Week Ahead for January 16, 2023: Charlottesville to review proposed precinct boundaries; Albemarle Supervisors to learn of microtransit progress

For two and a half years, Charlottesville Community Engagement has existed as a way for me to write about local and regional government and the decisions facing elected officials. Information Charlottesville exists as an archive of many of the segments. The point is to have a body of work that lets people know what’s happening, even if I know full well I can’t get around to everything.

This week, you’ll see there are a lot of links to stories I’ve already written. Sometimes these stories have more information than what’s in a staff report or what’s in the minutes. My goal is not to compete with the various governments to get out information. Instead, my goal is to make sure as many people as possible know what’s coming up and what’s happened. 

Some of the highlights this week: 

  • Charlottesville will discuss proposed new boundaries for voting precincts and will vote on a new project to address bike and pedestrian safety at Preston and Grady. 
  • Charlottesville Area Transit officials will brief Albemarle Supervisors on a proposed microtransit pilot intended to launch later this year.
  • Louisa Supervisors will take up a proposed resort at Lake Anna that is requesting an increase in the maximum height to 80 feet.
  • Fluvanna Supervisors will have rezonings for a warehouse project, an industrial distribution center, and an agricultural supply store. 
  • Nelson Supervisors will hold a joint meeting with the Planning Commission on the Comprehensive Plan update. 
  • Two transportation committees will get a lot of details about the latest in cost estimates and planning 

Thanks as always to The Piedmont Environmental Council for their continued sponsorship of this newsletter and the research that goes into it.

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Charlottesville to consider smaller-budget project at Preston & Grady, appoint new affordable housing committee members

The four remaining members of the Charlottesville City Council will meet at 4 p.m. on Tuesday for a work session followed by a regular session at 6:30 p.m. Sena Magill resigned effective January 11 and applications are being taken for someone to be appointed in February. (meeting info)

The 4 p.m. work session features two items. The first is a presentation on the work that the Central Virginia Housing Partnership has been doing since its creation. The partnership is a creation of the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission and there is a housing summit at the Omni on March 24. 

From their presentation, we again learn that the number of single-family detached homes sold in Charlottesville declined from 439 in 2021 to 397 in 2022, but the median sales price increased from $425,000 to $475,000. Single-family attached units such as those in townhouses declined from 82 in 2021 to 68 in 2022 with the median price increasing from $293,000 in 2021 to $328,000 in 2022. (paragraph edited soon after with correction) 

What’s the partnership doing about any of it? That’s not in the presentation, but here are three stories I wrote last year to get a sense of some of what they get up to:

A slide from the Regional Housing Partnership’s presentation, which appears to be taken for the Planning for Affordability regional housing plan. 

The second item at the work session is on the financing plan for the renovations at the Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail. The Nelson County Board of Supervisors got their update last week and I’m aiming to have an article on that out before Council meets. 

Incoming Police Chief Michael Kochis will be sworn in before Council goes into closed session. If you want to know more about him, I have a transcript from the press conference in December as well as a podcast

When Council returns from the break, they will appoint members of the new Charlottesville Housing Advisory Committee as well as the new Charlottesville Affordable Housing Fund Committee. The new governance structure was called for in the Affordable Housing Plan adopted in March 2021 and approved by Council on April 4, 2022. 

The new HAC will consist of:

  • John Sales, executive director of the Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority (term expires December 31, 2025)
  • Two representatives non-profit entities that construct or rent affordable housing units (one term expires December 31, 2023, one expires December 31, 2024)
  • Three real estate professionals (respective terms end in 2023, 2024, and 2025)
  • Two at-large community members (one term expires December 31, 2023, one expires December 31, 2024)
  • Three beneficiaries of affordable housing subsidies (respective terms end in 2023, 2024, and 2025)

The new CAHF Committee will consist of three at-large community members, three housing beneficiaries, and three members of City Staff. The city has not yet hired a housing coordinator to oversee the tens of millions of dollars that are to be spent over the next several years to implement the city’s housing goals. 

Additionally, the city has issued several requests for proposals for housing funding. Here’s my most recent story from January 4, 2023.

