Cville Area Land Use Update: Week of Sept. 9, 2023

Plus: Greene County Supervisors to affirm local emergency, hold public hearing for 500-unit project near Stanardsville

Here we are again with another installment of what’s coming up in meetings of local and regional government in what’s known as the Thomas Jefferson Planning District. That’s six individual localities plus one very large state institution. This newsletter is intended to let people know what’s coming up so they can be informed and have their say. 

Here are some of the highlights for this week: 

  • The Charlottesville Planning Commission will hold a public hearing for a rezoning at 1709 JPA and will adopt a resolution to clarify their findings on another project’s compliance with the Comprehensive Plan. 
  • The Albemarle Planning Commission will hold a public hearing on a special use permit for a boarding camp on land shared with Fluvanna, as well as a second on a technical amendment related to housing bonuses in non-residential zones. 
  • The Fluvanna Planning Commission will hold a work session on solar siting agreements following action by the Board of Supervisors last week.
  • The Louisa County Planning Commission will have a public hearing on changes to short-term rental regulations. 
  • The Greene County Supervisors will reaffirm a local emergency related to low water levels and hold a public hearing on a rezoning for a 500-unit development near Stanardsville.
  • There are community meetings for two rezonings in Albemarle County. The Place 29-Hydraulic CAC will review one for the second high school Center and the Places29-North CAC will review a request from the Great Eastern Management Company to increase the number of units that can be built at North Pointe. 
  • The University of Virginia Board of Visitors will meet this week
  • There’s a major public hearing for Charlottesville’s new Development Code, but details on that to come in another newsletter

While this particular edition of the newsletter is sponsored by the Piedmont Environment Council, this work is an act of independent journalism intended to reach as many people as possible. Thanks to PEC for their support of this work for over three years!

Monday, September 11, 2023

Community meeting to be held for Center II rezoning in Albemarle

One of the purposes of the community advisory committees in Albemarle County is to serve as a forum for official community meetings for rezonings and special use permits. A rezoning requested by the county for a new education facility is on the docket of the Places29-Hydraulic CAC meeting to be held from 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. This takes place at the Media Center at Greer Elementary School at 190 Lambs Lane in Charlottesville. (meeting info)

But first, the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission will hold a presentation on the Long Range Transportation Plan known as Moving Toward 2050. 

“This plan, to be reviewed and adopted by the [Charlottesville-Albemarle] MPO Policy Board, identifies long range transportation needs, considers possible infrastructure improvements, and establishes priorities to implement projects based on anticipated funding,” reads the TJPDC’s website

The community meeting is for Center II, the second in a series of “learning communities” according to a narrative written by the firm Quinn Evans. 

“The Center model emerged from a study undertaken in 2017 by Fielding International with HBA Architecture to explore the modernization of the high school experience while managing increasing student populations and capacity issues at Division High schools,” reads the narrative(the link should work – but let me know if you have issues) 

The first Center is located at Seminole Place and opened in 2018 according to the Albemarle County Public Schools website

Center II would be built on what is now a parking lot at Albemarle High School and will host up to 400 students with a focus on science, technology, mathematics, and math. There will be project studios, specialty studios, and seminar rooms. 

“All spaces are flexible, reconfigurable, and feature operable partitions in strategic locations to allow for a continuous evolution of learning, instruction, and curriculum,” the narrative continues. 

Students from all across the county will rotate through the Center from throughout the county. Though directly on Hydraulic Road and at the site of several existing schools, this property is within the rural area. 

A rendering of the future Center II (Credit: Quinn Evans)

Charlottesville Sister City Commission holding retreat at JMRL

The Charlottesville Sister City Commission will hold its annual retreat from 5 p.m to 8 p.m. in the Swanson Case Room at the Central Branch of the Jefferson-Madison Regional Library in downtown Charlottesville. (meeting page)

I had wanted to write up the July 17 presentation of this group’s annual report to City Council time slipped past me. I also wanted to write up the August 21 presentation on a request to allow a delegation to visit from Huehuetenango, a Friendship City in Guatemala. Here’s that presentation if you want to know more.

