Week Ahead for August 22, 2022: CRHA purchasing two properties in Locust Grove neighborhood; Albemarle Supervisors to begin next strategic plan

We’re in a strange time of the year, mathematically. This is the fourth week of a summer month, which often means there are few meetings. Speaking anecdotally, most meetings are held the first, second, or third weeks of the year. That means these fourth weeks are a little light on regular meetings of elected officials, but there’s plenty of time for regional bodies. 

Next week, though? It is the fifth week of the month with an extra Monday, a superfluous Tuesday, and a hidden Wednesday. So, that may be a good time for a break, though something always comes up. 

The week after that? Monday has the different name of Labor Day, making September 6 one very busy Tuesday for those who keep track of all the government meetings. But that’s still two weeks from now, so let’s stay focused on what’s just ahead. 

Some highlights this week:

  • The Charlottesville Area Community Foundation will help the Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority purchase two homes on Coleman Street
  • Albemarle’s Planning Commission will hold a work session on the process for updating (modernizing?) the county’s zoning code
  • Representatives from area transit entities and local governments will hear from a Richmond official on how that community has implemented a vision adopted in 2017
  • Albemarle Supervisors will begin the process of updating the strategic plan
  • An Albemarle growth area group will get a briefing on the new public safety operations center to be operated out of former department store at Fashion Square Mall

Thanks as always to the Piedmont Environmental Council for their support of the research that goes into this newsletter, as well as its publication.  There are just over four months to celebrate their 50th anniversary!

Monday, August 22, 2022

CRHA Commissioners to consider purchase of property in Locust Grove

The Board of Commissioners for the Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority meets virtually at 6 p.m. There are currently only five members with two vacant seats waiting to be filled by Charlottesville City Council. (agenda) (link to Zoom meeting)

The main item on the agenda is a resolution to purchase property in the Locust Grove neighborhood. According to a resolution sent to interested parties as part of the meeting packet, the CRHA will pay $675,000 for 1016 and 1020 Coleman Street. That’s 10.54 percent below the combined 2022 assessment of $754,500 for both properties. 

The two parcels total 0.464 acres and currently each has a single family home upon it. The Charlottesville Area Community Foundation is providing “temporary funding” to pay for the purchase. 

The city of Charlottesville is also involved.

“The City is preparing to award a grant to acquire these properties for the preservation of naturally occurring affordable housing to be made available to individuals or families at or below 60% of the area median income,” reads an August 16, 2022 letter from Sam Sanders, the city’s deputy city manager for operations. “The grant award of $675,000 will be non-repayable.” 

CRHA owns several other single family homes within the city of Charlottesville which are classified as ‘scattered sites.’

There are some updates on redevelopment in the written update from CRHA staff. The following updates come a report produced on August 17 from redevelopment coordinator Brandon Collins. 

  • The target date for some residents to move back into a renovated Crescent Halls is early November with full occupation in January 2023. 
  • A certificate of occupancy has been issued for Building #2 in the South First Street Phase one with move-in to take place sometime after school starts. Construction on Building #1 is complete with residents moving in in September. However, Building #3 has hit issues with soil and fill to there are delays. 
  • CRHA expects to break ground on the second phase of South First Street in mid-winter. 
  • CRHA continues to work with the city of Charlottesville on site plan approval for the first phase of redevelopment at 6th Street.
  • Planning is getting underway at Westhaven with a six-week Planners Curriculum for residents and selection of an architect. 
Potential planning timetable for Westhaven redevelopment 

In other meetings:

  • The Charlottesville-Albemarle Convention and Visitors Bureau’s Board of Directors meets at 2 p.m. at Montalto for a Board Retreat. This is an in-person meeting. 
  • The Jefferson-Madison Regional Library’s Board of Trustees meets at Northside Library at 3 p.m. (agenda)
  • The Local Board of Building Code Appeals (LBBCA) will meet at 3 p.m virtually. This is a new one for this newsletter and may be of interest if you’re interested in dispute over legal interpretations of conflicting version of rules. There’s a public hearing on an appeal from a property owner who was told by a local building official that a permit for electrical service had expired.  (meeting info)
  • Albemarle County’s Historic Preservation Committee will meet virtually at 4:30 p.m. This is the last such meeting before in-person meetings begin for this body on September 26. On the agenda is a discussion of the historic marker dedication at Union Run Baptist Church, a demolition report on the former Ridgewood Motel that will be replaced by RST Residences, and a discussion of the Comprehensive Plan. (meeting info)

Tuesday, August 23, 2022

Albemarle PC to review zoning code modernization process, consider additions to Clifton Inn

Albemarle County Planning Commission work session beginning at 4 p.m. and regular meeting beginning at 6 p.m. (meeting info

The topic of the 4 p.m. work session is on the modernization of the Albemarle County zoning code. Earlier this year, county staff hired the Berkley Group to assist the county’s Department of Community Development with the multi-year project. That company is also working with Pittsylvania County on their update of the zoning code and working with Nelson County on their Comprehensive Plan update 

“The proposed amendments are intended to establish more efficient administrative procedures, provide a clear and user-friendly format, and create an adaptive, modern ordinance meeting the current needs of Albemarle County,” writes Deputy Director Charles Rapp in a letter to the Planing Commission. “By addressing the zoning modernization process in a comprehensive manner, staff will be able to involve multiple levels of stakeholders, including staff, residents, developers, and landowners.”

