Cville Area Land Use: Week Ahead for May 13, 2024

Highlights this week: 

  • One of Albemarle’s community advisory committees on Monday will get an update on pending school construction projects such as a new elementary school and a new high school center 
  • The Nelson County Broadband Authority has completed its work and Supervisors will vote to dissolve it Tuesday
  • Supervisors in Greene will officially enter into a consent order Tuesday with state regulators related to violations at the Rapidan Wastewater Plant
  • The Albemarle County Planning Commission has two public hearings Tueday on major rezonings including one for an intelligence and defense campus 
  • Charlottesville’s Economic Development Authority will review language Tuesday in its new strategic plan to encourage collaboration, cooperation, and partnerships
  • The city’s Planning Commission will have a public hearing Tuesday on how to spend federal funding intended to address housing issues 
  • Albemarle Supervisors will further discuss Wednesday whether to change a rule that bans bikes and running at the city-owned Ragged Mountain Natural Area 
  • There are no meetings in Louisa County this week 

Thanks as always to the Piedmont Environmental Council for their sponsorship of this weekly look ahead. Their annual meeting is coming up on June 1 in Charlottesville if you want to get tickets.

Monday, May 13, 2024

Places-29 group to get status update on Albemarle school construction 

Albemarle Supervisors recently approved a $642.2 million budget for fiscal year 2025 which sets aside money for the school system’s needs. 

“The capital plan will fund the construction of three schools over the next five years and includes $14.3 million in planned renovation projects over the next five years,” reads page 9 of the recommended budget.

The Places29-Hydraulic Community Advisory Committee will get details at their meeting Monday from Kate Acuff, the Vice Chair of the Albemarle County School Board. This group meets at 5:30 p.m. in the Greer Elementary School Media Center at 190 Lambs Lane. (meeting info) (agenda)

The five-year capital budget adopted by Supervisors has $206.8 million going to schools. The FY25 budget has funding for construction of High School Center II on the Lambs Lane campus as well as a new elementary school for the southern feeder pattern. Funding for a new elementary for the northern feeder pattern is programmed for FY27 and FY28. 

In other meetings:

  • Fluvanna County’s Economic Development Authority will meet at 5 p.m. in the Morris Room of the county’s administration building at 132 Main Street in Palmyra. Aside from reports, there’s only one item on the agenda and that’s a resolution related to the payment of $500,000 to the Central Virginia Electric Cooperative for expansion of broadband. (agenda packet)
  • Following that meeting, the Economic Development and Tourism Advisory Council will meet in the same room. There will be an update on the Historic Courthouse restoration and reports from the Gateway Signs committee and the Fluvanna VA250 Committee. (agenda)
A very broad overview of capital funding for schools over the next five years. View the April 17, 2024 presentation to learn more about the adopted budget. 

Tuesday, May 14, 2024

Nelson Supervisors to vote on dissolution of county broadband authority 

The Nelson County Board of Supervisors will meet at 2 p.m. and again at 7 p.m. in the General District Courtroom in Lovingston.  (agenda packet)

On the consent agenda is a resolution that seeks to oppose a rate increase proposed by Appalachian Power Company. The State Corporation Commission has to approve the increase. 

“The development follows a recent SCC report that said an average Appalachian customer’s monthly bill rose by about $35 just between July 2022 and July 2023,” reads a portion of the resolution

Under presentations, Supervisors will get a report from the Virginia Department of Transportation followed by a report from the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission on the Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy they’ve put together. For more details, read a recent story I wrote on the adoption by the TJPDC Board of Commissioners

A list of the various goals in the TJPDC CEDS. None of the action steps appear to be specific to Nelson County though there are several references to “localities” as responsible partners. (Credit: TJPDC)

Supervisors will also get an audit report from FY23 and will get updates from the Nelson Heritage Center. 

Under other business, they’ll consider a $1,000 funding request from the Nelson County High School chapter of the Family, Career, and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA). They seek partial funding for a three person delegation to a national leadership conference from June 28 to July 4. 

