Week Ahead for October 18, 2021: Public meeting for Albemarle transit; Area planners to discuss affordable housing across region

Why are these counties the ones covered in the Week Ahead newsletter? If you’re a new reader, all of the jurisdictions listed are in the Thomas Jefferson Planning District. That’s one of 21 such regions in Virginia as delineated by the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development. Each week, my goal is to both inform you of what is coming up at local and regional meetings in order to provide context for how Virginia’s localities are interwoven with the Commonwealth’s government. 

I also believe each jurisdiction can learn from each other. For instance, if you’re interested in learning how different localities are using COVID relief funds, take a look at the packet for the Fluvanna Board of Supervisors on Wednesday. 

Monday, October 18, 2021

More details on Stribling sidewalks

The first Council meeting after the resignation of City Manager Chip Boyles begins at 4 p.m. with a work session on one specific infrastructure item. A rezoning on undeveloped land on Stribling Avenue in the Fry’s Spring neighborhood hinges on whether the roadway can be upgraded to handle the additional vehicular and people-powered traffic that would result from 170 units that would use the road as a primary access point. Currently, there are no sidewalks or drainage, and any physical change to the road would require it to be brought up to standards. 

On September 14, the Charlottesville Planning Commission held a public hearing for the rezoning. Southern Development proposed paying up to $2 million to upgrade the roads and worked out an agreement with the city’s Economic Development office to be repaid through the incremental tax revenue that would be generated by the higher property taxes on the rezoned property. City Engineer Jack Dawson put the estimate at much higher. Southern Development asked to defer a vote until the details could be agreed upon. 

At this meeting, Dawson will present his analysis of the engineering concept developed by the Timmons Group. The 73-page presentation details considerations for utility relocation, removal of 19 trees, stormwater, and other aspects to bring the road up to code. His estimate is $2.873 million for the project. (Dawson’s analysis)

Further reading:
Existing conditions on Stribling Avenue
Council’s fifth to last regular meeting of 2021

Council’s regular meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. It’s one of the lightest agendas in quite some time. (meeting info)

One item on the agenda is a public hearing on a special allocation of American Rescue Plan Act funding of $2,452,270 from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

“Funds are aimed at providing housing, services, and shelter to individuals experiencing homeless and other vulnerable populations, to be allocated by formula to jurisdictions that qualified for HOME Investment Partnerships Program allocations in Fiscal Year 2021,” reads the staff report.

These funds can be used any time between now and September 2030. They can be used for four eligible activities:

  • Production or preservation of affordable housing
  • Tenant-based rental assistance
  • Supportive services, including homeless prevention services and housing counseling
  • The purchase or development of non-congregate shelter for individuals and families experiencing homelessness

There are no specific uses identified for the funding at this time, and the public hearing is intended for people to express ideas. The Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission and the city will consult with various agencies before any of the funding is spent. 

In a second resolution (though not a public hearing according to the agenda), Council will hold first reading of a resolution of $1,192,836 on the use of ARPA funds for specific projects: (staff report)

  • The city’s Information Technology department seeks $175,904 to support city’s remote operations
  • The city would use $400,000 to upgrade space at the Market Street Parking garage to provide more office space for the Office of Human Rights, the Home to Hope program, and the Jobs Center
  • The Department of Social Services seeks $15,000 to pay for people to be in hotels as emergency shelters 
  • The city would use $500,000 for COVID testing for its employees
  • The city’s Communications Department would use $1,181 to renew its license with Zoom
  • The treasurer’s office would use $20,000 to continue its Ambassador’s program
  • The Human Services Department would use $80,751 to cover the cost of a long-term temporary employee to support the Community Resource Hotline and Housing Navigation needs. 

There is also a written report from the Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority and the Rivanna Solid Waste Authority. Both are governed by seven-member bodies which include one City Councilor, the city manager, and a top official from the Department of Public Works. For the RSWA, that person has been Public Works Director David Brown but he has left the city after a year of employment. For the RWSA, that person is Utilities Director Lauren Hildebrand. (written report)

Louisa Supervisors to consider opioid settlement resolution, bus driver pay increase

The Louisa County Board of Supervisors meets in open session at 6 p.m. in the Louisa County Public Meeting Room. On the consent agenda is a resolution “Approving the County’s Participation in the Proposed Settlement of Opioid-Related Claims Against Mckesson, Cardinal Health, Amerisourcebergen, Janssen” but there are no details in the packet beyond that title. 

Another item is a presentation from the Virginia Department of Emergency Management on the siren system related to the nuclear power plant at Lake Anna. One slide states that ‘siren effectiveness from inception has steadily declined.” The Board will also consider a resolution to increase school bus driver pay to $21 an hour. That will come at a cost of $380,000. (board packet)

Community meeting for 250 apartment units on Rio Road

A developer called G W Real Estate Partners has filed plans for a rezoning for up to 250 units on Rio Road. The Places29-Hydraulic Community Advisory Committee will hold a community meeting for that land use application at their regular monthly meeting. The request is to rezone the land from R-6 to Planned Residential Development. 