So far the work has included a review of setbacks as well as an updated land use matrix to state what can happen where and whether a special use permit is needed. At this work session, the seven Commissioners will be presented with a list of next steps for the two phase rewriting of the zoning code. 

According to the Berkley Group, the process will be split into five different phases and could last between three to four years. That timing will depend on the progress of the Comprehensive Plan review (AC44) which is happening concurrently. 

But we know how Phase 1 one would go. This section will cover “Administrative Provisions” and tonight’s meeting is considered the reset date for the process, which will continue with interviews with different stakeholders this fall. A diagnostic report will be reviewed in December with another Planning Commission work session in February to review an article that will be written. Then more drafting, investigations, and final revisions before the Board of Supervisors is presented with the information next June. 

A timetable with the details for the first phase of Albemarle’s zoning rewrite (Credit: The Berkley Group)

There are two public hearings on the regular agenda. The first was originally scheduled for the August 9 meeting but was postponed due to quorum issues. 

Verizon Wireless seeks a special use permit for a 142-foot cell tower adjacent to I-64 in Greenwood. That’s within the Greenwood-Afton Rural Historic District, a district on the National Register of Historic Places.

“Two large farms with historic resources, Mirador and Seven Oaks (Septenary Winery), are located nearby,” reads the staff report.

This is a separate application from one submitted for a tower on an adjacent property that was withdrawn and never went to public hearing. The tower’s potential visibility from the two historic properties is currently screened by vegetation. Hence, staff is recommending denial. 

A simulated view of the tower from a neighboring property (Credit: Network Building and Consulting)

In the second public hearing, the owners of the Clifton Inn seek a downzoning from Planned Residential District to Rural Areas for a 28 acre portion of 94 acres. 

They also seek to amend an existing special use permit to expand the number of guest rooms at the Clifton Inn from 14 to 50 and the number of guest rooms at Collina Farm from five to 16. This permit would also increase the number of seats in the restaurant from 52 to 100, allow new structures for events, and increase the number of events. 

The report states that staff cannot recommend approval in part because of the additional water use that would be required. 

“Currently, the Clifton Inn parcel is designated water to existing structures only,” reads the staff report. “All new structures at Clifton and Collina would be served by well and septic. Based on the number of structures proposed at Collina, a central system would need to be approved by the Board of Supervisors. That request has not been made at this time and well and septic are not fully designed.” 

The applicants say they have high demand for their services. 

“The inn, with its associated amenities has experienced concurrent success of the restaurant and special events on the property,” reads the application written by staff at the firm Shimp Engineering. “It has been difficult for Clifton Inn to meet the demand for its various hospitality services within the constraints of the existing special use permit and so Clifton Inn LLC respectfully requests an amendment to SP200200019 to accommodate an expansion of the historic inn operation.” 

In other meetings:

  • The Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority’s Board of Directors will meet virtually at 2:15 p.m. On the agenda is a presentation on wastewater operations as well as a report on the reservoirs. This is the final virtual meeting.  (meeting info) (agenda)
  • The Natural Heritage Committee will have a site visit of a wetland at Red Hill beginning at 4 p.m. (meeting info)
  • The Greene County Board of Supervisors meets in open session beginning at 6:30 p.m. in-person at the Administration Building in Stanardsville. On the agenda are two specific actions related to two specific tourist lodging requests. (agenda)

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

Albemarle Supervisors to begin process of creating next strategic plan at retreat

It’s about that time of year for the Albemarle Board of Supervisors to have another retreat to begin the process of updating the Strategic Plan. They will meet at the North Fork Research Park’s Room B at 994 Research Park Boulevard by the Charlottesville Regional Airport. This meeting is open to the public though it is unclear if there will be a livestream. (agenda)

“Strategic planning is used to set priorities and focus energy and resources to move organizations towards their vision,” reads Albemarle County’s page on strategic planning. “Albemarle County has used strategic planning for many years to inform policy development and financial decision-making and to achieve the community desires and values articulated in the County’s Comprehensive Plan.” 

