Week Ahead for July 25, 2022: Albemarle PC to review growth management feedback, consider 157-unit development in Crozet; Library board to get update on committee to consider potential renaming

We are now at the fourth week of the month again and this is another relatively slow week. But, of course, there’s barely such a thing when you start going through agendas. This newsletter is a comprehensive review for anyone with an interest in the community’s future.

There are no top level meetings this week in Louisa and Greene, and only one meeting a piece in Fluvanna, Nelson, and Charlottesville. Regional bodies take center stage this week with a lot of interesting things to learn.

Some highlights:

  • Trustees of the regional library system to get an update on potential renaming
  • Regional transportation body gets a final look at Smart Scale applications including a roundabout near Stonefield
  • Water, sewer, and solid waste bodies to learn more about physical and cybersecurity threats, consider new strategic plan
  • Albemarle’s Planning Commission will review public comments so far on the Comprehensive Plan and the review of the growth management plan
  • What’s a kennel? The Nelson County Planning Commission will be asked to consider a new definition.

Thanks as always to the Piedmont Environmental Council for their sponsorship of this newsletter each week.  Go see what they are up to during their 50th anniversary year. I’m very grateful for nearly two years of support.

Monday, July 25, 2022

Library trustees to meet, naming policy on agenda

There is more than one thing on the agenda for the Board of Trustees of the Jefferson-Madison Regional Library, but it’s likely that only one item will get the public’s attention. Trustees meet at the Northside Library at 3 p.m. with a hybrid option for public comment. (agenda)

The agenda has set aside 30 minutes for public comment, likely in anticipation of the final item of the meeting. On June 27, there were several speakers who had thoughts on the name of the system. The previous month, a descendant of enslaved people named Myra Anderson had asked for the name to be changed. That prompted both elected officials in both Louisa and Greene county to pass resolutions opposing such a move. I wrote about the action in Louisa, but have been unable to find the time to write about a second discussion Supervisors held earlier this month.

Trustees will also discuss the business of the library system. That means reports from the policy committee, continuing education, approval of how the library will use American Rescue Plan Act funding as well as expenditures from the Friends of the Library. 

The specific item regarding the potential for a name change is a discussion of a working group to discuss the library name. In order for the name to be altered, all five localities would have to agree as the name is included in the operating agreement.  

For more background, visit JMRL’s page on the library name. 

There is no public housing meeting

The Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority usually meets on the fourth Monday of the month, according to the entity’s website. Tonight’s meeting has been canceled due to a lack of quorum..

The website has not been updated with meeting information since January 2021. I wrote to Executive Director John Sales earlier today but have not heard back yet. I’ll update this when I learn more.

Meeting minutes have not been updated since May 2021. That will have to change the next time they approve a set of minutes. A new law that passed the General Assembly this year requires all public bodies to post minutes online within seven days of approval. (HB150)

For an archive of stories on CRHA, visit this link on Information CharlottesvilleThat’s my archive website with over two years of stories about the community written by me.

In other meetings:

  • The Fluvanna County Social Services Board will meet at 3 p.m. at the Department of Social Services in the first floor conference room. There’s no agenda on the meeting page

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Albemarle Planning Commission to get update on growth management plan and public feedback to date

The update of the Albemarle Comprehensive Plan is underway and is in the first phase. 

“Phase 1 is focused on reviewing the current growth management policy, using the lenses of equity, climate action, and growth projections,” reads the materials the Albemarle Planning Commission will review at a work session that begins at 4 p.m. (meeting info)

The first data from the public engagement portion is now available for review. 

  • A total of 14 people commented or emailed between March 1 and June 15
  • There were 116 people who participated in in-person pop-ups and virtual officer hours between May 1 and May 14
  • There are sixteen people who attended the first meeting of a working group on May 17, 2022
  • There were 139 responses to the first questionnaire between April 29 and May 22
  • Eight people responded to a questionnaire on the land use buildout analysis

Here are some responses to the question: What changes to the Growth Management Policy, if any, should we consider to further the County’s commitment to equity & inclusion?

“Need to be careful not to just roll over every time a developer uses the words “affordable housing’ – it’s not a substitute or an override for good design and appropriate density.”

“Stop approving any new development without associated road and traffic patterns and support local school growth. You have continued to approve large projects without requiring those improvements. Developers should be responsible for paying for that when the get land use approval.”

“The growth management policy should more directly and explicitly incorporate the County’s goals to advance equity and expand affordable housing options to make sure it works for everyone in our community. As noted above, I also think improving access to a range of equitable and affordable transportation options should be a stronger component of the policy.”

“Coordinate with the city. Dump the “Rio Corridor”. It terminates mainly into city residential streets. Build the Eastern Connector like the county promised or shut off your development. Your choice.”

