Cville Area Land Use Update: Week of May 29, 2023

The job of this newsletter is to look at the calendars anyway to see what’s out there. What might have seemed like a slow week is revealed to be one with a lot of items.

Charlottesville Community Engagement and the Information Charlottesville archive both exist to capture what’s coming up and what happened but it all starts with this weekly look at what’s coming up at local meetings. As I consider ramping up coverage of this community, I want to point out how crucial this newsletter is for helping plan my week.  

This one comes out at a time when the community’s daily newspaper has announced cutbacks of its services to three days a week. I am not cutting back my services but intend to grow my capacity to bring you more information. There is a great need for a community in a democracy for everyone to have access to what decisions are being made. I’ve taken the risk of building a business to cover the cost of my time to provide that window and to answer questions of those not currently in the know.

Thanks to the Piedmont Environmental Council for their continued sponsorship of this newsletter.

Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Mandated review of Albemarle’s FY23 budget set to begin this week

There’s just a month left to go in the fiscal year before another begins on July 1. Eleven months is enough data to give a glimpse of how localities across Virginia did in terms of meeting its budget. Did revenues exceed expenditures? The other way around? Development of future budgets often depends on how the last year closed out. 

In Albemarle County, a committee of the Board of Supervisors exists to oversee the process of developing the official report that must be submitted to the Virginia Auditor of Public Accounts.

“[The Audit Committee’s] primary function is to assist the Board in carrying out its oversight responsibilities by reviewing financial information provided in the County’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, by reviewing any material weaknesses in the County’s system of internal accounting controls, as reported by the external auditor, and by reviewing the annual audit process and its results,” reads the website for the committee.

The two Supervisors on the committee are Jim Andrews (Samuel Miller District) and Ned Gallaway (Rio). The School Board member is Ellen Osborn. Staff are represented by County Executive Jeffrey Richardson, interim Chief Financial Officer Jacob Sumner, and School Chief Operating Officer Rosalyn Schmitt. 

Thursday, June 1, 2023

UVA Board of Visitors: Vote on FY24 budget, Olympic Center groundbreaking 

Time flies while you’re waiting for the next open meeting of the University of Virginia’s Board of Visitors. The appointed body is subject to Virginia’s open meetings laws and a live stream is provided to those who would like to know about what’s happening at the region’s most powerful economic engine.  (meeting info)

The post-graduation meeting lasts two days and begins with a morning session of the Health System Board  at the Boar’s Head Resort for the Health system. One item will be a report on the Paul and Diane Manning Biotechnology Center. After a closed session, the Health System board will take action on the FY2024 operating and capital budgets. (agenda packet)

“On January 20, 2023, the University of Virginia announced plans to develop a biotechnology institute that positions UVA at the very forefront of cutting-edge medicine, such as cellular and gene therapies that revolutionize how diseases are treated and cured,” reads the staff report. “ The new institute is made possible in large part due to a $100M gift from Paul and Diane Manning.”

The BOV then will reconvene at the Rotunda for a series of committee meetings.

  • The Audit, Compliance and Risk Committee (packet)
  • The Advancement Committee (packet)
  • Academic and Student Life Committee (packet)

The BOV will then attend groundbreaking for the $75 million Olympics Sport Center. The Buildings and Grounds Committee reviewed the schematic design in December, as I wrote about at the time.

“The Olympic Sports Center program includes training and performance areas, locker rooms, sports medicine, hydrotherapy pool areas, work environments for staff and coaches, conference and meeting rooms, sports nutrition, and building support spaces comprising a total square footage of approximately 100,000 [gross square feet],” reads the staff report.  

See Friday for the rest of the meeting. 

A conceptual site plan for the proposed Olympic Sports Center (Credit: University of Virginia)

TJPDC Commissioners to review economic development strategy

The Board of Commissioners for the Thomas Jefferson Planning District meets at 7 p.m. at 407 Water Street in downtown Charlottesville. This is a body that consists of appointees from all six jurisdictions that make up the regional body. (agenda on cvillepedia)

There are two presentations and public hearings. The first is for an application for the Housing Preservation Grant Program offered by the United States Department of Agriculture. The TJPDC is asking for up to $212,435 in funding that would eventually go to subrecipients including the Albemarle Housing Improvement Program, the Fluvanna-Louisa Housing Foundation, the Nelson County Community Development Fund, and Skyline CAP

Next, TJPDC staff will kick off a presentation on the Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS). The firm Camoin Associates has been hired to develop this regional plan which will coexist with the one created by the Central Virginia Partnership of Economic Development, a public-private partnership created in 1995 to promote business expansion. 

Here’s what the U.S. Economic Development Administration has to say about the subject of CEDS. 

“A CEDS is a strategy-driven plan for regional economic development,” reads the EDA’s website. “A CEDS is the result of a regionally-owned planning process designed to build capacity and guide the economic prosperity and resiliency of an area or region.”

My first question is why does the TJPDC need to go down this road if there are other entities already working on such a plan? And how does this intersect with each locality’s individual economic development.

Well, it turns out that like so many federal grants, the federal government wants a plan first. 

