Cville Area Land Use: Week Ahead for March 4, 2024

We’re now in the third month of 2024 and budgets are blossoming throughout the region!  Here’s some of what’s happening in local and regional government: 

  • Fluvanna County Supervisors will consider removing utility-scale solar facilities as a special use in agricultural areas
  • Charlottesville City Council will learn how the Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority has been managing the 74-unit Dogwood portfolio and will be presented with Deputy City Manager Sam Sander’s FY25 budget
  • Albemarle Supervisors will hold their first work session and will hear from the contractor who built a sidewalk on Ivy Road about what they should be paid an additional $239K for the project
  • Louisa County Supervisors will get a presentation from Dominion Energy on the state of the Lake Anna Nuclear Power Plant, and will be presented with recommended FY25 budget
  • Charlottesville’s bike and pedestrian committee will further discuss creating a regional bike map
  • Greene County Supervisors will hold two budget work sessions with one on Tuesday and one on Thursday 
  • Charlottesville City Hall is closed on Monday due to the observance of Liberation and Freedom Day. 
  • This Tuesday is Virginia’s Presidential Primary so various electoral boards will meet to do a canvass of the votes. I’m not listing those meetings here, but they’re happening. 

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

Monday, March 4, 2024

Dominion to present annual report on North Anna Power Station to Louisa Supervisors

The seven-member Board of Supervisors in Louisa County will begin their March 4 meeting at 4 p.m. with a discussion of the recommended operating and capital budget for Fiscal Year 2025. The document is not yet available, but you can likely see it on the budget page when it is posted. Supervisors meet in the Louisa County Public Meeting Room. (meeting info)

The regular meeting begins at 5 p.m. with a closed session, followed by an open session at 6 p.m. (meeting info)

One presentation to note is that March 3 through March 9 is Women in Construction Week. There’s nothing included in the packet, but take a look at the website for more information.  

Under information / discussion items, there will be a presentation from the Louisa Historical Society as well as the Louisa Arts Center. These items are not available in advance. 

Under new business, there will be a resolution to approve a lease with the Virginia Resources Authority. This is related to the financing for several projects including construction of water and sewer infrastructure in the Shannon Hill Growth Area and two turf fields at Louisa County Middle School. (review the resolution)

There are two items under public hearings, though one is a presentation from Dominion Energy on the State of the Station, referring to the Lake Anna nuclear power plant. There’s a 17-page written report.

“Operating performance for North Anna in 2023 resulted in a combined capacity factor of 95.5 percent,” read a section of the report. 

A portion of Dominion’s report on the performance of the Lake Anna nuclear power station (Credit: Dominion Energy)

There is also a public hearing on a resolution to amend the county’s Land Development Regulations related to Lake Anna Shoreline Use and Design Standards as well as Site Design and Architectural Guidelines for Growth Area Overlay Standards. 

The former are being repealed. 

“Since Dominion has authority over all projects on Dominion property at Lake Anna through revocable use agreements, staff recommends repeal of the Lake Anna Shoreline Use and Design Standards ordinance sections 86-656(b) through (c) to decrease unnecessary County involvement,” reads the staff report

In other meetings:

  • The Albemarle County Architectural Review Board meeting for this day has been canceled. (non-meeting info)

Tuesday, March 5, 2024

CRHA to give status update on Dogwood Housing, seek permission to sell one property

There is a recent tradition of Charlottesville City Council holding work sessions to discuss large issues and the two items on the agenda of the 4 p.m. meeting would fit that description. (meeting overview)

The first item is an update from the Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority on what has happened since the agency purchased 74 housing units across the city from Woodard Properties for $10 million. Council provided half of the funding and the city owns a share of the portfolio. 

“The CRHA received a $5 million loan from the Federation of Appalachian Housing Enterprise,” writes John Sales in the staff report. “FAHE is a non-profit financial intermediary that provides capital for the creation and preservation of affordable housing.”

As soon as CRHA took over management, Sales said residents began contacting the agency to complain about pest control issues. Treatment was only occurring quarterly and rather than hire a contractor, CRHA hired two licensed exterminators for all of its properties. CRHA also hired a property manager to concentrate on the Dogwood portfolio. 

