Cville Area Land Use Update: Week of Sept. 4, 2023

Every week, there’s a lot happening in local and regional government. This newsletter seeks to make sure people have access to that information. The purpose is to inform as broad a section of the public as possible. 

This particular edition of the newsletter comes out on a Monday rather than a Sunday. This is Labor Day, which means no meetings today. I used the additional work time over the weekend to write up two installments of the Fifth District Community Engagement newsletter. Take a look if you’ve not done so before and subscribe

I’m trying to think of how I spend my labor each day working to bring people information about what happens and what’s coming up. This is time well spent because the labor pays for my living expenses. In the future, I hope to be able to hire others to help me expand the amount of information this newsletter can provide. 

But for now, there’s this edition for a busy week signifying the end of summer. We’ve got a busy few months ahead of us, and there’s no time like now to get going. 

  • Louisa County will formally adopt the performance agreement with Amazon Web Services for their planned $11 billion investment to build two data center campuses. Supervisors’ consent agenda has a capacity study for one of the county’s reservoirs. 
  • Both Louisa County and Fluvanna County will amend the agreement for the James River Water Authority in a sign that a planned water pump station might soon be moving forward. 
  • Charlottesville City Council will get an update on a new Strategic Plan Framework at the beginning of their meeting and will adopt it at the end. Along the way they’ll have the first reading of an ordinance to rezone 501 Cherry Avenue. 
  • Albemarle County Supervisors will review growth area expansion criteria and other items related to the Comprehensive Plan update. They’ll also hold a public hearing for a proposed through truck restriction on Plank Road and approve resolution of the issuance of bonds. 
  • Fluvanna Supervisors will consider whether to switch methods of how utility scale solar projects are taxed by local officials, as well as the potential donation of a cemetery to the Fluvanna Historical Society. 
  • The Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission will consider a realignment of Bike Route 76 and get a series of updates. They’ll also a proposal from Firefly Broadband for new funding to expand service in a 13-county area. 
  • This week there are no meetings in Greene County but they’ll be back!

Thanks as always to the Piedmont Environmental Council for their sponsorship of this work.

Tuesday, September 5, 2023

Louisa Supervisors to approve performance agreement with Amazon

The Louisa Board of Supervisors will have a special meeting at 4 p.m. followed by a regular one at 5 p.m. Both take place in the Public Meeting Room at the Louisa County Office Building at 1 Woolfolk Avenue in Louisa. 

The first meeting is “to go over the meeting and agenda management process and board portal for electronic voting.”  

The second meeting begins with a closed session at 5 p.m. before the open session begins at 6 p.m. 

After the invocation, the Pledge of Allegiance, adoption of the agenda, approval of the minutes, and approval of bills, there will be adoption of the consent agenda. Some of these jump out as interesting:

  • There’s a request to conduct a capacity study for the Northeast Creek Reservoir. Supervisors are being asked to spend $74,000 from the fund set aside for economic development projects. (staff report)
  • There’s a request to authorize $25,000 for hiring bonuses to hire public safety employees. (staff report)
  • Supervisors will approve a bid for CHA Consulting to install two turf fields at Louisa County Schools facilities. (bid process overview)
  • Supervisors will be asked to approve half the cost of purchasing a new rescue boat for the Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department. The price could go as high as $163,438 and the rest comes from the Rescue Squad Assistance Fund. (resolution)

Before the rest of the meeting, there will be a recognition of September as Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

“Pediatric cancer is the leading cause of death by disease in children yet is grossly under-funded and under-researched, and 1 in 285 children in the United States will be diagnosed by their 20th birthday,” reads the proclamation. “[Forty-six] children per day or 16,790 children per year are diagnosed with cancer in the U.S. each year, and at any given time there are approximately 40,000 children on active treatment.”  

Under regular business there are three presentations including a discussion of the 2024 General Assembly session. The Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission has a common set of priorities that will be reviewed. Here’s the starting point.

The other presentations are from the Louisa County Historical Society and a request from Brackett’s Farm for a real property tax exemption. 

There are six items under new business.

The first is to approve the performance agreement with Amazon Data Services for incentives related to the company’s announcement it will invest $11 billion to build two data center campuses by the year 2040. 

