Cville Area Land Use: Week Ahead for January 22, 2024

Has the statute of limitations for being able to say “Happy New Year” expired or is there a little more time to express joy at the idea of a new start? Either way, 2024 is beginning to feel lived in and a lot of things have taken place so far. Some highlights:

  • Council will hold a meeting Monday that had been intended for last week that will include a public hearing on the city’s $21 million surplus, a presentation of a study on fuel sources for future CAT buses, and a potential decision on the use of $4 million to purchase land from the Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority for a homeless shelter. 
  • The Pantops Community and Advisory Committee will hear Monday from the Albemarle Fire Rescue about the system and will get a review land use and transportation materials in the AC44 process. 
  • The Greene Board of Supervisors will learn what went wrong with bills after the county took over from the Rapidan Service Authority last June, and will hold a public hearing on a $346M five-year capital improvement plan. 
  • Charlottesville’s Planning Commission will have a work session on the manual that will govern how land use applications are reviewed under the new Development Code. 
  • Albemarle’s Planning Commission will have a work session on a potential grant program to incentivize developers to build affordable housing. 
  • The year in transportation kicks off with meetings of the MPO Policy Board and the Regional Transit Partnership.

Each edition of this Week Ahead newsletter is sponsored by the Piedmont Environmental Council.  

Monday, January 22, 2024

City Council to resume meeting postponed from January 17

The first of two snowfalls last week resulted in the cancellation of City Council’s second regular meeting of the year. The meeting was postponed to the fourth Monday of the month. This has resulted in the Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority moving their meeting to the fifth Monday. 

There have been no changes to the agenda and here is some of what’s happening: 

  • The recommendations of a study on future fuel types for Charlottesville Area Transit will go before Council.
  • There will be a public hearing on Charlottesville’s $21 million surplus from FY23. 
  • Council will be asked to allow purchase of CRHA property at 405 Avon for a potential homeless shelter.

If you’re interested in more details for this meeting, take a look at the two posts I made to Information Charlottesville.  

There do not appear to be any new items. The work session begins at 4 p.m. and the regular session begins at 6:30 p.m. 

Pantops CAC to get updates on fire services, AC44

The Pantops Community Advisory Committee will meet at 6:15 p.m. in the Martha Jefferson Hospital Outpatient Center in the Kessler Room. These meetings are not available on Zoom, and this would be a good one to attend if you’re interested in Albemarle’s future. (meeting info) (agenda)

The first regular item on the agenda is an update from Fire Rescue Chief Dan Eggleston on the status of the emergency services system. Eggleston gave a strategic overview of his department to the Board of Supervisors in December which hinted at a forthcoming request for more professional firefighters over the next five years. 

Next, the CAC will review the latest recommendations for future land use in the Pantops area. This is part of the Comprehensive Plan review known as AC44. There are two items available in advance. 

Here’s how the AC44 item is described on the Pantops CAC agenda (Credit: Albemarle County) 

In other meetings:

  • The Charlottesville Social Services Advisory Board will meet at noon in the City Hall Annex at 120 7th Street N.E. (meeting agenda)
  • 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. They’ll elect officers, learn more about the recent placement of the Scottsville Tire Cord Plant on the Virginia Landmark Register, and will review the most recent demolition report. This includes the former Sears building in Fashion Square Mall that will make way for a Home Depot. (meeting info)
  • The Board of Trustees for the Jefferson-Madison Regional Library will meet at 3 p.m. at Northside Library. (agenda)

Tuesday, January 23, 2024

Greene Supervisors to review what went wrong with water bills 

The second meeting of the Greene County Board of Supervisors will begin at 5:30 p.m. with a closed session followed by an open session at 6:30 p.m. They meet in the public room in the administration building in Stanardsville. (agenda)

Three of the five members on the Board are relatively new to office, though Steve Catalano of the Stanardsville District has served as a Supervisor before. He and the two newcomers elected in November are promising more scrutiny on spending and have a new set of eyes on the county’s plans to build a reservoir at White Run. I wrote a brief summary of their first meeting.

After matters from the public, there are two public hearings. The first is for a special use permit for a home business at 287 Welsh Run Road. (staff report)

The second is for the Planning Commission’s recommendations on the five year Capital Improvement Plan. In September, the appointed body adopted a list of 12 priorities with the the White Run reservoir being the top one followed by improvements to the water distribution system in Stanardsvillle.  

All of this would cost money and the CIP is a way of getting a handle on the finances. The current draft anticipates nearly $346.9 million over that time, which would no doubt require additional revenue from local taxpayers. 