The staff report includes a breakdown of the income levels of Dogwood households (Credit: CRHA)

Staff in the Office of Economic Development approached the CRHA about a property on Harris Street on land that is now owned Industrial Mixed Use 8. 

“The CRHA believes it is in the best interest of the City and the CHRA to sell the property and reinvest in another unit with the proceeds from the sell,” the report continues. 

Three properties on Ridge Street have roofs that need to be replaced, and estimates range from $45,000 to $65,000 per unit. 

The second work session will review the city’s five Small Area Plans, including one that had been demoted from Small Area Plan status to a Vision Plan. The first plan is the Strategic Investment Area produced by the firm Cunningham Quill that was added to the Comprehensive Plan in February 2014. 

The centerpiece idea was a linear park that would have been built along a daylighted stream called Pollocks Branch. The Congress for New Urbanism thought the idea merited an award, but none of it came to pass. Doing so would have prevented the Piedmont Housing Alliance from redeveloping Friendship Court into Kindlewood. CRHA is in the midst of the second phase of the redeveloping public housing at South First Street and the SIA plan was not used as a guide. 

The SIA plan also called for transition to a form-based code for the area that was championed by former City Councilor Kathy Galvin, but the Planning Commission recommended not moving forward with that idea in November 2019 as reported by Nolan Stout in the Daily Progress

One of the only infrastructure projects in the SIA to move forward is a pedestrian bridge at Jordan Park. Bids closed on February 29.

Another plan is the Hydraulic Small Area Plan that was produced in collaboration with Albemarle County in 2018. Another is the Cherry Avenue Small Area Plan that was produced by the Thomas Jefferson Planning District in March 2021. 

The New Hill Development Corporation received funding from the City Council to create what became known as the Starr Hill Vision Plan that was added to the Comprehensive Plan as an appendix in April 2021. The final one is the Urban Rivanna River Corridor Plan put together by the TJPDC. 

An image from the Strategic Investment Area shows a conceptual project that did not have support of landowners who built something very different. (Credit: Cunningham Quill) 

There are two line items in the Capital Improvement Program related to these plans and staff wants flexibility to tap into that pool of money for other purposes.  

“Staff would like Council consideration of broadening the use of the funds allocated under the ‘SIA Implementation’ and ‘Small Area Plans’ CIP items,” writes Neighborhood Development Services Director James Freas in his staff report. “For the first, staff would like Council to consider broadening the use of these funds to be for SAP implementation so that these funds could be used for implementation projects related to any of the adopted SAPs.”

The CIP anticipates $200,000 a year in “SIA implementation fund” and $100,000 a year for “Small Area Plans.” 

Staff would also like to be able to use these funds for further review of the Comprehensive Plan, such as reviewing and updating the city’s environmental regulations. 

The city wants to create more Small Area Plans, all of which call for additional infrastructure. Council might consider the city’s ability to deliver such projects and whether projects are feasible, such as reviewing a February 2024 status update of transportation projects

Not mentioned in the staff report is the now-defunct West Main Streetscape in which millions of dollars were paid to consultants, designers, and architects for a plan Council ultimately rejected when it canceled the project in June 2022. Perhaps it is time to start using a different word than “plan” which implies something will happen.

Council to be presented with recommended FY25 budgets for local government, school regular meeting headline

The regular meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. and the consent agenda includes several items worth note as they involve how millions in capital improvement funds will be used. 

