Week Ahead for February 14, 2022: Albemarle Supervisors to take up developer incentives for affordable housing

Love of local and regional government is in the air, or at least in my heart. Each week I’m blessed to be able to take a look at what’s coming up on the agendas of local meetings with the goal of explaining the various subjects. At some point, I may have been hit with the wrong kind of arrow. 

It’s a busy week, but the theme this time around is clearly housing. 

  • The Fluvanna Board of Supervisors will be asked by a Roanoke group to allow more density at Village Oaks to allow for 120 age-restricted units for seniors. 
  • The Regional Housing Partnership will have a discussion on the role faith-based organizations can play in building more units. 
  • The Albemarle Planning Commission will consider a rezoning for 110 units on Route 240 in Crozet. 
  • Albemarle Supervisors will be asked to weigh in on potential incentives to encourage developers to build units that would be sold or rented below market. 
  • A developer will seek permission to convert a hotel turned apartment complex back into a hotel. 

But that’s just part of it. 

Thanks as always to the Piedmont Environmental Council for their support of the research that goes into this newsletter. There’s a lot happening in the community, and it’s my job to let as many of you know what’s coming up so you know before it happens. 

Monday, February 14, 2022

Louisa Supervisors to consider incentive for fire and EMS volunteers

The seven-member Louisa Board of Supervisors begins their day with a budget work session at 3 p.m. to be held in-person at the Louisa County Public Meeting Room. There are no advance materials on their website for that portion, but there is an agenda packet for the rest.

At 6 p.m. the regular meeting begins. There are four items listed for discussion. They are:

  • A discussion of amending the ordinance related to dogs running at large to specify this does not apply to hunting dogs 
  • A discussion of short term rentals following a series of concerns from some county residents
  • A status update from the James River Water Authority
  • An update on redistricting. 

Under new business, there’s a resolution to authorize an incentive plan for volunteers with Louisa County Fire and EMS. After 288 duty hours, a person would be eligible for $595. After 144 hours, that figure would be $300. Those in leadership positions would get $175. 

There are no public hearings. For more information on Louisa, always check out Engage Louisa by Tammy Purcell. 

In other meetings today: 
  • The Albemarle County Board of Supervisors will hold a closed session at 10 a.m. Will it be related to hiring a new county attorney? Or something else? Reasons to allow an elected or appointed body to go into a closed meeting are in Virginia code if you want to take a look. There is not a reason specified. 
  • The Fluvanna County Economic Development Authority meets in-person at 5 p.m. at the Morris Room of the County Administration Building. There’s no agenda posted on the Fluvanna meetings page, but there is a Zoom link for the meetingOr watch live on YouTube

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Albemarle PC to review 110-unit Old Dominion Village in Crozet

Crozet is one of Albemarle’s designated growth areas. Last year, the Crozet Master Plan was updated with a new land use designation of Middle Density Residential which allows between six to 12 units per acre with high provisions if below-market housing is to be part of the development.

The Albemarle Planning Commission will have a public hearing tonight for a rezoning on 23.68 acres on the north side of Route 240 across from the Acme Visible Records site. Part of the land for the Old Dominion Village development contains this new category, and some parts at the less intense Neighborhood Density Residential. The meeting begins at 6 p.m. (meeting info)

The developer seeks a rezoning to the Neighborhood Model District for a project that would be built around an existing veterinary clinic. 

“After practicing for 40 years, the parcel owner, Dr. Martin Schulman leases the hospital building to the Old Dominion Animal Hospital – Crozet, a sister hospital to Old Dominion Animal Hospital on Preston Avenue in Charlottesville also in operation since 1982,” reads the narrative for the application. “Dr. Schulman has decided that combining the two parcels and developing them into a mixed-use neighborhood while keeping the veterinary care center as a commercial component would be beneficial to the Crozet Community.” 

The developer has stated 20 of the units will be built under the county’s affordability guidelines. They’ll also contribute $283,000 in cash proffers “to help mitigate impacts of the development on schools and transportation.” 

The Planning Commission will have a second public hearing on a request from the Central Virginia Electric Cooperative to upgrade an electrical substation at Cash’s Corner. (staff report)

Permission sought to convert 14th Street apartments to a hotel 

One of the items on the agenda for the Charlottesville Board of Architectural Review is a request for the panel’s recommendation on a plan to convert an apartment building at 207 14th Street into a hotel. This would restore the 1964 structure’s original use, but only if Council agrees to a special use permit. 

