Week Ahead for November 8, 2021: Albemarle growth management on agenda for Crozet, Village of Rivanna, and Scottsville meetings

This is a busy week just days after a transformative election that resets the playing field for local government with a new Governor and a General Assembly split between Democrats and Republicans. Aside from discussion in Greene and Nelson of a statewide opioid abatement program, Virginia government isn’t on the agenda this week as local meetings. 

A main theme this week is Albemarle County’s Comprehensive Plan which comes into the spotlight at three meetings this week. On Monday, the Village of Rivanna Community Advisory Committee contemplates a rezoning they opposed. On Tuesday, the Board of Supervisor will convene with the Scottsville Town Council to discuss how their jurisdiction can help the county meets its long term goals. On Wednesday, the Crozet CAC will debrief after adoption of the Master Plan by the Board of Supervisors last month. 

Charlottesville residents with an interest in the Future Land Use Map and the Comprehensive Plan might consider watching or reviewing in advance of a November 15 first reading by City Council. 

How do local desires play into countywide goals? How much public buy-in is there for the Albemarle’s growth management policies? Time will tell and each of these meetings provides an glimpse at one geographical thread of the overall tapestry. 

Thanks as always to the Piedmont Environmental Council for their support of this research. In two months, they’ll begin their 50th anniversary. 

Monday, November 8, 2021

Breezy Hill approval to be discussed by committee that opposed it

Albemarle’s Community Advisory Committees are intended to be forums to discuss growth management in the county. That includes both specific land use applications as well as greater policies. The Village of Rivanna CAC meeting begins at 7 p.m. tonight and their agenda has items in both categories. (agenda)

First, CAC members will discuss the Albemarle Board of Supervisors’ vote on October 6 to approve a rezoning application for Breezy Hill. That came over the opposition of the CAC who argued the single-family rezoning was too dense and against the spirit of the Village of Rivanna Master Plan. To learn more about the rezoning, read Allison Wrabel’s story in the Daily Progress.

That conversation will likely spill right into the next one, which will be a discussion of the review of the Village of Rivanna Master plan. The document was adopted by the Board of Supervisors on May 12, 2010. In recent years, the Board has adopted updated versions of the Pantops and Crozet master plans and it’s time for the Rivanna one to get a look. 

“Developed by citizens within the Village, the vision for the Village of Rivanna is for a distinct small community surrounded by rural Albemarle. Medium and low density residential neighborhoods will have easy access to the Village Center through multiple modes of travel,” reads the vision statement of the plan

The meeting will also cover an item with the title “Community Education Program” followed by a presentation on middle missing housing and Albemarle’s new middle residential density land use category. This should be quite the meeting. 

Boundaries for the Village of Rivanna courtesy of a Google map on the Albemarle County web page on the master planning process

In other meetings:

  • The Fluvanna Economic Development will have a hybrid meeting beginning at 5 p.m. with the in-person portion at the Morris Room. There will be a briefing from a representative of Virginia Career Works. (agenda)
  • The Albemarle Acquisition of Conservation Easement Committee will meet at 6:45 p.m. They will discuss proposed changes to the county’s ordinance. (meeting info)

Tuesday, November 9, 2021

Small private school on the South Fork Reservoir? 

The Albemarle Planning Commission will hold public hearings on a private school and changes to three conservation districts at a virtual meeting that begins at 6 p.m.(meeting info)

In Virginia, Agricultural-Forestal Districts are areas where landowners enter into agreements with land owners to conserve land in order to preserve the ability to grow crops or harvest timber. In Albemarle, that qualifies the properties for reduced assessments through the land use taxation program. (learn more from the Virginia Farm Bureau)

The first public hearing is the first ten-year review of the Glenn Oaks District east of the Village of Rivanna. 

“Of the 353.8 acres in the Glen Oaks District, 237.2 acres have soils listed as particularly important for agriculture in the Comprehensive Plan,” reads the staff report.

In the second, the Planning Commission will consider an addition of 52 acres to the Free Union Agricultural and Forestal District.  In the third, they’ll consider the addition of neary 250 acres to the Blue Run Agricultural and Forestal District

In the fourth, a group seeks a special use permit to operate a private school in a church on the banks of the South Fork Rivanna Reservoir. The previous owner of the church had been slated to be converted to a brewery, but the applicant withdrew the ABC application and sold the property in February 2020 to Community Bridge LLC. (staff report)

“Education Transformation Centre’s mission is to help high school students that have been suspended for behavioral issues, and are facing the prospect of long-term expulsion,” reads the applicant’s narrative. “They would use three rooms in the lower level of the facility for eight hours per day.”

