Week Ahead for May 31, 2022: Last chance to weigh in on Smart Scale projects in Albemarle; UVA considering new 1,000 space parking garage to serve Emmett – Ivy corrido

I hope everyone had a reflective and restful Memorial Day. I opted to take a couple of days off and get this out early this morning. May 31 is the fifth Tuesday of the month and no regular meetings are scheduled, but Nelson County kicks off their Comprehensive Plan process. Despite being a four-day week, this one seems quite full.

Other highlights this week include: 

  • The University of Virginia’s Board of Visitors meets later in the week, as well as its Buildings and Grounds Committee
  • Albemarle Supervisors has a full meeting in which they’ll select a new Planning Commissioner from a slate of three, and in which they’ll endorse transportation project for future funding 
  • Fluvanna County Supervisors to be briefed on regional hazard mitigation plan 
  • The public can get details on an project enabled by an affordable housing project in Belmont by a rezoning in August 2019
  • Albemarle County and the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission will approve all of the various Smart Scale projects that are due on August 1

As always, thank you to The Piedmont Environmental Council for their continuing support of the research that goes into this newsletter each and every week. 

Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Nelson County kicks off Comprehensive Plan process 

The 2020 U.S. Census recorded 15,020 people in Nelson County. How many people will live there in 2040? The Weldon Cooper Center at the University of Virginia forecasts a decline, but is that realistic in an era where there appears to be growth pressure everywhere else in the region.

However the future winds up, the Nelson Board of Supervisors has authorized the hiring of the Berkley Group to facilitate the update of the Comprehensive Plan.  The last plan was adopted on October 8, 2002. (current plan

A public workshop will be held at 6 p.m. though no location is listed in the agenda. This meeting does not appear to be on the county’s calendar. I suspect this meeting is being held at the General District Courtroom in Lovingston. 

The Berkley Group has provided some materials in advance for the workshop. These include a document prepared in July 2016 by the Virginia Chapter of the American Planning Association called “Managing Growth and Development in Virginia: A Review of the Tools Available to Localities.” (meeting packet)

“A Comprehensive Plan enables local government officials and citizens to anticipate and deal constructively with changes occurring within the community,” reads page 11 of that document. “Typical topics addressed in a Comprehensive Plan include the analysis of population change, land use, and economic trend, natural and environmental features, housing, transportation systems, and community facilities and services.” 

The document is well worth a read for anyone interested in land use and planning. Also worth reading is the Berkley Group’s own guide to Comprehensive Plans. 

The Berkley Group has also produced a diagnostic of the current plan and concludes work needs to be done to ensure best practices are included in the new document.

“The plan can be strengthened by including current housing conditions, locations, and needs, as well as strategies to address housing needs in the County as required by the code of Virginia,” reads the section on findings. “The Designated Development Areas, along with the development models, should be reviewed and updated, as appropriate based on community engagement findings, planned capital projects, and future growth needs.” 

The plan also suggests including information on housing included in the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission’s regional housing plan.

The project website will go live on June 15 as will an online survey on July 1. A series of public workshops will be held throughout the summer. Draft content will be available for public review beginning in September. Adoption will be at a time to be determined according to the draft schedule. 

Some of the weaknesses the Berkley Group identified in the current Comprehensive Plan

Wednesday, June 1, 2022

Charlottesville to hold a site plan conference for affordable housing at Hinton Avenue church 

City Council granted a rezoning in August 2019 for the Hinton Avenue United Methodist Church from R-1 to Neighborhood Commercial Corridor to allow for construction of a 15-unit multifamily building on church property. The project is called Rachel’s Haven, and a site plan review conference will be held virtually at 10 a.m. There’s no agenda available at publication time. (meeting info)

Albemarle Supervisors to talk transit vision, consider rezoning for 102 units in Places29-North

The Albemarle Board of Supervisors will meet in person at Lane Auditorium for their first meeting of June. (agenda) (meeting info)

First on their agenda is an update from School Board Chair Graham Paige. Dr. Patrick McLauglin has been approved as the Assistant Superintendent and will continue to lead strategic planning for the division. He’s been chief of strategic planning since 2018. Charmane White is the new director of the transportation division and continues to lead efforts to address a shortage of drivers. 

