Week Ahead for January 24, 2022

Somehow, we are on the fourth week of the year and a lot seems to have happened. A pair of winter storms has brought a lot of attention to the how of government. This particular newsletter is more about the where and when of government meetings that also seeks to explain some of the context behind the what and the why. To what extent? The next five days. 

This is another big week for transportation with two regional meetings. It’s a light one for land use but there are plenty of technical matters you might learn a few things from. There are no meetings in Fluvanna County this week. 

As always, thanks to the Piedmont Environmental Council for their support of this newsletter and the work that goes into it. Visit their website to see what they’re focusing on as the General Assembly proceeds. 

Monday, January 24, 2022

Albemarle redistricting
Map of current magisterial districts in Albemarle.

Every ten years, localities in Virginia that elect their local legislators by districts are required to reevaluate the boundaries of those lines to ensure that there is a “substantially” equal number of people in each. The Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution requires districts to adhere to the principle of “one person, one vote.” For more on the background of the process, the Virginia Division of Legislative Services developed a guide. (read the guide)

Albemarle County is going through the process now, and will hold a public information session at 6 p.m. to explain what will happen to community members. 

“The event will include a Q&A session in which attendees may ask questions or share comments about the proposed process,” reads the website for the virtual meeting. (meeting info)

In December, Supervisors adopted a preliminary schedule for the process. Staff will tentatively provide a report on community input up to date on March 2. and will tentatively hold a work session on April 6. 

They also adopted preliminary guidelines

  • Maintain six magisterial districts
  • Have each district contain urban and rural areas of Albemarle
  • Minimize changes to existing boundaries
  • Preserve communities of interest, including neighborhoods, within the same magisterial district 
  • Avoid pairing of incumbent members of the Board of Supervisors of the School Board in the same magisterial district
  • Avoid splitting census blocks to assure the accuracy of the census data
  • Preserve the historic core of existing magisterial districts

The Albemarle School Board and the Albemarle Planning Commission both have at-large members who are elected by all county voters. There are six members of the Albemarle Board of Supervisors, which creates the possibility of tie votes. Earlier this month, the Free Enterprise Forum opined that community members should consider the possibility of changing that.

“With an odd numbered board, ties are significantly rarer (in the case of an absence or abstention) therefore definitive decisions are made rather than simply motions dying the unrequited death of a 3-3 tie,” wrote Neil Williamson

Charlottesville Public Housing meeting 

The first regular meeting of the Board of Commissioners for the Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority begins at 6 p.m. with Michael Payne now serving as City Council’s representative. (agenda)

According to the public housing program report, there are 952 families on the waiting list for units as of January 19. At the moment, there is $97,922.65 in unpaid rent from CRHA tenants and CRHA staff is working with various agencies to provide rent relief. 

According to a report from redevelopment coordinator Brandon Collins, 2022 will be active.

“We have a busy year ahead offering ‘Something for Everyone’ including wrapping up construction at Crescent Halls and South First Street Phase 1, beginning construction in Phase 2, submitting a [Low Income Housing Tax Credit] application for Sixth Street and possibly beginning construction by the end of the year, completing the planning for Sixth St as a whole, beginning Resident Led Planning at Westhaven, and moving Parallel Track projects forward,” Collins wrote in the report

Two residents remain at Crescent Halls and Collins said they will be out by the end of the week in order for renovations to get fully underway, and he added the contractor hopes move-in for some residents can begin in the summer. 

The first phase of South First Street is expected to be complete in December, though Collins said he hopes some residents can move in earlier. Some of the handrails installed at the first phase are not compliant and must be replaced. 

The CRHA’s overall strategy for redevelopment hinges on challenging the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s rule that federal funds cannot be used to construct new public housing units. 

“The Faircloth Amendment stipulates that the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) cannot fund the construction or operation of new public housing units with Capital or Operating Funds if the construction of those units would result in a net increase in the number of units the Public Housing Agency (PHA) owned, assisted or operated as of October 1, 1999,” reads a guidance document on HUD’s website.

The notes for the January 6 redevelopment committee show several options were discussed including “Request from HUD to have greater ‘Faircloth Authority’ or to gain more Vouchers for use [Project Based Vouchers] to offset costs of mixed subsidy project” as well as to “use Faircloth for homeownership opportunities.”

Another is to: “Fight with HUD- not sure what the grounds are but we are always up for fight.” 

