Even though the quarantine continues, local government is continuing to come back to life with actual meetings where matters are discussed and votes are taken. On April 22, the General Assembly ratified a budget amendment Governor Northam suggested that opened up meetings to more than just emergency business. That’s why we are beginning to see more appointed bodies meeting electronically, beginning this week with the first meeting of the Albemarle Planning Commission in nearly two months.
While I’ve got your attention, I want to take this opportunity to ask you a question:
Does the possibility of attending a meeting via electronic means make it more likely or less likely that you would give a public comment?
If you have a minute to respond, I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Monday, May 4, 2020
Charlottesville City Council holds its first regular meeting of the month beginning at 6:30 p.m. beginning with a public comment session in which members of the community can provide comment, as at any normal hearing. This is in marked contrast with Albemarle County, which has opted to suspend the general public comment period at the beginnings of Board of Supervisor meetings and Planning Commission meetings. (agenda)
Council will hold a public hearing on the action plan for how federal Community Development Block Grant and HOME funding will be spent in the next year. Community Engagement for the plan is coordinated by the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission, which will hold its own public hearing on this matter on Thursday. The federal CARES act has also provided another $246,669 in COVID-19 related funding. Read through the plan and see what you think. (Draft Action Plan)
The Louisa County Board of Supervisors has continued to meet in person, though citizens are only allowed to participate remotely. Tonight’s meeting begins at 5:00 p.m. and will include two public hearings. One is on Louisa County’s plan for secondary road spending and the other is on a continuity of government ordinance. (agenda)
Tuesday, May 5, 2020
The Albemarle County Planning Commission meets at 6:00 p.m. via a Zoom call. The regular public comment period has been removed from the agenda. That was originally listed on the agenda but removed soon after I made an inquiry requesting the public comment period be restored for the Board of Supervisors meetings. The public should be offered more opportunities to be heard than just the bare minimum required by ordinance.
There are two public hearings on the agenda. One is for a special use permit to allow for a car detailing shop to operate at 1833 Avon Street Extended. The other is to amend an existing approval the Field School has to build on developed land on Barracks Road near the intersection with Montvue Road. The Planning Commission has not met since March 10, and I look forward to hearing their perspectives.
Wednesday, May 6, 2020
Charlottesville City Council will hold a budget work session beginning at 4:00 p.m. There are currently no materials on the city’s website about what has changed. On April 20, Council was presented with the need to cut $3 million from the current fiscal year’s budget and $5.7 million from next year. (agenda)
To help with your preparations, here are some resources:
- April 20, 2020 budget presentation to City Council
- Revised FY20 and FY21 budget amendments
- Charlottesville budget website
The Albemarle Board of Supervisors will hold a public hearing on the budget, but it comes at the end of an electronic meeting that begins at 2:00 p.m. They will first discuss two special exceptions for two homestays and a discussion of sidewalk maintenance agreements. The latter may seem obscure, but is an important thing to keep track of in an urbanizing county.
Next in the discussion is a conversation about a retail market study conducted for Albemarle, as well as a study for the Downtown Crozet Market. The tagline for the former states “There’s a lot of potential here.” The retail market study was commissioned by the Economic Development Office in October. The firm Retail Strategies of Birmingham, Alabama, was hired to conduct an in-person visit in November.
“The information gathered from this visit will be used by Retail Strategies and developers to better attract retailers to fill vacant commercial spaces and future commercial developments for a period of two years,” reads the staff report. Among the findings is that 78 percent of consumers prefer to shop in-store, a statistic that is out of date at the moment.
The Crozet Market Study was called for in the 2010 Crozet Master Plan and is intended to inform the redevelopment of the former Barnes Lumber Yard, which is being undertaken by Milestone Partners in partnership with Albemarle County.
Also on the agenda are two public hearings. As mentioned, one is for the revised budget for FY20 and FY21. The other is for a special use permit for a Child Development Center at the intersection of Stony Point Road (Route 20) and U.S. 250. The Planning Commission recommended denial on a 4-1 vote at their meeting on February 4 in part because the proposal is not consistent with the Comprehensive Plan designation for the land. (staff report)
Thursday, May 7, 2020
The Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission consists of Albemarle, Fluvanna, Greene and Nelson counties, as well as the city of Charlottesville. The Board of Directors will meet at 700 p.m. in a remote meeting. (agenda and sign-up information)
On the agenda are two public hearings. One is for the aforementioned plan for how to spend CDBG and HOME funding. Action items include approval of an agreement on how the TJPDC uses funds from the Department of Rail and Public Transportation and the Rural Transportation Work Program for FY21.
Friday, May 8, 2020
So far, there is nothing yet on the agenda that I am aware of. Perhaps I will take this day to learn more about composting, as this is International Compost Awareness week. I recently bought a pail to divert my food scraps from my trash can, and ultimately the land fill. This week I plan on talking a lot about my efforts to learn more on my Twitter account.
Finally, what are you up to? Are there specific issues that you are concerned about?
Let me know how I can help. I want to hear.
Field Representative – Albemarle, Charlottesville and Greene
The Piedmont Environmental Council