Week Ahead for May 16, 2022: Both Albemarle and Charlottesville to consider parkland acquisition; Citizen transportation group to be briefed on climate action plans

It takes about eight hours to produce this newsletter each week and when I start work I’m not sure if there will be a theme or not. Local government touches so many aspects of our lives, and when you look at all of the meetings in the Thomas Jefferson Planning District each week, patterns for each installment emerge.

  • Both Albemarle and Charlottesville will consider potential expansion of parkland, with the city poised to use a new mechanism to preserve open space that will provide a revenue source for future land acquisition. 
  • Three regional advisory boards for transportation will meet the same week that various Boards of Supervisors will be asked to consider how they want to spend secondary road money. One of those boards will provide a forum to learn about the intersection between climate change action and how we move around. 
  • Fluvanna County Supervisors will review a master plan for public utilities that seeks to ensure there’s capacity for that locality’s growth areas to fill in, while Albemarle Supervisors will be asked for an easement to allow for expansion of a sewer line near the airport. 

The goal of this newsletter is to over time build up your awareness of how all of these pieces fit together – or don’t fit together. The 21st century is complex, and we face many problems as a civilization. Local government is one place to look for solutions and my work is intended to get more community members at the table. Or at least aware of it. To see everything you may have to click through to the website.

I continue to be grateful for the support from the Piedmont Environmental Council for covering the cost of my time to produce this newsletter each week. Mark your calendars for a May 21 celebration of PEC’s 50 years to take place at Mistwood in Rapidan in Orange County with a keynote address from environmentalist and activist Terry Tempest. (learn more)

Monday, May 16, 2022

Albemarle ARB to consider final design for Chipotle in Hollymead

The Albemarle Architectural Review Board meets virtually at 1:00 p.m. This is a five-member body appointed by the Board of Supervisors to review projects that are within the county’s Entrance Corridors. (meeting info)

The major item on this agenda is a review of the conversion of a former T.G.I. Friday’s restaurant into a Chipotle restaurant. The new use is more autocentric than the existing building as the new franchise will be served by a two-lane drive-thru that culminates into a tower. 

Information on the site and potential designs from the staff report (Credit: Albemarle County) 

Charlottesville City Council to consider acquisition of land that would trigger new fee to register deeds 

The five-member Charlottesville City Council meets at 4 p.m. for a work session in City Council Chambers, and again at 6:30 p.m. for the regular meeting. Community members can participate in public comment periods remotely. The work session is virtual only, but up to 23 people can attend in Chambers. (meeting info

The first work session topic is an update from Jaunt and specifically an introduction to the new CEO, Ted Rieck. Rieck started at the organization in December and previously worked for a transit agency in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Jaunt serves the localities of the Thomas Jefferson Planning District as well as Buckingham County.

The second work session topic is an update and review of property that the city leases to others. Or is it on leases the city pays to others? Not sure, because there’s only a placeholder in the agenda. 

One item on the consent agenda is first of two readings for a $141,000 grant from the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development from Virginia Housing Solutions Program to fund various for the current fiscal year. The funding goes to programs across the continuum of services offered by the Haven, PACEM, the Thomas Jefferson Area Coalition for the Homeless, and the city of Charlottesville. (staff report)

In the first action item, Council will vote to authorize the issuance of up to $26 million in bonds for various capital improvement programs. Council has already approved these projects by adopting a budget so this is a technical matter. (staff report)

Next, Council will hold a public hearing on a proposal to use funding from the Virginia Outdoors Foundation to purchase property adjacent to the western side of McIntire Park for the purposes of building a trail. As one of the conditions, the Charlottesville Circuit Court must begin charging a $3 fee for the recording of each deed with the proceeds going to the Commonwealth of Virginia for the benefit of the Virginia Outdoors Foundation. 

“The benefit of this VOF grant program is that it provides an ongoing source of funding which will be separately maintained as designated solely for the purpose of providing grants to localities acquiring fee simple title or other rights, interests, or privileges in property,” reads the staff report explaining the new fee. The recording of an open space easement with the VOF triggers the Circuit Court’s ability to collect the fee. 

The parcel in question is a triangular-shaped parcel behind three homes on Grove Road that would allow for a public easement to connect with the U.S. 250 Commuter Trail. 

The general location of the parcel that the Virginia Outdoors Foundation will hold an open space easement on. This will create a new source of revenue for further land acquisitions. (Credit: Charlottesville GIS)

Next, Council will consider approval of an action plan for federal funding intended for housing projects. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development provides funding to municipalities through Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) and the HOME program. 

“Federal law and regulations require this funding to be spent through a very detailed and specific planning process,” reads the staff report.

Mainly, the money must be spent and used before the end of the next fiscal year. More clearly, that’s June 30, 2023. The city doesn’t exactly know how much it will receive yet, but Council and the Planning Commission had a joint public hearing on how the money should be spent. 

This is a table that lists how the CDBG and HOME funds from HUD will be spent in FY23. Do you know all the acronyms? (staff report)

Finally, Council will hold the first of two readings on a proposal to use $1.5 million in city funds as a grant to help low- and moderate-income households and individuals with the costs of home ownership at a time when assessments are up and the real estate tax rate has begun an upward trend. 