This year, CRHA hopes to submit an application for Low-Income Housing Tax Credits for the first phase of the redevelopment of Sixth Street. The city has to approve a site plan before the March deadline. 

Pantops group to get update on Rivanna pedestrian bridge 

One of the potential Smart Scale candidates in the fifth round is a non-vehicular pedestrian bridge that would span the Rivanna to connect Pantops and the Woolen Mills. There’s been a lot of activity this month with an on-site meeting and a meeting of the stakeholder group overseeing the planning efforts. One of those members will brief the Pantops Community Advisory Committee at their first meeting of 2022. (meeting info)

In other meetings:

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Rivanna authorities meet; RWSA to discuss potential alignments for central waterline upgrade

The Rivanna Solid Waste Authority and the Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority meet one after the other. There are new elected officials on both. City Councilor Brian Pinkston will serve on both, whereas Albemarle is now splitting the appointments since the retirement of former Supervisor Liz Palmer. Supervisor Jim Andrews (Samuel Miller) will serve on the RSWA while Supervisor Ann Mallek (White Hall) will serve on the RWSA. The RSWA goes first at 2 p.m. (agenda) (Zoom registration)

The main item on the RSWA agenda is an authorization to hold a public hearing on March 22, 2022 on an amendment to the tipping fees to allow contractors to drop off large quantities of soil, concrete without rebar, and asphalt at the Ivy Material Utilization Center at $3.50 a ton. 

“This area would serve the large-project market for many years and would generate revenue of approximately $1 million for the RWSA,” writes Phillip McKalipes, the director of solid waste. “ 

Participating contractors would need to comply with “integrated stormwater controls, compaction, grading, and seeing requirements.” 

The clean fill material will be stored within an unused section of the landfill.

After that, the RWSA meets. In the executive director’s report, we learn the agency has secured right of way for the entire route of the waterline from the South Fork Rivanna Reservoir to the Ragged Mountain Reservoir except for one priviately-owned parcel and two parcels owned by the University of Virginia Foundation. We also learn that new exterior lights installed the Moores Creek Wastewater Treatment Plan are not compliant with Albemarle’s outdoor lighting requirements. New fixtures are on order. 

The main item on the agenda is a presentation on a study by Michael Baker International on the alignment for a new waterline intended to provide redundancy in the overall drinking water distribution system operated by the RWSA.

“The Central Water Line Project will hydraulically interconnect the Urban Area Drinking Water System, which includes all of the City and designated portions of the County served by public water produced by one of the three Urban Area Water Treatment Plants,” reads the RWSA website.

After that discussion, the RSWA will reconvene for a joint presentation on a compensation study as well as a strategic plan update. 

Map of central water line alternatives. Review the full routing study here
Full meeting of the Greene Board of Supervisors with redistricting

The five-member Greene Board of Supervisors meets in closed session at 5:30 p.m followed by an open session at 6:30 p.m. There’s a lot of small items that add up to a full meeting. (agenda)

The consent agenda includes a resolution to declare a local emergency for the winter storm on January 16, as well as a resolution to declare one over as well one for the January 3 storm. There are also items related to accepting various proffer and insurance payments. 

In the first item of regular business, Supervisors will receive the audit for FY2021 followed by a discussion of financial policies related to capital. They’ll also get a presentation on grant opportunities from new grants writer Terry Beigie. This includes ways to help cover the cost of expand Fire and EMS service in Greene. 

The first action item is a public hearing on amending boundary lines and adjusting certain polling places. The presentation updates Supervisors on new legislative and Congressional districts. 

There is also a request to designate a portion of the Villages at Terrace Greene as a “revitalization area” under the guidelines of the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development. The developer is the Fried Companies. 

“The DHCD offers mixed income financing for new developments that include commercial components,” wrote planning director Jim Frydl in a staff report. “The program requires a resolution designating the property as a revitalization area.”

Read the details in the state code. Examples of where this has been used include Brookhill in Albemarle. 

Greene County will purchase a home in the Twin Lakes neighborhood using Federal Emergency Management Agency funds. There has been recurrent flooding and the structure is within the flood plain. 

“FEMA has awarded the County a mitigation grant which will provide a process for the County to apply federal funds to acquire the above listed property and demolish the structure and then preserve the use of the property as open space in perpetuity,” reads the resolution.

