Cville Area Land Use Update: Week of August 14, 2023

A slightly slower five-day period of business than last week. This is a welcome lull before Labor Day with relatively quiet meetings before an onslaught of a busy fall.

Both the Albemarle Board of Supervisors and the Charlottesville Board of Architectural Review have shorter agendas than usual. But there are still a lot of interesting items this week:

Some highlights:

  • Should water service be extended to fuel a sprinkler system for a warehouse on U.S. 250 in Albemarle’s development area? That’s the subject of a public hearing before the Board of Supervisors on Wednesday. 
  • Fluvanna County Supervisors will have a public hearing on a rezoning that would allow the Artful Lodger to open up a retail store on U.S. 250 in Zion Crossroads after they vacate their store in downtown Charlottesville. Supervisors will also take up a proposal to allow more density by-right in areas already zoned for more intense density for residential uses. 
  • Fluvanna Supervisors will also discuss potential ways to get revenue from utility scale solar facilities through siting agreements.
  • Those interested in the fee structures for land use applications have two opportunities this week. The Albemarle Board of Supervisors will have a discussion Wednesday about a pending new schedule and the Charlottesville Housing Advisory Committee will get an update on how things stand in the city. 
  • Albemarle Supervisors’ consent agenda hints at an upcoming suite of public hearings on specific spot blight violations across the county. 
  • Charlottesville’s plans for a new fire station on the U.S. 250 bypass go before the public Wednesday in a site plan meeting 

There are no meetings this week in Louisa County, though I always urge you to double-check with Tammy Purcell over at Engage Louisa

There are also none in Nelson County but I encourage you to double-check all the same on their county calendar. The next meetings coming up in Nelson are the August 23 Planning Commission and the August 29 Comprehensive Plan open house. 

Thanks as always to the Piedmont Environmental Council for three years of sponsoring this weekly look ahead at what’s coming up in meetings of local and regional government. 

Monday, August 14, 2023

Charlottesville’s draft zoning code to be released

At some point today, a consolidated draft of the proposed zoning code for Charlottesville is to be released. That’s according to an email I got yesterday from James Freas, the city’s director of Neighborhood Development Services. The zoning code is the third leg of the Cville Plans Together initiative and the draft was released in three modules over the course of late winter and early spring.

The consolidated draft as well as an adjusted map was to have been ready the week of July 24 but its release has been delayed further pending legal review. I will have a full review out as soon as I can. After all, the clock is ticking for the Charlottesville Planning Commission to hold a public hearing. They have until mid-November per a resolution adopted by City Council last week

In other meetings: 

  • Albemarle’s Places29-Hydraulic Community Advisory Committee will meet at 5:30 p.m. at 190 Lambs Lane at the Greer Elementary School Media Center. They will get the same discussion on the Albemarle County Broadband Office that other CAC’s have been getting at their meetings. If you’re interested, take a look at the quarterly report of the Albemarle Broadband Authority.  (meeting info)
  • Fluvanna County’s Economic Development and Tourism Advisory Council meets at 6 p.m. in the County Administration Building in the Morris Room. They’ll get updates on the Fork Union Business Map, Groovin’ at the Grove, and the Tourism Strategic Plan. (agenda package with July minutes)

Tuesday, August 15, 2023

Charlottesville Board of Architectural Review gets back to work

The Charlottesville Board of Architectural Review will gather at 5 p.m. for a pre-meeting before their regularly scheduled meeting begins at 5:30 p.m. They meet in CitySpace. There was no meeting in July. (click on meeting files for the agenda packet)

The consent agenda has a Certificate of Appropriateness for alterations to the entry of the Albemarle County Courthouse. The only item under new business is a COA application for additions at 605 Grove Avenue as well as construction of a roof dormer.

