Cville Area Land Use: Week Ahead for May 6, 2024

Highlights this week: 

  • There are two “community meetings” in Albemarle this week where members of the public can ask questions about land use applications. Crozet’s advisory committee will take a look Wednesday at a plan to put on fireworks at King Family Vineyard on July 4. The Places29-North group on Thursday will review the county’s application to rezone land for a future intelligence and defense campus at Rivanna Station. 
  • Charlottesville City Council will learn on Monday of what planners will do to get back in the Virginia Department of Transportation’s good graces after failing to deliver on funded projects. They’ll also get a lesson in how the Charlottesville Albemarle Convention and Visitors Bureau uses revenue from the transient lodging tax to attract more tourists.
  • Louisa Supervisors on Monday will reconsider funding for Piedmont Virginia Community College and consider a unsolicited bid for a firm to build water and sewer infrastructure for Amazon’s planned data centers.
  • Louisa’s Planning Commission on Thursday will hold a public hearing on further reducing amount of land that can be used for solar fields, and will consider adding several new land uses. 
  • Fluvanna’s Planning Commission on Tuesday will discuss policies to restrict solar project and hold a public hearing for a beauty parlor that is currently non-conforming with zoning. 
  • There are no meetings in Greene County this week. The Board of Supervisors will meet on May 13 followed by the Planning Commission on May 14. 
  • There are no meetings in Nelson County and the Board of Supervisors there will next meet on May 14. 

This work is supported by the Piedmont Environmental Council through a weekly sponsorship. They’ve got an annual meeting coming on June 1, 2024 you may want to review.

Monday, May 6, 2024

VDOT has found Charlottesville “deficient” at building projects 

During Charlottesville’s budget cycle for fiscal year 2025, at least one Councilor wanted more information on whether the city could repurpose some of the revenue received through the transient occupancy tax. State law requires a portion of it to be spent on tourism marketing. Like Albemarle County, Charlottesville increased the rate from eight percent to nine percent effective July 1. 

At a work session beginning at 4 p.m. in City Council Chambers, Council will get a presentation from the Charlottesville Albemarle Convention and Visitors Bureau on how they use funding from the lodging tax to help attract more people to the community. The slides tell the story of fictional characters Karen and Jim to explain how the CACVB seeks to make sure people are spending money at local attractions such as the Rivanna River Company, 10th Street Bed and Breakfast, and the Bridge PAI. 

The presentation also includes data from 2022 that shows visitors spent over $900 million in Albemarle and Charlottesville and that over 6,600 people are employed in the sector. 

A chart in the CACVB packet lists how much tourism spending has occurred in select parts of Virginia from 2019 to 2022 (Credit: CACVB) 

The second work session is related to transportation and the city’s recent history in being unable to manage projects.

“For years now, the City of Charlottesville has suffered – for many reasons – with the quality management of our locally-administered transportation program in partnership with the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT),” reads the staff report.

The Virginia Department of Transportation has recently put the city on notice by giving it a “deficient” rating and required development of a plan to explain how it would bring several funded projects to construction. Part of that plan will include giving up local control of projects. 

There’s no further information in the packet but funded projects that have not been built include:

Two Smart Scale projects have already been canceled. They are the West Main Streetscape and intersection improvements at Preston and Grady. For more background, read my account from the September 2022 Commonwealth Transportation Board meeting

Charlottesville’s inability to bring projects forward quickly is nothing new. The Virginia Department of Transportation previously took control of Hillsdale Drive Extended as well as a project to add an additional lane onto the U.S. 250 bypass from Southbound Emmet Street. It has taken nearly 15 years for the Belmont Bridge replacement to be constructed. (links go to previous stories I wrote about both)

VDOT is already managing the projects in the Hydraulic Road vicinity. 

What went wrong? One day I am going to write a book.

A slide from a presentation to the Commonwealth Transportation Board on Charlottesville canceling two Smart Scale projects. The staff report hints other projects will be canceled. 

The evening session is a relatively quiet one as far as the agenda reads, but public comment periods can often send meetings into a different direction. 