Next, the saga over Greene’s request to leave the Rapidan Service Authority continues. Supervisors will consider a resolution to reinstate facility fees on public water and sewer ratepayers. Administrator Mark Taylor states in the resolution that the RSA won’t agree to let Greene withdraw from the authority just yet. 

“Greene County has no choice,” reads the resolution. “Unless and until Greene County’s withdrawal from RSA is complete, the facility fee must be resumed. To be clear, this is RSA’s choice and not ours. If RSA would act on Greene County’s withdrawal, there would be no need for the facility fee.” 

After approval of a service agreement between Greene and the Culpeper Soil and Water Conservation District, the final item will be a request from the Ruckersville Volunteer Fire Department and the Stanardsville Volunteer Fire Department to use American Rescue Plan Act funding for equipment. (memo)

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Council to hold virtual retreat

It’s common for elected bodies to meet once or twice a year in order to discuss strategic priorities and to talk about the big picture. In the before times, these would usually happen at an atypical location. In the past, Charlottesville City Council has held retreats at Wintergreen, Movern Farm, and other places. 

Charlottesville City Council will have a virtual retreat beginning at 9 a.m. There’s no information available in advance. (meeting info)

In other meetings:
  • The Greene County Board of Zoning Appeals meets at 7:30 p.m. (agenda)
MPO Policy Board welcomes new member

One of the most obscure bodies in the area is the Policy Board of the Charlottesville-Albemarle Metropolitan Planning Organization. This group consists of two Albemarle Supervisors, two Charlottesville City Councilors, and the head of the Virginia Department of Transportation’s Culpeper District. The group approves projects in the metropolitan area when federal funding is involved. They meet virtually at 4 p.m. for the first time in 2022. (Zoom link) (agenda)

New City Councilor Brian Pinkston will join the group, alongside Charlottesville Mayor Lloyd Snook. Albemarle is represented by Supervisor Ned Gallaway (Rio) and Supervisor Ann Mallek (White Hall). Sean Nelson is the VDOT district engineer. They’ll pick new officers to start the meeting. 

On the agenda is a resolution to support the hiring of a consultant to conduct a study of transit governance. For more details, check the next installment of Charlottesville Community Engagement sometime tomorrow. They’ll also get an update on the University of Virginia Master Plan which is currently getting underway. There will be more updates on potential projects for the fifth round of VDOT’s Smart Scale process. 

In other meetings:
  • The Charlottesville Retirement Commission meets virtually at 8:30 a.m. This will include a closed session on investment strategies. (meeting info)
  • The Albemarle Broadband Authority will meet virtually at 5 p.m. They will recap the January 12 discussion at the Board of Supervisors where CenturyLink / Lumen officials addressed concerns from customers about bad service. (meeting info)
  • The Fire EMS Board meets at 6 p.m. They’ll get updates on various committees, will discuss dispatch protocols, and something called First Due software. Read the minutes from the previous meeting to learn more. (meeting info
  • The Charlottesville Youth Council will meet virtually at 6 p.m. There’s no agenda at publication time. 
  • The Nelson County Planning Commission meets in person at 7 p.m. at the Nelson County Courthouse in Lovingston. (agenda)

Thursday, January 27, 2022

Regional transit group to meet

The Jefferson Area Regional Transit Partnership was created in the fall of 2017 as a forum for area transit providers to discuss ways to cooperate and share resources. Like the MPO Policy Board, there are two Albemarle Supervisors and two Charlottesville Councilors as well as representatives from Jaunt, Charlottesville Area Transit, the University of Virginia, and the Department of Rail and Public Transportation. 

The two Albemarle members are not the same as those on the MPO Policy Board. Supervisor Diantha McKeel (Jack Jouett) and Supervisor Bea LaPisto-Kirtley (Rivanna) are on this body. However, Charlottesville’s MPO members are also on this body.

At this meeting, the group will hear from a senior transportation planner at Blacksburg Transit, where there is one unified system to support Virginia Tech and municipal areas of Montgomery County. BT is a department of the Town of Blacksburg and offers fixed-route service, as well as shuttles and on-demand service. 

The meeting begins virtually at 4 p.m. (agenda)

In other meetings:
  • The Places29-Rio Community Advisory Committee meets at 6 p.m. There’s no agenda at publication time. (meeting info)
  • The Charlottesville Police Civilian Review Board will have a mock hearing beginning at 6:30 p.m. (meeting info)

Friday, January 28, 2022

I am certain I have forgotten something. Can you let me know if I have? 

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.