On the consent agenda:

  • There’s a set of minutes from the December 19, 2022 meeting. There are three paragraphs describing the reprecincting discussion at that work session. I’ll be writing up a narrative from that meeting in the next edition of Charlottesville Community Engagement. This was also the last meeting for former City Attorney Lisa Robertson. (minutes)
  • The second reading for the re-adoption of the Comprehensive Plan will be held. (staff report) (my story)
  • The second for the lease renewal for the McGuffey Arts Center. (staff report) (my story with audio)
  • The second reading for the appropriation of $192,453.98 in bonds from the developer of the Woodland Drive subdivision in Fry’s Spring. I had hoped to write about this when it was discussed the first time but I have not gotten around to it yet. There’s so much to write about in a community where there’s a lot of calls to build more houses. (staff report)

After the consent agenda there will be a report from Interim City Manager Michael C. Rogers. This time around it is the financial report for the second quarter of the current fiscal year.

“Current revised projections continue to indicate strong performance, and we are currently anticipating a modest revenue surplus of 2.39% or $5 million,” reads the staff report.

Keep in mind that property assessments will be mailed out at the end of January. After that, the projections will be adjusted to reflect the changes. Albemarle County’s assessments increased 13.46 percent this year. Will Charlottesville follow suit? If the CAAR data used in the Regional Housing Partnership’s presentation is any indication, another large increase could be likely. 

Next, re-precincting. As I said, I don’t have a story for this written yet but the staff report comes in handy. Virginia code requires Council to be notified if any of the voting precincts exceeds 4,000 voters.

“During the 2020 presidential election, one precinct (Johnson) had over 4,500 voters,” the staff report reads. “The General Registrar is required to bring a plan to Council to address the large number of voters at that precinct.

A reprecincting committee has recommended a plan where Tonsler Hall and Alumni Hall would no longer be a polling place. Instead, more voters will be shifted to the existing precinct that votes at Buford Middle School. New polling places would be created at Jackson Via Elementary School and Charlottesville High School. I hope to have a story with more details out by Tuesday morning. 

There will also be the first of two readings on a resolution to appropriate $500,106 in grant funds for improvements at 10th Street NW and Grady Avenue. Last year, Council canceled a Smart Scale project that had been funded there and the Commonwealth Transportation Board consented.

That information is not included in the staff report for this project, which is separate and comes from Virginia’s Highway Safety Improvement Program and Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Program. The application was approved by a previous City Council in September 2016. 

“New pedestrian curb ramps, sidewalk(s), median refuges, and revised pedestrian crossings will reduce pedestrian crossings widths, increase visibility of pedestrians, reduce pedestrian time within the roadway, and minimize out of distance pedestrian travel,” reads the staff report. “VDOT has granted the city $500,106 to start these improvements.” 

The Smart Scale project is not ancient history. One of the sitting Councilors voted to go forward with the successful application to secure $6.1 million in funding. However, Councilor Michael Payne voted against the project unlike Councilor Lloyd Snook. Travel back in time to July 2020 when I wrote one of the very first long-form stories for Charlottesville Community Engagement about this topic. (read the story)

The lack of mention of the canceled project from the staff report may have been done to establish more clarity. After all, July 2020 was several City Managers ago. Council canceled the Preston / Grady project as well as the West Main Street project last June. (read the story)

Finally, Council will get an in-person presentation from the Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority. (report)

A map of the proposed boundaries for Charlottesville’s voting precincts 

Louisa Supervisors to take up Lake Anna Resort project

The seven-member Louisa County Board of Supervisors will meet at 5 p.m. and immediately go into closed session as is their custom. They reconvene at 6 p.m. in open session. (agenda packet)

There are three items under new business. 

  • The first is the purchase of 2.58 acres of land from Lake Anna Environmental Services for $90,000 related to a wastewater treatment plant. 
  • The second is the Virginia Department of Transportation’s purchase of property from Louisa County on Zachary Taylor Highway for $65,000. The land will be used for a permanent drainage easement for a stormwater management facility for the roundabout proposed for Wares Crossroads. 
  • The third is an approval and reinstatement of a memorandum of understanding between Louisa County and LA Resort LLC related to the above purchase of the wastewater treatment plant. 
Location of the land to be sold to VDOT for a drainage easement related to a roundabout (Credit: VDOT)

There are two public hearings. The first is a resolution to alter the precinct boundaries related to the recent boundary line adjustment with Goochland County. 

