Week Ahead for June 27, 2022: Albemarle to host info meeting for 138 megawatt solar facility; Greene Supervisors to take up 144-unit glamping resort

At the halfway point through the year, it would appear there will be a break in local government meetings. But this may be deceiving, as there is a lot on agendas this week.

This week, the Greene Board of Supervisors and the Nelson Board of Supervisors are the only elected bodies that will convene for official business. The next week will be a quiet one, as both the Albemarle Board of Supervisors and the Charlottesville City Council will take a break until mid-July. 

This will be a summer that will challenge local governments as the entire fabric of the federal government is changing as the recent Supreme Court rulings have begun shifting the balance of power to state governments. What effect may that have on local government throughout Virginia? 

While we wait to see how this will all play out, there will be meetings and this newsletter will continue to bring you what’s happening across the Thomas Jefferson Planning District. Now’s a good time to continue paying attention.  This week has some key decision points:

  • Nelson County Supervisors will adopt a budget that will increase public investment in public schools
  • The Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority will finalize a route for a new water line across the city of Charlottesville
  • The Board of Trustees of the Jefferson Madison Regional Library will discuss a potential name change, which would happen over the objections of some of its member counties
  • The developer of a large solar facility in Albemarle County will present the idea to the public
  • Charlottesville will hold a meeting for how the zoning code my be updated to allow for additional density across the entire city

As always, thanks to the Piedmont Environmental Council for their continuing support of this work and the research that goes into it. 

Monday, June 27, 2022

Budget adoption in Nelson County coming down to the wire

The new fiscal year begins on Friday, and the Nelson County Board of Supervisors will meet in closed session to adopt a budget that began developer under one administrator and will be finalized under a second. Candace McGarry has replaced Steve Carter in the position.

One of the biggest sticking points has been how much additional funding to give to Nelson County public schools to assist with retention and recruitment. Supervisors have settled on a $2.5 million boost for FY23, which will include a five percent salary increase for all employees, a $17-an-hour minimum wage, a $1,000 bonus in December.

Supervisors have also agreed to increase the capital budget by $2.6 million to acquire property. That will take the form of an additional $2.6 million in bonds. They’ll convene in the General District Court Room at the Courthouse in Lovingston at 9 a.m. (meeting packet)

Charlottesville public housing authority to meet 

The Board of Commissioners for the Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority will meet virtually at 6 p.m. This is their first regular meeting since late April. (agenda) (Zoom registration)

From the Deputy Executive Director’s report, we learn that completion of the Crescent Halls renovation won’t happen until November due in part to work on the elevator systems taking longer than expected. Official launch of the planning process to redevelop Westhaven will happen in August. 

The report also mentioned that applications for Low Income Housing Tax Credits for two upcoming redevelopment projects were not recommended for funding by staff with Virginia Housing. However, the Virginia Housing Board of Commissioners opted to grant the credits for South Street Phase 2 and Sixth Street Phase 1 at their meeting last week. 

From the public housing report, we learn that the total amount of unpaid rent is now at just over $80,000. The United Way has contributed $17,011 and another $99,237.99 was paid to CRHA from the Rent Relief Program. 

The final rankings for Low Income Housing Tax Credits for CY2022. Visit Virginia Housing for more information.

Open house meeting for Charlottesville zoning code rewrite

Two of the three components of Charlottesville’s update of its overarching land use policies are complete, and the work towards the third is moving along.  Tonight, the Cville Plans Together initiative will hold an open house at the Ting Pavilion to detail what’s known as the Zoning Diagnostic and Approach report. (read the draft)

“This zoning rewrite project is not about adding more plans, goals, or objectives – this work is entirely focused on implementing the Affordable Housing Plan and the Comprehensive Plan,” writes James Freas, the city’s director of Neighborhood Development Services. 

What’s in the document? Take a look at my story from last week.  The open house runs from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. (meeting info)

Library’s systems’ Board of Trustees to discuss potential name change 

The Board of Trustees for the Jefferson Madison Regional Library will meet at Northside Library at 3 p.m. with the public being able to comment through Zoom. (agenda)

On the item is a discussion of a potential change to the name of the library system, as well as a discussion of an administrative services agreement. Both the Greene County and Louisa County Boards of Supervisors have adopted resolutions opposing a change. There are no prepared materials in advance on the JMRL website

In other meetings:

  • Charlottesville’s Social Services Advisory Board meets virtually at noon. There will be an overview of the VIEW program but does not contain any information about what that might be.  Is it the Virginia Initiative for Education and Work?  (meeting info)
  • The Fluvanna County Board of Social Services meets at 3 p.m. in the first floor conference room in the administration building in Fork Union. There’s no agenda available. (meeting info)
  • Albemarle County’s Historic Preservation Committee will meet virtually at 4:30 p.m. They’ll continue a discussion of the Comprehensive Plan that began at their April meeting

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Greene County Supervisors to vote on new Sojourner Glamping proposal 

The Greene County Board of Supervisors will meet a little earlier than usual with a 4:30 p.m. work session on the schedule for the development of the budget for FY24. They gather in the county meeting room in the Administration Building in Stanardsville. (meeting info)

The main item on the agenda is a public hearing on a rezoning of nearly half of an 89 acre parcel off on Celt Road to allow for up to 144 units of tourist lodging, a restaurant, a spa, a pool, and a meeting facility. They’ll also need a special use permit for land that is currently zoned for residential and the request is to downzone that to agricultural. 

The Planning Commission voted 5-0 to recommend approval at their June 15 meeting with conditions on the size of the units and the other buildings that would be built. The location is immediately south of the town of Stanardsville. 

