Week Ahead for April 17, 2023: Public hearing Wednesday in Albemarle for grant program for affordable housing; Council to finalize $5 million for CRHA purchase of 84 units

In this installment, I draw your attention to the many links to Information Charlottesville that contain links to stories I’ve written in the past several years. Most come from the regular edition of this newsletter, which exists to increase awareness of what’s coming up at local meetings and to write down a lot of what has happened. 

This is all possible because of the many ways I’m able to bring in revenue to cover my time. This includes the sponsorship of this weekly Week Ahead summary from the Piedmont Environmental Council, paid Substack subscribers, and Patreon supporters who fund experiments like the Fifth District Community Engagement newsletter

Every week I read articles lamenting the decline of local journalism. The work of Town Crier Productions is to do what I can to write as much as I can about things I believe are worth knowing by as many as people as possible. I know many people want this to continue, and a lot of people are paying their share. You all have my gratitude.

Here’s a few things happening this week:

  • Charlottesville City Council will hear from School Superintendent Royal Gurley on plans for the city to be in full control of the Charlottesville-Albemarle Technical Education Center. They’ll also vote on appropriation of $5 million to the Charlottesville-Redevelopment and Housing Authority to purchase Dogwood Houses, ostensibly securing several dozen affordable units. 
  • Albemarle Supervisors will have a public hearing on a grant program to incentivize the production of affordable units, and will also further discuss the possibility of a affordable dwelling unit ordinance. 
  • Anyone with an interest in transportation solutions on Route 151 in Nelson County might consider attending an input session on Tuesday. 
  • Greene County Supervisors will meet in an undisclosed location to interview candidates for the top administrative position. 
  • Louisa Supervisors will consider a proposal to use the county’s share of an opioid settlement to hire a clinician to help those addicted to painkillers. 
  • The Charlottesville Board of Architectural Review will consider a rooftop canopy for the Amtrak Station. 

Monday, April 17, 2023

Charlottesville City Council to get update on CATEC, take vote on $5M vote to help CRHA buy Dogwood Housing 

The Charlottesville City Council will meet at 4 p.m. for a regular work session followed by a closed meeting followed by an open meeting. This may be the last Council meeting to be held under COVID restrictions. (agenda packet) (meeting info)

The work session will feature a presentation from Charlottesville School Superintendent Royal Gurley on the city’s acquisition of Albemarle County’s share of the Charlottesville-Albemarle Technical Education Center (CATEC). The staff report is more of less blank.

As I wrote in a March 24, 2023 newsletter, CATEC was formed as a partnership between the two school divisions in 1969 and according to a city press release from mid-March, the dissolution dates back to December 2022 when Albemarle County Public Schools made an offer to purchase the city’s interest. In response, the Charlottesville School Board put in an offer of their own.  They’ll pay $5.3 million, the price requested by Albemarle County. The name will change on July 1, 2024 to the Charlottesville Area Technical Education Center. 

A section of the 1969 agreement that deal with dissolution of the partnership (read the agreement)

The Daily Progress reported on March 29 that the private CATEC Foundation wanted more answers on what was happening. Charlottesville Tomorrow had a story a week later on the same topic. 

Ellen Osborne, the Scottsville District representative on the School Board, posted on Facebook on Thursday that Albemarle County had thought CATEC might be a long-term solution to address their school system’s overcrowding problems. 

“Since we cannot purchase CATEC, ACPS is moving forward with our alternate location for our ‘Center 2’ which will alleviate our capacity problems and enhance our career cluster programming,” Osborne wrote. “There’s just not enough money for us to continue to invest in CATEC and move forward with another structure to accommodate our growing student population.” 

Then Council will go into closed session for legal consultation with no specifics given. No specifics are given, but I thought I would take this moment to check Charlottesville Circuit Court records to see what active cases are still pending where Council is listed as a defendant. I’ll have that in the next regular edition of Charlottesville Community Engagement. 

Then the Council will consider the consent agenda which has several items of note:

Regular business begins with a quarterly financial report. 

