Cville Area Land Use Update: Week of May 22, 2023

I will begin this entry by confessing I have spring fever and had hoped to get this one out in time for me to go enjoy the Rivanna Riverfest that’s happening today. That did not happen so I finished up underneath a tree at the Rivanna River Company while sitting with friends. It’s a beautiful day and there’s so much to learn thanks to the various nonprofits that have set up booths. That includes the Piedmont Environmental Council.

Some highlights this week:

  • Both the Albemarle County Planning Commission and the regional transportation body will get a look at new planning tools intended to implement equity and climate action goals.
  • Charlottesville’s public housing agency is buying another property in the city for future use.
  • Greene County Board of Supervisors will adopt an updated Comprehensive Plan.
  • Charlottesville City Council and the Planning Commission will discuss the mechanism by which changes to the draft zoning map will be update.
  • There’s an opportunity for community members to weigh in on Albemarle County’s new Comprehensive Plan.
  • Fans of transportation planning have two regional meetings to attend this week to learn about alternative fuels, infrastructure for electric vehicles, and the next round of road projects.
  • There’s no meeting in Louisa County but I’d double check with Tammy Purcell at Engage Louisa just to be certain. 

Thanks to the Piedmont Environmental Council for their continued sponsorship of this newsletter.

Monday, May 22, 2023

CRHA purchasing another property

The Board of Commissioners for the Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority meets at 6 p.m. in City Council Chambers. This will be their first regular meeting in over three years but it will not be broadcast by the city. (agenda on cvillepedia)

The main item is consideration of another property acquisition. CRHA is seeking to purchase 100 Harris Road in the Fry’s Spring neighborhood for $275,000. This is a three-bedroom structure on 0.209 acres with a 2023 assessment of $369,000. (read the resolution

In other meetings:

  • The Board of Directors for the Fluvanna Department of Social Services meets at 3 p.m. in the first floor conference room at the department headquarters. (meeting info)
  • The James Madison Regional Library’s Board of Trustees meets tomorrow at 3 p.m. at Northside Library. (agenda)
  • The Albemarle Historic Preservation Committee will meet at 4:30 p.m. in Room 241 of the Albemarle County office building at 401 McIntire Road. On the agenda is a discussion of topics for local historic markers. (meeting info)

Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Greene County supervisors to take up Comprehensive Plan

The five-member Board of Supervisors in Greene County will meet at 5:30 p.m. in the county meeting room in the administration building in Stanardsville. (agenda)

There are three public hearings.

The first is for the Virginia Department of Transportation’s Secondary Six-Year Plan for FY24 through FY29. Currently the plan is to pave sections of Ice House Road, South River Road, and Welsh Run Road. (view the presentation)

The second is for changes to the county ordinance related to signage including a reflection of the new agreement between VDOT and Greene County to remove signs illegally installed in the right of way. (staff report)

The final hearing is on the Comprehensive Plan, which has been updated by the Planning Commission and reviewed by Supervisors at a workshop on May 9. The best way to see the changes is to view the comparison document which tracks all of the various changes. I hope to write up some of the workshop before this meeting. 

Under action items, Supervisors will consider a request to further review the current tourist lodgings to see if they need to be altered. 

“The Greene County Zoning Ordinance allows tourist lodging by right and special use permit in the A-1 and C-1 zoning districts,” reads the staff memo from Jim Frydl, the county’s director of planning and zoning administrator. “In response to citizen concerns, the Board would like staff and the Planning Commission to review the current regulations and recommend changes to further support public health, safety, and welfare while supporting property rights and tourism.” 

Albemarle PC to review new tool to advance equity and climate action goals

A major goal of Albemarle’s ongoing review of its Comprehensive Plan is to incorporate other plans and principles into the everyday business of county government. The Board of Supervisors adopted a climate action plan in October 2020 and equity has become a core principle. 

