Week Ahead for August 15, 2022: Albemarle group to see rezoning for 145 acres south of U.S. 29/I-64 interchange; Greene Planning Commission to continue work Comprehensive Plan review

If it were common practice to number the weeks of year, this would be the 32nd. Time moves on each week, with another set of government meetings taking the place of the ones that came before. Week by week, decisions are made and decisions are deferred. All of it adds up to the world we see around us. This newsletter seeks to help you keep track of it all.

Here are some highlights for this very busy week:

  • Charlottesville City Council will learn more details about an ordinance to allow some public employees to enter into collective bargaining with the city for wages and benefits. They’ll also vote on several land use items that were deferred in July when a tie-breaking vote was not present.
  • Albemarle County’s Economic Development Authority will take up two requests for grant funding, and a day later, the Board of Supervisors will be asked to streamline that process.
  • Fluvanna County Supervisors will have a public hearing on a rezoning that could include a future medical center for the growing localites, and the Greene Planning Commission will hear a similar proposal for a site in Ruckersville.
  • Riverbend Development will present plans to redevelop 145 acres south of the U.S. 29 and Interstate 64 interchange for a theoretical maximum of 1,365 residential units.
  • The Albemarle Architectural Review Board will review plans for just under 400 new units that have not been built.

The details matter, and you’re in the right place to either learn what you need or to know where to dig further. Members of the community have access to a lot of information and data, and my hope is more people will come to realize on this while they form their opinions about what’s happening in the wider landscape.

Please ask me questions if you need more context or information.

Thanks as always to the Piedmont Environmental Council for their support of this research every week. They are also 32 weeks into their 50th year and I am grateful for their sponsorship of this newsletter.

Monday, August 15, 2022

Charlottesville Council to allocate VDOT money for Belmont Bridge, discuss collective bargaining 

The five-member Charlottesville City Council meets for a work session on collective bargaining at 4 p.m. followed by a regular session at 6:30 p.m. (meeting info)

Legislation passed the General Assembly in April 2020 to allow localities to decide whether to enter into collective bargaining with their employees. Members of both the Charlottesville Fire Department and Charlottesville Area Transit have asked the city to proceed. The resignation last fall of former City Manager Chip Boyles delayed implementation but this meeting represents progress toward the goal. 

This summer, interim City Manager Michael C. Rogers hired the firm Venable LLP to prepare an ordinance. His employers, the Robert Bobb Group, have experience with collective bargaining. 

”Introduction of collective bargaining is a substantial undertaking, and both the City and its employees require time to gain experience with the bargaining process,” reads the staff report for the work session

The draft ordinance initially prioritizes bargaining rights for police officers, uniformed firefighters, and certain Charlottesville Area Transit employees. These rights would not apply to supervisors.

“The City Council is facing a number of urgent fiscal and budgetary issues in the next several budget years, and the City Manager strongly advises that starting with these three authorized bargaining units will allow the City Manager and Council an opportunity to gain a practical understanding of the administrative, operational, and financial impact of each new bargaining unit.”

The negotiations would be conducted by an independent contractor that the city would hire, and a budget would need to be set aside for legal issues and implementation. The process would take at least a year and a half with union elections authorized to begin on January 1, 2023. 

So far, collective bargaining ordinances have been adopted in Alexandria, Richmond, Arlington County, Fairfax County, and Loudoun County. They have been rejected in Portsmouth, Radford, Prince Edward County, and Isle of Wight County. 

A slide from the presentation on what Collective Bargaining cannot be used for

The regular session begins at 6:30 p.m. and there are several land use items. 

In the first, the owner of Preston Place Properties is requesting a vacation of existing utility easements as well as a boundary line adjustment. As part of the deal, the property owner would dedicate 1,277 square feet of property for public right of way. (staff report)

Next, the cost to replace the Belmont Bridge has increased from $35.4 million to $38 million. The city has had to pay a large portion of the project because the scope approved by the Virginia Department of Transportation some of the finishes and accoutrement requested by many when the project was going through the design process nearly a decade ago. 

