Week Ahead for July 5, 2021: Council meets Wednesday on Confederate statues; New alignment for TransAmerican bike route in Palmyra

Welcome to the second half of the year, or the first full week of the new fiscal year. Either way, today is the day after Independence Day and a good time to know what’s happening in local government in and around Charlottesville.

This week is slower than usual, but it also features a rare occasion when the Albemarle Board of Supervisors and the Charlottesville City Council will meet on the same day if not the same time. And, no week is really slow around here.

Thanks to the Piedmont Environmental Council for their continued support of this research. 

Monday, July 5, 2021

This is the day that Independence Day is observed, so office buildings are closed and there are no meetings. For the first time in a while, this newsletter is being produced and distributed on a Monday. I don’t think you’ll mind the delay. We all needed a break. How did you spend it? If you worked, I hope you get additional time off another day.

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Albemarle’s Architectural Review Board will meet virtually at 1 p.m. On the agenda is a review of a 98.5 foot tall tower Shentel proposes to build along I-64 on Patterson Mill Road. (meeting info)

“Since 2000, the ARB has reviewed multiple Personal Wireless Service Facilities proposals for this property, one of which has been constructed at 90’ tall,” reads the history in the staff report

A photo simulation of what the new tower would look like if erected (Credit: Shentel) 

The ARB will also review a four-story office building to be included in the Albemarle Business Campus development on 5th Street Extended. The site is being graded and prepared for construction now. 

“The design of the building has been developed in accordance with the Entrance Corridor design guidelines and relates to the contemporary architectural styles already existing in the area,” reads the application prepared by BRW Architects. “To maintain a human scale and support a pedestrian experience for the diverse uses on the site, the four-story building’s base is set below the level of Fifth Street presenting only three stories to the street.”

Location of the Albemarle Business Campus

In other meetings:

  • The Albemarle Board of Zoning Appeals meets virtually at 2 p.m. There are no public hearings on the agenda. Instead, there is an update on cybersecurity, a discussion of legal services provided to the BZA, and an item called “status of County Office Building posture.” (meeting info)
  • The Albemarle County Planning Commission meets virtually at 6 p.m. There’s a public hearing for a natural burial ground at Panorama Farms, followed by a discussion of the work program for Albemarle’s Community Development Department. If you’re looking for information on what’s happening with the county’s Comprehensive Plan review, this is worth paying attention to. (meeting info)
  • The Louisa County Board of Supervisors will meet in open session beginning at 6 p.m. There will be a discussion of funding for Jaunt and a vote on performance agreement and incentives agreement for mixed-use development at Zion Crossroads called Crossing Pointe. (agenda)

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

On June 7, 2021 Charlottesville City Council voted to begin a 30-day period to receive statements of interest for parties interested in taking ownership of the two Confederate statues in city parks. Today at 9 a.m., Council will meet in a special meeting to appropriate $1 million toward their removal. Now that the Virginia Supreme Court has ruled the statues are not protected war memorials, Council can do whatever they want. (meeting info)

At their closed meeting on June 24, Council held the first reading on the following appropriation. Now the second reading will be held at this special meeting. Here’s the resolution they’ll vote on in full:

“BE IT RESOLVED by the Council of the City of Charlottesville, Virginia that the sum of $1,000,000 from the CIP Contingency Fund is hereby designated to be available for expenditure, at the discretion of the City Manager, for costs associated with the removal, storage and/or covering of the statues/sculptures of Confederate Generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson, located in City public parks (as authorized by Resolution of City Council dated June 7, 2021) and for costs associated with the removal and/or storage, if necessary, of the statue/sculpture of Sacajawea/Lewis & Clark, located at the intersection of West Main Street and Ridge Street.”

But that’s not all! Council has three other items on the agenda:

  •  Appropriating funds of American Rescue Plan #1 Tranche – $1,986,100 (1st of 2 readings)
  • Appropriating funds to be used for City Schools Bus Driver Bonus and Benefits (1st of 2 readings)
  • Appropriating funds to be used for Transit Bus Driver Bonus and Benefits (1st of 2 readings)

Second-round Smart Scale project goes to design public hearing

There is an elaborate process through which transportation projects go from idea to reality. Even once a project is funded by the Virginia Department of Transportation or federal agencies, there are still many steps to go through. One is something called a Design Public Hearing. Tonight at 6 p.m., a project to improve the intersection of Barracks Road and Emmet Street and build a multiuse path on Barracks Road has its turn. This was a project funded in the second round of VDOT’s Smart Scale process. (meeting info) (project website)

Learn more about the project on the official website

Albemarle Supervisors have a full day

The Albemarle Board of Supervisors meets virtually at 1 p.m. for a full day. They’ll begin with a proclamation marking the 123rd anniversary of the lynching of John Henry James on July 12. (meeting info)

“WHEREAS, following Reconstruction, the crime of lynching succeeded slavery in the United States as an expression of racism and an upholder of white supremacy until the middle of the 20th century; and WHEREAS, the lynching of Mr. John Henry James on July 12, 1898 was determined to have taken place in the County of Albemarle; his body shot dozens of times and his corpse hanging for hours,” reads part of the proclamation. The proclamation goes on to say that 99 percent of James’ killers went unpunished.