“The Company has proposed to build, develop, and operate, or cause to build, develop, and operate data center facilities (the “Project”) at locations in the County within the Technology Overlay District (“TOD”), including the Lake Anna Technology Campus and North Creek Technology Campus,” reads the resolution

Those incentives include annual infrastructure grants, investment performance bonuses, permitting, utilities, and the real property tax rebates. The project will also seek to take advantage of the Commonwealth’s Cloud Computing Cluster Infrastructure Grant Fund. That was authorized in the 2023 General Assembly. (view the bill)

The details of the incentives are available here for your review.

The second item seems like it is worth a story. Supervisors will vote on a resolution to “express its concern” about language in the state budget that sets rates for private day care facilities. The 2022 Appropriations called for the Office of Children’s Services to set those rates. The resolution claims both the House of Delegates and the Virginia Senate sought to eliminate these rates, but this did not end up in the “skinny budget.” 

In July, the OCS announced that Virginia will not reimburse localities above a two percent increase above the rates for last year. That could increase costs for localities who have covered the cost of students who entered private school during the pandemic. 

“Louisa County currently uses fourteen (14) private day facilities and eleven (11) of

those are increasing their rates between five to twelve percent for the 2023-2024 school year,” reads the resolution

The third item is an amendment to the agreement for the James River Water Authority. 

“The James River Water Project is a joint effort between the Counties of Louisa and Fluvanna which is intended to provide a long-term source of water for both localities and reduce reliance on groundwater by withdrawing water from the James River,” reads the resolution.

The project now has a total cost estimate of $45.6 million. That’s higher than previously anticipated due to the relocation of a pump station that had been originally sited on a Monacan historic site. (view the total costs)

The fourth item is a resolution to authorize the Economic Development Department to proceed with a $27.55 million project to expand utilities to the Shannon Hill Growth Area. The total cost of the project has increased to a total of $28,333,827. This particular resolution pertains to a water tower. (staff report)

The fifth item is a resolution to award a contract to Landmark Structures to build “a new 750,000 gallon spheroid elevated water storage tank and a booster pump station.” There were a total of four bids.

The sixth item is to approve an update to at least one color in the the county seal from #ffff00 to #efcc58. (staff report)

There’s also a public hearing on a request from Three Notch Road LLC to rezone 3.03 acres of land on U.S. 250 from the Industrial Limited Growth Area Overlay District to General Commercial Growth Area Overlay District. This would be to allow the sales of recreational vehicles and service. (staff report)

The four bids for the water tower that is one component of the project to expand water capacity to the Shannon Hill Growth Area (Credit: Louisa County)

Charlottesville City Council to adopt strategic plan framework, first reading of rezoning for 501 Cherry Avenue

The five member Charlottesville City Council begins at 4 p.m. with a work session on the strategic plan followed by a regular meeting at 6:30 p.m. They will meet in City Council Chambers. (meeting info)

The city has hired the firm Raftelis to guide production of a strategic plan to guide the work of Charlottesville’s municipal employees. The city has not adopted a new version of the document for some time. At this work session, Council will review the framework that has been created that begins with the vision for Charlottesville “to be a place where everyone thrives.” 

There are several strategic outcome areas ranging from Climate Action to Transportation. The latter sets the city up to provide a much larger service than its current boundaries.

“Charlottesville provides a regional transportation system that increases mobility options and is reliable and affordable for all,” reads that sub-vision statement. 

This is the strategic plan framework. For more background on the process, read previous stories on Information Charlottesville

There’s not much on the consent agenda and appointments to Boards and Commissions likely won’t happen until after the application window closes later this week. There’s still time to apply!

A second reading of a plan to sell city-owned land on West Main Street has been moved to a future meeting. A public hearing was held on August 21 and no one spoke at the time. Afterwards, more people have come forward to ask for the city to consider retaining the land which staff determined had not identifiable use. Read my story from then for some more background

Next, Council will hold the first of two readings on the rezoning of 501 Cherry Avenue. The Planning Commission recommended approval at their meeting on August 8. Though the adoption of a new zoning code appears to be months away, Woodard Properties is among several developers seeking to get project approval in place under the old rules. The old rules will not require that ten percent of units be guaranteed to be rent or sold below market. 

One of the proffers for this rezoning would require a minimum of sixty affordable units “should the residential portion of the development be sold to Piedmont Housing Alliance. PHA will ask the city for money to help with financing. 

If that doesn’t materialize, Woodward Properties would need to provide between four and nine affordable units for a period of six year. For comparison, the new zoning would require affordability for 99 years unless the zoning administrator grants an exemption. 