There are several proclamations:

There are several items on the consent agenda:

  • Despite VDOT declaring Charlottesville deficient in terms of building transportation, Council will have the second reading of $394,256 in Revenue-Sharing Program funding which requires a local match. This funding will go to pay for three specific sidewalks. (staff report)
  • There’s also the second reading of a resolution to spend $40,000 to study a shared use path for Hydraulic Road between Brandywine Drive and Michie Drive. The current VDOT project on that street only plans for a traditional sidewalk and the city wants to study if is possible to upgrade it. (staff report)
  • There’s second reading of a pass-through in $600,000 in funding for the Dogwood Memorial Foundation from the Virginia Department of Historic Resources. (staff report)
  • Council has to formally adopt the lodging and meals tax. Several media outlets incorrectly reported the meals tax jumped one percentage point to 7.5 percent, but Council made a last minute choice to only proceed with a half percentage. The lodging tax increases from eight percent to nine percent. (staff report)
  • Council has to formally adopt the guidelines and funding for the grant program for homeowners intended to serve as tax relief. (staff report)

The only item on the regular agenda is a new agreement between the City of Charlottesville and the Charlottesville Albemarle Rescue Squad. 

“A new agreement has been established allowing CARS to continue providing emergency medical services for the City of Charlottesville as a designated component of the Charlottesville Fire Department,” reads the staff report. “The volunteer Charlottesville Fire Company will also come under the umbrella of the CFD.”

Some of the language in the new agreement

Louisa County to consider restoring $5,859 in funding to PVCC

The seven member Louisa County Board of Supervisors will meet at 5 p.m. for a closed session followed by a regular session at 6 p.m. (agenda)

After all of the usual items to start the meeting, Supervisors will have a discussion of whether to restore $5,859 in funding to Piedmont Virginia Community College. The line item was stripped from the FY2025 budget because a student group showed a film with a perspective they disagreed with. (read the story)

One item on the consent agenda is an award to two companies to do engineering services on behalf of the county. There were five bids and staff is recommending both the Timmons Group and Johnson, Mirmiran & Thompson, Inc. (staff report)

Under new business, the budget process continues with the appropriation of both the operating and capital budgets for FY25. This also includes a resolution to reimburse itself for $63 million from the FY25 budget that will be used in the current fiscal year so work can begin on the renovations of Louisa Middle School and the Louisa Career and Technical Education Center. 

The fourth item under new business is a resolution to approve an unsolicited proposal to design and build water and sewer infrastructure to serve the two Amazon data center campuses that will be built in the county. This would be done through the Public-Private Educational Facilities and Infrastructure. (read the staff report)

There are two public hearings.

  • The first is on the six-year plan for Secondary Road System Construction in Louisa County. There’s $1.4 million to be spent over the period to pave roads. 
  • The second is a revision of the Lake Anna Shoreline Use and Design Standards to eliminate some of the provisions due to redundancy. Dominion has their own enforceable standards. (ordinance)
Some of the allocations for Louisa County’s secondary road system 

In other meetings:

  • The Albemarle County Architectural Review Board will meet at 1 p.m. in Lane Auditorium. On the agenda is a second review of renovations of an existing car dealership on Seminole Trail that will create the new Flow Kia. (meeting info)
  • The Albemarle Fire EMS Executive Committee meeting will be held at 4:30 p.m. in the Room 235 of the Albemarle County office building at 401 McIntire Road. The agenda is not available at publication time. (meeting info)

Tuesday, May 7, 2024

Fluvanna Planning Commission to review solar changes, public hearing for beauty parlor

Earlier this year, Fluvanna County Supervisors came close to adopting new rules that would have eliminated the ability to apply for a special use permit to build utility-scale solar facilities on land zoned for agricultural use.

Instead, a work group was put together to address growing concerns over too much land being used for energy generation. The full Commission will get an update at a work session. 

There will be a public hearing on an amendment for a previous rezoning to change the proffers for a project at 21453 James Madison Highway.

“The owner of this 1.27-acre parcel is currently operating an unpermitted personal services establishment as a beauty parlor,” reads the staff report. “Personal service establishments are a by right use in the B-1 zoning district.”

A layout of the site of the unpermitted beauty parlor (Credit: Meridian Planning Group)

Under new business, there will be a request from White Oak Tree Solar LLC to defer their application from the June 11 meeting to the September 10 meeting. 

