Cville Area Land Use Update: Week of June 12, 2023

We’re close to the time of the year when various elected bodies take off meetings for other summer. But we’re not there yet. While summer means a slowdown for many, the work of local government doesn’t really stop. Neither does this newsletter that’s dedicated to informing people of what decisions are pending and what concepts are making their way through the public process.

Some of the highlights: 

  • The Charlottesville Planning Commission will review requests to change one large apartment complex and will get a first look at two others that touch the University of Virginia. One of those is a ten story building on Stadium Road and the other is a nine story building on Ivy Road. 
  • Greene County Supervisors will learn about the potential for speed cameras in school zones from a private company. 
  • The Albemarle Planning Commission will have a work session on changes to the county’s wireless policy to allow taller towers that would not need to be concealed. 

This week, Louisa County won’t have a meeting. 

Thanks to the Piedmont Environmental Council for their continuing support of the newsletter.

Monday, June 12, 2023

Places 29-Hydraulic panel to get briefing on reservoir waterline, stormwater project

You can learn all sorts of things at the meetings of Albemarle’s community advisory committees. During the pandemic, it was much easier to stay connected as all of the meetings were online. they’re back in person, though one of the groups is dormant following the resignation of all of the members last April.

Today at 5:30 p.m., the Places29-Hydraulic Community Advisory Committee meets at Greer Elementary School at 190 Lambs Lane in the Media Center. They’ll first get an update on the county’s efforts to map stormwater pipes in the urban area. At least, that’s what I am assuming the item will be as there’s no further information. I spent ten minutes just now trying to track down something I’ve written about it, but have to move on. I’ll request the materials because this is an item that’s fairly important for the future of urbanized Albemarle. 

Next, Bill Mawyer of the Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority will give an update on the $80 million water line being planned to connect the South Fork Rivanna Reservoir with the Ragged Mountain Reservoir. (meeting info)

In other meetings: 

  • Albemarle County will hold the fourth in a series of open houses on the AC44 process. Earlier this month they released new information about draft criteria to evaluate how growth area expansion would be considered should the Board of Supervisors opt to pursue that in the future. I wrote a story about that with more background. This open house will take place from 5:30 p.m to 7:30 p.m. at Murray Elementary School at 3251 Morgantown Road. 
  • The Fluvanna County Economic Development Authority meets at 5 p.m. in the Morris Room of the county’s administration building at 132 Main Street. They’ll discuss their budget for FY24. (meeting agenda)
  • The Fluvanna County Economic Development and Tourism Advisory Council will meet at 6 p.m. or at the conclusion of the previous meeting. They’ll get updates on the Fork Union business map and a LOVE sign at Pleasant Grove Park. (meeting agenda)

Tuesday, June 13, 2023

Greene Supervisors to learn about school speed zones 

The five member Board of Supervisors in Greene County meets at 5:30 p.m. for a closed session and 6:30 p.m. in open session. (meeting agenda)

Virginia law allows localities to install cameras in school zones that can capture the license plate numbers of those who exceed the speed limits. Supervisors will get a presentation from the company Altumint on their software. 

A speed study in April uncovered 205 violations a day in the Ruckersville Elementary School zone, 166 violations a day in the Nathaniel Greene Elementary School zone, and 58 at William Monroe High School.

In action items, Supervisors will adopt the FY2024 budget of $108,661,561. They’ll also direct the Planning Commission to prioritize the various goals in the recently adopted Comprehensive Plan.  

Nelson County Supervisors holding eight public hearings, two on vacation homes

The five member Board of Supervisors in Nelson County meets at 1 p.m. in the General District Courtroom in the Courthouse in Lovingston. (meeting packet)

There will be a presentation from the Virginia Department of Transportation and an update from Firefly Fiber Broadband on their efforts to bring the internet to all homes in the county.  

There will also be an update from PMA Architecture on the Callohill Building Project. Specifically this is a report on geotechnical borings for a future office building to house Social Services and Planning and Zoning. 