Last June, Council approved $4.28 million in funds from one VDOT pool of money related to bridge repair and maintenance that helped recoup some of the costs. Now, the city has received an additional $2.67 million from a VDOT program called Demonstration Repurpose VA200 (DEMO) to cover contingencies and cost increases due to inflation. 

The project is set to be completed by January 2024. (staff report)

Next, there are two requests for honorary street designations. These are for a section of Lankford Avenue after Alvin C. Edwards (application) and Ridge-McIntire between Main Street and Preston Avenue as Vinegar Hill Boulevard. (application)

After that, Council will hold first of two readings on a proposal to allow the Commissioner of Revenue to issue tax refunds of up to $2,500 without Council approval for erroneous payments. (staff report)

The next two items did not proceed in mid-July due to the absence of City Council Juandiego Wade. These are a request from a landowner to vacate right of way on Oak Street in the Fifeville neighborhood (staff report), and a special use permit for additional density at 1000 Monticello Road. Members of the Public Housing Association of Residents and staff at the Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority have lobbied Council to deny. (staff report)

For one account, read my story Four-member Council delays action on two land use items, approves a third

Finally, there’s a second reading on suggested uses of the city’s share of American Rescue Plan Act funding. For an account, read my story Council briefed on potential usage of ARPA funds

Albemarle design board to review site plans for two developments

The five-member Albemarle Architectural Review Board will meet virtually at 1 p.m. On the agenda are two approved developments that total nearly 400 units. (meeting info)

The first is an initial site plan review for Maplewood, a 72-unit Planned Residential Development at the corner of Proffit Road and Worth Crossing. The Board of Supervisors approved this project in June. This is within the jurisdiction of the Places29-North Community Advisory Committee. The parcel is immediately to the south of a new WaWa and behind the relatively new Walgreens built on the site of a former motel. This section of Albemarle is rapidly changing with many more units coming on the market. 

The location of the 72-unit Maplewood (staff report)

The second is a final site plan for Rio Point, a Planned Residential Development approved in December 2021 on a 4 to 1 vote. This is on an undeveloped piece of property near the northern terminus of the John Warner Parkway. The project was approved for 328 units, but the site plan is only for 295 units in a mix of apartments and townhomes. 

Earlier this month, the Albemarle Board of Supervisors endorsed the Rio Road Corridor Plan, which is intended to make the roadway more human scale with better facilities for pedestrians and cyclists. As part of the approved plan, Stony Point Design Build will dedicate 0.82 acres of land for road improvements upon request of the county. They will also contribute $750,000 towards road improvements. 

In the final item, they will review the entrance corridor guidelines on Route 250 west of Charlottesville for the rural areas to the east and west of Ivy Depot. (staff report)

The materials and design for Building D at Rio Point (Credit: Timmons Group)

Places29-Hydraulic group to get updates on Albemarle parks

Albemarle has six active groups that serve as clearinghouses for information about county government. The Places29-Hydraulic Community Advisory Committee will meet virtually at 5:30 p.m. 

At this meeting, Amy Smith of Albemarle County Parks and Recreation will give an overview on projects across the county, as well as specific to the jurisdiction of P29-H. These include assistance to help the Ivy Creek Natural Area with historic preservation and Americans with Disabilities Act effort, as well as the development of a master plan for the Lambs Lane Campus. 

Following that there will be an update on Charlotte Yancey Humphris Park. This committee has made that amenity a priority. 

In other meetings:

  • Want a career in public safety? Albemarle County is holding a meet and greet fair at the  Charlottesville-Albemarle Technical Education Center (CATEC) from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Representatives from Albemarle Police, Albemarle Fire-EMS, and the Albemarle-Charlottesville-UVA Emergency Communications Center will be present. (meeting info)
  • The Greene Emergency Services Advisory Board meets at 6 p.m. in the county administration building (meeting info)

Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Charlottesville Board of Architectural Review to discuss courts expansion project

The Charlottesville Board of Architectural Review (BAR) will meet at 4 p.m. for a special session before the regular monthly meeting begins at 5:30 p.m. Both meetings are virtual. (agenda) (meeting info)

In the 4 p.m. session, the BAR will be presented with materials that will be used in the expansion of the Albemarle Courts Complex in downtown Charlottesville and the new General District Court that will be constructed at the site of the Levy Building. Albemarle and Charlottesville entered into an agreement in December 2018 to proceed with this option following the county’s exploration of seeking other sites. 

