Week Ahead for June 21, 2022: Final public meeting Thursday for Regional Transit Vision Plan; Charlottesville City Council to get briefing on Central Water Line

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Charlottesville City Council to interview Planning Commission candidates, get briefing on Central Water Line

Charlottesville City Council may win the award this week for the busiest meeting. First, they’ll meet in a special closed session at 1:30 p.m. to interview candidates for several vacancies on the Planning Commission. Due to a series of resignations over the years, five of the seven terms expire on August 31. Two members are not eligible to serve another term. 

Later in the meeting, there’s a consent agenda that seeks Council’s approval to stagger those terms. One of the appointees will serve a one-year term, two will serve through 2025, and two will get four-year terms. 

A chart from a resolution to stagger the terms of the upcoming five appointments or reappointments 

At 4 p.m. they will hold a work session with two items. The first continues a discussion of city-owned property and leases with various entities. In May, Councilors learned about efforts by the Office of Community Solutions to get a handle on properties the city owns and leases out to others. This work session covers the 170 city-owned properties in both Albemarle and Charlottesville, including undeveloped land that could be sold to others. This includes 10 acres of land in the Albemarle Lake subdivision. Staff wants a policy to govern future decisions. (view the presentation

In the second, Council will get a status report on a $41 million Central Water Line the Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority is planning on building across the city to connect the Observatory Water Treatment Plant with the Pantops area. This is part of an overall community water supply plan intended to support a growing population in both Charlottesville and Albemarle County. The five-mile line will be built under existing city streets. RWSA staff are recommending an alternative that will run under Cherry Avenue for several reasons including lowest impacts to traffic and lowest project cost. Council will be briefed on the other alternatives. (view the presentation

The Central Water Line is one of several capital projects that are part of an ongoing effort to improve drinking water quality in the urbanized portions of Albemarle and Charlottesville (Credit: Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority) 
On the consent agenda:
  • Just over $10,000 in Community Development Block Grant funding that had been programmed for the Ridge Street neighborhood will be transferred to close out a project for the 10th & Page neighborhood to create Jenkins Park. (staff report)
  • The city’s allocation of CDBG and HOME funding for FY22 is down 4.28 percent from what had originally been estimated and an amendment must be made. (staff report)
  • Council will be asked to approve an agreement that will allow the owners of 1622 East Market Street to sell their property. A structure was built in 1920 that encroaches onto city-owned property. The current owners purchased the property in 2004 and were unaware of the issue until a recent survey. (staff report)
  • Council will be asked to authorize up to $50,000 in tax refunds to freelance writers who have been charged business taxes found to be unconstitutional by the Virginia Supreme Court in a June 9, 2022 opinion. The money will cover a $3,304.21 refund to author Corban Addison Klug, the plaintiff in a suit against the city of Charlottesville as well as others who may be in a similar category. (staff report)

On the regular agenda, several action items pertain to various city properties.

  • The owners of a lot at 321 6th Street SW seek purchase of a strip of property platted in 1888 as right of way for Oak Street (staff report)
  • The owner of a lot at 815 East Jefferson Street wants the City to donate 0.01 adjacent acres it owns (staff report)
  • The owners of 1110 Preston Avenue seek the city’s quitclaim of any interest in adjoining property (staff report)
  • The city wants to purchase 921 East Jefferson Street which is a 0.40 acre property which is currently used for parking. The price would be $1.65 million and that funding would come out of money in the capital improvement fund for the now-defunct 7th Street Parking Deck project. The property is assessed at $953,000. (staff report)

In another item, Council will be asked if an artist can use the trees on the Downtown Mall for an exhibit to be called “The Story of Us: Reclaiming the Narrative of #Charlottesville through Portraits of Community Resilience.” There would be 12 to 16 images displayed in the trees, similar to what used to happen during the now defunct Look Festival. The staff report does not identify the artist nor does it include the proposal.  (staff report)

Finally, the Thomas Jefferson Regional Planning District Commission will present the Regional Hazard Mitigation Plan to Council. Suggested mitigation activities for the city include completing the flood resilience plan and the climate adaptation plan, as well as updating regulations about developing in the floodplain. 

Louisa Supervisors to get an update on Firefly Fiber project

In 2020, the U.S. Census counted 37,596 people in Louisa County and the Weldon Cooper Center currently has a projection of 44,246 people in 2035. Their seven-member Board of Supervisors meets in closed session at 5 p.m. and in open session at 6 p.m. (meeting info) (meeting packet)

On June 6, the Louisa Board of Supervisors formally entered into an agreement with the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission and Firefly Fiber to run lines for broadband to expand Internet all across the county. Louisa is putting up as much as $8.9 million in local funds as part of the overall Virginia Telecommunications Initiative (VATI) project that TJPDC will oversee.