Commission Chair Ed Herring visited for five days this past February.

“This first visit to Huehue was given a lot of local attention and I was able to meet most of the key players, including the Mayor, the Sister Cities Commissioners, tourism officials and key players from the education, business and social communities,” Herring wrote in the presentation. 

At this meeting, Herring will report on the presentation to Council and outline next steps for the exploratory visit from officials from Huehuetenango. 

In other meetings:

  • The Albemarle Fire EMS Executive Committee that had been scheduled has been canceled. (meeting info)
  • The Economic Development Authority of Fluvanna County holds a meeting in the Morris Room at the County Administration Building at 132 Main Street in Palmyra. (agenda)
  • The Fluvanna Economic Development and Tourism Advisory Council stays in the same place. (meeting info)
  • The Nelson County Homebuilders Association and the Nelson County Chamber of Commerce will host a candidates forum at 6:30 p.m. for those on the ballot. The event at the Rockfish Valley Community Center will feature candidates for Sheriff, Supervisor, and School Board. (details)

Tuesday, September 12, 2023

Greene Supervisors to reaffirm local emergency, hold public hearing on rezoning

The five member Greene County Board of Supervisors will meet at 4:30 p.m. in the county administration building in Stanardsville. This is an earlier time than usual. There will be a closed session at 5:30 p.m. and the regular session starts at 6:30 p.m. (agenda and meeting info)

The work session is on a pay and classification study.  This isn’t available in advance or at least is not in the packet. There will also be a legislative update from the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission. (advance material)

There are also two action items in this section of the meeting. One is to fill the position of deputy emergency management coordinator and the other is a resolution to reaffirm a local emergency declared on September 7 related to low levels of water. 

In the 6:30 p.m. meeting, there will be a public hearing on a rezoning of 139.96 acres of land from R-1 to Planned Unit Development. This is for land near and within the Town of Stanardsville for 500 units. This project was deferred from a meeting in August. (staff report)

There is a second public hearing related to an agreement the county has with the Virginia Resources Authority for a Local Lease Acquisition Agreement and Financing. This is for space to be purchased at 8767 Seminole Trail for Social Services to move into next year. (presentation)

A section of the resolution reaffirming the local state of emergency in Greene County (read the resolution)

Nelson County Supervisors to consider support for two transportation projects

The five member Board of Supervisors in Nelson County will meet at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. in the General District Courtroom at the Courthouse in Lovingston. (meeting info)

David Blount, the legislative liaison for the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission, will kick off the presentation portion of the meeting with a draft agenda for the 2024 General Assembly. (page 84)

The second presentation is from the Virginia Department of Transportation. 

There are eight items under new and unfinished business. 

  • There will be a change in the date for the November Supervisors meeting from November 14 to November 16. 
  • There is a resolution of support for a Transportation Alternatives Project grant for the Gladstone Depot. (page 85)
  • Lovingston is also seeking a TAP grant to widen sidewalks on Front Street and wants a resolution of support. (page 86)
  • There’s a request for funding for the Nelson County Drug Court to purchase gift cards for participants.
  • The Nelson Future Farmers of America chapter has a funding request as well for $8,000 for travel to a national competition. 
  • There’s a resolution to authorize a public hearing to correct the budget for FY24 which should be a total of $95,163,565, about $2.1 million more than adopted. (page 87). 
  • There’s a resolution to authorize a public hearing for an amendment to the FY24 budget for school construction fund to appropriate funding from the state’s School Construction Assistance Program. (page 87)
  • In August, the Board of Supervisors deferred a decision on an outdoor entertainment venue. 

In the 7 p.m. session there are three public hearings, but one has already been postponed to another date. 

  • The first is for a special use permit for a guesthouse on property zoned R-1 at 2617 Rockfish Valley Road. This item will be deferred until October.
  • The second is for a special use permit for a campground at 2601 Falling Rock Drive in Arrington. 
  • The third is to create a photo speed enforcement program for school zones in Nelson County. 

