Comprehensive Plans

AC44 Update: Feb. 16, 2023

The following text was sent out via email on February 16, 2023. Sign up for PEC email alerts →

Dear Supporter,

Hold on, while we catch our breath! It’s been a busy week in the world of the Albemarle Comp Plan but we want to provide an update and encourage you to participate in the final Planning Commission work session on Feb. 27, focused exclusively on the Rural Areas Land Use and Transportation chapter. You can download the updated Topic Report that includes background information, the draft Goals and Objectives, and equally important, an updated Growth Management Policy in the link.

Since the beginning of this process, we have been strongly advocating for the protection of the resources and communities in the Rural Area, which encompasses 95% of Albemarle County. The Rural Area draft Goals and Objectives have thankfully been given more time and attention than originally scheduled, so to take advantage of this opportunity, we hope to see you there. 

Ways to provide comments before Feb. 27 or right before the Work Session:

  • Submit Comments in Writing: Public comment will be accepted in writing at the meeting, or by emailing comments to PlanningCommission@albemarle.org and BOS@albemarle.org.
  • Speak Up Tuesday, Feb. 27, at 4 p.m.: Community members have three minutes to speak directly to the Planning Commission prior to the start of the work session. Come to Lane Auditorium in the County Office Building or comment virtually to have your voice heard
  • Attend the Work Session: Showing elected and County officials that their community members are paying attention to the decisions that impact them is significant. Tell your friends and family what you heard after the work session.
  • Answer the Questionnaires: All chapters have questionnaires open for review and responses are presented to the Commission and Board. 

With less than a week’s notice–a process that normally has approximately three weeks of review time–the draft Goals and Objectives for the final three topics of Phase II were released to be presented at the Feb. 13 Planning Commission Work Session. We rapidly reviewed the draft and were prepared to make a statement about the Rural Area Goals and Objectives only to find out on the morning of the 13th that the Planning Commission’s review and discussion of the Rural Areas Land Use and Transportation Goals and Objectives was rescheduled to a separate work session on Feb. 27


Instead, the Planning Commission reviewed the draft Goals and Objectives for the Development Areas Land Use and Transportation chapter, which includes topics such as when, where, and how to expand the Development Areas boundaries, activity centers, and multimodal transportation networks. They also reviewed the draft Goals and Objectives for the Community Facilities chapter, focusing on topics like expanding public sewer and water and the siting of large-scale solar facilities. 

Map showing many historic, scenic, and water resources in Albemarle County’s Rural Area, including conserved and publicly owned land. View in Flickr. Map by Watsun Randolph/PEC.

PEC supports many elements in the draft Goals and Objectives for the Rural Area, the Development Areas, and Community Facilities. However, we have strong concerns about some elements of the draft Goals and Objectives. Stay tuned for our talking points as we get closer to the meeting! 


If you know anyone who may wish to receive these AC44 email updates from PEC, please forward this email to them and let them know that they can sign up for the list here. You can also find our past AC44 alerts here. We hope to see you next week!

Thank you!

Rob McGinnis, PLA FASLA
Senior Land Use Field Representative
Albemarle & Greene Counties
rmcginnis@pecva.org
(434) 962-9110

Winter Updates from Albemarle & Charlottesville

Winter Updates from Albemarle & Charlottesville

The following text was sent out via email on December 20, 2023. Sign up for PEC email alerts →

Photo by October Greenfield/PEC

Dear Supporter,

We hope you will soon be logging off and, like the black bears and chipmunks, taking a winter reprieve. Whether you are hibernating at home in the Piedmont or migrating south or somewhere else for the winter, we wish you a happy holiday season.

Before you go, we’re happy to share with you a few major conservation, land use, and trails updates worth celebrating, plus some impactful projects we’ll be focused on in 2024 and beyond. We hope you’ll support our efforts in the new year by becoming a member as we continue to work towards our mission of protecting and restoring the lands and waters of the Virginia Piedmont, while building stronger, more sustainable communities.


Protecting the Southern Shenandoah Borderlands

Skyline Drive snakes northward through the narrow bend of Shenandoah National Park, with adjacent private private lands behind. Efforts are underway to widen the corridor of protected land with permanent conservation easements. Photo by Hugh Kenny/PEC

For the past several years, we’ve been developing a landscape-scale forestland conservation project by working with multiple landowners adjacent to Shenandoah National Park in Albemarle County. This spring, that project was awarded grant funds through the federal Forest Legacy Program, which will help us permanently protect over 4,300 acres adjacent to the park. 

Now, we’re working hard to take the project a step further to conserve more land by applying for a second round of Forest Legacy funding. If the grant is awarded, we can add 767 more acres of permanently protected forestland along this boundary of Shenandoah National Park, bringing the total to over 5,000 acres conserved.

This work to expand the landscape of protected lands in the Appalachian corridor is a national and global conservation priority, with implications for climate resiliency, watershed protection, biodiversity conservation, and additional scenic and recreational public benefits.