“The BAR’s recommendation is not a function of how the site will be used or occupied, but an evaluation of the requested [special use permit] relative to the criteria within the Architectural Design Control Design Guidelines,” reads the staff report. 

Developer Bill Chapman has previously converted apartments on Jefferson Park Avenue into the Oakhurst Inn, which was technically approved in the late 2000’s as a large bed and breakfast complex. This new hotel would have 19 rooms, one residential apartment, and a small office. 

Proposed before and after drawing for the proposed hotel 

Another big item on the BAR’s agenda is a review of the renovations of and additions to the Levy Opera House and its annex to be the joint General District Court for both Albemarle and Charlottesville. 

Two proposed new residential buildings in ADC districts are also before the BAR. One is for new construction on Preston Place in the Venable neighborhood. The other is for new construction to be built in front of 1307 Wertland Street, a historic structure. 

The BAR meeting begins virtually at 5 p.m. (meeting info)

The BAR will discuss the massing for a proposed new residential building on Wertland Street to be built next to a home constructed in the early 19th century by the Wertenbakers. 
Public forum for Lambs Lane Campus

Albemarle County Public Schools (ACPS) are working to develop a master plan for their space on Lambs Lane. That currently includes Albemarle High, Jack Jouett Middle School, Greer Elementary School, Ivy Creek School, and school administrative functions for transportation and building services. A future Boys and Girls Club is in development. 

“Currently there are no sidewalks at the Lambs Lane area,” reads a press release for a virtual community forum that will be held at 6:30 p.m. (register)

ACPS has hired the DLR Group to conduct a master plan.

In other meetings:
  • The Nelson County Board of Supervisors will have a work session on redistricting beginning at 9 a.m. followed by a closed meeting. Unlike Albemarle, Nelson states the section of code for which the closed meeting will be held.  (§ 2.2-3711 (A)(7) (agenda)
  • Albemarle County will hold another in-person pop-up for the Comprehensive Plan review that is now publicly underway. This one takes place at noon and will be held at the Crossroad Corner Shops in North Garden. (meeting info)
  • The Emergency Communications Center’s Management Board will have its regular virtual meeting. (meeting info)
  • The Charlottesville Parking Advisory Panel meets virtually at 3:30 p.m. Item #4 on the agenda states “explain proposed monthly parker rate increase.” (meeting info)
  • Albemarle’s Economic Development Authority meets virtually at 4 p.m. (meeting materials) (meeting info)
  • The Charlottesville Sister Cities Commission meets virtually at 4:30 p.m. (meeting info)
  • The Greene Emergency Services Advisory Board meets in person at the Greene Administration Building beginning at 6 p.m. (agenda)

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Albemarle Supervisors to follow up on Housing Albemarle’s loose ends

Last July, the Albemarle Board of Supervisors updated the county’s housing policies with an eye toward increasing the production of units that are intentionally sold to households or individuals whose incomes are below 80 percent of the area median income. Housing Albemarle has 12 goals ranging from “increasing the housing supply” to promoting “healthy, sustainable communities and housing.” 

A strategy in the first objective raised the expectations for new developments by increasing the required number of “affordable” units from 15 percent to 20 percent. A home is considered affordable if the rent or mortgage is no more than 30 percent of household income, including utilities. A household is considered “cost burdened” if they’re paying over that. The area median income in Albemarle is $92,900, a number skewed by the number of very affluent people who live in the community. 

Another objective in Housing Albemarle is an extension of the time these units are required to be kept below market rate. Yet another is a desire to to require homes below 60 percent of the area median income. 

However, the plan was adopted before a package of incentives for developers to provide these units was ready. That comes back to the Board of Supervisors for a work session that’s the first item of business on their agenda this Wednesday. The meeting itself begins at 1 p.m. (agenda)

“Staff met with members of the development community four times between June and October 2021 to discuss the components of an incentives package to support the provision of affordable dwelling units, and developers’ efforts to meet the County’s affordable housing goals as outlined in the new housing policy,” reads the staff report.

Now four incentives are being proposed:

  • Bonus densities for affordable housing
  • Waivers or reductions in development standards
  • Waivers or reductions in development fees
  • Waivers or reductions in parking standards

This would only apply to the designated growth areas. This is only a work session. The staff report notes that there would be an impact on the budget, as fees cover a portion of the funding of the Department of Community Development. 

A second work session will examine the potential of expanding the county’s tax relief programs. Property assessments increased an average of 8.32 percent for 2022.

