Week Ahead for October 3, 2022: Charlottesville City Council to consider collective bargaining ordinance; Albemarle Supervisors to get economic outlook; Fluvanna prepares for new Circuit Court judge

We are now in the fourth quarter of the year as measured by the calendar, or the second quarter as measured by Virginia’s fiscal year. On any given day, there are a lot of activities being conducted by public bodies and local governments. This newsletter aims to provide a weekly snapshot of what is happening, and as always, there is a lot happening. 

Some of the highlights:

  • Charlottesville City Council will hold the second reading on an expanded collective bargaining agreement, and will also provide comment on a draft Climate Action Plan.
  • Albemarle Supervisors will be warned about a potential economic downturn in a report produced by analysts at Virginia Tech, and will also hold a public hearing on a cell tower in Greenwood.
  • Fluvanna Supervisors will discuss creating a new position to assist a new Circuit Court Judge who will begin work in December. 
  • Louisa Supervisors will review its support for the replacement of a privately-owned dam, but will not spend any public dollars on the effort. 
  • There’s a site plan meeting for 245 apartment units to built on the Rivanna River on land in the floodplain, and a group has formed to coordinate opposition. 

There are no meetings in Greene County or Nelson County this week. There are no regional meetings that I am aware of, but please let me know if I have missed anything. 

Thanks to the Piedmont Environmental Council for their sponsorship of this newsletter. You have three months left to celebrate their 50th anniversary. Why not send a card? 

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Monday, October 3, 2022

Charlottesville City Council to get briefing on climate action plan, second reading of collective bargaining ordinance

The five member Charlottesville CIty Council will meet at 4 p.m. for a work session followed by a regular meeting beginning at 6:30 p.m. (meeting info)

There are two items at the work session. First, the new president of Piedmont Virginia Community College will appear before Council for an introduction. Jean Runyon is PVCC’s sixth leader since it was created in 1972. There are four members from Charlottesville on the PVCC Board. Runyon has been making the rounds to the other jurisdictions within the PVCC area to give the annual report. (view the presentation)

Next, Council will review the city’s Climate Action Plan. (you can too!)

“This Plan is a strategic framework for how Charlottesville can reach its goal of carbon neutrality by the year 2050,” reads the preface. 

“In recent decades, climate change has accelerated, primarily due to greenhouse gas emissions from human activity. Human impact on the environment is evident in the increasingly destructive and unpredictable weather patterns that negatively affect our community.”

The plan points toward many resources, including the page where you can keep track of efforts to reduce emissions locally.  Just under a third of the emissions come from transportation, and two-thirds come from “stationary” use. That means the energy it takes to power homes and businesses. The rest comes from solid waste as measured by the Thomas Jefferson Planning District. 

The plan lays out steps to reduce emissions in all sectors and to make sure the journey is “effective, affordable, equitable and inclusive.” 

Greenhouse gas emissions have been reduced over time, but there’s a long way to go to meet the target reductions (Credit: City of Charlottesville)

On the consent agenda:

  • The Office of Economic Development will get $100,000 for workforce development training programs through the Virginia Department of Social Services. (staff report)
  • The Blue Ridge Coalition for the Homeless will receive $15,381.60 to help cover the cost of the Homeless Information Line. (staff report)
  • Charlottesville Area Transit will get an appropriation of $656,000 from the first federal COVID-19 transfer of funds to localities (CARES Act) for a variety of uses. This includes $300,000 to hire a consultant to complete the Transit Strategic Plan, $25,000 to hire the firm Williams Mullen to complete an audit of the payroll, $250,000 to hire AECOM to conduct project management, and $55,000 to pay Kimley-Horn and Associates to assist with the launch of a micro-transit service CAT will provide to Albemarle County. (staff report)
  • The Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission will get $30,000 for the city’s share for a governance study to implement the Regional Transit Vision Plan. (staff report)
  • The Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority will get $335,000 from the city’s housing voucher fund to purchase 818 Montrose Avenue. (staff report)
  • The Charlottesville Fire Department will get $186,776 from insurance companies from the “Fire Programs Fund. (staff report)
  • The utility billing office will get $29,524.18 from the American Rescue Plan Act to cover the cost of unpaid bills. (staff report)