“Recognize God in all you do and reject any forms of Marxism and Socialism. All County surpluses must be refunded to Albemarle County real estate paying citizens. LOCK Real Estate taxes to a fixed rate that SHALL NOT change until the property is sold. It is false, unjust, and unequitable to adjust real estate taxes each year. Eliminate Personal Property taxes.” 

At the work session, staff will ask the Commission to discuss “common themes” in order to build a new “Vision for Growth and Resilience.”

A slide from the presentation of the overall four-phase review of the Comprehensive Plan (Credit: Albemarle County)

Albemarle PC to review 157 unit Montclair development on U.S. 250 in Crozet 

There’s the theoretical and then there’s the actual.

A proposal to rezone 17.51 acres of of land on U.S. 250 to the Neighborhood Model District to allow for up to 157 residential units and 16,500 square feet of commercial space. In addition to the rezoning, the jurisdictional area to the Albemarle County Service Authority will also need to be amended to permit sewer lines to be installed on some of the land. (meeting info)

This property is within the recently adopted Crozet Master Plan. Some parts of the property are designated as Middle Density Residential and others are designated as Neighborhood Density Residential. Staff recommends approval but notes that the project would increase enrollment at Western Albemarle High School. 

“Montclair’s Middle Density block seeks to establish a mixture of housing types and affordability with integrated community amenity spaces, while the Neighborhood Density Residential blocks towards the rear of the property allow for the development up to 6 DUA,” reads the narrative

Code of Development for Montclair in Crozet (Credit: Shimp Engineering)

Rivanna authorities to be briefed on next strategic plan

The Rivanna Solid Waste Authority and the Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority both meet today, with the RSWA first. The membership of both Boards of Directors is similar, but there are a couple of differences between the two. They will briefly meet as one and both meetings will be held on Zoom. (RSWA agenda) (RWSA agenda)

One item on the RSWA agenda is an amendment to the FY23 budget to accommodate the purchase of a roll-off truck to be used at the Southern Convenience Center in Albemarle as well as a baling machine for the paper sort facility. I reported on the need for the latter back in October

The joint meeting of the RWSA and RSWA is for two presentations. One is for an overview of physical and cyber security efforts. Then there will be a presentation and a work session on a strategic plan for both authorities. 

Transportation technical committee to get final look at Smart Scale applications

The Metropolitan Planning Organization’s Technical Committee meets in person at 10 a.m. at the Water Street Center at 407 East Water Street in Charlottesville. What’s an MPO? See tomorrow’s entry. (agenda packet)

What funding opportunities are available through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act? That’s the topic of a presentation from William Bill Keyrouze of the Association of Metropolitan Planning Organizations. President Joe Biden signed the act last November. 

The deadline for localities and other governments to apply to the Virginia Department of Transportation for the latest round of the Smart Scale funding is August 1. There are a total of 15 projects that have been put together within the boundaries of the Thomas Jefferson Planning District, but it appears one of them may not be submitted after all. 

These are:  (sponsoring agency)
  • A Continuous Green-T intersection at the junction of Belvedere Drive and East Rio Road (Albemarle) 
  • A shared use path on Fifth Street Extended between Ambrose Common and Afton Pond Court (Albemarle)
  • A shared use path on Avon Street Extended between Mill Creek and the armory at Peregoy Lane (Albemarle)
  • A roundabout at the intersection of U.S. 250 and Old Trail Drive (Albemarle)
  • A displaced left-turn at the intersection of U.S. 250 and Virginia Route 22 in Albemarle (TJPDC)
  • A roundabout at the intersection of U.S. 250 and Milton Road in Albemarle (TJPDC)
  • Bike and pedestrian improvements along U.S. 250 near Road (TJPDC)
  • A park and ride lot and altered intersection at U.S. 250 and Peterson Jefferson Place (TJPDC)
  • A roundabout at the intersection of Hydraulic Road and District Avenue (MPO)
  • A pedestrian/bike bridge across the Rivanna River to connect Pantops and Woolen Mills (MPO)
  • Pedestrian improvements on Avon Street between Avon Court in Albemarle and Druid Avenue in Charlottesville (MPO)
  • Multi-model improvements on 5th Street from Harris Road in Charlottesville to the Holiday Inn in Albemarle (MPO)
  • Restricted Crossing U-Turns on U.S. 29 in Ruckersville (Greene)
  • Intersection improvements at U.S. 33 and Advance Mills Road (Greene)

The project that won’t be submitted is one that would see multimodal improvements on 5th Street in Charlottesville between Harris Road and Cherry Avenue. City Council discussed the project in late May and wanted more information and data on possible solutions before proceeding. There are other Smart Scale projects already funded in the vicinity which may be combined into one, as I also reported in late May. 

