Week Ahead for April 11, 2022: Charlottesville PC to review changes to 209 Maury Avenue; Albemarle PC to review changes to Albemarle Business Campus project

Neither the Albemarle Board of Supervisors nor the Charlottesville City Council have substantive meetings this week, but there is no shortage of planning activity across the six localities covered by this weekly newsletter. 

For over two years, I’ve performed this work every Sunday to inform people on what is going on in a community in transition. In September, I’ll celebrate the 30th anniversary of a fateful moment when I stumbled my way into becoming a journalist learning to write about Blacksburg. I’ve been here in Charlottesville for nearly 20 years, and have dedicated most of the past 15 years to looking at land use items, parcel by parcel, permit by permit. I’m excited to do it for another 15 years and beyond. 

But for now, there’s just this week ahead. I do this work to help people come to terms with all of the shifting dynamics. Please let me know if you have any questions, and please share widely. 

Thanks as always to the Piedmont Environmental Council for their support of this work and the research that goes into it. The time I take to review what’s happening in local meetings coming up serves the community well. 

Monday, April 11, 2022

Center at Belvedere hosts Coffee and Conversation on Rio Road Corridor Plan

Faced with the prospect of more development along a major thoroughfare, Albemarle County has hired a consultant to come up with concepts for how East Rio Road could be transformed over time to serve more than just vehicular traffic. (review the Rio Road Corridor Plan)

One new use along the roadway is the Center at Belvedere, which opened a new facility in the spring of 2020 just as the pandemic hit. They’ll host an in-person discussion event at 11 a.m. for the study which has not yet gone to the Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors. (meeting info)

The Places29-Rio Community Advisory Committee got a look at the second phase at their meeting on March 24, 2022. Review that meeting in advance before this opportunity to speak with planning staff directly. 

A broad overview of Phase 2 of the Rio Road Corridor Plan

In the other meeting:

  • The Fluvanna Economic and Tourism Advisory Council meets at 6 p.m. in person in the Morris Room at the county administration building in Palmyra. There will be updates on the Fork Union Business Map and signage for Palmyra Village. (agenda)

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Greene County BOS takes up glamping proposal in different setting

The five-member Greene County Board of Supervisors have a change of venue for their first meeting of April. They’ll meet at William Monroe High School in the Performing Arts Center with a hybrid option for anyone who wants to participate remotely. The closed session begins at 5:30 p.m. before opening up at 6:30 p.m. (meeting info)

On the agenda are two public hearings. In one of them, a developer is seeking a special use permit to allow for a major tourism destination on nearly 100 acres of agricultural land on Mutton Hollow Road. Specifically they want the Sojourner Glamping site have 144 units, a restaurant, a pool, a spa, and a meeting facility, according to the staff report

By right, the developer can build 29 residential lots with a minimum of two acres each and a former site plan had been filed for the site by a different owner. While there is a letter certifying access to groundwater and sufficient septic field capacity, there is one concern related to public safety. 

“The Emergency Service Director indicated that the primary concern is adequate access for emergency service vehicles/staff and fire suppression,” the staff report continues. 

The Greene County Planning Commission recommended denial on a 3 to 2 vote in December, but they also submitted 33 conditions for the developer to consider. These include a cap of 144 units, size limitations for rooms and buildings, and a prohibition on outdoor amplified music. 

In their materials, the developers of Sojourner Glamping say their mission is to “create places to connect with our friends, family, and nature” and that their rural retreat would be consistent with the Comprehensive Plan as well as Greene’s tourism strategic plan. 

“Sojourner operations will create 65 Full-time equivalent jobs, resulting in $3.3 million in annual labor income and $9 million in economic output to Greene County,” reads their presentation. 

However, nearby residents argue the proposal is not consistent with the Comprehensive Plan.

“This is essentially a hotel with 144 suites in an agriculturally zoned area with single-family homes,” reads a petition against the proposal with dozens of signatures. “This property is not in a designated growth area and far from it.” 

