Week Ahead for November 7, 2022: Greene Supervisors to consider capital projects; Zion Crossroads developer seeks more units; Major industrial zoning in Fluvanna

This time next year, I hope to be very busy preparing for Election Night coverage when local and state races will dominate the cycle. My career has always been in Virginia, where there’s an election every year. In the weeks to come, there could very well be the first announcements of who will be running. I will be here to help tell those stories.

But until then, we have this Tuesday’s election where there’s only the Fifth Congressional District on the ballot as well as the Scottsville Town Council. I’ve not written anything about that, but it’s a good thing that fellow Substack author Nancy Gill write about the election on her James Exchange newsletter and podcast.

We do have a busy week ahead with some meetings happening on a time-shifted basis due to the election and others happening as normal.  This one’s already too long so a summary won’t fit!

Thanks as always to the Piedmont Environmental Council for their support of this newsletter and the time it takes to produce the work. 

Monday, November 7, 2022

Nelson Supervisors to consider options for new county office building; Developer seeks new cluster provisions for workforce housing

The five-member Nelson County Board of Supervisors meets a day early due to Election Day. The afternoon session begins at 2 p.m. and the evening session begins at 7 p.m. with both taking place in the General District Courtroom in Lovingston. Both are fairly full this time around. (meeting info)

There are several presentations to begin the meeting starting with one from the Virginia Department of Transportation. 

Then there will be a report on the regional legislative agenda put together by the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission. The top three priorities are public education funding, budgets and funding, and broadband. (page 44)

Funding for broadband expansion is a major priority in the legislative agenda (Credit: TJPDC)

Helen Cauthen of the Central Virginia Partnership for Economic Development will provide an update on the organization that has the mission “Advancing Innovative Strategies for Regional Economic Prosperity.” The group announced 205 new jobs within the nine jurisdictions such as 64 jobs at Bonumose in Albemarle County announced last October.. 

The fourth is a presentation from PMA Architecture on a proposal for a new county office building. The first step has been the evaluation of space needs for county departments with an identified need for more space for the Department of Social Services and the Department of Planning, Zoning, and Building. A 16.57 acre site has been identified at the intersection of Callohill Drive and U.S. 29 in Lovingston. (page 66)

“Callohill Drive provides a signalized intersection with paving improvements up to the side of the Food Lion shopping center,” reads the report. “Beyond the Food Lion, the existing road is a gravel unimproved road which will require paving and curb and gutter along with storm drainage improvements.”

Two different concepts have been provided with cost estimates of $10.5 million and $12.6 million. This comes at a time when construction costs can be volatile. A letter from construction management firm Downey & Scott explains the details of how the pandemic disrupted a supply chain that had been predicated on the “just in time” shipping concept. (page 72)

“These practices improved profitability and shareholder return while significantly decreasing stored inventories,” the letter reads. “This model adopted and practiced across the industry was not suited to what happened in the first quarter of 2020 with the outset of the COVID 19 Global Pandemic.” 

The letter predicts “normality” may not return until late 2023. 

The fifth is for a proposed cluster housing project in Lovingston. A pair of developers are seeking to build 40 homes on 35 acres at 31 Orchard Road in a cluster style that currently is not addressed by Nelson County code. 

“As Nelson County’s Business Climate continues to grow, the demand for workforce housing will continue to expand as most all new construction has served the vacation business community and existing housing stock remains to be very aged and non-energy efficient,” wrote Rick Byers of Longevity Home Solutions.

Byers wants the county to update its zoning code to allow this type of development. In a second letter in the packet, he describes the units as being two story with between 1,100 and 1,400 square feet. 

Proposed layout for the 40 “affordable workforce housing” that Longevity Home Solutions would like to build near Lovingston (Credit: Watershed Consulting)

There are several items of new and unfinished business. The first is a discussion of a potential access point at Allen’s Creek and the James River. The county wants to encourage the Weyerhauser Corporation to sell, lease, or donate a property they own near Gladstone. This is being encouraged by the Friends of the Rivers of Virginia and the Float Fisherman of Virginia

Then there will be two separate votes to authorize a public hearing on amendments to both the county’s ordinance on business licenses as well as a change to the transient occupancy tax. These are related. The first would specifically state that entities formed to rent out properties for transient lodging are a business. The second would eliminate any reference to a registration requirement for short-term rentals. 

