Week Ahead for March 13, 2023: Charlottesville to hold hearings on two “redundant” rezonings; Albemarle staff to update PC on affordable housing initiatives

What kind of a week will it be? That’s a question that can only be answered once I’ve spent hours going through the agendas of multiple meetings. My answer for this week? Full. This is a full week. Here are some highlights:

  • Charlottesville City Council and the Planning Commission will hold two public hearings for rezonings that staff feels could have waited until after the new zoning code is adopted. 
  • The PC will also get a first look at a project to redevelop IGA property on Cherry Avenue
  • Budget season continues unabated and perhaps uncovered with major work happening in Albemarle, Charlottesville, Fluvanna, and Greene. 
  • Two of Albemarle’s growth area panels meet this week with one taking a trip to Southwood and the other getting a look at a proposal to expand Covenant School. 
  • Nelson County Supervisors have two big meetings with three land use requests at one and a Comprehensive Plan deep dive in the other. 
  • Greene County wants help from VDOT to remove illegal signs on U.S. 29 and will also get an update on broadband expansion 
  • There’s no meeting in Louisa County this week but check Tammy Purcell’s Engage Louisa just to be sure.  
  • The Albemarle Planning Commission will get an update on affordable housing initiatives which means the rest of us will, too. 

Thanks as always to the Piedmont Environmental Council for their sponsorship of this newsletter each week.

Monday, March 13, 2023

Budget work session in Albemarle to focus on School Board request, capital programs

Albemarle County will continue its review of the recommended $551.5 million budget with a second work session. The previous one was last Wednesday. They meet in Room 241 of the county office building at 401 McIntire Road in Charlottesville. (meeting info) (agenda)

This time they will go through the budget for Albemarle Public Schools, discuss the Capital Improvement Program, and debt management. 

Here is some of my previous coverage:

Places29-Hydraulic group to take field trip to Southwood

Albemarle County’s Places29-Hydraulic Committee will meet at 5:30 p.m. but not at the usual place. The group will meet at Southwood Community Center at 387 Hickory St. for a tour of the new community under construction. 

“The Southwood Redevelopment Project plays a key role in Albemarle County’s efforts to create active and vibrant development areas that provide housing opportunities for individuals and families across the income and abilities spectrums,” reads the agenda. “The County is proud to partner with Habitat throughout Phase 1 of the project and is looking forward to Southwood families moving into their new, permanent affordable homes.” 

The event will feature a tour of one of the new units under construction. Can we expect other tours for other advisory committees? What’s the lesson to be learned? 

Some reading material for those who might want to go:

Fluvanna County EDA to get various updates on business promotion efforts

The Economic Development Authority of Fluvanna County will meet at 5 p.m. in the Morris Room in the County Administration Building at 132 Main Street in Palmyra. The meeting can be viewed remotely via Zoom. (agenda)

From the minutes we learn a lot about what happened in 2022 thanks to a report from Economic Development Director Jennifer Schmack. Her office did 105 visits to existing businesses, fielded 53 prospects and real estate inquiries, and made 29 small business referrals. We also learn that the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission has begun their coordination of a regional strategic plan for economic development. 

“Once complete, the EDA will be able to utilize this plan to support their grant applications as they seek opportunities,” the minutes continue. 

After the EDA meeting is complete, the Economic Development and Tourism Advisory Council (EDTAC) will meet in the same place. At this meeting they will discuss a LOVE sign for Palmyra. There also may be news on a $60,000 grant from the American Rescue Plan Act that will pay for a marketing campaign for tourism efforts. 

Share Charlottesville Community Engagement

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Community Center Coalition goes before Nelson County Supervisors; Three land use rezonings in evening session

The five-member Nelson County Board of Supervisors will meet at 2 p.m. for their afternoon meeting at General District Courtroom in Lovingston. That will be followed by a regular meeting at 7 p.m. (agenda)

There are six items under presentations, beginning with a report from the Virginia Department of Transportation. Then there will be a presentation on the audit of the FY22 books. (page 101) (read the audit)

I learned a lot from the report from the Community Center Coalition that’s in the package (page 103). There are seven community centers in Nelson County with the first having been founded in 1992 when the Schuyler Elementary School became the Walton Mountain Museum. The latest community center was formed last year at the Gladstone Train Museum. 

