Another week, another month, and another full roster of government meetings in and around Charlottesville. Every week this newsletter seeks to make sure as many people as possible know what’s coming up and to help me sort through what I’ll be covering.
A healthy democracy requires information in order for participation to be robust and meaningful and I am hopeful this weekly summary is beneficial to you. My hope is that you learn something new. Please send this on to others!
Thanks once again goes out to the Piedmont Environmental Council for their support of the research that goes into this newsletter each and every week. I am truly grateful for their sponsorship.
Monday, April 4, 2022
Council to hold discussion on affordable housing
It has been 13 months since Council adopted an affordable housing plan as the first phase of the Cville Plans Together initiative. The plan sets a moral commitment for the city to spend $10 million each year on affordable housing projects, reform of the way the city allocates that funding, and zoning reform to dramatically increase the potential number of units allowed in city limits.
On March 21, Council had a work session that reviewed the $46.7 million the city has spent on affordability projects since 2010. The company that wrote the plan, HR&A Advisors, also conducted the review of the Charlottesville Affordable Housing Fund (CAHF). (read my story)
Now they will have another work session on the topic beginning at 4 p.m., but there are no materials available in advance. (meeting info for 4 p.m.)
Council to take action on housing issues
Council meets in their regular session at 6:30 p.m. (meeting info)
In addition to considering a ten cent increase in the real estate tax rate, Charlottesville City Council is also proposing an increase on the meals tax from six percent to six and a half percent. They’ll hold a public hearing on the increase.
There will also be the first reading of the city’s budget. More details on where we are in tomorrow’s installment of Charlottesville Community Engagement. Catch up on recent articles and updates on Information Charlottesville.
Next, there will be the first of two readings of $7.2 million in funding from the Virginia Department of Transportation to replace the bridge that carries Dairy Road over the U.S. 250 bypass.
“Dairy Road Bridge has been classified as structurally deficient for its deck elements,” reads the staff report. “However, it should be noted that while these bridges may be classified as structurally deficient, they are adequate to support the required loads of today’s vehicles.”
The city will need to pay for the project upfront but will be reimbursed by VDOT. This has not been discussed as part of the ongoing Capital Improvement Program conversations, but the staff report assures Council and the public that this will not impact funding for other capital projects.
Then we get to housing. Council will consider a resolution to formally create a committee to oversee the Charlottesville Affordable Housing Fund and to change the make-up of the Housing Advisory Committee. The CAHF committee is proposed to have three city staff members, three community members at large, and three residents of affordable housing or other beneficiaries.
“No grants or loans from the CAHF shall be awarded to persons serving on the CAHF Committee, or to other legal entities of which any such person is a member, or in which such a person has a personal interest as the Virginia State and Local Government Conflict of Interests Act defines that term,” reads the resolution for the change.
After that, Council will hold the first of two readings on allocating funds from the CAHF. Seven proposals were reviewed by a seven-person team with six city staff members and one representative from the current HAC. (staff report)
The recommendations are:
- $425,000 to the Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority for South Street Phase 2
- $75,000 for down payment assistance for Habitat for Humanity of Greater Charlottesville’s Equity Homeownership Initiative
- $100,000 for Albemarle Housing Improvement Program’s Charlottesville Critical Repair Program
- $50,000 for the Local Energy Alliance Program’s Assisted Home Performance and Electrification Ready (AHP) targeted to owner occupied homes.
- $100,000 for LEAP’s AHP for renter occupied homes
Council will hold a final reading for a rezoning, special use permits, and a critical slopes waiver for 28 units in four buildings on 0.62 acres at the end of Valley Road Extended. By-right the developer could get six units. Council held a first reading on March 21 and appeared supportive, as reported on Information Charlottesville.
There are several new items on the consent agenda.
- The Charlottesville Albemarle Convention and Visitor Bureau has received funds from the American Rescue Plan Act to increase awareness of Charlottesville and Albemarle County to markets not yet reached before, increase knowledge of the movement of visitors and residents in the destination, craft a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion plan for the local visitor economy, generate stays during winter and provide a safer space for visitors on the downtown mall.” The city’s share is $280,000 and Albemarle’s share is $400,000. This item is on first reading. (staff report)
- The city will pay $12,866.44 back to a business that has paid for a license but is actually within Albemarle County. This item is also on first reading. (staff report)
- The Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority seeks to spend the remaining $60,938.28 in emergency Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) to be used to pay rent for tenants who are in arrears. (staff report)
Pippin Hill seeks expansion of Crossroads Tavern in North Garden
Pippin Hill Farm and Vineyards is purchasing a historic inn in North Garden, a site that is on the National Register of Historic Places as well as the Virginia Landmark Register. The Inn at Crossroads is currently a small bed and breakfast operated out of the Crossroads Tavern built in 1920. The winery wants to build eleven more guest cottages to be designed in a style consistent with that era’s architecture.
“This is consistent with the Pippin Hill ‘Enable’ Initiative to retain and strengthen a locally owned small business,” reads the narrative for the special use permit application. “The expansion investment will allow it to achieve the next generation of a boutique hospitality business.”
