Week Ahead for August 1, 2022: Charlottesville to review $14.8M in ARPA spending; ARB to review 81-unit building at Premier Circle

With seven months down for 2022, August has submitted an impressive entry in the Busiest First Week category in the upcoming year-end awards. There are a lot of government meetings coming up this week, and this is your source to know what’s on the agendas. 

This week:

  • Charlottesville City Council will begin consideration of the next year’s budget and will take up $14.8 million in recommended uses of American Rescue Plan Act funding
  • Louisa Supervisors will finalize the ballot question for a $15 million bond referendum for new athletic fields at the high school and middle school 
  • Albemarle Supervisors will get an update on a stream health initiative and will review the Rio Road Corridor Plan
  • Design-review board to get a first look at a redevelopment of motel on U.S. 29 into subsidized housing 
  • The review of Nelson County’s Comprehensive Plan continues with a public workshop on Thursday 
  • The area’s planning district commission turns 50 in a year when it’s helping advance broadband expansion throughout central Virginia 
  • Charlottesville to hold a listening session for climate action plan for marginalized communities

As always, thanks to the Piedmont Environmental Council for their continued support of this work for the past two years.

Monday, August 1, 2022

Charlottesville City Council to hold public hearing on plastic bag tax, hold first reading on use of $14.8 million in ARPA funds

The five-member Charlottesville City Council will meet at 4 p.m. for a work session followed by a regular meeting at 6:30 p.m. They’ll meet in City Council Chambers, but the public can only attend the evening session due to the continuing emergency rules. Space is limited. (agenda for both)

The 4 p.m. work session is dedicated entirely to planning for the FY2024 budget. There are about 31 weeks until whoever is City Manager in March 2023 presents a recommended budget and 37 weeks until Council is expected to adopt their amended document. 

There are no materials available in advance, but it’s worth reviewing recent news stories on the city budget to see some of what might be discussed. In particular, read Katherine Knott’s July 29 story Design work continues on Buford redesign but inflation looms.

It also might be worth taking a look at the adopted budget for FY23 and the five-year capital improvement program in particular. The bulk of the payment for the renovation and expansion of Buford Middle School is expected in FY24. 

The expenditure side of the five-year Capital Improvement program adopted for FY23. 

Council will hold the second reading of a plastic bag tax that would go into effect on January 1, 2023. A public hearing will also be held, so if you have thoughts you want elected officials to hear, this is the time to speak. You can offer your comments at home as this is a hybrid meeting. City Council held the first reading on July 18

Next, Council will have a first reading on the use of $14.8 million in funds from the American Rescue Plan Act. On July 18, they had a work session on the topic and were briefed on suggested ways to spend the money. This includes $500,000 on additional Safe Routes to School funding, $300,000 for Downtown Mall improvements, and $1 million for various nonprofits for “innovative programming that will make a measurable impact in our community.”

Take a look at my story on the ARPA funding for more information as well as the staff report which provides more detail for each line item. There don’t appear to be any changes to what staff has recommended. 

Next they will consider a request from Dairy Holdings LLC to rezone a former church at 415 10th Street NW from residential to business to accommodate the use of the church as an event venue. The Planning Commission voted 6-0 to recommend approval, as well as to designate the property as an Individually Protected Property. The latter also required approval from the Board of Architectural Review, which took place in July. Both items require two readings by Council and this is the first. 

