Cville Area Land Use: Week Ahead for June 17, 2024

We’re close to the middle point of 2024 and my intuition tells me there will be fewer people reading this newsletter this week than usual. That’s okay. This is to be expected as the summer gets underway and those who can take breaks to recharge for the times to come.

Yet, local and regional governments move on, though my research for this week’s edition indicates there are fewer items of consequence for this week of the Summer Solstice. There’s also a day off for many local governments to honor Juneteenth. 

Here are some highlights: 

  • Charlottesville City Council will spend an hour and a half talking Monday about the state of homelessness with the heads of nonprofits 
  • Council will also approve the transit strategic plan for the city’s bus system 
  • Louisa Supervisors will hold a public hearing on the sale of 13 acres of county owned land and will consider adding penalties for late payments of the transient occupancy tax
  • A transportation technical committee will review a proposal to convert the U.S Route 250 interchange with Barracks Road to a pair of roundabouts 
  • Albemarle’s Economic Development Authority will meet in closed session to discuss Project Olympian 
  • Local governments are closed on Wednesday for Juneteenth 
  • There are no meetings in Nelson County or Greene County this week. 

Thanks as always to the Piedmont Environmental Council for their support of the research that goes into this newsletter each week. 

Monday, June 17, 2024

Charlottesville City Council to review “The State of Homelessness” at work session

A common topic in conversations about Charlottesville civic affairs is whether more people are experiencing homelessness or housing insecurity than in the past. If you want more information to participate in those talks, you’ll want to watch City Council’s work session at 4 p.m. on Monday. 

Last September, City Manager Sam Sanders dropped the enforcement of closing time in Market Street Park to allow people to stay overnight in tents. Two weeks later, he addressed critics of the decision.

“I understand that we have never had a comprehensive plan for addressing homelessness,” Sanders told the City Council on October 2. “I now commit to seeing that one gets built.” (read the story)

While that plan is still under development, Sanders has invited representatives of various groups associated with the issue to present to Council. 

“The Charlottesville Department of Human Services will also lead off the presentation and discuss their work through the Pathways fund process, providing emergency hotel access and other key programs,” reads the staff report. 

The five programs who will make a presentation are:

  • Blue Ridge Area Coalition for the Homeless – the lead agency for the “Continuum of Care” program of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. 
  • The Haven was created as a BRACH program and became independent in 2015. The Haven provides a day shelter year-round and various housing services. 
  • The Salvation Army has 58 shelter beds and partners with PACEM to provide additional space in the winter months. They are expanding their shelter on Ridge Street to add more capacity and also work with the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank to operate a food pantry. 
  • Shelter for Help in Emergency (SHE) provides support for people who are in domestic violence situations including a safe place to stay. 
  • The Region 10 Community Services Board helps administer the Projects for Assistance in Transition from Homelessness (PATH) program which among other programs can pay toward someone’s security deposit for a new rental or emergency assistance. 

There is no written report in advance. 

City Council to amend and update the city’s stormwater utility program

The impact of human activity on the natural landscape can be mitigated with planning and funding. In Virginia, disturbance of the land to create places for people to live, work, and drive changes the topography when it rains. Impervious surfaces increase the velocity of water and left unchecked can lead to erosion. 

Virginia law for many years has required localities to have rules in place to review new development to ensure measures are in place to address stormwater that would be created by new development. 

On July 1, localities will have to update their codes to reflect the merger at the state level of the Virginia Erosion and Sediment Control Program with the Virginia Stormwater Management program. The first item of regular business on Council’s regular agenda is an update of the code to reflect the change. 

“The new proposed ordinance language uses the model ordinance provided by the state, incorporating Charlottesville’s more stringent standards,” reads the staff report. “There are no proposed policy changes in this amendment.”

Want to check for yourself?

The second item is related and deals with changes to the city’s Stormwater Utility Fee program to become compliant with the state’s new combined program. The city has had such a fee in place since 2014 after Council voted 4-1 in February 2013 to put it in place (Here’s a story I wrote at the time).