Before community matters, there will be a report from interim City Manager Michael C. Rogers. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Hezedean Smith is now the chief of the fire department in Polk County, Florida. Smith served less than two years as chief of the Charlottesville Fire Department. An acting fire chief will be selected before a search for a permanent one begins. 
  • Interviews for the new Charlottesville Police Chief are expected to begin later this month with a recommendation for a hire in early November.  The Police Department is down 30 officers according to Assistant Chief Major LaTroy Durette. 
  • The city is also hiring its first Emergency Management Coordinator. Albemarle County named a deputy chief to that position earlier this year. 
  • Also this month: the city will issue a Notice of Availability of Funds for the Charlottesville Affordable Housing Fund. 
  • The Office of Human Rights has received more requests for assistance in 2022 than it did in all of 2021. The Commission has updated the city’s human rights ordinance with many revisions to sections on federal Fair Housing law. 
  • Public Works continues to move toward starting work on the Emmet and Fontaine streetscapes, including coordinating with the University of Virginia on project alignment. 
  • City Hall is expected to be open on Monday, October 3.
  • The Department of Utilities has applied for a grant from the Virginia Department of Health to take an inventory of materials used in the city’s water lines. 

In regular business, the city will have second reading on conveyance of air rights for a pedestrian bridge over Emmet Street at the University of Virginia. This is for a replacement of a nearby bridge that is not compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Learn more in a story from the first reading. (staff report)

Next, there will be a third reading of a request from a couple on Oak Street for the vacation of city-owned right of way. This item was deferred from the August 15, 2022 meeting. I mentioned this issue in a long article from June 30 about city-owned property. For years, the city of Charlottesville had no central place that tracked rental and management of the land owned by the municipal government. (staff report)

After that, there will be a second reading of a collective bargaining ordinance. There have been 26 revisions to the draft ordinance made since the first reading. These include extending the right to unionize to more city employees rather than just transit, police, and fire. 

Finally, what has the Land Use and Environmental Planning Committee been up to? The closed door group replaced an open public body in late 2019 to implement the Three-Party Agreement signed in 1986 between Albemarle County. Charlottesville, and the University of Virginia. Take a look at the report for the first half of the year, with links to all of the various presentations. 

A slide in the presentation on changes to the ordinance made after Council and the public weighed in at a public hearing. (view the presentation) (Credit: City of Charlottesville) 

Louisa County Supervisors to adopt legislative agenda; includes undergrounding utilities

The seven member Louisa County Board of Supervisors will meet for a budget work session at 4 p.m. followed by a regular meeting that goes into open session at 6 p.m. (work session info) (meeting info)

There are four presentations, two discussions, two action items, and four public hearings scheduled on the agenda. And three reports. 

Discussions begin with a presentation from J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College President Paula Pando followed by one from the Louisa 4-H Club. After all, it is National 4-H Week. There’s an update from the Louisa Arts Center as well as a presentation on something called BrightSuite. 

Then there’s a discussion on the conditions of the Hamilton Road Bridge followed by one about an application fee for buoys on Lake Anna. 

The first resolution is for the county’s 2023 Legislative Platform. Priorities include a request to support the undergrounding of aerial utility lines in order to speed up recovery time after storms, funding to combat harmful algae blooms such as the ones that have plagued Lake Anna this summer, and an expression of support for research into small, modular nuclear reactors. 

The second is to approve a memorandum of understanding between Louisa County and the Blue Ridge Shores Property Owner’s Association. This relates to the $4.4 million replacement of a spillway, bridge, and dam maintained by the BRSPOA. The county is being asked to co-sponsor a Federal Emergency Management Agency grant to help cover some of the cost, but is not being asked to contribute any local government money. 

The first public hearing is for a budget amendment related to the American Rescue Plan Act and receipt of funding through the Local Fiscal Recovery program. The $3.65 million will be used for building renovations. 

The second and third public hearings are for addition to one Agricultural and Forestal District and renewal of another. 

The fourth is related to an amendment for a conditional use permit for a utility-scale solar facility to extend the deadline for when it needs to be under construction. 

Conditions of the Hamilton Road Bridge, which is still being maintained but discussions about a replacement ceased in recent years (Credit: Virginia Department of Transportation)

Albemarle design panel to review self-storage building on Fifth Street Extended

FTV Investments LLC has submitted plans to build a 100,800 square foot self storage facility by the Holiday Inn on 5th Street Extended in the Fifth Street Landing development. The Albemarle Architectural Review Board must grant a certificate of appropriateness as this is within a county entrance corridor. The five-story building will be an Extra Space Storage franchise according to materials in the packet. 

