Week Ahead for September 19, 2022: Charlottesville Council to decide on permit for 119-units on JPA; Albemarle Supervisors to hold public hearing for rezoning of Southwood’s second phase

As I began to type the introductory paragraph for this week, I noticed this installment is already clocking in at over 4,000 words. With that in mind, I will be quick by just repeating what I’ve been saying this whole time:

There’s a lot going on!

Some of the highlights.

  • Charlottesville City Council will vote on a special use permit for 119 units on Jefferson Park Avenue for which their required public hearing was held in May. 
  • Albemarle Supervisors will hold a public hearing on the rezoning for the second phase of Southwood Mobile Home Park, and will consider whether to review the rules for solar field approvals
  • Louisa County Supervisors will decide whether to proceed with a public hearing to change the rules on short-term rentals.
  • The CEO of Jaunt will travel to Charlottesville and Fluvanna to describe what that transit agency has been up to, at the same time planning continues for a transportation authority. 
  • Albemarle County’s EDA will be asked to consider financial support for the expansion of Potter’s Craft Cider as well as a feasibility study for hotels in Scottsville.

You’ll have to click through to the website to see the whole thing. Thanks as always to the Piedmont Environmental Council for their support of this ongoing work. 

Monday, September 19

Louisa Supervisors to review changes to short-term rental rules, get update on regional transit plan

The seven-member Louisa County Board of Supervisors meets at 5 p.m. for a closed session with an open session that begins at 6 p.m. (agenda(agenda packet)

After an invocation and the pledge of allegiance, they’ll adopt a final agenda, approve minutes, and consider the consent agenda. One item is an authorization of $141,000  to replace the roof at the Human Services Building and another is authorize $200,000 for the installation of generators at the Fire/EMS HQ and the General Services office. 

It’s been some time since I’ve written a new story about the Regional Transit Vision Plan that the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission has been developing, but I’ve written a lot this year if you want to catch up with that on Information Charlottesville. A survey finally closed on Friday, but if you’ve never heard of it, take a look at the StoryMap presentation.

The TJPDC will give a briefing on the plan to Louisa Supervisors. If you’re a fan of government Scrabble, there will also be updates from MACAA and JABA. 

Under the unconstrained vision, Louisa County would get an on-demand service for trips within the areas shaded in yellow, as well as fixed route service to Charlottesville. “Unconstrained” means that funding for the service has not yet been identified. (Credit: TJPDC)

In the first of two action updates, Supervisors will approve amendments to the Rappahannock Regional Criminal Justice Academy Charter and Bylaws. In the second, they will authorize $243,327.72 in additional funding to allow Louisa County Public Schools to hire additional teachers. The funding stems from increased enrollment in the 2021-2022 school year. 

There are two public hearings. In the first, Supervisors will consider a request for a building on Lake Anna to exceed the maximum building height of 40 feet. The structure was built at 46 feet and eight inches. Both adjacent neighbors sent in letters supporting its continued existence. The Planning Commission recommended approval at its meeting on August 11. 

In the second, they will consider changes to the county’s ordinance related to short-term rentals. Supervisors created a workgroup in February to review the rules after many residents complained about an increase in that use. 

“This workgroup met with representatives from Dominion Energy, Louisa Chamber of Commerce, and Lake Anna Business Partnership to help guide the policy options,” reads the staff report. “The main focus areas were responsiveness to the neighbors, protection for the property owner, the fair and equitable treatment of all operators, and safety for the tenants of short-term rentals.” 

Potential changes include:

  • More documentation that the property’s septic system can handle intense uses and limits occupancy to the system’s capacity
  • Camping in recreational vehicles would be prohibited
  • Providers must maintain a list of the names and addresses of customers for at least a year

Charlottesville Council to consider special use permit for 119-unit building on JPA; CRHA seeks approval to purchase another property

The five-member Charlottesville City Council meets at 4 p.m. for a work session followed by a regular meeting at 6:30 p.m. (meeting info) (agenda)

What role might Jaunt play in the future of transit in the area? That may be on the minds of Council as CEO Ted Rieck as presents his agency’s FY22 annual report at the work session. The Regional Transit Vision Plan being created by the TJPDC is not required by the state or federal government, but each agency that receives funding must create a Transit Development Plan. How do these two things fit together, and how does Jaunt fit into a third? Both Albemarle and Charlottesville have funded a governance study that could be the first toward seeking permission to create a “transportation authority.” 

Council will be asked to commit $30,000 to that effort later in this meeting. 