Charlottesville PC to meet in closed session, hold public hearing for 1709 JPA

After last month’s Planning Commission meeting in CitySpace drew complaints about inadequate meeting facilities, this month’s meeting will be held in City Council Chambers. That also means that the pre-meeting at 5:00 p.m. will be held in the conference room of Neighborhood Development Services where there are no cameras. (meeting info)

Most pre-meetings include discussions of items that will be on the agenda and sometimes these are fairly substantive discussions. These are almost never closed sessions, but this time around the session will be closed to the public. 

The agenda does not cite what exception to Virginia’s open meetings law is being used to justify a private conversation in which no members of the public are allowed to attend. For what purpose will they get legal advice? 

In my sixteen and a half years of reporting and observing Charlottesville Planning Commission meetings, this is the first I can recall being closed to the public but I have a question out to the city to confirm. 

The regular meeting begins at 5:30 p.m. in City Council Chambers. 

After reports from Commissioners and a report from the University of Virginia, there will be a vote on new officers. There’s an item on the regular agenda that requires the Planning Commission to transform into the Entrance Corridor Review Board. This item pertains to plans to build an eight-story building at 1709 Jefferson Park Avenue. There will also be a public hearing for a special use permit for this project for additional density, additional height, and modified parking requirements. 

“The applicant is proposing to redevelop the Property and replace the existing (8) unit multifamily apartment building with a (27) unit multifamily apartment building,” reads the agenda. 

Worth noting here is that this permit would not be required underneath the new zoning if adopted as currently drafted in the Development Code. Why is the developer seeking this now rather than wait? That’s a question I’d like to get on the record from all those who have applied for a rezoning or special use permit this year. 

In any case, there was a preliminary discussion for this item in mid-April as I reported at the time. 

“Neighborhood Investments bought the existing eight-unit apartment complex in January 2022 for $1.3 million,” I wrote in the Week Ahead for April 10, 2023. “Now that firm has hired Mitchell Matthews Architects to pursue a special use permit under the existing zoning.” 

Under this application, the developer has to provide 3.23 affordable dwelling units or pay $122,838.75 into the city’s affordable housing fund. The developer’s math shows $124,257. 

What would be required by the new zoning? I don’t want to make a guess myself. 

The developer also seeks a reduction in on-site parking requirements by 44 percent. How would that compare to what the new Development Code would allow? 

As the Entrance Corridor Review Board, the Planning Commission’s task is to review “whether the proposed use will have an adverse impact on the district, and for recommendations as to reasonable conditions which, if imposed, that would mitigate any such impacts.” 

Staff recommendation is that there are no adverse effects on the Fontaine Avenue entrance corridor. The specifics for this district are on page 84 of the Entrance Corridor Design Guidelines

One of the renderings of the proposed project at 1709 Jefferson Park Avenue (Credit: Mitchell Matthews Architects)

After this item, the Planning Commission will adopt an official resolution with its “findings” on 0 East High Street from the August 8 meeting. The Commission had been asked to conduct a public hearing on whether public facilities to be built as part of that 245-unit development were in accord with the Comprehensive Plan. Read my story here

They adopted a motion at the end of the hearing that found that some of the public facilities would be compliant and others would not. This resolution is much more precise and reflects a lawyer’s eye. Perhaps this is the item that’s being discussed in the closed session at 5 p.m.? 

For instance, part of the resolution explains why the Planning Commission found that the public roadways would not be compliant with the Comprehensive Plan. 

“Existing natural features which make the area of the proposed development more resilient to the harmful effects of flooding would be replaced by impervious, asphalt streets that would likely increase flooding from runoff when it rains in this area,” reads a portion of the resolution

Civil engineer Justin Shimp alleged in a comment letter that the June 2 site plan is the one that triggered the review and that the city missed the 60-day deadline to hold the Comprehensive Plan review. Read that story here.