“Current revised projections continue to indicate strong performance, and we are currently anticipating a revenue surplus of 4.89 percent or $10.4 million,” reads the report

Other items:

  • Council will be asked to pass a resolution recommending the appointment Inez Gonzalez as the new executive director of the Police Civilian Oversight Board. There’s no background information in the packet on the new hire who will begin work on May 1. (staff report)
  • Council will once again take up adoption of the Regional Hazard Mitigation plan put together by the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission. Council took the item up on April 3 but Charlottesville Mayor Lloyd Snook wanted more input from city staff on what’s in the report as I reported. That information does not appear to be in the staff report
  • Council will hold first reading on a proposal to end the city’s restrictions on meetings due to COVID protocols. (staff report) (my story from April 4, 2023)
  • Council will hold second reading of a proposal to appropriate $5 million to the Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority to assist with their purchase of Dogwood Housing and 84 units across 26 properties. I will have a story from the April 3 Council meeting in tomorrow’s newsletter but check out the staff report for more details in the meantime. 
  • There will be an update from the Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority and the Rivanna Solid Waste Authority.

Council will also hold first of two readings on awards to be made from the Charlottesville Affordable Housing Fund. A request for proposals went out in early January for the use of $835,000 in funding. Six applications totalling $1,720,611 were received and the following four projects are recommended by the CAHF Committee. 

  • $187,500 to the Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority for the Public Housing HVAC Equity Project that would bring air conditioning to existing units. The request had been for $450,000. 
  • $67,806 to Community Services Housing Inc. for rehabilitation repairs to preserve 34 existing units. The request was for $135,611. 
  • $225,000 to Habitat for Humanity of Greater Charlottesville for their program to transition people to homeownership.  The request had been for $410,000. 
  • $167,972 to the Piedmont Housing Alliance for their project to purchase homes in the Orangedale section of the Fifeville neighborhood for re-sale. The request had been for $225,000.
  • $186,722 to Virginia Supportive Housing for the Premier Circle project. The request had been $250,000. 

Louisa Supervisors to consider use of opioid abatement money to hire local clinician

The seven-member Board of Supervisors in Louisa County will meet at 5 p.m. for a closed session in the Louisa County meeting room followed by an open session at 6 p.m. For more details, please check out Engage Louisa by Tammy Purcell. (meeting info) (agenda packet)

Under other business, there will be a resolution authorizing a memorandum of understanding with Region 10 for assistance with opioid abatement. In all there is $61,075 in funding. 

“Region 10 will provide quarterly data that supports funds are spent consistent with the requirements for appropriate use of OAA and Direct Disbursement Opioid Abatement Funding as well as data to support the agreement to have the full-time clinician dedicated to performing services exclusively for citizens of Louisa County,” reads the resolution. 

This will pay for more local care for Louisa County residents.

“We believe having treatment options available in Louisa would be a very effective use of this Money,” reads a letter from the Louisa Opioid Abatement Citizens Work Group. “Given the amount of funding that is available, we support funding a new position for Region 10 that is specifically focused solely on opioid issues.”

There is a public hearing for a conditional use permit for Lane Industrial and Supply LLC to operate an equipment sales and rental business. 

“The applicant intends to revitalize a property that has been blighted and abandoned for several years,” reads the staff report. “The proposed business matches the character of the surrounding area which includes existing businesses and industrial zoned parcels.” 

Architectural Review Board to review Regents School’ new location in Albemarle

Last week I wrote two stories about the University of Virginia’s critique of one potential solution for the reconfiguration of the interchange of U.S. 29/250 and Fontaine Avenue. The first didn’t seem to be completeso I wrote a second. The University of Virginia Foundation owns a lot of undeveloped property nearby.

Another property in the area currently being developed is the Regents School of Charlottesville. At its meeting at 1 p.m. on Monday, the Architectural Review Board will take up a request to approve an amended site plan that seems fairly big in scope. (meeting info) (agenda)

Specifically the proposal is “to add 6 upper school buildings, increase the size of the athletic field, add a practice field, shift the lower school building 30’ to the north, establish a new central water supply for the school and expand the central sewerage system, and to approve the color and material of all the school buildings.” 

The property is already being cleared and this work can be clearly seen from the interchange. The staff report notes that the visibility is substantially more than expected and the colors of the project have been changed from the initial site plan approved administratively by staff. 

“Because the degree of visibility has increased, this proposal is being forwarded to the ARB for review,” reads the staff report. 

Under general business, the ARB will review the I-64 entrance corridor. (staff report)

Location of the Regents School now under construction  

In other meetings:

  • The Greene County Board of Supervisors will meet at an undisclosed location to interview candidates for County Administrator. (meeting info)
  • The Charlottesville Sister Cities Commission will meet virtually at 4:30 p.m. to approve travel scholarships for future delegation trips. (meeting info)

Tuesday, April 18, 2023

Charlottesville BAR to consider roof top canopy for Union Station 

The Charlottesville Board of Architectural Review meets at 5:30 p.m. (meeting info

To access the agenda, click on this link and click “meeting files” on the left hand side. That will bring up the option to download the agenda and the agenda packet to your computer. I could upload this to cvillepedia, but I’d rather link to material on websites. Let me know if you did manage to get the agenda.