A slide from the Jaunt FY22 Annual Report to Charlottesville (download the report

Next, there will be an update on the city’s Vibrant Community Fund, which was created when a previous City Council opted to stop working with Albemarle County on a joint process to fund nonprofit agencies. 

“The Vibrant Community Fund panel is tasked by the City of Charlottesville with reviewing community agency program funding requests to the City with providing ratings recommendations to the Charlottesville City Manager and City Council,” reads the staff report for the work session

Applications for the process open on October 1 and close November 7. A review will then begin the process of ranking the submissions and making suggestions which will then find their way into the proposed budget for FY24. 

This year, the city will provide technical training for groups and will require applicants to demonstrate a cost-per-participant analysis from other localities that may have residents who will benefit from the funding. 

In the evening session that begins at 6:30 p.m. there are several action items, including one for a 119-unit apartment complex for which Council held their public hearing in May. It is hard to determine from the Council agenda what items will have a public hearing and which ones do not. 

First, the Council will hold a public hearing to take comments on a report that lists how federal funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development was spent from July 1, 2021 to June 30, 2022. This report has the acronym CAPER.

“In FY 2021, CDBG projects benefited 4,485 people,” reads the staff report for the item. “Regular entitlement projects included technical assistance for microenterprises and entrepreneurs, resident involved redevelopment, literacy involved workforce development tutoring, and homeowner energy maintenance rehabilitation.” 

Those 4,485 people are broken down in Table 1, which shows that most of the people counted in the CAPER come from an infrastructure project. But which one? It’s unclear from the documents. (Credit: City of Charlottesville) 

Second, the University of Virginia is building a new pedestrian bridge across Emmet Street between Newcomb Hall and the Contemplative Commons Project that is currently under construction. This would replace an existing bridge which is not compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. While Central Grounds is in Albemarle County, the roadway is still under Charlottesville’s authority and UVA needs air rights. 

From the staff report we learn that a deal has been worked out to allow the city’s Emmet Street Streetscape improvement to move forward. That project was funded in the first Smart Scale but has been delayed. 

“Property acquisition costs, primarily those for University owned land along Emmet near the Ivy Road intersection, had placed that project well over budget,” reads the staff report. “Given the University’s strong interest in the completion of that project, they have agreed to [provide]the necessary easement at no cost so that the project can move forward in conjunction with their development in the Ivy corridor.” 

This does not appear to be a public hearing. How does this fit into the rubric of UVA’s Great and Good Strategic Plan? What is that, you ask? Read an article I wrote last week for more information

A conceptual drawing of the new ADA-compliant pedestrian bridge (Credit: VMDO)  

Third, Council will be asked to consider reducing the speed limit on a one-mile stretch of Cherry Avenue between Roosevelt Brown Boulevard and Cleveland Avenue. That was called for in the Small Area Plan for that section of central Charlottesville. 

Traffic counts for a study were collected in November 2020. 

“As a result of that study, the City Traffic engineer has determined that the current speed limit along Cherry Avenue is not appropriate for the character of the corridor and should be amended to better reflect current speeds along with the desired feel for the mostly residential corridor,” wrote traffic engineer Brennen Duncan in a staff report. 

That would be a drop 35 miles per hour to 25 miles per hour. 

The stretch from Roosevelt Brown Boulevard to Ridge Street spans four-tenths of a mile and Duncan recommends dropping that from 35 mph to 30 mph. Duncan doesn’t recommend changes to Elliott Avenue at this time until completion of an Elliott Avenue Streetscape study is completed. 

This does not appear to be a public hearing. 

Next, Council will take up a 119-unit apartment complex on Jefferson Park Avenue. The project required a special use permit for additional density. Council’s public hearing was on May 10, 2022. 

“They recognized the need for more dwelling units in the City, particularly in the University area, but expressed concerns about the massing and scale of the building and how this project would relate to the existing homes in the neighborhood,” reads the staff report

I could not find the minutes online this morning, but I did write one of the few accounts of that meeting. (Divided Planning Commission approves seven-story building on Jefferson Park Avenue, May 16, 2022)

There was also a long discussion of whether the project would satisfy the City’s future affordability requirements. In May, the developer planned to contribute $500,000 to the city’s affordable housing fund rather than provide below-market units on site. 

“The overall takeaway from the Public Hearing for both City Council and the Planning Commission was that a by-right development on the Subject Properties would not meet the City’s needs, but the SUP request could be adjusted to create a better development,” the report continues. 

This does not appear to be a public hearing so any feedback would have to occur during the limited opportunity for public comment at the beginning of the meeting. 

