Week Ahead for November 29, 2021: Albemarle to consider stream health, addressing blighted properties

And thus begins the end of the year, with a strange month ahead of us. With the election a month in the past and the seating of new elected officials weeks away, there’s a sense that 2021 has grown a long beard. Yet, there are still lots of meetings to go and if you’re interested in getting involved or knowing more about what’s happening, there are plenty of opportunities in Albemarle County this week. 

  • Interested in climate? Albemarle’s Natural Heritage Committee gets an update on the Climate Action Plan on Thursday.
  • Interested in transit? The Regional Transit Partnership also meets on Thursday to talk about development of the “Regional Transit Vision.” 
  • Interested in water quality? The Board of Supervisors gets an update on the stream health initiative. 
  • What about redistricting? The Fluvanna Board of Supervisors will hold a public hearing Wednesday on five potential maps, and Albemarle begins their process earlier that day. 
  • What about bike and pedestrian connectivity? A stakeholder group will discuss a potential bridge over the Rivanna River on Thursday, and city’s stakeholder group on general connectivity also meets that day. 

Otherwise, this week is relatively quiet as there are no meetings in Louisa County, Greene County, or Nelson County. 

Thanks to the Piedmont Environmental Council for their sponsorship of this newsletter. We’re also a week closer to their 50th anniversary. 

Monday, November 29, 2021

Albemarle legislative forum

The Albemarle Board of Supervisors begins the week with a legislative forum at 11 a.m. where two levels of elected officials will meet to discuss priorities for the 2022 General Assembly. While Albemarle participates in the regional legislative wishlist coordinated by the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission, the county often has specific bills they would like to see adopted by the legislature. (agenda) (meeting info)

This time around, Albemarle has three legislative priorities they are hoping to convince a state legislator to pick up (read more details)

  • Enable civil penalties in lieu of criminal punishment for violations of local ordinances  *
  • Expand the authority to use photo speed monitoring devices 
  • Require agricultural buildings used by the public to be subject to minimum safety standards

In addition, they want the legislature to consider allowing localities to levy impact fees on new development. 

Pantops group meets

Another week, another hotel planned for the area. Back in January, the Pantops Community Advisory Committee got an update on a lodging establishment slated for U.S. 250. Another status report will be given to the group at their virtual meeting which begins at 6:15 p.m. The item went to the Architectural Review Board at their meeting on November 15 and drawings submitted identify it as a Woodspring Suites. (meeting info)

Location of the Overlook Hotel / Woodspring Suites 

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Skyline Ridge Apartments meeting

Every now and then, a previously approved project that has not yet been built comes back to life.That’s the case with Skyline Ridge Apartments. Unfortunately, I can’t provide you with any details at this point as the county’s Laserfiche system is down at press time. From memory, I can tell you that this project is off of Barracks Road near the Colonnades. I’ll update this blurb on the Community Meeting for the project. That event begins virtually at 5 p.m. (meeting info) (narrative)

Rivanna bridge

A stakeholder group overseeing plans to install a pedestrian and bike bridge over the Rivanna River between east Charlottesville and Pantops will meet at 3 p.m. To learn more, take a look at the Technical Memo produced by the firm VHB which lays out two options. (technical memo) (Zoom registration)

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Albemarle BOS meets on stream health, addressing blighted properties 

Albemarle’s six-member Board of Supervisors meets for a second time this week with a virtual meeting beginning at 1 p.m. (agenda)

The first regular item is a work session on the second phase of the county’s Stream Health Initiative which takes a look at policies in the rural area. (staff report)

“The goal of Phase II is to develop strategies for improving stream health that are supported by the communities, landowners, and organizations that live and work in the Rural Area, using a collaborative and inclusive process,” reads the staff report. 

Fourteen proposals are before the Board for consideration including how much they would cost to implement. These include the addition of an overlay district to enforce vegetated stream buffers, streamlining existing restoration requirements, to allowing environmental restoration projects. Another would tighten regulations on septic fields and provide funds to help landowners whose systems are failing. 

The second work session relates to blighted properties and what powers Albemarle may have to compel landowners to clean them up. Supervisors last discussed this item last December. The packet contains information on how other communities handle implementation of the Virginia Maintenance Code. Another page suggests partial adoption for Albemarle would cost $500,007 in the first year to hire inspectors, a zoning tech, and to cover half the cost of a new assistant county attorney. Full adoption would cost $888,001 in the first year by hiring more inspectors. (staff report)

After that, School Board Chair Kate Acuff will brief Supervisors on school activities, including the recommendation that 219 students be moved to the expanded Crozet Elementary School in the fall. There’s also information about the possibility of renaming Broadus Wood Elementary School. Five other schools have already been through that process and four have been given new names. Only Murray Elementary in Ivy has retained its name. (school report)

Preparation for Albemarle’s next budget continues with discussion of “Fiscal Year 2022 Mid-year Revenue Update and Recommended Allocation.” This information was not available at press-time. 