“There was some concern from the Planning Commission and City Council in regard tothe proffers as they are setup in a way that relies on different moving targets being met,” reads the staff report for the first reading. “There was also a concern that the proffers call out specific organizations and not just land uses. Despite these concerns, both bodies believe this development could be a model for other projects in the City moving forward.” 

The final item of the meeting harkens back to the first item. City Council will adopt the new strategic plan framework after years of extending the previous one. 

“As the city has recovered from the major impacts of the pandemic, it is time to restate the priorities of council so the organization can pivot to those things that produce the desired results and position the government to meet the priorities of its public,” reads the staff report

Is this the full plan? Is a framework all you need? 

In other meetings: 

  • The Albemarle Architectural Review Board will meet at 1 p.m. in the Albemarle County Office Building at 401 McIntire Road. There will be a review of the Home Depot’s application for a certificate of appropriateness for their new store at Fashion Square Mall. There will also be a review of the entrance corridor that is Airport Road. (meeting info)
A rendering of the proposed two-building lay-out at 501 Cherry Avenue (Credit: BRW Architects)

Wednesday, September 6, 2023

Albemarle Board of Supervisors to authorize bond sales for Rivanna Station Futures, consider through-truck restriction for Plank Road 

The six-member Albemarle Board of Supervisors will meet at 1 p.m. in Lane Auditorium of the county’s office building at 401 McIntire Road. (meeting info) (agenda)

After the Pledge of Allegiance and the moment of silence, there will be two proclamations. One will recognize September as National Hispanic and Latino Heritage Month and the second recognized Claudette Borgersen as a certified municipal clerk. 

The first item is a resolution officially authorizing the issuance of bonds for a variety of different purposes including the purchase of land for the Rivanna Station Futures initiative. The total being requested is $118 million including $60 million for the Rivanna land purchase. (staff report)

The second item is on potential changes to the Virginia Department of Transportation’s Smart Scale process intended to streamline staff time and to tweak the formulas used to determine what projects qualify for funding. 

The material on Supervisors’ agenda has no advanced materials. The Commonwealth Transportation Board has not finished its review of the process but this is a story to follow going forward in a community where one locality has yet to complete a single Smart Scale project and another has completed several. 

The third item is the Board of Supervisors’ review of the four “toolkits” that are being used by Albemarle County staff to update the county’s Comprehensive Plan. The Planning Commission reviewed this at their meeting on August 8 and I’ve managed to write up two portions of that discussion and hope to get the third and fourth done by Wednesday.

The other two are Interstate Interchanges and Crossroads Communities. 

Finally, the Chair of the Albemarle School Board will present the quarterly report to the Board of Supervisors. This report highlights several environmental initiatives and provides updates on Center II. 

“Center II is expected to accommodate 400 students by 2026,” reads the report. “While the center will in part help alleviate some overcrowding, it could also contribute to providing a substitute for programs at the Charlottesville-Albemarle Technical Education Center.”

This will be located at the Lambs Lane Campus. 

“Early plans by Quinn Evans Architects include open co-working spaces, a café and an outdoor project space,” reads the report. “The firm says it will begin the bidding process by September of 2024.”

There’s also an update on the construction of a new elementary school to be included in the southern feeder pattern with an estimated completion time of the fall of 2026. VMDO Architects have been hired to produce a design. 

“The school, which will be constructed near Mountain View Elementary School, will alleviate capacity issues at Mountain View in a fast-growing part of the county,” the report continues. 

A redistricting study is also soon to get underway. 

In the evening session, there will be a public hearing on amendments and appropriations related to the FY2024 budget. (staff report)

  • $5,572,357 will be transferred to the Housing Fund Reserve
  • $60 million from anticipated bond proceeds will be transferred in anticipation of the purchase of land near Rivanna Station 
  • $3 million from the Virginia Business Ready Sites Program will be transferred through the county to the University of Virginia Foundation to complete design of a pad ready site at the North Fork Discovery Park. 