The afternoon session ends with a closed session on potential litigation about the Region 2000 Services Authority

In the evening session, there are two public hearings. The first is for a special use permit on a breakfast restaurant on Route 151 in Nellysford that would have a drive-through window. The Planning Commission motion to recommend the permit failed on a 3-3 vote. 

The second would be for the creation of a new agricultural and forestal district on 364.68 acres. 

Supervisors will adjourn to an unknown date for a work session on the Larkin property development. Which one is that? Good question. There was a lot to track down this week.

Council to decide on critical slopes waiver for 130-unit Belmont Condominiums project, extend city manager contract 

The five-member Charlottesville City Council meets at 4 p.m. for a work session followed by a regular meeting at 6:30 p.m. (meeting info)

There are two components to the work session. First, the Botanical Garden of the Piedmont will present an annual report to a City Council that contains no members who were present when the city entered into a memorandum of agreement for the nonprofit to operate on about 8.5 acres of McIntire Park. That took place in September 2015 after years of courtship. The terms state that the city will not provide capital costs. That’s up to BGP and they are currently in the midst of a $10 million capital campaign. 

“We have raised one-third of the needed funding, and recently received a $250,000 matching grant towards the Garden Pavilion from the Perry Foundation,” reads a slide in the powerpoint. “This capital campaign will fund all of the design and site work, as well as the construction of a Garden Pavilion, Children’s Discovery Garden, and a small parking lot.”

The second report is a longer conversation on the policy governing how the city vacates right of way. A request from a landowner for the city to give up land for an unbuilt road was put on hold indefinitely at the October 3 meeting. Council also discussed this property in mid June as I wrote about at the time.  There’s no advance information for this item in the staff report.

An overview of some of the conceptual plan for facilities in the garden (Credit: Botanical Garden of the Piedmont) 

There is a lot on the consent agenda worth reviewing.

There are several action items:

  • The Charlottesville Fire Department wants to require property owners who have “certain fire protection and other life safety systems” to provide fire inspection reports. This can be handled online, as we learn in the staff report. First of two readings with no public hearing required. 
  • The city’s human rights ordinance is being updated with a request from the Human Rights Commission for it to be able to take on more work. Specifically, the Commission wants the power to investigate housing discrimination claims and wants two new full-time positions. One would be budgeted at $74,116.50 a year. The other would be $101,147.98 a year. 

    The staff report offers a lot of background and detail about proposed changes in the ordinance, but does not mention the city’s lack of a housing coordinator to track funds used to create and maintain subsidized housing units. That position has not been filled since the summer of 2020 when the last person left to become executive director of the Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority. According to the city manager’s report, that position is expected to be filled sometime this month.
  • There is an amendment to the Substantial Action Plan for the Community Development Block Grant. Is the $178,394.34 new money? It appears one of the projects is for a pedestrian bridge, but wasn’t it said earlier this year the city would stop using CDBG money for infrastructure? After all, the city canceled a sidewalk project on Franklin Street last December. The other is replacement HVAC equipment at a group home run by the Arc of the Piedmont. (staff report)

Out of the bullets for the next two items, which are related to land use. I was not able to cover these stories at the Planning Commission in October. 

In the first, Council will be asked to approve a critical slopes waiver for the 130-unit Belmont Condominiums to be built in portions of the Belmont neighborhood zoned for Neighborhood Commercial Corridor.  This is a Riverbend Development project. Seven of the units would be designated as affordable at the 80 percent of area median income level. 