The name of Greer Elementary School continues to be reviewed as per the city’s naming review policy. Potential names are Blue Ridge Elementary School, Hydraulic Elementary School, Gecko Elementary School, as well as an affirmation of continuing to call the school after Mary C. Greer. A survey closed on May 27. 

Next, Supervisors will be presented with the Regional Transit Vision, a project funded by the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation with additional resources from Albemarle County and the city of Charlottesville. The Regional Transit Partnership had a briefing on May 26 and I’ll have more information in the next edition of Charlottesville Community EngagementIn the packet is a summary of community engagement efforts as well as a vision statement with goals and objectives

After that, Supervisors will get a briefing on the build-out analysis for the Comprehensive Plan. This is the same presentation the Planning Commission received last week, as I wrote about in the May 24 edition of CCE. Read that story here.

The four phases of the Albemarle County Review Process 

After that discussion, Albemarle County will consider the four candidates for the Virginia Department of Transportation’s Smart Scale process. They are:

Additionally, the Thomas Jefferson Planning District and the Charlottesville-Albemarle Metropolitan Planning Organization will submit eight projects on Albemarle’s behalf:

In the evening session that begins at 6 p.m., there are four public hearings. 

  • Woodard Properties is seeking a rezoning to alter the classification of steep slopes from managed to preserved. The existing zoning on the 5 acre property is R-15, which means a 74-unit multi-family apartment complex would be by-right except for the presence of slopes. The Planning Commission approved a rezoning 6-0 at its meeting on March 1, 2022. (staff report)
  • Riverbend Development is seeking a rezoning from Commercial to Planned Residential Development on vacant land at the intersection of Proffit Road and Worth Crossing in the Hollymead Town Center area. They also need a special exception to waive a stepback requirement for additional height.

    Riverbend seeks to build as many as 102 residential units in the “two over two” fashion for a project to be known as Maplewood. Some are for sale and others are for rent. No spoke at Planning Commission public hearing on March 1 which featured a failed motion to deny followed by a motion to recommend approval that passed 5-1. I regret not covering that topic because the minutes are interesting because Commissioners did not seem to feel the project quite ready. (staff report)
  • Supervisors will hold a public hearing on an extension of the existence of the Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority. The enabling authority for the RWSA expires on June 7 and Supervisors and City Council both have to extend it. (staff report)
  • Supervisors will hold a public hearing on raising their compensation by 10 percent to $19,042 a year. (staff report)
Illustrative plan for the Maplewood development on Worth Crossing (Credit: Riverbend Development) 

Fluvanna Supervisors to discuss hazard mitigation, potential noise control ordinance

The Fluvanna Board of Supervisors will meet at 5 p.m. at a different location than usual. The five-member elected body will gather at the Fluvanna County Library in Palmyra. (meeting packet)

There are no public hearings, but there are several presentations. In the first, the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission will give an update on the Regional Hazard Mitigation Plan. Each jurisdiction has suggested several “mitigation action items” for which to be responsible. For Fluvanna, that includes:

  • Increase the number of trained emergency responders, both staff and volunteers
  • Install new fire hydrants along James River Water Authority water line
  • Conduct register disaster response drills in schools, and with staff at Assisted Living Facilities and Nursing Homes
  • Continue and expand the number of citizen alert systems
  • Implement community notification protocols before, during, and after a disaster event
  • Development Continuity of Operations Plans (COOP) for locality departments and update the plans annually
  • Carry out a targeted educational campaign in subdivisions at high risk for fire impacts
  • Bring in experts to conduct in-house staff training in best management practices in hazard mitigation and preparedness
  • Develop evacuation plans for dam breaches from Charlottesville-area dams

Such planning efforts can help to secure grants such as from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The TJPDC will submit the plan to FEMA later this year.

There will also be updates on firing range improvements for the Sheriff’s office, a semi-annual report on the Children’s Services Act, a briefing on donations of two sets of light poles and fixtures from the University of Virginia for Pleasant Grove Park, as well as a discussion of an amendment to the noise control ordinance.

