What are you thankful for during this season? I am honestly thankful that I make my living in part by writing about what’s happening in government meetings at the local and regional level with the occasional story about an aspect of what the Commonwealth of Virginia is up to. For over three years now, I’ve written this weekly newsletter and I wish a happy holiday to all of you who are on the journey with me.
I’m also grateful for a shorter week so I can spend some time with friends and family and get ready for 2023 and all that will happen with local elections, a new General Assembly, and at meeting rooms where land use decisions are made.
There are no meetings in Fluvanna, Greene, or Nelson, but Albemarle, Charlottesville, and Louisa make the most of a short work week.
Thanks to the Piedmont Environmental Council for their continued support of this newsletter and the research that goes into getting it out each week. You have just over a month to help them celebrate their 50th anniversary!
Monday, November 21, 2022
Charlottesville City Council will meet at 4 p.m. for a work session followed by a regular session at 6:30 p.m. (meeting info)
There are two topics at the 4 p.m. work session. The first will be a presentation on the results of a survey of employees conducted by the University of Virginia Center for Survey Research this year.
“The results of such surveys are used to increase City Management and leadership’s awareness of employee satisfaction and engagement levels and provide an opportunity to consider changes to bolster positive employee initiatives and work to consider how to repair opportunities to provide additional support to the employee community as they provide critical services to our community,” reads the staff report.
This is the sixth time the Center for Survey Research has been commissioned for such work by the city. There were 531 respondents, or about 45 percent of the city’s workforce. Just over a third of employees are either extremely satisfied or very satisfied. That figure is down from just under 50 percent in the 2017 survey.
The second is a presentation of the annual report of the Jefferson Area Community Criminal Justice Board (CCJB).
“The Criminal Justice Planner provides administrative and research support to the Jefferson Area Community Criminal Justice Board (CCJB) and annually presents key data to City Council and the greater community,” reads the introduction to the report from Neal Goodloe.
One of the source materials in the presentation is on crime trends from 1984 to 2020 with data coming from the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Uniform Crime Reporting Summary Reporting System.
“The total index crime trend fell 64% in the City of Charlottesville from 1984 to 2020,” reads one of the slides in the presentation. “In 1984, the total index crime rate in Charlottesville was 82.7 per 1000 Charlottesville residents. By 2020, that rate had fallen to 23.2 per 1000 Charlottesville residents.”
A second set of materials comes from the Virginia State Police and tracks crime from 2012 to 2021.
“In 2021, Charlottesville ’s Group A crime rate was 60.3 per 1000 residents, below the 72.0 per 1000 average rate among peer cities, but above the 44.0 per 1000 statewide rate,” reads a slide from this presentation. “Charlottesville ’s 2021 overall Group A crime rate ranked 23th among Virginia’s 133 jurisdictions (and 22rd among Virginia’s 36 independent cities).”
A third set of materials is the Charlottesville Utilization of the Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail from 2011 to 2021.
There are three action items.
One is a resolution to extend the due date for Charlottesville taxes by two weeks. This is not driven directly by a need to assist community members, but is because the third-party vendor who prints the city’s bills had issues getting the bills out in the mail.
“The City Treasurer’s Office is requesting City Council to adopt a resolution approving a one-time extension of the due date for payment of taxes from December 5th, 2022 to December 19, 2022,” reads the staff report.
The second is the formal appointment of an emergency management coordinator. The city manager is the Director of Emergency Management, but state law requires appointment of a coordinator to oversee the work.
The third is the second reading of changes to the Charlottesville Human Rights Ordinance. Charlottesville Mayor Lloyd Snook had several questions he wanted more information on when this was before Council at their last meeting. I’ve got a full story on Information Charlottesville from then if you want more background.
The Food Equity Initiative’s annual report will be given in written form with no presentation before Council.
“City Council passed the Food Equity Initiative for the first time in 2018 beginning a course of systemic efforts to reshape community health, wealth, and belonging through our food system,” reads the staff report. “The Food Equity Initiative work is designed to support implementation of citywide strategies outlined in the initial FY19 proposal.”
There is also a resolution of support to state that Council will agree to fund the program in FY24 at a cost of $155,000.
Louisa Supervisors to lease space to Arc of Piedmont, JABA
The seven-member Louisa County Board of Supervisors will meet at 5 p.m in closed session before meeting in open session at 6 p.m. (meeting info)
It’s a fairly quiet meeting. In one item, the county will enter into a lease with the Arc of the Piedmont for a portion of the Betty Queen Intergenerational Center at 522 Industrial Drive. They’ll also enter into a lease with the Jefferson Area Board of Aging in the same building.
