Week Ahead for May 10, 2021

The entire region is growing. The point of this newsletter is to describe each and every week what will be happening at local and regional meetings. The hope is to inform you of opportunities you might take to say something about what you’d like to see happen in the future. 

I’ve now spent over a dozen years writing about planning and hope to cover as much of the following as possible. It’s very difficult for people to follow all of this, and my job is to pay attention so I can inform you of what’s happening. There’s usually a lot, and this week is no exception. 

Charlottesville’s Comprehensive Plan moves into a more public phase this week as a consultant hired by the city to oversee its update seeks input on the latest revisions. Even if you don’t live within city limits, the discussions will give insight into what sort of a consensus there may be about the kind of community that will be in place in the future. 

Monday, May 10, 2021

The consultant hired to complete the update of the Charlottesville Comprehensive Plan and to rewrite the zoning code has opened up another round of community engagement through May 31. The Cville Plans Together initiative has already resulted in a completed affordable housing plan, which was adopted by Council in March. 

Now Rhodeside & Harwell has released an updated version of the Future Land Use Map as well as the drafts of several chapters of the Comprehensive Plan itself. This past weekend, I wrote an update of where things stand. This is in advance of a webinar that begins at 6 p.m. Find out more on the latest engagement page. (Register for the webinar)

Take a look at the new version of the draft Future Land Use Map in this interactive map where you can also leave comments

The Village of Rivanna Community Advisory Committee meets virtually at 7 p.m. The main item on the agenda is a community meeting for the latest version of the Breezy Hill development from Southern Development. At one point the project sought to rezone 84 acres from Rural Area to R-4 to build up to 200 units. The Planning Commission recommended denial last July and the number of units was reduced to 130 units. The Board of Supervisors failed to approve the revised rezoning request this January.

Now the project is back with a scope that has been further reduced and now they are asking for a rezoning to R-1 and a maximum of 79 units. 

“There is an existing and rapidly growing demand for neighborhood residential low density lots and homes in Albemarle County,” reads the narrative. “To satisfy this demand in an orderly and sustainable way and to take pressure off of the rural areas, new single-family detached lots in the growth area are necessary and desirable.” 

What will VORCAC members think? How does this fit into Albemarle’s housing goals? 

The location map for the Breezy Hill development

In a third meeting today, the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission will hold a webinar beginning at 5:30 p.m. on the next round of Smart Scale applications. If you’re interested in advocating for a specific major transportation project, this would be a good place to begin participating. More on Smart Scale in the section for Wednesday. (meeting info)

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

The Charlottesville Planning Commission meets at 5 p.m. for a quick discussion about their agenda before going into virtual session at 5:30 p.m. (meeting info)

The main event of the night is a joint public hearing with City Council on a request for a rezoning, a special use permit, and a critical slopes waiver for a project at 1613 Grove Street. For anyone interested in the Comprehensive Plan and discussions of affordable housing, this should be an interesting case study about how the current plans work. Or don’t. 

The subject property is 0.652 acres and the developer seeks to build four apartment buildings each with seven two-bedroom units. That’s a total of 28 units. The current Comprehensive Plan calls for the land to be low-intensity residential. 

As part of the project, the applicant proposes to offer $48,000 to the city for construction of sidewalk improvements on Valley Road Extended. They also said they would help restore a portion of Rock Creek in the area. The narrative notes that the sidewalk they plan to build would be more useful if a tunnel is drilled underneath the railroad right of way for a multi use path as called for in the city’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan. 

During a community meeting in March, some attendees noted the narrowness of Valley Road Extended, which is the only road in and out of that section of the neighborhood. Others said the density was too much for such a small lot. 

Also on the agenda is a presentation from the Botanical Garden of the Piedmont. Not on the agenda is a check-in with the Cville Plans Together initiative. 

In Albemarle County, the Planning Commission will meet at 6 p.m. On their agenda is a work session on the Transportation and Conservation sections of the Crozet Master Plan. The master plan is a component of Albemarle’s overall Comprehensive Plan and has been under review since September 2019. Much of the community engagement process has taken place virtually and I wrote about the March 10 meeting of the Crozet Community Advisory Committee.