An aerial overview of the concept for a roundabout at District Avenue and Hydraulic Road

In other meetings:

  • Albemarle’s Board of Equalization will meet in what the title says is an organizational meeting, but is probably an actual meeting. There’s no agenda. (meeting info)
  • The Rural Transportation Advisory Committee will meet beginning at 1 p.m. The item is listen on the calendar for the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Committee, but the meeting materials are not available at publication time. (committee page)

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Some in Nelson don’t want land to go automatically to the dogs 

The Nelson County Planning Commission will meet at 7 p.m.in the Nelson County Courthouse in Lovingston. There’s only one item listed for a public hearing. 

“The Planning & Zoning Department has received two separate inquiries regarding permitting for a commercial kennel and a service dog facility as the primary use of property,” writes Planning and Zoning Director Dylan Bishop in a staff report. “Both propose to locate along Route 151.”

As such, staff felt the Planning Commission should review the existing ordinance to see where it should be a by-right use as opposed to needing a special use permit. Currently kennels are a by-right use in agricultural zones, but an adjacent landowner to one of the proposed new businesses wants that to change. 

Staff also suggest a new updated definition. 

“Kennel: A place where the primary use is to house board, breed, handle, groom, train, or otherwise keep or care for dogs, cats or similar small animals for sale or in return for compensation. Kennels may include associated facilities necessary to support the operation including but not limited to office space, meeting space, and temporary lodging accommodations exclusive to those clients training with the animals.” 

Urban transportation body to meet, discuss consultant to develop new long-range plan

Federal law requires the existence of bodies called “metropolitan planning organizations” to provide local oversight on projects that will receive federal funds. The one for this area is called the Charlottesville-Albemarle Metropolitan Planning Organization and the Policy Board meets at 4 p.m. in-person at the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission’s offices on Water Street in downtown Charlottesville. 

The Policy Board consists of two Albemarle Supervisors (Mallek, Gallaway) and two Charlottesville City Councilors (Pinkston, Snook) as well as the administrator of the Virginia Department of Transportation’s Culpeper District. This will be the first in-public meeting of the MPO Policy Board in over two years.

One of the key tasks of any MPO is the development of a Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP). The last one was adopted in May 2019 and the Federal Highway Administration requires the next one to be approved by May 2024. 

“The Long Range Transportation Plan or LRTP guides the region in creating a more efficient, responsive and environmentally-sensitive transportation system over the next 20+ years,” reads the website for the current plan. “The plan examines transportation trends/issues and offers a list of specific projects for addressing the region’s mobility needs.” 

Work on the next plan is soon to begin and TJPDC staff is recommending hiring a consultant to conduct the work for no more than $105,000.

A key element of the LRTP is the development of a “constrained” budget for the next couple of decades. For projects to receive federal funds, they must be on a list of constrained projects. Another deliverable the consultant must produce is language that accommodates the Regional Transit Vision Plan, the draft of which features both a constrained and unconstrained vision. They will also have to develop a communications plan. 

In another item, the MPO will be asked to amend the Transportation Improvement Program, which is another bureaucratic step required for funding to flow. This time around, the entry for the Belmont Bridge replacement has to be updated to reflect the cost estimate increase. The project is now under construction because the City of Charlottesville contributed nearly $13 million in additional funds for elements the Virginia Department of Transportation would not cover. 

There are a few other TIP amendments as well. There will also be updates on the 16 area Smart Scale applications that are due on August 1. See Tuesday’s entry on the MPO Technical Committee for more information and details. 

In other meetings:

  • Albemarle County will hold three application fairs for the Brights Stars and MACAA Head Start Preschool program at Agnor-Hurt Elementary, Red Hill Elementary, and Stone Robinson Elementary. These begin at 8 a.m. (meeting info)
  • The Charlottesville Community Development Block Grant  / Home Task Force will meet at 4 p.m. on Zoom. (meeting info
  • The Albemarle Broadband Authority will meet virtually at 5 p.m. (meeting info)
  • The Fire EMS Board will meet virtually at 6 p.m. (meeting info)
This is what a TIP item looks like and this is the one for the Belmont Bridge that tracks funding (Credit: Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission)

Thursday, July 28, 2022

The only meeting today is an Albemarle Board of Equalization meeting. There’s no agenda and the title is ”organizational meeting” again and so it’s likely there will be actual appeals. 

The meetings themselves are available on YouTube. I would love to have the time to go through these, but there’s so much I can’t get to already. There’s a lot to review each week, and my main concern is that there aren’t enough people paying attention. I wish I had more time in the day to work. 

Friday, July 29, 2022

The only meeting today is a Bright Stars Application Fair at Woodbrook Elementary. (meeting info)

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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.