AC44 Continues with Win for the Rural Area

Albemarle County’s Rural Area isn’t vacant, as maps of the Development Areas often show it to be.This map shows the opposite, highlighting its conserved land, water resources, rural communities, and historical and scenic designations. Map by Watsun Randolph/PEC

In our last email about Albemarle County’s Comprehensive Plan update, we told you that we are fervently advocating for seven recommendations to be adopted into the current draft. In a major first step, and after a year of effort and community engagement, the County has made a change that aligned with our first recommendation! There will be a dedicated chapter for rural area planning, which brings it in line with widely held public opinion that Albemarle’s agricultural and natural landscapes, as well as the unique rural communities that exist there, are worth conserving.

Three decades of community survey results and recent feedback specifically related to the AC44 Comprehensive Plan have consistently revealed, with great clarity, that a majority of Albemarle residents highly value and want to prioritize the County’s Rural Area. 

Planning will continue through 2024, with opportunities for citizens to voice their concerns and opinions throughout. This plan impacts every aspect of life in the County and will serve as the guidelines for decisions that are made about the community in the future. Stay up to date by signing up for AC44 updates.  

New Signs Show Fifeville’s Changing Landscape

One of two new historic signs on the Fifeville Community Trail. You can learn more about the trail and read the signs at www.pecva.org/fifeville. Photo by Peter Krebs/PEC

Charlottesville is layered with rich and complicated history. Evidence of ways the landscape has changed is visible along the Fifeville Community Trail, and some of its stories are now highlighted by two new interpretative signs that PEC produced with support from the Virginia Outdoors Foundation. These signs combine our community partners’ careful archival research with resident interviews in a beautiful, easily understood format. 

One of the signs reveals that what is now a green oasis was once an industrial operation (a brick manufacture). The other shows how Fifth Street was relocated and enlarged during Urban Renewal. That led to both an expanded park and the loss of several homes. This happened during the lifetime of many area residents and we believe it important that stories like these be memorialized.

The Fifeville Trail is truly the fruit of community leadership — and of their sweat equity. Speaking of which, we hope you’ll join a community work party, led by the Rivanna Trails Foundation and PEC, to maintain and improve the trail on Saturday, Jan. 13 at 9 a.m. at Tonsler Park. 


Looking Ahead to 2024

PEC is vigilantly looking toward the future in our work, in preserving the land, the intentional planning of towns and communities, and using our knowledge of land use and environmental threats within our region to anticipate what lies ahead locally, in our nine-county service area, and in other regions of the Commonwealth.

Data Centers

Supporters at the Virginia Data Center Reform Coalition press conference. Photo by Hugh Kenny/PEC

In the Virginia Piedmont, one looming threat is the proliferation of data centers — the physical structures that store the digital world — and the energy infrastructure they will require. The explosive growth of the data center industry represents a major challenge to achieving a clean energy future as they require extraordinary amounts of power and utilize dozens of back up diesel generators per building. The massive buildings and associated electrical infrastructure also place a heavy burden not only on our land, water, and community resources but also will impact the electric bill of Virginia ratepayers as transmission lines and generation facilities are folded into everyone’s bills.

To serve exploding data center demand in Dominion’s utility area, the electrical transmission grid operator, PJM, has moved a plan to expand an existing transmission line running through Albemarle County and Charlottesville forward. Dominion will assess its final engineering and design and then the Virginia State Corporation Commission will likely approve it. In light of this, PEC will be holding a Energy Infrastructure and Data Center Community Meeting to share more about data centers and their impacts on energy demand and land use in late January.

Rivanna Futures

Albemarle County is acquiring 462 acres of land along the east side of Route 29 North adjacent to Rivanna Station, the home of three federal defense intelligence agencies, with the goals of retaining those Department of Defense installations and expanding the private defense sector in the community – called Rivanna Futures.

An initiative with such goals will most certainly have major land use, transportation, and infrastructure implications for the County and its residents, especially for the eight-mile stretch of U.S. 29 going up to the southern edge of Greene County. As we learn more about the Rivanna Futures project, we will continue to update you on ways to advocate for smart growth and resource protections.

Virginia’s Research Triangle

Last but not least, following last week’s groundbreaking for  U.Va’s Manning Institute for Biotechnology, Governor Youngkin announced that a network of research institutions will be established between the University in Charlottesville, Virginia Tech’s Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC in Roanoke, and Virginia Commonwealth University’s Medicines for All Institute. The announcement emphasized the desire for increased commercialization between the three cities, similar to North Carolina’s Research Triangle. We’ll be focused on the wider implications for land use, smart growth planning, transportation, infrastructure, and natural resources in our community in the coming months and years.


Contributions like yours make our work in Albemarle and Charlottesville possible. Give the gift of membership this holiday season, become a monthly sustaining member or donate today to support the protection, restoration, and planning work of our locally-based staff.

Thank you! Until next year,

Faith Schweikert
Communications & Policy Fellow
fschweikert@pecva.org
(434) 977-2033 x7026

On The Ground Updates – December 2023

On The Ground Updates – December 2023

A series of short land use and conservation updates from around the PEC region.

Prince William Board to Vote on World’s Largest Data Center Proposal Dec. 12

Prince William Board to Vote on World’s Largest Data Center Proposal Dec. 12

Prince William County’s planning staff and the Planning Commission have recommended denial of the Digital Gateway rezonings.