“In the face of a continuing—and worsening—affordable housing crisis, there is a significant number of persons whose status as homeowners is tenuous due to rising transportation, utility and food costs, rising real estate and personal property taxes, and other circumstances that result in costs of homeownership exceeding reasonable portions of a family’s income,” reads the staff report.

Under the proposal, the Director of Social Services will be responsible for disbursing the money according to eligibility rules that will be determined by the Commissioner of Revenue. Applications will be made to the Commissioner of Revenue. Recipients must be individuals with no other real estate holdings and must live within their home. The home can’t exceed a value of $420,000. 

The eligibility rules

In other meetings:

  • The Places29-Hydraulic Community Advisory Committee meets virtually at 5:30 p.m. On their agenda is an update on Albemarle County’s climate action planning. (meeting info)
  • The Fluvanna Partnership for Aging meets at 4 p.m. (meeting info)
  • The seven-member Louisa County Board of Supervisors meets at 5 p.m. in closed session and then in open session at 6 p.m. On the agenda is the Human Services Advisory Board Annual Report and a resolution to authorize a budget supplement to the Parks and Recreation Department for a grant from the Virginia Department of Education for Child Care Stabilization. (meeting packet)

Tuesday. May 17, 2022

A $200,000 innovation grant for Charlottesville BioHub requires an Albemarle EDA contribution

The Albemarle Economic Development Authority will meet virtually at 4 p.m. (agenda) (meeting info)

Last August, the Albemarle Board of Supervisors and the EDA sent a letter to the Virginia Innovation Partnership Corporation supporting Charlottesville BioHub’s application for funding through their Regional Innovation Fund. That organization used to be known as the Center for Innovative Technology until a rebranding last year.

The application was successful and Charlottesville BioHub was awarded $200,000 and the county agreed to contribute a $25,000 match. 

“The Authority continues to find that Charlottesville BIOHUB’s mission, operations, and plan to advance biotechnology industry cluster groups and to connect and support entrepreneurs and early-stage concepts and teams in this cluster continues to promote economic development in Albemarle County and the surrounding region,” reads a resolution

Next, the EDA will be asked to endorse another support letter and match request for the Community Investment Collaborative’s application for a grant from the Small Business Administration. The grant is known as the Program Related Invested in MicroEntrepreneurs.

“Our ask today [is for] $25,000 to support CIC programs supporting Albemarle residents: entrepreneur workshop, mentoring, financial management program, and microloan program,” reads one of the slides in the presentation

There will also be a presentation on the Comprehensive Plan review that’s currently underway. In the closed session, the EDA will discuss Project Bee Friend and Project Poma, as well as an outstanding loan to the Lewis and Clark Exploratory Center. 

A slide from the presentation to be given to the Albemarle Economic Development Authority regarding Charlottesville BioHub (view the presentation)

In other meetings:

  • The Metropolitan Planning Organization’s Technical Committee will meet virtually at 10 a.m. and will be asked for resolutions of support for eight Smart Scale applications. (agenda)
  • The Rural Transportation Advisory Council meets virtually at 1 p.m. There will be an update on the proposed bowtie intersection at Zion Crossroads as well as an item with the title “Lovingston Intersection Project.” (meeting info)
  • The management board for the Emergency Communications Center will meet virtually at 2 p.m. They’ll get a status report on the update of the P25 Public Safety Radio Project. (meeting info)
  • The Albemarle County Department of Social Services Advisory Board will meet virtually at 3 p.m. (meeting info)
  • The Fluvanna Board of Zoning Appeals meets at 7 p.m. in the Fluvanna County Morris Room at 132 Main Street in Palmyra. There’s a public hearing on a request for a variance to reduce the side yard setback for Cardinal Ventures, Inc. (meeting packet)
  • The Charlottesville Sister Cities Commission will meet virtually at 4:30 p.m. There’s no agenda at publication time. (meeting info)
  • The Charlottesville Board of Architectural Review will meet in-person at CitySpace beginning at 5 p.m. (meeting info)

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Albemarle Supervisors to consider accepting land to expand Byrom Park

The Albemarle Board of Supervisors will meet in Lane Auditorium beginning at 1 p.m. with a hybrid option available for those who want to make public comment remotely. (agenda) (meeting info)

Albemarle County has a knack for encouraging donations of land for public parks. The 20.4 acre Brook Hill Park is the newest and comes from a gift from the Oglesby-Haugh Family. There’s also the 400 acre William Woods Natural Heritage Area donated to the county in 2011 and the 600 acre Patricia Ann Byrom Forest Reserve Park donated in 2004.

Now the county has been approached by a woman who wants to purchase an additional 65 acres adjacent to Byrom Park to expand it. (staff report)

“As population grows and development takes up more and more precious forest habitat and scenic farmland, the need for outdoor space in Albemarle County will only increase,” wrote Terry Grant in a October 27, 2021 letter to parks director Bob Crickenberger. 

Grant is requesting the land be used for hikers, birdwatchers, and more passive uses. 

