Week Ahead for May 9, 2022: Charlottesville PC to review 390-bedroom building on Jefferson Park Avenue; Nelson County Supervisors to resume discussion of Ridgecrest Mobile Home Park

So far there have been 18 weeks in 2022. What significant things have happened already? This regular weekly newsletter is only concerned with what’s coming ahead in the next several days, and always, there’s a lot.

  • Charlottesville Planning Commission will consider a seven-story building on Jefferson Park Avenue, as well as a seven-unit building on Harris Street.
  • Fluvanna County will consider a special use permit to allow Louisa County to build water and sewer infrastructure along the right of way of U.S. 250.
  • Albemarle County has several opportunities to provide input on the Comprehensive Plan ‘s first phase, which revisits the growth management policy. There are two opportunities to learn what’s happening with Climate Action Planning.
  • Greene County will adopt a budget, and Nelson County holds a public hearing on theirs.

In this 19th week of 2022, there’s also at least one reference to a discussion that’s already taken place. It is my hope to increase the public’s general knowledge of how things get built, and I’m grateful to all of the supporters who help make that happen. Please share this with others you think might be interested in knowing when these types of things are occurring.

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 9, 2022

Albemarle Board of Equalization to start work 

The Albemarle Board of Equalization will hold an organizational meeting virtually at 1 p.m. to begin their work for 2022. (meeting info)

“The Board of Equalization shall hear all complaints and objections to real estate assessments from the taxpayer or his agent,” reads the county’s website on the six-person entity

There are three new members this year. Bob Beard now represents the Samuel Miller District. Evan Mayo has been appointed to represent the Scottsville District. Waki Wynn will represent the Rio District. 

Members are appointed for one year terms. Last year’s Board met seven times. 

In other meetings:
  • Albemarle’s Fire/EMS Executive Committee meets virtually at 4:30 p.m. On the agenda is a discussion of funding for the expansion of the North Garden Volunteer Fire Company building, as well as a discussion of a draft policy on fighting fires at single family homes. (meeting info)
  • The Fluvanna Economic Development and Tourism Advisory Council is scheduled to meet at 6 p.m. but there’s no further information available on the county’s website. (meeting info)
  • The Village of Rivanna Community Advisory Committee meeting has been canceled because there are currently no members. The group resigned via a Substack post in April. (meeting info anyway)

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Charlottesville Planning Commission to take up two apartment buildings, 5th Street WaWa

It’s a busy night for the Charlottesville Planning Commission who will meet in CitySpace for their first in-person meeting in over two years. They’ll meet for a pre-meeting beginning at 5 p.m. followed by the opening of the regular meeting at 5:30 p.m. The meetings will be televised as well and public comment can be given virtually. (meeting info)

After announcements and a first round of public comments, the first public hearing will begin. 

The first covers an item that had been on the April agenda but was deferred. 

A Charlotte, North Carolina company has hired Mitchell / Matthews Architects and Partners to obtain a special use permit for a 119-unit apartment building in the 2000 block of Jefferson Park Avenue on 1.71 acres, with a bedroom count of up to 390. The permit is for additional density and height as well as reductions in parking requirements. Several existing structures would be demolished to make way for the new building.

“The most likely final outcome will be a mix of one-, two-, three-, and four-bedroom units,” reads the staff report. “Although it is true that comparable developments are located in this area (as it relates to density and height), these developments are located farther north on JPA.”

According to city property records, the owner of the property is LAMSON, NORMAN, TR GADIENT JPA LTD TR with a Scottsville address. That entity purchased two of the three parcels in January 2005 for $3 million. They closed on the third parcel on March 9, 2022, paying $800,000 for a 0.226 acre lot that contains an apartment building constructed in 1957. 

The building would be seven stories from Jefferson Park Avenue and would total 51,200 square feet. Under the new Future Land Use Map, the property is now designated for Urban Mixed Use Corridor. 

“The proposed redevelopment of 2005 JPA will increase the neighborhood’s housing stock in a location that can both support increased density and that has been earmarked by the City for increased residential use,” reads the narrative prepared by Mitchell / Matthews Architects and Planners. “Specifically it will increase purpose-built student housing, which will decrease the pressure on single-family residential neighborhoods that are increasingly being populated by student rentals.” 