There are several conditions in the resolution of approval including a need to develop a parking plan. (view the resolution)

After that, Council will consider a request from Habitat for Humanity of Greater Charlottesville to accept the Harmony Ridge subdivision off of 5th Street Extended into the city’s street network. Doing so transfers responsibility for snow removal and other services from Habitat to the city. 

Next, Council will be asked to transfer $30,000 from the Charlottesville Area Transit to the Thomas Jefferson Planning District for the governance study mentioned earlier in this entry. 

“The Thomas Jefferson Planning District is exploring mechanisms to support regional coordination and planning around transit operations and increase transportation investments and outcomes,” reads the staff report. “The 2022 Regional Transit Vision Plan recommends forming a regional authority to collect additional revenue in support of regional transit planning and services.” 

Some of the questions that will be answered in the governance study (Credit: City of Charlottesville)

Finally, Council will take up something bumped from the September 6 meeting. 

They’ll consider an amendment of the agreement that governs a program through which the city covers the cost of additional housing vouchers authorized by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The Charlottesville Supplemental Rental Assistance Program (CSRAP) was created in October 2017 and the agreement is between the city and the Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority (CRHA). For the past three fiscal years, the program has received $900,000 a year and there was a $2 million balance at the end.

Council will vote on a second reading of an authorization to use $675,000 to purchase two duplexes on Coleman Street.  CRHA already purchased the land through a bridge loan from the Charlottesville Area Community Foundation. (CRHA purchases two duplexes on Coleman Street, September 6, 2022)

Tonight they’ll vote on a proposal to purchase 818 Montrose Avenue using $355,000 in CSRAP money. Unlike the Coleman acquisition, CRHA would pay more than the 2022 assessment of $291,500. There is a plan. 

“Currently, the two units will be converted to three affordable units for rent,” reads the staff report. “One of the units is currently rented at $1200 a month and the other is vacant. All three will be retained as affordable dwellings upon completion of some basic property improvements.” 

The existing zoning is R-1S and is within the General Residential category in the Future Land Use Map. 

818 Montrose Avenue (Credit: City of Charlottesville)

Places-29 group to get update on county’s conversion of mall space for public safety

The Places29-Hydraulic Community Advisory Committee will meet at 5:30 p.m. in-person at Greer Elementary School in the Media Center. This will be their first such meeting in over two years. These meetings are not recorded so unless you’re there, you won’t know what happened. (meeting info page

There will be a presentation on the lease the county has entered into for a portion of the former J.C. Penney at Fashion Square Mall. Supervisors approved the lease for a public safety center in late July. Read my story for more information from then. How will the recent purchase of at least some of the rest of the mall by Home Depot affect what’s happening? I so want to be at this meeting but I will be on WINA with Courteney Stuart. 

There will also be a discussion of the master plan for Albemarle County Public Schools’ Lambs Lane Campus. The adopted document begins with a land acknowledgement. 

“The Lambs Lane Campus falls within the Piedmont and Blue Ridge Mountain regions of Virginia which were taken from their original stewards, the Siouan people of the Monacan and Manahoac tribes,” reads page 2 of the plan. “This Master Plan acknowledges the complexity of colonialism, which removed indigenous people from their identity, their homes, and their history only to replace them with enslaved people.” 

The master plan itself was worked on by the DLR Group, the Timmons Group, WaterStreet Studio, Iconograph, and Downey & Scott LLC.  Learn more about the process on the Albemarle County Public Schools website

In another meeting:

  • The Architectural Review Board will meet in Lane Auditorium for a work session on additions to the Entrance Corridor guidelines. This meeting covers Route 240 between Three Notch’d Road and Crozet Avenue. (meeting info)
An aerial overview of the Lambs Lane Campus (download the master plan)

Tuesday, September 20

Albemarle EDA to review land-use build-out

The seven-member Board of Directors for the Albemarle Economic Development Authority will meet at 4 p.m. in-person in Room 241 but this meeting can be viewed remotely and is being recorded. (meeting info)

After a staff report from Economic Development Director Roger Johnson and a presentation on a minority business grant from the United Way, the EDA Board will get a look at the draft build-out analysis conducted by the firm Kimley Horn that is being used to guide the first phase of Albemarle County’s Comprehensive Plan review. (draft report)

“The Buildout Analysis estimates the potential for the designated Development Areas to accommodate the demand for housing and business growth in the County, looking out over a period of 20-years,” reads the introduction. “This analysis combines an inventory of approved and proposed residential development projects with identification of land capacity to inform growth management policy decisions for the next generation.” 

