Week Ahead for February 28, 2022: Standard Communities to make case for $23M in “exempt facility” bonds for Midway Manor; Smart Scale workshop planned for Monday

This is another strange week that takes place in two different months. No week is quiet in a community as dynamic as the metropolitan area that radiates out from Charlottesville. There’s always something interesting to know about before it happens at a government meeting. This newsletter intends to let you know of some of the things you might want to watch either live or in archive form. 

This week sees the arrival of a new player in the affordable housing space in Charlottesville. The area’s tourism panel takes a look at a rebounding economy. Candidates for transportation projects will be presented to the public.

And that’s all just Monday! Read below for the details, and please share this widely. 

There are no meetings in Louisa County or Nelson County this week. Charlottesville has a very light week and City Hall is closed all day due to Liberation and Freedom Day.

Thanks as always to the Piedmont Environmental Council for their support. They’ve really made it possible for me to do this research week and to present it to as wide an audience as possible. Go visit the PEC website and find out how they are marking their 50th year. 

Monday, February 28, 2022

CHRA to hold public hearing on $23M in bonds for Midway Manor redevelopment

In January, a California-based company purchased the Midway Manor apartment complex at the intersection of West Main, Water, and Ridge streets for $16.5 million. The Daily Progress published a legal notice earlier this month that indicated that the Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority would hold a public hearing on issuance of $23 million in bonds to redevelop and renovate Midway Manor and to preserve it as an age-restricted and affordable housing complex. 

That’s the first of two public hearings at the CRHA Board of Commissioners meeting tonight beginning at 6 p.m. (meeting info)

Standard Communities manages dozens of properties across the United States with market-rate units and income-restricted units, according to a presentation included in the CRHA packet.  There are many examples of how the company has expertise acquiring and maintaining Low-Income Housing Tax Credit properties. 

Some highlights: 

  • In 2020, they acquired a 300-unit Section 8 property in Charleston, South Carolina and sought to “upgrade the entire community without displacing residents.”  
  • In 2020, they entered into a public private partnership in Carson, California to “reposition a 150-unit market-rate property to middle-income “workforce housing.”
  • In 2017, they acquired an existing section 42 LIHTC property in Gainesville, Virginia.

The packet also includes a description of what Standard Communities hopes to do at Midway Manor if the CRHA can issue $23 million in bonds on their behalf.  The CRHA would play no other role according to an email I got from CRHA Executive Director John Sales last week.

“The applicant will use the bond proceeds to fund an extensive renovation and modernization of the property in conjunction with [the entity formerly known as Virginia Housing Development Authority and the federal Low Income Housing Tax Credit program,” reads the description. “Unit interiors will be upgraded, building systems will be modernized, and common areas will be revitalized. Existing amenity spaces will be updated so as to better support residents.”

The one-page description goes on to state the units would remain affordable for at least the next thirty years.  Take a look at the resolution to see the details, including the fact that City Council will have to approve the bonds as well. 

One of the case studies in the presentation Standard Communities will make to the CRHA Board of Commissioners (download the presentation) 

The second public hearing is for the Capital Fund program in the CRHA’s five-year action plan for FY22 through FY26. This projects how the CRHA intends to spend funds in the that time period, including $71,061 in the first year for job training programs. (read the plan)

In another resource for the meeting, the Public Housing Report for February states that the CRHA’s backlog of unpaid rent has grown to $119,226.10 as of February 24. There are no tenants left in Crescent Halls, which is under renovation. According to financial statements, that means CRHA is 13 percent under what the budget anticipates for tenant income. 

Regional transportation planners to hold Smart Scale briefing

Every two years, the Virginia Department of Transportation invites localities and planning districts to submit projects to apply for funding through a process called Smart Scale. All of the submissions are ranked and scored on a series of metrics including improving safety, easing congestion, and increasing economic development.

Localities can submit up to four projects, and the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission can submit up to four on behalf of its members. The Charlottesville-Albemarle Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) can also submit four.  

The TJPDC is holding a virtual meeting at 6 p.m. to discuss the candidate projects that have made their way this far. Here are the suggestions, the cost estimate, and the entity that will submit the application.  (register)

A graphic depicting the Smart Scale process for Round 5. Visit the TJPDC’s Smart Scale website to learn more about the candidates. 
First meeting of Charlottesville Albemarle Convention and Visitors Bureau under new board make-up 

Both the Albemarle Board of Supervisors and the Charlottesville City Council have agreed to modify the by-laws for the regional tourism body in order to allow more people from the industry to sit on the board. The Board of Directors for the Charlottesville Albemarle Convention and Visitors Bureau will meet at 2 p.m. (meeting info)

On the agenda is a presentation from the director of the Jefferson School African American Heritage Center as well as a presentation on the $1.73 million budget for fiscal year 2023. The CACVB receives funding from transient lodging taxes from both Albemarle and Charlottesville. 