“Regions must update their CEDS at least every five years to qualify for EDA assistance under its Public Works and Economic Adjustment Assistance programs,” the EDA website continues. “In addition, a CEDS is a prerequisite for designation by EDA as an Economic Development District (EDD).” 

Data has been collected since January and the final report is due by March 2024. 

One of the slides in the Camoin Associates’ presentation on the CEDS for the TJPDC

Charlottesville City Council to meet to discuss City Manager search

Since January 2022, Charlottesville’s interim city manager has been Michael C. Rogers, an employee of the Robert Bobb Group. Council opted to hire a firm to provide someone to run the day-to-day operations of city government after a man hired in the fall of 2021 opted to not actually take the job. (NBC29 story)

The five-member Charlottesville City Council will meet at 1:15 p.m. to interview candidates on the shortlist for permanent city manager. The firm POLIHIRE has identified these for Council.  (meeting info)

At a campaign forum on May 10, four of the five candidates for the three Democratic nominations for Council were asked about the search. (read the story)

Council candidates Charlottesville Mayor Lloyd Snook was clear the permanent manager will be in place soon.

“The current plan is to have that choice made by the end of May and hopefully to have that person here by July 1 or August 1 at any rate,” Snook said.

Who will it be? Has Rogers expressed an interest in taking on the job in his own right? 

In other meetings: 

  • The Albemarle / Charlottesville Community Policy and Management Team meet at some point today. There is nothing published about the meeting including the time or location. (meeting info)
  • The Albemarle Natural Heritage Committee will meet in-person at 5:30 p.m. at the county’s office building at 401 McIntire Road. (meeting info)

Friday, June 2, 2023

New name for new UVA Hotel; BOV to talk DEI

The University of Virginia Board of Visitors meeting continues with at the Rotunda with the Buildings and Grounds Committee going first. 

Under action items, the panel will approve the names of the several new buildings. This includes the new hotel and conference center which is to be known as Virginia Guesthouse. 

Some of the explanations in the staff report for how the new hotel got its name 

Next, the new bridge that will span Emmet Street between the Contemplative Commons and Newcomb Hall will be named after Jeff Walker, a 1977 alumnus of the McIntire School of Commerce. 

“The Contemplative Commons project features a new pedestrian bridge across Emmet Street that will connect residential and academic spaces on central Grounds and reroute pedestrian traffic through one of the University’s most important natural areas,” reads the staff report. “The bridge design was inspired by the High Line in New York City and provides spaces for study, reflection, and engagement in informal social exchanges.” 

City Council granted air rights for the project last fall after a slight delay.

Next various spaces at the Forum Hotel at the Darden School of Business.

  • The “modern steakhouse” will be called Birch and Bloom
  • The taphouse will be called The Good Sport
  • The botanical garden will be named after David M. LaCross, a 1974 alumnus of the McIntire School of Commerce and a 1978 alumnus of the Darden School 
  • A garden in homage to Thomas Jefferson will be named for Donald Morel, a 1997 alumnus of Darden’s Executive Program
  • The outdoor amphitheater will be named for Darden’s Class of 1987

They’ll also approve the 2023 Capital Plan which is about $400 million lower than the 2022 plan of $2.87 million. In March, the committee learned that there’s $7 million in the plan to move forward with an initiative to house all second year students on Grounds. More on that later in the week in this newsletter. 

They’ll also review the schematic design for the Karsh Institute of Democracy. In December, the committee has a spirited debate about a lack of brick in the materials. A new design incorporates some of the feedback. 

The final item is a review of the schematic design for the new energy plant that will be constructed at the Fontaine Research Park to support expansion of activities at that UVa-owned facility. 

A rendering of the Emmet-Ivy Corridor with the three buildings known so far. The white blocks indicate future uses that have not been programmed yet. The UVA Foundation slowly purchased these properties over many years for use by UVA. UVA is not subject to local land use regulations. 

There are other committee meetings including the Finance Committee (packet) and the University of Virginia at Wise (packet)

The Full Board packet features conversations on the latest Princeton Review Best Value Ranking, requests for information, and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.

This latter conversation should prove interesting. This may be the last meeting of a Board of Visitors not controlled by Republican Governor Youngkin. The terms of Whit Clement, Louis Haddad, Angela Hucles Mangano, and James Reyes expire on June 30.

Youngkin’s tenth executive order upon taking office dropped the word “Equity” for “Opportunity.” Youngkin’s first has the title “Ending the Use of Inherently Divisive Concepts, Including Critical Race Theory, and Restoring Excellence in K-12 Public Education in the Commonwealth.” 

The presentation in the packet describes what UVA is doing in DEI with 55 dedicated positions and a $5.8 million annual budget. 

I am very hopeful I am not the person who will be writing about this discussion. 

In other meetings: 

  • The Albemarle Board of Equalization will hold their organizational meeting for this year at 9:30 a.m. This will be in Room 241 of the county’s office building at 401 McIntire Road but can be watched remotely. There are six members with each representing a different magisterial district. (meeting info)
  • The Fluvanna County Electoral Board meets at 10 a.m. in the Registrar’s Office at 265 Turkeysag Trail.(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.