The report concludes that there are only 39 parcels in the county’s development areas that can accommodate non-residential development in the next 18 months. The consultant recommends further study of land that can be used for future job creation. 

After that, Potter’s Craft Cider seeks the EDA’s help in securing a state grant to assist with the addition of a tasting room on Broadway Street. This would be for an Agriculture and Forestry Development (AFID) grant which would require a $50,000 match from the county through the EDA. (read the resolution)

Next, Courtney Cacatian with the Charlottesville-Albemarle Convention and Visitors Bureau (CACVB) will make a presentation on tourism zones offered by the Virginia Tourism Corporation. This could lead to potential gap financing from the state for a project. This mechanism has been used across the Commonwealth including the Hotel Weyanoke in Farmville.

After that, there’s a presentation on a hotel feasibility study for the Town of Scottsville. The town is putting $1,000 and is requesting the EDA put up to $10,000. (read the resolution)

One of the slides from the presentation on Virginia Tourism Zones (view the presentation)

In other meetings:

  • The MPO-Technical Committee meets in-person at 10 a.m. at the 407 East Water Street in Charlottesville. There will be an update on the Safe Streets for All grant program, as well as an update on the Long Range Transportation Plan. (agenda)
  • The Charlottesville Parking Advisory Board meets virtually at 3:30 p.m. A police officer in charge of parking enforcement will be on hand to discuss the program. (meeting info)
  • The Albemarle County Department of Social Services Advisory Board meets in person for the first time at 3:30 p.m. since the pandemic in Room 231 of the County Office Building at 1600 5th Street. That’s the southern one and not the one in downtown Charlottesville. There are no materials available on the meeting info page nor on the entity’s main website.
  • Charlottesville’s Sister Cities Commission will have their annual retreat at 4:30 p.m. in the Mezzanine Room at the Building Goodness Foundation at 128 Carlton Road. (meeting info)
  • Charlottesville’s Board of Architectural Review will meet in CitySpace for a meeting beginning at 5 p.m. followed by a regular meeting at 5:30 p.m. On the agenda is a discussion of an enclosed patio for Random Row Brewery, a mural at 113 West Main Street, a new apartment building at 1301 Wertland Street, and a new house on 3rd Street in the North Downtown neighborhood. (meeting info)
  • Albemarle County is teaming up with Zion Hill Baptist Church of Keswick to host a virtual “Big Ideas” meeting as part of the AC44 process. This will take place at 6 p.m. What’s AC44? I wrote up a summary a few weeks ago. (meeting info)
  • The Greene County Emergency Services Advisory Board will meet at 6 p.m. in the county meeting room. (agenda)

Wednesday, September 21

Southwood Phase Two rezoning up for public hearing in Albemarle 

The six-member Albemarle Board of Supervisors will meet in-person at Lane Auditorium at 2 p.m. rather than the 1 p.m. usual start time. (agenda)

After the usual starting items of the meeting, Supervisors will get an update on Piedmont Virginia Community College from the new President, Dr. Jean Runyon. There’s no material in advice, but Runyon is making the rounds of all of the localities in the PVCC catchment area.

Next there will be a discussion of whether the Berkley Group should review the process of approving utility-grade solar facilities. Supervisors allowed “solar energy systems” on June 14, 2017 which require a special use permit wherein certain standards are to be reviewed. 

“The County has reviewed three [SPs for solar energy systems,” reads the staff report. “One application is currently pending and staff is aware of interest in additional facilities. Due to the increased likelihood of additional applications, staff believes that it is appropriate to develop review processes and project standards that address the unique characteristics of solar energy systems.”
A consultant would need to be hired to proceed because the work is not within the current work program for the Department of Community Development. 

After that, Supervisors will be presented with a draft strategic plan to guide budget decisions and other choices that may come before them from FY24 to FY28. In the draft, five goals are clustered around a sixth of “workforce and customer service.” 

  • Goal 1:  Safety & Well-Being – Nurture a safe and healthy community
  • Goal 2: Resilient & Equitable Community – Design programs and services that promote an equitable and climate-resilient community
  • Goal 3. Infrastructure & Placemaking – Invest in infrastructure and amenities that create connection, opportunity, and well-being.
  • Goal 4. Quality of Life – Encourage a vibrant community with economic and recreational opportunities that serve all community members. 
  • Goal 5. Education & Learning – Support exceptional educational opportunities
  • Goal 6. Workforce & Customer Service – Recruit & retain engaged public servants who provide quality government services to advance our mission.
A visualization of the goals in Albemarle County’s draft Strategic Plan for FY24 through FY28 

In the evening session there are two public hearings.