An overview of the draft CIP in Greene County. For a larger image, take a look at page 4 of the presentation

Next will be a presentation from Davenport Public Finance on utility billing in Greene County’s nascent Water and Sewer Department. The department is blaming a lack of cooperation from the Rapidan Service Authority for failing to help prepare the county for its takeover on June 23, 2023. 

“Well before the changeover, the County had requested user information in order to prepare for the impending changeover; however, that request was never fulfilled,” reads the presentation. “The only data RSA provided the County was the final read data from June, and a supposed list of active customers/meters.” 

The presentation documents what went wrong and what Davenport has done to help correct errors. There’s a very detailed description of how billing works and what steps have been taken to get back to a 30-day billing cycle. (view the presentation)

Other items from the meeting:

  • The consent agenda contains a request to seek a federal RAISE planning grant to help identify a parallel road network to U.S. 29 in Ruckersville. (staff memo)
  • Supervisors will officially adopt by-laws which included changes to public comment periods. (resolution)
  • There’s a resolution of support for pre-application for potential Smart Scale applications for Greene County including a Restricted Crossing U-Turn Intersection at U.S. 29 and Route 616 (Carpenter’s Mill Road). The other would make changes at the intersection of U.S. 33 and Greenecroft Boulevard. 
An aerial overview of the RCUT proposed for U.S. 29 and Route 616 (Credit: Virginia Department of Transportation)

Charlottesville Planning Commission to review Development Manual 

The city’s new zoning code goes into effect on February 19 and there are still a few steps that need to be taken before the new rules take hold. The Charlottesville Planning Commission will hold a work session on Tuesday at 5 p.m. to discuss some of them. (meeting agenda) (materials)

First, Council has to adopt a Development Review Procedures Manual which has two purposes. 

“It brings all development review processes and requirements together into one document, readily reviewable by applicants,” writes James Freas, the city’s Director of Neighborhood Development Services. “Second, by separating these administrative procedures into a manual outside of the ordinance, staff can more easily update the manual as processes are improved.” 

The manual lays out what needs to be in a submission in order for it to be reviewed, provides requirements for what level of public notice needs to be given, and describes the level of community engagement for some land use applications. 

Under the new system, any request requires a compliance check of the zoning to be known as a Development Plan. 

“Required for everything from an addition onto a house to a major mixed-use development, it allows staff to confirm compliance with zoning requirements and provides an opportunity for staff to discuss with an applicant opportunities for alternative pathways to compliance that could help a project better meet the City’s adopted objectives from the Comprehensive Plan,” reads the overview. 

These would come in minor and major flavors, with minor being anything less than two units and under 500 square feet. An approved Development Plan is a precursor to approval of a final site plan. 

Community meetings would only be required if an applicant sought a rezoning or a special use permit. At least one member of the development community has indicated the likelihood of seeking a rezoning. Any project that meets the threshold to require a Transportation Demand Management Plan would also need to hold a community meeting. The manual does not specify what that threshold is, but the Development Code does.

“Any project with over 50,000 square feet of gross floor area must submit a Traffic Demand Management (TDM) plan, prepared by a qualified professional with demonstrated experience in transportation planning, traffic engineering, or comparable field, to be approved by the Administrator,” reads the Section 4.5.4 of the draft Development Code. A final version has not yet been published. 

The new rules also allow only three submissions of a plan for review before a new application fee is charged. One item not in the manual is information about how the public can access submissions, all of which are now required to be in electronic form. 

Council is expected to take up the Development Manual on February 5. 

Albemarle PC to review proposed county incentives for affordable housing 

The seven member Albemarle Planning Commission is set to meet at 6 p.m. in Lane Auditorium in the county’s office building at 401 McIntire Road. (meeting info)

The first item on the agenda is a work session on the missing link in the Housing Albemarle policy adopted by Supervisors in July 2021. The policy calls for the provision of over 10,000 affordable units but mandatory requirements to do so have been delayed while a package of incentives for developers has been worked out. Conversations have gone and back and forth with the most recent public meeting being one on December 4 between Supervisors and the Planning Commission facilitated by the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission.

The current proposal centers around a grant program run by the county. Projects with more than 11 rental units would be eligible for grant funds from the county. If they get grants, 20 percent of the units have to be affordable for a period of 30 years. Eligible households would have to be under 60 percent of the area median income. 

“The total amount of grant funding to be provided each year would be equal to 11 percent of the property’s real property tax increment,” reads the fourth bullet of the summary. More details are in the draft ordinance

There are two public hearings. 