The Planning Commission must also weigh in as the Entrance Corridor Review Board on whether the project will meet the city’s Entrance Corridor guidelines. 

A rendering of the proposed 119-unit building in the 2000 block of JPA (Credit: Mitchell and Matthews Architects and Planners

Additional density requested on Harris Street

The second public hearing will need to be repeated again in June due to an advertising error. The owners of 923 Harris Street (an entity called 923 Harris Street LLC) seeks a special use permit for additional density for a new four-story building on 0.11 acres. A single family house built in 1920 currently stands on the property. The owners purchased the property last December for $311,000, which at the time was over 86 percent over the 2021 assessment. 

The developer seeks to build seven two bedroom units, and only two are allowed by-right. There would also be a ground floor commercial use. They also seek a reduction in parking requirements. The property is designated under the Future Land Use Map as Business and Technology Mixed Use. 

“The greater Charlottesville area has a shortage of housing, particularly in walkable and transit-oriented locations,” reads the narrative written by staff at Shimp Engineering. “The Comprehensive Plan suggests that it is advantageous to locate housing where vehicular transportation is not required. This site is walkable to numerous jobs and amenities, including the Preston Avenue shops and stores and McIntire Plaza.”

This project triggers the current threshold for the city’s affordable housing requirements. The developer will pay into the affordable housing fund.

In the final item, the PC will transform into the Entrance Corridor Review Board to review the planned WaWa on Fifth Street Extended. 

“Formerly the site of a Hardee’s restaurant, the existing structure will be razed, replaced with a one to one and a half story convenience store,” reads the staff report. 

The Entrance Corridor Review Board can only take a vote based on aesthetics, and this is a by-right use.

At their next meeting on May 24, the Commission and City Council will have a work session on potential improvements to 5th Street to make it safer. 

The location for the seven-unit mixed-use building proposed for Harris Street (Credit: Shimp Engineering)

Three public hearings at Fluvanna PC meeting

The Fluvanna Planning Commission meets at 7 p.m. at the Carysbrook Performing Arts Center at 8880 James Madison Highway in Fork Union. There are a total of three public hearings, one of which touches on regional cooperation. (meeting packet)

In the first and second public hearing, a property owner seeks a conditional rezoning for 6.4 acres from agricultural to business on land within the Rivanna Community Planning Area. The proposed use is a contractor’s storage yard, which also requires a special use permit.

“The applicant owns a local electrical company and is seeking to establish a contractor’s storage yard, to operate his electrical contracting business on-site with a proposed 1,000 square feet of office space for his business and potentially another office space tenant,” reads the staff report. (page 10)

In the third, Louisa County is building water and sewer lines from Fernhill to Shannon Hill along the right of way of U.S. 250. To do so, they need a special use permit along several parcels of land in the Columbia Election District. The staff report refers to the infrastructure chapter of the 2015 Comprehensive Plan. 

“The cost effectiveness and efficiency of water and sewer infrastructure is critical to the county,” reads the staff report (page 39). “These systems are carefully managed and require cooperation from the county and state, with particular attention to future operations and maintenance needs.”

The map depicts the parcels in Fluvanna County that Louisa County wants to construct water and sewer pipes along (Credit: Timmons Group)

Greene County Board of Supervisors to adopt budget 

The Greene County Board of Supervisors has a full regular meeting to begin their month. They meet in-person in the county meeting room in the administration building in Stanardsville. There’s a closed session at 5:30 p.m. followed by an open meeting at 6:30 p.m. (agenda)

The first item on the agenda is an update on the Firefly Rural Internet Service Expansion (RISE) project from the Central Virginia Electric Cooperative. 

“Firefly Fiber Broadband is partnering with multiple counties and utilities to bring reliable, high-speed internet to Central Virginia. Construction of a fiber network is a multi-phase project that begins with planning, partnership development, and grant/funding acquisition before moving into the make-ready engineering, make-ready construction, and fiber construction phases,” reads the Firefly website, which includes a chart that is frequently updated with progress.