In other meetings: 

  • Charlottesville’s Social Services Advisory Board will meet virtually at noon. There is no agenda at publication time. (meeting info)
  • The Board of Trustees of the Jefferson Madison Regional Library will meet at 3 p.m. (agenda)
  • Albemarle’s Historic Preservation Committee will meet virtually at 4:30 p.m. In addition to welcoming a new member, there will be a discussion of recent or pending demolitions. On Wednesday, the Board of Supervisors will recognize former member Jared Loewenstein. (meeting info)
The director’s report to the CACVB includes a look at hotel occupancy rates which have rebounded slightly since the pandemic are still below pre-pandemic levels 

Tuesday, March 1, 2022

Albemarle Planning Commission to review “two over two” apartment complex in Hollymead

The seven-member Albemarle Planning Commission will take up three land use applications at a virtual meeting that begins at 6 p.m. (meeting info)

The first is a request from the Greenbrier Emergency Animal Hospital to expand into other buildings on Greenbrier Drive. The Places29-Hydraulic Community Advisory Committee discussed this matter last week. (watch that meeting)

The second is a rezoning for land in Hollymead within the jurisdiction of the Places29-North Community Advisory Committee. Riverbend Development wants to convert 3.41 acres of undeveloped land at the intersection of Proffit Road and Worth Crossing from commercial to Planned Residential Development to build up to 102 units. That would be a gross density of 30 units per acre. 

“To address the housing crisis in the Albemarle Charlottesville region, new and innovative housing types are needed,” reads the narrative for the application. “High quality housing that is less land consumptive and convenient to a mix of uses should be provided to protect our rural and environmental resources while creating an opportunity for lifestyles that are less dependent on the automobile and more focused on the human experience and enjoyment of place.”

The conceptual lay-out for Maplewood (Credit: Riverbend Development)

The narrative says the Hollymead area has a lot of potential and the Maplewood community will utilize the “two over two” form of housing where one two-bedroom unit is stacked on top of another in a four-story building. 

“Like a townhouse unit, it is vertical in nature but defined enough to create a nice pedestrian-oriented scale of rhythm and detail, versus the larger scale of an apartment building,” the narrative continues. 

Riverbend has built some of these types of units as part of the Brookhill development that is currently under construction.

A conceptual drawing for what a “two over two” apartment complex might look like. 

The third public hearing is for an apartment complex that’s more familiar. Woodard Properties has requested to alter the classification of sloped land on a proportion of a nearly five acre property off of Ivy Road to allow for a 74-unit apartment complex. Disturbing hillsides can lead to sedimentation, so Albemarle and other communities regulate the process. In Albemarle, the rules were last updated in 2014. “Managed” slopes are one that were created by human activity and “preserved” slopes are those that require mitigation if earth is moved. 

This application is on land that predates the new slopes ordinance. 

“In the late 90s a site plan was approved for a 74-unit apartment complex and a land disturbance permit was issued in 1997,” reads the staff report. “Initial grading and utilities preparations were performed, and the development was later halted in 1998.”

This item had been scheduled for February 1 but was deferred until tonight.

The map from the applicant depicting the managed vs. preserved slopes
In other meetings: 
  • The Albemarle Board of Zoning Appeals meets at 2 p.m. There are a couple of appeals related to homestay operations in the county. (meeting info)
  • The Albemarle Board of Zoning Appeals meets at 2 p.m. There are a couple of appeals related to homestay operations in the county. (meeting info)
  • The Greene County Board of Supervisors will have a budget work session at 4:30 p.m. in the administration building in Stanardsville. People can also view the meeting remotely. (meeting info)
  • Charlottesville’s Tree Commission will meet at 5 p.m. and will debrief after a recent presentation of the State of the Forest report to City Council. (meeting info)

Wednesday, March 2, 2022

Albemarle Supervisors to be briefed on post-pandemic meetings, hold public hearing on $565M budget 

The Albemarle Board of Supervisors meets virtually beginning at 1 p.m. for an afternoon session and at 6 p.m. for an evening session. The entire agenda is here. (meeting info)

The afternoon session begins with proclamations for March being Red Cross Month and Women’s History Month. There’s also one for the Virginia Festival of the Book, which will return to an in-person event from March 16 to March 22. 

Next, Supervisors will be briefed on next steps in returning Albemarle County government to whatever happens after the local COVID emergency is over. 

“As part of this work session, staff will present an update on COVID-19 metrics, hybrid meeting logistics, and propose a tentative timeline to begin holding hybrid public meetings, for the Board of Supervisors and Planning Commission, as well as the School Board. A detailed timeline will be shared during the meeting,” reads the staff report for that discussion.

After that, School Board Chair Graham Paige will present an update on the school system, including the presentation of a $242 million budget request for FY23, which is a $30.8 million increase over the current year. The details are in a letter Paige has sent in advance.

Following that discussion, Supervisors will get an update on an upcoming renovation project at the Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail. They last got one in October and since then the project has been expedited. 

“Any future financing for this project will require formal support from all three participating jurisdictions along with an approved amendment to the ACRJ Service Agreement by all three parties,” reads the staff report. “Based on the current schedule, it is anticipated that the Board of Supervisors will be asked to consider these actions as soon as September 2022.”

In a worst case, the project has a $50 million price tag and the cost to Albemarle could be between $800,000 and $1.24 million a year in debt service for the project. 