The second is to approve a rezoning application for Lake Anna Resort for 15.277 acres from Commercial (C-2) to Planned Unit Development (PUD). The applicant is also seeking a conditional use permit for a maximum height of 80 feet. 

On October 13, 2022, the Planning Commission recommended approval of the rezoning but did not support the additional height. (read the story)

Supervisors had been scheduled to hear the application on December 5, 2022 but the matter was deferred. 

Conceptual overview of the proposed Lake Anna Resort development

Economic Development Authority to approve agreement for PS-Fertility 

The Albemarle County Economic Development Authority’s Board of Directors will meet at 4 p.m. (meeting info)

After the call to order, matters from the public, approval of the minutes, and the financial report, the EDA will hold the annual meeting. That means election of officers. 

Then the EDA Board will get an update on the Lewis & Clark Exploratory Center and an unpaid loan related to its construction. The Board met in closed session last March 2022 to consider the nonprofit’s request to have the loan forgiven. Read my previous story related to that discussion

The EDA will also consider the agreement related to the recent announcement by Governor Glenn Youngkin about PS-Fertility’s $1.4 million investment in office space at the Albemarle Business Campus. The deal is facilitated by the Virginia Jobs Investment Program. 

“VJIP has agreed to provide the Company with $800.00 for every new full-time job created by the Company that is filled for ninety (90) consecutive days,” reads the resolution.

That also requires an $800 match from the EDA.  

In other meetings:

  • The Technical Committee of the Metropolitan Planning Organization meets at 10 a.m. in the Water Street Center at 407 East Water Street. They will discuss “Safety Performance Targets,” a “Mobility Management Resolution of Support,” and an update on the long-range transportation plan. (meeting info)
  • The Albemarle County Department of Social Services Board will meet at 3:30 p.m. There is neither a location for the meeting of an agenda on the calendar item at publication time. The group’s website states that they meet at the Human Services County Office Building on 5th Street Extended. (meeting info)

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

CAT to brief Albemarle Supervisors on microtransit project 

The six-member Albemarle Board of Supervisors will meet at 1 p.m. for their second regular month of January. (agenda) (meeting info)

After the usual start to the meeting, the Supervisors will launch into a review of two special exceptions for one homestay in the White Hall District off of Stony Point Road. Specifically the applicant wants to be able to hire a resident manager rather than live on the premises, and they also want to allow the homestay use in a new accessory building. 

“The proposed structures for use as a homestay would include up to three ‘cabin’ style structures built with accommodations for impaired mobility and other disabilities, but the layout and design of the structures is not finalized,” reads the staff report.

An overhead view of the potential homestay off of Pea Ridge Road 

Next, Charlottesville Area Transit will brief the Board of Supervisors to implement the one-year pilot of a microtransit system that it will operate in both the U.S. 29 and Pantops areas. 

“The zones were determined through a previous study, the Albemarle County Transit Expansion Study, facilitated by the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission (TJPDC),” reads the staff report. “The first steps in the implementation are to conduct a feasibility study to confirm a preferred micro-transit operating model and to develop corresponding language for a request-for-proposal (RFP), planned to be issued in Spring 2023.”

The feasibility study is not complete but there are two different models for how such a system would work. The Board will also get an update in the spring to provide final direction before the service is set to begin. 

After that, there will be an update on the county’s efforts to fix a network of stormwater infrastructure in the urban mixes that is mostly on private property. 

“Over several years, staff has conducted field work, used contractors, and engaged in program design and analysis to assess the extent and condition of this infrastructure and to develop program cost projections, with a focus on the Development Areas,” reads the staff report.

It’s been since July 2019 that the Board of Supervisors got an update on this work.  Albemarle did not grow as a city, but now takes these things into consideration as it plans for the future of its urban areas.

A map from the nine-page summary of work from Albemarle County staff. (download the summary) (Credit: Albemarle County)

Albemarle to hold public hearing on fraud reporting system

There are five public hearings in the evening session at 6 p.m. The first is on the creation of a position in county government to investigate fraud, waste, and abuse. 