FCCLA National Leadership Conference. They’ll also vote on a resolution to dissolve the Nelson County Broadband Authority now that the partnership with Firefly Internet Broadband has resulted in nearly 100 percent of county residents being close to highspeed internet. 

“The Nelson County Broadband Authority has determined that the purposes for which it was created have been completed and all of its obligations can easily and readily be assumed by the County of Nelson,” reads the resolution

In the evening session, they’ll have a public hearing on the secondary six-year road plan and will then approve the rural rustic design standard for use in that plan. 

The public hearing for the FY25 budget will be held on June 4. 

Greene Supervisors to enter into consent order with DEQ for sewer plant violations

When Greene County took over the operations of the Rapidan Service Authority, they inherited aging equipment and lost personnel who had been performing various tasks. On Tuesday, Supervisors will acknowledge they have to fix a specific problem. 

“The effluent from the County’s main wastewater treatment plant near Ruckersville, known as the Rapidan Wastewater Treatment Plant, routinely exceeds allowable levels of particular regulated contaminants, including zinc,” reads the staff report for a consent order with the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality. 

Shortly after taking control, Greene County didn’t monitor activities closely enough. The consent order documents a list of repeated violations including discharge of untreated sewage. The county must pay a civil penalty of $6,908.30 and follow a series of corrective actions. 

This item is on the consent agenda, which is a list of items that are not scheduled for a discussion by the elected officials but just a quick vote. 

One of the pieces of evidence in the DEQ’s case against Greene County 

The five-member Board of Supervisors in Greene County meets for a closed session at 5:30 p.m. followed by an open session at 6:30 p.m. They meet in the county administration building in Stanardsville. (meeting agenda)

After a proclamation marking May as Older Americans Month, Supervisors will hold a public hearing on an amendment to the ordinance for temporary events. Changes include requiring that parcels have to be at least five acres and that the permits are only good for 14 consecutive days including event set up and disassembly.  

After that there will be an update from Skyline CAP, an organization that serves as a community action agency for Greene County. They started in 1983 as a transportation services provider for seniors in Greene. They’ve since expanded outside of the county, but served 412 Greene residents in FY23. Skyline CAP also administers 256 housing choice vouchers.

“Skyline is designated a ‘Public Housing Authority’ [and] therefore must provide 75 percent of its vouchers to applicants whose income does not exceed 30 percent [area media income],” reads page 5 of the presentation

For Greene County, that cut-off is at $22,699. 

Skyline CAP also runs the Head Start program for Greene. 

Next there will be a briefing on proposed changes to the county code suggested by a firm called Taxing Authority Consulting Services. They’re suggesting five changes with one of them being related to charging penalties for companies that don’t fully comply with the meals tax and the transient occupancy tax. 

There are a few items on the consent agenda worth noting:

  • There’s a 60 day extension for the Rapidan Service Authority to continue leasing property owned by Greene County 11235 Spotswood Trail (view the lease)
  • There’s a clarification that the increase in the transient occupancy tax rate won’t go into effect until July 1, 2024. Supervisors approved an increase from five percent to eight percent. (resolution)
  • Pearson Appraisal will be hired to conduct the real property reassessment for 2025. (view the contract)
  • Greene is also working on a temporary renewal permit for the Stanardsville Wastewater Treatment Plant. (review the staff report)

In an action item, Greene Supervisors are scheduled to adopt the budget for FY25. For more details, read the story I wrote earlier this month on the first reading.

In another action item, County Administrator Cathy Schafrik will discuss an upcoming town hall on the county’s water and sewer program.  

Public hearing in Albemarle to be held for Rivanna Futures project, Granger property

The Albemarle County Planning Commission has two major rezonings on its agenda Tuesday night. One is for a significant project just to the south of the Fontaine Research Park and the other is for the site of a future defense and intelligence campus that Albemarle wants to build. 

