Week Ahead for December 13, 2021: Albemarle Supervisors to vote on 328-unit Rio Point; Charlottesville PC to consider Piedmont Housing proposals

You might think this would be a slow time for government meetings, but this week certainly is not. Next week will also be relatively busy. The only real slow week all year is between Christmas and New Year’s, and it’s so close. 2022 will be another transformative year in an era of them. 

Until, there are all manner of business in the next several days, with a good mix of budgetary items as well as a number of housing items. Let’s take a look at what’s going on!

As always, thanks to the Piedmont Environmental Council for their continued sponsorship of this newsletter and all of the research that leads to community knowledge. 

Monday, December 13, 2021

A slow day in a busy week. Let’s go to the bulleted points: 

In the meetings:
  • The executive committee of Albemarle’s Fire EMS department will meet virtually at 4:30 p.m. The agenda sets aside time for a closed session and then they will discuss something called Lexipol. (meeting info)
  • Albemarle County’s Acquisition of Conservation Easement Committee meets virtually at 5 p.m. On the agenda is a discussion of changes to the ordinance for how candidate parcels will be scored in the future. One possible change is to set a minimum number of acres for eligibility in the program, as well as adding more weight to properties with “large forest blocks, habitat connectivity, and natural heritage resources.” (meeting info)
  • Fluvanna’s Economic Development Authority meets at 5 p.m, followed by the Economic Development and Tourism Advisory Committee. This will be held at the Lake Monticello Fire House at 10 Slice Road, Palmyra, Virginia. You can also tune in on Zoom.  I couldn’t find an agenda. 

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Greene Supervisors talk redistricting, will withdraw from Rapidan Service Authority

The Greene County Board of Supervisors meets in open session beginning at 6:30 p.m. in person. There’s a lot of business on the agenda. It’s their last meeting of the year. (meeting info)

Supervisors will be presented with options for redistricting, all of which include continuing a five-member Board. A helpful piece of information for anyone interested in Albemarle’s redistricting process is the Guide to Local Redistricting for 2021 from the Virginia Division of Legislative Services. 

According to this document, the Constitution of Virginia requires: 

  • That a county, city, or town must redistrict in 2021 if it elects any members of its governing body from districts;
  • That the districts must be drawn to comply with the one-person, one-vote standard
  • That the districts must be contiguous and compact; and
  • That any citizen of a locality can go to court to compel the governing body to redraw its district boundaries if the governing body fails to do so.

That answered my question about whether Charlottesville has to redistrict. It doesn’t because all five councilors are elected by Virginia. There is no Constitutional provision that requires the city to rethink how its legislative body is organized. 

Greene County has been going through a painful breakup with the Rapidan Service Authority, a government body that provides municipal water and sewer in portions of Greene, Madison and Orange counties. They’ll adopt a resolution amending the RSA’s Articles of Incorporation to reflect Greene’s withdrawal. (resolution)

Other items from the meeting include:

  • A monthly report from the Virginia Department of Transportation 
  • There was a state of emergency in Greene due to a COVID outbreak in the fire department from November 4 to November 25 (resolution)
  • There will be a public hearing to add a project to build a turn lane on U.S. 29 northbound north using VDOT’s secondary road funds.
  • In a third public hearing, Supervisors will be asked to rezone 172 acres currently designated as Senior Residential to Planned Unit Development. This would allow the 550 single-family homes and 50 townhomes at Woodpark to be open to all ages. (staff report)
  • Greene is being asked for $12,513 in start-up funds for the Blue Ridge Cigarette Tax Board (resolution)
  • Greene County’s Community Development Department clearly lays out what it has been up to in a regular report. This is not a capability Charlottesville has had for many years but perhaps under new management the public will get this kind of information. (resolution)
Charlottesville PC hearings on CIP and Piedmont Housing Alliance rezonings

The final Charlottesville Planning Commission meeting of the year has a full agenda with three public hearings. The packet is 168 pages long. The first is on the proposed Capital Improvement Program. They had a work session on the topic on November 23. For more information on the proposals, read my story. (meeting info)

In the second and third public hearings, Piedmont Housing Alliance will present their proposals for rezonings of two projects. In one, they seek a rezoning from R-1 to Planned Unit Development for 50 units on the property of the Park Street Christian Church. In the other, they’re seeking the same rezoning for up to 95 units on the property of the Monticello Area Community Action Agency (MACAA). There was a community meeting for these projects in August and you can read my story on that for more information.

