I’m distracted by being on a working holiday, having driven my parents to a resort community 450 miles away from where I usually publish this newsletter. This week I’m slowing down and have not yet decided how many issues of the regular newsletter I will post. I may take the week off, but reporting is part of my pulse. It’s very difficult to not write when there’s so much information to sift through.
Whenever I go somewhere, I immediately look up the local government structure. At the moment, I’m learning about the eleven member Beaufort County Council. Tomorrow night they’ll take up a referendum for a sales tax increase that would pay to preserve land, as well as purchase of land for a permanent ferry to Daufuskie Island. I’m grateful I’ve had a career that’s trained me to look in this direction.
As you may know, I’ve launched a second newsletter called Fifth District Community Engagement to provide information about what’s happening at government meetings in the 24 localities across the Congressional district. There’s not a lot of analysis, but plenty of details that expand my knowledge of what’s happening and how the mechanisms work.
This week I’m distracted by a rare time away and trying to learn what I can about the powerful Dark Sky rules in place here to keep sea turtle hatchlings from running toward human civilization. I’m trying to figure out how much it costs to run a public works department that can design, build, and maintain the series of pedestrian and bicycle pathways. I’m always looking to see what new things I can learn as I continue on doing the work of trying to answer this overarching question: How do problems get solved?
I’m looking forward to getting back into a routine and finding new efficiencies for my work. The segments this week may be a bit more brief, but I do hope many of you will review as much of this as you can. Ask questions in the comments, or drop me a line. I just may not get back to you this week.
Monday, August 8, 2022
I swear it’s not the vacation talking. There’s just not much happening today. So, we’re going straight to the bullet points.
In the meetings:
- The Fluvanna County Economic Development Authority meets at 5 p.m. in the Morris Room in the County Administration Building at 132 Main Street. They’ll update the by-laws to allow for remote participation by members in limited circumstances. (meeting packet)
- The Fluvanna Economic Development and Tourism Advisory Council (EDTAC) meets immediately after the EDA in the came location. (meeting info)
- The Charlottesville Electoral Board will meet at the City Hall Annex at 5:30 p.m. The agenda states this will be a meeting of the reprecincting committee and I’ve never heard that word before. Unlike Danville and Lynchburg, Charlottesville doesn’t have wards for some of its Councilors, but the boundaries of the precincts shift from time to time. (meeting info)
Tuesday, August 9, 2022
Charlottesville PC to get update on zoning rewrite
The Charlottesville Planning Commission will meet in CitySpace at 5 p.m. for a pre-meeting followed by a regular meeting at 5:30 p.m. City Council usually joins them at 6 p.m. for a joint public hearing, but that’s not the case this time around. (meeting info)
There’s only one item on the agenda, and that’s an update on the Zoning Approach and Diagnostic report that’s being done as part of the Cville Plans Together initiative. There’s not much in the agenda packet, which is good because I want to keep this one short. But more information is on the way.
“Next week (week of the August 16th), we will have a report describing the inclusionary zoning proposal and an analysis of the potential real estate market response to new zoning based on the policies of the adopted Comprehensive Plan,” writes James Freas, the city’s director of Neighborhood Development Services.
There are answers to some questions Planning Commissioners asked since the last update in July as well as other clarifications. (read my story from the last update)
- The idea is to eliminate the Entrance Corridor Review Board and write rules into the zoning code that would give staff authority to make determinations
- The approval of critical slopes by City Council would be eliminated in favor of approvals by staff
- The calculation of building heights would be altered to allow more flexibility and height bonuses would be allowed for medium intensity and higher intensity residential districts, as well as for mixed-use nodes.
- Staff is considering eliminating parking requirements in General and Medium Intensity residential areas and the decision on whether to provide parking would be up to property owners rather than the zoning ordinance.
- Properties that redevelop with more than four units would be required to provide amenities
A final draft of the Zoning Diagnostic and Approach will go to the City Council and the Planning Commission at a meeting on September 27.
Nelson County to get an update on Comprehensive Plan, public hearing on kennel changes
The Nelson County Board of Supervisors meets at 2 p.m. at the General District Courtroom in Lovingston. The public hearings will happen at the 7 p.m. meeting. (packet)
In the afternoon session, there are two presentations. One is from the Virginia Department of Transportation and the other is from the Berkley Group on the Comprehensive Plan review that has gotten underway this summer.
“The Nelson 2042 website was published in mid-June,” reads a written update. “Since then, the site has gained over 100 subscribers and the Idea Wall has an active list of comments and ideas on a variety of topics.”
The results will be presented to the Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors at a meeting in September.
An online survey has had over 540 responses with 87 percent coming from county residents, and half are over the age of 65. The Berkley Group is also suggesting holding additional community engagement due to a lack of diversity at two of the three public workshops held to date.
Under new business, there will be further consideration of the naming of a railroad carrying Route 6 over the Norfolk Southern railroad line after the late Goffrey Edward Miles, who served more than 45 years with the Faber Volunteer Fire Department.
After that there will be an update from the interim county administrator. In the written report, we learn that the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission is considering applying for a Safe Streets for All grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation. An official request for Nelson County to participate will come before the Board at their September 13 meeting.
Before the evening meeting, Supervisors will go into a closed session at which potential litigation pertaining to the Region 2000 Services Authority.