The Fluvanna Planning Commission will next meet on May 14 and will have a public hearing on the Comprehensive Plan. The agenda states that Supervisors will hold their public hearing on June 11, but that’s a Tuesday and Supervisors usually meet on Wednesdays. 

From the minutes, we learn that Todd Fortune is Fluvanna’s new Planning Director. Planning Commissioner Bree Kay has resigned from the advisory body. 

In other meetings:

  • The Charlottesville Housing Advisory Committee will have a special meeting at noon. There’s no agenda, but it’s likely they will further discuss a potential land bank and what rules should be in place. Many of the HAC members are the leaders of nonprofit and government housing organizations, and there have been disagreements between them. These meetings are not recorded and not televised, so you’ll have to attend. This meeting is in the basement conference room in City Hall. Read last week’s Week Ahead for more background as the minutes are not available yet for the May meeting. 
  • The Charlottesville Sister Cities Commission will meet at 4:30 p.m. in CitySpace. (meeting info)
  • The Charlottesville Tree Commission will meet at 5 p.m. in the Parks and Recreation Office at 501 East Main Street. There’s no agenda available at publication time. (meeting info)

Wednesday, May 8, 2024

Crozet group to review plans for July 4 fireworks at King Family Vineyards

There are only two months left until Independence Day and the Albemarle Board of Supervisors will soon be asked to grant a special use permit for a new location for Crozet’s celebration.

“King Family Vineyards would like to host the Crozet Independence Celebration, which would be run by the Crozet Community Association in conjunction with the Crozet Board of Trade,” reads the application for the permit. 

Special use permits and rezonings in Albemarle require a community meeting and the county’s community advisory committees often serve as the forum for those events. On Wednesday, the Crozet CAC will meet at Crozet Library beginning at 7 p.m. 

For years, the event was held at Claudius Crozet Park but was canceled in 2020 due to COVID. Fireworks resumed the following year, but were canceled in 2022 for a variety of reasons as explained by Lisa Martin in an October 2022 Crozet Gazette article. One reason is that additional development has reduced the size of the debris field required to pass muster with the fire marshal’s office. 

The narrative states that the parade and the fireworks display are an important time for Crozet and the only time each year the entire community can gather.

“It is a wonderful event that brings people together, both young and old alike,” the application continues. “Most importantly, it is an opportunity for people who have lived in Crozet for their entire lives and those who have just moved to the area to share a common space and make memories together.” 

Last year the fireworks were blasted from the Barnes Lumberyard, a temporary arrangement. The permit is required for an event expecting over 2,000 attendees. 

After this community meeting, the Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority will provide an update on various plans. 

An image showing the layout for the proposed fireworks display on July 4 (Credit: Crozet Community Association)

Commonwealth Transportation Board listening meeting to be held in Charlottesville

Five of the six localities in the Thomas Jefferson Planning District are in the Virginia Department of Transportation’s Culpeper District. Anyone interested in telling the Commonwealth Transportation Board what they think about upcoming projects has the opportunity Wednesday to do so at 4 p.m. 

“You are invited to share comments on transportation projects that have been recommended for funding in the Fiscal Year (FY) 2025-2030 SYIP Six-Year Improvement Program (SYIP),” reads the announcement of this spring meeting. 

This event will be held at the TJPDC’s offices at 407 East Water Street. 

The Culpeper District also includes Fauquier County, Culpeper County, Madison County, and Rappahannock County. 

This year is one in which revenue-sharing projects will be assigned to the six year plan. Charlottesville is not seeking any new funding. You can take a look at all of the new projects here.

Albemarle has three revenue-sharing projects. 

  • A $3.81 million project related to sidewalks on Commonwealth Drive and Dominion Drive 
  • An $8.44 million project to add bicycle and pedestrian improvements on Berkmar Drive
  • A $19.16 million connector road to extend Berkmar Drive to Airport Road
A map of the Virginia Department of Transportation’s Culpeper District 

In other meetings:

  • The Albemarle Electoral Board will meet at 9 a.m. The Albemarle website does not list a location nor is there an agenda. (meeting info)
  • The James River Water Authority will meet at 9 a.m. in the Morris Room of the Fluvanna County Administration Building. They’ll have a discussion of the bond environment in 2024 for the Virginia Resource Authority to finance various projects to bring water from the river to Zion Crossroads. Anyone interested in nutrient credits might also want to attend this meeting. (meeting agenda)

Thursday, May 9, 2024

Public hearing in Louisa for proposal to reduce land available for solar

Many localities across Virginia are pushing back on the use of rural land for solar energy generation. Louisa County is considering amending its ordinance to further reduce the amount of land allowed to be used for this land use. 

