The last few weeks have had the illusory quality of looking like they may be quiet. Of course, that’s never how things turn out in a community such as ours that is in transition from what it was to what it will be. But what about this week? Seems busy.
Both Charlottesville City Council and the Albemarle Board of Supervisors meet, but things are quiet in the surrounding counties of the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission. The Greene Planning Commission will consider emergency services, but that’s the only meeting of note outside Albemarle and Charlottesville.
As always, thanks to the Piedmont Environmental Council for their support for this newsletter. Each and every week begins with this review of what’s coming up.
Monday, July 19, 2021
Charlottesville City Council will meet virtually at 4 p.m. for a report. This time focuses on efforts to reform the juvenile justice process. The city and several partners received a grant last year from the Annie E. Casey Foundation to work with the Center for Juvenile Justice Reform on a project to transform probation for youth. (meeting info)
“Implementation partners include the original team plus community based organizations and schools, including Conscious Capitalist Foundation,” reads the staff report.
The presentation includes a statement of the Casey Foundation’s vision for the project.
“Transform juvenile probation into a purposeful intervention targeted to youth who pose significant risk for serious reoffending,” reads the statement. “Partner with families and communities to promote personal growth, positive behavior change and long-term success (as opposed to surveillance and compliance), as a means to protect public safety — and do so in ways that promote racial and ethnic equity.”
On the consent agenda:
- At their emergency meeting on July 7, Council held first reading on an incentive package intended to provide $2,400 bonuses for new and existing bus school bus drivers and transit using American Rescue Plan Act funding. At the time, there were no written details and no amount was given for how much it would cost. The amount is $332,952 for the schools and $499,632 for transit. (story) (school bus staff report) (transit driver staff report)
- First reading of use of $200,000 from the Virginia Department of Education’s Special Nutrition Program Summer Food Service Program to provide free breakfast to attendees of camps run by the city Parks and Recreation Department (staff report)
- First reading to accept a $539,333 grant from the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development from the Virginia Housing Solutions Program (staff report)
- First reading to appropriate $164,607 from the Family First Prevention Act to provide additional funding to the Department of Social Services for foster care prevention (staff report)
- First reading to appropriate $2,500 to the Albemarle Charlottesville Historical Society to identify individuals buried in unmarked graves at Pen Park (staff report)
- First reading to appropriate $10,000 to match a grant from the Virginia Department of Historic Resources for a survey to serve as first phase of a Downtown Mall Historic Landscape Study and Management Plan (staff report)
- An amendment of the document that governs City Council funding of a College Scholarship Fund administered by the Charlottesville-Albemarle Community Foundation (staff report)
- Second reading of a $201,120 COVID Homelessness Emergency Response Program (CHERP) grant from the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (staff report)
- Second reading of a $343,371 grant from the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services to pay for the Department of Human Services’ Evergreen Program (staff report)
- Second reading of a $827,973 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice for the Charlottesville-Albemarle Family Treatment Court (staff report)
- Second reading of a $100,000 grant from the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services to cover the data licensing fees for the Charlottesville Police Department body-worn cameras (staff report)
- Second reading of a $5 million grant to Charlottesville Area Transit for operations and capital purchases. Read a story I wrote on this earlier this month. (staff report)
There are four items on the regular agenda. The first is to approve two grant applications through the Virginia Department of Transportation’s Transportation Alternative Program. One is $675,000 for a bridge along the Meadow Creek Valley Trail.
“In the late 1990’s, the Rivanna Trail Foundation constructed a timber bridge with a staircase at this location which was severely damaged by storms and finally removed as part of the Meadow Creek Restoration project,” reads the staff report. “After acquiring new parkland in this area and rebuilding Meadow Creek, we are ready to replace this bridge with a new design that will accommodate all users [and] provide much needed access to the developing multi use trail along Meadow Creek.”
The second is $200,000 for ongoing funding of the Safe Routes to School program.
“Since the program started in 2016, there has been an observed increase in walk/bike travel to/from school from an average of 7 percent to an average of 14 percent (for K-8 students city wide),” the report claims. “In addition, Bicycle and Pedestrian education is taught in every public school serving grades K-8. There is an established free helmet program for city school students and there are fleets of 25 bikes at 6 city schools.”