Earlier in the meeting, the Board will update a memorandum of agreement with the Fluvanna County Arts Council. The Supervisors and the Planning Commission have been using the Carysbrook Performing Arts Center since October 2021 for meetings due to the need for spacing between those in the audience. The MOA has not been updated since 2008. 

A timeline from the development of the Regional Hazard Mitigation Plan (Credit: Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission)

Thursday, June 2, 2022

UVA’s land use committee to discuss new projects, including new parking garage on Ivy Road

The University of Virginia’s Board of Visitors meets this week with all manner of policy committees gathering as well. One of them is the Buildings and Grounds Committee which meets at 2:15 p.m. in the Rotunda. They’ll vote on name recommendations for three projects and will get an update on the $2.83 billion 2022 Major Capital Plan. (meeting packet)

Those namings:

  • Six courts at the Boar’s Head Sports Club will be named after various philanthropists
  • A courtyard at Monroe Hall will be named for the Klotz family for Roddy Klotz and Nazee Batmanghelidj
  • A bridge in the new arboretum and botanical garden at the Inn at Darden will be named after 1980 Darden graduate Steve Voorhees

The Major Capital Plan will be amended to authorize planning and design for three projects, and to add four more projects beyond what the Buildings and Grounds Committee saw in March. The new projects are:

  • Darden Student Housing (no cost estimate)
  • A new parking garage on ($54 million estimate)
  • Physics Building Classrooms ($7 million)
  • Pinn Hall Integrated Spatial Biology Core Consortium ($8.5 million)

“The 2019 Parking and Transportation Master Plan projected a near-term parking inventory shortfall associated with increased demand due to growth and reduced parking supply due to various capital projects,” reads the item on page 32 of the agenda packet

That same plan also sought to reduce parking demand but the report states that more spaces are needed for both employees and patrons for athletic events. A further study was conducted in 2021. Now, a committee is recommending construction of a new 1,000 space facility that can be built with transit in mind. 

There will also be a progress report on the 2030 Grounds Framework Plan. UVA has hired the firm Urban Strategies. The Charlottesville Albemarle Metropolitan Planning Organization got a briefing on that in late January. Read my story if you want more context. 

There are seven “big ideas” in the proposed plan. One of them is to support the creation of new student housing to support the goal of requiring second year students to stay on Grounds. Another is to take a “green approach” to land owned by the University of Virginia Foundation that is near grounds. 

The B&G Committee will also get an update on construction pricing from Don Sundgren, the associate vice president and chief facilities officer. Costs have increased nearly 25 percent since March 2020. The Contemplative Commons project underway is 12 percent over the estimate. The School of Data Science is seven percent over estimate and the UVA Hotel and Conference Center is 30 percent over the estimate.  Sundgren will offer potential solutions. 

The eight projects proposed to be added to the Major Capital Plan, including the $54 million parking garage 

Online hearing for the North 29 Corridor study 

The Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission and the Virginia Department of Transportation have been working on a study of the U.S. 29 corridor between Airport Road in Albemarle County and Deerfield Drive. A public meeting was held in-person on May 19 for community members to review concepts for improving six intersections along the way. 

However, Greene County Supervisor Davis Lamb asked for another meeting in a May 20 email to VDOT. 

“I feel that VDOT either is slow or so busy that they only send out their email the day before the actual virtual meeting is to take place,” Lamb wrote. “Please remember that citizens have other jobs and meetings that require their time, so they need advance notice.”

The virtual meeting will be held from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. via Zoom. (register)

TJPDC to get broadband update, approve Smart Scale projects

After two years, the Board of the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission will meet once again in-person at the TJPDC offices on Water Street in Charlottesville. The public can still view the meeting online. The meeting begins at 7 p.m. (agenda) (Zoom registration

The TJPDC will get an update on steps required to move forward with the $79 million grant from the Virginia Telecommunications Initiative for the Firefly Fiber Broadband project to expand internet access throughout rural areas. VATI is a program of the Department of Housing and Community Development. There are various contracts that have to be entered into between localities and the TJPDC and the DHCD. 