The main item of interest to me is a “preliminary discussion” of 301 West Main Street. That’s the site of the former Greyhound Station. As I reported in January, a firm called GH Charlottesville VA purchased the former Greyhound station on West Main Street for $2.42 million. That’s 17.48 percent below the assessment. I wrote about this corner a couple of weeks ago in C-Ville Weekly

MPO Tech meeting scheduled

At publication time, there is no meeting of the Metropolitan Planning Organization’s Technical Committee listed on the MPO website. Yet, I got an email of the agenda for a virtual meeting scheduled for 10 a.m. (meeting agenda on cvillepedia)

In other meetings:

  • There is a listing for a Charlottesville Housing Advisory Committee meeting on both calendar #1 and calendar #2. Neither has an agenda associated with the item. I suspect this group actually meets tomorrow.
  • There is also a listing for the HAC Governance Committee to meet at noon in the new location Office of Community Solutions at 701 East Jefferson in the second floor conference room. There’s no agenda on calendar #2
  • The Albemarle County Department of Social Services Advisory Board will meet in room 231 of the Albemarle office building at 1600 5th Street in Charlottesville.  At this meeting, the Human Services Alternative Response Team (HARTS) will be present for the first 15 minutes for an introduction. Then the APS unit will be met, followed by organization changes in Albemarle’s human services management. There will also be an update on the Human Services Needs Assessment. (meeting info)
  • The Greene County Emergency Services Advisory Board meets at 6 p.m. in the Administration Building in Stanardsville. (meeting info)

Wednesday, August 16, 2023

Albemarle BOS to consider new development fee structure, hold public hearing on expanding water for fire protection 

The six-member Board of Supervisors in Albemarle County will meet at 2:30 p.m. as opposed to their usual 1:00 p.m. start time. They meet in Lane Auditorium in the county’s office building at 401 McIntire Road. Members of the public can make comments virtually at the appointed times. (meeting info) (agenda)

The meeting begins with a proclamation commemorating Women’s Equality Day on August 26. 

“On August 26, 1920, millions of women won voting rights, the greatest single expansion of democracy in U.S. history, yet 103 years later, women still have not achieved full equality and face ongoing and increasing threats of discrimination, violence and loss of bodily autonomy,” reads the proclamation

The only item of regular business is a discussion on the fee restructuring underway for the Department of Community Development. Earlier this year, the Board directed staff to study ways to simplify fees and to implement a new fee schedule before launching the new Community Development System. A consultant was hired.

The Berkley Group’s comparative analysis found that Albemarle County has almost twice as many fee categories as most localities studied,” reads the staff report. “The proposed fee schedule would consolidate fees from 312 to 154, a reduction of over 50 percent.” 

However, this study did not take a look at the actual cost of processing land use applications such as building permits. 

An image from the Albemarle Community Development Fee Study conducted by the Berkley Group (view the study) (Credit: The Berkley Group)

In the evening session there are two public hearings.

The first is whether the jurisdictional area for the Albemarle County Service Authority be expanded to cover a 43,500 square foot warehouse on Hunter’s Way just to the east of the U.S. 250 / Interstate 64 interchange, 

“The Hunter’s Hall subdivision is an established commercial and light industrial center between the Pantops Development Area and the Village of Rivanna Development Area that has been in operation for many years,” reads the narrative for the request written by Shimp Engineering

The request is for fire protection and not for consumption.

“The public water supply will provide a more reliable means of fire suppression in the event of a fire compared to a private tank system,” the narrative continues.

A similar request was made for this property in 1993 and denied by the Albemarle Board of Supervisors. The Comprehensive Plan is clear that water and sewer service is to be reserved to the development areas. This property is outside of those boundaries. 

“Water service to properties outside the Development Area has typically been approved only after documentation of an existing public health or safety issue,” reads the staff report. “No prior ACSAJA amendment applications have been approved for limited water service for fire suppression in the Rural Area.” 

This is the sort of policy that may be revisited during the AC44 process which is in Phase 2. As part of this stage, community members have been asked to review “toolkits” including one that would expand criteria for how the growth area might be expanded in the future. 