Nelson County has a tradition of reusing old community buildings as community centers (Credit: Nelson County Community Center Coalition) 

That’s followed by a report from the Nelson County Wellness Alliance (page 117). Then a resolution of support for the Nelson County Community Fund.

“The Nelson County Community Fund, Inc. (NCCF), an all-volunteer organization of Nelson County residents, has worked since 2000 to raise and disburse funds to address critical humanitarian needs in our community,” reads the resolution. “NCCF has successfully awarded over $2 million dollars (through February, 2023) in grant funding to local non-profits to address these critical needs.” 

Recent examples include COVID-19 vaccinations for migrant farm workers, a new gymnasium at the Nelson Heritage Center, and food supplements for school children. 

A breakdown of where the grants have gone since 2000 (Credit: Nelson County Community Fund) 

The sixth item is the calendar for the introduction of the budget for fiscal year 2024. According to the staff report, the budget will be introduced on March 28 with budget work sessions on March 30, April 4, and April 6. If any tax rates will be increased, that decision will be made by April 7. If so, that public hearing would be April 20. The public hearing for the budget will be May 9. 

Under new and unfinished business, Supervisors will adopt a resolution to participate in the national opioid settlement. 

There will also be a discussion of proposed amendments to Chapter 3 of the county code related to animals. This is a housekeeping change related to new legislation adopted by the General Assembly, as well as a new definition of livestock. 

“Our department is dealing with livestock at large on a regular basis,” writes animal control officer K. Wright. “The two main issues are livestock in the highway and livestock causing property damage.” 

The officer does not support an ordinance change that would criminalize the practice. 

Then there will be a discussion of a grant application for a historic district for Shipman. To qualify, documents called “preliminary information forms” must be filled out and that process involves property surveys. The Virginia Department of Historic Survey will cover some of those costs. 

There are three public hearings In the evening session.

  • A landowner at 110 Family Lane in Afton seeks a special use permit for an automobile graveyard. A notice of violation was sent to the property owner in August 2022 for the presence of several inoperable vehicles. There are several old race cars for sale. 
  • A landowner on Patrick Henry Highway seeks a rezoning from A-1 to M-2 to open a cabinet shop. The applicant plans to relocate from Amherst County. 
  • A landowner seeks a rezoning from A-1 to B-1 and a special use permit to be able to build a second structure on 0.847 acres at 8207 Thomas Nelson Highway. An existing building is allowed to have commercial on the first floor and residential on the second. The second building would be more of the same. 

Greene Supervisors to hold budget work session, learn about broadband expansion

The five-member Board of Supervisors in Greene County will go into closed session at 4:30 p.m. followed by a regular open meeting at 6:30 p.m. (agenda)

There are no public hearings at this meeting.  

The first presentation will be an update on the Firefly Fiber Broadband project that is being undertaken by the Rappahannock Electric Cooperative. The total project investment is $25 million and about $2.4 million worth of fiber has been installed so far. 

A map of what’s happened with Firefly Fiber installation so far in Greene (Credit: Rappahannock Electric Cooperative) 

There will also be an update from the Ruckersville Advisory Committee on their activities in 2022. These include a recommendation that Greene conduct an audit of its rules on sign placement to reduce clutter, recommendations on a park space to be added to the Tourist Center lot, and a pocket park off of Deerfield Drive. They also would like the county to negotiate an entrance to Preddy Creek Park from the Greene County side. 

Under action items, staff wants to enter into an agreement with VDOT for the agency to remove illegal signs in the right of way. 

“Complainants state the signs are an eyesore and pose a danger to drivers at busy intersections because the signs block the line of sight of oncoming traffic,” reads the staff report. “Removal of Sign Clutter is a recommendation in the Ruckersville Area Plan and has been discussed by the Ruckersville Advisory Committee.” 