On the consent agenda is something worth noting. There’s a request from Heirloom Real Estate Holdings to modify the height stepbacks for their project at 218 West Market Street. Council approved a special use permit on September 8, 2020. 

On the regular agenda, there is a request to add a rooftop canopy to 810 West Main Street, otherwise known as the Amtrak Station which was previously renovated in 2000 for a restaurant that is now closed. The owner submitted new plans for what is also known as Union Station on March 28, 2023 for a new addition. 

“While the proposed canopy is aesthetically consistent with the current expression of the building’s architecture, it is still an addition onto the historic façade,” reads the staff report. “Staff supports the design and intent, but recommends the new canopy be constructed in a manner that separates it from the existing building.” 

The firm working on the project is BRW Architects. 

“It is hoped the addition of a roof canopy over the existing rooftop dining area will allow more enjoyable year round use of the space and bring activity and a sense of urban vibrancy to this important transportation hub in our City,” reads their narrative.  “The new canopy will not significantly impact historic elements of the existing building or Amtrak operations.” 

Under other business, there will be a discussion of the April 19 meeting for the update on the possibility of the Downtown Mall being listed on the National Register of Historic Places, a survey and archaeological assessment of McKee Block (known on cvillepedia as McKee Row), and a review of artifacts found at the site of the former Swan Tavern. The latter is related to the new joint General District Court being built at that location.

A rendering of what the rooftop canopy would look like at 810 West Main Street (Credit: BRW Architects)

In other meetings:

  • The Albemarle County Department of Social Services Advisory Board will meet at 3:30 p.m. in Room 231 of the county office building at 1600 5th Street in. They will also make final arrangements on a presentation to the Board of Supervisors the next day. (meeting info) (agenda)
  • The Albemarle Economic Development Authority’s Board of Directors will meet at 4 p.m. in Room 241 of the county office building at 400 McIntire Road. There will be a discussion an amendment to terms for a 2011 bond for the Thomas Jefferson Foundation. They will go into closed session for discussions of Project Bee-Friend, Project Fox, and Project Macho. (agenda). 
  • There will be a public input session for the Route 151 Corridor Study currently underway at 4 p.m. at the Rockfish Valley Community Center Auditorium. For background, I wrote a story on the study in February.
  • The Greene County Emergency Services Advisory Board will meet at 6 p.m. (meeting info)
  • The third and final budget town hall for the White Hall District will be held at 7 p.m at Broadus Wood Elementary School at 185 Buck Mountain Road in Earlysville. (meeting info)

Wednesday, April 19, 2023

Albemarle Supervisors to review draft affordability ordinance, hold public hearing on affordable housing grant program

The six-member Albemarle Board of Supervisors meets at 1 p.m. in Lane Auditorium in the county’s office building at 400 McIntire Road. (meeting info)

The first item on the agenda is a presentation from the Department of Social Services on the annual report for FY22. It has the title “Normalizing, Stabilizing, and Balancing Acts.” The report makes an analogy with the department’s purpose to wood stabilization.

“The process is broken down into many steps, but the ultimate result is a new structure; one that is not only beautiful, but also better for its next purpose with a much greater stability,” reads the introduction to the report. “This stabilization process can essentially preserve the wood to be utilized for a higher purpose, even when it appeared to be worn.” 

Next, the Supervisors will have a work session on a proposed affordable dwelling unit ordinance. This is part of an effort to complete the Housing Albemarle plan adopted on July 7, 2021. 

“The Board delayed full implementation of Housing Albemarle until a package of incentives supporting developer efforts to construct affordable housing units was adopted,” reads part of the resolution of intent to create the ordinance. “Albemarle County desires to provide housing that is safe, decent, and sanitary; and available to all income and age levels.” 

For developments over ten units, the ordinance would require a minimum of 20 percent of the total units to fall under the parameters of affordability. There’s a lot more in the ordinance and I hope to write about it. Read the draft ordinance for more detailsAnd here’s the draft set of guidelines

Then there will be another work session. I hope to write about that, too as I’m out of the loop on where the overall budget process is. Last thing I wrote from the Albemarle budget about was transit.