  • One is to rezone 2.22 acres of land on Dickerson Road in the Hollymead development area from Rural Areas to Light Industrial. That’s what’s called for in the Comprehensive Plan. The land is adjacent to property owned by the University of Virginia Foundation and the property owner wants to operate a contractor’s business. One issue is that the property is not currently connected to water and sewer. (staff report)
  • The second is a request for special use permit for a storage for a landscape contractor at 163 Patterson Mill Lane in the Samuel Miller District. (staff report)
Read the staff report for more background and details (Credit: Albemarle County)

In other meetings: 

  • The Rivanna Solid Waste Authority meets at 2 p.m. just before the RWSA Board of Directors will meet. On the RSWA agenda is a discussion of a potential expansion of a waste site at the Ivy Materials and Utilization Center for clean fill. (meeting agenda)
  • The Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority meets at the conclusion of business at RSWA meeting. The two bodies will meet jointly to review employee benefits and the strategic plan. (meeting agenda)
  • The MPO Tech meeting that had been scheduled for January 16 was postponed until today. I posted last week’s preview to Information Charlottesville if you want to learn more.  This event is at 2:30 p.m. at the Water Street Center at 407 E. Water Street. (agenda)

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

MPO Policy Board to consider projects for Smart Scale Round 6

This will be a pivotal year for transportation planning in Albemarle and Charlottesville will possible action on creation of a regional transit authority. Further work will happen on the long-range transportation plan. At the center of all this work is the Thomas Jefferson Planning District, a regional planning body that staffs the Charlottesville Albemarle Metropolitan Planning Organization. 

The Policy Board of the MPO meets for the first time in 2024 at 4 p.m. at 407 East Water Street. They’ll begin with a welcoming of new City Councilor Natalie Oschrin, will vote on new officers, and will set a meeting schedule. Albemarle Supervisors Ann Mallek and Ned Gallaway return to the Policy Board along with City Councilor Brian Pinkston and VDOT District Engineer Sean Nelson. (agenda)

The first resolution on the agenda is to support a federal RAISE application for a planning grant for a pedestrian and bicycle bridge across the Rivanna River. This had been considered as part of the fifth round of the Smart Scale process but the cost estimate skyrocketed. 

“TJPDC staff will submit a 2024 grant application to complete the preliminary engineering phase of the project to reduce the contingencies and identify opportunities for project construction,” reads the resolution. 

Then there will be an update on the two Project Pipeline studies that the Virginia Department of Transportation is undertaking to suggest future improvements on Old Ivy Road and a stretch of Barracks Road. Public meetings are to be held on these in the near future, but the VDOT project manager has left the agency to become Albemarle’s planning director. 

A map showing the geographical scope of the Old Ivy Road pipeline study (visit the website)

Next is a discussion of potential projects to go through the Smart Scale process in Round VI for the MPO to submit. Some concepts at this stage have included:

  • Conversion of Exit 120 on Interstate 64 to a diverging diamond interchange that would include ways for pedestrians to safely pass through the intersection. 
  • An extension of Hillsdale Drive South to have a direct connection to the U.S. 250 bypass. This has been deemed to not be far enough along for this cycle. 
  • Funding for intersection projects at Peter Jefferson Parkway and Rolkin Road on U.S. 250 as well as Louisa Road / Milton Road. The latter is not believed to be competitive. 
  • Funding for projects for the Barracks Road pipeline study if it is completed in time. 
  • The Old Ivy Road pipeline won’t be finished in time. 

Then the MPO Policy Board will have a discussion on the future of a Smart Scale project funded in Round 4 at the intersection of U.S. 29 and Fontaine Avenue. Read the story for the MPO-Tech’s January 23 meeting for background. There’s a document in this package detailing city and UVA opposition dating back to the summer of 2020, but notes that the resolution to move forward with the current design was adopted by the MPO Policy Board in September 23, 2020. 

There will next be modifications of the Transportation Improvement Program, a functional step in the federal funding process. This relates to funding for Charlottesville Area Transit bus replacements and for expansion of CAT’s Operations Annex and renovations at CAT headquarters. 

After that is a discussion of Moving Toward 250, the name given to the next version of the MPO’s Long Range Transportation Plan. One component of this project is a list of potential road improvements that the MPO anticipates will be built over the next 25 years. 


Community meeting to be held in Batesville for rural area land uses 

2024 is the year of AC44. Or at least, this is the year I’m going to prioritize coverage of the third phase of the update of the county’s Comprehensive Plan. That may mean traveling to more meetings and extending my work day to cover events such as a community meeting being held at the Batesville United Methodist Church at 6670 Plank Road. This one will be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. 

