Week Ahead for May 3, 2021: Another month, another mass of meetings

Another month begins with the finalization of the budget process in Albemarle and Nelson counties. Fluvanna will consider tax incentives for another affordable housing complex proposed by Pinnacle Construction. Albemarle’s design review board will take a look at the latest large development in Crozet. Louisa gets an update on the group studying the upper end of the county’s age demographics. 

Those items are just a small sample of various decisions and votes that will happen this week that keep buildings being built and community services being provided. And my goal is to provide you each and every week with this overview of what’s happening so that when you see something new getting built, you may not be as surprised. 

The hours of research that go into this weekly newsletter on regional government are covered through a sponsorship by the Piedmont Environmental Council. Thank you, PEC! 

Monday, May 3, 2021

The Charlottesville City Council meets at 6:30 p.m. (meeting info)

There are two public hearings. The first is on the issuance of $18 million in bonds as well as the refinancing of $8 million in previous bonds. These are part of the mechanics of how the city’s capital improvement program works.

“If suitable savings opportunities do not materialize, then only the bonds for the new money will be issued,” reads the staff report

The next public hearing is on the Annual Action Plan for the federal funds Charlottesville receives through the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) process. This particular plan covers all of the localities in the Thomas Jefferson Planning District and the TJPD Commission will have their own public hearing on this item on Thursday. (staff report) (draft plan)

There’s a special use permit request to increase residential density for the Lyndhall Apartments in the Venable neighborhood near the University of Virginia. An existing building would be renovated to accommodate 16 units. (staff report)

Council will also vote on a request for a critical slope waiver for a proposed 21-unit apartment complex at 915 6th Street SE. This is the second proposal for the site and the first was denied by Council in 2019. Since the project has been reduced in scope and size and is down to one single building. The Planning Commission unanimously recommended approval at their regular meeting in April. (staff report)

Image prepared by Shimp Engineering for the application for a critical slopes waiver for a 21-unit apartment building

The final item on the Charlottesville City Council agenda is the hiring of a city attorney. Council interviewed applicants last week in a closed session. The last city attorney, John Blair, left in February to take the same position in Staunton. 

There are 12 items on the consent agenda. Here are some of the highlights:

  • The Charlottesville Police Department received $50,000 in supplemental COVID funding from the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services. The funding was used to purchase three radar-equipped multi-purpose message boards to tell drivers when they are operating their vehicles over the speed limit. (staff report)
  • Charlottesville Area Transit received $265,025 in supplemental funding. A public request for a public hearing was not made, so the item is on the consent agenda. (staff report)
  • Council will hold the first and only reading on $427,176 in Community Development Block Grant funding and $84,576.88 in HOME funding. Council has already approved how the funding will be spent, but precise allocation amounts are now known. For example, the Ridge Street Priority neighborhood project will receive $156,247.20 (staff report)
  • There’s a resolution calling for a public hearing on removal of two Confederate statues in two city parks. The earliest such a public hearing could be held would be June 7, 2021. (staff report)
  • There’s a resolution to amend city code to allow the Police Civilian Review Board to hire its own legal counsel (staff report)
Details for how Charlottesville’s CDBG funding it to be allocated in FY22

In other meetings: 

  • The Albemarle Architectural Review Board will meet virtually at 1 p.m. They’ll consider the initial site plan for the second phase of Glenbrook at Foothills. This will consist of about 100 attached and 20 detached units. That means townhomes and single-family homes. The ARB will also review a small commercial development in Ivy and amendments to a plan to improve the the Keswick Wastewater Treatment Plant. (meeting info)
  • A committee convened by Charlottesville School Superintendent Rosa Atkins will to review names for city schools will hold a public Zoom forum at 5 p.m. to discuss the names of Clark and Venable Schools. (register to attend here)
  • The Louisa County Board of Supervisors will meet at 6 p.m. On the agenda is a presentation from the Commission on Aging, followed by several resolution to appropriate funds in the recently adopted FY22 budgets. For more details on what’s happening in Louisa County this week, subscribe to Tammy Purcell’s Engage Louisa newsletter.(agenda packet)
Location map for Glenbrook at Foothills 

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

The Albemarle Planning Commission meets virtually at 6 p.m. They have two public hearings. (meeting info)

In the first, they will hear a request from the owners of the Blue Ridge Swim Club to amend a previously approved special use permit to construct additional buildings at the historic site including a pavilion and a kitchen. They also seek to extend operating time for the site from April 1 until November 15. Currently they can only operate between Memorial Day and Labor Day. 

“The proposed changes, including the longer camp season, would improve the economic viability of a historic resource, helping to fund its continued maintenance,” reads one favorable factor identified by staff in their report. 

The Blue Ridge Swim Club has been in operation since 1905 and includes a naturally-fed pool. The Field School purchased the property over 100 years later and have operated the Field Camp there since 2011. 