“The County has authority, under State Code, to modify the current tax relief/exemption program offerings and as such, staff will provide programmatic details on implementing a Surviving Spouses of Persons Killed in the Line of Duty real estate tax exemption program,” reads that staff report. “Further, staff will review opportunities to expand the real estate tax relief for the elderly and disabled by increasing the income and financial net worth limits.” 

A sample of some of the draft ideas for incentives 

In the evening session, there are three public hearings. One is a special use permit request for an auto body shop to operate on U.S. 29 at the site of a former Goodwill store. The second is a technical amendment to Albemarle’s subdivision ordinance related to maintenance of private improvements. The third is an update of the operating agreement for the Charlottesville Albemarle Convention Visitors Bureau to reduce the number of elected officials on the entity’s board of directors. 

The consent agenda has a few notable items. 

  • Supervisors will vote to hold a public hearing on an amendment to the county’s solid waste ordinance to define “clutter” and to prohibit it from being stored or accumulated on a property in public view. (staff report)
  • Supervisors will ask for a waiver from the State Board of Elections to allow a split precinct to accommodate the small sliver of the 7th Congressional District that is within Albemarle County. The sliver has a Twitter account. (staff report

Small Sliver of Albemarle @SmallSliverAwesome, poor one out for the rest of Albemarle stuck in the 5th Trystan @ElemmiirHey, @SmallSliver —it’s you! https://t.co/s1MtHRSmuvJanuary 29th 202227 Likes

  • Supervisors will formally adopt agreements for Smart Scale projects approved by the Commonwealth Transportation Board last year. Albemarle put up $7 million in local funds to help bring down nearly $25.9 million for four projects. (staff report)
  • The developer of Old Trail in Crozet seeks a reduction in the minimum lot size from 8,000 square feet to 4,000 square feet in order to build smaller units that might have lower prices. (staff report)
  • The developer of the proposed WaWa on Greenbrier Drive seeks a special exception to allow an access aisle to be above 10 percent grade to accommodate the existing topography. (staff report)
  • The Virginia Department of Transportation has its monthly report for Albemarle County
Fluvanna BOS to consider additional residential density at Village Oaks 

The five-member Board of Supervisors meets in-person at 5 p.m. for a budget discussion with Fluvanna County Schools. The regular meeting begins at 7 p.m. Both are at the Carysbrook Performing Arts Center in Fork Union. (agenda packet)

In the first of three public hearings, Dominion Energy is seeking a special use permit to build an electrical substation on land zoned for agricultural use on Ruritan Lake Road. If granted, the Grape Vine switching station would be used by the Central Virginia Electric Cooperative. 

“The new switching station is needed since the 12.6 miles of 115KV line was constructed in the 1930s on H-frame structures and is at its end of service life,” reads the staff report on page 8 of the packet. 

The Planning Commission voted 3 to 1 in January to recommend the permit be approved, with one abstention. 

Materials on page 27 of the meeting packet

In the second public hearing, the Board will consider a request for a special use permit from the Virginia United Methodist Housing Development Corporation. That is a Roanoke-based group that seeks “to serve low to moderate income persons in Virginia by developing, owning, operating and sustaining quality affordable housing communities.” 

“The majority of our properties are located in smaller cities and towns in rural or semi-rural locales,” reads the narrative submitted as part of their application. “For the proposed site in Fluvanna County, we intend to set a new standard among our properties for resident amenities and supportive services.” 

The staff report for this item begins on page 39 of the packet. The request is for additional density on around six acres of land on Lake Monticello Road zoned R-3. The permit would allow for an additional 50 units at Village Oaks, for a total of 120. 

“Fluvanna County needs to gradually diversify the housing types that are offered beyond the 97 percent two-story single family dwellings and it needs to offer up fixed route transit (JAUNT) shuttle van service to Charlottesville and to similar local medical, dental and shopping center destinations,” reads the staff report. 

However, both the Sheriff’s Office and Lake Monticello Fire Rescue have concerns about the additional calls for service that would be generated by the use. 

“The new resident population will be 55+ and some could be mobility challenged,” reads a section of the staff report written by public safety officials. “Escape, even in small fire situations and/or smoke conditions, it will be severely compromised, and the rescue potential is great, and we must limit these circumstances.” 

The property had been rezoned to R-3 by Southern Development for a mixed-use project that was never built. The location for Village Oaks had been slated to be an assisted living facility, which is a commercial use. The Lake Monticello Owners’ Association’s Board of Director opposes the additional density. 