ETC has been operating from space in Esmont. No concerns were identified at a community meeting in August. That could be because the students will not be allowed to drive themselves to the center, limiting the number of vehicle trips. 

Supervisors to discuss comp plan update with Scottsville Town Council

It is common to hear residents of the Albemarle section of the town of Scottsville to argue that Albemarle County ignores their concerns. Last October, the Board of Supervisors met with the Town Council for a joint virtual meeting. They’ll do so again today beginning at 6 p.m. (meeting info) (agenda) (watch the October 26, 2020 meeting)

The agenda calls for a discussion of the county’s Comprehensive Plan which is now formally under review. The current version of the plan references Scottsville several times.

  • Development Areas chapter: 
    • Objective 10 – Continue to work with the City of Charlottesville, the University of Virginia, and the Town of Scottsville on issues on joint interest to the community 
      • Strategy 10c – Continue collaboration between the County and the Town of Scottsville 
  • Community Facilities chapter:
    • Objective 9 – Provide public water and sewer in the Development Areas
      • Strategy 9d – For the Development Areas of Crozet and the Village of Rivanna and the Town of Scottsville water and sewer systems (the nonurban system) monitor demand and plan for systems and facilities upgrades concurrent with community growth 

The current plan does identify Crozet as a development area with 961 acres in Albemarle and 18 acres in Fluvanna. The plan also clearly states the unique nature of Scottsville within the county. 

“Unlike the designated Development Areas, however, Scottsville has its own governance. Land use and zoning are within the purview of the Town and not the County,” reads page 79 of the .PDF for the current plan. (read the whole thing)

The current plan also points out: 

  • The history of flooding in Scottsville
  • The role of Route 20 and Route 6 as Entrance Corridors
  • How Albemarle’s economic development staff can work with town staff 
  • How the Scottsville Market serves as a park and ride lot 
  • The role that Dorrier Park plays in the Albemarle parks system
  • The role that Scottsville Library plans in the regional library system and consideration of eventual expansion 
  • How solid waste generated in Scottsville fits within the regional solid waste plan 
  • The role the Scottsville Rescue Squad plays in the county’s Fire / EMS system

That last bullet point is now obsolete as the Scottsville Rescue Squad was disbanded in April 2019. Read Allison Wrabel’s coverage of that event in the Daily Progress as well as coverage of a legal dispute over assets from Tyler Hammell

Nassau Street rezoning 

Nassau Street in eastern Belmont marks Charlottesville’s border with Albemarle County. Property here has become more valuable since an odor control project was completed at the Moores Creek Wastewater Treatment. Developer Nicole Scro and civil engineer Justin Shimp are representing an owner who seeks to build ten units in two buildings on 0.51 acres of land that the current Comprehensive Plan designates as low density residential. 

The Charlottesville Planning Commission will host the City Council for a joint public hearing on a rezoning from R-2 to R-3 to allow for this construction. The virtual meeting begins at 5:30 p.m. and the hearing will begin after 6 p.m. (meeting info)

“The R-3 district is relatively restricted to residential with allowable densities ranges and dwelling type being the biggest difference to the R-1 and R-2 districts,” reads the staff report from city planner Matt Alfele. 

“The addition of two 5-unit, multifamily dwellings would be consistent with the existing ‘neighborhood character’ and add value to the City in the form of increasing the depth of variety and choice of housing for existing and future residents,” reads the applicant’s narrative. 

Staff recommends approval of the rezoning. If approved, the narrative states there would be six one-bedroom units and four two-bedroom units. Nearby are affordable housing projects that have been built or will be built by Habitat for Humanity and the Piedmont Community Land Trust

An image produced by the applicant which describes how this project would fit in with other newly constructed or soon-to-be built housing

Critical slopes and critical infrastructure

After the public hearing, the Commission has two more pieces of business. 

In the first, Habitat for Humanity has plans to build a duplex on undeveloped land on Coleman Street in the Locust Grove neighborhood. To do so, they will need a waiver to disturb critical slopes. Sixty-one percent of the property is considered critical, as the land drops quite sharply from 398 feet above sea level at the southwest corner to 346 feet above sea level at the northeast. 

“It is worth noting that these slopes are a result of the construction of the road and not naturally occurring,” wrote civil engineer Dan Hyer of Line and Grade in the application. 

In the second, there will be an update on the 240 Stribling project in the Fry’s Spring neighborhood. Southern Development seeks a rezoning for up to 170 units on land currently developed. A sticking point is how much it will cost to upgrade Stribling Avenue with a sidewalk and appropriate stormwater drainage. 