“In the first phase of this work, a 3-story building will be constructed and connected to the Opera House,” reads Albemarle’s website for the work. “This building will accommodate court sets for the City and County’s General District Courts. A portion of the Levy Opera House will be also be renovated during this phase in order to accommodate the County Commonwealth Attorney’s office.” 

In the regular meeting, there is to be a consideration of a certificate of appropriateness for those materials, but the agenda notes this may be deferred again to a potential special meeting on August 31. 

Two city-related items from the Department of Parks and Recreation are on the regular agenda. One is a consideration of a certificate of appropriateness to install three grates on the three fountains on the Downtown Mall. 

“Installation of the grates is in response to concerns regarding pedestrian safety on the Downtown Mall and potential liability relative to provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA),” reads the staff report. 

The Downtown Mall and its fountains were designed by the landscape architect Lawrence Halprin in the mid-1970’s. 

“Addressing pedestrian safety on the Mall presents a challenge and the BAR is asked to strike a balance between respecting the Halprin design and necessary adaptation. Installing grates is not the only viable solution; however, the City has determined the fountain pools must be covered and the grates provide a reasonable and, more importantly, expedient solution.”

The meeting packet contains a history of previous amendments to the Halprin design that have been approved by the BAR. This includes the denial of a Parks and Recreation desire to replace benches in the summer of 2016, which I wrote about at the time

The other request is technically from the Facilities Division and is for a roof replacement at the Key Recreation Center. 

In another item, the BAR will consider a request to demolish the building that contains the Browns Lock and Safe at 210 West Market Street. This is adjacent to 218 West Market Street, which has previously been approved for demolition to make way for a nine-story residential building being built by Heirloom Development. That company also built Six Hundred West Main and has approvals to build another apartment building on West Main.

“Granting permission to raze the building is an important step in furthering the long-term growth and development of our downtown core with vibrant, mixed-use developments such as the one contemplated for this site,” reads the narrative written by the firm Bushman Dreyfus. 

The existing conditions at 210 West Market, which is not considered to be vibrant by the firm that wants to demolish it (Credit: Bushman Dreyfus) 

Albemarle Economic Development Authority to get update on Southwood agreement, hear grant application for art project, incubator kitchen

There are five items of new business on the agenda of the Albemarle County Economic Development Authority’s Board of Directors’ meeting at 4 p.m. 

First, they will welcome two new members. Scottsville Town Administrator Matt Lawless will now represent the Scottsville District. Jeff Morrill will represent the Samuel Miller District. There are seven members of this body, even though there are six members of the Board of Supervisors. Chair Don Long serves at-large. 

Next, the EDA will get an update from Habitat from Humanity of Greater Charlottesville on their work to meet the terms of a performance agreement for the redevelopment of Southwood Mobile Home Park into a mixed-income community. (staff report)

“Due to pandemic-related increases in the cost of construction labor and materials, Habitat  estimates the total cost to construct 75 Habitat or Habitat-contracted Affordable Dwelling Units (ADU’s) to be $18.72 million,” reads the staff report. 

A table demonstrating the cost for Habitat to build 75 units. That’s one of the conditions of the performance agreement governing the county’s contribution of cash and tax breaks for the project 

In the third item, the EDA will be asked for $5,000 as a local match for the Bridge PAI’s application to the National Endowment for the Arts for an Our Town grant for a project called Unsettling Grounds. According to the project website, the project will pay low-income and Black, Indigenous and People of Color artists to do research and art related to the landlocked section of Albemarle County known as the Broadway Corridor. 