As mentioned above in the Albemarle , the TJPDC is submitting several Smart Scale projects on behalf of Albemarle County. They’re also doing the same for other jurisdictions.

  • Route 600 South Boston Road at Route 618 Monticello Road: Project will add a left turn lane to the Northbound Rte. 600 approach to the intersection. (Fluvanna County)
  • Route 631 Troy Road and US250 Roundabout: Project will convert the existing 2-way stop controlled intersection to a roundabout. (Fluvanna County) 
  • Route 53 at Turkeysag Trail: Project will convert a 3-leg un-signalized intersection into a roundabout with crosswalks, sidewalks and shared use paths. (Fluvanna County)
  • US29/Route 616 Carpenters Mill Road/ Commerce Drive Improvements: (Resubmitting Round 4 application). Project will modify a 0.73 mile corridor with existing median crossings into a Superstreet to help facilitate safer movements crossing Route 29. (Greene County)
  • US33/Route 1071 Greencroft Boulevard Intersection Improvements: Project will close crossover relocating westbound left turns to U-turn and southbound Through and left turns to the crossover just west of [Advance] Mills Rd. The project will also relocate the eastbound left turns and northbound Through and left turn and to a new U-turn crossover east of the current intersection. (Greene County) 
  • US33/Route 743 Advanced Mill Road Intersection Improvements: Project will close crossover relocating westbound left turns to U-turn and southbound through and left turns to the crossover just west of Advanced Mills Road. The project will also relocate the eastbound left turns and northbound through and left turn and to a new U-turn crossover east of the current intersection. (Greene County)
  • Route 208/US250 Intersection Improvements: Project will convert the existing intersection to a roundabout that will include a park and ride lot on the parcel to the northeast of the intersection. (Louisa County)
  • Route 15/US250 Intersection Improvement: Project will provide an innovative intersection improvement in the form of a roundabout to address safety and operations issues. This project will include a shared use path along the east side of Route 15 and will have crosswalks on the north and west side of the proposed roundabout. The proposal includes a full intersection improvement that will involve changing this intersection from a multi lane traditional four-way signaled intersection to a four-way roundabout with dedicated right turn lanes. (Louisa County) 
  • Spring Creek Parkway/Camp Creek Parkway/Route 15 Intersection Improvements: Project will include. Signal re-timing, reconfigure three intersections, install two roundabouts adjacent to the main intersection. Removing left turn movements and relocating them to the roundabouts in order to create the bowtie configuration. (Louisa County)
  • US 29 at Route 653 Improvements: Project will make turn lane improvements on Route 29 North and South, intersection improvements and alignment on Oak Ridge and Route 29 with additional capacity, with lane addition up to Diggs Mountain. (Nelson County) 
  • Route 6 at Route 151 Intersection Improvements: Project will widen the east leg of the intersection creating a wider receiving lane for turning vehicles. (Nelson County) 
  • Route 151 at Tanbark Road Intersection Improvements: Project will make a variety of intersection improvements to improve safety. (Nelson County) 

Albemarle’s finances to be reviewed by committee 

The Albemarle Audit Committee meets virtually at 2 p.m. What do they do? (meeting info)

“[The] primary function is to assist the Board in carrying out its oversight responsibilities by reviewing financial information provided in the County’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, by reviewing any material weaknesses in the County’s system of internal accounting controls, as reported by the external auditor, and by reviewing the annual audit process and its results,” reads the website for the committee.

There’s no agenda available for this meeting. The two Supervisors on the Committee are Ned Gallaway (Rio) and Jim Andrews (Samuel Miller) as well as School Board Member Ellen Osborne and Chief Financial Officer Nelsie Birch. The committee last met on June 4, 2021. 

In other meetings: 

  • Albemarle’s Natural Heritage Committee meets virtually at 5:30 p.m. They’ll get an introduction to the new director of planning, Candice Perkins. (meeting info)

Friday, June 3, 2022

There are no meetings that I can determine at this time except for the ongoing meeting of the University of Virginia Board of Visitors. 

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.