“This meeting is an opportunity to share feedback on draft transportation and land use recommendations for Albemarle County’s Rural Area,” reads the community notice. “Discussion topics will include land conservation programs, crossroads communities, resilience hubs, and rural transportation planning.”

Many in the Batesville area have expressed concern about what it might mean to be a Crossroads Community, which could come with more intense uses than allowed under Albemarle’s growth management policy. Many members of the community have become vocal about ensuring transportation improvements in the area don’t attract more through-traffic. Several spoke at the Planning Commission’s December 19, 2023 meeting, as I captured in this story

Nelson PC to take one final look at Comprehensive Plan before January 31 public hearing

The Nelson County Planning Commission will meet at 7 p.m. in the General District Courtroom in the Nelson County Courthouse in Lovingston. (meeting packet)

The meeting begins with election of new officers, adoption of a schedule for 2024, and then a review of the 2023 annual report. 

There are two public hearings. 

  • A property owner on Rockfish Valley Highway in Nellysford seeks a special use permit for three campground sites on land zoned A-1 Agricultural.
  • Elsewhere on Rockfish Valley Highway, there’s a request to amend a previous special use permit for a multi-family dwelling. 

There will also be a discussion of the Draft Comprehensive Plan 2042. The Planning Commission will hold their public hearing on January 31, 2024. 

The next regular meeting of the Nelson County Planning Commission will be on February 28. 

In other meetings:

  • The Charlottesville Retirement Commission will meet at 8:30 a.m. in CitySpace. They will have a presentation on “Dahab” followed by a closed session on investment strategies followed by a discussion on a cost of living increase. (meeting info)
  • The Executive Committee of the Central Virginia Regional Housing Partnership will meet at 2 p.m. (meeting info)
  • The Fluvanna County Board of Supervisors will hold a Budget Work Session at 5 p.m. in the County Administration Building at 132 Main Street. (meeting info)
  • The Albemarle Broadband Authority meets at 5 p.m. in Room 241 of the county’s office building at 401 McIntire Road.  One item on the agenda is a discussion of HB800 which would make electric cooperatives for the cost of getting utility poles ready for broadband deployment.  (meeting info)
  • The Fire EMS Board meets at 6 p.m. (or 1800 hours) in Room 235 of the county’s office building at 401 McIntire Road. One item on the agenda is a discussion of public service calls. There’s no other information in the packet this month. (meeting info)
  • The Greene Board of Zoning Appeals will meet at 6:30 p.m. and have two public hearings related to special exceptions for commercial signs. One is for Dollar Tree and the other is for Harley Davidson. (meeting info)
The 2023 report for Planning Commission lists activities for the year (Credit: Nelson County)

Thursday, January 25, 2024

Regional Transit Partnership to meet 

In addition to the MPO Policy Board, the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission also has a committee that meets to coordinate efforts to increase, improve, or otherwise address transit service. The group meets for the first time in 2024 at 4 p.m. in the Water Street Center at 407 E. Water Street. (agenda packet)

There will be an appointment of a new vice chair, an orientation on what the RTP does, and updates from various providers. New City Councilor Natalie Oschrin and new Albemarle Supervisor Michael Pruitt join Councilor Brian Pinkston and Supervisor Diantha McKeel as voting members on the partnership’s board. 

Since the last meeting, Jaunt’s CEO has left and has been replaced with Mike Murphy on an interim basis. Murphy at one point was interim City Manager in Charlottesville. This meeting does not appear to have an update on the regional transit authority. 

Places29-Rio CAC to hold meeting for restaurant use on Northfield Road

The Places29-Rio Community Advisory Committee will meet at 6 p.m. in Room 235 of the county’s office building at 401 McIntire Road. (meeting info)

The main item on the agenda is a community meeting for a rezoning for a property at 2401 Northfield Road. That’s a property that borders the busy Rio Road on the southern side. The land is currently zoned C-1 and the owners want to have a second business as well.

“The intent of this project is to rezone the entire property from R-2 to C-1 and obtain a Special Use Permit to allow hotel/motel use,” reads the application put together by the Meridian Planning Group. 

The hotel would be operated in the existing dwelling and a new 1,200 square foot building would be constructed for the food store and deli. The existing driveway would be removed and a new parking lot would be built at the rear of the property. 

“The property is within the Places29 Master Plan and is designated at Neighborhood Density Residential, “ the narrative continues. “The location of the property is such that it is within the transition from office retail to residential.” 

Friday, January 26, 2024

Charlottesville City Council to hold a retreat

Charlottesville City Council will hold a retreat at CitySpace from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Materials were not available at publication time. This can be reviewed remotely. (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.