Other items of note: 

  • The consent agenda has a final site plan for the Rugby Avenue shared use path and a site plan amendment for the first phase of South Street Phase 1. 
  • Cville Business Park in the 1200 block of Harris Street seeks a critical slopes waiver for the three building residential complex that will be developed there. 
  • The consent agenda also contains a resolution of intent for zoning text amendment to create the C.H. Brown Conservation District. The proposed district is 0.9 acres on 12th Street NW and covers five homes and a church. According to the staff report, they “represent a clustered example of the more than 70 local buildings attributed to Rev. Brown, who from the 1940s into the 1980s worked with the residents of predominantly African American neighborhoods to construct affordable homes and churches.”
Albemarle PC to review Avon Street rezoning

The Albemarle County Planning Commission meets virtually at 6 p.m. There are two public hearings and a presentation on the Rivanna River Corridor Plan. (meeting info)

In the first public hearing, representatives from Shimp Engineering will present on a rezoning request of 3.6 acres in the 1800 block of Avon Street Extended. The proposal is to convert the designation from R-1 to Planned Residential District to allow for an 85-unit neighborhood with a mix of duplexes, triplexes, and other multi-family structures. I’ll have a preview story in Tuesday’s CCE. Staff recommends approval. 

In the second public hearing, the Living Earth School seeks a special use permit to operate a summer camp off Pounding Creek Road with up to 160 day campers with 60 overnight. They also seek to hold the occasional “environmental-education programs for up to 150 attendees.”

Next, Commissioners will be presented on the Urban Rivanna River Corridor Plan that’s been developed by the Thomas Jefferson Planning District. There are many recommendations for environmental protection, recreational activities, and development and redevelopment. Have you read the plan? (the plan)

Location map for 1805 Street Extended (Credit: Shimp Engineering)

In other meetings: 

  • The Albemarle Police Citizens Advisory Committee meets virtually at 9 a.m. Topics include “Our Community Outreach to People of Color” and “What is the Neighborhood Model?” (meeting info)
  • The management board of the Emergency Communications Center will meet at 10 a.m. One item on the agenda is a cost allocation program for Albemarle County, one of the ECC’s three partners. (meeting info)
  • The Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority’s Board of Directors meets at 2:15 p.m. (packet) (Zoom info)
  • The Albemarle Economic Development Authority meets at 4 p.m. One item on the agenda is the refinancing of a bond for Westminster-Canterbury. (meeting info)
  • The Charlottesville Economic Development Authority meets at 4 p.m. On the agenda  is the presentation of the annual report, the annual audit, and election of a new chair and vice chair. (meeting info)
  • The Charlottesville Electoral Board meets in the City Hall Annex at 7 p.m. (meeting info)

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Big budget day in Albemarle 

The Albemarle Board of Supervisors meets for the final time in 2021 at 1 p.m. in a virtual meeting. (zoom registration)

In the afternoon, there are three key items related to Albemarle’s finances. The first is a presentation on the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report for FY21. The draft is posted for the public to review in full. The second is a presentation of the county’s property assessments for FY2022, which are coming out a month earlier this year. Take a look at the Frequently Asked Questions. . 

The third is a work session on the five-year financial plan. No advance materials are in place, but Allison Wrabel has coverage forthcoming in the Daily Progress on capital recommendations made by an advisory committee on Friday. (watch the video of the meeting)

The evening session that begins at 6 p.m. begins with a Year in Review that’s not available yet. Then there are two public hearings. The first is for a special use permit for the Educational Transformation Center to operate in a church on Earlysville Road on the banks of the South Fork Rivanna Reservoir. (staff report)

The second is for a rezoning for the project formerly known as Parkway Place. This year, Stony Point Design Development purchased the property and application for a 328-unit apartment complex originally developed by a different firm. The project was deferred after a public hearing in June 2020. 

“The company has determined to make as few changes to the Application Plan submitted by Kotarides as possible so that the entire review process since the original submission in June, 2019, (including numerous community meetings, planning sessions and public  meetings with the Planning Commission and with ARB, and a public hearing before the Board of Supervisors) need not be duplicated and remains applicable to this proposal,” reads the narrative in the new application plan.

Stony Point will dedicate 1.1 acres in the northeast corner of the property for a public park that would be used a trailhead for various pathways nearby. They’re also proffering a transit stop, as well as land and $750,000 for the roundabout that will be constructed at the intersection of the John Warner Parkway and Rio Road.  

On the consent agenda:

  • Adjustments in the employee contracts for the County Attorney and the County Executive.
  • Notification that the Planning Commission found that the Southern Convenience Center is consistent with the Albemarle County Comprehensive Plan.
  • Notification that another $670,000 from the county’s Housing Fund will go to the redevelopment of Southwood. That includes $170,000 for the county to hire a dedicated person to be a project manager for the project for two years. The previous county employee in that position now works for Williams Mullen as a land use planner. The $500,000 will go to match a state grant from the Virginia Brownfields Remediation and Economic Revitalization program. Habitat for Humanity of Greater Charlottesville has identified a total of 75 underground fuel tanks that must be replaced before the second phase can begin. This would leave a balance of $1.27 million. (staff report)
The illustrative exhibits have been updated to reflect the roundabout. Future road improvements were not as known in June 2020 (Credit: Timmons Group)
Fluvanna Supervisors to hold vote on redistricting 

If meeting importance is measured in terms of the number of pages in the packet, then this gathering of the Fluvanna Board of Supervisors will be quite the event. There are 665 pages. The five-member body meets at 7 p.m. One of the first items is recognition of the retirement of Supervisor Donald Weaver.  (meeting packet

There will be a public hearing on a move of the location of the Central Absentee Precinct from the town of Palmyra to the commercial area west of Lake Monticello. The Office of the Registrar recently moved there. According to the staff report, “moving the CAP reduces the time to respond, moves all equipment and supplies to one location, and overall improves efficiency.”