“I know there’s a lot of pressure to open up our public parks to mountain bikers, and their volunteer corps is very helpful in cutting trails,” Grant wrote. “However, my preference is to limit the recreational use of this parcel to people on foot who are interested in the ‘slow’ appreciation of the place.” 

A map of the existing Patricia Ann Byrom Forest Preserve

Next the Supervisors will get a briefing on the role that the county’s Emergency Management Coordinator plays within the Department of Fire Rescue. The position was created in November 2019, before the pandemic.  This briefing is intended to clarify what is expected of elected and appointed officials during an emergency which has the four phases of “planning for, mitigating, responding to, and recovering from.”

“Board members play an important role in supporting the community in each of the four phases of disaster,” reads the staff report. “Clarity on that role allows for effective and efficient communication between Board members, staff, and the community.”

Now that the local COVID emergency is over, in person meetings for top Albemarle bodies have been held. Now it’s time for a timeline for a second tier of bodies including the Architectural Review Board, the Board of Zoning Appeals, and others. Details weren’t fully available at publication time but take a look at the staff report for more information. 

There are four public hearings in the evening:

  • The first is for Albemarle’s proposed uses for its Secondary Six-Year Improvement Plan, which includes paving of rural roads. (staff report)
  • The second is for a request from the Albemarle County Service Authority to grant easements on two county-owned parcels to upgrade what’s known as the Airport Trunk Sewer Upgrade project (staff report)
  • The third is for a request to extend the jurisdictional area for public water to a barn near Scottsville that is not currently authorized to receive it. (staff report)
  • The fourth is a request from the Crozet Sports Community Foundation to lease more space at the Crozet Library. (staff report)

Fluvanna Supervisors to hold work session on public utilities planning, consider name for new county-owned business park

The five-member Board of Supervisors will meet for a work session at 5 p.m. followed by a regular meeting at 7 p.m. They’ll be at the Carysbrook Performing Arts Center in Fork Union. (meeting packet)

Dewberry Engineering is working with the county’s Public Works Department on a master plan for public utilities. 

“The purpose of this Utility Master Plan (UMP) is to provide the Fluvanna County (County) and its Public Works Department (PWD) with a roadmap for its planning of improvements, upgrades, extensions, and expansions to meet future needs while maintaining cost-effective water and wastewater service to a growing number of County costumers,” reads the executive summary. (page 10)

The plan looks at Fluvanna’s section of Zion Crossroads, the Fork Union Sanitary District, and service areas in Palmyra with an eye of looking at the year 2045. Dewberry concludes there is currently not enough water supply to meet the projected demands for urban residents and businesses and suggests ways to meet demand. This is a very important study for the future of Fluvanna and worth reporting on later in the month. 

One public hearing is on the Virginia Department of Transportation’s Secondary Six-Year Plan for the county. Another is for a rezoning of county-owned land from A-1 to I-1 for the future county-owned business park at Fork Union (page 137). Draper Aden’s master plan for the site is also available in the packet (page 157). 

But what will be its name? Fork Union Commerce Park? Fork Union Business Park? Fork Union Industrial Park? Fork Union McForkUnionFace Park? Probably not the latter, as this isn’t up for a poll. (page 189)

Location map for the business park at Fork Union 

Albemarle and Charlottesville climate plans to be presented to citizen transportation panel

The policy board of the Charlottesville Albemarle Metropolitan Planning Organization has three committees which are set up to advise on transportation issues. One of them is the Citizens Transportation Advisory Committee (CTAC) and they meet virtually at 7 p.m. (meeting info)

The main event at this meeting will be a set of presentations from Albemarle and Charlottesville officials working on climate change mitigation. CTAC is made up of appointees from both communities, so this will be an interesting conversation about how reducing single occupant vehicle trips can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transportation sources. 

In other meetings:

  • There is a virtual site plan conference for a project called Belmont Condos at 10 a.m. but there is no information on the link. I’ll find out more and will have something in Tuesday’s CCE newsletter. (meeting info)
  • The Joint Albemarle and Charlottesville Community Policy and Management Team meets virtually at 3:30 p.m. (meeting info)
  • The Nelson County Board of Supervisors has a continuation of last week’s meeting scheduled at 4 p.m. (calendar item)
A slide from the presentation to be made by Susan Elliott, the city’s climate protection program manager (Credit: City of Charlottesville)

Thursday, May 19, 2022

Final public meeting for U.S. 29 study in northern Albemarle, southern Greene 

The Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission and the Virginia Department will hold a final public meeting for the Route 29 North Corridor Study at 7 p.m. This meeting will be virtual. The study is intended to take a look at potential changes to the roadway between Airport Road and Deerfield Drive. (meeting info).  

In other meetings:

  • Albemarle County’s Fifth and Avon Community Advisory Committee will meet virtually at 6:30 p.m. (meeting info)
  • Charlottesville’s Board of Zoning Appeals meets virtually beginning at 4 p.m. There’s no agenda available at publication time. (meeting info)
The scope of the study area (Credit: Virginia Department of Transportation) 

Friday, May 20, 2022

There are no meetings that I can see on the calendar, but perhaps I’ve missed one? 

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.