Cville Area Land Use Update: Week of September 18, 2023

And just like that we’re at the time of the equinox as our section of the world continues to move to longer nights and shorter days. No matter how much sunlight shines, there are certain to be the same amount of government meetings.

That brings us to this edition of a weekly summary of what’s coming up. Each week is a busy one, and there’s a lot to cover and a lot of subject matter to explore. That’s the mission of this newsletterand I’m glad you are here to read what’s coming up this week.

Some highlights:

  • Charlottesville City Council agenda has no regular business in the evening session, but the 4 p.m. work session will feature presentations on two key issues. Cultivate Charlottesville will make a pitch for land and funding for a community garden in Washington Park. The Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority will present their sustainability plan, which calls for creation of market rate units at some locations to pay for subsidization of other housing units. 
  • Louisa County Supervisors will have a public hearing on an alternate tax rate for data center equipment, as well as additional funding for Louisa County Public Schools to hire three additional teachers and complete design for the Career and Technical Education Center. 
  • Fluvanna Supervisors will authorize a public hearing on October 18 to consider levying a five percent transient occupancy tax.
  • Albemarle Supervisors will hold a public hearing to lease land in Walnut Creek Park for a Verizon to erect a cell tower. They’ll also get an update on the microtransit pilot that has been in the planning stages for a while. 

Thanks once again go to the Piedmont Environmental Council for their ongoing sponsorship of this newsletter and the research that goes into it each week. 

Monday, September 18, 2023

Sustainability plan lays out vision for a future with market-rate units on CRHA properties 

The five-member Charlottesville City Council will meet at 4 p.m. in City Council Chambers for a work session followed by a regular meeting at 6:30 p.m. (meeting overview)

There are two items for discussion at the work session. The first is a report from Cultivate Charlottesville on the city’s Food Equity Initiative. Council approved the first public funds for the project in October 2018.

“The Initiative is cultivating community-driven processes, resident leadership, and city partnerships to improve access to and quality of nutritious and affordable foods, addressing food equity barriers,” reads the staff report.

Since the initiative began, the topic has become important enough to be included in the title of a Comprehensive Plan chapter with Chapter 7 being  Environment, Climate, and Food Equity. (page 65 of the plan)

The budget for FY23 and the one for FY24 set aside $155,000 for food equity.  The report documents how some of this funding is used to support the group’s work. Here’s point #8:

“Ongoing grassroots programming including growing and distributing 13,422 pounds of fresh produce to 645 residents, 20,000 healthy school snacks to 3,200 students, 7,200 schoolyard garden experiences, and other on the ground efforts,” reads the report packet

The group is also making a direct appeal to Council with three asks related to their Power to Grow initiative: 

  • They want Council to dedicate lane in Booker T. Washington Park for an Urban Agricultural Collective farm 
  • They want Council to direct the Parks and Recreation Department to prioritize a community design for the farm site in that agency’s upcoming strategic plan. Pros Consulting has been hired to do that work, as I reported this week
  • They want specific goals in the strategic plan related to food equity. At least two Councilors have already expressed they want this as well, as I reported earlier this month
One of the slides in Cultivate Charlottesville’s report to City Council on progress toward the Food Equity Initiative

The second presentation will be on the Sustainability Study that’s been commissioner for the future of the Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority. The agency hired Northern Real Estate Urban Ventures to assess CRHA’s properties, perform a market analysis, and do other work to develop a strategy for the agency’s future. 

The scope includes CRHA sites that have not yet gone through redevelopment including 6th Street Southeast, the Avon/Levy garage site, Westhaven, Michie Drive, Riverside Drive, and several single-family homes throughout the city. 

“The investment required to extend the useful life of CRHA’s portfolio of properties is significant,” reads one conclusion. “CRHA should leverage public financing options to redevelop more sustainable assets and utilize capital program dollars to renovate smaller communities.” 

The company has previously been hired by the University of Virginia to inform their work toward their three affordable housing sites. The report shows several different scenarios for how individual sites can be redeveloped such as three pathways forward for Westhaven. All involve bringing market-rate units to the site, and all three anticipate a ten percent “development fee.”

There are a lot of details in the presentation about CRHA can leverage its property to redevelop with a mixture of market-rate and subsidized units. (Credit: Northern Real Estate Urban Ventures)

The regular meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. with a proclamation of October 4 as Energy Efficiency Day. 

“Smarter energy use reduces the amount of electricity needed to power our lives, which makes electrification of buildings and transportation more achievable,” reads the resolution. “Energy efficiency makes our homes and workspaces healthier, safer, and more comfortable.” 

On the consent agenda are approval of the August 8, 2023 joint public hearing with the Planning Commission, second reading of a special use permit and rezoning for 501 Cherry Avenue, and first reading of a resolution authorizing the Charlottesville Economic Development Authority to issue revenue bonds on behalf of St. Anne’s Belfield. 

There are no regular items on the agenda. 