Consult the Firefly construction update page to track the project’s progress (Credit: Firefly Fiber Broadband)

The main item on the agenda is the adoption of a $76.3 million budget for FY2023, followed by action on the spending of funding from the American Rescue Plan Act. The latter involves $334,880 for the purchase of an ambulance and $300,000 for stormwater mitigation as part of streetscape improvements in Stanardsville. Next, Supervisors will vote to approve a program to use Virginia Department of Forestry funding to improve a stream buffer on county property in Stanardsville. 

Other items include an update from the Virginia Department of Transportation, a vote on the Secondary Six-Year Plana memorandum of understanding to govern Rangeland Archery’s use of the Greene County Community Park for periodic archery events, and an amendment of the by-laws for the Greene County Tourism Council

Nelson Supervisors to hold public hearing on budget built on real estate tax rate reduction

The Nelson County Board of Supervisors meets twice today with start-times at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. They meet in the Nelson County Courthouse in Lovingston in the General District Courtroom. (packet)

The afternoon session features a series of reports and presentations, including a review of the proposed increase in the transient occupancy tax from five percent to ten percent. That will bring in an additional $1.3 million in unrestricted revenue. Revenue from the first three percent must go to tourism programs per state law.

The evening session will feature a public hearing on the budget, which includes a seven-cent reduction on the real estate tax from 72 cents to 65 cents per $100 of assessed value. There’s also a reduction in the personal property tax from $3.45 to $2.79 per $100 of assessed value. (page 75)

To conclude the evening, Supervisors will resume consideration of granting a special use permit to civil engineer Justin Shimp for a mobile home park near the Ridgecrest Baptist Church. Supervisors were at a 2-2 stalemate in April on the matter and Supervisor Tommy Harvey was absent. Check out my story from then on the Information Charlottesville archive.

Concept plan for the Ridgecrest Mobile Home Park (page 125) (Credit: Shimp Engineering)
In other meetings: 
  • The Fluvanna County Social Services Board Preparation Meeting will be held at 11:30 a.m. at the Wahoo Barbeque Restaurant at 10 Centre Court in Palmyra, Virginia. (meeting info)
  • The Albemarle Police Citizens Advisory Committee will meet virtually beginning at 9 a.m. This meeting has been postponed twice. One item on the agenda is “an introduction to the complex issues associated with the intersection between Public Policing and Mental Health” issues from Dr. Brian Williams. He’s an associate professor of public policy at the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy. (meeting info)
  • The Emergency Community Center’s Management Board Steering Committee will meet virtually at 3 p.m. (meeting info)
  • The Let’s Talk Albemarle crew will take their van to the Forest Lakes Farmer Market  beginning at 4 p.m. for another discussion of the Albemarle County Comprehensive Plan. The first phase is underway and covers the county’s growth management policy. (meeting info)
  • The Albemarle County Planning Commission is scheduled to meet at 6 p.m. but the only item on the agenda has been deferred to July 12, 2022. I wrote about the Heritage on Rio project back in October 2021. There is a planned discussion of appointing a new liaison to the Historic Preservation Committee. (meeting info)
  • The Charlottesville Electoral Board meets at 6 p.m. for what appears to be a virtual meeting. They usually meet in the City Hall Annex. (meeting info)

Wednesday. May 11, 2022

Site plan conference for 77-unit apartment building on River Road

How many units are in the planning process in Charlottesville? Does anyone have a count? Whatever the number, add another 77 units proposed at 900 River Road next to the AutoZone and across from the Tractor Supply store. 

Shimp Engineering has submitted a site plan for a by-right development for the 3.7 acre property that would also include 2,000 square feet of office space. 

“The preliminary site plan for this project, currently under review by the City, does not require nor request any modifications to the regulations of that zoning district in order to develop this property,” reads the notice to adjoining neighbors. (read the notice)

A slide from the presentation shows the building almost entirely along River Road on around a third of the property. The rest of the land slopes downward toward the Rivanna River and much is within the floodway. The section of the land where the building would be constructed is within the one percent exceedance floodplain. 

The topic of floodplains came up during a recent rezoning that Shimp Engineering was part of on Nassau Street. Here are two paragraphs from a story I posted on February 12, 2022. (read the story)

One percent annual exceedance is another way of saying 100-year flood, a term that can be somewhat misleading because such heavy volumes do in fact happen more frequently.  Properties that are prone to flooding can still receive insurance through a program monitored by the Federal Emergency Management Agency [FEMA] 

“The city agreed to partner with FEMA as floodplain managers when we signed on to the National Flood Insurance Program,” Dawson said. “City property owners get access to insurance through the NFIP exchange and in return we agreed to create a floodplain development ordinance with a series of minimum standards.” 

