This one comes out on Labor Day, a day when local governments are closed. It’s a day off for most, and I hope you will spend some of today reviewing this newsletter with an eye toward the future. Government can seem impenetrable and hard to understand, but I spend a lot of my time working to let as many people as possible at least know what’s being discussed, decided, and deferred.
This month marks 30 years since I began my journalism career, and 20 years since I arrived in Charlottesville. I’ve spent a lot of my time researching the particular topic of local and regional government.
Charlottesville Community Engagement is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
I’m pleased to be able to do the work. After so long paying attention, I want to know how things turn out! I appreciate the ability to have dedicated so much time observing a great manner of things and this week there are many new parts of the story.
- Charlottesville City Council will take first reading on a collective bargaining ordinance for police officers, firefighters, and some transit officials. They’ll also decide whether to use money that had been aside for housing vouchers to instead be used for the public housing body to purchase two duplexes that would remain affordable.
- Officials with the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission will go before the Fluvanna and Louisa Boards of Supervisors to describe a study they will conduct to become eligible for more federal dollars for spending to make roads safer for pedestrians and bicyclists.
- Several localities will discuss legislative priorities for the next General Assembly session in just over four months
- Louisa County’s Board of Supervisors will have a public hearing on a rezoning for a new greenhouse project and discuss final tweaks to a boundary line adjustment with Goochland County
- Albemarle County Supervisors will have a public hearing on a rezoning for 250 units on Rio Road West and will adopt the calendar for the adoption of the next fiscal year
- Nelson County Supervisors will meet to discuss the details of a proposed recreation center
Where we are now is built from of decisions that came before. These meetings are part of an ecosystem of government, and this newsletter seeks to track as much of it as possible.
Thanks as always to the Piedmont Environmental Council for their sponsorship of this newsletter and my continued work. Thank you for reading, and if you are reading this on your day off, today’s a good day to to let someone else know about it!
Tuesday, September 6, 2022
Charlottesville City Council to consider use of housing voucher funds to pay for CRHA of purchase two duplexes
The five-member Charlottesville City Council meets at 4 p.m. for a work-session to hear reports and then again at 6:30 p.m. (agenda packet)
There are three updates in the early session. In the first, Councilors will hear from the executive director of the Charlottesville Regional Airport, which is under the leadership of the Charlottesville-Albemarle Airport Authority. The presentation details the slowdown during the pandemic and how overall service has decreased by 266 seats from June 2019 to June 2022. That’s meant decreased revenue for the airport, which has also operated in the red in FY21 and FY22.
Next, a youth group working on Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion with the Community Climate Collaborative and the Piedmont Housing Alliance will present a report on public transportation. This report is not available in advance, but if you’re interested in learning more about transit, catch up on recent articles I’ve written at the Information Charlottesville archive. There has also been a survey for the Regional Transit Vision underway. Take that if you have not already.
After that, the Superintendent of the Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail will detail a recent study on future needs to Council. The ACRJ is planning a renovation and modernization and the study is requisite for asking for funding from the Virginia Board of Local and Regional Jails. (staff report)
In the first item, Council will hold the first of two readings on a proposed collective bargaining ordinance. For now, this would be limited to police officers, firefighters, and transit employees.
In a memo, interim City Manager Michael C. Rogers explained why he chose this as the recommended approach.
“[The introduction of collective bargaining is a substantial undertaking, and both the City and its employees require time to gain experience with the bargaining process,” Rogers wrote. “Particularly considering the unknown budgetary impact of implementing a collective bargaining program, the proposed Ordinance was drafted to balance quickly providing meaningful bargaining rights to employees who choose to engage in collective bargaining with ensuring that the City remains a good steward of public funds and is able to continue providing high-quality services to its residents.”
For more on the discussion at an August 15 work session, read Brielle Entzminger’s account in C-Ville Weekly.
After that, Council will consider a resolution to end the COVID-19 local emergency that is still in effect. The Continuity of Government Ordinance that’s been in effect since March 2020 expires this week, and Rogers said there are policies in place to offer hybrid meetings to though who still do not feel comfortable participating in government meetings in-person. (staff report)
Then the Council will hold first reading on the aforementioned letter of support requested by the ACRJ. (staff report) The Albemarle County Board of Supervisors have their resolution on the consent agenda for their September 7 meeting.