One of the most frequent questions I get is how the city spends this money. Here’s the description from the staff report:

“The Stormwater Utility Fee helps the City meet its state and federal regulatory requirements related to stormwater management,” reads the staff report. “Fees collected are used to repair and replace public stormwater infrastructure, to implement capital projects related to water quality and drainage improvement, and to preserve, enhance, and restore the integrity of the City’s water resources.”

The third item is an official approval of the Transit Strategic Plan for Charlottesville Area Transit, which was the subject of a work session on June 3 which I’ve not been able to write up yet. A public survey closed on May 31

The plan tells the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation what capital investments will be made in the next ten years and what will be done to increase ridership. Part of that involves the piloting of battery-electric vehicles and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. Here are some recent articles if you’d like to learn more:

I sure would have liked to have written up the June 3, 2024 work session. The adoption of this plan authorizes changes that will happen in the near future as soon as enough drivers are hired. The minutes are not available for that discussion and there’s no way to stop time for me to write it all down in time. 

The proposed map for Charlottesville Area Transit as documented in the transit strategic plan. When will the changes be made? Read the plan and see if you can find out. (download the plan) (Credit: Charlottesville Area Transit)

After that there will be an amendment to the city’s action plan for the Community Development Block Grant program to reflect additional funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Community Development. (staff report)

Finally there will be an annual report from the Charlottesville Sister Cities Commission. There are three active cities, one Friendship city, and one on emeritus status. Do you know which ones? This would be where a quiz might be fun. 

In any case, there have been visits in the past twelve months from delegations from Winneba in Ghana, Huehuetenango in Guatemala, and Besançon in France. The report has updates on each community including Pleven in Bulgaria. 

“Pleven was placed in emeritus status in 2018 due to a lack of activity or an active support group in either city,” reads the annual report. . More recently, we have received an inquiry through the American Embassy in Bulgaria to determine if we would have interest in renewing our relationship.”

One of the slides in the 2023-2024 report from the Charlottesville Sister Cities Commission (review the report)

Some items on Council’s consent agenda:

  • There will be a second reading of $130,713 to fund the Local Energy Alliance Program, which helps property owners make investments to make their homes and businesses more energy efficient. (staff report)
  • There will be a second reading of $172,182 from the Virginia Department of Social Services for individuals who receive auxiliary grants, adoption assistance, and independent living services. (staff report)
  • There is the second of two readings to transfer $9 million to the city’s Retirement Fund related to the city’s recent decision to implement collective bargaining and adjust compensation for all employees. For FY25, the city’s payroll will exceed the three percent assumed by the city’s actuary and the city has to pay more into the fund. The city is making up the difference at one time rather than spread it out over years. The funding comes from the surplus in FY23. This reflects a decision already made by Council but worth pointing out. (learn more)
  • There is second reading of a $10,000 payment to the Tonsler League from the city’s Vibrant Community Fund. This is in addition to $15,000 the city’s Parks and Recreation Department pays to the entity. The staff report also doesn’t mention that the recently approved state budget allocates $250,000 to the City of Charlottesville specifically for the purposes of running the Tonsler League. Did the writer of the staff report know that funding will be available? (staff report) (state budget
  • There is second reading of a resolution for increases in utility fees (staff report) and second reading for a new $340 gas connection fee (staff report) and second reading for the use of $46,000 in Community Development Block Grant for playground enhancements at Johnson Elementary School (staff report).
  • There’s also the second reading of a forgivable loan to Piedmont Housing Alliance of $5.75 million for the second phase of Kindlewood. (staff report)
  • There are also second readings for franchise agreements for telecommunications company that operate in public right of way. These are for Level 3 CommunicationsCrown Castle, and Brightspeed.
  • The company 2PIC LLC at 178 Zan Road had a water leak and there’s a provision for them to seek a refund from the city. The utility billing office calculated they’re owed a credit of $18,212.63 and that requires Council approval because it is over $10,000. (staff report)

Louisa County Supervisors to hold public hearings on sale of property, addition of lodging tax penalties (meeting info)

The seven-member Board of Supervisors in Louisa County will meet at 5 p.m. for a closed session with the regular meeting beginning at 6 p.m. 

To begin the meeting, there’s the consent agenda with a few items worth noting. 