After that, three action items. Supervisors will be asked to weigh in on a special exception for a homestay on Stony Point Road (report), a critical slopes disturbance request for the Christian Aid property on Ivy Road (report), and a resolution designated four rural roads as “rural rustic” (report). The latter allows VDOT to pave those roads without requiring them to meet the agency’s full design requirements for roadways. 

The General Assembly’s next regular session is not until January, but it’s time for localities to begin preparation for legislation they would like to be introduced for consideration. Supervisors will get a work session on potential bills for 2022. Possible ideas include asking for speed camera in the rural areas, establishment of a new recordation fee to raise additional revenues for affordable housing programs, and to establish a minimum erosion and sediment control standard for agriculture and forestry operations. Currently the latter is exempt. (staff report)

Next, there will be an update on transportation projects from Albemarle’s transportation planning manager as well as the administrator of the Virginia Department of Transportation’s Charlottesville residency. (Albemarle report) (VDOT report)

The evening session begins at 6 p.m. and there are three public hearings. In one, $32.7 million in American Rescue Plan Act assistance is to be appropriated to county government ($21.24 million) and county public schools ($11.475 million). Read the details in the staff report

In the second public hearing, there is a proposal to designate Route 240 and Route 810 as Virginia Byways. 

“A Virginia Byway designation recognizes a road having relatively high aesthetic or cultural value, and leading to or within areas of historical, natural, or recreational significance,” reads the staff report. “This designation may promote local tourism by providing an awareness of local significance and aesthetic opportunities regionally.”

In the final public hearing, the St. John Family Life and Fitness Center is seeking a special use permit to operate a community center in a historic Rosenwald School.

“Our main goal is to provide community-based learning programs and activities to improve health, learning and personal well-being to participants,” reads the application narrative. “Like other communities in the United States, our desire is to preserve this surviving structure because of the deep meaning it carries for African Americans as symbols of a community dedication to education.” 

The Planning Commission voted unanimously to recommend approval of the special use permit. (staff report)

On the consent agenda: 

  • There are three requests to hold public hearings. One would amend the county’s ordinance by relocating the rules on taxing motor vehicles from Chapter 9 to Chapter 15 (report
  • Another would give the county more control over parking on public streets and create a county mechanism to permit dockless mobility devices (report)
  • The third would amend the county ordinance on naming and numbering roads (report)
  • The final Housing Albemarle plan with changes is up for approval. (report) (list of edits)
  • The Planning Commission’s Annual Report for 2020 is up for information (report)
  • In the first quarter of this year, Albemarle issued 222 building permits consisting of 187 in the development area and 35 in the rural area. (report)
  • In the same period of time, Albemarle issued 200 certificates of occupancy consisting of 177 in the development area and 23 in the rural area. (report
  • There’s another monthly report from the Albemarle School Board to the Board of Supervisors (June 2021 report)

In other meetings:

  • The Fluvanna County Board of Supervisors meets at 4 p.m. and again at 7 p.m. One item on the agenda is a request for a letter of support to move the route of the TransAmerican bike route (#76) through the historic village of Palmyra. Currently 76 runs along U.S. 15. The Fluvanna BOS will also get a briefing on the Central Virginia Regional Housing Partnership’s Planning for Affordability plan, and a public hearing on a zoning request to convert two parcels of land from B-1 to Industrial to allow for construction of a warehouse/distribution facility. (packet for meeting)
Proposed new alignment for Bike Route 76 through Palmyra

Thursday, July 8, 2021

While not a meeting, the Charlottesville Parks and Recreation Department will hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the newest city park at 5:30 p.m. The new park is located at the corner of 8th Street and Hardy Drive and was funded through a Community Development Block Grant. (more info)

In other meetings:

  • The Charlottesville Police Civilian Review Board meets virtually at 6:30 p.m. There is no agenda at publication time. (meeting info)
  • The regularly scheduled Places29-North Community Advisory Committee will not be held. It appears that of these groups are taking the month off. 
  • The Louisa County Planning Commission meeting will be held at 7 p.m. in the Louisa County Public Meeting Room. (agenda)

Friday, July 9, 2021

Charlottesville’s Historic Resources Committee meets at 11 a.m. Topics include the next steps for public engagement for the Slave Auction Block site in Court Square and a discussion of a plaque commemorating Burley High School’s listing on the National Register of Historic Places.  (meeting info) (full meeting packet)

A proof for the plaque commemorating Burley High School, which is still used by Albemarle County as Burley Middle School

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.