“It should be noted that nothing in the application materials currently available indicates a level of affordability, timeframe, or enforcement mechanism,” reads the staff report. “To construct the mixed use development as presented in the application, the developer will need to disturb 86.4 percent of the critical slopes on the site. Of that, 86.4 percent, 65.3 percent needs a waiver from City Council.” 

A major component of the zoning rewrite is to remove legislative review of critical slope waivers and special use permits to make it easier for more housing units to be built within the city. 

The public hearing for this item was held at the joint Planning Commission meeting with City Council on October 12. The Commission voted 6 to 0 to recommend approval. 

In the final item, Council will vote on a special use permit for a car wash at the corner of Harris Road. The Planning Commission voted 4-2 to recommend approval. 

Louisa Supervisors seek state funding to help with algae blooms; public hearing on Goochland boundary adjustment 

The seven-member Louisa County Board of Supervisors meets at 5 p.m. for a closed session followed by a regular session at 6 p.m. (meeting info)

One item on the consent agenda is a recognition of the late Melvin Burruss, who died in September. 

“Burruss’s tireless efforts and enthusiasm for his community earned the respect of local residents and fellow public servants and served as an outstanding example of public service to the County,” reads the resolution on page 30 of the packet

There are two information items. The first is a presentation from Piedmont Virginia Community College and the second is an update on the Louisa County Agricultural Fair. 

There are three actions items under new business. The first is to approve the same regional legislative agenda from TJPDC that Nelson County saw earlier in the day. 

The second is a request to ask the Commonwealth of Virginia to help cover the cost of mitigating harmful algae blooms. The draft letter is addressed to Governor Glenn Youngkin.  

“Lake Anna has been materially affected by Harmful Algal Blooms (HAB) over the past few years, resulting in ‘No Swim’ advisories and significant negative impact on those enjoying the lake as well as those relying on it from an economic standpoint,” reads the resolution (page 58). 

“The most recent state budget included significant funding for a study of HAB in Lake Anna, and while this study is necessary, it is also time consuming [and] additional funding support is need to mitigate immediate impacts of HAB in the coming tourism season.” 

The third is a resolution to support the development of public infrastructure for the Shannon Hill Regional Business Park. 

There are two public hearings. The first is for a boundary line agreement between Louisa County and Goochland that affects ten parcels. The second is for an amendment to the county’s land development regulations related to the discontinuance of roadside buffers.

More details on the proposed boundary adjustments between Louisa and Goochland

 In other meetings: 

  • The Albemarle / Charlottesville Community Policy and Management Team meets at 9 p.m. in Room 231 of the County Office Building at 1600 5th Street. That’s the southern one. (meeting info)
  • The Albemarle Architectural Review Board will meet at 1 p.m. in Lane Auditorium but people can view this meeting online. On the agenda is a certificate of appropriateness for a self storage unit near Forest Lakes as well as a work session on entrance corridor guidelines. (meeting info)
  • There is a community meeting at the Scottsville Library at 330 Bird Street for a special use permit to rebuild a power transmission line between Esmont and Scottsville. The application code is SP2022-20. (meeting info)

Tuesday, November 8, 2022

Charlottesville meetings to be held as usual on Election Day 

Most localities make adjustments to avoid having government meetings on election night. Many of the community members who are active in local government are also active in political parties. In my research for Fifth District Community Engagement this month, I’ve noticed all of the elected bodies avoid this night. Greene County is not in the Fifth District (not even a small sliver!) 

Charlottesville, however, has scheduled two meetings for advisory boards. One is the Tree Commission which meets at 5 p.m. (agenda)

The other is the Planning Commission which has two public hearings on land use items. That means joint public hearings with the City Council, making Charlottesville the only locality in the Fifth District to hold a meeting of elected officials on Election Day.

The Planning Commission meeting begins at 5 p.m. but you wouldn’t know that from the item on the city’s calendar. That lists the meeting beginning at 5:30 p.m. which is technically true, but isn’t accurate. The Planning Commission has a tradition of having a pre-meeting where they go over items on the agenda,  a tradition that continued during the virtual years. (incomplete meeting info page)

Before the pandemic, you had to be in a small conference room to see this discussion. Now you can watch because the meeting is televised and people can participate via zoom. But the agenda should state this clearly and it does not.