“Unsettling Grounds is a hunt for these virtual monuments to recover histories hidden along the Broadway Corridor in Charlottesville, Virginia, a site of culture, industry, revolution and war. It seeks to develop an understanding of “structures” literally and figuratively. What structures of remembrance, forms of storytelling, and frameworks for resistance are already in place? Unsettling Grounds focuses on resistance to capitalism, patriarchy, and racism. Together we will create a tool for understanding how stories, struggles, and common values converged in Albemarle County along with indigenous, immigrant, indentured, and enslaved workers.”

After that, the New Hill Development Corporation seeks $25,000 as a local match for a $189,000 grant from the Virginia Growing Opportunities fund to build an incubator kitchen for culinary entrepreneurs. The announcement of the award was made in early July and is made as part of New Hill’s Black Entrepreneurial Advancement and Community Opportunity Network (BEACON). 

In November 2018, Council voted 4-1 to use $500,000 from the city’s Equity Fund to create a small area plan for the Starr Hill neighborhood. The project ended up being completed as Vision Plan endorsed by City Council in April 2021.

Then there will be a director’s report from J.T. Newberry, the Principal Business Development Manager followed by a continuation of a discussion about a program to incentivize the reuse of existing programs. 

A slide from New Hill’s presentation seeking $25,000 in matching funds for a shared-use kitchen that would provide savings for entrepreneurs. (view the presentation) (Credit: New Hill Development Corporation) 

In other meetings:

  • The CPMT meets at 3:15 p.m. What is that? You would not know from the meeting info page. A search will reveal this is a joint meeting of the Albemarle and Charlottesville Community Community Policy and Management Team, which implements Virginia’s Comprehensive Services Act for At Risk Youth and Families. 
  • The Albemarle County Department of Social Services Advisory Board will meet virtually at 3:30 p.m. (meeting info)
  • The Charlottesville Electoral Board will meet at 6 p.m. in the Office of the Registrar in the City Hall Annex. They will discuss preparations for the November election as well as Sunday voting. (meeting info)

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Virtual meetings in Albemarle coming to an end on September 1; Supervisors asked to streamline EDA grant funding

Albemarle County’s Board of Supervisors will meet at 2:30 p.m. in Lane Auditorium rather than the usual 1 p.m. (meeting agenda

Albemarle County is slowly studying the way it does business. One tool available to the Board of Supervisors is the Economic Development Fund established in 2018. 

“Within the Economic Development Fund is a sub-fund called the Economic Opportunities Fund (EOF), which was established by the Board in 2006 to provide funding to match state and federal economic development grant programs,” reads the staff report

In FY2022, $110,070 went to six local entities to drawn a total of nearly $600,000 in programs. Demand is growing. Staff is recommending a streamlined approach to how the funds are administered. This is an advance of Board approval of recent requests scheduled for the September 7, 2022 meeting. 

Next, the end is nigh for virtual meetings in Albemarle County. Assistant County Executive Trevor Henry will provide an update on the transition back to in-person public meetings for bodies that have not already done so. 

“To prepare for in-person public meetings, investments have been made in equipment, software, and training to allow for some meetings to have elements of virtual participation and/or virtual access for the public,” reads the staff report. “Staff expects all public meetings held beginning September 1, 2022 will be held under the new framework.”

In the evening session beginning at 6 p.m. there will be a public hearing for a rezoning for the Old Dominion Village project in Crozet along Three Notch’d Road. The proposal is to rezone 23.68 acres from Rural Areas to Neighborhood Model Development for up to 110 units around a site currently occupied by Crozet Veterinary Care Center. 

The Planning Commission unanimously approved the project in February, but recommended denial of a special exception to reduce the minimum setback between an existing animal confinement facility (vet clinic) and a residential lot line from 200 feet to 50 feet. The plan has been revised since then. 

Location map for the Old Dominion Village project (Credit: Meridian Planning Group)

Fluvanna to take up 35-acre rezoning that could include emergency medical center near Lake Monticello 

The five member Board of Supervisors meets at 7 p.m. in person at the Carysbrook Performing Arts Center in Fork Union. (meeting packet)

There are three public hearings. The first is on a request from Wolfpack Properties for a rezoning of 35 acres from agricultural to business. The Planning Commission voted 3-1 (one absent) on August 9 to recommend approval. 