“The Auditor will administer a telephone hotline and a website through which employees and residents of the County may report anonymously any incidence of fraud, waste, or abuse committed by any officer, or within any department or program, of the County,” reads the staff report

In the second public hearing, The Keswick School seeks a special use permit to add a new arts center, storage building, and a horse barn. There is no request to increase enrollment. (staff report)

In the third public hearing, St Paul’s Ivy Church at 851 Owensville Road seeks a special use permit to have a preschool for up to 24 children. (staff report)

The fourth public hearing is for Dominion Energy to expand a substation at Hollymead. (staff report)

The fifth is for Piedmont Housing Alliance to continue renting and operating the Meadows Community Center. (staff report)

Greene Planning Commission to continue Comprehensive Plan review 

The Week Ahead newsletter that went out on Sunday is nearly 4,000 words long. But this is where I confess I neglected to list the meeting Wednesday of the Greene County Planning Commission.  So you all who read this on the PEC website get the most up to date information.

The group will meet in the administration building in Stanardsville at 6:30 p.m. but the meeting can be watched. You can also participate via Zoom. (agenda)

The first thing the group will do is elect officers in the annual organizational meeting. After that they will continue work on the Comprehensive Plan review. Greene County is taking a much more literal approach to the state code requirement to review the plan every five years by having the five Planning Commissioners go chapter by chapter.

“Greene County is very much a community in transition, a reality that underscores the importance of ensuring that whatever the County evolves into reflects the wishes and aspirations of those who live here,” reads the final paragraph of a section called Greene County: From Part to Present. (read the draft plan)

(image) An image from the Economic Development chapter (Credit: Greene County) 

The entire draft will go before the Planning Commission at this meeting, as will the 2023 update of the Ruckersville Area Plan. That plan was adopted a few years ago and is a ten-year look at what the county can do to make the unincorporated area of Ruckersville more of a place. (review the 2023 plan)

The Planning Commission will also take up a review of the county’s sign ordinance. The Board of Supervisors sent this review to the advisory body in September. 

“The Supreme Court issued a ruling that will require amendments to County Zoning Ordinances,” reads the staff report for this item. “ It has been determined that if a sign ordinance organizes and regulates signs based on their message or content, those portions of the regulation will be subject to strict scrutiny.”

The report also states the Ruckersville Area Plan update calls for a review of the sign ordinance to address clutter. 

To get the full effect, view the full map from the Greene County website

Fluvanna Supervisors to hold public hearings on four rezonings from agricultural 

The five-member Fluvanna County Board of Supervisors will meet at 5 p.m. for a budget work session followed by a regular meeting at 7 p.m. (agenda packet)

The work session will include presentations from: Region Ten; Ready Kids; Jefferson Area Board of Aging; Child Health Partnership; MACAA; OAR – Jefferson Area Community Corrections; Piedmont Housing Alliance; Thomas Jefferson Emergency Medical Services Council. 

A spreadsheet depicting the various requests from nonprofit agencies for funding from Fluvanna County. Details are within the packet beginning on page 7.  (Credit: Fluvanna County)

There are four public hearings. 

The first two are related to a pair of requests from Vaughn Property Group to rezone 80 acres of undeveloped agricultural land to industrial for a future “flex industrial distribution center.” A community meeting was held last week for the proposals. The Planning Commission recommended the rezonings in November. 

A conceptual overview of the plans for what would happen if the rezonings are granted and the project goes through (Credit: Bowman Engineering)

In the third public hearing, a landowner seeks rezoning of five acres on U.S. 250 from Industrial to Business to build and operate an agricultural and machinery sales business. The Planning Commission recommended this on a 4-0 vote in December. The property is within the Zion Crossroads Community Planning Area. 

A community meeting was held on December 1, 2022.

“The applicant discussed his plans to construct a commercial, retail building for the purpose of selling farm tractors, and other similar implements such as backhoes, bulldozers, and together with attachments and implements of such machinery such as combines, harvesters and mowers,” reads the staff report. “He would also like to offer additional feed and seed related products in conjunction with the sales of the farm equipment to allow for County residents to purchase these items within our locality.” 