The second public hearing relates to a polling place for the Town of Stanardsville at Piedmont Virginia Community College’s Giuseppe Center. (staff report)

The developers of the proposed Sojourner Glamping project are making the case for the bottom line to Greene County

Albemarle PC to review changes to Albemarle Business Campus

As we will see with another application in Charlottesville today, rezonings are never set in stone. Developers can always return to a governing body with a changes based on new conditions or different business plans. The Albemarle County Planning Commission will take up a request from the developer of the already-approved Albemarle Business Campus to allow for construction of a parking garage and addition of 25,000 non-residential square feet of space. 

The civil engineering firm working on the request states the change is necessary to accommodate a biotech company of a manufacturer of pharmaceuticals. 

“The biotech industry in Central Virginia is currently comprised of 67 firms with the goal of growing and expanding what is known as the ‘CvilleBioHub region,’” reads the narrative written by Shimp Engineering

Rendering for the proposed building in Block 2 (Credit: Shimp Engineering) 

The Board of Supervisors approved a rezoning to the Neighborhood Model District category on October 7, 2020 which allowed 128 residential units and a maximum of 401,000 square feet of non-residential on a 13.63 acre property. As part of the rezoning, developer Kyle Redinger agreed to contribute $500,000 to intersection improvements with Old Lynchburg Road as well as a total cap on the number of vehicle trips the project can generate. 

The proposal also seeks increases the maximum height in one of the blocks from 60 feet to 75 feet, reduce a stepback requirement for one of the buildings, and reduce minimum setbacks from 5 feet to zero feet. This takes the form of an amendment to the Code of Development. 

Staff recommends approval.

“The NMD is intended to be a flexible zoning district to allow development consistent with the goals of the Future Land Use Plans in the Master Plans and the Neighborhood Model Principles,” reads the staff report

A community meeting was held for the proposal at the December 16, 2021 meeting of the 5th and Avon Community Advisory Committee. https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/STtm7C0yrno?rel=0&autoplay=0&showinfo=0&enablejsapi=0

Nelson County Supervisors to review glassblowing operations, mobile home park, and making two existing businesses compliant 

The Nelson County Board of Supervisors meets twice beginning at 2 p.m. in the General District Courtroom in Lovingston. They’ll be there again at 7 p.m. for the evening session. (agenda)

In the afternoon session, they’ll get briefings on the broadband initiative with Firefly and the Albemarle Charlottesville Regional Jail renovation, as well as transportations. 

In the evening session, they’ll have several public hearings on land use matters. There are:

  • A special use permit to operate a glassblowing studio on property zoned for agricultural use on Route 151 in Afton. An existing barn is currently vacant. In January, the Planning Commission voted 4-0 to recommend with one abstention. 
  • A special use permit for a campground on land zoned agricultural on Hunting Lodge Road in Schuyler. The ask is for 16 campsites for recreation vehicles for members of the Silver Leaf Hunt Club. The landowner has been doing this for many years and now needs approval to be compliant. The Planning Commission voted 6-0 to recommend approval on March 23. 
  • A rezoning application for a one acre property on U.S. 29 from agriculture to business to allow for Lovingston Herd Health to add a second building. The Planning Commission voted 6-0 to recommend approval on March 23. 
  • A rezoning application to convert two parcels of land in Piney River to M-2 industrial. They are currently either B-1 or R-1. This is to bring an existing sawmill into compliance with the zoning code. The land use change needed in order to allow the operation’s expansion. This also had a 6-0 vote to recommend the approval by the Nelson PC. 
  • A special use permit for a campground to operate on a 204 acre property off of U.S. 29 in Lovingston. Civil engineer Justin Shimp seeks to build a mobile home park at the site to be called Ridge Street Heights. On February 23, the Planning Commission voted 4-1 to recommend approval with conditions, including limiting the number of units to 51 and requiring a supervisor be on site at all times.

