Cville Area Land Use Update: Week of July 3, 2023

Happy New Fiscal Year!

That is not the official reason for the holiday we’re about to experience, but we are now in a new period of spending for local governments in Virginia. Tuesday marks the 247th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence and there’s no government activity on this day off. 

This is a slower week than usual with both the Charlottesville City Council and the Albemarle Board of Supervisors taking their annual summer break. Of course, Councilors will be at a work session Wednesday on the zoning code update underway.  Louisa County Supervisors are scheduled to meet but there’s no agenda posted. Fluvanna County Supervisors have a relatively light agenda but I’m certain there’s a lot that’s quite important. 

I’m grateful to get to spend my time paying attention to the details of local government. I’m a first generation American and for some reason that’s always fueled my desire to try to understand how things work. I’ve been a journalist for over 30 years and I still have a lot to learn. Thanks for being on the journey with me and long may it continue! 

Newsletters like this one are important for a democracy to be able to survive. Civilization is complex and depends on a lot of moving parts. None of this is simple. My hope is that the audience will grow allowing for better conversations about how communities can some up with solutions for the issues of our time. 

Thanks to the Piedmont Environmental Council for their ongoing support of this newsletter since August 2020. And thanks to those subscribing through Substack or funding Town Crier Productions through Patreon

Tuesday, July 4, 2023

Towards 2026

There are no meetings today, but I’ll use this space to write about something happening in just under 1,100 days. July 4, 2026 marks the 250th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence and efforts are afoot to plan celebrations and commemorations.

“The Virginia American Revolution 250 Commission (VA250) serves to commemorate the 250th anniversary of the American Revolution, the Revolutionary War, and the independence of the United States in the Commonwealth of Virginia, one of the former colonies and future states, where much of this history took place,” reads the about section of the Commission’s website.

Local governments across Virginia have been asked to form their own local groups. 

“The Commission is working with hundreds of partners across the state to encourage and support local participation,” reads that section of the website. “Local history, after all, is the foundation on which all else is built.” 

Albemarle and Charlottesville have passed on that responsibility to the Charlottesville Albemarle Convention and Visitors Bureau.

“This region saw relatively little action during the Revolutionary War,” reads the Charlottesville-Albemarle section of Virginia’s America 250 Commission. “The Revolutionary War came to Charlottesville in 1778 when the prisoners captured during the battles of Saratoga of October 1777 were moved from Boston to Charlottesville. The victory at Saratoga was a turning point for the Revolutionary War.” 

There’s also the whole bit about Jack Jouett. What other pieces of Revolutionary War history can you think of? One that comes to mind for me is the namesake of Barracks Road. Learn more on cvillepedia.

This newsletter is usually about things happening in the now. From this website we learn that James Monroe’s Highland will have an afternoon of music today. 

“Highland will host the Heifetz International Music Institute for a free concert from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m,” reads the event information. “A classically-inspired ensemble from Heifetz will bring a uniquely innovative and expressive concert that will appeal to all ages.”

Fluvanna County does not yet have a listing on the America250 website. The Greene County Economic Development & Tourism office is managing their efforts. 

Cuckoo District Supervisor Willie L. Gentry, Jr. is listed as the contact for Louisa County. In Nelson, the contact is Maureen Kelley, Director of the Nelson Economic Development & Tourism office. 

Wednesday, July 5, 2023

Charlottesville Council and PC to hold two zoning work sessions before final draft 

The Charlottesville City Council and Charlottesville Planning Commission will hold another work session on the draft zoning code in CitySpace beginning at noon. Not at 5 p.m. like I originally had posted. (meeting info)

This certainly has been a year for zoning reform in Charlottesville. The Comprehensive Plan adopted in November 2021 calls for significantly higher amounts of residential density across the entire city. Take a look at one of the directives to support Goal 1 of the land use chapter. 

“Implement zoning changes needed to support the creation of more housing, including affordable housing opportunities, throughout the city,” reads strategy 1.3. 

From page 32 of the Charlottesville Comprehensive Plan (Credit: City of Charlottesville)

The zoning update underway is intended to implement a Future Land Use Map which signals higher density across the city. The lowest intensity land use designation on that map is “General Residential” which calls for up to three units on all lots. Medium Intensity Residential would allow up to 12 and Higher Intensity Residential would allow more than 13. 

The first glimpse of how those aspirations would be implemented came in February when the first of three draft modules were released, as I reported at the time. This draft established new zoning districts to reflect the Future Land Use Map. 

Some brief highlights:

  • Residential-A would allow three units per lot or four if the original structure is kept.
  • Residential-B would allow six units per lot or 12 if every single new home is designated as affordable. As the process continued, this would become known as “double density” units.
  • Residential-C would allow eight units per lot or 16 if all of them are designated as affordable. 