The second public hearing will be on a rezoning for 0.32 acres of land at Maple Grove Church in the Rivanna District from R-1 to R-4. (staff report)

The third public hearing is on a request that the Virginia Department of Transportation through-truck restriction on Plank Road. The agency recently upgraded a bridge over the Mechum’s River which allowed a weight limit to be lifted. That has alarmed many in the community who are concerned that the upgrade infrastructure will overwhelm the rural village of Batesville. So far, there’s a sign posted that advises trucks to not use routes suggested by GPS.  (item materials)

There are several items on the consent agenda:

  • There are several updates to the county’s personnel policy. (staff report)
  • There is a resolution to approve the refund of overpaid taxes to three entities. (staff report)
  • The Mutual Aid Agreement for Fire and Rescue Services between Albemarle County and Charlottesville is up for renewal. (staff report)
  • The county is making three applications through VDOT’s revenue-sharing program. Which ones? Learn more from either the staff report or the article I wrote
  • There’s a resolution to begin a traffic calming project on Park Ridge Drive in Crozet between Eastern Avenue and Raven Stone Road. (staff report)
  • How much money does Albemarle County have after the books for FY23 have been closed out? That information is not yet in the Preliminary Year-End Report but it likely will be by Wednesday. (staff report)
A map of the proposed through-truck restriction  (Credit: Albemarle County)

Fluvanna Board of Supervisors to decide on method for solar taxation, update JRWA agreement 

The five member Board of Supervisors in Fluvanna County will meet at 5 p.m. in the Carysbrook Performing Arts Center at 8880 James Madison Highway in Fork Union. (meeting packet)

There are three action items.

  • One is a request to authorize a public hearing to consider a quitclaim deed with the Fluvanna Historical Society. This is related to the Free Hill Cemetery which is within the limits of the former Town of Columbia which was dissolved in 2016. All property reverted to the county and the idea is to gift the cemetery to the society. If approved, the public hearing will be held on October 18. (page 5)
  • The second is a discussion of which of two methods to tax solar facilities in Fluvanna. Do they keep machinery and tools and real estate tax, or do they switch to a method where income is charged at a flat rate of $1,400 per megawatt generated each year? (page 9)
  • The third is a similar resolution for Fluvanna County to amend the agreement with the James River Water Authority. (page 15)

There are five presentations.

  • There will be an update on the 2023 General Assembly from David Blount of the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission. (page 23)
  • There will be a quarterly report from the Virginia Department of Transportation. (page 27)
  • Dominion will give an update on its activities in Fluvanna County. (page 29)
  • There will be a discussion of pay for constitutional officers. (page 30)
  • A new tourism branding and marketing campaign is set to launch and Supervisors will get to take a look. This has been paid for through an American Rescue Plan Act Tourism Recovery Program grant of $60,000. (page 35)

There are no items under unfinished or new business. 

City housing panel to review consultant’s review of proposed zoning code

The Charlottesville Housing Advisory Committee meets at noon in the 2nd floor conference room at 700 E. Jefferson Street. That’s where the city’s Office of Community Solutions is now headquartered. 

Someone hired the firm RKG Associates to conduct a feasibility analysis of how many affordable housing units might be created through the city’s inclusionary zoning. I presume the city paid for the study but that’s not entirely clear from the agenda and I don’t see it on the Cville Plans Together initiative website as part of the August 14, 2023 update.

Either way, the work by RKG Associates takes a look at two aspects of how the future zoning is intended to create more units that are restricted to households below a specific threshold. 

“The City seeks to understand the financial realities of its proposed inclusionary zoning recommendation to require projects with ten or more units to provide ten percent of those units at a price point affordable to households earning 60 percent of the area median income,” reads the first goal of the study. 

The second goal of the study was to model “the potential rate of change that may occur with the proposed [Residential-A], [Residential-B], and [Residential-C] zoning districts encouraged by the potential change in value due to the new zoning polices and allowances.” 

The study took a look at five distinct subareas of the city. It’s also based on parameters proposed this spring such as requiring all units to be affordable if a developer sought to max out the allowed densities in the three residential districts. That’s no longer the case. For instance, if 12 units were to be redeveloped in Residential-B, only six would have to be guaranteed to be below market. Go back and review my story on the release of the study

This report can be found by visiting the meeting calendar site, then clicking “Meeting Files.” This document is available under “other” and let me know if you have trouble finding it. Or just download it from cvillepedia.

The Housing Advisory Committee will also discuss the affordability manual. I wrote about that, too

The HAC is an eleven-member body that has several vacancies. This body does not make decisions on funding but advises anyone who is listening on housing policy. 

Non-profit groups are represented by: John Sales, executive director of the Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority; Sunshine Mathon, executive director of the Piedmont Housing Alliance; Cory Demchak, executive director of the Albemarle Housing Improvement Program.

Real estate professionals are represented by: Philip d’Oronzio, a member of the Planning Commission and a mortgage broker; Dan Rosensweig, executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Greater Charlottesville; a vacancy.