In the first, WellAWARE is seeking to rent at no cost a portion of the Yancey Community Center in Esmont. The public health initiative is one of the projects to come out of the University of Virginia Community Working Group formed after the events of August 2017. (staff report)

“Well-Aware is a geographically-based Community Health Worker program that aims to help medically underserved communities overcome obstacles to good health and healthcare,” reads a letter to the Supervisors from WellAWARE director Betsy Peyton. “We are a program of the Primary Care Partnership, a coalition of three area non-profit organizations: Central Virginia Health Services (CVHS), the Charlottesville Free Clinic, and the University of Virginia Primary Care.” 

Some of the barriers to people getting better health care (Credit: WellAWARE) 

In the second public hearing, Supervisors will be asked to rezone the rest of the Southwood Mobile Home Park being redeveloped by Habitat for Humanity of Greater Charlottesville. There are 93.32 acres in this second phase and the request is to go from R-2 to the Neighborhood Model District. The Planning Commission recommended approval on a 4 to 2 vote on April 26, 2022. More on this proposal in an upcoming edition of Charlottesville Community Engagement. 

Fluvanna County to consider hiring deputy registrar, will review economic development strategic plan

The five-member Board of Supervisors meets at the Carysbrook Performing Arts Center in Fork Union beginning at 7 p.m. There are no public hearings at this one but there are lots of decisions. (agenda packet)

First, there’s a request for a part-time temporary clerk position to be classified as a part-time Deputy Registrar position. This will cost the county an additional $1,120.80 each year, but the presentation for this item point out Fluvanna gained over 2,500 more registered voters from 2015 to 2021. 

A slide from the registrar’s request makes the claim that Voter Registration has become much busier (Credit: Fluvanna County)

Next, Supervisors will consider whether to hold a public hearing to amend the noise control ordinance. 

“The principal purpose of this action would be to provide for a new standard for review of noise complaints which the Sheriff believes will be easier and more equitable to enforce, as well as to substitute civil penalties as specifically authorized by statute in lieu the current criminal penalties,” reads the staff report. .

There will also be a revision of the Board of Supervisors’ mission statement as well as a review of their Two Year Plan. There are four competing choices for the mission statement. The Two Year Plan is the new place where the Board’s strategic goals are placed. 

Jennifer Schmack, Economic Development Director, will present the strategic plan under development for her department’s activities. The firm Platinum PR has been hired to do the work on the Fluvanna Forward plan. Supervisors have previously seen the draft report at their planning retreat in August. 

Next, County Administrator Eric Dahl will present the results of a Virginia Department of Transportation safety study for South Boston Road. 

After that, presentations. Jaunt CEO Ted Rieck continues his trip to various localities to present the latest annual report from his agency.

Finally, there will be a review of the 2022 Fluvanna County Fair. Materials on this were not available in the packet. 

In other meetings: 

  • There will be a virtual site plan conference at 10 a.m. for the project Piedmont Housing Alliance is building at the MACAA site on Park Street. (meeting info)
  • The Greene County Planning Commission will meet at 6 p.m. at the county administration building in Stanardsville. On the agenda is a work session on the Comprehensive Plan. Isabella O’Brien of the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission will present an assessment of the bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure in Stanardsville. (read the assessment, which also covers Scottsville) (meeting agenda
  • The Citizens Committee of the Charlottesville-Albemarle Metropolitan Planning Organization will meet at 7 p.m. in person at 407 East Water Street in Charlottesville. They will also get an update on the Long Range Transportation Plan. There will also be a discussion of the US29 and Hydraulic Road Intersection Improvement Projects.(meeting agenda)

Thursday, September 22

Regional Transit Partnership to get lessons from CEO of Northern Virginia transportation authority

The Regional Transit Partnership has been meeting for nearly five years. The advisory body is intended to help lead to greater cooperation among transit providers and to lay the groundwork for an eventual transit or transportation authority. They meet in-person at 4 p.m. at 407 East Water Street. 

Last time around, they heard from officials with the Central Virginia Transportation Authority. This time they’ll hear from the CEO of the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority. There will also be more on the governance study AECOM has been hired to suggest better ways to implement public transit service. 

In another meeting:

  • The Places29-Rio Community Advisory Committee will meet in Room 235 of the County Office Building at 401 McIntire Road in Charlottesville. There’s no agenda at publication time, but I’ll say again there is currently no remote option for these meetings. Legislation that passed the General Assembly this year to allow advisory bodies to hold two remote meetings per year, though Supervisors want to support legislation to change that to allow more flexibility. Read my story from then to learn more about the details. (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.