Week Ahead for August 23, 2021: Charlottesville PC to review two Piedmont Housing plans for Park Street; Nelson County PC to review Comprehensive Plan

On the face of it, the fourth and final full week of August seems to be a quiet one. Despite the heat, autumn is in the air and the sun fades earlier and earlier on the long march to the equinox. Public school is starting and Labor Day is two weeks away. Who wants to think about local government? I’m betting that you do, and welcome you to this installment of the Week Ahead newsletter. 

The work of local and regional governments continues whether you’re paying attention or not and my hope is to whet your appetite to get involved. This newsletter is predicated on the idea that our communities are better when more people know what’s happening. If this is your first time, you’ll find links to agendas and staff reports. My aim is to give clarity to what may be obscure. Please ask questions or add a comment!

Now, on to this week. Charlottesville Planning Commission will review two housing projects on Park Street put forth by the Piedmont Housing Alliance. The Nelson County Planning Commission will take up their Comprehensive Plan. There’s a meeting of various transit agencies, a topic of much interest to me. Fluvanna County and Louisa County both take the week off. 

This newsletter and the research that goes into it is sponsored by the Piedmont Environmental Council. I’m grateful for their support over the past 13 months and long may it continue!

Monday, August 23, 2021

Real estate firm to review sustainability of public housing stock

The Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority’s Board of Commissioners meets virtually at 6 p.m. There’s been a lot going on of late with water damage at Crescent Halls and a delay in building materials for the first phase of redevelopment at South First Street. The CRHA moves ahead. (agenda) (watch the July meeting)

On the agenda is a resolution to hire Northern Real Estate Urban Ventures to conduct a sustainability study of public housing properties at a cost of $229,960. That firm is also working with the University of Virginia on their initiative to build up to 1,500 below-market units in the area. (resolution) (April 30, 2021 story on UVA initiative)

There’s also a resolution to hire TurnKey Technologies to install a video surveillance system at a cost not to exceed $186,400. The CRHA Board of Commissioners voted to proceed with that plan at their meeting in July. (resolution)

In other meetings:

  • The Charlottesville Social Services Advisory Board meets virtually at noon. On the agenda is a discussion with the title “Overview of the Department’s Racial Awareness during Crises Workgroup.” (meeting info)
  • The Board of Trustees at the Jefferson Madison Regional Library meets virtually at 3 p.m.  (register)
  • The Albemarle County Historic Preservation Committee meets at 4:30 p.m. There are two discussion items including one on “How the County’s History is Celebrated and Commemorated” and another on a potential partnership with the Albemarle Charlottesville Historical Society on implementing the county’s historic marker project. A draft summary of the latter is included in the agenda. (meeting info)
  • The Pantops Community Advisory Committee will meet at 6:15 p.m. They’ll elect new officers and get an update on projects under review by staff in the Department of Community Development. There will also be a discussion on how the county is using American Rescue Plan funding.  (meeting info)

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Charlottesville PC to get first look at two Park Street housing projects

The Piedmont Housing Alliance is working on multiple projects across the region, including the redevelopment of Friendship Court, a portion of the 140-unit Premier Circle project, over 100 new apartment units at Southwood, and many more.

At a work session beginning at 5 p.m. the Charlottesville Planning Commission will review two new projects being led by Piedmont Housing Alliance, both of which are located on Park Street a few blocks north of the U.S. 250 bypass. (meeting info)

The first is at Park Street Christian Church where Piedmont Housing, BRW Architects, the Timmons Group, and the church are seeking a rezoning to planned unit development to allow two buildings to be constructed on what is now empty space. These buildings would include 50 apartments restricted to seniors, with 54 parking spaces. Piedmont Housing will seek Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) for the project. 

“PSCC has partnered with Piedmont Housing Alliance to pursue a concept of infill affordable senior housing, which includes a mix of bedroom unit types in two affordable rental multifamily buildings grouped below the Church buildings along Park Street to create a connected and cohesive interwoven development plan,” reads the project narrative. “Piedmont Housing Alliance is the primary developer and applicant for the PUD rezoning.” 