The conceptual map for the future municipal building to be constructed on Callohill Drive (Credit: PMA Architecture / Timmons Group)

After that there will be a work session on the proposed cluster zoning. A developer approached the county last fall with a specific proposal and the Board of Supervisors directed the Planning Commission to review potential changes to allow for higher residential density. That group held a work session on May 16. 

“The Planning Commission addressed the fact that much of the information that is and will be needed to make a complete and informed analysis and recommendation, is currently being worked through in the Comprehensive Plan Update process, and subsequent recommendations for Zoning and Subdivision Ordinance updates,” reads the staff report. “They determined that they are not recommending any changes to the current ordinance at this time.” 

Under new business, there will be a request from the Nelson County Service Authority to amend their article of incorporation. This would officially recognize that there is one Authority’s board members from each election district. 

There will also be a reimbursement request from the Lovingston Volunteer Fire Department for a generator at the Wingina Fire Station. 

There is also a request from the Commonwealth’s Attorney for an extension of funding for a part time employee.

The final two action items in the afternoon session are the adoption of the FY24 budget of $93,052,486 as well as related appropriations. 

The evening session begins at 7 p.m. There are eight public hearings:

  • There’s a request for a special use permit for a vacation house on property at 795 Afton Mountain Road with split zoning of Residential and Agricultural. The house has been abandoned for some time and the new owners hope to fix it up for their eventual long-term use. Until then, they’d like to earn some revenue. 
  • There’s a request for a special use permit for an outdoor entertainment venue at 3578 South Powells Island Road in Arrington. This would be for a 5,000 square foot wedding venue. 
  • There’s a request for a special use permit to allow for an addition to a single family dwelling on property zoned Business-1 at 117 Center Hill Lane. The structure is non-confirming and the addition requires the property to become compliant. 
  • There’s a request for a special use permit for a brewery at 2188 Rockfish Valley Highway in Nellysford. This request was granted in 2020 for a previous owner who died before starting operations. 
  • There’s a request for a special use permit for a vacation home at 333 Sunrise Drive in Afton. The property owners are from Maryland and want to earn revenue when they are not using their second home. 
  • There’s a request for a rezoning from Agricultural-1 to M-2 Industrial at 1890 River Road in Faber for a six-unit storage warehouse in an existing building. 
  • There’s a zoning ordinance amendment to increase the minimum lot size for family subdivision from one acre to two acres.
  • There’s a proposed amendment to the subdivision ordinance that would also alter the dynamics for family subdivision. 

Three major apartment buildings under review at Charlottesville PC meeting 

The seven member Charlottesville Planning Commission will meet in CitySpace at 5 p.m. for a pre-meeting followed by a regular meeting at 5:30 p.m.  (meeting info) (agenda and packet)

The consent agenda includes a major subdivision for the fourth phase of the Lochlyn Hill development as well as a zoning text initiation to remove the Individually Protected Property status for 104 Stadium Road. The former would be to create six lots. More on the latter in a moment. 

At some point in the meeting, the Planning Commission will also become the Entrance Corridor Review Board and will consider a certificate of appropriateness for 2005 Jefferson Park Avenue. 

The main item on the agenda is a special use permit request from Heirloom Development to modify the stepbacks for 218 West Market Street, a previously approved project for a 101 foot tall mixed-use building with up to 134 dwelling units.  

“The application requests a modification of the 25-foot minimum required stepback after 45-feet in height… to authorize a 10-foot minimum stepback after 45-feet in height on the West Market Street frontage and a 5-foot minimum stepback after 45-feet in height on the Old Preston Avenue frontage,” reads the agenda. 

The narrative for the application argues that the requirement to have step backs on Old Preston Avenue limits the project’s potential. 

“The double 25-foot stepback on this parcel results in a building footprint that makes it impossible to achieve the type of density the Special Use Permit allows, and that the City desires as it works to expand its overall housing stock generally, and in particular its affordable housing stock and options as specifically set forth in this SUP,” reads the narrative written by staff at Williams Mullen. 