On Tuesday, the Albemarle Planning Commission will take up an attempt to implement a strategic plan goal to “develop tools for integrating climate action and equity into programs and services.” (meeting info)

“To ensure that our service is equitable, staff throughout local government must be able to assess the probable implications on different groups in our community of any given initiative,” reads the cover letter for the Equity and Climate Action Lens.  “By incorporating the perspectives of equity and climate action in our work now, we will be setting ourselves up for a resilient, equitable, thriving community in the coming decades.” 

In the tool, three preliminary questions are to be asked of all new initiatives beginning with: “Does the initiative account for preexisting disparities and climate impacts that intersect with the issue at hand?” 

Then there are seven questions and initiatives will be ranked according to whether it improves the status quo or whether it has an incidental or meaningful impact. These questions will be asked first of the Comprehensive Plan as it is developed. 

The Planning Commission meets at 6 p.m. in Lane Auditorium of the Albemarle County Office Building at 401 McIntire Road. 

The seven questions to be asked of every new initiative in Albemarle County through the Equity and Climate Action lens. (View the presentation) (Credit: Albemarle County)

Zoning discussions continue in Charlottesville with potential map changes looking

I will be the first to admit that I’ve not been able to watch all of the discussions that Charlottesville City Council has had with the Planning Commission regarding the draft zoning that has still not yet been completely rolled out to the public. The third of three drafts was to have been released in early April but has yet to come out.

Perhaps it will be released before the two bodies get together again for their latest work session. I would have liked to have written those up given that the minutes for these work sessions are are no more than two pages. The last work session was four hours long and I confess my story only covered two of those hours.

There is a memo dated May 17 on how requests to change the draft zoning map will be handled. (page 2 of the meeting package)

“The Zoning Map proposed as part of Module 1 of the zoning rewrite project is based on the Future Land Use Map of the Comprehensive Plan,” writes James Freas, the city’s director of neighborhood development services. “Given the importance of the zoning map, it is understandable that together, the zoning map and Future Land Use Map (FLUM) have generated a significant number of comments.” 

The memo addresses requests from some in the community for even more residential density than allowed under both the draft zoning and the Future Land Use Map adopted as part of the Comprehensive Plan. The staff report covers highly specific areas and this will definitely be an important work session worth watching and reporting on. One identified change applies to West Main Street. 

“The draft zoning map mistakenly applied the [Commercial Mixed Use 8 zoning district to the entire length of Main Street rather than just the area west of the bridge,” the report continues. “The east side was meant to be CX-5.” 

The zoning for Friendship Court is proposed to be changed from Node Mixed Use 10 to Corridor Mixed Use to eliminate a requirement that space on the first floor of a building should be 14 feet high for commercial use.

Other potential changes would stop streets from being zoned one way on one side and another on the other. 

“One principle in urban design is the idea that ‘like should face like,’” Freas writes. “Essentially, this concept denotes that both sides of a street should have complimentary scales or intensity of use.”

Will this mean a downzoning on one side or an upzoning on the other? 

This work session will be held in CitySpace and begins at 5 p.m. The calendar item says it will end at 6 p.m. but that’s likely far from true. (meeting info)

In other meetings:

  • The Rivanna Solid Waste Authority meets at 2 p.m. and will have a public hearing on the FY24 budget and fee schedule, as well as a special presentation on special collection events. They meet at 695 Moores Creek Lane. (agenda)
  • The Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority meets immediately after in the same place. They will have a public hearing on the FY24 budget, the capital improvement program for FY24-FY29, and the rates for FY24. (agenda)
  • The Nelson County Board of Supervisors have a continued meeting at 3 p.m. but the calendar item doesn’t have an agenda. 

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Albemarle holding Comprehensive Plan open house 

One of the major products of the first phase of AC44 Comprehensive Plan review process in Albemarle has been the creation of the “Framework for an Equitable and Resilient Community” to guide the development of a guiding document. 

“This framework prioritizes equity and resilience as key principles to guide our policies and practices for the next 20 years,” reads the framework. The Planning Commission discussed this document back in September.

Now county staff are holding a series of open houses to get community input with the first happening tonight from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at Journey Middle School. 