The current strategic plan is for FY20 through FY23, with FY20 beginning three years ago on July 1, 2019. The plans usually run for three years, but one was extended due to the pandemic. The nine policy areas staff has been directed to work on have been:

  • Climate Action Planning
  • Continue to Expand and Promote the County’s Outdoor Recreational Parks and Amenities
  • Develop an Economic Development Program
  • School Space Needs
  • Infrastructure Planning
  • Revitalize Aging Urban Neighborhoods
  • Expand and Upgrade the General District Court and Circuit Court
  • Redevelop Rio / Route 29 Intersection Area
  • Expand Broadband

What will the next set of priorities be? The process of determining them begins at the retreat on Wednesday morning. The last process kicked off in early September 2018, and I wrote about that four years ago. For long-time observers of county policy, these discussions can be invaluable yardsticks to measure progress. As in the late summer of 2018, the process will be led by Kristy Shifflet, the county’s director of performance and strategic planning. 

In other meetings:

  • Charlottesville’s sole meeting this week is the Retirement Commission. They meet virtually at 8:30 a.m. (meeting info)
  • The Albemarle Broadband Authority will meet at 5 p.m. This is the last virtual meeting for this group. They’ll get an update on various projects funded through the Virginia Telecommunications Initiative as well as discuss a strategic plan for further work. (meeting info)
  • Albemarle County’s Fire EMS Board will meet at 6 p.m. This is the last virtual meeting for this group. (meeting info)
  • The Nelson County Planning Commission meets at 7 p.m. in the Nelson County Courthouse in Lovingston. They will have two public hearings. One is for a vacation house in an R-1 district and the other is for the creation of an Agricultural and Forestal District of 335.74 acres.
An image from an update on the Albemarle County Strategic Plan from October 2021 (view the update) (Credit: Albemarle County)

Thursday, August 25, 2022

Regional Transit Partnership to learn from Richmond-area transit planning

There’s a lot expected out of public transportation in the near and mid future as both Albemarle and Charlottesville continue to plan for and implement a more dense residential community. The Regional Transit Partnership is an non-binding group that is intended to be a clearinghouse for information. They meet at 4 p.m. in person at the Water Street headquarters of the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission. (agenda)

The first item on the agenda is a presentation from Chet Persons, the director of transportation at the Richmond Regional Transportation Planning Organization. That group completed a document called the Greater RVA Transit Vision Plan in February 2017 which can also be viewed as part of a StoryMap.

The exact purpose of Persons’ talk is not listed, but the Regional Transit Partnership has been overseeing the development of a Transit Vision Plan for this community. As part of that project, the consultants are recommending creation of a regional transportation authority which would have taxation powers to fund additional transit. Charlottesville Area Transit Director Garland Williams has said he would support such a move. 

They’ve offered a constrained plan which would assume an additional $19 million in annual revenues from as-yet unidentified sources of revenue. They’ve also developed an unconstrained plan with no financial limitations that would cost an additional $35 million. 

How to pay for it? Consultants are also about to work on a governance plan to determine how such an entity would work, though that work has not yet gotten underway. Public input is still being taken on the regional Transit Vision Plan, which is being conducted at the same time nearly every transit and pupil transportation agency is struggling to find drivers. The survey closes on September 15, 2022.

Places29-Rio group to discuss Albemarle public safety operations facility

If you look above, you’ll note one of the strategic priorities for Albemarle is to redevelop the area around the U.S. 29 / Rio Road intersection. Since the Albemarle Board of Supervisors adopted the Rio Road Small Area Plan in late 2018, several redeveloped properties have been automotive in nature, such as a car wash on Woodbrook Road, conversion of a fast food restaurant to a car dealership, and new life for the Goodwill as an autobody shop. 

The automotive theme continues now that Albemarle Supervisors have agreed to lease a portion of the former J.C. Penney’s to serve as a public safety operations facility. That will include maintenance bays for fire department and police vehicles. Lance Stewart, the county’s director of facilities and environmental services, will present this use to the Places29-Rio Community Advisory Committee at their virtual meeting which begins at 6 p.m. (meeting info)

Before that presentation, there will be a community meeting for a request from City Church for a multi-space addition. 

In other meetings:

  • The Solid Waste Alternatives Advisory Committee’s Operations Subcommittee will meet outside at the front courtyard of the Albemarle County Office Building on McIntire Road. They’ll “review recent work” and “align on goals for the near future.” (meeting info)
  • The Solid Waste Alternatives Advisory Committee’s Outreach Subcommittee will meet at 5:15 p.m. at the outdoor patio at Wegman’s. The topics on the agenda are “reducing plastics in the environment” and “recycling/composting education in schools” and “recycling/composting messaging.” (meeting info)

Saturday, August 27, 2022

The Fluvanna County Board of Supervisors will hold an annual planning retreat. According to the meeting info page, this will be televised on Zoom and on YouTube.

Sunday, August 28, 2022

In a very rare Sunday event, Nelson County and the Berkley Group have scheduled another public workshop on the Comprehensive Plan review. This will be held at the Nelson Center at 8445 Thomas Nelson Highway in Lovingston. (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.