“At just over half a mile from the Route 29/ Rio Road intersection, the proposed community would be within walking distance to many conveniences, including the numerous retail shops and offices in the Berkmar Crossing commercial area, several grocery stores, the Northside Library, and the large number of destinations surrounding the Rio/ 29 Intersection, including CVS Drugstore, Fashion Square Mall, Rio Hill Shopping Center, and Albemarle Square Shopping Center,” reads the application. 

This is one of the first appearances that former county planner Megan Nedostup will make in her new role with Williams Mullen, a prominent law firm that handles a lot of land use requests. 

The CAC will also get an update on Charlotte Humprhis Park as well as elect new officers. The meeting begins at 5:30 p.m. and will be held virtually. (meeting info)

In other meetings:

  • The Albemarle Architectural Review Board meets virtually at 1 p.m. On the agenda is review of a Take 5 vehicle service facility in the Pantops Corner development. (meeting info)
  • The Board of Trustees for the Jefferson-Madison Regional Library meets at the Nelson County Library in Lovingston at 3 p.m.  (zoom link)
  • Charlottesville’s Electoral Board meets in person at 6 p.m. in the City Hall Annex. (meeting info)

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Albemarle Board of Supervisors gets update on economic development efforts 

Last week, four of the six members of the Albemarle Board of Supervisors were on hand as the firm Bonumose officials announced a $27.7 million investment by the Hershey Company in a demonstration factory to be located in the former State Farm headquarters on Pantops. The deal was made possible because of work by the county’s Economic Development Office, which has been implementing the Project ENABLE strategic plan since it was adopted in December 2018. 

Today, the Board of Supervisors will join the Economic Development Authority at their meeting beginning at 4 p.m. for a review of progress to date. An update in the packet states that many of the original objectives have been met and others are still in progress. Also on the agenda is a discussion of the EDA’s control of land and a grant program for the reuse of existing buildings. Following a closed session, there will be a resolution approving the county’s and the EDA’s role in two state grants that helped seal the Bonumose deal. (meeting info)

From the update on the Albemarle EDA

In other meetings:

  • The Albemarle County Department of Social Services Advisory Board meets virtually at 3:30 p.m. They will continue review of “Ways We Supported the Community Members During the Pandemic Crisis.” (meeting info)
  • The Charlottesville Parking Advisory Panel will discuss the Parking Action Plan, current utilization of lots and garages, a possible move to third-party parking enforcement, and parking revenue collected in the first quarter of FY22. (meeting info)
  • Charlottesville’s Sister Cities Commission will meet at 4:30 with updates on the four Sister Cities. Pleven, Bulgaria, is no longer one of them. (meeting info)
  • The Charlottesville Board of Architectural Review meets at 5 p.m. On the agenda is a review of Preston Place and a façade renovation at 310 East Main Street. (meeting info)
  • The Greene County Emergency Services Advisory Board meets at 6 p.m. in-person at the administration building in Stanardsville. (agenda)
  • The Albemarle Planning Commission meets at 6 p.m. with a public hearing on the proposed convenience center for community members in southern Albemarle to drop off recyclable materials and bagged household waste. (meeting info)

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Site plan conference for WaWa on 5th Street Extended

Riverbend Development is managing an application for a WaWa facility that would replace the Hardee’s on 5th Street Extended in Charlottesville. This is a by-right use under the city’s zoning and that application takes the form of a site plan. A virtual meeting for the public to ask questions will be held at 10 a.m. 

“The site plan is for a new gas station and shows a 5,300 square foot building, fuel pumps under canopy, and on-site parking,” reads the meeting info, which does not state that it is a WaWa. I confirmed with Riverbend that WaWa is the applicant. 

“The development has frontage on 5th Street SW and 5th Street Station Parkway,” the meeting info continues. 