The seven-member body convenes in Lane Auditorium at 6 p.m. (meeting info) (agenda)

The first public hearing is for a large undeveloped tract of land in a key portion of Albemarle County’s southern growth area. Riverbend Development seeks a rezoning of 69 acres of land from Residential-1 to Planned Residential Development. In all they seek to build 203 units consisting of both townhomes and single-family detached homes. 

“High quality housing that is less land consumptive and convenient to a mix of uses should be provided to protect our rural and environmental resources while creating an opportunity for lifestyles that are less dependent on the automobile and more focused on the human experience and enjoyment of place,” reads the narrative.

Riverbend Development filed their application before Albemarle Supervisors implemented a requirement that 20 percent of units be designated as affordable. This application only requires 15 percent per Albemarle’s older policy. 

If you want some more details, I wrote about the project last September for C-Ville WeeklyAt one point in the mid 2000’s, Riverbend Development had sought a Comprehensive Plan amendment for land to allow for up to 500,000 square feet of office space and 400 homes. 

Included in this application is a request to have the new community served by a private street. 

“By allowing the roadway to be a private street, the principles of the neighborhood model can be more fully implemented with the design,” reads the February 19, 2024 request.

To look at all the paperwork on this rezoning, click here. You may need to log-in to Albemarle’s archive and then reload the page. 

The amenity space proposed in the site plan would be in the crossroads of the community (Credit: Collins Engineering / Riverbend Development)

The second public hearing is for Rivanna Futures, perhaps the fastest application to ever go through Albemarle County’s Community Development Department. To recap, Supervisors agreed last May to allow staff to purchase 462 acres around Rivanna Station from a private developer. Albemarle bought the land to both protect the military base from encroachment and to create a defense and intelligence campus. 

“The vision for this acquisition is the establishment of an Intelligence & National Security Innovation Acceleration Campus (INSIAC), a place for public sector organizations, private sector businesses, and academic institutions to work together to co-create solutions to the biggest challenges facing our nation and the world,” reads an information release sent out by the county this past week

In mid-March, Supervisors allowed staff to submit the required rezoning, and six weeks later the public will have the first of two opportunities to have their say on the project. If all goes according to plan, hundreds of defense and intelligence sector jobs would be created. Supervisors had a briefing on April 17, 2024

“In December 2023, the County purchased this property to facilitate development consistent with Rivanna Station and encourage economic development,” reads the staff report. “The proposed zoning of LI, Light Industry and the issuance of a special use permit will allow the County to competitively apply for grants that will help fund grading and the construction of roads and utilities.”

A community meeting was held last Thursday at the Places-29 North Community Advisory Committee.

The only proffer is that Albemarle will conduct a traffic study before a site plan. 

The language in the staff report related to staff recommendations has changed. What used to be “favorable factors” and “unfavorable factors” are now listed as “positive aspects” and one “concerns. For this application, there are three of the former and one of the latter. 

“The comprehensive plan land use recommendations for this area do not support industrial use,” reads the staff report.

Albemarle County is investing a lot in an economic development project that will transform this section of the community (Credit: Albemarle County)

Charlottesville EDA to review “Intentional and Innovative Growth”

Charlottesville has recently adopted a new economic development strategic plan that puts a premium on finding ways to “upskill” people to bring opportunity to more people. 

“Through the pipeline of emerging technologies from educational institutions, strength in STEM occupations, and a strong focus on innovation and tech industries, the City of Charlottesville has the foundation necessary for long-term economic growth and success,” reads the executive summary of the document put together by the firm Resonance.

On Tuesday at their 4.p.m, meeting in CitySpace, the city’s Economic Development Authority will review Goal #2. (meeting info)

“We will build an innovative economy: one that embraces intentional growth, value added partnerships, and sustainability for tomorrow,” reads the broad overview. 