Supervisors will also vote to hold meetings on March 23 and March 24 to interview candidates for County Administrator.  After that they will be asked to sign off on grant applications that would go through 7th District Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger’s office. These would be for a training simulator for the Sheriff’s Office and improvements to Greene County Community Park. 

Then there will be a budget work session that will result in a decision to advertise a tax rate for 2023 as well as the budget itself. 

Finally Supervisors will be asked to amend the water and sewer ordinances. The actual changes will be presented to the board at the March 28 meeting. 

Albemarle County Planning Commission to review developer incentives

The temporarily six member Albemarle Planning Commission will meet at Lane Auditorium at 401 McIntire Road in Charlottesville at 6 p.m. There is a vacancy in the Rio District. (meeting info)

There is a public hearing on the expansion of City Church at 1010 and 1012 Rio Road East. This would amend a previous special use permit to add a 10,600 square foot multi-use building. This triangular-shaped property is between CATEC and a section of Charlottesville zoned Corridor Mixed Use 5 in the draft zoning code. That isn’t mentioned in the staff report or the applicant’s narrative, but worth mentioning all the same. 

Next, the Planning Commission will get an update on various housing initiatives since the Housing Albemarle plan was adopted in July 2021. These include a resolution of intent in May 2022 to create an Affordable Dwelling Unit ordinance. Supervisors are to have a work session on that in April followed by an eventual work session in front of the Planning Commission. (staff report)

Some stories for context: 

Charlottesville PC and Council to hold public hearings on two potentially redundant rezonings

The regular meeting of the Charlottesville Planning Commission begins at 5:30 p.m. but the pre-meeting begins at 5 p.m. and often features conversations about items that will come up later. If you have business on the agenda, watching this part is crucial. It’s available in the Zoom call. (meeting info)

There are two joint public hearings both of which take place as the city is rewriting the zoning code to allow more building volume per lot. This may be disorienting but worth reviewing. 

The first is for a rezoning and special use permit for 1120 Avon Street. The property is owned by developer Nicole Scro who is also serving as manager for Chicken Oriented Development LLC, the applicant. The request is to rezone the 0.148 acres from R-1S to B-2 and receive a permit to allow up to 10 units with one designated as “affordable” for a period of 99 years. The staff report describes what would be possible under the future zoning of Residential-C.

“Although the regulations of this new district are not final, the proposed development of the Subject Property exceeds the residential density (8 units) and minimum street lot line setbacks (5 feet) required by the current draft,” reads the staff report. 

“The type of use, multi-family residential, is not consistent with the existing development pattern in this area,” the report continues. “However, the intent of the 2021 Future Land Use Map is to allow increased residential density, infill development and increased variety of housing types.” 

Staff concludes this rezoning is probably unnecessary given the zoning rewrite.  The developer provides a justification. 

“The Project can prevent a lavish home renovation for a single family, and instead allow for up to ten more families to live on the Property, while also reaching households with much lower incomes relative to area median than would be possible otherwise,” reads the narrative (page 186). 

There are nearly 100 pages in the packet from nearby residents urging denial of the request. 

A rendering of the proposed apartment building to be constructed behind a single-family home at the intersection of Avon and Altavista (Credit: Chicken Oriented Development LLC)

The second is whether a Planned Unit Development on land zoned as Urban Corridor should be allowed on properties less than two acres. This is a request from the firm RMD Properties who would like to redevelop a one-acre bank property on Ivy Road. 

“Staff feels that this change is redundant, given that the entire Zoning Ordinance is being rewritten to meet these goals,” reads the staff report. “Although currently in a draft form, the proposed new Zoning Ordinance and Map shows most properties currently zoned Urban Corridor will be upzoned to permit five- to eight-story mixed-use development by-right without the need for a PUD rezoning or other special permit.” 