The current Future Land Use Map calls for density residential and the current zoning is R-1. In this case, the development team wants the answers to six questions. The first asks whether the “Planned Unit Development” zoning category is appropriate, or whether R-3 would be the way to go. 

Neighborhood context for the “Elderly Affordable Housing on Park Street Christian Church Property”

In the second preliminary discussion, the Piedmont Housing Alliance is working with Habitat for Humanity of Greater Charlottesville and the Monticello Area Community Action Agency (MACAA) to redevelop the latter’s property in the 1000 block of Park Street. As with the above project, the applicants are seeking a rezoning to Planned Unit Development on R-1 land that the current Comprehensive Plan designated as low-intensity residential.

“The applicants are proposing a rezoning to PUD to accommodate a plan for a mix of apartments, townhomes and duplexes, non-residential childcare space, and 147 parking space,” reads the staff report from city planner Dannan O’Connell. 

City Council denied a previous rezoning for this project in late 2017 when MACAA was partnering with an out-of-town company that builds assisted living facilities. (Charlottesville Tomorrow story from then)

This time around, the project consists of 65 apartment units, 20 townhouses, eight duplexes, and two existing homes. MACAA would get a new 4,700 square foot area for its programming. 

As with the other application, there are questions for the Planning Commission. Feedback will be incorporated into the official application for the rezoning.

General layout for the MACAA project. Consult the packet for the rest.

Albemarle PC to review day camp expansion near Batesville, stream health initiatives

The Albemarle County Planning Commission meets at 6 p.m. after taking two weeks off. There are two items on the agenda. (meeting info)

The first is a public hearing on a request from the Living Earth School to expand an existing day camp near Batesville from 10 participants to 50, and expansion of the duration of its operations from 30 to 45 days. That will take amendment of an existing special use permit and a public hearing. 

“For eighteen years, [the Living Earth School] rented the Girl Scout Camp in Sugar Hollow but it is no longer available and they are seeking a long-term site,” reads the project narrative.

A community meeting was held on April 27 if you want to go back and watch. The Nature Conservancy holds a conservation easement on the property, but have sent a letter supporting the use. (staff report)

The second item is a presentation on the second phase of Albemarle County’s Stream Health Initiative. In 2017, the Board directed staff to find ways to improve water quality in county waterways. The first phase dealt with strategies in the development area. The second is to create strategies for the rural area and the current drafts are divided into three categories.

The first categorical section related to creating new regulations or revising existing ones. One possibility is the reestablishment of rules to require 100 feet buffers of any waterway. The second section covers incentives for landowners, including creation of a stream health improvement fund. The third section deals with monitoring, education, and partnerships. (staff report)

Location of the proposed day camp for the Living Earth School

Greene Supervisors to consider broadband expansion, get update on reservoir project

The Greene County Board of Supervisors meets in open session at 6:30 p.m. in-person though people can still view the video on the county’s website. (agenda)

There will be an update on Greene’s participation in a public-private partnership known as the Regional Internet Service Expansion (RISE) project, followed by a vote on whether to commit American Rescue Plan Act funding to the endeavor. 

There will also be an update on Greene’s efforts to withdraw from the Rapidan Service Authority in order to build a reservoir the regional body doesn’t want. They’ll also review a policy that allows community members to give audio/visual presentations as part of their public comment. (draft policy)

RWSA Board to consider alternatives for new Beaver Creek intake

The Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority’s Board of Directors will meet at 2:15 p.m. If you have ever wanted to know how the municipal water and wastewater system works, there will be a presentation from the RWSA director of operations. There will also be a review of alternate locations for a raw water intake at Beaver Creek Reservoir for Crozet’s water supply. On the consent agenda is a report on drought monitoring efforts. (agenda packet)

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Nelson Planning Commission to discuss Comprehensive Plan, zoning 

A small blurb about what could be a big meeting. The Nelson County Planning Commission will meet in-person at 7 p.m. They’ll have a discussion on the zoning ordinance and the Comprehensive Plan. The current plan was adopted in October 2002 when the county had around 14,500 residents.  Since then, population growth has remained flat with only another 500 or so residents since then. What is the future of Nelson County? This might be one worth attending in person to find out what members of its Planning Commission think. (agenda) (Nelson County plan)