Concept plan for the requested changes at the Blue Ridge Swim Club

In the second public hearing, the Albemarle Planning Commission will consider if the update of the county’s affordable housing policy is compliant with Comprehensive Plan. I’ll have a preview in the next installment of Charlottesville Community Engagement. (staff report)

In other meetings: 

  • The Albemarle Board of Zoning Appeals will meet at 2 p.m. There will be a discussion of how other boards in Albemarle take minutes of their meetings. This topic is of vast interest to me. Different communities have different standards, and there is a growing tendency for people to assume that having audio and video is enough of a public record. As someone who spend a lot of time researching items in minutes, I am grateful for the time and effort that goes into written accounts and I look forward to this discussion. (meeting info)
  • The Charlottesville Tree Commission meets at 5 p.m. The agenda includes an update on what Botanical Garden of the Piedmont seeks to do at McIntire Park. There’s also a report from the city’s arborist on plans to combat the Emerald Ash Borer among other issues facing the city’s tree canopy. (meeting info)
  • As part of the Rivanna River Fest, Albemarle County will hold two walking tours of environmental stewardship projects installed on county-owned land. One is at 4:30 p.m. and the other is at 6 p.m
  • The Nelson County Board of Supervisors meets at 7 p.m. in person at the General District Courtroom in Lovingston. There are public hearings on the FY22 budget as well as the proposed Secondary Six Year Plan. The proposed $42 million general fund budget keeps the real property tax rate at $0.72 per $100 of assessed value. (meeting packet)
Snapshot of the presentation on the Nelson County FY22 budget

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Fluvanna County Board of Supervisors

The Fluvanna Board of Supervisors meets in the Morris Room in the Fluvanna County Administration Building at 4 p.m., but public access is only through Zoom or YouTube. (meeting packet)

The Board will take up a resolution of intent to participate in a regional cigarette tax. The Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission is coordinating an effort and seeking similar resolutions for all the the localities that want to levy the tax. Most Virginia counties could not charge the tax until legislation recently passed the General Assembly. The legislation encourages localities to administer the tax regionally similar to the way the Northern Virginia Cigarette Tax Board operates. 

The Fluvanna Board will also vote on a proposal to purchase two pieces of land totaling 25 acres. They’ll also get a proposal from the developer for the Coves at Monticello, a 124-unit apartment complex that would be built in Colonial Circle. Pinnacle Construction would build the project, which would guarantee all the units would be rented for households with incomes in the 50 percent to 70 percent of the Area Median Income (AMI). Pinnacle is requesting tax incentives for the project in a manner similar to how the Brookdale development was built in Albemarle’s southern designated growth area. 

Albemarle Board of Supervisors meeting

The Albemarle Board of Supervisors meets virtually at 1 p.m. The first action item is to adopt the budget for FY22 and tax rate for the current calendar year.  (meeting info)

Other than that, the meeting is fairly technical, but those technical details are worth knowing about if you’re interested in the future. Let’s say you wanted to convert an existing building to another use, such as a hotel becoming a below-market development for households well below the area median income. Such a project may face questions such as whether the private street inside the development is safe. Who will maintain it? This came up in the recent rezoning for the Premier Circle project, with Premier Circle itself being such a street. The Board asked for a review of county policies on private streets. 

“The main concerns are that over a long period of time, private streets may go unmaintained due to property owners not having the ability to fund proper maintenance,” reads the staff report for the staff analysis. “Unmaintained roads can impact safe and convenient access for property owners and emergency services.”

The analysis was produced by the Community Development Department (CDD). The CDD work program will be discussed next. 

“Projects requested beyond the day-to-day obligations comprise the CDD Work Program,” reads the staff report for that work session. “As time permits and with Board direction, staff folds the work on these items into the regular workflow. Unforeseen priorities and challenges may intervene. Such has been the case with the COVID-19 Pandemic.”

Snapshot from the CDD Work Program presentation
In other business:
  • Supervisors will have a public hearing on the Field School’s request to amend their lease on the Old Crozet Elementary School to add outdoor space they have been using during the pandemic. (staff report)
  • There’s another public hearing on a proposed lease for the Crozet Sports Community Foundation to rent space in the Crozet Library. (staff report)
  • On the consent agenda, there is a resolution of intent for Albemarle to participate in a regional cigarette tax (staff report)
  • Also on the consent agenda there is a critical slopes waiver for the Boys & Girls Club proposed facility at the Lambs Lane Campus. (staff report)
  • There’s a status report on the work the Albemarle Broadband Authority has been doing to expand internet throughou the county (staff report)

Thursday, May 6, 2021

May is Bike Month, and the Charlottesville Bike and Pedestrian Advisory Committee has five minutes on their agenda about the celebration. The city has a website listing events to commemorate the month, which was first marked in 1956. This month you can also rent a Veo bike without paying a $1 unlock fee. Would that entice you? (meeting info)

The committee will also discuss plans for Barracks Road and Preston Avenue which include removing on-street parking spaces for bike lanes. Or, are turn lanes needed? The agenda allots 35 minutes to a discussion of trade-offs. The city held a meeting on April 1 on the topic here that I have so far not watched. Did you? You can do so here and let me know what you think. (video of April 1 meeting)

In other meetings: 

  • The Albemarle Natural Heritage Committee meets at 5:30 p.m. There was no agenda available at production time. (meeting info)
  • The Charlottesville Police Civilian Review Board meets at 6:30 p.m. for another training session. (meeting info)
  • The Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission will meet at 7 p.m. They will also have a public hearing on the Annual Action Plan for CDBG/HOME funding. The regional body will get an update on the Urban Rivanna River Plan and have several items that I look forward to reporting to you about. (agenda packet)

Friday, May 7, 2021

There are no meetings. So, I ask you, what meeting do you think should happen today? 

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.