The Planning Commission will have the chance to review the design in its capacity as the city’s Entrance Corridor Review Board. If approved and constructed, this would be either the third or fourth franchise within the urban area around Charlottesville depending on when it is completed. Plans have also been filed for a WaWa at the corner of Route 29 and Greenbrier, just over the line in Albemarle. (meeting info)

There’s also a site plan conference for a mixed-use building at 218 West Market Street previously approved by Council in September 2020
Greene comp plan review continues; work session on Rural Enterprise Centers

The Greene County Planning Commission will meet in a hybrid fashion beginning at 6 p.m. There will be a work session on Rural Enterprise Centers, which would allow certain business uses in the county’s rural areas. In 2020, the Board of Supervisors designated the entire county as a Defense Production Zone, but current rules do not allow for certain uses. These centers would allow “rural research and development facilities,” “conference centers”, and “defense contractors.” (board packet)

Parcels in Greene’s rural area that are marked in red would be eligible for businesses if they qualified under standards for Rural Enterprise Centers

In other meetings:

  • Charlottesville’s Housing Advisory Committee meets virtually at noon. (meeting info)
  • At 1 p.m. there is a second site plan conference for a 218 West Market Street. Council approved a special use permit for additional residential density at their meeting on September 8, 2020 on a 4-1 vote. No materials are included and the city has no way for community members to access site plans or project information online. (meeting info)
  • The Community Policy Management Team for both Albemarle and Charlottesville convene 3:30 p.m. for a virtual meeting. According to the city’s website, the  CPMT is the “responsible entity for all [Comprehensive Services Act] policies and programs to ensure accordance with all state mandates and local CSA policies.” (meeting info)
  • The Fluvanna Board of Supervisors will hold a work session on redistricting at 5 p.m. followed by a regular meeting at 7 p.m. On the agenda is a resolution to approve a public hearing for the county to join the Regional Cigarette Tax Board. There will be presentations on how Fluvanna’s school system is utilizing COVID relief funding including the American Recovery Plan Act. Another item is the reclassification of two roads from “major collector” to “minor arterial” in anticipation of increased traffic volumes. The meeting will be held in public at the Carysbrook Performing Arts Center in Fork Union.  (board packet)

October 21, 2021

Special meeting for city PC’s regular business

Charlottesville’s Planning Commission met for six hours last Tuesday for a public hearing and recommendation of an approval for the Comprehensive Plan. Now they’ll meet virtually at 5 p.m. for a special meeting to discuss specific land use items. (meeting info)

On the consent agenda is a final site plan for a Planned Unit Development at 1000 Grove Street in Fifeville for six units. Council approved the rezoning fifteen years ago in October 2006 as a project called Fifeville Heights Condominiums.  

The main event is a rezoning application, special use permit, and a critical slopes waiver for four apartment buildings on 0.652 acres at the end of Valley Road Extended and south of the Norfolk Southern railway. There is no other outlet for traffic of any kind, unless a pedestrian wanted to climb the steep embankment to the University of Virginia’s Brandon Avenue precinct. That would neither be recommended or legal. 

The Planning Commission last discussed this item on May 11, 2021. Since then, the project had been modified so that eight of the 28 units would be designated as affordable. Staff has concerns about the way these requirements are worded. 

After that discussion, there is a vote on a critical slope waiver and site plan for a project on Lyman Street as well as a preliminary discussion for a mixed-use development at 2005 Jefferson Park Avenue. 

That project, which is being led by the firm Mitchell / Matthews, would request a special use permit for additional height and density as well as a setback reduction.

Location map for the proposed mixed-use building at 2005 Jefferson Park Avenue
Regional perspectives on affordable housing

The Central Virginia Regional Housing Roundtable resumes its speaker series at noon with a virtual event that seeks to “showcase accomplishments, highlight challenges, and promote regional collaboration.” There will be presentations from Albemarle County Housing Policy Manager Stacy Pethia, Alex Ikefuna with the Charlottesville Office of Community Solutions, Fluvanna County Community Development Director Douglas Miles, and Greene County Planning Director Jim Frydl. 

Recently, the TJPDC adopted a regional housing affordability plan. I will be listening to see how each of these four officials react to that document, and how they see their locality fitting into a regional picture. 

Albemarle / TJPDC to hold community meeting on transit expansion

How can transit service be expanded in Albemarle County along U.S. 29, Pantops, and to Monticello? Albemarle County and the TJPDC are continuing work on a transit expansion study. The latest milestone is publication of a market and service analysis FourSquare ITP and Michael Baker International. (market and service analysis)

“Ripe for service expansion, the US-29 corridor is the second busiest transit corridor in the region,” reads an overview of the study areas. “The Albemarle County Comprehensive Plan, adopted in 2015, outlines goals for increasing the supply of affordable housing for households with incomes between zero percent and 80 percent of area median income, through rezoning and incentives to developers.” 

A public meeting on the study will be held tonight beginning at 6 p.m. (meeting info)

Further reading:

In other meetings:

  • The Charlottesville Youth Council meets virtually at 6 p.m. (meeting info)
  • The Charlottesville Human Rights Commission meets virtually at 6:30 p.m. (meeting info)
  • The 5th and Avon Community Advisory Committee which covers Albemarle’s southern growth area meets virtually at 7 p.m. (meeting info)

October 22, 2022

No meetings that I am aware of at this moment. Let me know if I’ve missed one? Thanks again for reading and please send it on to others you think might be interested.  

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.