Cville Area Land Use: Week Ahead for June 24, 2024

Some highlights this week: 

  • Solar policy comes up a lot this week with the Fluvanna Planning Commission considering removing solar generation as a use in agricultural land, Nelson County’s Planning Commission considering a 90 megawatt facility, Greene County Supervisors officially authorizing a study of a change to zoning to allow solar, and an Albemarle committee providing feedback to a proposal in that county. It would be useful to have a dedicated energy reporter.
  • Electoral boards are also meeting this week to finalize the vote count in the Fifth District Republican primary for the seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. A recount looks very likely in the close race between challenger John McGuire and incumbent Bob Good.
  • Albemarle’s Pantops community group will get an update on how the MicroCAT experiment is working. What experiences do you have?
  • The Places29-Rio group will get a first look at a proposed convenience center on Rio Mills Drive as well as an infill development that would add homes above a medical office.
  • Albemarle’s Planning Commission will get an update on the slow-moving zoning modernization review that is underway.  
  • Greene Supervisors will get another update on that county’s takeover of water and sewer functions and pass resolutions of intent to change the zoning code to add language about solar panels, data centers, and a technology district.

Thanks as always to the Piedmont Environmental Council for their ongoing sponsorship of the time that goes into doing this research every Sunday. 

Monday, June 24, 2024

Election meetings to finalize count for Republican primary

As of this writing, the Republican nomination for the Fifth District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives is too close to call. Challenger John McGuire has 31,463 votes to 31,129 for incumbent Bob Good. (the link to the results)

At less than half a percentage point, if that result holds it is within the margin of error for Good to ask for another count of the votes.

“When there is between any candidate apparently nominated or elected and any candidate apparently defeated a difference of not more than one percent of the total vote cast for the two such candidates as determined by the State Board or the electoral board, the defeated candidate may appeal from the determination of the State Board or the electoral board for a recount of the vote,” reads § 24.2-800 of the Code of Virginia.

Good has indicated on Elon Musk’s social media platform that he will stay in the race as long as he can.

“Everyone should want a fair and accurate count of every legal vote that reflects the intent of the legitimate participating voters of the 5th District,” reads a June 20 post. “We are fighting to ensure that is true.”

McGuire claimed victory in the early hours of June 19 on the website named after the 24th letter in the English language. 

Good cannot ask for a recount until after all of the votes are in and this week, electoral boards all across the Fifth District will meet to take on that task. 

Albemarle’s electoral board will meet at 9 a.m. in Room A of the 5th Street County Office Building to reconvene the counting of provisional ballots. They have a notice all in caps which I repeat for effect. (meeting info)


Charlottesville’s website does not list a meeting this week. Fluvanna County’s electoral board met on Friday. Louisa County’s electoral board met Tuesday night and was scheduled to also meet on Wednesday. There’s a potential meeting on Monday at 9 a.m. if needed, but it’s too soon to read through minutes from this week. 

Nelson County’s electoral board will meet on Monday at 3 p.m. (meeting info)

Greene County is in the 7th Congressional District and those races are settled. Republican Derrick Anderson got over 44 percent in a crowded field. On the Democratic side, Eugene Vindaman secured the nomination with over 49 percent of the vote. 

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Pantops panel to get update on MicroCAT

Albemarle County’s experiment in microtransit has been underway for over six months now. How well has it been used so far? 

That’s one question that might be answered at the June meeting of the Pantops Advisory Committee which meets at 6:15 p.m. (meeting info) (agenda)

Charlottesville Area Transit won the bid to operate a pilot, and CAT hired the firm VIA to provide the service. CAT Director Garland Williams will be on hand to give an update and to answer questions. 

There will also be a presentation from the Albemarle County Police Department. 