“The property is located within the Rivanna Community Planning Area and a new commercial center and medical emergency center would further enhance the commercial mixed-uses found in the Lake Monticello community,” reads the staff report. “The closest available emergency center is located 13 miles away in Zion Crossroads with drive time averaging 25 minutes which is very long during medical emergencies.”

Staff also said a new grocery store might attract customers from Buckingham County who would no longer have to drive to Albemarle or Charlottesville. According to the staff report, a new shopping center has not been proposed and built in Fluvanna since 2003. 

Conceptual drawing for the proposed center (Credit: Shimp Engineering)

The second is for a change to the zoning ordinance related to commercial uses. They include: 

  • Add use definitions for Brewpub, Data Center, Emergency Center, Event Facility, Machinery Sales and Service, Microbrewery, and Vehicle Impound Facility
  • Amend the definition of Agricultural Enterprise
  • Allow Event Facilities, Machinery Sales and Service, and Brewpubs in A-1 districts with a special use permit
  • Allow Brewpubs in R-3 districts as a by-right use
  • Allow Microbreweries in R-3 districts with a special use permit 
  • In B-1 zones, allow Brewpub, Emergency Centers, Event Facilities, Machinery Sales and Service, and Microbreweries as commercial uses permitted by right
  • In B-1 zones, allow Vehicle Impound Facility with a special use permit 

The third is for a third amendment to a lease agreement with New Cingular Wireless to allow for a generator to be installed at a site owned by the county. This will bring in another $6,000 a year in rental income. 

In unfinished business, the Board will take up a special use permit for Johnston and Co LLC to operate a contractor’s storage yard. 

Greene Planning Commission to continue work Comprehensive Plan review

There is nothing in state law that requires a locality’s review of Comprehensive Plan to be exhaustive and transformative. Many simply do a chapter-by-chapter review. That includes Greene County and the Planning Commission will take up the Solid Waste Chapter in a work session at 6 p.m. (meeting agenda)

After that, there will be a public hearing on a proposed rezoning of 0.56 acres on U.S. 29 in Ruckersville. The landowner wants to change the land from A-1 to B-3 to build an medical urgent care facility. 

Charlottesville to hold town hall on greenhouse gas reductions

Charlottesville has ambitious goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions with one milestone approaching in 2030 and the requirement to be carbon-neutral by 2050. A Climate Action Plan is being crafted to recommend how to get there, and tonight there’s a virtual town hall this evening beginning at 6 p.m. 

“During this event, the City of Charlottesville encourages all community members to provide input on developing our potential GHG reduction priorities,” reads the meeting info page on the city’s website

Two listening sessions were held earlier this month. For more information on the efforts, take a look at the county’s website. Or, read stories I’m writing about the topic on Information Charlottesville

In other meetings:

  • Want a career in public safety? Albemarle County is holding a virtual meet and greet fair at from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. Representatives from Albemarle Police, Albemarle Fire-EMS, and the Albemarle-Charlottesville-UVA Emergency Communications Center will be present. (meeting info)

Thursday, August 18, 2022

Community meeting for large rezoning south of U.S. 29 / I-64 intersection

The final virtual meeting of the 5th and Avon Community Advisory Committee under COVID rules will take place from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. There will be a community meeting for a project that will transform the rural character of the area south of the intersection of U.S. 29 and Interstate 64. (meeting info)

Riverbend Development is overseeing a request to rezoning 145 acres of land zoned either R-1 or Highway Commercial around the J.W. Sieg Distribution facility off of Gold Eagle Drive. According to the code of development, 91 acres will be developed under either the Regional Mixed Use or Urban Density Residential Comprehensive Plan designation. They are seeking a range of 500 to 1,365 residential units and a range of 100,000 to 350,000 square feet of non-residential use. (revised code of development)

U.S. 29 is a corridor of statewide significance, and the applicant is proposing to guarantee improvements at the intersection of Gold Eagle Drive and Teel Lane, as well as construction of a Continuous Green-T intersection. (current proffers)

I first reported on this application back in March

In other meetings:

Conceptual plan for the redevelopment of the Sieg property (Credit: Riverbend Development)

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.