Week Ahead for June 28, 2021: Charlottesville PC to discuss next steps for comp plan update; Pantops group to review Urban Rivanna River plan

The final week of June and the first week of July take place within the same seven day period.  Even though the Independence Day holiday will be observed on July 5, this may be one of the more demure weeks in local and regional government. Perhaps the new fiscal year is being celebrated more widely? 

Either way, this is a shorter edition than usual because there are fewer meetings and only Albemarle and Charlottesville have scheduled any. This will be a good week to get caught up on what’s been happening lately. Or, it’s a good week to focus on what is before us in the second half of this transitional year.

Thanks to the Piedmont Environmental Council for their support of this research and its dissemination to the wider community. 

Monday, June 28, 2021

For years, area planners have been studying the potential of the Rivanna River as a shared corridor for both Albemarle and Charlottesville. The tributary of the James River serves as the city’s eastern border with the surrounding county. 

“The river corridor has a rich history spanning multiple eras of human history with its use by the Siouan Indian people of the Monacan Tribe,” reads the introduction of the draft Urban Rivanna River Corridor Plan. The Thomas Jefferson Planning District has produced the plan to guide development in this area. 

“It was then the site of historic Colonial development as Europeans settled in the area, locating plantations and farms near the river and, eventually, utilizing the water to establish mills in the area,” the introduction continues. “With all of the development pressure on this section of the river corridor, it is especially important that a plan is in place to balance the competing priorities to allow for an appropriate number of different types of uses without impacting the environmental quality of the river system or devaluing the most important natural attributes that attract people to the area.”

The draft plan will be presented at the Pantops Community Advisory Committee at their virtual meeting, which begins at 6:15 p.m. The plan is the second of three phases of work. Unlike the first, there’s a poem in the second. The third would be a more specific master plan if leaders decide to proceed. There are also examples of how other Virginia cities built trail systems along their waterways as well as recommendations of what infrastructure projects should be funded to better utilize the existing parks on either side of the Rivanna. 

The Pantops CAC will also get an update on various developments that are under way or in the planning stages. This is a highly useful reason for the CAC’s to exist. Tune in if you want to hear directly, or wait for another installment of the Charlottesville Community Engagement newsletter for the highlights. (meeting info

Some of the recommendations in the Urban Rivanna River Corridor plan (read the plan)

In other meetings:

  • The Charlottesville Social Services Board meets virtually at noon (meeting info)
  • The Charlottesville-Albemarle Convention and Visitors Bureau meets at 2 p.m. (meeting info) (board packet)
  • The Board of Trustees for the Jefferson Madison Regional Library meets at 3 p.m. (meeting info)
  • The Albemarle Historical Preservation Committee meets virtually at 4:30 p.m. On the agenda is a discussion of Black history in Scottsville and a list of potential historic markers that would mark notable events there. (meeting info)
  • The Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority meeting that had been scheduled for 6 p.m. has been canceled. CRHA staff spent much of last week dealing with a crisis at Crescent Halls. CBS19 reports that a water main on the 7th floor broke last Tuesday, leading to an evacuation of some residents. Business at the meeting will be postponed until the July 26 meeting. 

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Now that the public has had their say on the Future Land Use Map, it’s time for the Planning Commission to be updated on the hundreds of comments received. Rhodeside & Harwell has combed through the more than 3,500 comments submitted through various means. 

“This Planning Commission Work Session will be an opportunity for the Cville Plans Together Consultant Team to speak with Commission members about community input received and potentially gather Commission input about approaches for addressing these comments,” reads the agenda. “This will also be an opportunity for the Planning Commission to provide additional input on the draft Comprehensive Plan chapters and the Future Land Use Map.”

The consultants have grouped responses into several themes, and are continuing to conduct analysis. There will be an opportunity for public input at this meeting. There will also be a new Planning Commissioner with the appointment last week of architect Karim Habbab. 

The Future Land Use Map is part of the Comprehensive Plan 

Charlottesville Area Transit is in the midst of planning for an update of its routes. Preliminary changes have previously been presented to the Regional Transit Partnership and City Council, and now the public process is set to begin. CAT hired the Connetics Group and Kimley-Horn to review current service and write up a new map. At 2 p.m. they will make a virtual presentation on their work. This event is aimed at the press, but two further meetings will be held to present the ideas to the public. (May 2021 presentation) (meeting info)

In the other meeting today, the Albemarle Board of Equalization meets virtually at 9 a.m. and will consider four specific appeals from property owners about their 2021 property assessment. (meeting info)

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

The Albemarle Economic Development Authority will hold a special meeting at 10 a.m. to determine whether it is appropriate for 4.2 acres of land at Southwood to be transferred from Habitat of Humanity to the Piedmont Housing Alliance. The latter is in the process of securing Low Income Housing Tax Credits for a 70-unit apartment complex at Southwood. (meeting info)

Thursday, July 1, 2021

Happy New Fiscal Year! Today’s the day that new laws go into effect around Virginia. It is also the day that new budgets go into effect. Here are some of the more interesting changes in state government that may be of interest to readers: 

  • Motorists must change lanes to overtake a cyclist if the travel lane is not sufficient to provide the mandated three-foot distance. Cyclists can also travel side by side. State police will study whether cyclists can treat stop signs as yield signs. (HB2262)
  • Localities can enact an ordinance to order the removal of “clutter” on non-agricultural property (HB1778)
  • Public schools can declare “unscheduled remote learning” days in the case of severe weather (HB1790)
  • The minimum penalty for littering will increase to $500 (HB1801)
  • The Rappahannock River will become part of the Virginia Scenic Rivers System as does a six mile stretch of the South River in Waynesboro  (HB1819) (HB1958
  • People who report overdoses and provide emergency assistance will be prohibited from being arrested (HB1821)
  • A working group will study whether there should be standards for crosswalk design and report back by November 1 (HB1841)
  • The Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy will be renamed the Department of Energy (HB1855)
  • The phasing out of polystyrene food service containers begins (HB1902)
  • Localities can pass ordinances to reduce speed limit to 15 miles per hour in business and residential districts (HB1903)
  • Localities can adopt ordinance to establish a “green bank to promote the investment in clean energy technologies” (HB1919)
  • The Commonwealth Transportation Board will be required to evaluate whether projects include resiliency in their design (HB2071)
  • The release of nonbiodegradable balloons will be prohibited (HB2159)
  • Skill games will be prohibited in nonregulated areas (HB2168)
  • A study of gold mining in Virginia will be conducted with a report date of December 1, 2022 (HB2213)
  • Localities will be allowed by the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority to hold more “local special events” under the newly renamed “designated outdoor refreshment area” license (HB2266)
  • Farmer’s markets will be deemed as essential services in the event of another state of emergency (HB2302)
  • Localities can create a “tourism improvement district” to raise funds for marketing or capital improvements (SB1298)
  • Localities can band together to levy regional taxes on the purchase of cigarettes (SB1326)
  • A task force will be convened to study carbon sequestration (SB1374)
  • The Virginia Coalfield Regional Tourism Development Authority will be renamed the Heart of Appalachia Tourism Authority (SB1399)

In the only meeting scheduled, the Albemarle Board of Equalization meets at 1 p.m. (meeting info)

Friday, July 2, 2021

Nothing scheduled, unless I missed something?

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.