Next, the Council will consider spending $165,000 to add to the contract Rhodeside & Harwell has for the Cville Plans Together initiative in order to study the performance of the Charlottesville Affordable Housing Fund.
“The original Scope of Work and contract agreement did not include CAHF Program Review and Redesign, and Inclusionary Zoning Design,” reads the staff report.
The latter would be intended to evaluate ways to encourage developers to create units below market-rate such as through bonus densities, parking requirement reductions, tax abatements, and a faster development review process. In March, Council adopted an affordable housing plan overseen by Rhodeside & Harwell. The 158-page document is worth reviewing. Will other contract supplements be needed to complete the Cville Plans Together initiative?
At the end of the meeting, Council will also hold a second reading of the use of American Rescue Plan Act funding for various nonprofit groups and government programs. (staff report) There’s also a written report from the Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority. (report)
Action on Fontaine Streetscape
Long-term readers of this newsletter know about VDOT’s Smart Scale process. If you’re new, in 2014 the General Assembly passed legislation requiring VDOT to evaluate all potential transportation projects and score them on a series of criteria. In the first round, Charlottesville secured funding for streetscapes on Emmet Street, East High Street, and Fontaine Avenue.
At tonight’s meeting, Council will be asked to approve the finding of the design public hearing for Fontaine Avenue. That milestone was held on May 12. Construction won’t begin until Spring 2023 but with Council’s permission, the right of way acquisition phase can begin. The project would build six-foot sidewalks on either side of the road, as well as bike lanes on most of both sides of the stretch of city street. (staff report)
ARB to review Rio Corridor Plan
The Albemarle Architectural Review Board meets virtually at 1 p.m. They will consider two items before holding a work session on a study of the Rio Road corridor intended to inform the future. (meeting info)
In the first, there is an application for review of a new Discount Tire franchise at 1638 Seminole Trail on the site of a Wendy’s restaurant. That one-story building was built in 1979 and will be demolished. (staff report)
In the second, there is a review of a special exception that would increase the building height of a proposed apartment building in Stonefield from 5 stories to 7 stories. There’s also a request to transfer other approved units from other blocks of Stonefield. (staff report)
Finally, there is to be a presentation on the Rio Corridor Plan which is being produced by the firm Line + Grade. There’s no materials available, but the project website explains the purpose.
“The goal of this project is to develop a community vision and plan that will guide future design and improvements of the Rio Corridor,” reads the website. “It is critical that everyone who walks, drives, rides, bikes, and rolls participate and share in the vision-building with us.”
Tuesday, July 20, 2021
The Albemarle Planning Commission meets virtually at 6 p.m. and they begin with an update on UVA’s Emmet Street Project from University of Virginia Architect Alice Raucher. The second is the latest public hearing for a rezoning at Breezy Hill in the Village of Rivanna. Southern Development had sought permission for a rezoning for up to 180 units on the 80 acre site. The current revision is for a maximum of 80. (meeting info)
There are two subcommittees of the Charlottesville-Albemarle Metropolitan Policy Board. The MPO-Technical Committee is one of them, and they meet virtually at 10:00 a.m. On the agenda is a review of the proposed Smart Scale submissions for next year, a report on electric vehicle chargers, and an update from RideShare. (meeting info)
In other meetings:
- The Charlottesville Sister Cities Commission meets virtually at 4:30 p.m. One of the items is a meet and greet with people from the city of Huehuetenango in Guatemala, which is being reviewed as the next sister city. (meeting info)
- The Charlottesville Board of Architectural Review meets at 5 p.m. and begins their regular session at 5:30 p.m. One of their items is a review of the new court facilities to be built for both Albemarle and Charlottesville. (meeting info)
- The Albemarle Board of Equalization will meet from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. On the agenda are appeals from the owner of the Kohl’s in Hollymead Town Center, Fred Gerke of Proffit Road, and the Courtyard Hotel at 638 Hillsdale Street. (meeting info)
Wednesday, July 21, 2021
- They’ll begin the meeting with review of another special exception for a homestay, this time on Castleberry Court in the Samuel Miller District. (staff report)
- After that, they’ll have a work session on the second phase of the county’s Stream Health Initiative. (staff report)
- Then a report from the Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority (RWSA) and then one from the Albemarle County Service Authority (ACSA)
In the evening session, there are two public hearings. The first is for a new hydroelectric plant on the Hardware River at the site of an old mill. The dam in place has been there for over 200 years. The Planning Commission endorsed the required special use permits on June 1. Read my story from that meeting.