“The primary objective of VATI is to provide financial assistance to supplement construction costs by private sector broadband providers, in partnership with local units of government, to extend broadband facilities to areas that presently are underserved by any broadband provider,” reads the minutes of Louisa Supervisors’ June 6 meeting. 

In business items, Supervisors will vote on a proposal to use a portion of a nearly $500K federal grant to hire someone to run a volunteer recruitment and retention program for the Louisa County Fire and EMS department. They’ll also authorize a grant for that department to purchase a fire and rescue boat. Finally, they’ll approve a letter of support for a special license plate for Lake Anna that would include the county’s name as well as that of Orange and Spotsylvania counties. 

The agenda packet features several reports such as one from Solid Waste Management. There was an uptick in brush taken to the county-operated landfill due to damaging winter storms earlier this year. 
In other Tuesday meetings: 
  • The Albemarle Architectural Review Board has two work sessions at their virtual meeting which begins at 1 p.m. One is if for a county-wide Certificate of Appropriateness for structures that are 750 feet away from an entrance corridor. The other is for design guidelines for U.S. 250 in the Greenwood area. (meeting info)
  • The Albemarle Economic Development Authority meets at 4 p.m. and will continue discussing a new grant program related to the reuse of existing buildings. (meeting info)
  • The Albemarle County Comprehensive Plan review continues with an in-person open house at the Northside Library meeting room from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.  (meeting info)
  • The Greene County Emergency Services Board meets at 6 p.m.  (agenda)
  • The Fluvanna County Board of Zoning Appeals meets at 7 p.m. There does not appear to be an agenda or a location, but you can find the listing here.

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Nelson County Planning Commission to consider “conference center” for Lovingston Winery

The Nelson County Planning Commission meets at 7 p.m. in the General District Courtroom. (meeting packet)

The first public hearing is for a request from the owners of Lovingston Winery to operate a conference center inside a new 2,000 square foot barn to be used primarily for wine storage and on-site sales. 

“The secondary use requested is an event space for private groups including weddings and corporate meetings,” reads the staff report from planning director Dylan Bishop. “Because the structure is proposed to be utilized for events, a Special Use Permit is required.” 

If approved by the Board of Supervisors, the Virginia Department of Transportation will require an update to the existing entrance. 

In the second, the owner of Santa’s Workshop at 12 Variety Mills Road seeks a rezoning from residential to business to bring a nonconforming use into compliance with the county’s zoning code. 

In the third, the owners of a property zoned agricultural on North Fork Road want a special use permit to operate one campground site.

“The owners are requesting to construct a 192 square foot platform to place a 120 square foot canvas tent to be utilized as a short term rental,” reads the staff report. 

The location of Lovingston Winery with respect to other nearby properties (Credit: Nelson County) 
In other Wednesday meetings:
  • The Central Virginia Regional Housing Partnership meets virtually at 2 p.m. There is no agenda available at publication time in the meeting materials section of the website. (meeting info)
  • The Albemarle County Comprehensive Plan review continues with an in-person open house in Room A at the county’s office building on 5th Street from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.  (meeting info)
  • The Albemarle Broadband Authority (ABBA) will meet virtually at 5 p.m. They’ll get updates on the Virginia Telecommunications Initiative and status reports on various projects. (meeting info)
  • The Albemarle Fire EMS Board meets virtually at 6 p.m. (meeting info)

Thursday, June 23, 2022

Final public meeting for the Regional Transit Vision plan

You won’t need to catch a bus to attend the final meeting of a process intended to craft an ambitious vision for public transportation in the Thomas Jefferson Planning District as well as Buckingham County. The Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation helped fund a consultant-led study with Albemarle and Charlottesville to craft a vision. Tonight’s meeting is virtual. (register for the 6:30 p.m. meeting)

“This effort is being assisted by some of the leading public transit experts in the country, but the ultimate success of the plan depends on robust and meaningful public engagement,” reads the StoryMap for the project

Twenty people attended the last virtual public meeting for the study last November. 

Just under 675 people filled out the online survey for the first phase, according to a summary of engagement efforts. Ninety percent of those respondents were white, and half made over $100,000 a year. The summary notes those levels are not representative of the community. 

There’s a current survey going on now.

I’ve covered much of this process over the last several months as part of my ongoing coverage of transit issues. I hope to have another one out by Thursday that captures some of what was said last week in Fluvanna and Greene. Here are some of the part articles to give you a sense of what’s going on:

In another Thursday meeting: 
  • The Albemarle Board of Equalization will hold an organizational meeting at 1 p.m. for its work this summer to review appeals of the county’s real estate property assessments.  (meeting info)
A map of (most of) the study area for the Regional Transit Vision plan (Credit: AECOM / Jarret Walker + Associates / TJPDC)

Friday, June 24, 2022

There’s nothing on the agenda that I can see, but perhaps I’ve missed something out. This is more than quite possible! 

Any questions? Please ask and I’ll try to answer as best I can!

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.