Week Ahead for June 7, 2021: Charlottesville PC to discuss homestay regulations; Albemarle to hold community meeting for solar panels at landfill

Two more weeks until the summer solstice, but there’s never really a slowdown in local and regional government in the Charlottesville area. There are 23 meetings listed in this week’s installment.

This installment may appear slow because Charlottesville City Council and the Albemarle Board of Supervisors are not meeting in the same week. There are also several meetings for which there is not yet an agenda.

This weekly segment of the newsletter is supported by the Piedmont Environment Council, an organization that will celebrate its 50th anniversary next year. Thank you for the support!

Monday, June 7

Charlottesville City Council meets virtually for their regular meeting beginning at 6:30 p.m. The main item on the agenda is the public hearing removing the disposition of two Confederate statues in two city parks. More on that in a moment. (meeting info)

The meeting begins with announcements, responses from City Manager Chip Boyles to items at previous meetings, recognitions, and then the consent agenda. There’s a lot this time around: 

  • There is a second reading for the appropriation of $4.28 million in funding from the Virginia Department of Transportation for the Belmont Bridge replacement. On May 17, Council held the first reading on the plan to use the money to fill a gap between the $31 million cost estimate and the lowest bid for the project. On May 18, the city awarded the bid to the Caton Construction Group of Troy, Virginia. That means work will get underway this summer. (story) (staff report)
  • There is a second reading on a new Homeowner Tax Relief grant for low and moderate-income homeowners for the current calendar year. Qualifying applicants with household incomes less than $25,000 will get full relief. Those between $25,001 and $35,000 would be eligible for $1,000 in relief. There would be $750 for up to $45,000, and $500 for households with incomes up to $55,000. (staff report)
  • Council will officially halt consideration of the 300-space 7th Street Parking Garage with a resolution that clearly states “this City Council is of the opinion that alternative parking arrangements may now be in the best interests of the general public.” (staff report)
  • Council will officially rename the outdoor downtown concert area as the Ting Pavilion. (staff report)
  • The developer of the Lochlyn Hill neighborhood, Milestone Partners, will officially contribute $12,403 toward construction of the Meadow Creek Trail. (staff report)
  • The Charlottesville Police Department will receive a grant from the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles for additional efforts to traffic safety patrols, including the Click It or Ticket program. (staff report)
  • The Charlottesville Police Department will also receive $23,056 from the federal Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant program to help cover the cost of security improvements at the police station. (staff report)
  • The city will provide a $15,000 grant to match a $15,000 grant from the Building Goodness Foundation for the “Playground at Walker” initiative. According to the staff report, an additional $20,000 also needs to be raised. 
  • Council will adopt a resolution removing a requirement that operators of electric bikes or mopeds to pay a $25 license each year. (staff report)

In the regular section of the meeting, there are two public hearings. Charlottesville and the Albemarle County Service Authority (ACSA) are the two customers of the Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority (RWSA) which operates the reservoirs, water treatment facilities, and the water resource recovery facilities.

Charlottesville residents pay their retail utility bills to the city, and Albemarle residents pay the ACSA. The RWSA did not increase their wholesale rates to the city in fiscal year 21 due to the pandemic, but have done so this year. According to the staff report, 87 percent of city residents will see their bills increase by $2.88 a month. (staff report)

In the second public hearing, Council will take comment on the removal of two Confederate statues in Market Street and Court Square parks. In April, the Virginia Supreme Court ruled in the city’s favor that the statues are not protected war memorials and can thus be removed. On May 3, 2021, Council adopted a resolution to set this public hearing date. If Council votes to proceed, there will be a 30-day period in which the statues will be offered up “for relocation and placement to any museum, historical society, government, or military battlefield.” At the conclusion of that period, Council can do whatever they want with the statues with no further requirement for public input. (staff report)

The staff report breaks down the various increases for city ratepayers

In other meetings:

  • The Albemarle Architectural Review Board meets virtually at 1 p.m. On the agenda is a preliminary site plan for renovations for the Umansky Subaru dealership at the intersection of U.S. 29 and Hilton Heights Road. They’ll also discuss proposed one-pagers for entrance corridor guidelines. (meeting info)
  • The Albemarle Fire EMS Executive Committee meets virtually at 1630 hours. On the agenda under unfinished business is a follow-up on a discussion at the April 5 meeting regarding a change in mutual aid protocols. (meeting info)
  • At 5:30 p.m., there is a virtual community meeting for a project to install solar panels atop the Ivy Landfill. I wrote about the project in the March 29, 2021 edition of Charlottesville Community Engagement. (meeting info)
  • The Louisa County Board of Supervisors meets in person in open session at 6 p.m. On the agenda is an update from the Virginia Department of Transportation, an ordinance to create a “Commercial Property Assessed Clean-Energy (C-PACE)” program, and a discussion of a new fire and EMS station. For much more detail, read this week’s installment of Engage Louisa(agenda)
  • The Village of Rivanna Community Advisory Committee meets virtually at 7:15 p.m. There will be another discussion of the Breezy Hill rezoning. The project has been reduced to a maximum residential of 80 units on about 84 acres, as reported in the May 21 edition of Charlottesville Community Engagement.  (meeting info)
Location of the Ivy Landfill in Albemarle County

Tuesday, June 8 

The Charlottesville Planning Commission meets virtually beginning at 5:30 p.m., with a pre-meeting that starts at 5 p.m. They have a fairly light agenda with no public hearings with City Council. The main item on the agenda is a discussion of short-term rentals and transient lodging. Commissioner have asked for the discussion to help inform the upcoming rewrite of the Charlottesville zoning code. Council adopted its current homestay ordinance in September 2015. 