The preliminary site plan for 900 River Road in Charlottesville

Crozet CAC to chat climate 

Earlier this spring, Albemarle’s transportation staff briefed the county’s community advisory committees on transportation issues. The Crozet group had their turn in March, as I reported.

At tonight’s meeting of the Crozet Community Advisory Committee, the group will get an overview of the county’s climate action planning in Albemarle from Gabe Dayley. He’s the climate protection program manager. (meeting info)

Before you go, take a look at the Climate Action Plan adopted by the Board of Supervisors in October 2020. Or, take a look at the stories I write on the topic at Information Charlottesville. 

In other meetings:
  • The regularly scheduled James River Water Authority meeting has been cancelled. They usually meet on the second Wednesday of each month. 

Thursday, May 12, 2022

Louisa Planning Commission to take up solar rules, short-term rentals

The Louisa County Planning Commission will meet twice in person in the Louisa County Meeting Room. The first time will be at 5 p.m. for a long-range work session at which two sections of the county’s Land Development Regulations will be discussed. (meeting packet)

The first relates to the rules for Utility Scale Solar Generation Facilities. A draft amendment would place minimum requirements for megawatts to be produced, to cap the total amount of land that can be approved for their use, and other changes. 

A map of existing utility scale solar generation facilities in Louisa County 

The second relates to short-term rentals. 

“At the February 14, 2022 Board of Supervisors meeting, residents expressed concerns with the increase of short-term rentals at Lake Anna and encouraged the Board to establish and adopt an ordinance to regulate short-term rentals and to protect the properties and amenities at Lake Anna,” reads the staff report (page 14). 

There will be public hearings on both of these items immediately after the long range work session, or 7 p.m. if that meeting ends early. (meeting packet for public hearings)

There’s also a third public hearing for a conditional use permit to allow a property in the rural area in the Patrick Henry voting district for limited business events.

“I’m applying for using the property as a special occasion facility on cottages, and also permission for grass parking,” reads the application for Evergreen Farm at Rocky Creek. “I sent separate letters to all the adjoining neighbors to tell them about it and listen to their opinions, and no objections were answered back.” 

Will that maintain at the public hearing? 

The presentation in the packet states the property would be used for weddings, and part of the plan is to build 12 cottages and a pavilion. 

For more on all of the topics from Louisa County, do visit Tammy Purcell’s Engage Louisa newsletter on Substack.

One of the images from the presentation on the events at Evergreen Farm at Rocky Creek (begins on page 50 of the packet)
In other meetings:
  • Albemarle County staff working on the Comprehensive Plan review will hold a virtual office hours session from noon to 1 p.m. The AC44 process is within the first phase which is taking a look at the county’s growth management policy. (meeting info)
  • Fluvanna County will hold an open house on its Comprehensive Plan review in the Fluvanna County Library Meeting Room. (flyer)
  • The Places29-North Community Advisory Committee will meet virtually at 7 p.m. While an agenda has not been published yet, the group will also be briefed on the county’s climate action planning process. (meeting info)

Friday, May 13, 2022

Charlottesville’s Historic Preservation Committee meets at 11 a.m. On the agenda is a discussion of Engagement of the Descendant Community for Court Square/Slave Auction Block site, a work session on the Downtown Walking Tour Map, and a discussion on signage at the Pen Park Cemetery. (meeting info)

Saturday, May 14, 2022

Albemarle County is reviewing their Comprehensive Plan and the Let’s Talk Albemarle group will be at the Batesville Day Festival from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. (meeting info)

The Batesville Day Festival itself lasts from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. There’s activity all day including yoga, a miler and stone throw, a plant exchange, a children’s parade, a Maypole dance, and two cake walks. Music starts at noon with the Central Virginia Blues Society, followed by a bluegrass jam at 2 p.m., the Red Hill Ramblers at 4 p.m., Magister of Sparks at 5:30 p.m., and the Blake Hunter Band at 6 p.m. (learn more)

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.