Currently there are 5,053 acres that are approved for use as solar fields. The current cap is three percent, or 9,800 acres. The proposal is to reduce that to two percent, or 6,534 acres. 

“In addition, such facilities may not locate more than a mile from existing high-voltage transmission or distribution line rights-of-way,” reads the current ordinance. 

The Planning Commission will discuss this change at a work session at 5 p.m. (meeting agenda)

They’ll also discuss a second item. There are several new definitions that are being considered to be added. They are:

  • Automobile graveyard
  • Call center
  • Data center
  • Greenhouse, commercial
  • Impound lot 
  • Junkyard
  • Laundry facility 
  • Motion picture theater, adult
  • Recreation facility, private
  • Tiny houses
  • Truck stop
  • Video-viewing booth or arcade booth, adult

After the work session, there will be public hearings on both items at the regular meeting which begins at 7 p.m. 

The Planning Commission will discuss whether or not to add the uses and where they would be allowed 

Places29-North group to review rezoning for Albemarle intelligence sector campus 

Albemarle County is moving fast with a proposal to prepare newly-purchased land around the Rivanna Station for a future intelligence and defense campus. Supervisors agreed in late March to allow the county executive to file for a rezoning of about 175 acres.

“This rezoning is to a [Light Industrial] with a special use permit for office uses,” said Planning Director Michael Barnes at a recent Supervisors meeting. “This first supports the light manufacturing and office uses that are envisioned by the project.”

This may be one of the fastest moving land use applications in Albemarle. The Albemarle Planning Commission will have a public hearing on May 14, just about seven weeks after the county filed the request to go through their own community development process. The meeting with the Board of Supervisors will be in June. The reason for the rush is to meet a deadline to apply for a grant from the Virginia Economic Development Partnership for further site readiness. 

Albemarle’s zoning ordinance requires a community meeting to be held first, and the Places29-North Community Advisory Committee will have the opportunity to ask questions at their meeting at 6 p.m. This is held at North Fork Discovery Park in Building 4.

For more background, take a look at various stories from the last year: 

In other meetings:

  • The Albemarle Solid Waste Alternatives Advisory Committee will meet at 4 p.m. in Room 246 of the county’s office building at 401 McIntire Road in Charlottesville. There’s no agenda at publication time. (meeting info)
  • The Albemarle Conservation Easement Authority will meet at 4:45 p.m. in Room 241 of the county’s office building at 401 McIntire Road in Charlottesville. There’s no agenda at publication time. (meeting info)
  • The Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority will hold a work session in City Council Chambers at 6 p.m. There’s no published information at publication time. (meeting info)

Friday, May 10, 2024 

Charlottesville’s Historic Resources Committee to meet 

The agendas for Charlottesville’s Historic Resources Committee do not change much with standing discussions on topics such as “Downtown Walking Map Tour” and “Engagement of Descendant Community: Slavery and Court Square” and historic markers.

On the latter topic, there are two different markers up for consideration. One is for Zion Union Church which used to stand on 4th Street NE. Learn more of the history here.

The other is for the Carver Inn, another structure that doesn’t exist. There are two alternate texts in the staff report and here’s the first. 

“The Carver Inn was among the few lodging places in Charlottesville where African

Americans could stay during segregation,” reads the agenda. “The Inn, which featured fine dining, a snack bar, a private social club, and a beauty salon, was host to famous guests including Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, and Thurgood Marshall.” 

Albemarle closing for business at noon

Albemarle has around 1,000 employees and offices close to the public at noon to honor them. 

“Local government offices will be closed on Friday, May 10 from 12- 5 pm for a public service recognition staff event,” reads the public notice. “Early voting at the County Office Building on 1600 5th Street will not be impacted by the May 10 closure and will continue as usual.”

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.