The transportation chapter is a very important one as many who do not prefer additional development have said that the roads are too congested as they are.

“Throughout the Crozet Master Plan update, community members identified improving multimodal connectivity as an opportunity and traffic congestion as a concern,” reads the draft chapter. “Top priorities included enhancing walkability within the Downtown area, around parks and schools, and to and from existing neighborhoods and destinations such as Downtown. Other priorities included addressing traffic delays, increasing safety of the bicycle and pedestrian network, and providing more multimodal options for commuting.” 

A section from the draft Transportation chapter

The Fluvanna Planning Commission meets at 7 p.m. On their agenda is a request from Virginia Electric and Power Company for a sanitary landfill on 65 for “coal combustion residuals” from the Bremo Power Station. (meeting info)

“In 2019, the General Assembly of Virginia enacted legislation that requires VEPCO to remove the CCRs from the existing CCR impoundments at the Power Station and deposit the CCRs into a lined landfill that meets federal and state regulatory requirements and/or be recycled,” reads the staff report. 

In other meetings:

  • The Albemarle County Department of Social Services Advisory Board meets at 3:30 p.m. (meeting info)
  • The Nelson County Board of Supervisors meets in-person beginning at 2 p.m. at the General District Courthouse in Lovingston. On the agenda in the afternoon session is a report from the Virginia Department of Transportation and adoption of the FY22 budget. In the evening session are public hearings on a 180 foot tall cell tower as well as potential change to the zoning ordinance to allow wineries in business zones with a special use permit. (meeting info)
  • The Greene County Board of Supervisors meets in person for first time in a year in the county meeting room in Stanardsville. There are no public hearings at this meeting. Instead, supervisors will adopt the budget for Fiscal Year 22, get a presentation on the regional cigarette tax board, as well as an update on the Central Virginia Regional Jail. (agenda)
  • The Fluvanna Planning Commission meets at 7 p.m. (meeting info)

Wednesday May 12, 2021

Did you know that the city of Charlottesville received funding for three streetscape projects in the very first round of the Virginia Department of Transportation’s Smart Scale process? One of these is for the $11.7 million Fontaine Avenue Streetscape which terminates at the city’s border with Albemarle just to the east of the Fontaine Research Park. A key step in the development of any VDOT-funded project is the “design public hearing” which will be held tonight at 6 p.m. (meeting info)

The consultant for the project RK&K is ready to go, and materials for the meeting are already live for you to review. These include a video on the process, a video simulation of what Fontaine Avenue would look like post construction, as well as various documents. 

A still shot from a video animation of traveling along the Fontaine Avenue Streetscape (Credit: RK&K)

The Crozet Community Advisory Council meets at 7 p.m.  The main item on the agenda is a discussion of where the Crozet Master Plan revision stands at the moment. The land use chapter is a specific topic. There will be a discussion of how the chapter may be revised given input from both the community and the Board of Supervisors. (meeting info)

In other meetings:

  • The James River Water Authority meets at 9 a.m. (meeting info)

Thursday, May 13, 2021

Thursdays appear to be days best represented in bulleted lists. 

  • The Albemarle Conservation Easement Authority meets at 4:45 p.m. (meeting info)
  • The Charlottesville Parks and Recreation Advisory Board meets virtually from 5:30 p.m to 7:30 p.m. (meeting info)
  • The Louisa County Planning Commission meets at 6 p.m. For more information on what’s on their agenda, check out Engage Louisa. (agenda)
  • The Charlottesville Police Civilian Review Board meets at 6:30 p.m. There is no agenda posted at production time. (meeting info)

Friday, May 14, 2021

The Charlottesville Historic Resources Committee meets virtually at 11 a.m. The main item on the agenda is planning for the commemoration of the Slave Auction Block in Court Square. (meeting info)

There will be a pop-up information session on the Cville Plans Together initiative at Reid’s Market from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. (learn more)

Saturday, May 15, 2021

There are a pair of pop-up events in public for the Cvilel Plans Together initiative. The first will be held at the Farmers Market at Ix Park from 8 a.m. to noon. The second will be at the Jefferson School City Center from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. (learn more)

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.