In other meetings: 

  • The Albemarle Historic Preservation Committee meets at 4:30 p.m. in Room 241 of the county’s office building at 401 McIntire Road. The main item on the agenda is a review of the demolition report. (meeting info) (agenda)

Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Greene Supervisors to formally begin process to allow data centers within the county

The five-county Board of Supervisors in Greene County meets at 4:30 p.m for a closed session, an hour earlier than usual. The regular meeting will continue to begin at 6:30 p.m. (meeting agenda)

Before the regular meeting really gets underway, there will be a resolution honoring the more than 25 years that Kathy Alstat worked as at the Greene Cooperative Extension Office in a variety of capacities. (read the resolution)

There will be a public hearing on a request for an Electronic Message Center sign on U.S. 29 for the Village at Terrace Greene. In other words, a digital sign. 

“The Electronic Message Center will be instrumental in helping to create the Towne Centre environment within this ‘Live Work Play’ development that the county desires and we are trying to develop,” reads the narrative from Steven Rotter of Merit Greene LLC

The letter goes on to state that to create that environment, retails will not have signs facing U.S. 29 and instead will share space on the digital one which will be a maximum of 24 square feet.

Credit: Gropen

Next there will be an update from Dave Hundelt, the Interim Director of Water & Sewer. He’s recommending the county implement voluntary water restrictions for public water customers due to dry conditions and high demand. (view the presentation)

“Expect Mandatory Restrictions in July if demands and weather do not change,” reads the presentation. 

There are three resolutions of intent to officially amend the zoning ordinance for three separate purposes. They are:

  • “Add a Technology/Flex Research and Development district within the zoning ordinance” (resolution
  • “Data centers as a special use permit with performance standards” (resolution)
  • “Solar panels as a special use permit with performance standards (min/max area, setbacks, bonds, screening, generation max, and additional conditions as determined)” (resolution

There’s also a resolution to formally establish that the Town of Stanardsville will pick up the tab for elections that solely affect the town. (resolution)

Albemarle County Planning Commission to hold work session on zoning modernization

It has been some time since I’ve seen an agenda item on AC44, the Albemarle’s name fo the update of the Comprehensive Plan. Likewise, it’s been a while since I’ve seen an update on the zoning code that’s happening at the same time. 

At least one of those moves forward this Tuesday at a 4 p.m. work session before the Planning Commission. They meet at Lane Auditorium in the county’s office building at 401 McIntire Road. (meeting info) (agenda)

“Beginning in August 2022, Albemarle County staff have been working with the Berkley Group, a local government consulting firm, to modernize the County’s Zoning Ordinance,” reads the staff report.

The work has been split into five phases and this session is intended to wrap-up phase one. This is the fourth work session on this phase. 

The regular meeting begins at 6 p.m. and there are two public hearings. The original zoning is still in place. 

The first is for a special use permit for a restaurant on a property at 3015 Louisa Road that is within the development and area and zoned for commercial use. However, it’s outside of the jurisdictional area of the Albemarle Service Authority so there’s no public water. That requires a special use permit.

The applicant already operates a wine and gift shop at the location and would like to be able to add a kitchen to be able to exceed the parameters of a current gourmet shop license with the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority. 

“This increased flexibility would allow me to focus on promoting wine and beer education in the form of structured tastings and classes,” the owner writes in the narrative. “I teach fermentation science for the Commercial Craft Brewing program at Piedmont Virginia Community College and am passionate about promoting understanding and education of fermented products. 

For years, there were groups that would have fought against establishment of such a use as a matter of principle. Will they appear tonight? 

The second public hearing is for a special use permit that Crown Orchard Company seeks for a small solar field to power its operations. (staff report)

Location map for The Gray at the intersection of Route 231 and U.S. Route 250 (Credit: Albemarle County)

Fluvanna County Planning Commission to hold public hearing on solar ban on agricultural land 

This is a summer when many are relying on air conditioning to get through the heat. This is also a time when huge amounts of electricity are needed to power data centers to allow a large portion of civilization to run digitally. 

This is also a time when the Virginia Clean Economy Act passed by the General Assembly in 2020 set up a framework for power companies to become less reliant on fossil fuels. In response, power companies have been looking to add more solar to the grid. That means bringing more panels to land that might otherwise be in agricultural use. 

In some localities across Virginia, there has been a backlash against additional utility-scale solar facilities and elected officials have responded. This year, the General Assembly briefly attempted to curtail home rule on this topic by giving the final say to the State Corporation Commission. When that legislation failed, some localities are seizing the moment to put their own rules in place now. 