In other meetings: 

  • The Charlottesville Retirement Commission meets at 8:30 a.m. (meeting info)
  • The Albemarle County Broadband Authority meets virtually at 5 p.m. They’ll get updates on projects applied for under the Virginia Telecommunications Initiative (VATI) and planning for the next round.  (meeting info)
  • The Fire EMS Board Meeting occurs virtually beginning at 6 p.m. In addition to a series of updates, they’ll take up several pieces of unfinished business including an update on whether paid firefighters can also volunteer. (meeting info)

Thursday, August 26, 2021

The Regional Transit Partnership will hold a virtual meeting at 4 p.m. This advisory group began meeting in 2017 at a time when interest in regional collaboration on public transportation resumed. Inertia toward a regional transit authority had faded in 2009 when the General Assembly did not pass legislation allowing the community to hold a referendum on a sales tax increase to pay for investment in new buses. The partnership will mark its fourth anniversary in October as a body operated by the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission. 

At this meeting there will be updates on what the various area providers are doing. Earlier this summer, Charlottesville Area Transit held two public meetings on proposed route changes, changes which still need formal approval by City Council. The University of Virginia Transit Service has recently altered some of its routes to prepare for the fall semester. Bus route between Staunton and Charlottesville will launch on September 1. (agenda)

There will also be an update on the Albemarle County transit expansion study as well as the transit vision plan that is underway. There were two community meetings for the former in late July. Here’s a story I wrote those meetings. Here are all the transit stories I’ve written this year

Church property eyed for tutoring

Albemarle’s Places29-Rio Community Advisory Committee meets virtually at 6 p.m. The agenda is not posted at publication time. (meeting info)

One item on the agenda is expected to be a community meeting for a special use permit request to use a portion of the Evergreen Church at 2001 Earlysville Road for a nonprofit to tutor at-risk high school students. A local brewery had filed plans to operate at the location, but the application was withdrawn and a new congregation was found. The use proposed requires a special use permit. (narrative)

A slide from the applicant’s narrative. The property is bounded on three sides by the South Fork Rivanna Reservoir

Friday, August 27, 2021

Nothing on the agenda that I know about. But we’re not done yet! There are rare weekend entries!

Saturday, August 28, 2021

Albemarle’s community engagement van, Let’s Talk Albemarle, will attend the Soul of C-Ville Festival. What is that project? From a blurb supplied by organizers to the county: (info)

From the organizers: “Celebrate Black excellence in Charlottesville at the first Soul of Cville Festival, a full afternoon and evening of music, dance, fashion, food and more. Enjoy performances by Jaquan Middleton & Friends, BCBA Dancers, LeeBangah, Sam the Beast from the East, and E&J Band. Grab a bite from local Black-owned restaurants and browse local vendors, African-American artwork and crafts, and community resources. Hosted with 101.3 Jamz, Black Women of Central Virginia, Chic & Classy Image Consulting, and presented in partnership with Vinegar Hill Magazine, Black Cville, The Scout Guide and Hampton by Hilton.”

Proof of COVID vaccination is required.

Sunday, August 29, 2021

The Let’s Talk van ventures to Walnut Creek Park for an appearance from noon to 4 p.m. at SEAS the Day. What’s that? (info)

From the organizers: “Our goal for this event was to provide a free, fun day for veterans, active duty, active/inactive reserve, and their families in Charlottesville and surrounding communities. We will have plenty of leisurely outdoor activities, including water activities, bounce house, games for children, demonstrations, ‘Touch the Truck’ display, and tables with information from organizations that support and provide opportunities to veterans…. There will be spin and fly-fishing instruction offered; and we encourage anyone wishing to fish, have valid licenses and their own fishing tools to cast a line, while at our event. You are also welcome to bring your own boats to the event, please bring appropriate PFDs. We have live music and local business items and gift cards in our raffles. The event will feature a picnic catered by Mission BBQ. We hope veterans and their families are as excited as we are to have this day of fun and appreciation for our local veterans!”

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.