Eight of the units are to be affordable with four at 80 percent of area median income, two at 60 percent of AMI, and two at 50 percent of AMI. Six of them have to remain affordable for eight years and two have to be affordable for sixteen years. The units can also be built off-site. 

A graphic in the packet related to the request for 218 West Market Street (Credit: Heirloom Development)

There are also two preliminary discussions for two projects that are seeking rezonings. The first is the aforementioned 104 Stadium Road which is being developed by a firm called Subtext. They are pursuing a Planned Unit Development under the existing zoning rather than wait for the future zoning. 

“Subtext is looking to redevelop the six properties between Stadium Road, Emmet Street, and Jefferson Park Avenue into a multifamily building with up to 350 units,” reads the staff report. “The proposed development would be approximately 105 to 115 feet in height with structured parking and improvements to City infrastructure.” 

However that level of density is consistent with the Corridor Mixed-Use 8 designation in the draft zoning ordinance

The project would be called VERVE Charlottesville. 

“This is a phenomenal location for high density residential development immediately adjacent to UVA grounds and has the potential to be a gateway project along the Entrance Corridor, while also furthering the goals of the Citywide Comprehensive Plan, the Draft Zoning Ordinance, and the Streets That Work Plan,” reads the applicant’s narrative. 

A conceptual plan for VERVE Charlottesville (Credit: Subtext)

Up next is another project to be built within the University of Virginia’s general footprint. In January, Council agreed to allow Planned Unit Development proposals for properties less than two acres. That was requested by RMD Properties, a firm seeking to develop 2117 Ivy Road. 

“The applicant is proposing to construct a ten-story multi-family apartment building with ground floor commercial space and underground parking,” reads the staff report. 

The property is between many others purchased by the University of Virginia Foundation for eventual use by the University of Virginia. Properties owned by the foundation are on the city’s tax rolls but anything owned by UVA are exempt. 

The new zoning is also Commercial Mixed-Use 8. Properties owned by the University of Virginia are subject to the city’s zoning code. 

A conceptual plan for 2117 Ivy Road (Credit: WDG Architecture)

Albemarle PC to review changes to county’s wireless policy 

The seven-member Albemarle Planning Commission will meet at 6 p.m. in Lane Auditorium in the county’s office building at 401 McIntire Road. (meeting info)

They’ll begin with a work session on changes to the county’s long-standing policy on building towers for wireless communication. In November 2021, the Board of Supervisors directed county staff to work on the issue. Albemarle hired the firms CityScape Consultants and the Berkley Group to conduct the work, which began with a public kickoff session on March 7, 2023. 

The six-page memo provides an overview of the evolution of cell technology from 1G to 5G and explains why additional facilities are needed. 

“With nearly all Americans owning a mobile phone, wireless communication plays a key role in keeping Americans safe during emergencies and natural disasters like hurricanes, wildfires, snow and ice storms, flooding and tornadoes,” reads the memo. “As wireless data usage continues to escalate, consumers require more speed and high data-rate transfers that often exceed existing network capability.” 

The work also includes a map of the 189 existing wireless facilities and recommends an additional 125 tree top poles across the county to guarantee coverage of the entire area. It also recommends increasing allowing them to extend 30 feet above the treetops and to drop the requirement that they be screened from view. 

Questions that will be asked of the Albemarle Planning Commission during their work session on wireless policy (Credit: Albemarle County)

After the 90 minute work session, there will be a public hearing on the Miller School’s request to expand to 500 students and to finally become compliant with the county’s zoning. The private school has been in operation since 1878 and predates the creation of the county’s zoning code in 1969. That means the school use is non-conforming and a special use permit is required. 

“Expansion is expected to occur in two phases, with initial growth of the school to 300 students, including the addition of K-7th grade students,” reads the staff report. “In the long term, the school proposes growth of up to 500 students, including several additional new buildings and supporting parking.”

A map of the Miller School with proposed future buildings (Credit: Line + Grade) 

Fluvanna Planning Commission to discuss Census results, Comprehensive Plan

The Fluvanna County Planning Commission will meet at 7 p.m.  in the Fluvanna County Library at 214 Commons Boulevard in Palmyra. (meeting packet)

On the agenda are three presentations.

