Week Ahead for November 15, 2021: Council to hold public hearing for Comprehensive Plan; Albemarle Supervisors to review 328-unit Rio Point project

There are only a few more complete weeks left in 2021, and this will be one of the busiest. While the biggest item is City Council’s public hearing on the Charlottesville Comprehensive Plan, there’s a lot crammed into the next four days. This newsletter is already at length, so let’s get right to it! 

Thanks as always to the Piedmont Environmental Council for their sponsorship of this research.

Monday, November 15

Council to hold public hearing on Charlottesville Comprehensive Plan

After nearly five years of review, Charlottesville City Council is very close to adopting an update of the Comprehensive Plan and the Future Land Use Map. Before a public hearing, they’ll hold a discussion with staff about the plan, which has been crafted by the firm Rhodeside & Harwell as part of the Cville Plans Together initiative. That will take place at 4 p.m. following a presentation on the Charlottesville Scholarship Project. (4 p.m. meeting info)

The first item on the agenda is the public hearing for the Comprehensive Plan. I hope to produce a separate preview on that topic beforehand. There is a possibility that a vote could be taken, as Mayor Nikuyah Walker indicated in an email to me that she plans to hold one. Other Councilors have expressed a desire to wait until another day after the public hearing.  City Attorney Lisa Robertson has confirmed that Council could move forward should they choose. More in the next missive, which I’ll try to get out by noon on Monday.

Other items on Council’s the agenda include a critical slopes waiver for the Lyman Street Residences development and an amendment of an agreement with the Charlottesville Albemarle Convention Visitors Bureau to alter the make-up of its Board. (6:30 p.m. meeting info)

ARB to review Greenbrier Wawa, Pantops hotel

Albemarle’s Architectural Review Board has the opportunity to inform the way future buildings will look along the county’s entrance corridors. Today they’ll take a look at three items along major highways at a virtual meeting that begins at 1 p.m. (meeting info)

In the first, they’ll review the final site plan for a Wawa at the corner of U.S. 29 and Greenbrier Drive. This will be the third or fourth of the company’s outlets depending on fast approvals can be made. Two stores opened up earlier this year at the height of the gas shortage, and another is planned for the intersection of Fifth Street Extended and Fifth Street Station. 

In the second, they’ll take a look at the initial site plan for a new four-story hotel on U.S. 250 on Pantops, as well the preliminary architecture. The drawings in the packet mark the hotel as a Woodspring Suites franchise. This would be located next door to the Rivanna Ridge Shopping Center.

Next they’ll review the initial site plan for RST Residences, an apartment complex in the Hollymead area approved by the Board of Supervisors in September. The development will consist of 254 apartments in four buildings and 78 townhouses in six blocks. 

The ARB will also consider an amendment to a large apartment building that will be built at Stonefield. 

The ARB will review the lay-out for the recently approved RST Residences
Places29-Hydraulic CAC to review Old Ivy Residences

Albemarle’s Community Advisory Committees offers a chance for the public to get a first look at major developments. The Places29-Hydraulic group will have a virtual community meeting at 5:30 p.m. for a rezoning for nearly 36 acres for 525 units off of Old Ivy Road. (meeting info)

“The residences planned for the Property are proposed to be entirely for rent, at least initially, in response to a strong interest in rental properties in the area,” reads the narrative for the proposal. 

In all there are five properties involved in what’s being called Old Ivy Residences, all but two of which are zoned already at the R-15 zoning category required for density. One 5.52 acre property is zoned R-1. However, there is also an application to change the status of steep slopes on the property from preserved to managed. The lands are currently owned by the Filthy Beast LLC, Father Goose LLC, and the Beyer Family Investment Partnership. 