Next, Council will take up an amendment of the agreement that governs a program through which the city covers the cost of additional housing vouchers authorized by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The Charlottesville Supplemental Rental Assistance Program (CSRAP) was created in October 2017 and the agreement is between the city and the Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority. For the past three fiscal years, the program has received $900,000 a year and there was a $2 million balance at the end . (staff report)
Now the CRHA wants to use $675,000 from that balance to cover the cost of its recent purchase of two buildings on Coleman Street. The units would be deed-restricted to perpetually require the units to be rented at below-market prices. I’ll have more on this topic in Tuesday’s edition of Charlottesville Community Engagement. (staff report)
The final item on the regular agenda is a request from the Jefferson School African American Heritage Center to cover some of the rent it must pay to the Jefferson School City Center, a private entity. The city began subsidizing rent with two payments totaling $950,000 from the former Equity Fund FY2017 and FY2018. A new five-year lease begins December 1 and the monthly rent for the 11,065 square foot space will be $15,314.76 a month. Council is being asked to use $107,203.32 to cover seven months of rent. If they agree, it will come from the Council’s Strategic Initiatives fund. (staff report)
Three items on the consent agenda to note:
- Second reading of a $539,369 grant award to the city’s Department of Human Services from the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development from the Virginia Homeless Solutions Program. (staff report)
- Second reading of appropriation of nearly $2.7 million in additional state funds from the Virginia Department of Transportation to help with the cost of the Belmont Bridge. (staff report)
- Second reading of an ordinance change to give the City Treasurer authority to issue refunds to taxpayers for erroneous charges without City Council approval if the amount does not exceed $2,500 (staff report)
Louisa County Supervisors to vote on rezoning for greenhouse project
The seven-member Louisa County Board of Supervisors meets in closed session at 5 p.m. followed by the regular meeting in open session at 6 p.m. They meet in the Louisa County Public Meeting Room at 1 Woolfolk Avenue in Louisa. (agenda packet)
After public comments, there will be presentations from Jaunt, the Virginia Department of Transportation and the Louisa County Water Authority. There will also be an update on the Belcher solar project from Dominion Energy, as well as a discussion on the county’s 2023 legislative platform.
There’s also a discussion of remaining parcels of land that are being transferred from Goochland County to Louisa County due to a 2019 boundary adjustment.
“The effort corrected the bulk of issues for residents along the border, was adopted by the U.S. Census Department, and was used for the recent redistricting process in both counties,” reads a joint letter from Goochland County Administrator Victor Carpenter and Louisa County Administrator Christian R. Goodwin.
Ten parcels remain anomalies and a further adjustment needs to be made. An information meeting on the issue will be held on September 29 at Goochland Fire Station #6.
Supervisors will also be asked to support a grant the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission is putting together to help coordinate local funding that may flow from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law for improvements through the Safe Streets and Roads For All program.
“To be eligible to receive project implementation funding, applicants must first have developed an approved Comprehensive Safety Action Plan,” reads the staff report. “Since none of the localities within the Thomas Jefferson Planning District have such a plan in place, the Planning District Commission is applying for funding through the SS4A program to develop a Comprehensive Safety Action Plan on behalf of participating localities in the region.”
There are several public hearings:
- Meadows Four Brothers LLC seeks a rezoning from Agricultural-1 to Agricultural-2 for 18 acres of a 286 acre property for the purpose of subdividing the land. The Planning Commission recommended approval on a 6 to 1 vote at their meeting on July 14, with the condition that the Virginia Outdoors Foundation be notified of the request due to a conservation easement they hold on the property.
- A couple seeks a rezoning of a 1.135 acre property on Lake Anna from General Commercial (C-2) to General Residential (R-2) in order to build a single family house. They also need a special exception because the minimum lot size is 1.5 acres.
- The Industrial Development Authority has a request to rezone a parcel from Industrial-General (I-2) to Agricultural (A-2) for an agricultural operation which would plant crops all year in a greenhouse. The Planning Commission recommended approval on a 6-1 vote at their meeting on August 11. The PC wants the applicant wants to create a working relationship with Louisa County High School. For fans of code names for economic development projects, this one goes by Project Scuba.
- There’s a resolution for a through truck traffic restriction on Chalklevel Road and Mansfield Road
In other meetings:
- The Albemarle Architectural Review Board will meet at 1 p.m. in-person for the first time in over two years but people can still participate remotely. On the agenda is a work session on an addenda to the county’s entrance corridor guidelines. You can review these here if you are interested. (meeting info)
- The Charlottesville Tree Commission meets virtually beginning at 5 p.m. One item on the agenda is a presentation on the importance of keeping trees healthy in the first five years after planting and reviews two city gateway plantings after five years. (meeting info)These are some of the components that must be in the Safe Streets and Roads For All plan that TJPDC wants to put together
Wednesday, September 7, 2022
Albemarle Board to take up rezoning for 250 units on Rio Road near Four Seasons
The six-member Albemarle County Board of Supervisors will meet at 1 p.m. (meeting agenda)
After the usual items at the beginning of the meeting, Supervisors will first take up a special exception for a homestay in the Scottsville Magisterial District and another in the Rivanna Magisterial District.
