skipped their regular second meeting on the third Monday so tonight’s the night instead. The seven elected officials meet in the Louisa County Public Meeting Room in the main administration building. They will begin with a closed session at 5 p.m. followed by a open session at 6 p.m. (agenda)

Here are some items from the consent agenda of interest:

  • May is Older Americans Month and the theme is “Powered By Connection” according to the Administration for Community Living (resolution)
  • Louisa County will set aside $330,000 to help cover cost of worker’s compensation claims in FY24 (resolution)
  • Supervisors will formally create the Tourism Advisory Committee to advise the Board on tourism marketing initiatives. Funding comes from the transient lodging tax by state code. (resolution)
  • Louisa County is applying for a federal grant to hire 12 firefighters through the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response. If awarded, the grant would allow full 24-hour staffing of one fire engine. The Federal Emergency Management Agency program would pay the nearly $1.1 million cost for three years before Louisa would have to pick up the tab. (resolution)
  • Louisa County is currently without an official municipal attorney and like Charlottesville have a firm serving in the capacity. This was an unanticipated expense and so Supervisors will approve a $200,000 budget supplement. (resolution)

Under information items there are discussions for items that don’t have material in the packet. Forgive me for the very spare words here. 

  • One is on the shoreline ordinance amendments that have recently been discussed. 
  • The other is on a survey for parks and recreation projects. 

At this meeting, Supervisors will establish tax rates for FY25 and adopt the operating and capital budgets. Here are the tax rates:

  • The real estate tax rate is at $0.72 per $100 of assessed value
  • The personal property tax rate is at $2.43 per $100 of assessed value
  • The business personal property tax rate is at $1.90 per $100 of assessed value
  • There is a special rate for data centers per the agreement with Amazon. This is at $1.25 per $100 of assessed value. 
  • The machinery and tools tax rate is at $1.90 per $100 of assessed value
  • Merchant’s capital is taxed at $0.65 per $100 of assessed value
  • Aircraft is assessed at $0.48 per $100 of assessed value

The public hearing for the $156,169,348 operating and maintenance budget was held on April 8, 2024. (view a two-page summary of the budget

The public hearing for the $81,142,859 capital improvement program budget for FY25 was also held on April 8, 2024. The two big expenditures for the year are a $29,470,000 million addition at Louisa County Middle School and $31,662,000 for the Career and Technical Education Center. Another is $7.5 million for an expansion of a wastewater treatment plant. 

There are three other resolutions:

  • There’s a resolution to authorize employment contracts with Louisa County Public School for the 24-25 academic year.
  • There’s a resolution to proceed with the work on the middle school in the current fiscal year to get it moving so construction can happen over the summer. 
  • There’s a resolution to spend $3,251 to ensure no gap in administration of the Louisa County Reentry Council.
There has been an uptick in the number of inquiries made about zoning in Louisa County. This image is from the monthly report from the Community Development Department. (read the report)

Albemarle panel to discuss new rules for rural conservation policy 

The Albemarle Agricultural-Forestal Districts Advisory Committee will meet at 5:30 p.m. in room 235 of the county’s office building at 401 McIntire Road. (agenda)

This time around, the group will discuss changes to the policy for review of districts and removal of parcels. The bottom-line is to increase the county’s tax revenue by removing certain properties from protection. 

“Agricultural-Forestal Districts are a voluntary rural land conservation program in which landowners can limit the development potential of their land to help protect the rural landscape,” reads the memo from Scott Clark, the county’s conservation program manager. 

This is a separate policy from the county’s land use taxation program where qualifying landowners with productive agricultural activity receive a lower assessment for the usable land. Clark writes that the only point of connection is that Virginia has mandated standards related to “open space” that automatically grant the lower assessment to land in Agricultural-Forestal Districts that would otherwise not qualify. 

“This confers a private tax benefit with no corresponding public conservation benefit,” the staff report continues. “Responding to Committee and staff concerns about this issue, the Board of Supervisors clarified that parcels without small-lot development rights should no longer be accepted into the Districts.” 

The change was made in 2018 and no new properties without development rights have been accepted. The question now is whether these properties should continue to be included in the ag-forestal districts when they are renewed. Six years later, staff wants further discussion and there will be a Board of Supervisors work session on May 15. The committee will be asked to review two options.