There are two public hearings: 

  • Pilgrim Baptist Church Trustees seek a special use permit to operate a daycare facility for up to 15 people at 211 Albemarle Street, a property with split zoning. (page 74)
  • Riverbend Development seeks a special use permit for a drive-through window for one of the outbuildings at the former K-Mart shopping center. This is related to a site plan that is also under review that I wrote about in October. (page 101)

Then the Planning Commission will get a presentation on the method by which multi-modal transportation projects will be prioritized. Then a presentation on the Climate Action Plan. Then a discussion of the zoning code and interpretations of the section on Planned Unit Developments.

On Election Night.

When almost no one will be paying attention. 

Other items of note:

  • There are two batting cages planned on city property. One at Pen Park and one at Azalea Park. Site plans for these were approved administratively on October 18. 
  • Selena Cozart served as facilitator for a Planning Commission retreat held on October 22. There are “notes” and not minutes. Is there a distinction? Does it matter? (page 5)
  • The largest item in the packet is a site plan for 1223 Harris Street, a multifamily development planned for the McIntire Business Park owned by Woodard Properties. (page 7)

In one more meeting:

  • The Albemarle Police Citizens Advisory Committee will meet at 9 a.m. in Room C of the county’s office building at 1600 5th Street. There’s no agenda posted. (meeting info)
A mock-up of the drive-through window for Hillsdale Place, close to a future Virginia Department of Transportation project intended to alleviate traffic congestion on Hydraulic Place (Credit: Bignell Watkins Hasser Architects PC)

Wednesday, November 9, 2022

Crozet CAC to discuss virtual meetings

The Crozet Community Advisory Committee will meet at 7 p.m. in the Crozet Library meeting room at 2020 Library Avenue. These meetings are not recorded by the county anymore but the Crozet Gazette tries to do so. 

Under committee business is a discussion of the policy for virtual meetings. Current law allows only a limited number of virtual-only meetings each year and there is a concern this will limit participation on bodies such as the county’s CAC groups. Albemarle Supervisors have asked for legislation to allow more flexibility, and I’ll report more on that in a future edition of this newsletter. 

The chair of the Crozet CAC, Joe Fore, is drafting a potential new policy that he said would allow virtual meetings to resume now. That is not in the meeting packet, but that means this meeting could be quite interesting. They’ll also hear about staffing of CAC’s in general. The meeting concludes with an update from the Crozet Trail Crews. 

Contract purchaser seeks to build six industrial buildings in Zion Crossroads, needs rezoning 

The Fluvanna Planning Commission meets at 6 p.m. for a work session followed by a regular meeting. They meet at the Carysbrook Performing Arts Center at 8880 James Madison Highway in Fork Union. (meeting packet)

In the work session, they will receive the ranking for projects submitted by various entities in local government and other stakeholders. This information is nt 

There are two public hearings for items that seem similar. The Vaughn Property Group has two rezoning applications to rezone 40 acres of land from Agricultural to Industrial near the intersection of U.S. 15 and U.S. 250. These would be for “proposed office / warehouse / distribution / flex industrial uses.” A community meeting was held on October 27. 

“The applicant indicated they propose to develop a flex industrial distribution center that includes three buildings with approximately 200,000 square feet for a total of 600,000 square feet of industrial building space,” reads the staff report. 

That’s just one of the applications. The other is for an almost identical proposal on the other side of the road. Both properties are currently vacant. 

Conceptual plans for the proposed industrial use. There’s a similar proposal right across the street. (Credit: Bowman)

In other meetings:

  • The James River Water Authority meets at 9 a.m. in the Morris Room of the Fluvanna County Administration Building at 132 Main Street in Palmyra. One item on the agenda is a status update on the project to build a waterline from the James River to Zion Crossroads to allow for more density in areas designated for growth by both Fluvanna and Louisa. There is no status update in the packet. (agenda packet)
  • The Albemarle Agricultural and Forestal District Committee meets at 5:30 p.m. in room 235 of the county office building at 401 McIntire Road. On the agenda are an addition to the Hatton district, a review of the Blue Run district, and requests for comment on two special use permits. These are the expansion of Misty Mountain campground and an expansion of the Crossroads Tavern and Inn at Pippin Hill. (meeting info). 