The city has several business “clusters” worth listing for the general public. They are: Bioscience and Life Sciences; Information Technology; Defense and Security; Business and Financial Services; Tourism; and Clean Technology. 

“Each sector provides jobs across the income and education spectrum, from large employers that anchor the economy to the many homegrown businesses that innovate and inject life into the community,” reads page 29 of the plan

The plan calls for cooperation amongst multiple partners to make it happen. The following strategies are suggested:

  • Execute a business retention program to help existing businesses be successful (2.1)
  • Activate — in partnership with Commonwealth and regional partners — a private investment strategy to reach decision-makers (2.2)
  • Focus — in partnership with industry associations — on expansion efforts for scalable businesses in Charlottesville’s traded sectors (2.3)
  • Align policy, planning, and future (re)development to support  innovative industries (2.4)
  • Expand the CVille Match Program (2.5)
  • Strengthen partnerships with Albemarle County, the University of Virginia, and others to advance the City’s development interests (2.6) 
  • Utilize public-owned land and publicprivate partnerships to support quality jobs, investment, and housing options (2.7)

This is important because once there’s a strategy in place, that can be used as justification for public spending. There is a lot happening that goes under-reported. 

The EDA will also get an update on performance agreements it has for various endeavors but the agenda does not state which ones. There will also be an update on the leases the EDA holds. These are also not listed in the agenda. These meetings are not televised. 

Strategy 2.7 calls for the use of publicly-owned land for public-private partnerships. These aren’t empty words in an era when the city is planning to purchase more property through a land bank. (Credit: Resonance / City of Charlottesville)

Public hearing on how Charlottesville will use federal funds from U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

Under the new Development Code, the Charlottesville Planning Commission will not hold as many public hearings as it did before. There is one on the agenda for their May 14 meeting. 

“The Planning Commission will be considering projects to be undertaken as part of the proposed [Program Year] 2024 -25 Annual Action Plan for the [Community Development Block Grant] and HOME programs,” reads the staff report.

A city task force makes recommendations on what to spend the funding on. 

“The Taskforce reviewed seventeen (17) requests for funding, fourteen (14) for funding through CDBG and three (3) through HOME,” reads the staff report. “Total new requests for funding for both programs amounted to $1,224,986.”

However, there’s only $438,617 in CDBG funding available according to recently published allocations. Those numbers weren’t available when the staff report was written so the figures offered will be adjusted but perhaps not in time for the planning commission.(read that story)

These numbers will change but the staff report lists the following recommendations.

  • $19,542.72 for the Community Investment Collaborative for entrepreneurial program
  • $70,353.79 to fund an economic opportunity coordinator for the Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority 
  • $16,000 for the International Rescue Committee for a “financial capabilities program”
  • $7,750 for PACEM to cover some of the costs of transporting people to shelters
  • $15,000 for Literacy Volunteers of Charlottesville / Albemarle for a Beginning Level Workforce Development Program 
  • $25,000 to the Public Housing Association of Residents to pay for community engagement related to “resident-involved redevelopment
  • $18,353.49 for Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority for a Housing Stability Program to cover the cost of some tenants to pay rent
  • $41,308.35 for a homeownership program to be run by the Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority
  • $50,308.35 for a Habitat for Humanity project on 6 ½ Street SW in Charlottesville

On the consent agenda, the Planning Commission will technically approve the site plan for the second phase of the Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority’s redevelopment of South First Street. 

In other meetings:

  • The regularly scheduled meeting of the Albemarle Police Citizens Advisory Committee has been canceled. (meeting info)
  • The planning and operations subcommittee of the Albemarle Solid Waste Advisory Committee has been canceled. (meeting info)
The full list of recommendations for Community Development Block Grant funding 

Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Albemarle Supervisors to get briefing on Ragged Mountain Natural Area, possible changes to allowed recreational uses

After a seven year legal stalemate, Charlottesville City Council agreed in March to settle a lawsuit over the city’s assertion that it had the final say on whether bikes could be allowed on trails at the Ragged Mountain Natural Area. Albemarle County had long insisted its local ordinance banning such uses was the final word. 