  • Option One: Remove parcels that have no development rights and that are in the “open space” tax category from the Districts during reviews. 
  • Option Two: Remove all parcels without development rights from the Districts during reviews. 

In other meetings:

  • The Finance Subcommittee of the Charlottesville Sister Cities Commission will meet in the small conference room at CitySpace at 4:30 p.m. (meeting info)
More details on the pros and cons of the suggested changes (Credit: Albemarle County)

Tuesday, April 30, 2024

Public meeting for a site plan for a new Alumni Hall 

The new Development Code does not have many opportunities for public review of site plans. That is a functionality that will be reserved only for when a new project exceeds 50,000 square feet and a transportation study has to be conducted. What form will that take? Stay tuned.

But, an application to replace Alumni Hall will go through the old development rules which allow for members of the public to come in and ask questions about a project. In this case, the Alumni Association at the University of Virginia is seeking to replace the existing Alumni Hall with a new one. They’re able to do this on land zoned Residential A because there is an existing special use permit for a private club. 

The leader of the Alumni Association said the current building does not meet the needs of the organization.

“Our vision is to build a wholly new facility on the same parcel of land that can serve the needs of our ever-evolving alumni, UVA, and Charlottesville community,” said Lily West, the association’s president & CEO. “We are calling it ‘A Home for Every Hoo.’”

The site plan meeting will take place at 9 a.m. in the Neighborhood Development Services Conference room. To learn more, take a look at the article I wrote in the April 24, 2024 C-Ville Weekly

A rendering of the future Alumni Hall 

Wednesday, May 1, 2024

Albemarle Supervisors to adopt budget, approve funding for another phase of Premier Circle 

The six members of the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors will meet at 1 p.m. in Lane Auditorium of the county’s office building at 401 McIntire Road. (meeting info) (agenda)

Like Louisa, Albemarle County will also recognize Older Americans Month. Marta Keane of JABA will accept the proclamation. There will also be a proclamation honoring Public Service Recognition Week. 

“Over 900 Albemarle County Local Government employees work tirelessly to serve our residents, businesses, and visitors, providing them with outstanding customer service while maintaining careful stewardship of the resources with which they have been entrusted,” reads the proclamation

After adoption of the consent agenda and matters from the public, Supervisors will vote on resolutions to approve eight individual items. Click on each for the specific resolution. 

a. Adoption of the Resolution to Set Calendar Year 2024 Tax Rates.

b. Adoption of an Ordinance to Amend the Transient Occupancy Tax Rate.

c. Adoption of the FY 25 Operating and Capital Budget.

d. Adoption of the Resolution to Set the FY 25 Salary Scales.

e. Adoption of the Annual Resolution of Appropriations.

f. Adoption of the Resolution of Official Intent to Reimburse Expenditures with

Proceeds of a Borrowing.

g. Adoption of the FY 25-29 Capital Improvement Plan (CIP).

More details but not the Full Monty on what’s in Albemarle’s five-year capital improvement program 

After adoption, Supervisors will discuss three separate requests for special exceptions related to homestays. Consult the agenda for the details. 

Next, Supervisors will be asked to consider staff’s recommendation on how to use funding from the Housing Fund Reserve. There are two requests. (staff report)

  • The Piedmont Housing Alliance seeks $2,025,000 to support construction of 60 units in what the staff report refers to as the second phase of the Premier Circle project. Other sources of funding include the Low Income Housing Tax Credit Program. Piedmont Housing Alliance’s own document refers to it as phase III. 
  • The City of Charlottesville requested $100,000 toward a study to assess existing services to assist the unhoused. 

Funding both requests would leave a balance of $520,311.62. 

The budget for what is either Premier Circle II or Premier Circle III depending on what document you look at. Are there similar budget breakdowns for all of the other affordable housing projects in the area? Who gets that developer fee? 

There are two public hearings. 