  • There is second reading of reallocation of $215,000 in previously allocated Community Development Block Grants for the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank Cold Storage Project. I’ll have a story about that in the next regular newsletter. (staff report)
  • There is a second reading of an amendment to the city’s rent relief program to change the way amounts are calculated. (staff report)
  • There is a requested letter of support from the Piedmont Housing Alliance for a Low Income Housing Tax Credit application for the Park Street Christian Church apartments. To help them qualify in the process run by the agency formerly known as the Virginia Housing Development Authority, they also want the city to use a portion of the capital funds committed to the project for rental subsidies. (staff report)
  • The Piedmont Housing Alliance is also seeking Low Income Housing Tax Credits for 71 apartments to be built at 501-A and 501-B Cherry Avenue. The draft five-year Capital Improvement Program anticipates $1 million to the project in FY26 and $2.15 million but those amounts cannot be guaranteed. Piedmont Housing Alliance wants ten rental subsidies to be carved out from that funding. The nonprofit organization also wants the area designated as a Revitalization Area. (staff report) (revitalization area staff report)

In the first action item, Council will be asked to support the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission’s Move Safely Blue Ridge initiative. That means having Council establish clear targets. 

“For Charlottesville’s safety targets, staff has recommended that the City of Charlottesville commit to an elimination of deaths and a 50 percent reduction in serious injuries resulting from roadway incidents,” reads the staff report. “While this may seem to be a more aggressive target than our more rural partners, in terms of absolute numbers, Charlottesville currently has a low number of roadway fatalities, with a total of 13 deaths in crashes between 2018 and 2022.” 

I wrote a story in February about this item going before the Nelson County and Greene County Board of Supervisors. 

After that, Charlottesville City Schools Superintendent Royal Gurley will present Council with his budget request for FY2025, followed by City Manager Sam Sanders’ recommended budget.  Will there be a property tax rate increase, or an increase in any of the other tax rates? Stay tuned. 

Next up is an ordinance to create a franchise agreement with Shenandoah Mobile. 

Under general business, the Albemarle Charlottesville Regional Jail Authority will present the architectural design options for the renovation of the facility on Avon Street Extended. Albemarle County and Charlottesville will pay a share of the costs, as will Nelson County.  (view the presentation)

  • Option #1 would address minimum deficiencies in the west wing with no work at all on the east wing. Total project cost is $25 million. 
  • Option #2 would renovate both wings and address major deficiencies. Total project cost is $35 million. 
  • Option #3 is the choice of the Jail Authority and one approved by the Virginia Board of Local and Regional Jails. This would renovate the west wing and replace the east wing with a new story facility. Total project cost would be $49 million, with a quarter of that to be reimbursed by the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Finally, there will be a written report from the Land Use and Environmental Planning Committee, a closed-door body that took the place of a public body subject to Virginia’s open meeting laws.

“In November 2019, City Council, Albemarle County Board of Supervisors and UVA approved dissolution of the PACC and established the Land Use and Environmental Planning Committee (LUEPC) in order to broaden PACC’s collaboration beyond land use and to include environmental topics and sustainability,” reads the staff report.

The meetings are not open to the public and do not offer a forum for open dialogue between elected officials and University of Virginia officials. The LUEPC charter was also amended in 2023 to make clear that attendees are not to discuss the contents of the meetings. Here’s a story I wrote before that happened

Anyway, here’s the report

In other meetings: 

  • The Greene County Board of Supervisors will hold a budget work session at 4:30 p.m. There will be presentations from School Superintendent Andrea Whitmarsh, Sheriff Steve Smith, Commonwealth’s Attorney Win Consolvo, Treasurer Stephanie Deal, Clerk of the Circuit Court Ashby Lamb-Gomez, and Commissioner of the Revenue Kim Tate. (meeting agenda)
  • The Charlottesville Tree commission will meet at 5 p.m. in the Parks and Recreation Department’s Conference Room at 501 E. Main Street. There is no agenda available in the meeting materials at publication time. 
  • The Nelson County Board of Zoning Appeals will hold a public hearing for one item at 7 p.m. in the General District Courtroom in the Nelson County Courthouse in Lovingston. A property owner on Stagecoach Road in Afton seeks a variance to reduce the minimum setback to allow for construction of a single family home. (meeting info)
One of the images in the Albemarle Charlottesville Regional Jail presentation to City Council 

Wednesday, March 6, 2024

Albemarle Supervisors to hold first work session on budget, public hearing on solar siting agreement

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

After proclamations, matters from the public, and the consent agenda, Supervisors will hold their first work session on County Executive Jeffrey Richardson’s $629 million recommended budget.  I’ve written two stories so far:

Building infrastructure to support urbanization is not an easy endeavor.  After the work session, Supervisors will be presented a claim from the company S.L. Williamson related to their contract to build a sidewalk on Ivy Road paid for through Virginia Department of Transportation’s revenue-sharing program. 