Pippin Hill’s parent company, the Easton Porter Group, is appealing to the county’s Project Enable strategic plan for reasons why a special use permit and a rezoning should be granted by the Albemarle Board of Supervisors. Among other things, they say there will be at least 20 full time positions and they will purchase products from local farmers. (read their appeal)
Pippin Hill also wants to transform the former schoolhouse at the site into a Meeting House, build a village green, a kitchen garden, and a Mews garden.
The area is in Albemarle’s rural area, and this level of development would likely not be contemplated if the structure was not historic. The chief of the North Garden Volunteer Fire Company has requested installation of a cistern with at least 10,000 gallons of capacity in the event of a fire. The underlying zoning is Village Residential and the request is to convert that to Rural Area.
The virtual community meeting begins at 5 p.m. (meeting info)
Louisa Supervisors to finalize $500K performance agreement for Zion Crossroads development
The seven member Louisa County Board of Supervisors meet at 5 p.m. in closed session and meet in the open beginning at 6 p.m. (agenda packet)
There are several developments proposed for the Louisa County section of Zion Crossroads. In November 2019 the Louisa County Planning Commission recommended approval of a rezoning for 35.6 acres from commercial to Planned Unit Development to develop $138,000 square feet of commercial property and 321 dwelling units.
“The County from time-to-time awards financial incentives to encourage and assist existing real estate development companies to facilitate their capital investments in Louisa County,” reads a resolution for the Supervisors’ consideration of increasing the total in tax rebates from $250,000 to $500,000 for the Crossing Pointe project. (view performance agreement)
Supervisors will also vote on a resolution to direct the Planning Commission review potential changes to the rules for short-term rentals.
In other meetings:
- The Fluvanna County Economic Development Authority will meet at 5 p.m. in-person at the Central Virginia Electric Cooperative Training Center at 1293 Salem Church Road, 22963. You can also watch on the county’s YouTube channel or participate via Zoom. (agenda)
Tuesday, April 5, 2022
Crown Orchard seeks permission to build new housing for migrant workers
Crown Orchard began operations in 1912 to produce apples, cherries, nectarines and peaches. The company continues to be owned by the Chiles’ family, but needs labor from outside of the community and a place for those people to stay.
“All this longevity, enjoyment, and agricultural production cannot continue to grow and survive to provide this fruit and enjoyment to Albemarle County residents and others without migrant housing,” reads the narrative for an application for a special use permit for construction of homes for workers.
A letter of support from the Virginia Employment Commission states that Crown Orchard has been using the H-2A visa program since 2013, requiring annual inspections from the state agency.
“We have found them to be diligent in their efforts to maintain camps to meet federal and state standards and responsive to workers’ needs,” reads that letter from Cindy Webb, agriculture and foreign labor program manager for the VEC.
Albemarle County will hold a community meeting for this special use permit beginning at 5:30 p.m. (meeting info)
In other meetings:
- The Nelson County Board of Supervisors will continue its review of the budget for FY23 beginning at 3 p.m. The School Board has requested more funding than recommended in County Administrator’s budget. Read Emma Martin’s story in the News and Advanceto learn how a recent conversation between the two Board went last week.
- The Charlottesville Tree Commission will meet at 5 p.m. On the agenda is a discussion of the compled tree canopy study as well as a presentation on an “energy saving trees” program. (meeting info)
Wednesday, April 6, 2022
Albemarle Supervisors resume in-person meetings with updates on sidewalks, pedestrian trail to Crozet
The Albemarle Board of Supervisors will hold their first in-person meeting in nearly two years beginning at noon with a budget work session before their regular meeting. The meeting can be viewed by the public on the Board’s website. (agenda) (meeting info)
Regular business starts at 1 p.m. Two walkability proposals are on the agenda. First, Supervisors will be asked to grant final approval for a sidewalk on Commonwealth Drive and Dominion Drive in the Jack Jouett District. Albemarle is seeking revenue-sharing funds from the Virginia Department of Transportation. (staff report)
Next, the county is seeking a federal grant to plan for a trail between the Blue Ridge Tunnel to Crozet and then on to Charlottesville along the route of the Three Notch’d Trail. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act approved by the U.S. Congress last year set aside $1.5 billion under the Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity grant program.
“There has long been local and regional interest in the development of a shared use path along the historic Three Notched Road,” reads the staff report. “A shared use path along Three Notched Road is highlighted in the Albemarle County Comprehensive Plan, the Crozet Master Plan, the Jefferson Area Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan, and the most recent Virginia Outdoors Plan. Segments of the shared use path were prioritized in the 2019 update of the Albemarle County Transportation Priorities list.”
Albemarle will seek up to $1 million to pay for a feasibility study, conduct public outreach on an alignment, and to bring the design to a certain level of engineering.
Transportation issues continue as the Board will then be presented with the results of a study of the intersection of Reas Ford Road and Earlysville Forest Drive that offers five potential alternatives intended to reduce crashes. Staff is recommending the no build alternative.
“The intersection currently operates at adequate Level of Service (LOS) and the occurrence of crashes at the intersection has declined in the most recent 30-month period of the study, a trend that has continued since the study was completed,” reads the staff report.