  • Supervisors will be asked to amend an existing special use permit at 2200 Old Ivy Road to allow for an indoor climbing gym. This is the former site of Hospice of the Piedmont. (staff report)
  • Albemarle owns a parcel of land near the Rio Point neighborhood and seeks to grant an easement to the Albemarle County Service Authority for a sewer easement. (staff report)

In one item on the consent agenda, Supervisors will approve several tax refunds in excess of $10,000 totalling $210,998.35. They are:

  • $23,091.28 will be refunded to March Mountain Properties LLC due to land value change.
  • $22,430.75 will be refunded to Pippen Hill Farm & Vineyards LLC due to business reclassification.
  • $21,600.00 will be refunded to CMA Protection Inc due to business license being held in an affiliated business name.
  • $24,080.45 will be refunded to Memory Lane LLC due to an improvement value change.
  • $17,194.26 will be refunded to Medical Facilities of America due to business tangible personal property being filed and paid under this entity and an updated name and tax identification number.
  • $16,475.10 will be refunded to Heather L Powell due to personal property being taxed in the wrong jurisdiction.
  • $16,442.51 will be refunded to Enterprise Leasing Co of Norfolk/Richmond due to the business location closing.
  • $15,882.83 will be refunded to Michie P Bright Revocable Trust Agreement due to overpayment of real estate taxes.
  • $15,709.47 will be refunded to F A Bartlett Tree Expert Co due to personal property being taxed in the wrong jurisdiction. 
  • $14,720.40 will be refunded to Luck Stone Corporation due to overpayment of real estate taxes. 
  • $13,723.65 will be refunded to Morris Creek Yacht Club Inc due to overpayment of business license taxes. 
  • $12,100.00 will be refunded to The Blake at Charlottesville Services LLC due to the business location closing. 
  • $12,082.40 will be refunded to Eamon E Perrell and Marcelia Perrell due to overpayment of real estate taxes.
  • $11,288.95 will be refunded to Pilot Travel Centers LLC due to the business location closing.

Fluvanna Board of Supervisors to review two-year plan 

The Fluvanna County Board of Supervisors meet at 5 p.m. in the Carysbrook Performing Arts Center in Fork Union. This is located at 8880 James Madison Highway. (agenda and packet)

At the beginning of the meeting. Supervisors will name someone to represent the Rivanna District on the Planning Commission. After that and other items, there will be three presentations.

  • The first is on Share the Air, a program of the Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth to eradicate tobacco and vaping use. The group seeks a policy to make all county parks smoke free. 
  • The second is an update on the Supervisors’ Two Year Plan from Assistant County Administrator Kelly Harris. The Fluvanna Board adopted the plan in September 2022 to guide staff activities. Most initiatives have taken place or have made significant progress while others have had no progress. (review the update)
  • The third is on finding a time for another planning retreat for the Board of Supervisors to start a new two year plan (staff report)

There are no public hearings. 

Fluvanna Supervisors will also mark Older Americans Month and their staff report has more details

“Historically, Older Americans Month has been a time to acknowledge the contributions of past and current older persons to our country, in particular those who defended our country,” reads more from the Administration for Community Living website. “Every President since Kennedy has issued a formal proclamation during or before the month of May asking that the entire nation pay tribute in some way to older persons in their communities.”

The elected officials will also authorize the advertisement of an intent to change the fee schedule for building inspections. They have not been updated since 2009 and staff estimates the changes could raise an additional $25,000 for the county. (staff report)

Some of the updates in the Two Year Plan (Credit: Fluvanna County)

Nelson County to be part of CTB meeting for Lynchburg District

There is a lot of regional continuity between the different localities I cover. I’ve chosen to focus on the Thomas Jefferson Planning District because those are all contiguous to Albemarle/Charlottesville. 

However, not all state agencies carve up their regions in the same patterns. For instance, most of the TJPDC localities are within the Virginia Department of Transportation’s Culpeper District. The exception is Nelson County, which is within the Lynchburg District.

As such, any Nelson County residents who want to attend a public meeting of the Commonwealth Transportation Board would go to Lynchburg at 4 p.m. for their district meeting. This will be held at the Ramey Auditorium at 4303 Campbell Avenue in Lynchburg. 