See also:

There will also be a preliminary discussion on 501 Cherry Avenue. Woodard Properties purchased five lots for $3.5 million last August as I wrote about at the time. They are seeking a rezoning and a special use permit for more density for an adaptive reuse project. 

“The applicant is proposing a mixed-use development with up to 118 units and approximately 18,600 square feet of commercial space,” reads the staff report. “The applicant and their team are looking for feedback from the Planning Commission on the proposed project prior to moving forward to a Public Hearing.” 

Under the new zoning, these properties would be zoned Corridor Mixed Use 3 which could allow up to five stories if bonus conditions are met.

Some massing diagrams for the conceptual review of 501 Cherry Avenue (Credit: Design Development)

One regular business item is an Entrance Corridor Review Board review of 2005 Jefferson Park Avenue. The Planning Commission reviewed this on February 14 but there was an advertising error at the physical location.  

On the consent agenda is an Entrance Corridor Review Board of Hillsdale Place. That’s the name for Riverbend Development’s proposed redevelopment of the former K-Mart Plaza. The materials now show an REI Co-Op in the position, but is that accurate or just a place-holder?

There will also be a report from the Tree Commission on the state of the canopy. 

Is REI a potential tenant? It’s Sunday and so my calls may not be returned. But this is in the packet. (Credit: Riverbend Development)

Albemarle County holding three AC44 “pop-ups” this week 

AC44 is the name given to Albemarle County’s ongoing review of the Comprehensive Plan and we are now in Phase 2. This week the county’s “Let’s Talk Albemarle” van will travel to several locations for “pop-up” meetings to solicit feedback. You can learn more about the process on the Engage Albemarle website.

“Curious about a pop-up? We design these events to be fun and inviting! We’ll ask you a question about a topic of your choosing. Feeling shy? You can write your answer down. Feeling chatty? We’re happy to have a conversation with you! The point of the pop-up is to make the Comprehensive Plan project accessible to a wide variety of folks so the plan can reflect our community – that’s you!”

The first one this week is at Cismont Market at 5412 Louisa Road in Keswick from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. (meeting info)

Want to know about the process to date? Here are some of the stories I’ve written:

In other meetings:

  • The Albemarle Police Citizens Advisory Board meets at 9 a.m. in Room C in the county’s office building at 1600 5th Street. (meeting info)
  • The Fluvanna County Social Services Board will hold their preparation meeting. 

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Nelson County Supervisors and Planning Commission to review Comprehensive Plan 

The Berkley Group is overseeing the update of the Comprehensive Plan in Nelson County. There’s a new revised vision statement. (meeting info)

“Nelson County is a welcoming community that values its natural resources, encourages economic growth, and provides excellent quality of life for all community members,” reads the agenda for the joint work session between the Board of Supervisors and the Planning Commission. 

The main focus for the meeting is to review Chapter 5 on “Creating Livable Communities” and Chapter 7 on “Creating a Resilient Economy.” 

“Nelson County is prime for fresh ideas and new economic investments while retaining the stunning rural character that makes it special for those who call it home,” reads the agenda. 

There’s a lot in Chapter 5 about housing and potential challenges. 

“The housing market in Nelson, when compared to other regional markets such as Albemarle County and Charlottesville, is significantly easier to navigate and cheaper,” reads a description under the objective Project and Improve the Existing Housing Stock. “This creates opportunities for those that don’t work in Nelson to buy up the new and existing housing stock and further exacerbate the difficulties for new homebuyers wishing to live and work in the county.” 

Supervisors and Planning Commissioners have been asked to submit comments by March 22. A county-led focus group will convene on the Land Use and Transportation chapters on April 13, 2023. 

A slide from the presentation on Chapter 5 of the draft Nelson County Comprehensive Plan (Credit: Nelson County / Berkeley Group)

Albemarle Supervisors to hold third budget work session

The Albemarle Board of Supervisors will begin their second regular meeting of the year with a third budget work session. That begins at 1 p.m. in Lane Auditorium. This one will take place after several proclamations including one for Meals on Wheels, the 29th Virginia Festival of the BookWomen’s History Month, and Emergency Management Professionals’ Week. (meeting info) (agenda)

Then the budget work session which will update materials from the two previous sessions. This will also finalize the tax rates and the budget for advertising the public hearing. 