Charlottesville PC to consider 119-unit apartment, increased density at 209 Maury Avenue

After a relatively slow start to 2022, the Charlottesville Planning Commission will take up three land use matters Tuesday evening, as well as a review of how federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding will be used. The meeting officially begins at 5 p.m. with a pre-meeting to discuss the agenda before the gavel is officially struck at 5:30 p.m. (meeting info)

First up is the public hearing on proposed allocations for FY22-23 for CDBG and HOME programs recommended by various task forces and committees. The city is expected to receive $433,471 in CDBG funds and these are the suggested spending amounts: (staff report)

  • $186,713 in spending for the Ridge Street Neighborhood, designated by City Council to be the recipient as part of a rotating priority list
  • $25,000 to the Community Investment Collaborative for microscholarships
  • $30,130 to the Local Energy Alliance Program for workforce development
  • $37,510.32 to the Public Housing Association of Residents 
  • $27,510.32 to the Literacy Volunteers of Charlottesville / Albemarle
  • $40,250 to the Local Energy Alliance Program for solar energy maintenance
  • $86,694.20 the city for administration

Second, a Charlottesville, North Carolina company is seeking a special use permit to build a 119-unit in the 2000 block of Jefferson Park Avenue on 1.71 acres, though a bedroom count is not included in the materials. The permit is for additional density and height as well as reductions in parking requirements. Several existing structures would be demolished to make way for the new building. (pages 34 through page 500 of the packet deal with this item) The developer is going to request a deferral.

“The most likely final outcome will be a mix of one-, two-, three-, and four-bedroom units,” reads the staff report. “Although it is true that comparable developments are located in this area (as it relates to density and height), these developments are located farther north on JPA.”

According to city property records, the owner of the property is LAMSON, NORMAN, TR GADIENT JPA LTD TR with a Scottsville address. That entity purchased two of the three parcels in January 2005 for $3 million. They closed on the third parcel on March 9, 2022, paying $800,000 for a 0.226 acre lot that contains an apartment building constructed in 1957. 

The building would be seven stories from Jefferson Park Avenue and would total 51,200 square feet. Under the new Future Land Use Map, the property is now designated for Urban Mixed Use Corridor. 

“The proposed redevelopment of 2005 JPA will increase the neighborhood’s housing stock in a location that can both support increased density and that has been earmarked by the City for increased residential use,” reads the narrative prepared by Mitchell / Matthews Architects and Planners. “Specifically it will increase purpose-built student housing, which will decrease the pressure on single-family residential neighborhoods that are increasingly being populated by student rentals.” 

A rendering of the proposed 119-unit building in the 2000 block of JPA (Credit: Mitchell and Matthews Architects and Planners

The staff report for the third and fourth public hearings are very difficult to find unless you are an extreme insider. I am not and had to ask an insider for the link to the rest of the packet

In the third, Southern Development operating as FMC Investments LLC is seeking a special use permit for a property at 209 Maury Avenue to increase residential density and to reduce parking requirements. The property was rezoned from R-2U to R-3 in December 2019. A site plan is under review for the parcel for 33 units, but the new plan would remove parking in order to allow for construction of more units with a maximum cap of 68 units. 

Since December 2019, the city has adopted a new Future Land Use Map that designates this property as Higher-Intensity Residential. 

“Especially among students, car dependency is decreasing,” reads the applicant’s narrative. “We would prefer livable space instead of ‘housing for automobiles.’ Our plan is to individually lease parking spaces to tenants that need them rather than spreading parking costs among tenants who don’t have a car.” 

Southern Development is proposing to work with Habitat for Humanity of Greater Charlottesville to build six units off-site to satisfy the city’s affordable housing requirements. The Office of Community Solutions has indicated they do not find that to be satisfactory. 

“We have not received the binding commitment from Habitat for Humanity referenced in the proffer,” reads that section of the staff report. 

In the fourth public hearing, Developer Bill Chapman seeks a special use permit to convert a former hotel turned apartment building back into a hotel. The land is zoned B-1 the permit. The city has received no comments about the project as of March 31, 2022. 