Louisa County Supervisors to consider alternative tax rate for data center equipment

The seven members of the Louisa County Board of Supervisors will meet at 5 p.m. for a closed session followed by the regular session at 6 p.m. (meeting overview)

There are five presentations which do not have advance materials in the packet. These are from Firefly, the Commission on Aging, the Louisa County Water Authority, the Virginia Department of Transportation, and Louisa Clean.

Then there will be a discussion of the Technology Overlay District and solar zoning. 

Under unfinished business, there will be a continued discussion of enforcement of the Livestock Running at Large ordinance. (resolution)

There are five items under new business / action items. 

  • The first would declare the county’s intent to reimburse the cost of certain expenditures related to expansion of water and sewer infrastructure to the Shannon Hill Growth Area, as well as the Louisa County Middle School turf fields project. (resolution)
  • The second would update the county’s financial policies and procurement policy. (resolution)
  • The third is a resolution to authorize a Memorandum of Understanding with the Louisa County Industrial Development Authority related to their funding of a water tank to be built as of the Shannon Hill Growth Area utilities project. (draft MOU)
  • The fourth is a resolution authorizing $637,536 for Louisa County Public Schools to complete design work for the Career and Technical Education Center. (resolution)
  • The fifth is a resolution for an additional $261,550.72 for Louisa County Public Schools to hire three additional teachers due to increased enrollment. (resolution)

There will be a public hearing related to the recent announcement that Amazon Web Services will invest $11 billion for two data centers within the county. There is a proposal for an alternative personal property tax rate for data center equipment. (resolution

In other meetings:

  • The Albemarle Architectural Review Board meeting that had been scheduled has been canceled. (meeting info)
  • The Albemarle Agricultural and Forestal District Committee meeting that had been scheduled has been canceled. (meeting info)

Tuesday, September 19, 2023

BAR to consider removal of historic designation for Stadium Road property

The Charlottesville Board of Architectural Review meets at 5 p.m. for a pre-meeting and gavels in to their regular session at 5:30 p.m. This will be held in CitySpace due to the Planning Commission’s special meeting. (meeting info)

The minutes of the August 15 meeting tell us a little something about the potential redevelopment of the former Greyhound Bus station on West Main Street. The building has sold twice in the past two years with the latest a $2.4 million purchase by GH Acquisitions this past January. 

The BAR had an initial discussion about a potential third purchase and what that prospective property owner might want to do. Here are some of the points from the minutes, directly quoted:

  • Paul Williams (Baywood Hotels) is looking at the property to develop the property
  • The site is designated is high density under the new zoning code. There is conflict between the new zoning and the guidelines.
  • Mr. Williams is seeking feedback and thoughts from the BAR regarding potential development on the site.
  • There was some concern regarding the building next to the site and the historic nature of that building.
  • Staff mentioned history of what occurred at Trailways Bus Stations during the Civil Rights Movement; however, staff does not think this Charlottesville location was a stop because the structure was built after the historic event of voter registration drives.
  • The applicant said that there is no timeline for a possible development of the site due to the zoning ordinance rewrite

I wrote about the site and its general location in the August 2, 2023 C-Ville Weekly

On the agenda for the September 2023 meeting of the BAR is a review of the Albemarle County and Charlottesville City General District Courts Complex. There are some new additions planned in the creation of a modernized facility. 

“While obscuring part of office building’s east elevation, the new hyphen and altered sallyport are necessary for the safe and secure use of this important public facility,” reads the staff report. 

The second item on the agenda is for the BAR to give a recommendation to City Council on an application to remove the “Individually Protected Property” designation for 104 Stadium Road. That’s the location of a building known as either the Stone House or the MacLeod House. A developer called Subtext seeks to tear down the structure to make way for a 21st century development. 

The BAR denied a demolition permit on February 22 but Council approved it on appeal on June 5. The Charlottesville Planning Commission had a preliminary discussion of what would be called Verve Charlottesville in June. 

Materials for the Verve Charlottesville project on Stadium Road submitted as part of the packet for the Planning Commission’s June 2023 regular meeting (Credit: Subtext)

In other meetings:

  • The technical committee of the Charlottesville-Albemarle Metropolitan Planning Organization meets at 10 a.m. at the Water Street Center at 407 East Water Street. (meeting agenda)
  • The Albemarle County Department of Social Services’ Advisory Board meeting will meet at 3:30 p.m. in the county’s office building at 1600 5th Street Extended, Suite A, Room 231. The undefined acronym this time around is ACERP. The Asian Conferences on Ethics, Religion & Philosophy? Advanced Ceramics Progress? Advanced Communications-Electronics Requirements Plan? (meeting info)
  • The Charlottesville Planning Commission will hold a special meeting at 5 p.m. in City Council Chambers to deliberate on the Development Code after a five hour public hearing on September 14. I’ll have a summary in the next edition of this newsletter. (meeting info)
  • The Charlottesville Parking Advisory Panel will meet at 3:30 p.m. in CitySpace with reports on ticket issuance, utilization graphs for the two public garages, as well as a report on their repair. (meeting info)
  • The Greene County Emergency Services Advisory Board meets at 6 p.m. There’s no agenda or location indicated on the county’s meeting portal.