“S.L. Williamson claims that it is entitled to $238,207.29 for additional costs incurred during the project,” reads the staff report

The claim goes into more detail. 

“SLWCO is entitled to this additional compensation because the County has, to date, refused to properly pay the Contractor for additional costs incurred due to the County’s delay in allowing the work at issue to commence,” reads a 78-page letter from the law firm Rees Broome. “The County further required that SLWCO perform additional work, which was not warranted either contractually or from an economic standpoint, after the Project was completed, resulting in SLWCO incurring further costs.” 

According to the Fall 2023 report from the Facilities and Environmental Services department, the project had a budget of just over $3 million. There was no update on the project in the Winter 2024 report.

An image from the Fall 2023 Facilities and Environmental Services (read the report)

There are three public hearings in the evening meeting at 6 p.m.

  • Arbor Life Professional Tree Care seeks a special use permit to operate a contractor’s storage yard at 163 Patterson Mill Lane in the rural area. (staff report)
  • The owners of 4102 Dickerson Road seek a rezoning from Rural Area to Light Industrial for a contractor’s business. (staff report)
  • In April 2023, the Board of Supervisors approved a special use permit for the 138 megawatt on 650 acres. Now there will be a public hearing for a siting agreement that would provide $1,400 in revenue to the county for every megawatt generated. (staff report)

Fluvanna Supervisors to vote on removal of solar facilities as a special use on agricultural land 

The five-member Board of Supervisors in Fluvanna County will meet at 5 p.m. in the Carysbrook Performing Arts Center at 8880 James Madison Highway in Fork Union. (meeting info)

The usual start to a meeting includes the call to order, the Pledge of Allegiance, the moment of silence, the adoption of the agenda, the report from County Administrator Eric Dahl, the first public comment section, and appointments.

At this meeting, there are two presentations. One is from the Virginia Department of Transportation and the other will be an update from Dahl on the status of the James River Water Authority’s project to build a waterline from the river to a facility that will provide treated drinking water for Zion Crossroads. 

“An update will also be provided on project costs and the JRWA’s application submission for project financing to the Virginia Resource Authority,” reads the staff report. “Fluvanna would need to approve a resolution to the amended support agreement at the March 20, 2024 BOS regular meeting for the project financing.”

The report states that Louisa will be taking up the same resolution at their meeting on March 18, 2024. 

There are so many stories that deserve more reporting. One is the hesitation that Fluvanna County has toward utility-scale solar facilities. In January, the Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors had a joint work session at which a group called Citizen Defenders of Fluvanna County presented their concerns about such installations. Heather Michon has an article in the Fluvanna Review that captured their thoughts.

On February 21, Supervisors voted 3-2 to amend county code to remove utility-scale solar generation facilities as a special use in the A-1 zoning district. At the same meeting, Supervisors voted 4-1 to consider adding supplemental regulations for all solar facilities ranging from small-scale to utility-scale. 

At this meeting, Supervisors will follow through with a vote. They will do so with the knowledge that legislation that passed the Virginia Senate to restrict the ability of localities to regular solar will not pass in 2024. A subcommittee in the House of Delegates voted to continue SB697 to the 2025 General Assembly. 

A majority of Fluvanna County Supervisors support eliminating utility-scale solar as a special use in agricultural districts 

Thursday, March 7, 2024

Charlottesville bike/ped committee to discuss regional bike map 

The City of Charlottesville’s Bike and Pedestrian Advisory Committee will meet remotely for the second month in a row at 5 p.m. Is this a Council appointed body or a staff appointed body? If the latter, then it can meet remotely as much as it wants. If a Council appointed body, Virginia’s open meeting laws would limit it to no more than two meetings a year under post-pandemic rules. (meeting info)

There will be updates from the Safe Routes to School Coordinator, the Transportation Planning Manager, and the Bike/Pedestrian Coordinator. Will there be a discussion of the February 2024 status report

From the minutes of the February 1 meeting, we learn that the city is seeking a firm to put Fifth Street Extended on a road diet where lanes would be removed. 