However, this resolution also states the August 8 hearing reviewed the site plan submitted on August 1. 

Another question: What’s the current status of an initiative to get the city or some other entity to purchase the land? 

This is an overview of what the resolution says in the staff report. For the details, read the actual resolution

Albemarle Planning Commission to hold public hearing for boarding camp

The Albemarle Planning Commission meets at 6 p.m. in Lane Auditorium of the county’s office building at 401 McIntire Road. (meeting info) (agenda)

There are two public hearings at this meeting.

The first is a change to the county’s zoning ordinance that seems to be a technicality. The public hearing is to get feedback on an amendment that would “clarify that if no density range or maximum density is shown in the comprehensive plan, no bonus density factor may be applied.”

This relates to a specific development off between Berkmar Drive and Woodburn Road for which an applicant had sought bonus densities that were not applicable. The land in question is zoned for Office / Research & Development / Flex / Light Industrial. 

On September 27, 2022, the Albemarle zoning administrator found that the developer was not eligible for residential bonus density due to that zoning. On January 3 of this year, the Board of Zoning Appeals overturned that determination. This zoning text amendment would make the county’s original position clear under the Albemarle development code. 

This is not related to an ongoing discussion of what incentives Albemarle will come up with to promote the creation of affordable housing units as called for in the Housing Albemarle plan. Supervisors adopted that policy in July 2021 but has so far not adopted those incentives. This summer, the Regional Housing Partnership held a roundtable with developers. 

The second public hearing is a request from Reventon Farm for a special use permit for up to 250 cabins as well as permission for a boat dock. The property straddles Fluvanna County. This would be for a boarding camp.  

Fluvanna PC to hold work session on solar, consider siting agreements

The five member Fluvanna County Planning Commission will meet at 6 p.m. in the Carysbrook Performing Arts Center at 8880 James Madison Highway in Fork Union. (agenda packet)

The meeting begins with a work session on “small and utility scale solar generation” that follows up on a Planning Commission meeting on the topic earlier this summer.  In the regular meeting, there will be a presentation on siting agreements for solar projects or energy storage projects. There’s no advance material. 

There was action last week at the Board of Supervisors in this area but I’ve not been able to write about that yet. There’s a full-time job in just writing about Fluvanna, Nelson, Louisa, and Greene.  

There are no public hearings. There is a subdivision request for 25.5 acres on Mountain Hill Road to create nine cluster lots and one residual parcel of 16 acres. 

Charlottesville EDA to get updates on BEACON kitchen, ENVISION grants

In Virginia, a locality’s economic development authority wields a lot of financial power through the ability to issue bonds for capital projects. Each is run by a Board of Directors in public meetings. 

Charlottesville’s EDA meets on Tuesday at 4 p.m. in City Council Chambers. (meeting info)

Under new business, there will be a resolution to “for revenue bond financing by economic development authority of the city of Charlottesville, Virginia – applicant St. Anne’s Belfield Inc..”

St. Anne’s Belfield is a private school that has previously used bonds issued by the city’s EDA for various projects, as reported by NBC29 in July 2021. The agenda does not tell us very much about what the EDA will be considering.

There are three items under other business. There’s no information given in the agenda for any of them but that’s what people pay journalists to do. 

The first update is on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy. This is not to be confused with the city’s own economic development strategy, which I wrote about in May. The Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission (TJPDC) is working on the CEDS as we learn from an August 2022 press release on their website

Next will be an update on the BEACON project to build a commercial kitchen in Charlottesville for food-based entrepreneurs. Earlier this year, Council awarded $500,000 to the New Hill Development Company for the initiative.  

Finally there will be an update on ENVISION grants that are being administered by the United Way. Both the Albemarle EDA and Charlottesville EDA have contributed funding. 

“The goal is to provide support to entrepreneurs who often lack access to capital to expand and grow their businesses, add employees and increase the tax base for a more prosperous community,” reads the United Way’s website on the first round of applications. 