In projects over ten units, an inclusionary zoning mechanism would require ten percent to be designated as affordable. In the draft, developers would have the option to pay into the Charlottesville Affordable Housing Fund rather than build the units. 

Included in this release was a new zoning map. In addition to the three above, there are several new mixed-use districts. 

The current draft zoning map can be viewed interactively. Click here to explore.

The second module was delayed and released on March 29. That’s the same day that Council and the Planning Commission held a work session. I wrote about that one, too.  At this meeting, Neighborhood Development Director James Freas acknowledged that “double-density” units would likely only be realized by nonprofit developers. 

Council and the Planning Commission held another work session on April 25. Freas again repeated that the process has been somewhat delayed. There was a discussion about whether the “double-density” provisions should remain in the draft. 

The third module was released in late May as I wrote at the time. This module established the rules for the zoning and what entity will have approval authority in the future. 

There was another joint work session on May 23, 2023 but I have been unable to review this one so far. You can watch it here. It is four hours long and there are no minutes of the meeting on the meeting portal. I hope to write up some of it by Wednesday. 

There was also a discussion at the June 13, 2023 Planning Commission meeting. You can watch that here. I hope to write some of that up by Wednesday, too. 

Fluvanna Supervisor to approve $20K for elections cybersecurity

The five member Board of Supervisors in Fluvanna County will meet at 5 p.m. in the Fluvanna County Library at 214 Commons Boulevard in Palmyra. There’s a meeting at 7 p.m. which appears to have no items. (agenda packet)

There are no public hearings at this meeting.

There are four action items to start the meeting:

  • Woody Fincham is recommended for appointment to the Board of Equalization to represent the Rivanna District. .
  • There is a consulting services agreement for $20,000 a year for B.W. Murray related to the General Registrar. This would be for Cybersecurity Planning Services and Penetration Testing. Read page 39 for more information
  • There is an agreement with the Sheriff’s Office for a salary increase to help with recruitment and retention efforts. For example, the starting salary for Pay Band 106 for certified deputies would be increased from $49,120 to $52,500. 
  • There is a budget transfer related to debt service for capital improvement programs.An additional $704,113 is required for fire and rescue trucks. 
Some of the tasks that will be covered by B.W. Murray for Fluvanna County 

There are two presentations:

The first is an update on the dogs running at large ordinance. 

“Currently, Fluvanna County only has a dogs running at large ordinance applicable to the Lake Monticello subdivision, which at minimum needs to be updated to reflect the correct magisterial districts representing Lake Monticello,” reads the staff report from Administrator Eric Dahl. 

There’s also an update on the 2023 General Assembly. 

There are some interesting items on the consent agenda:

  • There’s a resolution to appropriate $5,795.25 from the American Rescue Plan Act for a pass-through from the Library of Virginia. This will pay for a “privacy pod” for telehealth purposes.  
  • There’s a resolution to take advantage of a cooperative agreement with the City of Charlottesville on a contract for police uniforms with the Howard Uniform Company. 
  • There’s a resolution on policies for the Emergency Medical Services office related to apparel and clothing. 
Details of the uniform purchasing agreement (Credit: Fluvanna County)

Thursday, July 6, 2023

Albemarle Board of Equalization to meet 

The Albemarle Board of Equalization will meet at 8 a.m. for the first of two meetings this week. They gather in Room 241 of the Albemarle County Office Building at 401 McIntire Road. The meeting can be viewed remotely. (meeting info)

What do they do? 

“The Board of Equalization shall hear all complaints and objections to real estate assessments from the taxpayer or his agent,” reads the Albemarle website. “The Board shall hear and give consideration to such complaints and equalize such assessments and, moreover, the Board is charged with the especial duty of increasing as well as decreasing assessments.”

There’s no specific agenda for what will be heard. 

There has been at least one meeting so far this year on June 2, 2023. 

Natural Heritage Committee to review progress toward protecting and restoring urban streams

The Albemarle Natural Heritage Committee will meet at Room 235 at the County Office Building at 401 McIntire Road. (meeting info) (meeting agenda)

“The mission of the NHC is to maintain and restore the County’s native biological diversity and provide a healthy environment for the citizens of Albemarle County,” reads the county’s website

This month’s meeting has a guest in Peggy Gilges of the Friends of the Moormans River. There will also be an update on work toward a solar ordinance in Albemarle to add additional standards on utility-scale projects. 

The NHC is the group that stewards Albemarle’s Biodiversity Action Plan. At this meeting they’ll review progress toward Goal 16 – Protect and restore urban streams. For various resources and more information on this topic, visit the website for Albemarle’s stream health initiative

There’s also a discussion about recruiting new members. Would you be interested in getting involved? 

“Members include local landowners and citizens with interests in biodiversity conservation, farming and forestry, and conservation-oriented rural and urban development,” the county website continues. 

A fact sheet for the Natural Heritage Committee

Friday, July 7, 2023

The Albemarle Board of Equalization will meet again. (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.