“The proposed self -storage use would align with the existing commercial fabric of 5″‘ Street and the elevations propose compatible materials and patterns with the neighboring buildings,” reads the narrative written by Shimp Engineering. “Moreover, the new self -storage facility is to be located behind the existing Holiday Inn, Starbucks, and Christian’ s Pizza structures.” 

The ARB meets in-person in Lane Auditorium at 1 p.m. (meeting info)

Location of the proposed self-storage building (Credit: Albemarle County) 

Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Charlottesville Tree Commission to discuss removal of “hazard” trees on Downtown Mall

The Charlottesville Tree Commission is still meeting virtually. This particular meeting has several items related to the trees on the city’s Downtown Mall. Urban Forester Steve Gaines will discuss budget requests for invasive plant control, as well as ongoing maintenance of the mall’s trees. 

A request for proposals for a project related to the Downtown Mall trees will be discussed, as well as a proposal to remove some of trees that are deemed to be hazards. A timeline will be presented. (meeting info)

Ordinarily Tuesdays are busy days, but this one is quiet. What am I missing? 

Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Albemarle Supervisors to get economic outlook from Virginia Tech researchers, several transportation briefings

The six-member Albemarle County Board of Supervisors will meet at 1 p.m. for their first meeting of October. (agenda)

Two out of three action items pertain to special exceptions for homestays. The third is for support for an application to the federal Reconnecting Communities grant for a corridor study of U.S. 29 from Hydraulic Road to the Rivanna River. 

“This discretionary grant program is dedicated to reconnecting communities that have experienced negative safety, mobility, accessibility, and/or economic impacts due to transportation infrastructure,” reads the staff report for this item. “Program funding supports planning grants and capital construction grants to restore community connectivity through the removal, retrofitting, mitigation, or replacement of eligible transportation infrastructure facilities.”

Transportation is the topic for the first two of three presentations. Transportation Planner Jessica Hersh-Ballering will provide an update, including the county’s participation in the Safe Streets for All grant. (See also: Albemarle Supervisors direct staff to participate in TJPDC-led Safe Streets grant application, September 12, 2022)

Planning work continues to help address safety issues on Old Ivy Road, where one developer seeks to build 525 new units and the University of Virginia has a master plan to redevelop Ivy Gardens with more residential density. 

“A consultant is under contract with VDOT to assess options to improve pedestrian connections, primarily under the railroad bridge at the eastern end of the corridor, and to improve vehicular operations at the Old Garth Rd/US 250/Canterbury Rd intersection near the eastern end of Old Ivy Rd,” Hersh-Ballering writes in the report. 

Next, the Virginia Department of Transportation will give a report for activities in September. 

Some of the updates in the VDOT report for September (view the report

The third presentation is an economic outlook for Albemarle County conducted by the Virginia Tech School of Public and International Affairs. The report starts with a global picture.

“Current economic indicators are mixed at this writing with slowing activity in some sectors along with resiliency in other sectors, including a continued strong job market,” reads the report. “Inflation remains at record highs and the Federal Reserve further confirmed at its September 2022 meeting its commitment to continue to raise rates into 2023 to convincingly bring inflation back toward its longer-run target of 2%, and a willingness to tolerate higher unemployment to achieve its price stability goal.”

The report then localizes recommendations, including preparation for an “economic cooling” due to ongoing fallout from the Russian-Ukraine War as well as supply chain issues. If you know anyone interested in economics or is studying the topic, send them this report. County staff deliberately wanted the analysis to take a look at the leisure and hospitality industry.

“In terms of payroll jobs, the leisure and hospital industry comprised 9.2 percent of the establishments in Albemarle County in 2020, 15.4 percent of total payroll jobs, and 5.46 percent of total annual payrolls,” reads the report. 

In the evening session that begins at 6 p.m. there is a public hearing on a special use permit for a cell tower in Greenwood. (staff report)

On the consent agenda:

  • There’s a special exception for the Rio Point development to reduce the amount of parking required on site related to 45 townhomes. (materials)
  • Albemarle has the identical report from the Land Use and Environmental Planning Committee. (report)
  • There’s a 128 page document with all annual reports from many of the county’s boards and commission. That includes the Village of Rivanna Community Advisory Committee. The members of that group all quit in April and formed a private group. (report)
A figure from the Economic Outlook depicts the sharp increase in the price of homes in the past two years since the pandemic (Credit: Virginia Tech School of Public and International Affairs)

Fluvanna Supervisors to hold public hearing to update water and sewer ordinance

The five-member Fluvanna County Board of Supervisors will meet at 5 p.m. in Fork Union at the Carysbrook Performing Arts Center.  (meeting info) (package)

There are two action items, two presentations, and a public hearing on a change to the water and sewage disposal ordinance. 