The second public hearing is for a request from the Park Road Manufactured Home Park for a special use permit to become compliant under the county’s zoning code and to add an additional 14 units for a total of 89 units. 

The Planning Commission recommended approval on June 27, 2023. 

The property seeking to have water services for the purposes of fire suppression is marked in yellow (Credit: Albemarle County)

A look at the consent agenda

A review of an elected body’s meetings is not complete with looking at the consent agenda. If you’re new to reading about local government, a consent agenda is a list of items that will be approved without a public discussion because there is consensus the items don’t need one.

  • There are currently no approved meeting minutes for Albemarle Supervisors for all of 2022. The ones for January 5, 2022 are on the docket to be approved. (staff report)
  • Budget season never really stops in Albemarle and the official calendar to adopt the FY25 budget will be approved.
  • There are nine specific changes being made to the Housing Administrative Plan that governs Albemarle’s administration of federal funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for “35 housing choice vouchers,105 mainstream vouchers, and 34 moderate rehabilitation vouchers.” Several of the changes relate to reporting periods for eligibility. (staff report)
  • There’s a resolution to set a date for a public hearing on a spot blight violation at 2087 Commonwealth Drive. (staff report)
  • There’s a resolution to set a date for a public hearing on a spot blight violation at 2941 Rolling Road. (staff report)
  • There’s a resolution to set a date for a public hearing on a spot blight violation at 3247 Rolling Road. (staff report
  • There’s a resolution to set a date for a public hearing on a spot blight violation at 3239 Rolling Road. (staff report)
  • There’s a resolution to set a date for a public hearing on a spot blight violation at 5005 Rolling Road. (staff report
  • There’s a resolution to set a date for a public hearing on a spot blight violation at 8038 Blenheim Road. (staff report
  • Riverbend Development seeks a special exception from stepback requirements for Block 1 of Brookhill Town Center. (staff report)
  • The developers of Dunlora Park Phase 2 seek a setback reduction for several lots (staff report)
  • There’s a written report from the Albemarle County School Board to the Albemarle Board of Supervisors. This one has information about a teacher apprentice program, service cuts due to the driver shortage, and a transition to the ALICE system for lockdowns. (view the report)

Fluvanna Supervisors to hold public hearing on Artful Lodger rezoning 

The five member Board of Supervisors in Fluvanna County meet at 7 p.m. in the Carysbrook Performing Arts Center in Fork Union at 8880 James Madison Highway. 

There are two public hearings.

One is for a request from the owners of the Artful Lodger in Charlottesville who seek a rezoning on industrial land to relocate into Fluvanna County. The Planning Commission recommended approval on a 4 to 0 vote on July 11. 

“The subject property is located in the Zion Crossroads Community Planning Area and this area is envisioned to be the most developed part of the county and consisting of areas like neighborhood mixed-use development,” reads the narrative from Shimp Engineering. (page 8)

The site is a former industrial scrapyard. 

An overview map of the property subject to the rezoning to allow for the Artful Lodger to move to a new location on U.S. Route 250 in Fluvanna County (Credit: Shimp Engineering)

The second public hearing is for a zoning text amendment that would allow multifamily buildings in R-4 zoning district by-right up to 5.5 dwellings per acres, up from the current limit of 2.9 dwelling units per acre. This would be allowed in areas that either are or are expected to be on public water and sewer. 

The Planning Commission recommended approval on a 3 to 0 vote in July 2021. Supervisors have twice deferred action. Since then there’s been a push for less development in the rural area.

“During 2022, County staff discussed with the community through the 2040 Comp Plan open houses to eliminate the rural residential planned area and merge that into the rural preservation area which further emphasizes the need to develop in one of our six community planning areas, especially in the Zion Crossroads Area,” reads the staff report. 

There are four action items.

The first is to authorize the advertisement of a dog running at large ordinance that would apply county-wide as opposed to just being applicable to the Lake Monticello subdivision.  