In the evening there are public hearings on $3,000 bonuses for police and fire/EMS employeesFY22 budget appropriations including $2.12 million for an Economic Development Investment Poolchanges to the county’s tax ordinance related to the transient occupancy tax, and changes to several agricultural forestal districts

A fifth public hearing relates to the ongoing review of the county’s zoning code related to special exceptions. The Planning Commission unanimously approved several changes in late September related to who has the power to make special exceptions. Spoiler: It’s the Board of Supervisors, not staff. 

Here are some interesting facts from the budget item. Albemarle is expecting to be awarded $1 million from the federal Community Development Block Grant program to support construction of five single-family homes at Southwood. A county fire truck was damaged when a concrete truck ran into it and the insurance pay-out was $289,538. 

There are two major items on the consent agenda worth noting. One is information related to Albemarle’s legislative redistricting. Unlike Fluvanna, no maps have yet been drawn for public review. According to a proposed redistricting schedule, “the Board will have a discussion and provide direction to staff to proceed with the preliminary redistricting guidelines.” However this item is on the consent agenda for now. 

If adopted, the redistricting schedule would see a public hearing on January 21, followed by a staff report on the meeting due at the March 2 meeting. Work sessions would be held on April 6 and April 13 with a public hearing in May. Supervisors must submit adopted maps to the Virginia Attorney General by the end of May. 

“Staff may develop more than one proposed redistricting plan for the Board’s consideration,” reads the schedule. 

Two preliminary guidelines are that Albemarle would retain six magisterial districts and each one would contain rural and urban areas. 

In another consent agenda, the Community Development Department offers an update on its work program for the current fiscal year. Several projects have been completed such as the Crozet Master Plan. Projects coming up include the Rio Road Corridor Study as well as the review of the county’s wireless facilities policy. 

Community Development Department work program update (review)
Fluvanna public hearing on redistricting

Fluvanna’s Board of Supervisors meets in person at the Carysbrook Performing Arts Center beginning at 5 p.m. (agenda packet

On the agenda is a request to hold a deer hunt on New Year’s Eve in Pleasant Grove Park for hunters with disabilities to be run by the group Wheelin Sportsmen. There’s also a report from the Virginia Department of Transportation. Page 49 of the packet is the minutes of Fluvanna Supervisors’ meeting with legislators. 

But the main item on the agenda is a public hearing on redistricting of Fluvanna’s magisterial boundaries. A committee has suggested five maps. Two continue the county’s existing five district while one expands the Board of Supervisors to six and another two would see seven districts. 

“Reapportionment of representation among election districts is required by law to take place in 2021 following the 2020 decennial census, and will affect representation on the Board of Supervisors, the Planning Commission, and the School Board,” reads the staff report (page 59). 

In other meetings:

  • The Charlottesville Retirement Committee meets virtually at 8:30 a.m. The agenda includes the words “SageView”, “DAHAB”, and “portability.”(meeting info)
One of the five members under consideration would expand the size of the Fluvanna Board of Supervisors to seven

Thursday, December 2, 2021

Regional group holds two meetings

There are two meetings run by the Thomas Jefferson Planning District. The first is a virtual work session of the Regional Transit Partnership meets at 4 p.m. There will be updates on the development of the Regional Transit Vision Plan following November’s public meeting. I will be interested to hear about the status of planned route changes to Charlottesville Area Transit. There is no planned date for when those will go into effect. (agenda)

The Thomas Jefferson Planning District’s Board of Commissioners meets virtually at 7 p.m. and will likely be the last meeting for many of its members. When the Board meets again in Febeurary 2022, there will likely be many new members as elected bodies make new appointees. One item on the agenda is a resolution of appreciation for Louisa County Supervisor Bob Babyok, who did not win re-election this past November. (register) (agenda)

In other meetings:

  • Charlottesville Bike and Pedestrian Advisory Committee meets virtually at 5 p.m. (meeting info)
  • Charlottesville’s Youth Council meets virtually at 6 p.m. (meeting info)
  • The Albemarle County School Board meets at 6:30 p.m. (agenda)
  • The Natural Heritage Committee will meet virtually at 5:30 p.m. One of the items on the agenda is a discussion of the Climate Action Program. Another is an update on efforts to slow the spread of the Spotted Lanternfly. (meeting info)
  • The Albemarle Fire EMS Board will meet virtually at 6 p.m. One item of unfinished business is a discussion of whether career staff can also volunteer. (meeting info)
The School Board packet includes a report on class sizes 

Friday, December 3, 2021

Albemarle has three events on the county calendar for today.

At noon, the operations of the subcommittee of the Solid Waste Alternatives Advisory Committee meets.   On the agenda is an update on efforts to increase the market for glass recycling to attract interest from a processing company. I wrote about this topic back in January and will be interested in getting an update. (meeting info)

Also at noon, the Albemarle Broadband Authority will give an update on initiatives undertaken through the 2021 round of the Virginia Telecommunication Initiative. That’s a funding program offered by the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development. (meeting info)

At 1 p.m., the Albemarle Capital Improvement Program Advisory Committee will meet. I’ll have a story about the first meeting in an upcoming edition of Charlottesville Community Engagement. (meeting info)

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.