In the evening, there are several public hearings.
- The Central Virginia Electric Cooperative seeks permission to upgrade a transmission line for 3.85 miles nears Batesville by increasing the height and replacing the poles. (staff report)
- CVEC is also seeking a special use permit to expand an electrical substation on Gordonsville Road. (staff report)
- The Living Earth School wants to operate a day camp on Pounding Creek Road in the Samuel Miller District near Batesville. The Planning Commission voted 5 to 1 in December to recommend denial in part due to traffic issues. (staff report)
- Staff has prepared changes to the county’s homestay ordinance, including a clarification of what it means to be a “responsible agent” in instances where the owner is not on site. (staff report)
- The county is also seeking to amend the Solid Waste Disposal and Recycling ordinance to address clutter. (staff report)
There are a lot of items on the consent agenda worth reviewing.
- There’s a budget appropriation related to the Virginia Telecommunication Initiative to expand broadband to around 2,500 homes. (staff report)
- The board’s meeting rules will be changed to reflect the ability of the public to participate in public hearings remotely. (staff report)
- The operating agreement between Albemarle and the Virginia Department of Health will be updated. (staff report)
- The latest report from the Facilities and Environmental Services Department will be accepted by the supervisors. (staff report)
- There is a summary of what the closed-door Land Use and Environmental Planning Committee worked on in 2021. LUEPC replaced a public body known as the Planning and Coordination Council. (staff report)
- There is a report on transportation projects both in the planning and constructions stages. (staff report)
- Albemarle’s Office of Emergency Management has produced a report reviewing the county’s performance during and after winter storms on January 3 and January 16. (report)
- There’s a monthly report from the Albemarle School Board. (report)
Fluvanna Board of Supervisors to declare emergency for March 21 dam breach
The five-member Fluvanna County Board of Supervisors meets in-person at the Carysbrook Performing Arts Center beginning at 5 p.m. (agenda packet)
One of the first items on the agenda is a declaration of a local emergency to reflect the events of March 21, 2022 when a privately-owned dam on McIver Lake began to show signs of imminent failure.
“It was estimated at the time that the lake was over 10 acres in size, over 20 feet deep and holding more than 60 million gallons of water, which if a full breach occurred, would put Bremo Road under 3.5 feet of water and could affect the Dominion Bremo site operations,” reads the staff report.
Governor Glenn Youngkin had to grant permission to drain the link and breach the dam so it would never again impound water. For more on the topic and the broader issue in Virginia, read Sarah Vogelsong’s March 25, 2022 article in the Virginia Mercury. The emergency declaration allows Fluvanna County to be reimbursed for actions taken that day to pump the water from the lake.
Supervisors will also get an update on the Comprehensive Plan process, which formally kicked off on March 10 with an open house. Three more are planned this spring before a draft is written this summer. The goal is to adopt the plan sometime after the 2022 winter holidays.
There will also be a budget work session. On March 16, Supervisors agreed to advertise a $98,202,981 budget for FY23.
Thursday, April 7, 2022
TJPDC to review recipients of Virginia Housing funds for affordable housing
First, presentations. They will be briefed on Albemarle’s RAISE grant request for the Three Notch’d Trail. Commissioners will also be briefed on the rules of the Public-Private Education Facilities and Infrastructure Act of 2002, and adopt a new set of guidelines for how unsolicited requests should be handled.
“The influx and availability of federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding and forthcoming Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) dollars puts the TJPDC in a posture to potentially enter into such partnerships,” reads the resolution for the new guidelines.
There’s also an unidentified proposal.
“A proposal to provide a qualifying project related to universal broadband access has been delivered to TJPDC by a private entity on an unsolicited basis,” reads that resolution. “This regional project seeks to provide a long-term solution to every family and business presently unserved with access to high-speed broadband internet service.”
There will also be an update on the VATI project being administered by the TJPDC.
Second, new business. The TJPDC will review funding proposals recommended by staff for a housing project funded by the entity formerly known as the Virginia Housing and Development Authority.
“Staff received 5 proposals totaling $5.9 million in funding requests,” reads the staff request. “Of the $2 million dispersed by Virginia Housing, the TJPDC will award $1.8 million to sub-recipients, and reserve the remaining $200,000 for administrative expenses and contingency costs.”
The recipients are:
- Virginia Supportive Housing for the Premier Circle project
- Habitat for Humanity of Greater Charlottesville for their scattered-site affordable homeownership initiative
- Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority for the second phase of the South First Street
In all, these funds would contribute to the construction of 160 units across all six localities.
In other meetings:
- The Albemarle Natural Heritage Committee will meet virtually beginning at 5:30 p.m. (meeting info)
- The Charlottesville City Council will hold another work session on the budget beginning at 6 p.m. (meeting info)
Friday, April 8, 2022
Charlottesville’s Historic Resources Committee will meet at 11 a.m. On the agenda is a discussion of engagement with the Descendant Community for the Court Square / Slave Auction Block, a downtown walking tour map, and staff updates. (meeting info)`
What else have I missed?
What do you want to know more about?
Drop me a line!
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.