Earlier this month, Louisa County initially declined to further reduce the total amount of land allowed to be under solar panels from three percent to two percent of the county’s total area. Two weeks later, they re-voted on the matter. I’m grateful to Tammy Purcell of Engage Louisa for her write-ups of both. (go read it)

Now it’s Fluvanna’s turn. The Planning Commission will hold a public hearing Wednesday night on a proposal to disallow utility scale solar as a potential use of agricultural land. Supervisors and the Planning Commission held a joint work session on June 5 and there’s a write-up from Heather Michon in the Fluvanna Review worth reading. (meeting info)

The meeting begins at 7 p.m. in the Morris Room in the county administration building in Palmyra. 

A letter from Fluvanna Planning Commission Chair announced he was calling a special meeting for June 25 (Credit: Fluvanna County)

In other meetings:

  • The Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority’s Board of Directors meets at 2:15 p.m. I’ll have a write-up in the next edition of the newsletter.  (meeting info) (agenda
  • Charlottesville City Council will hold a joint meeting with the Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority to discuss strategic plans and redevelopment. The meeting will take place in CitySpace at 6 p.m. There are no advance materials on the city’s website. (agenda)

Wednesday, June 26, 2024

Nelson County Planning Commission holding public hearing on Wild Rose solar application

The Nelson County Planning Commission will meet at 7 p.m. for a meeting that will feature a public hearing on approval of a large solar energy system. (meeting info)

“The applicant is proposing to install a 90 megawatt (utility scale) solar energy farm on land in active timber use,” reads the staff report. “The remaining land is planned to remain in silvicultural use during the life of the project, which is proposed at a length of 35 to 40 years.” 

The location map for the 90 megawatt Wild Rose solar project (Credit: Stantec)

Neighbors seek to overturn farm winery determination at Greene Board of Zoning Appeals

The Greene County Board of Zoning Appeals will meet at 5:30 p.m. for a closed session with legal counsel followed by an open meeting at 6:30 p.m. in the county meeting room in the administration building at Stanardsville. (agenda)

The item on the agenda is an appeal of a determination by the zoning administrator that Beard Mountain Vineyards is entitled to the by-right use of a farm winery under Virginia law. A group of neighbors is protesting that determination. They’re also protesting a recommendation of a special use permit to allow a tasting room to be larger than 4,000 square feet. Supervisors have not yet taken a vote on that. (agenda packet)

Location map for the parcel where Beard Mountain Vineyards is located (Credit: Greene County / Bowman)

Thursday, June 27, 2024

Places29-Rio group to review Northern Convenience Center, conversion of one-story office to mixed-use building 

The Places29-Rio Community Advisory Committee will meet at 6 p.m. in Room 241 of the county’s office building at 401 McIntire Road. (meeting info) (agenda)

The first item on the agenda is a presentation on the proposed Northern Convenience Center which would be built by Albemarle County and operated by the Rivanna Solid Waste Authority. 

“As detailed in a 2015 report of the Long-Range Solid Waste Solutions Advisory Committee, Albemarle historically lagged behind its neighbors in the provision of collection sites for residential trash and recyclables (convenience centers),” reads the narrative for the meeting

In the past few years, the RSWA has upgraded the Ivy Materials Utilization Center and built a new Southern Convenience Center in Keene. This northern one would be located on county-owned property off Rio Mills Road off of Berkmar Drive. 

The second item is a community meeting for a special use permit to allow residential on a commercially-zoned property at 615 Woodbrook Drive. I wrote about this for C-Ville Weekly in mid-May

In other meetings:

  • The Albemarle Agricultural and Forestal District Committee will meet at 5:30 p.m. in Room 235 of the county’s office building at 401 McIntire Road. On the agenda is for the committee’s review for a 32-acre solar facility that will be on land. This consultation is not binding. (meeting info)
  • The Jefferson Area Regional Transit Partnership will meet at 4 p.m. at the Water Street Center. I’ll write about this one this week, too. (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.