Under the ordinance, homestays are authorized in residential districts as long as the building is the owner’s primary residence. That requires living there for at least half the year. 

“The short-term rental business has been booming in recent years, and more often than not in  accommodations are offered in residences that are NOT the primary dwelling of the owner,” reads the staff report. “It’s not unusual for the owner of the accommodations to be an LLC entity, which is a business entity. Often these types of short-term rentals are managed by a property management company.” 

In the current set-up, homestay operators must get a permit each year. In the current year, there are over 100 active permits. The report notes that many have not reapplied for a permit this year, possibly due to the pandemic. 

In other meetings:

  • The Albemarle County Police Citizens Advisory Committee meets virtually at 9 a.m. The link for the agenda is broken at publication time. (meeting info)
  • Nelson County Board of Supervisors meets in person for their afternoon session at 2 p.m. They will also get an update from the Virginia Department of Transportation, a request from the Montebello Volunteer Fire Department for an interest-free loan, and a report from the county administrator. (meeting info)
  • The Albemarle County Department of Social Services meets virtually at 3:30 p.m. (meeting info)
  • The Charlottesville Economic Development Authority will meet virtually at 4 p.m. On the agenda are two items related to the Pavilion, which is owned by the authority and leased to Charlottesville Pavilion LLC. These are the aforementioned naming rights as well as a modification to the promissory note for the structure related to the pandemic. Fridays after Five resumes on June 18. There will also be update on the “recovery roadmap.” meeting info)
  • The Greene County Board of Supervisors meets in person at 6:30 p.m. On the agenda is an update on American Recovery Plan funding, a public hearing to operate a commercial bakery as a home business, and a public hearing to alter the conditions of a townhouse development related to a connector road. (meeting info)
  • The Fluvanna County Planning Commission meets in person at the Fluvanna County Library  at 7 p.m. On the agenda there are two public meetings. One is a special use permit request for a commercial kennel on Venable Road. The second is for a rezoning from B-1 (general business) to I-1 (industrial) for 16 acres in the Zion Crossroads Community Planning Area for a warehouse/distribution center. No tenant is proposed as part of the application. There’s also a presentation on a potential change to the R-4 zoning code to allow multifamily units by-right if served by a central water supply and sewer system. (meeting info)
  • The Charlottesville Electoral Board meets at 7 p.m. to begin the process of canvassing the Democratic primary. (meeting info)
  • The Nelson County Board of Supervisors will meet again at 7 p.m. for their evening session. There are four public hearings, including two rezonings. One is for a request from R-1 to A-1 for a property, and the second is for a rezoning to B-1 for the proposed Gladstone Depot museum. For more on the latter project, read this story by Nick Cropper in the News and Advance.

Wednesday, June 9

To the bulleted points! 

In other meetings: 

  • The James River Water Authority meets in person at 214 Commons Boulevard in Palmyra at 9 a.m. This body consists of representatives of Fluvanna and Louisa counties who are seeking to implement a water supply plan to bring additional capacity to Zion Crossroads (agenda)
  • The Charlottesville Electoral Board meets in person at 9 a.m. to continue the canvass for the Democratic primary. Hearings for provisional ballots begin at 11 a.m. (meeting info)
  • The Crozet Community Advisory Committee meets virtually at 7 p.m. There’s no agenda available at publication time. (meeting info)

Thursday, June 10

Many involved in the public sector have been moving at breakneck speed for well over a year. So, it is perfectly fine that none of the meetings for today have agendas ready as of Sunday night. 

  • The Albemarle Conservation Easement Authority meets virtually at 4:45 p.m. There’s no agenda is not posted at publication time. (meeting info)
  • The Charlottesville Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee meets virtually at 5:30 p.m. The agenda is not posted at publication time. (meeting info)
  • The Charlottesville Police Civilian Review Board Meeting meets virtually at 6:30 p.m. The agenda is not posted at publication time. (meeting info)
  • The Places29 North Community Advisory Committee meets virtually at 6:30 p.m. The agenda is not posted at publication time. (meeting info)

Friday, June 11

The Charlottesville Historic Resources Committee meets virtually at 11 a.m. On the agenda is an update on planning and engagement efforts for the Slave Auction Block, a discussion of a map for walking tours, and a discussion of whether the committee should make a statement on the Confederate statues. (meeting info)

Sunday, June 13

There are no meetings today, but this is the deadline to submit comments to the Cville Plans Together initiative. If you’ve not paid attention so far, here are some items I’ve written in the past two months or so:

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.