Week Ahead for April 26, 2021: Natural burial grounds in Albemarle? PCRB to ask for enhanced police oversight in Charlottesville

We are almost through four months of 2021, and this week is one in which appointed bodies will do most of the meeting. This is the final week of the month and May is just over the horizon. The next five days don’t seem to be as as busy as usual, but we all know by now there is never a dull week!

With the exception of a couple of community meetings in Albemarle, land use does takes a back seat this week. The most important meeting is perhaps the long-awaited joint work session between the Charlottesville City Council and the Police Civilian Review Board. In all, this edition lists 20 meetings and provides links so you can learn more.

Thank you to the Piedmont Environmental Council for their ongoing support of this research into local and regional government and how all of the pieces fit together.  Please let me know what you found useful this week.

Monday, April 26, 2021

It has been a busy year so far for public housing in Charlottesville. Ground was broken for the first phase of redevelopment at South First Street on March 7, and a ceremony to kick off renovations at Crescent Halls was held on April 14. Tonight, the Board of Commissioners of the Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority (CRHA) will meet virtually at 6 p.m. (Zoom link) (meeting stream)

According to material prepared for the meeting, the CRHA is applying for additional funding for the two projects. For South First Street Phase 1, that means an additional $75,000 in Low-Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) and an additional $1 million from the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development’s Affordable and Special Needs Housing Program. For Crescent Halls, CRHA is seeking an additional $1.335 million from the special needs program. They’ll find out in July if they get the funding. 

In other meetings:
  • The Charlottesville Social Services Advisory Board meets at 12 p.m. (meeting info)
  • The Charlottesville Albemarle Convention and Visitors’ Bureau will meet at 2 p.m. The agenda is not available on the website.  (meeting info)
  • Fluvanna County’s Department of Social Services Advisory Board meets at 3 p.m. (meeting info)
  • Albemarle’s Historic Preservation Committee meets at 4:30 p.m. They’ll welcome a new member, get an update on historic markers, and be presented with information about the Alberene Soapstone Quarry. (meeting info)
  • The Albemarle Broadband Authority meets at 5 p.m. for the first meeting after the official launch of the county’s Office of Broadband Accessibility and Access. (meeting info)
  • The Pantops Community Advisory Committee meets at 6:15 p.m. They’ll get an update on the Housing Albemarle plan and development projects underway in the Pantops area,  (meeting info)

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

The Charlottesville Police Civilian Review Board has had a rocky start since the latest iteration of police citizen oversight was created in late 2017. Several former members resigned from the board out of frustration over access to information and a lack of power.

Legislation signed into law last year by Governor Ralph Northam (HB5055) grants more oversight authority to civilian review boards, and the current board will make a presentation to the  Council to ask for more power to investigate alleged police misconduct. The joint work session begins at 5 p.m. and is a precursor to a formal presentation to Council scheduled in May. (meeting info) (meeting packet)

A slide from the PCRB’s presentation to Council

The Greene County Board of Supervisors meets in open session at 6:30 p.m. One item on the agenda is a memorandum of understanding between Dominion Energy, the Rappahannock Electric Cooperative, REC’s Firefly Fiber subsidiary, and Greene County for a public-private partnership to provide broadband in Greene. After that, the Board will have a public hearing on the $65.58 million budget for FY22 as well as the capital budget. (agenda)

In other meetings:
  • Charlottesville’s Tree Commission meets virtually at noon. (meeting info)
  • The Rivanna and Water Sewer Authority Board of Directors meets at 2:15 p.m. On the agenda is a report on the reservoirs and a review of existing agreements with other organizations. (meeting info) (agenda)
  • There is a community meeting for a request to amend a special use permit for a day camp that operates west of Batesville. The existing camp wants to expand from 10 attendees to 50 attendees and to increase the number of operating days from 30 to 45.  The owners also want to add a 24 acre parcel they purchased in 2014 to the permit. (meeting info)
  • While not a government meeting, the Albemarle Charlottesville Historical Society will have another of their “Unregulated Historical Meanderings” series. This time around Siri Russell of Albemarle County’s Office of Equity and Inclusion joins White Hall District Supervisor Ann Mallek on the county’s work “to support the sharing of Albemarle County history to broaden the scope of our publicly told histories to be more inclusive of our complete community.” The event begins at 6 p.m. Register on Zoom or watch on Facebook Live. 
The original concept plan for the Haupt Property 

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Albemarle to hold public hearing on the FY22 budget
Due to the pandemic, Albemarle County has taken a little longer than usual to adopt its budget. At 6 p.m. they will have a public hearing on the FY22 budget and the tax rate for the current calendar year. The last budget work session was held on March 29, and there has been little public comment to date. To recap, here are some articles you might review: 

You can also review video of the five work sessions:
  • March 10 – General Operating Budget (video) (slides)
  • March 15 – General Operating and Capital Budget (video) (slides)
  • March 18 – Fire and Rescue Budget (video) (slides)
  • March 22 – Cigarette Tax, Voter Registration, and Transit (video)
  • March 29 – Final review (video)

Request to allow natural burials
Panorama Farms is seeking a special use permit to allow the first “natural burial ground” in Albemarle County on 20 acres of their property. Cemeteries are allowed in rural area zoning with a permit, and this one is where everything is biodegradable.

“Unlike at a conventional ceremony, there is no embalming, no metal or exotic caskets, and no concrete vaults,” reads the narrative. “Above the ground, green interment sites are usually marked with flat, natural fieldstones or with native plantings.” 

A community meeting for the permit will be held at 5:30 p.m. (meeting info)

Location map for the proposed natural burial grounds
In other meetings: 
  • Charlottesville’s Retirement Commission meets virtually at 8:15 a.m. (meeting info)
  • The Darden Towe Memorial Park Committee will meet at 1:30 p.m. This is a joint body of officials from both Albemarle and Charlottesville, the two co-owners of the park. (meeting info)
  • Fluvanna’s Board of Supervisors has a meeting scheduled for 7 p.m. for the budget but no agenda was available at press time (meeting info)

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Charlottesville City Hall is still in transition after a series of high profile departures over the last several years. Today, the City Council will meet in closed session to interview applicants for City Attorney. The last person to hold the position, John Blair, left the city earlier this year to become city attorney of Staunton. Before that, Craig Brown served from 2001 to 2018. Council begins their interviews at 8:30 a.m. (meeting info)

In other meetings:
  • Albemarle Fire / Emergency Medical Services Board meets at 6 p.m. (meeting info)
  • The Police Civilian Review Board will meet at 6:30 p.m. for another training session (meeting info)

Friday, April 30, 2021

No meetings today. The last day of the month. What will you do to make the most of it? What meeting are you likely to go back and rewatch?

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.