Council will then officially endorse four Smart Scale applications being submitted by the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission. They are:

  • Avon Street Multimodal Improvements – “The project will develop a package of multimodal transportation improvements along Avon Street between Druid Avenue and Fifth Street Station Parkway. Improvements include bicycle and pedestrian facilities, and roadway widening on the west side of Avon Street among other improvements.”
  • District Avenue (at Hydraulic Road) Roundabout – “The project will improve vehicular movement at the intersection with Hydraulic Road/Cedar Hill Road, along with the provision of bicycle and pedestrian safety and mobility accommodations.”
  • Fifth Street Multimodal Improvements – “The project will address capacity issues along a major local roadway between Harris Road and the Moores Creek Trail, facilitate vehicular movement and help provide for accommodations for bicyclists and pedestrians.”
  • Rivanna River Bicycle and Pedestrian Bridge Crossing – “This project improves bicycle and pedestrian bridge access across the Rivanna River at East Market Street in Woolen Mills, connecting two important development areas on either side of the river. An additional shared use path will be constructed from the eastern landing site in Pantops to connect the bridge to the transportation network at the intersection of Peter Jefferson Parkway and State Farm Boulevard.”

Finally on the agenda, there will be a written report from the Sister Cities Commission. Can you name the four (or five) communities across the world that are linked up with Charlottesville? Read the report and learn more

Schematic drawings for the proposed project for 5th Street Extended. Take a look at the staff report for more details or take a look at all of the visuals here. 
Items on the consent agenda include: 
  • Second reading of a refund of $8,132.19 in a refund of overpayment of business licenses to an unnamed business (staff report)
  • Second reading of a $150,099.19 settlement with the Omni Hotel for a disputed real estate assessment (staff report)
  • Second reading of a $250,816 Community Development Block Grant for emergency response to house people to be passed through to the Thomas Jefferson Area Coalition for the Homeless (staff report)
  • Second reading of $250,000 from the Virginia Department of Education to supplement the Summer Food Service Program for children in summer camps fun by the Parks and Recreation Department (staff report)

Louisa Board of Supervisors to finalize Circuit Court letter for bond referendum for athletic fields

The seven member Louisa County Board of Supervisors meets in closed session at 5 p.m. before entering into open session at 6 p.m. (agenda)

The first action item related the language for the proposed referendum this November on the issuance of $15 million general obligation bonds to pay for six synthetic turf fields to be installed at Louisa High School and Middle School. To get on the ballot, the Board of Supervisors has to petition the Louisa County Circuit Court to allow a special election on the question.

Supervisors will also begin the process to petition the Virginia Department of Transportation for through-truck restrictions on several roads. Public hearings would be held on September 6. These are for portions of Shannon Hill Road, Chopping Road, and Chalklevel Road. 

Consent agenda items include: 
  • Supervisors will officially select Labella Associates to continue to provide solid waste management services related to the landfill including water quality monitoring. The firm has been doing the work for 27 years. 
  • Supervisors will officially request a speed study of Ellisville Road as a precursor to adding more signs and possibly reducing the speed limit. 
  • Supervisors will agree to form a local Virginia America 250 Commission as requested by the statewide Virginia American Revolution 250 Commission. Cuckoo District Supervisor Willie Gentry, Jr will serve as Louisa’s liaison.
A conceptual drawing for where the six synthetic turf fields would be built in Louisa

Premier Circle project to go before Albemarle design review panel

The Albemarle County Architectural Review Board meets virtually at 1 p.m. They have two items on their agenda. (meeting info)

The first item is the 81-unit building in the Premier Circle being developed by Virginia Supportive Housing. 

“This affordable housing project will provide SRO units and on -site program support for formerly homeless residents,” reads an introduction in the final site plan. “The project is financed by Low Income Housing Tax Credits ( LIHTC) that were awarded in 2021, with an anticipated start of construction in early 2023.”

Existing structures that used to be the motel will remain in place until future development.

The second item is for a new hotel to be built on U.S. 250 north of the Town and Country shopping center. 

View of the project looking west from U.S. 29 (Credit: BRW Architects)

Tuesday, August 2, 2022

This is a rare and quiet Tuesday

Tuesdays are usually very busy but today is fairly quiet. 

The Albemarle Board of Zoning Appeals meets electronically at 2 p.m. There are two public hearings on appeals. One relates to an electric sign at Charlottesville Catholic School on East Rio Road. The other is for an appeal at 801 Franklin Street and relates to portable toilets in the floodplain. (meeting info) (801 Franklin Street staff report)

The Charlottesville Tree Commission meets virtually at 5 p.m. The agenda was not available at publication time. (meeting info)

Next Tuesday will be much busier. 

Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Albemarle Supervisors to review Rio Road Corridor Plan

The six-member Albemarle Board of Supervisors meets at 1 p.m. (agenda)

The first action item related to the Rio Road Corridor Plan, a study by the firm Line + Grade that suggests ways to make the roadway more friendly to cyclists and pedestrians. The work is split into two phases with the northern terminus of the John Warner Parkway serving as the dividing line. 

“The areas of the county that directly surround the urban core are, themselves, becoming increasingly urban as the region continues to experience rapid growth and development,” reads the introduction to the plan. “This growth necessitates that the public infrastructure respond accordingly.”

Supervisors will be asked to endorse the overarching plan, which offers ways to alter some of the intersections along the way. That includes an idea to restructure Rio Road’s intersections with Hillsdale, Old Brook, and Northfield into an oval-shaped roundabout. Keep in mind that portions of this northern section are in areas that Charlottesville has designated for high-intensity use under their new Future Land Use Map. 

Some of the suggestions have already made their way into requests for funding. One of Albemarle County’s Smart Scale requests in the current cycle is for a Continuous Green-T intersection at Belvedere Road. 

The plan also addresses the approved 328-unit Rio Point development to be built on undeveloped land as well as a future development just to the south to be called Rio Commons. There’s been a lot of residential growth in the area and more planned. Who’s up for a walk sometime to go through it all? 

An image depicting potential changes along Rio Road along a rapidly developing section of the street (Credit: Line + Grade)

After that discussion, Supervisors will consider special exceptions for two homestays in the Rivanna Magisterial District. One is on Turkey Sag Road and the other is on Lonesome Mountain Road.

Following that presentation, Supervisors will get an update on efforts to improve water quality in streams across Albemarle. Natural resources staff presented 14 proposals to Supervisors in December and will give a status report on ones the elected officials opted to move forward at that meeting. Here are some of them: 

  • Drafting of an ordinance to create a stream buffer overlay district is underway. This would involve moving stream buffer regulations from the Water Protection Ordinance to the Zoning Ordinance. 
  • A consultant will begin work on drafting rules on restoring degraded buffers and mitigation requirements. 
  • Staff is considering hiring a consultant to help the water resources program with a study on the ecological benefits of low impact development. 
  • Development of educational materials for new landowners is underway in partnership with the climate office and the creation of the Environmental Stewardship Hub

Several other proposals are still on hold pending resources. 

Proposed items related to stream health that are not currently being pursued (Credit: Albemarle County) 

In the evening session that begins at 6 p.m. there are four public hearings:

  • Community Christian Academy seeks a special use permit to use an existing building at Riverstone Church at 1515 Insurance Lane for a private school. The Planning Commission voted 7-0 on June 28, 2022 to recommend approval. (staff report)
  • Foster Forge Farm School seeks a special use permit for a private school on 6.44 acres on Barracks Road in the rural area. The Planning Commission voted to recommend approval on May 24, 2022 on a 3-2 vote. (staff report)
  • Albemarle seeks to change the ordinance on animals pertaining to vicious dogs to add more detail for when and where an animal control officer can take action. (staff report)
  • New legislation approved by the General Assembly states more clearly that raising of livestock is under the legal definition of an “agricultural operation.” (staff report)

Fluvanna Supervisors to get update on compensation study

The five-member Fluvanna County Board of Supervisors meets at 5 p.m. the Carysbrook Performing Arts Center at 8880 James Madison Highway in Fork Union. 

There are several items listed under “action matters.”

All over Virginia, localities are struggling to retain employees. Many are embarked on reviews of their existing pay structure to try to remain competitive. Fluvanna hired the firm Baker Tilly and Superviors will be presented with a new pay plan for both general government and law enforcement employees and will be asked to select one of eight implementation scenarios for going forward. 