This meeting is to “give citizens the opportunity to provide comments on projects and programs to be included in the Fiscal Year 2025-2030 Six-Year Improvement Program (FY2025-2030 SYIP), including highway, rail and public transportation initiatives.” (view the draft for the Lynchburg District)

Projects for Nelson County include: 

  • A roundabout is to be constructed at the intersection of Route 151 and Route 6 with a $15.7 million cost estimate 
  • There is a funded Smart Scale project to add a turn lane on U.S. 29 at Oak Ridge with an estimate of $5.605 million
  • Flashing lights at a railroad crossing on James River Road will be upgraded
  • A bridge that carries Route 653 (Wilson Road) over the railroad tracks will be replaced but no additional capacity is anticipated. 

Some more resources:

The Culpeper District meeting will be held on May 8. 

One of the handful of projects slated for funding for Nelson County

Charlottesville HAC to continue recommending rules and policies for new land bank

Charlottesville has several nonprofit or public groups that provide housing. Many of the heads of these agencies serve on the Housing Advisory Committee, a group that advises City Council on policy related to affordable housing. So far this year, the HAC and one of its subcommittees have been meeting to discuss a future ordinance to create a land bank. 

Land banks are entities that purchase land for civic purposes. In recent years, Charlottesville has dramatically stepped up its funding of housing activities and the nonprofit leaders are at the table for how that funding should be spent. 

The minutes of the April 17, 2024 HAC meeting indicate that the land bank is currently conceived as a new, independent entity. There would be a new board. The minutes indicate differences of opinion. 

John Sales, the executive director of the Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority is opposed to a new entity because it would become another group seeking limited city funds. 

Sunshine Mathon, the executive director of the Piedmont Housing Alliance, said the new entity would assist by lightening the burden to acquire property. Sales said this would just be creating another go-between and competition would push up the price of property sought by multiple entities. 

Philip d’Oronzio, a mortgage broker and representative from the Planning Commission, said nothing about the land bank would stop any organization by purchasing its own land. 

This discussion comes while several projects are already in motion. Mathon told the group that Piedmont Housing Alliance’s request for funding from the city for 501 Cherry Avenue is roughly equivalent what it would cost for that agency to purchase the project from Woodard Properties. That company paid $3.5 million in August 2022. The capital improvement program shows the city giving Piedmont Housing Alliance $1 million in FY26 and $2.15 million in FY27. He said hypothetically, if the land bank bought the property from the private developer, Piedmont Housing Alliance would benefit from not having to pay any costs to hold the land.

As of April 28, 2024, Woodward Properties still owns the land. 

The proposed name of the land bank would be the Charlottesville Regional Land Bank Corporation. There is interest from Nelson County about joining. Sales and Joy Johnson of the Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority both are concerned about the regional approach.

Sales also expressed concern about the idea of appointing someone from the Charlottesville Economic Development Authority  as well as the potential of acquiring land for commercial uses. 

Council will decide what happens. Who will they listen to? There is an additional working group commissioned by the City Manager.

A full meeting of the Housing Advisory Committee will be held at noon at 700 East Jefferson Street. (meeting info)

Thursday, May 2, 2024

TJPDC to review Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy plan

The Board of Commissioners of the Thomas Jefferson Planning District will meet at 7 p.m. at the Water Street Center at 407 E. Water Street. (meeting info)

The main presentation is on the TJPDC’s Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy Plan. 

“The CEDS outlines a strategic vision and actionable goals aimed at fostering economic growth, job creation, and sustainable development within our community,” reads the introduction to the 30-page document.

The idea is to create a regional approach in a community where economic development can be a competitive endeavor. The TJPDC approach is to incorporate concepts of diversity, equity, and inclusion. 

The public comment period closed Saturday.

This document is significant in that there are already multiple action steps. One key area to review is the defense sector as Albemarle has invested significantly in land acquisition to protect the Rivanna Station from encroachment. 

“Weldon Cooper Center estimates that the Department of Defense (DoD) military and civilian employment grew by 15% from 2011 to 2021,” reads the draft plan. “The defense industry has a significant economic impact in the TJPDC region, with 3,972 jobs, $421 million in labor income, $501 million in value-added, and $642 million in output.”

There will also be a discussion of regional priorities for Community Development Block Grant. 

In another meetings: 

  • The Charlottesville Bike and Pedestrian Commission will meet at 5 p.m. at 610 East Market Street. There’s no agenda at publication time. 
Different localities have different perceived needs for economic development (Credit: TJPDC) 

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.