The fourth rezoning is for a rezoning from Agricultural to Industrial for about six acres of land on U.S. 250. This property is also within the Zion Crossroads Community Planning Area. 

“If approved, the unified zoning would permit limited industrial uses, such as flex warehousing on the site,” reads the narrative from Shimp Engineering. “As Zion Crossroads continues to grow as a regional mixed-use center, the proximity to the Route 15/Interstate 64 interchange is an additional attraction to light industry users, allowing for ease of access to major transportation corridors.” 

There’s a lot happening in Fluvanna County. The way we consume materials as a society has created the need for warehouses, fulfillment centers, and data centers. The area is being positioned to provide more spaces for industries of today and perhaps the future. 

Under action matters, there will be a vote on the request for funding to renovate the Historic Courthouse. Specifically, Supervisors are asking Delegate Lee Ware to seek $307,985 to “to stabilize the structure, prevent further deterioration, and address life-safety issues funding.”(page 249)

There will be a presentation on the Central Virginia Regional Housing Partnership from its chair and vice chair. They are Albemarle Supervisor Ned Gallaway and Keith Smith. (page 257)

BAR to review demolition of Salvation Army buildings on Ridge Street

The Charlottesville Board of Architecture meets on a Wednesday due to the holiday. They meet at 5:30 p.m. in CitySpace but the public can comment via Zoom. (meeting info)

There are two deferred items. One is for a new apartment building on the same property on Wertland Street as the Wertenbaker House built around 1830. The other is for solar panels for First United Methodist Church at 101 East Jefferson Street. 

Next, the BAR will take up a request by the Salvation Army to demolish three buildings on Ridge Street as part of an overall expansion project. The three buildings are contributing structures in the Ridge Street Architecture Design Control District.

“The facility, constructed by the Salvation Army as a shelter and transient facility, includes a two-story, brick chapel and three-story brick building, both constructed in 1965, a two-story transient shelter (at the rear), constructed after 1974, likely in 1980, and a two-story brick addition (at the north side), constructed in 1992,” reads the staff report. 

There will be a future special use permit request for a replacement property. The idea is to sequence demolition and construction so that no displacement or disruption occurs. 

One potential issue is a red oak on the property that may not be able to be protected as the site develops. 

Finally there will be a preliminary discussion about miscellaneous rehabilitation at 747 Park Street. 

An overview of the buildings that would be demolished as part of the expansion of the Salvation Army (Credit: City of Charlottesville)

In other meetings:

  • A subcommittee of the Charlottesville Retirement Committee will meet electronically at 10 a.m. (meeting info)
  • The Nelson County Board of Supervisors will meet with the Planning Commission for a joint work session on the Comprehensive Plan update. This will take place at 7 p.m. in the Courthouse in Lovingston. They will review the draft chapters entitled “Setting Our Direction,” “Protecting Our Valuable Resources,” and “Serving the Community.” I’d like to write this up and will try to if I can. (meeting info)
  • The Citizens Transportation Advisory Committee meets virtually. They will discuss the rising construction estimates for the next round of Smart Scale projects, get an update on the long-range transportation plan, and receive the 2022 Culpeper District Transportation Update.  (meeting info)

Thursday, January 19, 2023

5th and Avon CAC meets for first time in 2023

The 5th and Avon Community Advisory Committee will meet at 7 p.m. at the Media Center at Mountain View Elementary School. (meeting info)

This is mostly a procedural meeting with elections of new officers, a discussion of what the CAC can expect from staff, and a review of the year’s calendar. There will also be a discussion of the policy that allows remote meetings of the CAC at least twice a year. (read the draft policy)

Then updates from Supervisors Jim Andrews and Donna Price as well as Planning Commissioner Fred Missel. Commissioner Karen Firehock indicated in an email she would not be present.

In other meetings: 

  • The Charlottesville Minority Business Coalition meets at 3 p.m. There is no agenda at publication time. (meeting info)
  • The Charlottesville Human Rights Commission meets 6:30 p.m. in CitySpace with a hybrid option. They’ll elect officers and get an update from staff. (meeting info)

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.