According to the narrative, there would be 77 single-family homes, 43 townhouses, 58 duplexes and 312 apartments. Again, all rental. Before the meeting you might consider reading the comment letter from Albemarle staff

The western edge of the property is the U.S. 250 bypass 

Tuesday, November 16

Albemarle EDA to discuss new projects in closed session

The Albemarle Economic Development Authority’s Board of Commissioners will meet virtually beginning at 4 p.m. There’s not much on the agenda for the open meeting except for a report from Economic Development Director Roger Johnson. (meeting info

However, the closed meeting features discussions of public investment in several projects, each of which has a code name. The motion invokes a section of the Virginia Freedom of Information Act that allows consideration of:

“The investment of public funds in four Albemarle County businesses (Projects Poma, Cardinal, Gadget, Cavalier, and Stark), where bargaining is involved and where, if made public initially, would adversely affect the financial interest of the County.”

The Albemarle Board of Supervisors had a briefing on many of the projects that have been made public at their October 20. (Albemarle Supervisors Briefed On Economic Development Efforts

Charlottesville BAR to review West Main, West Market projects

The Charlottesville Board of Architectural Review meets virtually at 5:30 p.m. for a full meeting. (meeting info)

In the first item, the BAR will be asked for final approval of the demolition of the existing shopping center at 218 West Market Street. City Council has approved a special use permit for apartments on the site. The BAR previously approved demolition in March 2019 but permission has expired. The building was originally constructed in 1938 as an A&P Grocery Store according to meeting materials.

Later in the meeting, the BAR will resume review of a proposed apartment complex at 612 West Main Street on a site where University Tire formerly operated. That building does not need the BAR’s approval for demolition because it is not a contributing structure to the West Main Architectural Design Control District.

This project and 218 West Market are both being developed by Jeffrey Levien, who also developed the Six Hundred West Main project next door. No action is expected for 612 West Main at this meeting. 

The new massing for the Six-Twelve building is marked in dark blue (Credit: Bushman Dreyfus Architects)
Albemarle PC to review Comprehensive Plan, Capital Improvement Program

The Albemarle Board of Supervisors has formally kicked off review of the Comprehensive Plan, closely on the heels of adoption of the new Crozet Master Plan. Albemarle’s plan has a strong growth management policy in place established in the document’s very first objective.

“Continue to consistently use the Growth Management Policy as the basis on which to guide decisions on land use, capital expenditures, and service provision,” reads the plan.

The Albemarle Planning Commission will have work session on two items beginning at 6 p.m. The first will be a review of the county’s financial planning process and how revenues are projected for the five-year capital improvement program. In the second, they’ll get an update on the Comprehensive Plan process. For more on that, read my recent story on Supervisors’ November 3 resolution to begin the process (meeting info). 

In other meetings and events:

  • The MPO Technical Committee meets virtually at 10 a.m. They’ll get an update on the next round of Smart Scale applications and an update on projects in the Virginia Department of Transportation’s pipeline. (meeting info)
  • At noon, the Central Virginia Housing Partnership will hold a panel discussion on Rural Housing Challenges and Solutions. Speakers include Jesse Rutherford, chair of the Nelson County Board of Supervisors. (register)
  • The two Rivanna authorities will meet in virtual meetings. The Rivanna Solid Waste Authority will go first at 2 p.m. followed by the Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority. The RSWA will honor former City Manager Chip Boyles and outgoing Albemarle Supervisor Liz Palmer for their service. Palmer has been a member of the RSWA Board since 2016 and an active participant in water and solid waste policy since the late 1990’s.  (register to attend both) (RWSA agenda) (RSWA agenda)
  • Charlottesville’s Sister Cities Commission will meet virtually at 4:30 p.m. (meeting info)

Wednesday, November 17

Rezoning for 328 units on Rio Road returns to Albemarle Supervisors 

The Albemarle Board of Supervisors will meet virtually at 1 p.m. At the end of the meeting they will have a public hearing for a 328-unit apartment complex on 27.31 acres between the John Warner Parkway and East Rio Road. This project was formerly known as Parkway Place and had been before the Board for a public hearing on June 3, 2020 when the applicant deferred. The project is now called Rio Point.