In the evening session, there are two public hearings. The first is for amendments to the ordinance for real estate tax relief for the elderly and disabled. The threshold for maximum annual income is being increased from $75,000 to $83,850 and the net worth threshold is being increased from $200,000 to $250,000. (staff report)

The second public hearing is for the Affordable Rental Housing Grant Program. Supervisors had a work session on this topic in February that I wrote about at the time. The program appears to be more robust now and will utilize a form of tax-increment financing. 

“The grant program is supported by an increase of property tax revenue to Albemarle County generated by an incentivized project, and may be provided to affordable housing projects that achieve one or more of the affordable housing objectives outlined in Housing Albemarle,” reads the draft policy. “All grant awards are approved by the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors and directed through the Economic Development Authority.”

On the consent agenda:

  • There is an amended note for the Lewis and Clark Exploratory Center for the remaining $124,847 for a $130,000 loan made to help cover cost overruns for their facility in Darden-Towe Park. The center must pay $15,000 by the end of this year, $25,000 by the end of 2024, $35,000 by the end of 2025, and $49,847 by the end of 2026. (staff report)
  • Minutes from the June 2, 2021 and June 16, 2021 Supervisor meetings will be approved. 
  • There’s a special exception for a personal wireless facility in Bellair. (staff report)
  • There’s a quarterly report from the Albemarle Broadband Authority. (staff report)
  • There’s a report from the Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority. (staff report)
  • There’s a report from the Albemarle County Service Authority. (staff report)

Fluvanna County to hire Payne as temporary county attorney

The five-member Board of Supervisors in Fluvanna County meets at 7 p.m. at the Carysbrook Performing Arts Center in Fork Union. (agenda packet)

There are five action items.

  • There will be a consideration of the hiring of a temporary county attorney. I wrote a story  back in Decemberabout the retirement of Fred Payne from his law firm. He will formally become the temporary county attorney through June 30 at a monthly salary of $3,000
  • There’s also a services agreement for services of a deputy county attorney and an assistant county attorney. This will come from the firm Payne & Hodous. 
  • There will be a vote to adopt the FY24 operations budget of $104,199,759 and the tax rates for 2023. The real property tax rate would be $0.84 per $100 of assessed value. 
  • There will be a vote to adopt the FY24-28 Capital Improvements Plan
  • There is a vote on a request to operate an existing split precinct for 2023 and the future. This is for a section of the Cunningham District that is split between House District 55 and House District 56. 

Status of Downtown Mall historic application subject of meeting

As Charlottesville approaches the 50th anniversary of the pedestrianization of the Downtown Mall, there is an effort to get the Lawrence Halprin-designed public space listed on the National Register of Historic Places. 

“The Charlottesville Downtown Mall Historic District is an eight block-long, pedestrianized segment of Main Street that follows an east-west course from Water Street to East 7th Street,” reads the application. “It also includes later extensions into several of the side streets. The district encompasses the entire public rights of way of the streets within its boundaries, but does not include the adjacent buildings.” 

There will be a meeting at 5 p.m. for an update on the status for an application to place the Downtown Mall on the National Register of Historic Places. There’s a link to the application on the city’s meeting info page. Can you find it? Click on “Download Agenda” and when the next screen comes up, select “Meeting Files” and you can download it there.

Included in the application are six steep sculptures by James Hagan. I took a lot of photographs of this one in the eight years I worked at CitySpace. (Credit: Sean Tubbs) 

In other meetings:

  • The Charlottesville Housing Advisory Committee will meet virtually at noon. This is not the same group as the committee that makes recommendations on the Charlottesville Affordable Housing Fund. There’s no agenda posted at publication time. (meeting info)
  • The Greene County Ag/Forestal District Board meets at 5:30 p.m. and will have a public hearing on the continuation of the program. (meeting info)
  • The Greene County Planning Commission meets at 6:30 p.m. and will have a public hearing on the continuation of the Greene County Ag/Forestal District. (meeting info)

Thursday, April 20, 2023

There only appear to be two meetings on the agenda so we’ll just resort to bulleted points.

  • The Charlottesville MInority Business Commission meets at 3 p.m. with no location provided on the meeting info page. Also, there’s no agenda. 
  • The Albemarle 5th and Avon Community Advisory Committee meets at 7 p.m. in the 5th Street Office Building in Room B. There’s no agenda at publication time. (meeting info)

Friday, April 21, 2023

No meetings that I am aware of, but it’s likely I’ve left something out. Is that the case?

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.