The second are amendments to Supervisors’ 2023 by-laws and rules of procedure. One of these would require the Board to end its first Wednesday meeting at 9 p.m. unless an extension is approved. 

The third is an update on the burn building to be used to train fire personnel. There are two options to proceed with varying degrees of cost. .

The fourth is a discussion on displaying banners on county-owned utility poles in Fork Union. This would allow for Fork Union Military Academy to celebrate their 125th anniversary with signage along James Madison Highway. 

“The celebration weekend is scheduled for October 13 – 15, 2023,” reads the staff report. “FUMA would absorb all costs associated with hanging the banners.” 

There are two presentations.

The first is on siting agreements for solar projects or energy storage projects. Legislation that passed in 2020 required such an agreement if a proposed solar installation was in an opportunity zone. An amendment in 2021 required the same for energy storage facilities. 

Such agreements can allow for financial compensation for a locality.

The second is on a model for sharing revenue from utility scale solar projects. Localities can choose to enter into a revenue sharing agreement with a solar facility as a replacement for levying a machinery and tools tax. But which brings in more revenue? The Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service at the University of Virginia is helping localities better understand the financial impact of each. 

A flow chart developed to help localities proceed with how to tax solar installations

Site plan conference for new Charlottesville Fire Station on U.S. 250 bypass

Charlottesville’s current rules for development call for a site plan conference to be held for neighbors of pending projects as well as other interested members of the public. During the pandemic, these were held online but have now reverted back to being in-person.

At 10 a.m., the City of Charlottesville and the Timmons Group will present the final site plan for the new fire station to be built on the U.S. 250 Bypass to replace the existing one. 

“The proposed development is identified as 345 US 250 Bypass, has frontage on the 250 Bypass and is zoned R- 1 Residential with Public Park Overlay,” reads the August 2 notification letter written by City Planner Dannan O’Connell.

Council approved a critical slopes waiver for the project in February according to a report by Hawes Spencer in the Charlottesville Daily Progress

Charlottesville Housing Advisory Committee to meet 

There is information on both city calendars for the August meeting of the Charlottesville Housing Advisory Committee. They’ll meet in the new location for the Office of Community Solutions in space at the S&P Global building at 701 East Jefferson Street. (calendar #1)

They’ll get updates from the various subcommittees including an update on a plan to create an ordinance to enable the city to have a land bank. There’s also an update on an updated fee structure for permits. The governance subcommittee will also have an update. 

In other meetings:

  • The Greene County Planning Commission will meet at 6:30 p.m. in the Administration Building in Stanardsville for a discussion of prioritizing goals and implementation strategies in the recently adopted Comprehensive Plan. (meeting info)

Thursday, August 17, 2023

Charlottesville EDA to hold public hearing on bonds for St. Anne’s Belfield

The Charlottesville Economic Development Authority will meet at 4 p.m. in CitySpace. (meeting files)

One of the reasons economic development authorities exist in Virginia is to issue bonds for projects deemed to be in the public interest. These do not have to be public projects. St. Anne’s Belfield seeks to borrow $3 million that would be funded by revenue-bonds and there will be a public hearing at this meeting. 

This will be for “acquisition, construction, developing and equipping of a portion of the renovation and expansion of Randolph Hall, which is located on the Campus” according to the public notice in the Charlottesville Daily Progress

There will also be discussion of a proposed policy to hold electronic meetings as allowed  under Virginia law. 

In other meetings:

  • Albemarle’s 5th and Avon Committee will meet at 7 p.m. in Room B of the 5th Street County Office Building at 1600 5th Street Extended. There’s no agenda at publication time. (meeting info)
  • Charlottesville’s Human Rights Commission meets at 6:30 p.m. in CitySpace. There is no agenda for the meeting as of publication time. 

Friday, August 18, 2023

The Albemarle Board of Equalization is scheduled to meet at 8 a.m. They’re in the county office building at 401 McIntire Road in Room 235.  Previous meetings are on YouTube.

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.