That would seem to have been that, except on April 3, 2024 a majority of the Board signaled to staff they may be willing to reconsider actions taken by a previous board. We don’t have minutes for the meeting, but we do have this unofficial account from the meeting’s action report.

“By a vote of 4:2 (Mallek, McKeel), directed staff to come back at a subsequent meeting to provide a presentation regarding the litigation results, the settlement terms and what they mean in terms of the County’s authority, and also possible ways forward if additional activities are to be considered,” reads the report.

On Wednesday, Albemarle Supervisors will get that presentation. There are no details in the packet about what those possible ways forward may be. (staff report)

Aside from proclamations (see below), there are no other items on the afternoon agenda.

When Supervisors reconvene at 6 p.m., there are four public hearings on three topics.

  • The first is to receive comment on the secondary six-year plan which contains a very small amount of funding for unpaved roads. (staff report)
  • The second and third are related to a special use permit and rezoning needed for Stonefield to allow for a Tesla dealership. (staff report for the second) (staff report for the third)
  • The fourth is for an easement for the Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority to build a water main from the South Fork Rivanna Reservoir. (staff report)

There are some interesting items on the consent agenda worth reviewing.

In the first, Supervisors will adopt a resolution to schedule a public hearing on charging a fee for the use of county-owned charging electric vehicles. There are two located at the county’s office building at 401 McIntire Road that were installed in 2021 that cost $333,008. 

“Since commissioning, the County has hosted approximately 8,000 unique drivers at the county-owned facilities, dispensing over 696 mega-watt-hours of electricity, for an accumulated greenhouse gas emissions savings of over 487 metric tons,” reads the staff report

In 2021, localities weren’t allowed to charge fees but that has since changed. This would be a good meeting for anyone interested in learning about how deployment of this technology is changing. 

Other consent agenda items:

  • Supervisors will schedule a public hearing for a two percent increase in compensation for elected officials. A recent law allows cities to pay City Councilors much more money, but that does not apply to counties. (staff report)
  • There is a memo from the Virginia Department of Transportation that details bicycle and pedestrian accommodations that will be made as part of a forthcoming project on U.S. 250 in Pantops. There’s a lot of detail in this and it would be interesting to compare what’s being recommended versus what’s in the Pantops Master Plan. (staff report)
  • A proclamation for the 50th Anniversary of the Stony Point Volunteer Fire Company is on the consent agenda. (proclamation)
  • Want to track the progress of the county’s revenues and expenditures? Read the Third Quarter Financial Report.
  • The Spring 2024 report from the Facilities and Environmental Services Department is out. I usually get four or five stories out of each one so stay tuned to the newsletter! (or read the report yourself
  • There’s also a monthly report from the Virginia Department of Transportation. (read it!)

Fluvanna Supervisors holding public hearings on various fee increases, authorizations

There’s a lot on the agenda of the Fluvanna Board of Supervisors for their second meeting of May. They meet in the Carysbrook Performing Arts Center at 8880 James Madison Highway. (meeting packet)

After the usual starting items for a meeting, there will be a presentation on bond financing for the various projects to be constructed by the James River Water Authority. The deal closes on this week for a total borrowed amount of just over $48 million. 

“The All-In True Interest Cost of Borrower Bonds is 4.35 percent and the annual debt service payment is  [approximately] 2.83M,” reads the staff report. “This annual debt service payment will be split 50/50 between Fluvanna and Louisa County with each to pay [approximately] $1.42M.” 