In the evening session, there will be two public hearings. One is for a special use permit for a power transmission line from Esmont to Scottsville. The other is for a special use permit to create two parcels from a 442.42 acre site with one development right each. 

Fluvanna County to hold regular meeting and budget work session

The five-member Fluvanna County Board of Supervisors will hold a budget work session at 5 p.m. followed by a regular meeting at 7 p.m. They meet at the Carysbrook Performing Arts Center at 8880 James Madison Highway in Fork Union. (agenda)

There are no public meetings. 

There are several action matters including a resolution to advertise the 2023 tax rates, the FY2024 budget, and the Capital Improvement Plan. There are also reclassifications of several job titles related to public water and sewer.  

The proposed tax rates for 2023 (Credit: Fluvanna County)

Charlottesville new HAC to meet

Charlottesville’s new Housing Advisory Council will meet for the first time at noon for a virtual meeting. There’s no agenda at publication time. The group’s purview over funding has been transformed to the new Charlottesville Affordable Housing Fund Committee which has not yet met. (meeting info)

“We look forward to the new Housing Advisory Council resuming its work to research, review, and recommend housing interventions that provide greater access to affordable housing in Charlottesville,” said Deputy City Manager Sam Sanders in an email to me. 

In other meetings: 

  • A subcommittee of the Charlottesville Retirement meeting will go into closed session at 8:45 a.m. in the Parks and Recreation Conference Room in the Market Street Parking Garage to discuss investment strategies. (meeting info)
  • The second AC44 pop-up will be held at the Crossroads Corner Shops in North Garden from 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. (meeting info)
  • Charlottesville will hold a three-hour drop-in session from 4 p.m. called Acting on Climate Together at the Carver Recreation Center. (press release)
  • The Citizens Transportation Advisory Committee will meet at 7 p.m. This appears to be a virtual meeting. They will get an update on the long-range transportation plan as well as review of recent grants such as the Safe Streets 4 All award. (meeting page

Thursday, March 16, 2023

5th and Avon group to review tennis courts at Covenant School

Albemarle County’s land use rules have a provision for a community meeting to be held for a rezoning or a special use permit. For projects in the designated growth area, these usually occur at Community Advisory Committee meetings. 

The 5th and Avon CAC will take one up at their meeting which begins at 7 p.m. in the 5th Street County Office Building in Room B. (meeting info)

Specifically, the Covenant School wants to add 2.61 acres at 499 Stagecoach Road to their existing 25.93 acre school campus. 

“The proposal includes removal of the existing house and development of six tennis courts, a storage/restroom building, parking lot of 12 spaces, pedestrian path to existing school campus and existing parking that will be used to serve the courts,” reads the agenda.

There will also be a discussion on “chat kits” for the AC44 process.  

In other meetings:

  • Charlottesville City Council will hold a second budget work session at 6 p.m. in City Space. (meeting info)
  • The third AC 44 pop-up will be held at the Crozet Library from 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. (meeting info)
  • The Charlottesville Board of Zoning Appeals meets at some point but there’s no time of location on the meeting info page. There’s no agenda, either. 
  • Likewise, the Charlottesville Human Rights Commission is scheduled for a retreat at 5:30 p.m. but the meeting info doesn’t tell us where or what’s on the agenda. 
  • There’s also a Human Rights Commission meeting scheduled for 6:30 p.m. at Carver Recreation Center. There’s no agenda for this. Presumably, they’ll meet. (meeting info)

Friday, March 17, 2023

I don’t believe there’s anything scheduled for this day. Did I miss something? Either way, what do you think of this week? What would you like to be covered? This is also the part where I say I’ll likely be on very low bandwidth this week so I’m not sure how much of this I’ll actually be able to cover. I want to write about it all!

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.