The first is a discussion on utility-scale solar projects from Community Development Director Douglas Miles. There’s no information in the packet about this. 

The second is a review of Fluvanna County’s demographics as recorded in the 2020 Census. This is a Comprehensive Plan discussion.

The third is a briefing on where the 2040 Comprehensive Plan update stands as we approach the summer of 2023. There’s a draft in the packet.

The Future Land Use Map in the draft 2040 Fluvanna County Comprehensive Plan 

In other meetings:

  • The Albemarle Social Services Board will have their preparation meeting at 11:30 a.m. at the Wahoo Barbeque Restaurant at 10 Centre Court in Palmyra, VA 22963. (meeting info)
  • The Nelson County Broadband Authority meets at 1 p.m. in the General District Courtroom in the Courthouse in Lovingston. They’ll get an update on the progress to expand fiber internet to all homes in the county. (agenda packet
  • The Charlottesville Electoral Board meets at 6 p.m. There’s no agenda at publication time. They usually meet in the City Hall Annex but the city calendar doesn’t specify when and where. (meeting info)

Wednesday, June 14, 2023

Crozet CAC to discuss meeting structure, equity in broadband 

The Crozet Community Advisory Committee will meet at 7 p.m. in the Crozet Library at 2020 Library Avenue in Crozet. (meeting info)

The third item agenda is titled Meeting Norms and Agenda Structures and will be lead by Allison Wrabel, one of two Community Connectors. I’m grateful for the Crozet Gazette for providing videos of the meetings now that the county no longer records them

Next, the program manager for Albemarle County’s Broadband Accessibility and Affordability Office will brief the CCAC on the creation of a Regional Digital Equity Plan. 

“The goal is to assess community needs, identify specific barriers to broadband access and to develop realistic solutions to address these barriers,” reads the agenda

If you’d like to learn more in advance, check out the May 2023 meeting on YouTube.

In another meeting:

  • The James River Water Authority meets at 9 a.m. in the County Administration Building at 132 Main Street in Palmyra. There’s no information available at publication time. (meeting info)

Thursday, June 15, 2023

5th and Avon to discuss Route 20 shared use path 

When the 5th and Avon Community Advisory Committee meets at 7 p.m. at Monticello High School at 1400 Independence Way, they will also discuss norms of CAC meetings. (meeting info)

But the main focus of the meeting will be a discussion of a shared-use path proposed for Route 20 from the city of Charlottesville into Albemarle County. This is the second time such a project has been proposed. The last time was in 2020 when the idea was to run the pathway in the median of Route 20 which would have removed several trees that had just been planted by the  Charlottesville Area Tree Stewards. 

The Board of Supervisors opted to not pursue that as a Smart Scale project. According to the minutes of the June 17, 2020 meeting, Supervisor Donna Price said she could not imagine her grandchildren using the pathway. Supervisor Bea LaPisto-Kirtley. Both Supervisor Diantha McKeel and Supervisor Ned Gallaway said there should be some way to move forward with the project. 

Supervisor Ann Mallek, a member of the Metropolitan Planning Organization’s Policy Board, said she was concerned about how the project had advanced to the point it had. She said there did not appear to be any minutes of the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission subcommittee that had made decisions about its design. The Board reached consensus to agree to have the project continue to be worked on but not down the median. 

For more background, two articles by former Daily Progress reporter Allison Wrabel are worth reviewing:

Eight days later, the TJPDC held a virtual workshop on the future of the project. At some point since then, a decision was made to hire Line + Grade to do work on the project.

“Line+Grade developed two concept plans, which will be presented to a stakeholder group, the public, and the Board of Supervisors for feedback,” reads an email about the project. “The consultant will then develop a more detailed concept plan for a preferred design.”

In other meetings: 

  • The Charlottesville Human Rights Commission meets at 6:30 p.m. in CitySpace. There’s no agenda posted at publication time. (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.