“The applicant has since revised the application to address concerns and comments from these public hearings,” reads the staff analysis by planner Cameron Langille. 

Since that time, Albemarle has been awarded funding for a roundabout at the intersection of the parkway and Rio Road. A study of the Rio Road corridor is underway. The project has also changed hands with Stony Point Development who purchased the property in January for $7.5 million.  The new owner is proffering $750,000 toward the roundabout. 

Staff now recommends approval. 

“Solutions have been identified and significant progress has been made toward implementing transportation improvements that would alleviate traffic issues,” Langille wrote. “These issues had been the major unfavorable factors that had resulted in staff’s initial recommendation to deny the original proposal.” 

But that’s at the end of the meeting. Before then, Supervisors will be presented with information about how the county’s cell tower siting policy might be changed. The policy was adopted in 2000 and seeks to minimize the visibility of towers. Several supervisors have expressed a desire to revisit the policy due to the increased reliance on voice and data communications in the rural area. That will be followed by a review of long range financial planning and a review of a 323-page cost allocation plan from FY2020

The consent agenda includes a resolution for Albemarle to participate in a class-action suit related to opioids, a financial report for the first quarter of Fiscal Year 22, and VDOT’s monthly report.  

Rio Point in context with the greater community 
Fry’s Spring development returns

In 2019, Council denied a request for a sanitary pump station to serve the development of homes on land between Azalea Drive and Monte Vista Avenue in the Fry’s Spring neighborhood. Now, Stanley Martin Homes has filed another application for the property and require a critical slopes waiver to proceed with a plan to build 47 units. A site plan conference will be held virtually at 10 a.m. (materials for meeting)

“The applicant is proposing to fill most of the site to insure the sewer system is gravity feed and can connect to the City’s system,” reads an email notice from city planner Matt Alfele distributed by the Fry’s Spring Neighborhood Association. “Prior to going to City Council, the Planning Commission will deliberate the Critical Slope Waiver request and make a recommendation to City Council.” 

Fluvanna Supervisors to consider strategic initiatives, solar facility

The Fluvanna Board of Supervisors begins their meeting at 7 p.m. at the Carysbrook Performing Arts Center in Fork Union. (meeting packet)

The first public hearing is for a special use permit for a three megawatt utility-scale solar installation on 36 acres off of Route 15 in the Fork Union District. The Planning Commission recommended approval in October 12. Materials include a decommissioning plan for when the facility becomes obsolete. 

“Many of the world’s largest solar panel manufacturers offer take back or recycling programs for end of life dismantling and reuse of materials,” wrote John Townsend of Sun Tribe Development. 

The second public hearing is whether Fluvanna should join the Blue Ridge Cigarette Tax Board. The Thomas Jefferson Planning District is seeking $217,500 from localities to cover the costs of administering the tax and Fluvanna’s share is $17,218. 

In April, Albemarle Supervisors adopted a list of strategic initiatives. They’ll get an update on progress within the last six months including work on broadband expansion and improving conditions on the Route 53 corridor. 

Information about recycling of solar panels included as part of the project 
Greene PC to review Comprehensive Plan, hold public hearing on Rural Enterprise Centers

Greene County is reviewing its Comprehensive Plan chapter by chapter, and the Planning Commission will review two at a work session beginning at 6 p.m. One of them is the Agriculture and Forestry chapter. (agenda)

“Between 2002 and 2017, the population has increased by 33 percent in Greene County,” reads a new line added to the chapter. “However, within the same timeframe, the total number of acres dedicated to farming in the county decreased by 12 percent.” 

The Natural Resources and Environment chapter includes updated information about impaired waterways as well as the work that the Blue Ridge Partnership for Regional Invasive Species Management has conducted. 

In the first public hearing, the Fried Companies seeks a rezoning from Senior Residential to Planned Unit Development on 172 acres off of U.S. 33. Three properties received that zoning in 2004 and 2007 with the intent of producing 600 units. That project never materialized. (staff report)

“The proposal would allow general residential development rather than just age-restricted residential,” reads an email from Greene County Planner Stephanie Golon. “The current proffers allow a maximum of 600 senior residential homes and he would like to develop 600 general residential homes.” 