After that, two financial issues with the first being an update to the county’s Financial Management Policies. One observation is that a policy that dedicated 60 percent of new revenues with the School Board has been amended. (staff report)
The second is an adoption of the budget calendar for FY24 as well changes to the budget process. One is a modification to the way nonprofits are funded to include a section for capital requests from those groups. (staff report)
As with Louisa County, Albemarle is also preparing for the next General Assembly session. They’ll review what they asked for in 2022 including failed requests that they might want to renew. One is to expand the authority for photo-speed cameras to apply to rural roads where regular traffic enforcement is made difficult by a lack of shoulders. (staff report)
The afternoon session concludes with an update from the chair of the Albemarle County School Board. One fact from the written report is that the enrollment at Albemarle High School has climbed over 2,000 for the first time. Another is that pupils minority groups make up a majority of the school population. (staff report)
In the evening session, there are two public hearings.
The first is a rezoning request to rezone property at 954 Old Lynchburg Road from Rural Areas zoning to R-2 residential. The land is within the designated growth area.The two acres property will see the construction of one single family home. (staff report)
The second is a rezoning of five parcels of land totaling 8.15 acres on Rio Road West from R-6 to Planned Residential Development to build up to 250 units.
“The proposed community would offer needed housing options for County residents and employees of nearby business and employment centers, and would significantly contribute to the urban redevelopment of the surrounding area envisioned by the Rio29 Small Area Plan, including by adding more residents who will support the implementation of the Rio29 Small Area Plan,” reads the narrative for the project. (staff report)
The Planning Commission voted 6 to 0 to recommend approval of the project.
Fluvanna Supervisors to learn about TJPDC road safety grant, Dominion activity
The five member Fluvanna County Board of Supervisors will meet at 5 p.m. in the Carysbrook Performing Arts Center in Fork Union.(meeting packet)
In the first action item, Fluvanna will also be briefed on the Safe Streets and Roads for All Comprehensive Safety Action Plan grant application. In the third, TJPDC will brief Supervisors on development of a Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy with funding from the U.S. Economic Development Administration.
“The CEDS will facilitate a strategic blueprint for regional collaboration and grant opportunities such as the Build Back Better Grant (focusing on tourism and revitalization) which needs a regional CEDS plan in order to apply,” reads the staff report.
Fluvanna County is contributing $2,097.04 as their contribution to the local match.
There are three presentations. One of the is an update on Dominion Energy’s activities in Fluvanna County, followed by an appearance from TJPDC Director of Legislative Services on the 2023 legislative agenda for the region. Then there will be a request from Fork Union’s fire company for capital funds for a tanker.
There are no public hearings.
Nelson County Supervisors to learn about proposed recreation center
The five member Board of Supervisors will meet at 2 p.m. for a special meeting that will be held in the former Board room at the courthouse in Lovingston. The topic will be a presentation on a proposed recreation center. There’s no information available in advance. (meeting info)
The five-member Fluvanna County Board of Supervisors meets at 5 p.m. in the Carysbrook Performing Arts Center in Fork Union. (agenda packet)
Thursday, September 8, 2022
Louisa County Planning Commission to hold three public hearings including one for solar amendment
The Louisa County Planning Commission will meet at 5 p.m. for a long range planning session followed by a regular meeting at 7 p.m. The two topics at the work session are an overview of an ongoing review the PC will do of its own role in the county’s land use process, as well as a discussion of shifting some land use penalties to civil offenses rather than criminal.
In the first public hearing, the Commission will take up renewal of and additions to the Shelton’s Mill Agricultural-Forestal District (AFD) and the second is an addition to the South Anna AFD.
The third is a request for an amendment to a conditional use permit for an already approved 94-megawatt utility-scale solar facility.
“The applicant’s reason for the requested amendment is that Aura Power Developments (USA), LLC and Mine & Hemmer, L.C., have encountered unexpected delays in obtaining a final interconnection agreement from PJM, which is a prerequisite to start of construction,” reads the staff report on page 51.
The staff report details the causes of the delay. For those interested in solar in Virginia, this is one worth reviewing either in person or in the minutes.
- The Board of the Albemarle Charlottesville Regional Jail will meet virtually at noon. Information is available on their website’s home page.
- The Albemarle Solid Waste Alternatives Advisory Committee meets in-person at 4 p.m. in Room 235 of the county’s office building. There’s no agenda at publication time, but for anyone interested in reducing waste, this is the meeting for you. (meeting info)
- Albemarle County’s Places29-North Community Advisory Committee will meet at the Forest Lakes North Pool House at 1824 Pavilion Circle. On the agenda is an update on the county’s parks projects, including ones in the Places29 North area.The Places29-Hydraulic Committee got an update last month, and here’s a story from that meeting.
Friday, September 9, 2022
Charlottesville’s Historical Resources Committee will meet virtually at 11 a.m.. The agenda looks the same as it’s looked all year, with discussions of a Downtown Mall walking tour and a discussion on “Engagement of the Descendant Community for Court Square/Slave Auction Block site.” One day I hope to actually cover one of these, and perhaps this is the week. (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.