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Wednesday, September 13, 2023

Charlottesville housing panel to review zoning in special meeting

Charlottesville’s Housing Advisory Committee consists of leaders of area nonprofits that work in the affordable housing sector as well as other parties. One day before the public hearing on the Development Code, this group will have a special meeting to review the draft as well as the manual for Affordable Dwelling Units

There’s also a Development Review Procedures Manual.

This information is on one of the city’s meeting calendars, but not the other. (this is the one that works)

Crozet Community Advisory Committee to meet 

The Crozet Community Advisory Committee will meet at 7 p.m. in the Crozet Library. (meeting info)

There will be a presentation on something called the Crozet Community Orchard Project. A very rudimentary Internet search does not bring up anything but the organizer is Matthew Slaats, a former member of the CAC. 

Under community business, there will be a discussion on a project to track developments. There will also be a discussion on the budget and capital improvement program cycle. 

In other meetings:

  • The James River Water Authority meets 9 a.m. in the County Administration Building at 132 Main Street in Palmyra. (meeting info)
  • The Board of Visitors of the University of Virginia meets today beginning with a tour of the Student Health and Wellness Building at 2 p.m. The Academic and Student Life Committee meets at 3 p.m. in the Rotunda. Some of the meetings are live-streamed. (meeting info)

Thursday, September 14, 2023

Planning Commission on the Charlottesville’s proposed zoning code 

After several years of work, there will be a public hearing on a new Development Code for the city of Charlottesville. This is the third leg of the Cville Plans Together Initiative. There will be a special edition of this newsletter to preview this event. (meeting info)

This meeting is a big deal. More in a separate newsletter which won’t fit here! In the meantime, here’s a link to some of the previous stories I’ve written about this over the last three years.

Stay tuned.

Louisa County PC to hold public hearing on short-term rental regulations 

The Louisa County Planning Commission will meet at 5 p.m. in the Louisa County Public Meeting Room at 1 Woolfolk Avenue in Louisa. The meeting begins with a long range planning work session that will cover short-term rental regulations and will feature a discussion on the Comprehensive Plan. (meeting info)

The 7:00 p.m. meeting will hold a public hearing on changes to short-term rental regulations. (meeting info)

“The proposed amendment aims to align local regulations with evolving needs and opportunities while preserving the community’s character and safety,” reads the staff report. 

Community meeting to be held for North Pointe rezoning request for more units 

The Places29-North Community Advisory Committee meets at 5:30 p.m. at the North Fork Discovery Park at 994 Research Park Boulevard. The agenda says “Side B” for some reason so I’m not sure of the exact location. 

In any case, the main topic at this meeting is a request from the Great Eastern Management Company for a change to the 2006 rezoning that allowed for more units. For some of the background, take a look at the story I wrote in August for C-Ville Weekly. (View all of the materials for ZMA202300007)

In other meetings:

  • The Health System Board at the University of Virginia meets in the morning at the Boar’s Head Resort. The Audit, Compliance, and Risk Committee of the UVA Board of Visitors meets at 1:45 in the Rotunda, followed by the Buildings and Grounds Committee at 2:45 p.m. The meeting presentations were not available at press time. 
  • The Albemarle Solid Waste Alternatives Advisory Community will meet at 4 p.m. in Room 235 in the county’s office building at 401 McIntire Road. (meeting info)
  • The Albemarle Conservation Easement Authority will meet at 4:15 p.m. in Room 241 at 401 McIntire Road. There are two proposals for land donations. (meeting info)
  • The SWAAC Outreach Group meets at 5:30 p.m. The discussion will be on recycling education in schools as well as recycling ambassadors. (meeting info)

Friday, September 15, 2023

The University of Virginia’s Board of Visitors meets all day. Perhaps no other public body has as much control over the future of this community than the Board of Visitors. The materials for this meeting are not posted yet, but I am looking forward to reviewing what we’ll learn this time around. 

Catch up with recent stories on the Land Use – University of Virginia category on Information Charlottesville

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.