Southern Development had agreed to pay $2 million toward the project, but city engineer Jack Dawson’s preliminary estimate put the upper limit at $2.85 million. Council got an update during an October 18 work session and those negotiations continue. (story on Information Charlottesville)

City planning staff still have some concerns. 

“Even with an agreement in place between the applicant and the City to provide sidewalks and improvements to Stribling Avenue, staff would still be concerned with the implementation of such an agreement and the timing needed to achieve the improvements as it relates to the development of the Subject Property,” reads the staff report, which details other lingering concerns with the application and how others have been resolved.  

The landscape plan for 240 Stribling, which would be built in multiple phases (Credit: Mitchell Matthews Architects / Timmons Group) 

Full agenda in Nelson County 

I’m  running out of space for this week, but Nelson’s Board of Supervisors needs more than three lines. They begin at 2 p.m. in the General District Courtroom. (meeting packet)

In the afternoon session, they’ll approve the legislative agenda for 2022 and will hear a proposal to speed up the installation of broadband internet across Nelson County. That would take an additional investment from the county. 

“The cost will be $15,000 per mile for 92 miles of construction for a total of $1,380,000,” reads the proposal from Firefly Fiber Broadband. 

Nelson will also get briefings on the opioid settlement, a request from the School Board for additional funds to replace the roofs at Nelson County middle and high schools, a request for $50,000 for the Fleetwood Community Center, and redistricting. There’s also a letter of support for Augusta County’s request for federal funds to restore the area around the intersection of U.S. 250, Interstate 64, the Blue Ridge Parkway, and Skyline Drive. 

“Afton Mountain is a perfect location to welcome visitors to our region’s parks and neighboring communities, signaling welcome to tourists and travelers,” reads the letter from Nelson County Administrator Stephen Carter. “Today, it symbolizes the opportunity for a renaissance and opportunity to stimulate investment and business opportunities.” 

In other meetings: 

  • A subcommittee of Charlottesville’s Sister Cities meets virtually at 4:30 p.m. On the agenda are four topics – education, city representatives, outreach, and grants. (meeting info)
  • Charlottesville’s Electoral Board meets at 6 p.m. in person at the City Hall Annex. On the agenda is a closed session on personnel matters. (meeting info
  • Fluvanna County’s Planning Commission meets in person at 6 p.m. They’ll have a work session on the capital improvement program followed by possible action on a rezoning on Southern Development’s Village Green. Read Heather Michon’s piece in the Fluvanna Review on the deferral of the item from September. (meeting packet)
  • The Greene County Board of Supervisors meets in open session in-person at 6:30 p.m. On the agenda is a report on fire service in Greene, approval of the legislative agenda, a public hearing on whether certain employees should get bonuses, and a presentation on Greene County’s potential participation in a class action settlement related to opioids. On the latter, a new entity called the Virginia Opioid Abatement Authority will oversee distribution of approximately $530 million available to localities. Localities have to join by January 2, 2022. (agenda)

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Replacing an avenue of electricity, Crozet master plan discussion

There will be a virtual community meeting at 5 p.m. for the Central Virginia Electric Cooperative’s special use permit request for a replacement of an electric utility line that serves four substations and 6,750 customers. That includes the Wintergreen resort in Nelson County. 

The existing line is strung on wooden poles and will be replaced with something more substantial to prevent future outages. 

“Ductile iron poles are resistant to woodpeckers, insects, and rot, and has a weathered Natural Finish, which is bare iron and looks similar to a wood pole finish,” reads CVEC’s application.

The Albemarle Board of Supervisors voted 5-1 to adopt an update of the Crozet Master Plan on October 20. Allison Wrabel has an article about that discussion published the next day. (read the article)

The Crozet Community Advisory Committee meets virtually at 7 p.m.. On the agenda is an item called “master planning process debrief” which will be worth reviewing. 

  • The James River Water Authority meets in person at 9 a.m. in person at the Fluvanna County Library in Palmyra. There’s no agenda yet, but the Louisa Board of Supervisors got an update at their meeting on November 1. (story) (meeting info)
Location of the electric transmission line to be replaced

Thursday, November 11, 2021

This is Veterans Day in the United States, or Remembrance Day in much of Europe. There are no meetings scheduled as it is a federal and state holiday. 

The Places29-North Community Advisory Committee meeting that had been scheduled was canceled. So was the Louisa County Planning Commission. Where can I find a poppy? 

Friday, November 12, 2021

Charlottesville’s Historic Preservation Committee meets virtually at 11 a.m. One item on the agenda is a review of a prototype for a downtown walking tour. (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.