  • Supervisors will appropriate $288.03 from the county’s vending machines to be used to buy the monthly birthday cake for all employees. (staff report)
  • Supervisors will appropriate $3,475 in various donations and fundraising campaigns for the K-9 program in the Sheriff’s Office (staff report)
  • Supervisors will appropriate a $4,500 pass-through grant from the Virginia Commission for the Arts intended for the Louisa Arts Center. (staff report)
  • Supervisors will appropriate of $7,536 from the asset forfeiture fund to cover the cost of a part-time employee in the Commonwealth’s Attorney office. (staff report)

Then there are three action items, but there’s no advance information for any of these. 

  • The Virginia Department of Transportation will give a quarterly update
  • The Fluvanna / Louisa Housing Foundation will give an update
  • Supervisors will discuss the meeting schedule for the summer 

There are two public hearings. 

  • The first is on the sale of 3949 Three Notch Road, 13.31 acres of county-owned property. This will be sold at public auction at a later date. 
  • The second is on proposed amendments to the transient occupancy tax to add monthly payment requirements, the requirement of penalties, and the provision to collect interest on unpaid taxes. 
Some of the language in the updated code for the transient occupancy tax (Credit: Louisa County)

In other meetings:

  • The Nelson County Electoral Board will meet at 10 a.m. at 571 Front Street in Lovingston. In addition to general business, the Board will certify the absentee ballots for the June 18 primary the next day. (meeting info)
  • The Albemarle Architectural Review Board will meet at 1 p.m. in Lane Auditorium for a meeting with no items on the regular agenda. The consent agenda includes a certificate of appropriateness for the initial site plan for the Montclair development in Crozet. (meeting info) (agenda)

Like this information? Do you know someone else who should know it? Share it along!


Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Albemarle EDA prepping for August meeting with Board of Supervisors

Albemarle County’s emphasis on economic development is a relatively new item in the community. Ten years ago, the local government had yet to hire its first economic development director. 

For years, elected officials expressed concern that using local resources to attract new businesses would bring too many new residents to the area and put pressure to use rural land for intense development. Many of their concerns are reflected in a memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed in 2017 between the Economic Development Authority and the Board of Supervisors. (read the document)

As 2024 continues, the economic development office is in on its fourth director in the form of Emily Kilroy who is serving in the position in a temporary capacity. At some point in the near future there will be a refresh of the Project Enable strategic plan. 

At their meeting on Tuesday at 4 p.m., the current Board of Directors will continue to discuss updates to the MOU. The EDA will meet with the Board of Supervisors on August 14 and they’ll discuss what changes they would like to see. (agenda) (meeting info)

They’ll also go into closed session to discuss “Project Olympian” which is the name of one of the secret negotiations that are used for future economic development packages. Last month, an advocacy group incorrectly reported a “Project Huron” as one of these initiatives, but that’s actually an internal code name for a public-private partnership where Riverbend Development will build portions of the Eastern Connector.  Since publishing my story on May 31, I’ve obtained documents about this initiative that I’ll report sometime in the next week. 

But the reporting for that story intrigued me as there’s no official list of all of the various economic development projects. I’m slowly trying to put this list together on cvillepedia because I think it is important to track these types of things. 

Do you have a guess for what Project Olympian might be? 

Leave a comment

MPO Tech to review Barracks Road transportation projects

Here’s another for the quiz. How many transportation committees are there in this community? There may be no definable answer, but there are three groups in all associated with the Charlottesville-Albemarle Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO). That’s the federally mandated body that signs off on projects that receive funding from the U.S. Government.

The main committee is the MPO Policy Board which consists of two members of City Council, two members of the Albemarle Board of supervisors, and the district engineer for the Virginia Department of Transportation’s Culpeper District.

There’s also the citizens committee. Neither of those two meet this week, but the MPO Technical Committee does beginning at 10 a.m. at the Water Street Center at 407 East Water Street. (agenda)

One of the items on the agenda is to review the latest updates on the projects that have come out of VDOT’s pipeline study of the Barracks Road corridor. The packet has two presentations:

More on those projects in tomorrow’s full newsletter. 