There will also be an update on the recent elections.
Albemarle ARB to discuss guidelines for U.S. 29 from Charlottesville to Greene
The Albemarle Architectural Review Board meets at 1:00 p.m in Lane Auditorium for a meeting with one main item on the regular agenda and an interesting one on the consent agenda. (meeting info)
On the regular agenda is another review of one of the city’s entrance corridors.
“The path of Route 29 originally followed a stagecoach route,” reads the draft guidelines for the section from the border with Charlottesville to the border with Greene County. “A portion of the route, including the segment in Albemarle County, was named Seminole Trail in 1928, possibly to promote the road as a tourist route to Florida.”
There’s a lot of great information in this report worth reading about the land use from that time to now. One interesting thought to listen for is what the ARB thinks of the site of the current Cville Oriental market. A developer sought the Planning Commission’s opinions on development there in October.
“Make this the model project so that others can see we have high density areas where we need which will help us with other areas that we want to preserve,” said Luis Carrazana, the at-large member of the Planning Commission.
On the consent agenda is a preliminary look at 250 units on Rio Road West. Supervisors approved a rezoning for that use earlier this year.
Tuesday, November 22, 2022
Charlottesville Planning Commission to review five-year capital improvement program process
The Charlottesville Planning Commission will have a work session at CitySpace that begins at 5 p.m. There is a virtual meeting option to participate. (meeting info)
There are two topics. First, Commissioners will review the capital improvement program for FY2024. According to the presentation, capital projects are to have an essential purpose, have a useful life, be more than $50,000, and to be a non-recurring expense. Most major projects are funded through the sale of municipal bonds, but others are direct payments of cash.
Some of the biggest examples in the planning and close to construction phases are the bypass fire station replacement, Buford School reconfiguration, the city’s investment in Piedmont Housing Alliance’s redevelopment of Friendship Court, and the Belmont Bridge replacement.
The first year of the capital improvement program is also part of the budget for the current fiscal year.
The adopted budget for FY23 assumes $66.3 million allocated to “Charlottesville City School Reconfiguration.” There’s also another $2.5 million for “Friendship Court Infrastructure Improvements” as well as $750,000 for the project’s third phase. Over $7 million is anticipated to be spent on Friendship Court in the additional four years.
FY24 will also include a larger bond sale than in most years with just over $79 million anticipated.
A major challenge this year is the escalation of costs due to inflationary pressures. The Charlottesville School Board was briefed in September on potential issues with the design for Buford (read the story). The Commonwealth Transportation Board got an overview from an economist in their meeting in October (read the story).
The other item on the agenda is listed as “Housing Programs Update” but there’s no information in the packet for this item.
Willow Glen developer returns 15 years later to amend rezoning to add new units
The Albemarle Planning Commission will meet at 6 p.m. in Lane Auditorium at the county office building at 401 McIntire Road. (meeting info)
There are three public hearings. The first is for an 82.43 acre addition to the Hatton Agricultural and Forestal District.
In the second, Commissioners will consider a special use permit for Verizon Wireless to install a 195-foot cell tower on county-owned property at Walnut Creek. Staff is recommending approval, though acknowledging the visibility from the park. Some might conclude that is not consistent with the county’s policy on the siting of wireless facilities, a policy from 2000 that many on the Board of Supervisors have sought to update.
“Much of the tower’s visibility is from within the Walnut Creek Park property,” reads the staff report. “While Staff believes that the character of the park itself may be impacted by a tower that is visible from within the park. From most of all other parcels surrounding the park property, the proposed tower is either not visible or has limited visibility.”
The tower is under 200 feet, so lights are not required at the top. This item was originally scheduled for October 10, 2022.
In the third, the developers of a project called Willow Glen in Hollymead are seeking to amend a previous rezoning (ZMA200600019) for several reasons. They want to switch all residential types to multifamily, increase the maximum number to 324 units in phase 2, and a total of 360 across the entire project. They also want to eliminate a connector road between the two parcels.
The Albemarle Board of Supervisors approved a rezoning for Willow Glen in October 2007 that allowed up to 234 homes. Only 36 were built. The new homes would be built under the name “Dickerson Overlook.”
By switching from single family to multi-family, the developer is not responsible for providing cash contributions required by the proffers from the 2007 rezoning. The community meeting for this rezoning was held in March 2021.
“A well-respected apartment community developer desires to purchase the Phase 2 property and complete the Willow Glen community, and an amendment to the 2006 ZMA plan is necessary to accommodate the contract purchaser’s new development plan,” reads the narrative for the rezoning.
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.