In the evening meeting, there will be a public hearing on the definition of “kennel” and a proposal to require a special use permit for that use on agriculturally zoned land. The proposed new definition is:
“A place where the primary use is to house board, breed, handle, groom, train, or otherwise keep or care for dogs, cats or similar small animals for sale or in return for compensation. Kennels may include associated facilities necessary to support the operation including but not limited to office space, meeting space, and temporary lodging accommodations exclusive to those clients training with the animals.”
The Planning Commission recommended approval of the change at their July 27 meeting.
Albemarle PC to consider permit for 142-foot tall cell tower in Greenwood
There’s only one item on the agenda of the Albemarle Planning Commission. 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. (meeting info)
“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.
Greene Supervisors to consider water and sewer ordinance
The Greene County Board of Supervisors meets in closed session at 5:30 p.m. followed by an open session at 6:30 p.m. The meetings are held in the county meeting room in the administration building in Stanardsville. (meeting packet)
There are 18 items on the consent agenda, and many of them are appropriations of miscellaneous revenue. These range from $28 in private donations for the Visitor Center to $100,000 in American Rescue Plan Act funds for stormwater improvements for the Town of Stanardsville.
There’s also a need to appropriate $185,341 for various legal fees incurred in fiscal year 2022 associated with the county’s withdrawal from the Rapidan Service Authority.
There are three public hearings, and I’ll start with the third. To move forward with the creation of a new reservoir at White Run, the county needs to establish a Utilities Department to replace the functions that had been provided by the Rapidan Service Authority. This includes setting rates and setting regulations for new and existing services. There’s a lot of detail in the resolution.
The other public hearings are for:
- An amendment that would exempt public improvement projects from the noise ordinance
- An ordinance that would make it illegal to dispose of trash on public highways or on private property without a landowner’s permission
- The county’s purchasing manual would be updated
In other meetings:
- The Fluvanna County Social Services Board will meet for a preparation meeting at Wahoo Barbeque Restaurant at 10 Centre Court in Palmyra. (meeting info)
- The Fluvanna Parks and Recreation Advisory Board meets at 4:30 p.m (meeting info)
- The Fluvanna County Planning Commission meets at 7 p.m. They’ll take up the unfinished business of a rezoning from agricultural to business near Lake Monticello. Read about the deferral made at the July 21 meeting from Heather Michon in the Fluvanna Review. (meeting info)
Wednesday, August 10, 2022
Crozet CAC to get update on Downtown Crozet Initiative, master plan implementation
There’s an entire newspaper devoted to Crozet, and the Crozet Gazette is the best source for information coming out of western Albemarle County.
There’s an entire Community Advisory Council charged with weighing in on the Crozet Master Plan. An updated version of that document was adopted by the Board of Supervisors on a 5 to 1 vote on October 20, 2021. The CAC meets virtually, perhaps for the last time, at 7 p.m.
Before they review implementation of the adopted plan, they’ll get an update from the Downtown Crozet Initiative. That’s a public-private partnership that’s seeking to develop the former Barnes Lumberyard as a mixed-use development with public space.
In April, the Board of Supervisors agreed to spend $2.5 million to help with the public part of the partnership. I’m looking forward to the update.
Charlottesville to hold second 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 hold the second 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 another meeting:
- The James River Water Authority will meet at 9 a.m. in the Fluvanna County Library at 214 Commons Boulevard. The agenda is not posted at publication time. (meeting info)
Thursday, August 11, 2022
Louisa County Planning Commission to have five public hearings, one on a solar installation
The Louisa County Planning Commission will meet at 7 p.m. in the Louisa County Public Meeting Room. (meeting packet)
There are five public hearings:
- An applicant seeks a rezoning of nearly 19 acres from Resort Development to Agricultural for a family subdivision at the site of the Small Country Campground.
- An applicant seeks a rezoning request from C-2 to R-2 to allow for a special exception request for a minimum lot size reduction.
- An applicant seeks a request to exceed the maximum building heights in R-2 districts for a specific building on Lake Anna. The structure would 46 feet and 8 inches, above the 40 feet restriction.
- The Louisa County Industrial Development Authority is asking to rezone 61.749 acres from industrial to agricultural for land south of the Louisa County Airport.
- Turkey Solar LLC is seeking a conditional use permit for a 15.6 megawatt solar installation that will be connected to Dominion’s power grid. The property is two miles south of the Town of Gordonsville. The property was a turkey farm until the pandemic when those operations ceased. The LLC is associated with Pinegate Renewables.
In other meetings:
- The Albemarle Solid Waste Alternatives Advisory Committee will meet virtually at 4 p.m. Neither the agenda nor the minutes from last month’s meeting are available at publication time. (meeting info)
- The Albemarle Conservation Easement Authority will meet virtually at 4:45 p.m. They’ll consider two applications, one donation, and a remote participation policy. (meeting info)
- The Places29 North Community Advisory Committee meeting has been canceled. I recently spent a week in the Hollymead area and it’s changed a lot in the 20 years since I moved to this community and lived on Pritchett Lane on a house that’s now been torn down to make way for the North Pointe development. I’d like to spend more time up that way, and look forward to seeing how all the pieces come together. Or don’t. Either way, tracking the details are what matters to me. (meeting info)
Friday, August 12, 2022
Only one meeting today.
The Charlottesville Historic Resources Committee meets virtually at 11 a.m. The agenda looks the same as it has for many of the last several months. (registration)
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.