There are four items under action matters:

  • The first is to authorize advertisement of a public hearing on June 20, 2024 to increase water rates and connection fees for the Fork Union Sanitary District (page 51)
  • The second is a resolution to extend the due date for various taxes including the real estate tax to June 21, 2024 (page 57)
  • The third is to adopt the VDOT secondary six year plan (page 61)
  • The fourth is related to the capital budget for FY24 and FY25 for the capital improvement program for Fluvanna County Public Schools. The request is to move $850,000 from the FY25 budget to FY24 so projects can get underway this summer. (page 69)

There are four public hearings:

  • The first is to amend the county code to increase court cost from $10 to $20. The additional revenue will go to for security equipment at the courts. (page 73)
  • The second is to authorize a $25 processing fee for individuals admitted to the regional jail  (page 79)
  • The third is to authorize amend code to authorize a recordation fee of $25 related to lists of heirs. This will generate about $1,000 in revenue. (page 85)
  • The fourth would amend a section of county code to amend the definition of a violation of the unrestricted dog ordinance and the dog running at large ordinance. (page 91)

There are several items on the consent agenda mostly technical in nature. 

Under unfinished business, there will be an update on the solar ordinance review that’s underway. There’s no agenda packet for that item. 

Greene County PC to hold work sessions on water/sewer changes, performance bonds

The Greene County Planning Commission meets at 6 p.m. in the administration building in Stanardsville. (agenda packet)

There are two work sessions related to the future of the county. 

The first is on further revisions to county code related to performance bonds required related to any public items that developers will build and dedicate over to the county. This section was updated in 2020 but further amendments are being made to add clarifications to when these are required. (item packet)

The second is on potential changes to the county’s water and sewer ordinance. The Board of Supervisors seek the Planning Commission’s input on changes to connection fees known as “Equivalent Dwelling Units” or EDUs’.

“Equivalent dwelling units (EDUs) are availability fees collected for connecting to public water and sewer infrastructure,” reads the packet. “These fees are used for infrastructure maintenance and upgrades.”

Greene has a water service area but many areas in the growth area are not yet connected. 

There’s also a presentation on the creation of a Technology and Flex Research and

Development District for Greene County. Supervisors and the Planning Commission met on February 27, 2024 to discuss land use priorities and Supervisors indicated they wanted more commercial development. The district would be a step in that direction and will involve multiple work sessions. There’s a joint one with the Board of Supervisors scheduled for June 11, 2024. (view the presentation)

In other meetings:

  • The Charlottesville Housing Advisory Committee will meet again for the third week in a row. What are they going to talk about? I suspect their recommendations for a land bank ordinance. The agenda isn’t available at publication time. They’ll meet at noon in CitySpace. (meeting info)
  • The Charlottesville Electoral Board will meet at 6 p.m. at 120 Seventh Street NE in Room 142. The agenda isn’t available at publication time. (meeting info)
The map for the Water Service Area (Credit: Greene County)

Thursday, May 16, 2024

Delegation heading to Illinois for alternative fuel demonstration

There was an item in the May 6, 2024 City Council Agenda that caught my eye.

“CAT is hosting an alternative fuels fact finding site visit to Champaign Urbana, Illinois to learn more about the deployment of electric, hydrogen, and [Compressed Natural Gas] buses as well as the infrastructure to support it,” Sanders wrote. “Invited to attend will include council members, key CAT staff, county leadership, a consulting team, as well as media and members of the environmental advocacy community.” 

That begins this Thursday.

No other media took Sanders up on the offer to attend, so I’m investing some of Town Crier Productions resources into heading out there to learn as much as I can and report what I learn. I’ve been covering this story extensively and look forward to a producing a series of reports.

What do you want to know?

For background:

In the meetings I know:  

  • Charlottesville’s Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee will meet at 5:30 p.m. in the Parks and Recreation Office in the basement of the Market Street Parking Garage. (agenda)
  • Charlottesville’s Human Rights Commission meets at 6 p.m. and there’s no agenda at publication time. They meet in CitySpace usually. (agenda)
  • Albemarle County’s Fifth and Avon Community Advisory Committee will meet at 7 p.m. in the county’s office building at 1600 5th Street Extended. There’s no agenda 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.