In the second public hearing, the Planning Commission will consider a request to allow Rural Enterprise Centers across the county to support the defense industry. These could include conference centers, research and development facilities, and defense contractors. 

“After reviewing the area and possible affected parcels, it has been recommended to move forward with the possible use through a special use permit only,” reads the staff report

In other meetings: 

  • The Community Management and Policy Team meets at 3:30 p.m. There’s no agenda for the event. (meeting info)
  • Charlottesville’s Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee will meet at 5:30 p.m. There’s no agenda posted at publication time. (meeting info)
  • The Citizens Transportation Advisory Committee will meet at 7 p.m. In addition to the Smart Scale update, there will be a review of the engagement plan for the Charlottesville-Albemarle Metropolitan Planning Organization. (agenda)
  • The Nelson County Planning Commission meets in person at 7 p.m. in Lovingston. They also have a public hearing about a self-storage facility. (packet)

Thursday, November 18

Transit Vision meeting 

The Thomas Jefferson Planning District is conducting a study to inform planning for expansion of transit in the community. 

“The goal of the Regional Transit Vision Project is to establish a single unified, long-term vision for transit service in the Charlottesville area that can be shared and supported by all the members of the RTP and its constituents,” reads the website for the study.

The meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. I’ve written about efforts to date, and those articles can be read on the Information Charlottesville archive website.  (register)

Solid waste group to get briefing on plastic container reduction at UVA

The Solid Waste Alternatives Advisory Committee meets virtually at 4 p.m. The guest speaker is Andrea Trimble, UVA’s Sustainability Director. She’ll talk about how the University of Virginia is implementing Governor Ralph Northam’s executive order to reduce usage of plastic containers. (meeting info)

Single-use disposable plastic items, in particular, pose a severe and growing threat to fish

and wildlife and to the health of the Chesapeake Bay,” reads Executive Order 77. “Plastics are the most pervasive type of marine debris in our ocean and along our coasts.”

Fifth & Avon CAC to learn more about two rezonings

The Fifth & Avon Community Advisory Committee meets virtually at 7 p.m. The first item on their agenda is an update on a rezoning application for 85 units on 3.627 acres at 1805 Avon Street. That requires a rezoning from R-1 to Planned Residential Development. An existing building on the site will be repurposed as part of the development, which will include two-family, duplex, triplex, and multi-family structures. 

“The variety of housing types contributes to missing middle housing that is lacking in Albemarle County,” reads the narrative

The CAC will then hold the community meeting for the second phase of the rezoning for the redevelopment of the Southwood Mobile Home Park. An application was filed in late October. 

The rezoning would amend the first phase to add 93.32 acres from R-2 to the Neighborhood Model District. 

“Phase 2 is planned within the project’s existing mobile home park where development will occur in phases so as to limit the impact to the existing residents,” reads the narrative. “The resident planners who designed and wrote the Code of Development for Phase I has provided input in this next phase that the form, density, and uses established with Phase I should continue into Phase 2.”

This phase of redevelopment would include up to 1,000 housing units in a mix of single-family houses, duplexes, townhomes, and apartment buildings. There would also be another 60,000 square feet of non-residential space. (read the Code of Development)

In other meetings:

  • The Albemarle Conservation Easement Authority will meet at 4:45 p.m. (meeting info)
  • Charlottesville’s Human Rights Commission meets at 6:30 p.m. There’s no agenda at publication time. (meeting info)
  • Charlottesville’s Police Civilian Review Board also meets at 6:30 p.m. There’s also no agenda at publication time. (meeting info)
  • The Louisa County Planning Commission meets in-person at 6 p.m. for a long-range planning work session. (agenda) The regular meeting begins at 7 p.m. Among items on the agenda is a public hearing for a rezoning for a mini-storage unit. (agenda)

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.