A list of peer organizations used by Baker Tilly for comparison for their compensation study for Fluvanna County (Credit: Baker Tilly)

Charlottesville isn’t the only locality getting off to an informal start for the FY24 budget process. Fluvanna Supervisors will adopt a calendar that begins on August 1 with a release of the capital improvement program packet. The Planning Commission will review that part of the budget on both October 11 and November 9 before making a recommendation on December 13. 

Supervisors will get an update from the Monticello Area Community Action Agency. There are no advanced materials. 

There are no public hearings or listed items under new or unfinished business. 

In other news:

  • Nelson County will hold a workshop on the Comprehensive Plan update at the Nelson Heritage Center in Arrington beginning at 5:30 p.m. Learn more about the process on the Nelson 2042 website

Thursday, August 4, 2022

TJPDC turns 50; Firefly seeks to work to expand broadband further with 2023 VATI grant application 

The Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission’s Board of Commissioners will meet in person at 407 East Water Street in Charlottesville at 7 p.m. (Zoom registration) (meeting info)

This is the 50th anniversary of the TJPDC and Delegate Sally Hudson will present a resolution honoring the occasion. 

There will also be an update on the status of the RISE Virginia public-private partnership with Firefly Fiber Broadband. TheTJPDC is the public lead on this project funded by the Virginia Telecommunications Initiative (VATI) and spans across 13 counties across central Virginia and much of the Fifth District. 

“At this writing, staff has completed most tasks with assistance from Firefly, most recently having secured approval of agreements with the 13 local government partners and working diligently on a contract with Firefly prior to signing agreement with DHCD,” reads an update from staff. 

The TJPDC will also consider an unsolicited proposal from Firefly for additional funding. 

“Firefly Fiber BroadbandSM appreciates the partnership with the Thomas Jefferson Planning District (TJPD) in a project to bring more than $300 million in infrastructure investment to the region with the construction of more than 4,300 miles of fiber to bring internet access to more than 42,000 locations in thirteen counties that include TJPD members and other neighboring counties,” reads the request letter from Firefly. 

The new project seeks to expand to cover additional locations throughout the county.

A map for where Firefly would target additional project through the FY23 VATI grant process

There will be an update on efforts to meet federal mandates to reduce pollution that gets into the Chesapeake Bay. The Watershed Improvement Program seeks to implement what’s known as the Today Daily Maximum Load, which is a coordinated effort to reduce organic material and segment from getting into waterways. 

“Specifically for Virginia: 20.5% reduction in Nitrogen, 25.2% reduction in phosphorus, and 20.8% reduction in sediment delivered to the Bay,” reads a presentation in the TJPDC packet. 

There will be an update on the Natural Hazard Mitigation Plan. This document is intended to prepare for natural disasters before they begin. Steps called for in the plan may be eligible for specific grant opportunities from the federal government. 

The public comment period is underway and the plan has been taken around to various localities, including Louisa County. The agenda packet includes many examples of what grant opportunities are out there after Louisa Supervisors requested that information. 

A broad overview of what a TMDL is and what it hopes to achieve (Credit: TJPDC)

Charlottesville to hold first of listening sessions on Climate Action Plan

Charlottesville continues to prepare for the creation of a Climate Action Plan and want to hear from people who may not know how to participate in the conversation. They’ll heard the first of two virtual listening sessions.

“As part of the City of Charlottesville’s Climate Action Planning process, the goal of these Listening Sessions is to gain input from underrepresented groups on the potential impacts of greenhouse gas (GHG) reducing actions,” read the meeting info page

For more information, visit the city’s climate planning page. For my coverage of the topic, take a look at Information Charlottesville. The next listening session is on August 10 followed by a town hall on August 17. 

In other meetings: 

  • The Albemarle Natural Heritage Committee will meet virtually beginning at 5:30 p.m. (meeting info)

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.