“A consultant will come in and design a quick-build plan for the city to put on the ground quickly and try it out to see how it goes,” reads the minutes. 

We also learn that a prioritization of city sidewalk projects will be complete by May. 

“City Manager’s office is making sidewalks a massive priority,” the minutes continues. 

Then the group will continue to discuss a potential project: Promoting & Improving the Region’s Bicycle Maps. One of the members agreed to put together a rough draft that might combine a map for both Albemarle and Charlottesville. 

“Albemarle County doesn’t have anything that matches the city’s bicycle infrastructure map,” read the minutes.

The minutes do not mention the existence of the 2019 Jefferson Area Bike and Pedestrian Plan. In 2017, the Charlottesville Area Community Foundation awarded an $180,000 Strengthening Systems grant to the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission and the Piedmont Environmental Council to create the plan. I wrote a story about that for Charlottesville Tomorrow.

“This Plan seeks to encourage implementation by providing a focused list of regionally-significant bicycle and pedestrian projects that enhance regional connectivity and provide routes connecting the region’s important residential and economic centers,” reads the TJPDC website

Important disclosure: I worked for PEC when the plan was adopted by the TJPDC, but had no direct involvement. My name does not appear in the acknowledgements. The organization is a sponsor of this work but has no editorial involvement.

The Jefferson Area Bike and Pedestrian Plan was created with a $180,000 grant from the Charlottesville Area Community Foundation. Has it had any lasting impact or it yet another in a string of quickly forgotten planning documents? Review it here.

Regional planning body to consider Regional Transit Governance Study

The Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission’s Board of Commissioners will meet at 7 p.m. at 407 Water Street. (meeting packet)

The Board will get updates on the broadband expansion project being overseen by TJPDC funded through the Virginia Telecommunications Initiative. They’ll review the draft 2025 Rural Transportation Work Program and the budget. Then there will be a review of the Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy the TJPDC is putting together. 

And then there will be a final report on the Regional Transit Governance Study. By the time 2029 gets around, will this report have resulted in any progress? I hope to write up a story from the Regional Transportation Partnership by this meeting to see what that group discussed and whether there was any critical feedback. 

One of the recommendations in transit governance study (Credit: AECOM)

In other meetings:

  • The Community Policy and Management Team is a public body consisting of Albemarle and Charlottesville members. According to the city’s website, they meet at 9 a.m. in the Albemarle County Office Building located at 1600 5th Street Extended, Charlottesville VA. (city meeting info) (agenda)
  • The Greene County Board of Supervisors will hold a work session at 4:30 p.m. in the county administration building in Stanardsville on what tax rates to advertise. (meeting info)
  • The Albemarle Natural Heritage Committee will meet at 5:45 p.m. There is no agenda at publication time. (meeting info)
  • Charlottesville City Council will hold their first budget work session on revenues and expenditures. This will be in City Space at 6 p.m. (meeting info)

Friday, March 8, 2024

City history panel to meet 

Charlottesville’s Historic Resources Committee will meet at 11 a.m. in the Neighborhood Development Services Conference Room. (meeting agenda)

In addition to the usual agenda items (Downtown Walking Tour, Engagement of Descendant Community: Slavery and Court Square, local Civil Rights events), there will be a discussion of historical markers for the Carver Inn, the enslaved persons auction block, and Johnson Elementary School. 

There will be a discussion of updating Board of Architectural Review guidelines to place an emphasis on structures designed by local architects. There will also be a pre-discussion of the April Historic Resources Committee meeting in April when there will be a presentation from the Parks and Recreation Department on drainage issues at Oakwood Cemetery. 

Saturday, March 9, 2024

City Human Rights Commission to hold planning retreat

The budget for the Office of Human Rights has more than doubled in last few years with the hiring of two new personnel. There is no agenda for the Human Rights Commission’s Annual Planning Meeting. (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.