What questions do you have about the AC44 process so far? Ask in the comments. (meeting info)

The image for the Framework for an Equitable and Resilient Community (Credit: Albemarle County)

Regional transportation body to meet

I’d wager less than one percent of the public has even a small understanding of how transportation projects are selected, funded, implemented, or forgotten. One goal of my reporting is to increase that number and I’m hopeful I can sharpen up my coverage of the role played by the Charlottesville-Albemarle Metropolitan Planning Organization. 

That body meets on Wednesday at 4 p.m. and consists of two elected officials each from Albemarle County and Charlottesville as well as the head of VDOT’s Culpeper District. These meetings are filled with jargon and references to plans required by the federal government. I love them and want to spread the excitement. (agenda)

Three items jump out on this agenda. The first is a presentation from VDOT on the Virginia Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Deployment Plan which has been set up to help localities and other governments prepare to receive up to $5 billion for the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) program.

“The Commonwealth of Virginia is expected to receive approximately $100 million over 5 years under the NEVI program and is eligible to apply for additional funding under the $2.5 billion discretionary grant program,” reads an August 2022 report from VDOT

Each state has to develop a deployment plan to qualify. This is where it gets a bit too complicated to convey in a summary of upcoming meetings. 

The second item is an update on the long-range transportation plan which is required by the Federal Highway Administration. The public engagement for this hasn’t happened yet and before it does staff have followed Albemarle’s example of applying an equity and climate action lens, though they’ve also thrown in quality of life for good measure. 

The third item is a discussion of the next Smart Scale candidate projects as well as the potential projects VDOT may identify for key areas. One of these is the U.S. 29 / U.S. 250 interchange with Ivy Road. As growth at both the University of Virginia and on private-owned land continues, many community members are concerned about approving development before infrastructure is in place. 

People want to know about this stuff. It just takes reporting to get it out there, and that’s what I intend to keep doing. 

An image of the MPO’s equity, climate action, and quality of life lens to be applied to the Long Range Transportation Plan (Credit: Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission)

In other meetings: 

  • Charlottesville will hold a meeting at 5 p.m. to update anyone interested on the status of a plan to list the Downtown Mall on the National Register of Historic Places. The meeting info has no information on where this meeting is taking place. 
  • The Albemarle Broadband Authority will have a regular meeting at 5 p.m. in Room 241 of the Albemarle County Office Building at 401 McIntire Road. Acronyms not explained in the agenda include BAAO, DHCD, BEAD, VML, VaCO and the venerable VATI. (meeting info)
  • The Albemarle Fire/EMS Board will meet at 6 p.m. in Room 235 of the Albemarle County Office Building at 401 McIntire Road. (meeting info) (agenda)
  • The Greene County Board of Zoning Appeals is scheduled to meet at 6:30 p.m. There’s no agenda at publication time. (meeting portal)

Thursday, May 25, 2023

Private school seeks expansion; Places29-Rio to hold community meeting

One function of Albemarle County’s Community Advisory Committees is to serve as the forum for official “community meetings” for rezoning and special use permits. The Places29-Rio CAC will hold one of these at their meeting which begins at 6 p.m. in Room 235 of the Albemarle County Office Building on McIntire Road. (meeting info) (agenda)

This request is from Community Christian Academy on Old Brook Road. They want to increase the enrollment from 85 to 150 students. The original permit was granted in 2012. 

“We had incremental growth for multiple years but when the pandemic shut down the public schools for in-person education, we suddenly filled up all our classes,” reads the application’s narrative

Regional Transit Partnership to discuss alternative fuels

The Regional Transit Partnership is another transportation body staffed by the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission. They meet at 4 p.m. at Water Street Center at 407 E. Water Street. (agenda)

At this meeting, both Jaunt and Charlottesville Area Transit will present their report on alternative fuels. The Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transit will present on its modernization plans. VDOT will present their electric vehicle infrastructure plan.

Should make for a good story! 

In other meetings:

  • The Operations Subcommittee of the Albemarle Solid Waste Alternatives Advisory Committee will meet at noon in Room 246 of the McIntire County Office Building. (meeting info)

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.