One action item is to select voting credentials for the upcoming business meeting of the Virginia Association of Counties. This is in case a member of the Board decides not to attend the November 15 event. 

The other is to approve the job description for a new judicial assistant position. This relates to the retirement of Circuit Court Judge Richard E. Moore. Currently Fluvanna splits the cost of the position with Charlottesville, but the new judge will split time between Fluvanna and Greene County. 

“It is anticipated that based upon populations and case loads, Fluvanna may have a greater percentage of court time in the future,” reads the staff report (page 11). “It is being requested that Fluvanna County be the employer for the Judge’s new Judicial Assistant and a new employee job description must be created.”

Judge David M. Barredo’s appointment is effective December 1. 

The first presentation is Dr. Jean Runyon’s annual report from Piedmont Virginia Community College. Fluvanna County makes up 9.33 percent of the student population. 

The second is an update on the reassessment process for 2023 from Commissioner of the Revenue Andrew Sheridan. No advance materials are included in the packet. 

The public hearing is to repeal the county’s current water and sewer ordinance and replace it with a new one as well as to update the fee schedule for water and sewer service. This is a necessary step toward the future public water and sewer system planned for Zion Crossroads. 

“The proposed ordinance changes, fees, manuals and plans have been prepared to address the significant increase in the abilities of the County’s water and sewer system occasioned by the Project, as well as to address significant revisions to the Virginia Administrative Code Waterworks Regulations which were effective June 21, 2021 and to make other modifications deemed appropriate by staff to better manage the system and to address the financial impacts of the Project,” read the staff report (page 108).

Site plan for 245 units off of East High Street in Charlottesville

A developer has submitted plans to build up to 245 apartment units in three buildings to be built on land along the Rivanna River. The plan is to import fill to elevate the foundation so that the basement is above the floodplain. Charlottesville allows such construction though Albemarle County does not. 

A preliminary site plan will be held at 10 a.m. via Zoom. A group is organizing to fight the development, which does not need a rezoning or special use permit to proceed. To learn more, read a story I wrote earlier in the week. (meeting info)

An image generated by those opposed to the by-right development of land in the floodplain (Credit: No Floodplain Apartments group)

Thursday, October 6, 2022

Regional planning group to meet

The Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission will meet in-person at the TJPDC headquarters at 407 Water Street in Charlottesville. The convening takes place at 7 p.m. (meeting info page) (Zoom registration)

There will be two presentations from the TJPDC’s housing planner. Ian Baxter will give an update on the Central Virginia Regional Housing Partnership as well as an update on a grant from Virginia Housing. In April, the TJPDC awarded $1.8 million in local projects.

Plans are being made for a housing summit to be held on March 24.

Then Commissioners will be asked to support Greene County’s grant application for the Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities program of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Then they’ll talk budget for a while.

In other meetings:

  • The Community Policy and Management Team meets in person at 9 a.m. in Room 231 of the county’s office building at 1600 5th Street in Albemarle. This is a group of staff from both Albemarle and Charlottesville. (meeting info)
  • Albemarle’s Acquisition of Conservation Easements – Appraisal Review Committee meets in person in Room 246 of the county’s office building at 401 McIntire Road in Charlottesville. (meeting info)
  • The Charlottesville Bicycle and Advisory Committee Meeting will meet virtually at 5 p.m. There’s no agenda at publication time. (meeting info)
  • Albemarle County’s Natural Heritage Committee will meet in person at Room 235 in the county’s Mcintire office building. (meeting info)
  • Charlottesville’s Human Rights Commission will meet virtually at 6 p.m. There’s no agenda at publication time. (meeting info)
A slide from the update on funding TJPDC awarded to various groups for housing construction

Friday, October 7, 2022

Only one meeting today in the region. 

Fluvanna County’s Electoral Board meets in the Weaver Building at 196 West Main Street in Palmyra at 12:30 p.m. An agenda isn’t posted on the meeting info page

Elsewhere in Virginia’s Fifth Congressional District, the Lynchburg City Council will meet for a retreat. But that’s the subject of a different newsletter! Sign up for that one, too, and learn more about promulgation of Piedmont public policy! 

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.