There’s a lot of seemingly mundane business on the agenda, but it adds up. Action is required to move forward with issuance of $5.23 million in debt for: athletic field lighting at Pleasant Grove Park; several fire trucks of all kinds; equipment for public works; three mowers; seven patrol vehicles for the Sheriff’s Department; and other county vehicles. What’s interesting is that the public gets a chance to see all of the banks that responded to a request for proposals for the loan to cover all of the above. 

Next, Supervisors will review the 2021 Annual Comprehensive Financial Report. Last week, Charlottesville City Council got the first look at a $5.5 million surplus. Albemarle Supervisors will have reviewed their annual report earlier today. This takes up 200 pages of the packet. In contrast, Charlottesville has not yet posted their report for public scrutiny, despite it being discussed in “public” at a virtual meeting. (it should be here)

After that, Supervisors will take a vote on redistricting of the county’s magisterial boundaries. Heather Michon reports in the Fluvanna Review that many who spoke at a December 1 public hearing would prefer a five-member district. There are scenarios to expand the number of districts to both six and seven, as well as keeping it at five. (begins on page 216 of the packet)

In other business: 

  • Supervisors will vote on whether to spend $149,715 on engineering to extend public water to areas near the Bremo Power Station whose wells will be affected by a new landfill in which Dominion wil deposit coal ash. (page 265)
  • Supervisors will vote on bonuses for eligible employees using CARES or ARPA funding (page 437)
  • Supervisors will make several appointments, including a citizen representative to the James River Water Authority. All of the information for the applicants is made public in advance of the vote in this packet, with emails and phone numbers redacted. (page 501)
Greene PC continues plan review, considers rural resort permit

The Greene Planning Commission meets in-person at 6 p.m. with a virtual option for viewers. (meeting info)

They’ll continue their chapter by chapter view of the Comprehensive Plan with a review of the Agriculture and Forestry chapter and the one on Natural Resources and the Environment. Both have suggestions for new language for key passages. The latter chapter would be amended to include more information about sources of water pollution, for instance. 

There’s also a public hearing for a special use permit to operate 114 tourist lodging units in a complex with a restaurant, a pool, a spa, and a meeting facility. This would be on nearly 100-acres of land on Mutton Hollow Road. Staff has recommended 33 conditions if the Sojourner Glamping project is to be approved. 

“We will build our high-end tented accommodations on raised wooden platforms to minimize overall impact and ground disturbance,” reads the narrative. “Inside, the accommodation units will feel more like a comfortable hotel room, and the property will offer amenities to in-house guests including a restaurant, pool, playground, and spa.”

The developers project $607,000 in revenues to the county in the first year, growing to $750,000 by year 10. They also state the project will generate 65 full-time jobs. 

The lay-out for Sojourner Glamping’s proposal for Greene County 

In other meetings: 

Thursday, December 16, 2021

Albemarle Business Campus wants a bigger building

Any rezoning can be amended and this frequently happens in large developments as aspirational plans are implemented. Supervisors approved the Albemarle Business Campus at the intersection of Fifth Street Extended and Old Lynchburg Road in October 2020. 

“A mixed use building with climate controlled self -storage and tenant spaces for restaurant and retail users is currently under construction and the final site plan for multi -family residences in Block 1 is under review by the County,” reads the narrative. “Blocks 3 and 4 can accommodate a variety of users and are primed for future office and retail development.” 

The request is to amend Block 2 to allow for a “building form that is typically desired by the biotech industry.” Specifically, they want to allow 25,000 more square feet of non-residential uses for a total of 125,000, fifteen feet of additional height to add another floor, and to allow building footprints to be more than 20,000 square feet. 

They also want to be able to build a parking structure.

In another meetings

  • The Places29-Rio Community Advisory Committee meets at 6 p.m. They’ll get a briefing on the Rio Road Corridor Study and its second phase. (meeting info)
Rendering of what the biotech bullding and

Friday, December 17, 2021

Closed door meeting

For years, top officials at the University of Virginia, Albemarle County, and the city of Charlottesville met in public at a forum called the Planning and Coordination Council. They opted in late 2019 to end that practice in favor of a closed-door forum where information is shared between the three entities. The minutes of the Land Use and Environmental Planning Committee contain links to the presentations, but there are no specific public records of what was said. 

The website does not state when these meetings happen, but the minutes do. According to November’s minutes, the next meeting is today at noon p.m. The public is not allowed to attend. 

In addition, the Virginia Supreme Court will hold a second public hearing from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on the proposed Congressional and legislative districts drawn by Special Masters. 

Phew! What a week it will be!

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.