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Supervisors to get details on long-awaited microtransit pilot for Places29 and Pantops

The six members of the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors will gather in Lane Auditorium in the office building at 401 McIntire Road at 1 p.m. for their second meeting of the month. (meeting info) (agenda)

The meeting begins with an achievement award from the Virginia Association of Counties. The staff report doesn’t say so, but this is for the county’s efforts to let the public know what’s going on. .

“The Let’s Talk Albemarle community engagement field office van seeks to define the Albemarle County approach to community engagement as inclusive, accessible, welcoming, and creative,” reads the list of awards on the VACO website.

Next there will be a consideration of a special exception for a homestay at 3585 Stockton Road in the Samuel Miller District. They want to increase the number of allowed rooms from two to three. (staff report)

After that there will be an update on the long-awaited micro-transit pilot program that Charlottesville Area Transit will be responsible for in Albemarle County. The city recently hired the firm VIA to operate the service, as I reported on July 31. The presentation lays out the two geographical areas where the on-demand service and lays out scenarios for each.

“The Director of CAT, Garland Williams, and representatives from VIA will present an update on the Albemarle County Micro-Transit Program, including information on how the service will operate, the proposed marketing plan for the service, and general timelines for implementation,” reads the staff report

The final item of the afternoon session is a work session on proposed legislative priorities for the 2024 General Assembly session. A document in the packet lays out potential changes to the priorities for 2023 based on this year’s session. (staff report)

In the evening session, there is a public hearing on a lease of a portion of Walnut Creek Park for a Verizon Wireless telecommunications tower. (staff report)

One item on the consent agenda is a resubmission for a federal transportation grant called Reconnecting Communities. An initial application failed but staff at the U.S. Department of Transportation encouraged the county to apply again. 

“Staff has revised the previous RCP application and is prepared to submit a RCN planning grant application for approximately $300,000,” reads the staff report. “Like the 2022 RCP request, this funding would support a corridor study for US 29 (and the surrounding neighborhoods) from Hydraulic Road to Hilton Heights Road.”

The site plan for the proposed cell tower in Walnut Creek Park (Credit: Verizon)

Fluvanna County Supervisors to consider levying five percent transient occupancy tax

The five-member Board of Supervisors in Fluvanna County will meet at 7 p.m. in the Carysbrook Performing Arts Center at 8880 James Madison Highway in Fork Union. (meeting packet)

There will be a public hearing on an amendment to the dogs running at-large ordinance that would make it applicable county-wide. Currently is only applies to Lake Monticello. 

“The ordinance would authorize a $100 civil penalty for a violation within Lake Monticello but would authorize two warnings for violations outside of Lake Monticello before there is a $100 civil penalty,” reads the staff report (page 5). “There are exemptions for dogs engaged in hunting or training for hunting or if the dog is assisting in farming activity.” 

There are four action items.

  • One is a resolution for a portion of Bike Route 76 to be rerouted in Palmyra. (page 11)
  • The second is an authorization to hold a public hearing on October 18 for a five-percent transient occupancy tax. There is currently no such tax. (page 15)
  • The third is for an authorization for a public hearing on October 18 for a proposed revenue-sharing agreement with solar generators of $1,400 per megawatt. (page 23)
  • The fourth is related to an agreement with the Virginia Department of Transportation for “Watch for Children” signs. VDOT no longer places the signs but localiites can with the agency’s approval. The Sycamore Square Property Owners Association wants two signs at a cost of $1,700. (page 29)

There are some items on the consent agenda worth noting:

  • There’s a purchase agreement for an ambulance for the Lake Monticello Volunteer Rescue Service. The cost for the 2023 Ford F-550 4×4 Ultramedic Crawl-Through is $363,573. (page 55)
  • There’s a partnership agreement between the county and the Fluvanna Chamber of Commerce for the provision of office space at the Chamber for the Small Business and Tourism Specialist, among other things. (page 263)
  • There’s a proclamation recognizing October as National Community Planning Month. 
A schematic of the 2023 Ford F-550 4×4 Ultramedic Crawl-Through

In other meetings:

  • The Charlottesville Housing Advisory Committee meets at 12 p.m. according to Calendar #1. This meeting is not listed on Calendar #2 as of Sunday afternoon. The agenda is not on the HAC website
  • The Greene County Planning Commission will meet at 6:30 p.m. in the county administration building in Stanardsville. There is a public hearing for a request from The Alignment Shop to amend a proffer to allow for the removal of a fence and five cypress trees. There’s also a continued discussion of prioritizing Comprehensive Plan goals. (meeting agenda)
  • The Citizens Transportation Advisory Committee meets at 7 p.m. and the meeting appears to be a remote one. (meeting agenda)

Thursday, September 21, 2023

There don’t appear to be any major meetings today and at publication time I don’t see any agendas for two of the three meetings I do see. 

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.