“The LMOA Board would like Village Oaks to build the assisted living facility and medical offices as proposed,” reads a letter they’ve sent to Supervisors. “It understands that VUMHDC does not develop that type of property; however, there are certainly developers who do so.” 

The third public hearing is for Fluvanna’s use of nearly $2.65 million in revenue from the American Rescue Plan Act. (page 99)

Location for the proposed 120-unit senior living complex 
Greene PC to review economic development, tourism

The review of Greene County’s Comprehensive Plan has taken the form of a chapter-by-chapter look by the Planning Commission. They will have a hybrid meeting beginning at 6 p.m. in which they’ll review potential changes to the Economic Development and Tourism chapters. They have redline versions that make it easy to see what changes are being proposed. 

“In addition to commercial vitality, the Ruckersville area has potential for expansion of offices and professional employment,” reads suggested new language for the economic development chapter. “The Stanardsville area has lost a large portion of its former commercial base, as a result of fire, abandonment, and conversion to housing. This commercial base must be restored if the town is to have a critical mass of businesses to attract visitors/customers from other parts of Greene and beyond.”

Other new language includes the 2020 designation of Green as a defense production zone due its proximity to Rivanna Station. 

The tourism chapter explains how that industry is growing in the county due to Shenandoah National Park. 

“Recognizing that guests do not stop at county lines, the www.exploregreene.com website focuses on being a great place to get away and promotes many of the regional assets,” reads the chapter. 

If you’re interested in Ruckersville, do take a look at the minutes of the most recent meeting of the Ruckersville Advisory Council

In other meetings:

  • The AC44 pop-up tour continues with a visit at 1 p.m. to Wyant’s Store in White Hall. (meeting info)
  • There’s a site plan conference at 10 a.m. for Preston House, the name given to a new multifamily building proposed for 1117 Preston Avenue. There are no advance materials available and there is no way for the public to search land use applications in Charlottesville. Still, you can register for the event and take a look. (register)
  • The Charlottesville Housing Advisory Committee meets virtually at noon. The Affordable Housing Plan has recommended reform of this group. (meeting info) (register for Zoom)
  • Charlottesville’s Community Development Block Grant Task Force meets virtually at 4 p.m. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has taken Charlottesville to task for not spending some of this money fast enough to meet their deadlines. That’s not on the agenda, but I thought you might want to know. (meeting info)

Thursday, February 17, 2022

Official kick-off meeting for AC44 plan review

In some ways, the Comprehensive Plan process never stops in Albemarle with master plans and corridor studies underway at any given moment. But a review of the overall document to guide Albemarle’s future is underway and the official kick-off will be held in a virtual meeting beginning at 6 p.m. (meeting info)

“Staff will share information about the update process, future engagement opportunities, and how to apply to be a member of the AC44 Working Group,” reads the calendar item. 

See also: Albemarle County Comprehensive Plan review underway, February 7, 2022

Religious groups’ role in providing new housing? 

Remember back on Wednesday how the Fluvanna County Board of Supervisors heard a proposal from the Virginia United Methodist Housing Development Corporation for a special use permit for 120 units? 

Two of the principals involved with that project will speak to the Central Virginia Regional Housing Partnership at noon. Also speaking will be people involved with the project to build additional units at Hinton Avenue United Methodist Church as well as Park Street Christian Church. (register)

In other meetings: 
  • The Albemarle County Service Authority’s Board of Directors meets at 9 a.m. One item on the agenda is a review of the disconnection policy. That’s been on hold since the pandemic began and the ACSA has large arrearages. (register) (board packet)
  • The Charlottesville Board of Zoning Appeals meets at 4 p.m. There’s no agenda published yet. (meeting info)
  • Charlottesville’s Human Rights Commission meets at 6:30 p.m. There’s no agenda available for this meeting yet, either. (meeting info)
  • The Albemarle School Board meets at 6:30 p.m. There’s no agenda yet, but Superintendent Matt Haas is expected to present his budget request to the Board. (meeting info)

Friday, February 18, 2022

In the only meeting today: 
  • The AC44 pop-ups continue with a stop at Hydraulic Wash at 2405 Hydraulic Road. Maybe I’ll go to this one? Will you go to any of them? (meeting info)

I still have a sense I’m missing a meeting or two for this week. Will you let me know? What are you interested in having covered? Leave a message in the comments.

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.