In the second public hearing, the Board will consider adopting an ordinance to prohibit firearms in public buildings, public parks, and permitted event areas. For background, read Allison Wrabel’s story in the Daily Progress.
On the consent agenda are three items:
- Supervisors will adopt a resolution of intent to amend the zoning ordinance to clarify their powers on approving special exceptions (staff report)
- Supervisors will consider a special exception for a critical slopes waiver for a communications tower on Carters Mountain from which Virginia Public Media broadcasts. The existing structure will be replaced under the proposal (staff report)
- The latest report from the Facilities and Environmental Services Department is out! This is a great resource to learn the status of capital projects in Albemarle. (the report)
Greene PC to review emergency services,
The Greene County Planning Commission meets in-person at 6 p.m. but there is a virtual option to participate accessible through the agenda. As part of this meeting, there will be a work session on the 2016 Comprehensive Plan that will focus on Law Enforcement and Emergency Services. There have been several changes since the last plan was adopted, including the creation of the Greene County Emergency Medical Services Department
“The department consists of one (1) EMS Supervisor, fourteen (14) full-time and thirteen (13) part-time employees,” reads draft new language in the Comprehensive Plan update. “GCEMS apparatus consists of five (5) ambulances and two (2) support/first responder type vehicles. In 2019, there were 2,258 rescue type related calls for service and 2,480 in 2020.”
An organization study has been conducted and results are being evaluated.
After that there are two public hearings. In one, a property owner is requesting removal of an age-restriction on a rental unit in Stanardsville. In the other, a couple are seeking a special use permit to provide tourist lodging in the Greene Mountain Lake subdivision. The Free Enterprise Forum reported in June about the commission’s recommendation of denial of one permit in that neighborhood. Terry Beigie wrote about a denial by the Board of Supervisors last December in the Greene County Record.
In other meetings:
- The Charlottesville Housing Advisory Committee meets at noon. On the agenda is an item entitled “Implementing the Affordable Housing Plan” led by Deputy City Managers Ashley Marshall and Sam Sanders. (meeting info) (read the plan)
- The other subcommittee of the Charlottesville-Albemarle Metropolitan Policy Board is the Citizens Transportation Advisory Committee meets at 7 p.m. (meeting info)
- The second of two meetings to discuss potential changes to Charlottesville Area Transit routes will be held virtually at 6 p.m. Read about the changes in a previous story from June 2. (meeting info)
Thursday, July 22, 2021
The Albemarle County Service Authority’s Board of Directors will meet virtually at 9 a.m. The ACSA is the entity that purchases water as well as sewer capacity from the Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority. As of May, the ACSA has 80,305 water customers and 72,618 sewer customers. (agenda)
One interesting item of note is that the ACSA is a proposed capital improvement program project in 2023 to replace the water main that leads into Broadway Street.
“This project will replace the ductile iron water main that was installed in the early 1970’s and has been found to be in deteriorating condition based on recent excavations,” reads the staff report. “With the redevelopment of the Woolen Mills Factory and Albemarle County’s increased attention on economic revitalization of this corridor, replacement of this water main is crucial in transforming the area.”
The Albemarle Board of Supervisors got an update on the Broadway Blueprint at its meeting on May 19. (read my story)
The Places29-Rio Community Advisory Committee meets virtually at 6 p.m. The agenda is not available at production time. (meeting info)
Friday, July 23, 2021
No meetings scheduled that I’m aware of, but let me know if I’ve missed one.
Looking ahead to next week, there will be meetings of the MPO Policy Board, the Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority, and the Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority’s Board of Commissioners. City Council has a work session scheduled for July 27, but there’s no information available on the topic.
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.