There are several public hearings in the evening session, beginning with the budget. County Executive Jeffrey Richardson is proposing a $565 million budget for FY23 based on increases in the food and beverage tax and the transient lodging tax. Supervisors were presented with the document last Wednesday and the public has the chance to weigh in before the elected officials begin marking up the budget. 

See also: 

The other public hearings:

  • The second deals with an amendment of the budget for the current fiscal year to add $23.1 million. There are some big numbers in here and I want to study more before Wednesday. (staff report)
  • The third relates to the Virginia Community Development Block Grant program administered by the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development. Albemarle gets about $1.5 million from this source. Any entity who seeks this funding for projects is to appear at this public hearing and a second public hearing would follow before April 1 to consider projects. Last year, Habitat for Humanity of Greater Charlottesville received funding to build five single-family homes at Southwood as well as the Monacan Indian Nation Tribute Park. (staff report)
  • In the fourth, the Boys and Girls Club are seeking a special use permit to operate a community center at Albemarle’s Lambs Lane complex. (staff report)
  • In the fifth, public input is sought for Albemarle’s redistricting process. See also: Albemarle adopts expedited redistricting process (staff report)
  • In the final public hearing, comment is sought on a proposal to repeal Albemarle’s anti-panhandling ordinance, which is likely unconstitutional because it is patterned after a Henrico ordinance thrown out by the Virginia Supreme Court in 2015. (staff report)

As a member of the public, you can participate in all six of those public hearings from home should you choose to do so. The barrier to participation will never be lower than it is right now. 

On the consent agenda there is a resolution to authorize a public hearing on another change to the county ordinance related to “regulated enterprises.” In particular, there are tweaks to the regulation of companies that provide alarm systems as well as the elimination of “dance halls” and bingo from the code. Local regulation against dealers in precious metals would conform to state code and local regulation of taxicabs would be eliminated. (staff report)

The other item on the consent agenda is the financial report for the second quarter of the current fiscal year. (staff report)

Cville Plans Together steering committee to meet

Three years ago, the Charlottesville City Council opted to hit pause on a Comprehensive Plan update process that had stalled because members of the city’s Planning Commission disagreed on the intensity of density that should be in the plan. My story on that features this quote. (Council moves forward with long-range planning package, February 5, 2019) 

“The acute need is to get the Comprehensive Plan finished and to have an integrated affordable housing strategy within that Comprehensive Plan and then to roll immediately into the rezoning citywide,” said City Councilor Kathy Galvin.

Later that year, Rhodeside & Harwell was hired to perform all three tasks and the process has become known as Cville Plans Together. Council adopted a housing plan in March and an updated Comprehensive Plan in November. Now Rhodeside & Harwell is working with staff in the Department of Neighborhood Development services on the zoning rewrite. The Steering Committee that has been overseeing the Cville Plans Together process will meet for the first time in 2022 at 5 p.m. Who is on the committee? Take a look at the list

Registration for the meeting is required. (registration info)

For an ongoing background, read the Land Use Charlottesville topic on Information Charlottesville. This is a topic I’ve been following closely for nearly 15 years. My hope is to be here for the next 15 to see how it all turns out. 

In other meetings: 
  • A subcommittee of Charlottesville’s CSA Program will meet virtually at 2 p.m. (meeting info)
  • The Fluvanna Board of Supervisors will meet at 5 p.m. in person at the Carysbrook Performing Arts Center in Fork Union. On the agenda is a presentation on how revenue from the cigarette tax will go to tobacco use prevention efforts. The main item is a budget work session. (agenda packet)

Thursday, March 3, 2022

UVA Board of Visitors to meet

Today is the first business day for March meeting of the University of Virginia’s Board of Visitors.  There are multiple committees, including one that covers Buildings and Grounds. The agenda for that meeting at 2 p.m. has not been posted yet, but it will be a key source of information for what is happening. (BOV schedule)

In other meetings: 
  • The Albemarle Board of Supervisors have an “adjourned meeting” at 10 a.m. but there is no agenda or closed meeting citation posted at publication time. In recent weeks there  have been several closed meetings about hiring a new county attorney. (meeting info)
  • The Albemarle Natural Heritage Committee’s Education Work Group meeting will meet virtually at 4:20 p.m. (meeting info)
  • The full Natural Heritage Committee will meet virtually at 5:30 p.m. (meeting info)
  • The Albemarle School Board will hold a public hearing on its budget request. The open session portion of the meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. (meeting info)
  • The Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission’s Board of Directors meets at 7 p.m. On the agenda is a public hearing for an amendment to the Solid Waste Plan, an update on the Hazard Mitigation Plan, and a presentation on how the American Rescue Plan Act is affecting the federal HOME program. The solid waste plan has to be updated to accommodate the industrial landfill Dominion Energy is building at Bremo Power Station for coal ash. (TJPDC meeting page)

Friday, March 4, 2022

At noon, Albemarle County will provide an update on broadband projects being funded through the Virginia Telecommunication Initiative. (meeting info)

What did I miss? I always miss something.

Any questions? Please let me know! I’m here to help!

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.