One of the conceptual drawings a project to address the intersection of Barracks Road and the U.S. 250 bypass (Credit: Virginia Department of Transportation)

In other meetings:

  • The Albemarle Solid Waste Alternatives Advisory Committee Planning and Operations Group will meet at 4 p.m. in Room 246 of Albemarle’s office building building at 401 McIntire Road. (meeting info)
  • The Charlottesville Electoral Board will meet at 7 p.m. to begin the process of certifying votes in the Congressional primaries. They meet at 120 Seventh Street NE, Room 142, Charlottesville. (blank meeting info page)

Wednesday, June 19, 2024

There are no meetings today due to Juneteenth. I’ll have more about the holiday in Monday or Tuesday’s edition of the newsletter. 

Thursday, June 20, 2024

Fluvanna Supervisors to hold public hearing on increase in water rates for Fork Union Sanitary District

The five-member Board of Supervisors in Fluvanna County usually meets on Wednesday but has moved their second meeting in June to Thursday to commemorate Juneteenth. They meet this time in the Circuit Courtroom in the Fluvanna Courts Building beginning at 6 p.m. (agenda packet)

There are four action items after the usual items that come at the start of a meeting.

  • There is a proposal to upgrade a position in the Commissioner of Revenue’s Office. There are four scenarios. (learn more)
  • There is a request to develop a preliminary engineering report for the expansion of water and sewer to Pleasant Grove Park. This would have a cost of $39,685. This would be a precursor to the development of a water park, and water to the Pleasant Grove House. (learn more)
  • There is a request for a preliminary engineering report related to the Fluvanna Women’s Correctional Center. Specifically, this would explore “expansion opportunities” for the current wastewater facilities on site. (learn more)
  • The Board of Supervisors will name a proxy to attend the annual shareholders meeting of Jaunt. (learn more)

There are two public hearings:

  • One is on an increase to the Fork Union Sanitary District rates. The report states that water rates have not increased since August 2014 and the water connection charge hasn’t increased since 2010. (learn more)
  • The other is to increase building inspection fees. These have not been adjusted since 2009 and county staff estimate they could obtain an additional $25,000 in revenue to cover costs of running local government. (learn more)

Charlottesville HAC to meet to further discuss land bank recommendations

One of the most influential committees in the community is the Charlottesville Housing Advisory Committee. They’ll meet in CitySpace at noon. (meeting info)

The agenda posted for this meeting states it is for the May 15 meeting. Is this the one for the June meeting? (agenda)

In the packet are the draft minutes for the May 15 meeting where HAC members continued to discuss the idea of creating a land bank for the City of Charlottesville. Some information gleaned from the minutes:

  • Charlottesville’s city attorney will not look at the proposed recommendation because as of May 15, he was within a 60-day period of administrative leave. Is that continuing?
  • New HAC member Nicole Scro provided a legal analysis of previous discussions about the proposed land bank
  • A request for proposals would be required for each property the land bank deals with this, but that could be overridden by a two-thirds vote by the landbank’s board
  • Landbank property would be exempt from city real estate taxes, utility fees 
  • The June 20 meeting is to finalize the recommendation and the staff memo for City Council written by Scro

“A newly formed land bank will complement CRHA and the City’s local nonprofits, acting as a ‘force multiplier’ for the creation and preservation of more and deeper affordable housing,” reads one of the versions of the staff report written by a developer on the HAC. (page 14)

In other meetings:

  • Albemarle Fifth and Avon Community Advisory Committee will meet at 7 p.m. in Room B of Albemarle County’s office building at 1600 5th Street Extended. They’ll get an update from the Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority. (meeting info) (agenda)
  • The Charlottesville Parks and Recreation Advisory Board will meet at 5 p.m. in the department’s conference room in the basement of the Market Street Parking Garage. There will be a presentation on athletics, an update on the master plan, a look at the capital improvement program requests for FY25, a review of garden plot rules, and a discussion of dogs in city parks. (agenda)
  • The Charlottesville Human Rights Committee will meet at 6:30 p.m. in CitySpace. An agenda isn’t available at publication time. (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.