Conceptual document for 209 Maury Avenue (Credit: Mitchell and Matthews Architects and Planners) 

In other meetings: 

  • The Albemarle Police Citizens Advisory Committee will meet at 9 a.m. There’s no agenda available for the meeting at publication time. (meeting info)
  • Charlottesville City Council will hold a special meeting at 5:30 p.m. to adopt a budget for FY23. The next installment of Charlottesville Community Engagement will have details on what’s in it. (meeting info
  • Charlottesville’s Historic Resources Committee is one of the sponsors of an important lecture on Remembering the Victims of Slave Auctions: The Healing of Charlottesville and A New Way Forward. Dr. Anne Bailey, a historian at SUNY Binghamton, will present her work on human trafficking and sales held legally at Court Square. Other sponsors include the Jefferson Madison Regional Library and the Albemarle Charlottesville Historical Society. The hybrid event begins at 7 p.m. at the Central Library. (meeting info)
  • The Fluvanna County Planning Commission will meet at the Carysbrook Performing Arts Center in Fork Union beginning at 7 p.m. On the agenda is a proposal to rezone 33.8 acres of county-owned land in Fork Union from agricultural to industrial for the purposes of expanding Fork Union Commerce Park. (agenda packet)

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

It’s a quiet day. So let’s just go to the bullet points for other meetings. 

In other meetings:

  • The James River Water Authority is scheduled to meet at 9 a.m. at the Fluvanna County Library according to the county website, but there is no agenda posted. (meeting info)
  • The Fluvanna County Board of Supervisors will hold a special meeting at the Carysbrook Performing Arts Center at 7 p.m. to continue discussion on the budget for FY23. (meeting info)
  • Albemarle County and Scottsville District Supervisor Donna Price will host a budget town hall at the Scottsville Community Center at 250 Page Street beginning at 7 p.m. (meeting info)

Thursday, April 14, 2022

Louisa County Planning Commission to discuss solar policy

Louisa County is still trying to work out its guidelines for permitting solar power facilities, especially those with the ability to generate large quantities of electricity. A committee appointed by the Board of Supervisors was supposed to have come up with ideas for rules by October 4 of last year. They missed that deadline, but two weeks later, that committee informed Supervisors that one project, Belcher Solar, violated the State Water Control Laws and Regulations.

This has prompted discussions of making a more formal system to regulate utility-scale solar projects in Louisa. One of the amendments proposed by the committee includes the establishment of a county-wide maximum of three percent of land, or 9.800 acres, to be covered by solar panels. Another is to permit nothing less than 151 megawatts and to only allow utility-scale solar within a mile of high-voltage distribution lines. A third is to prohibit their use in residential, industrial, and in areas under the growth area overlay. 

The Louisa County Planning Commission will discuss these recommendations at their meeting in the Louisa County Public Meeting Room beginning at 6 p.m. (agenda packet)

Places29-North CAC to continue discussion of North Fork rezoning 

One of the roles of each community advisory committee in Albemarle is to serve as an initial forum to discuss land use applications. The Places29-North CAC will get a first look at a proposal from RiverStone Church to operate a Community Christian Academy at their space at 1515 Insurance Lane. They need a special use permit. (meeting info)

“Interest in private education over the last few years has increased greatly, and many private schools are full and have waiting lists,” reads their narrative

The group will also further discuss the University of Virginia Foundation’s request for a rezoning at the North Fork Discovery Park to allow up to 1,400 residential units including some that would qualify towards the University of Virginia’s goal of creating 1,500 subsidized housing units. 

See also: 

In other meetings:

  • The Albemarle Conservation Easement Authority will meet virtually beginning at 4:45 p.m. They’ll consider the donation of two potential easements totalling just over 100 acres. (meeting info)
  • Fluvanna County will hold an open house on the Comprehensive Plan that is underway at the Fluvanna County Meeting room. See the flier below for more information. 
  • The Charlottesville Youth Council meets at 6:00 p.m. There’s no agenda. (meeting info)
  • The Charlottesville Police Civilian Oversight Board meets at 6:30 p.m. (meeting info)
Flier for Fluvanna County Comprehensive Plan open house 

Friday, April 15, 2022

There’s no meeting today. But we’re not done yet!

Saturday, April 16, 2022

Saturday events are rare but this morning, Albemarle County and White Hall Supervisor Ann Mallek will hold a budget work session at the White Hall Community Building at 2904 Browns Gap Turnpike. (meeting info)

What have I missed this week? 

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.