This is the second piece of land that the developer has tried to get rezoned for this use. A plan to develop the resort on Mutton Hollow Road did not get support from Supervisors due to concerns with using groundwater for such an intense use. 

“We came to Greene County to be a partner in the community and we listened to your concerns,” reads the application from Crimson Rock Capital LLC. “We came to Greene County to be a partner in the community and we listened to your concerns.”

This time around, the developer said while they are exploring the use of groundwater, they have the option to tap into public water and sewer lines that run along U.S. 33. They also claim they’ll generate 65 full time equivalents and will purchase over $1.8 million in local food over the next ten years. Materials in the presentation project a total impact to Greene County of $3.8 million over the next five years. 

The company behind the project operates over a dozen similar facilities across the U.S. 

A slide from the presentation the applicants for Sojourner Glamping will give to the Board of Supervisors (take a look!)

Albemarle PC to discuss new land use definitions, consider permit for private school

Like Charlottesville, Albemarle County is also reviewing its zoning ordinance. Unlike Charlottesville, Albemarle is reviewing its Comprehensive Plan at the same time. The Albemarle Planning Commission will have a work session at 4 p.m. to discuss the definitions of various land use categories in the ordinance. 

“The land use categories have not been substantially revisited since the adoption of the ordinance in 1980,” reads the staff report. “However, there have been multiple amendments to the ordinance. The ordinance now has archaic, duplicative and conflicting land uses.”

Albemarle has hired the Berkley Group to review the definitions as well as to review the county’s rules on setbacks. The work has been underway since January 6, 2022. One suggested change is to consolidate several categories for apartments into one overarching category of “Dwelling, Multifamily Unit.” This would eliminate the term “condominium” from the code as that is an ownership type, and not a use. 

Other recommendations include consolidating two categories of Farm Worker Housing into one, creation of a “Family Health Care Structure, Temporary”, consolidation of “convent” and “monastery” into “Religious Housing,” and many more updates to more modern terms. 

There are two public hearings in the Albemarle Planning Commission’s regular session beginning at 6 p.m. 

In the first, the RiverStone Church seeks a special use permit for the Community Christian Academy to operate at 1515 Insurance Lane. Staff recommends approval for the project, which would allow up to 100 upper-elementary to high-school students. (staff report)

In the second, a property owner off of Old Lynchburg Road seeks a rezoning to R-2 in order to build a second unit on the two acre property. The property is zoned rural area but is within the designated growth area and is surrounded by the Whittington subdivision and across the street from Biscuit Run Park. Staff recommends approval. (staff report)

Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority to vote on alternative for Central Water Line 

Last week, staff with the Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority presented City Council with information about their preferred alternative for the Central Water Line, a five-mile pipe that will connect the Observatory Water Treatment Plant with the Pantops area. The preferred option would run underneath Cherry Avenue. 

At their meeting today at 2:15 p.m., the RWSA Board of Directors will vote to finalize an alignment for the project. Staff’s recommendation is based on an analysis that claims this route would have the lowest impacts to traffic, the lowest costs, and greatest benefit to the overall system. (meeting info)

One of the slides in the presentation on the Central Water Line (Credit: RWSA) 

In other meetings:

  • The Albemarle Board of Equalization will meet at 9 a.m. for an organizational meeting. There’s no agenda available at production time and this is the second meeting with this title. (meeting info)
  • The housing subcommittee of Charlottesville’s Human Rights Commission meets virtually at 6:30 p.m. There is no information about the meeting. The city also has an affordable housing committee, as well as a Planning Commission. (meeting info)

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Community meeting for major solar project in Albemarle

Hexagon Energy is proposing a utility-scale solar facility across nine parcels of land in the Scottsville District totaling 2,259 acres with panels on 650 acres. They need two special use permits for the 138 megawatt “solar energy system” and “energy and communications transmission facilities.” 

A virtual community meeting will be held at 5 p.m. (application narrative) (meeting info)

“The property has been historically used for timbering of planted pine over the last 80 years and a significant portion of the site is already cleared,” reads the narrative. “The project will deliver over 315 million kiloWatt hours of clean, emissions free power to our electrical grid, enough to power over 25,000 homes each year.” 

An aerial overview of the Woodridge Solar project (Credit: Hexagon Energy)

Thursday, June 30, 2022

Albemarle to hold community meeting on Greenwood cell tower

Albemarle County requires legislative approvals for cell towers above a certain height. One application is currently pending for a special use permit for a 140-foot structure to be built at 7418 Greenwood Station Road to be used by Verizon. A virtual community meeting will be held at 5:30 p.m. (narrative) (meeting info)

“Verizon has determined that the area surrounding this proposed site needs expanded coverage to better service the nearby residences, businesses, and traffic along the I-64 interstate,” reads the narrative. 

In other meetings: 

  • At 1 p.m., the Albemarle Board of Equalization has another organizational meeting with no agenda. The BOE is the body that hears appeals on tax assessments and the meetings are public. (meeting info)
  • A subcommittee of the Charlottesville Tree Commission meets virtually at 4 p.m. This is a group that reviews the city’s code and ordinances. (meeting info)
Visibility map for the proposed tower, with red marking areas in the vicinity where it could be seen (Credit: Albemarle County GIS)

Friday, July 1, 2022

No meetings but this is the first day of the new Fiscal Year. What traditions do you have for ushering in the beginning of the new calendar for Virginia government? 

Either way, please consider sharing this newsletter with someone you think might be interested.

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.