Josh Hughes is one of two at-large members. The other position is vacant.

There are three slots for Affordable Housing Beneficiaries and two positions are vacant. Resident and CRHA employee Joy Johnson is one of the appointees. 

City Councilor Michael Payne is the representative from City Council. 

Want to be on this body, or any of the others in Charlottesville with vacancies. Apply today!

In other meetings:

  • There will be a site plan conference for the Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority’s Site plan for CRHA First Street South. This will be for a 113-unit development, a 4,200 square foot clubhouse, and a 4,274 square foot commercial space. The site plan meeting will take place in the NDS conference room at 610 East Market Street. (meeting info)
  • The Nelson County Board of Zoning Appeals will meet at 7 p.m. in the General District Courtroom at 84 Courthouse Square in Lovingston. This is related to an outdoor firing range. (meeting packet)

Thursday, September 7, 2023

TJPDC to consider realignment of Bike Route 76 in Palmyra

The Board of the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission will meet at 7 p.m. in the agency’s offices at 407 East Water Street. This is for the first meeting for Lyle Solla-Yates of the Charlottesville Planning Commission. (meeting portal)

There will be a presentation on the Consolidated Annual Performance Evaluation Report (CAPER) which tells its reader what programs have used federal funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. That’s followed by a public hearing. Later in the meeting there will be a document to adopt the CAPER. 

There will also be updates on the Blue Ridge Cigarette Tax Board and projects that have been funded through the Virginia Telecommunications Initiative (VATI). In the former we learn that the relatively new county-imposed cigarette tax brought in $1.38 million in revenue from January 2023 through June 2023, based on the sale of about $4.5 million packs. 

Under new business there will be an update on Bike Route 76 and a request to reroute a portion of the route through historic Palmyra. 

“The town is planning a ‘bike rest stop’ complete with picnic tables and a bike repair station in the historic center of Palmyra along the proposed bike route realignment that will give bicyclists a place to stop, rest, and take in the sites of historic Palmyra,” reads the staff report. 

A map of the proposed rerouting of Bike Route 76 in Palmyra (Credit: TJPDC)

There will also be a discussion of a request for the TJPDC to participate in the Southeast Crescent Regional Commission. This could enable more grant opportunities in the area.

“SCRC receives annual appropriations from Congress to invest in economic and infrastructure development projects that reduce the effects of poverty, unemployment and outmigration,” reads a June 16, 2023 letter from the federally-created body. “SCRC is committed to supporting job creation, building communities and improving the lives of those who reside in its 428 counties and county equivalents.”

There will also be a discussion of an unsolicited proposal for VATI funds in FY2 from Firefly Fiber Broadband.  

Then there will be a presentation on the TJPDC’s strategic plan for FY24 through FY28, followed by a presentation on the draft operating budget for FY25. Yes. FY25. 

While very interesting, this newsletter is over 4,000 words so I’ll just have to cover this

In other meetings:

  • The Community Planning Management Team consists of social services officials from both Albemarle and Charlottesville. They meet at 9 a.m. in the county’s office building at 1600 5th Street. (meeting info)
  • The Albemarle County Natural Heritage Committee will meet in Room 235 in the county’s office building at 401 McIntire Road. Among other items, there will be an update on a stream restoration at Biscuit Run. (meeting info)
An image from the presentation on the CAPER (Credit: TJPDC)

Friday, September 8, 2023

City history panel to meet

Charlottesville’s Historic Resources Committee will meet at 11 a.m. at City Hall at 605 E. Main Street in the conference room for Neighborhood Development Services. (meeting info)

This meeting’s agenda is very similar to the one for August. I’m going to cut and paste that one to save time

They’ll get an update on the creation of a Downtown Walking Tour. This will include the discussion of a version of the map for the Internet and themes for future maps. This has been on this group’s agenda for many meetings. 

There will also be a discussion of a submission to the Virginia Department of Historic Resources for a historic marker for Court Square. An application is due October 20, 2023. 

Another subcommittee may be formed to discuss historic information on city parks that might be added to the city’s website. Perhaps you might want to take a look at the list of parks on the city’s website and see what information you’d like to add? Or perhaps you’re not interested in joining a subcommittee but want to add information anyway? Perhaps you could add something to cvillepedia? If the latter, drop me a line and I’ll set up a time to explain how to use the site. 

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.