Thursday, November 10, 2022

Greene Supervisors to hold public hearing on $229M five-year capital program

Greene County moved the regular meeting of the Board of Supervisors to Thursday so as not to compete with Election Day and the counting of returns. (agenda)

The first item on the agenda is approval of the regional legislative program put out by the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission. Greene County separates its items so if you want to see it, click on this link.

The second is a public hearing to adopt the capital improvement program for FY23-24. 

“The Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) provides the base data needed by the Board of Supervisors to create a long-term Capital Improvement Budget,” reads the staff report. “The list of infrastructure needs allows the board to prioritize projects and equipment needs across all departments and create a budget plan and schedule to address those needs.” 

The major need in Greene is construction of an urban water supply. The five-year total for the CIP is $229 million and 44.3 percent is anticipated for water and sewer as Greene builds its own department from the ground up. 

Supervisors will also consider authorization of a public hearing on a potential rebate of personal property taxes. There will also be an u

Supervisors will adjourn until a board retreat scheduled for November 29 at the Holiday Inn Express. There will also be an update from Jaunt CEO Ted Rieck. 

The proposed capital improvement program for Greene County. Nearly 45 percent would go to water and sewer with schools getting nearly 19 percent

Zion Crossroads developer wants to increase approved development from 599 to 723 units

The Louisa County Planning Commission has a long-range planning work session at 5 p.m. followed by a regular meeting at 7 p.m. (work session packet(regular meeting)

The work session will include a discussion of transportation items that could lead to further amendments to the Comprehensive Plan. This one will build off a discussion from the October 13 work session at which the Zion Crossroads Gateway Plan At that meeting, Commissioners wanted more information what Fluvanna, Powhatan, and Goochland counties are doing in their development areas. 

The work session will also include review of a potential ordinance amendment related to parking on grass for special events in the rural areas. 

“Many farm wedding locations want to continue farming operations outside of the wedding season,” reads the staff report. “The current requirement of improved parking would take away land that could be actively farmed.” 

In the evening session, there are seven public hearings, four of which are about specific projects. 

  • Zion Investments LLC and Crossroads Land LLC seek a rezoning from industrial to General Commercial Growth Area Overlay District to bring the existing Best Western hotel into compliance with county code. (page 3)
  • Harvest ZC Assets LLC seeks a rezoning from industrial to General Commercial (C-2) to also allow the existing Best Western hotel to be in compliance with code. It was built in 2007 but this was not technically permitted. My cursory look doesn’t explain why these are two separate items. (page 30)
  • There is a rezoning request for nearly 42 acres of land from Agricultural 1 to Agricultural 2 so that a section of the property can be subdivided into five single family lots. (page 61)
  • The developers of the Zion Town Center seek an amendment to the existing planned unit development to increase the number of units. The 2019 rezoning allowed for up to 599 units but now the idea is to increase that to 723 units. The narrative states that the market wants more “higher-quality townhomes” with a “more upscale multfamily component.” 
An overview map for the proposed changes to the 2019 rezoning for the Zion Town Center

In other meetings:

  • The Fluvanna County meeting page states that elected officials will have a breakfast at 9 a.m. but a location is not indicated. Nor is there any other additional information. 
  • The Albemarle Solid Waste Alternatives Advisory Committee will meet in Room 235 of the county office building at 401 McIntire Road. The agenda for this meeting is not yet posted. (meeting info)
  • The Charlottesville Police Oversight Review Board meets at 6:30 p.m. There’s no agenda available at publication time. (meeting info)

Friday, November 11, 2022

Local government is closed due to Veterans Day.

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.