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Latest episodes from Charlottesville Community Engagement

October 13, 2022: Charlottesville seeking input on draft Climate Action Plan, firm to conduct strategic plan; LUEPC briefed on Fifth Street project planning

Play Episode Listen Later Oct 13, 2022 19:36

In this installment:* Inflation increased once again in September * Charlottesville will conduct another round of public input meetings on the Climate Action Plan* Planning continues for project to address congestion and safety issues on Fifth Street, as well as other transportation updates* Charlottesville's Planning Commission might possibly have a hearing on a by-right project on East High Street, but it's unlikely they can vote against it * The City of Charlottesville is seeking a consultant for a strategic plan* Albemarle County Supervisors will learn more about the next step in their Comprehensive Plan review next Wednesday This is a public episode. If you'd like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit

October 12, 2022: City's EDA to rent York Place bathrooms for public use; Closing and opening movies announced for 35th Virginia Film Festival

Play Episode Listen Later Oct 12, 2022 12:57

On today's show:* Charlottesville's Economic Development Authority agrees to rent a space in York Place for a public restroom for the Downtown Mall * Charlottesville is looking for a new person to run the city's Police Civilian Oversight Board * Ground is broken on the University of Virginia's new hotel and conference center on Emmet Street* The opening and closing films of the 35th annual Virginia Film Festival are announced and tickets go on sale next week This is a public episode. If you'd like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit

October 11, 2022: Good and Throneburg to appear at October 26 campaign forum; Climate Action Plan reviewed by Charlottesville City Council

Play Episode Listen Later Oct 11, 2022 15:25

On today's program:* There will be a debate between the two candidates in Virginia's Fifth Congressional District on October 26* The Botanical Garden of the Piedmont wants to find an architect to design its future buildings* Ten minority-owned businesses get funding from the United Way and the Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce* Charlottesville City Council gets a first look at the draft Climate Action Plan  This is a public episode. If you'd like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit

October 6, 2022: Albemarle PC discusses framework for "equitable and resilient" Comprehensive Plan; More details on Hillsdale Place development

Play Episode Listen Later Oct 6, 2022 22:54

On today's show:* The University of Virginia complies with federal law by releasing its annual report on crime statistics* Riverbend Development answers questions about a new site plan for redevelopment of the former K-Mart* The Local Food Hub gets a federal grant for innovative new programs* And the Albemarle Planning Commission discusses what should be in the draft Framework for an Equitable and Resilient Community to guide development of a new Comprehensive Plan  This is a public episode. If you'd like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit

October 4, 2022: Charlottesville bus drivers to get pay increase in order drivers back to work; Council, PC provide direction on zoning rewrite:

Play Episode Listen Later Oct 4, 2022 23:20

On today's program:* Charlottesville increases driver pay to $21 an hour and gives a 12 percent raise to other transit workers* A familiar face is back in charge of Greene County local government* A group has formed to try to stop the development of 245 apartment units on land in the floodplain along the Rivanna River * A Charlottesville playground is closed for two weeks to make a replacement* The Charlottesville Planning Commission and City Council have a long discussion about the next steps for the city's zoning process  This is a public episode. If you'd like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit

September 30, 2022: No information on Stribling Avenue improvements at Fry's Spring site plan meeting; Albemarle wants community input on strategic plan draft

Play Episode Listen Later Sep 30, 2022 17:27

On today's show:Over 50,000 people have voted so far in this year's General ElectionThe fourth round of a Charlottesville business grant program is completePiedmont Virginia Community College's president says hello to the Albemarle Board of SupervisorsAlbemarle staff are seeking input on the county's next strategic planParticipants in a site plan review for a development in Fry's Spring express frustration over seeming lack of progress toward getting a sidewalk on Stribling Avenue Charlottesville Community Engagement is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber. This is a public episode. If you'd like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit

September 28, 2022: Greene County administrator resigns to take school job; Rivanna River conference to focus on solar land use practices, environmental justice

Play Episode Listen Later Sep 28, 2022 17:05

On today's installment of the program: Greene County Administrator Mark Taylor resigns to take a school superintendent position in Spotsylvania CountyA detour of two major roadways in Albemarle finishes earlier than anticipatedSolar policy takes center stage at the Rivanna River Basin Commission conference tomorrowA restaurant staple on Maury Avenue will close later this year after 46 yearsUVa's director of hospital epidemiology reflects on where we are in the COVID pandemic and whether it is over This is a public episode. If you'd like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit

September 27, 2022: Plans filed for 245 apartments to be built on floodplain along Rivanna River; UVA committee discusses replacing coal power for supplemental heat

Play Episode Listen Later Sep 27, 2022 15:45

On today's program:A major by-right development with 245 units is planned for land along the Rivanna River in Charlottesville Charlottesville resumes the review of the names of two elementary schools The public comment period has now opened for a proposed revocation of the state's 2021 model policy on transgendered studentsA committee of the Board of Visitors discusses the future of coal power at the University of VirginiaCharlottesville's Climate Action Plan is out for your review This is a public episode. If you'd like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit

September 23, 2022: Council approves JPA project after developer doubles affordable housing contribution to $1 million; Speed limits on Cherry Avenue will be reduced

Play Episode Listen Later Sep 23, 2022 22:52

On today's show:Today is the first day of early voting across VirginiaJaunt's CEO goes before Charlottesville City Council to give an updateA public hearing over air rights for a new pedestrian bridge at UVA is delayed Charlottesville follows staff's recommendation on lowering speed limits on Cherry AvenueCity Council approves a special use permit for 119 units on Jefferson Park Avenue despite having misgivings This is a public episode. If you'd like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit

September 22, 2022: Albemarle Supervisors express support for Southwood rezoning, but defer vote to resolve remaining issues

Play Episode Listen Later Sep 22, 2022 15:54

On today's show:Albemarle Supervisors indicate support for a second rezoning at Southwood The Virginia Film Festival will screen a film at the Paramount this Sunday in advance of its AppleTV+ debutThe state's transportation body is briefed on the cancellation of the West Main Streetscape and another project This is a public episode. If you'd like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit

September 20, 2022: Darden Business School planning to build housing for some students; 30-day public comment period for Youngkin's reversal of transgender policy begins Monday

Play Episode Listen Later Sep 20, 2022 19:58

On today's program:A quick burst of announcements from City Council, including a men's health event, WNRN's birthday, and an update on the city's fiscal future The Youngkin administration seeks to overturn Virginia's model policies for transgendered students Charlottesville's Human Rights Commission seeks input on their legislative recommendations to City Council The city will soon ramp up efforts to get people to use the recently reopened Smith Aquatic and Fitness Center A committee of the UVA Board of Visitors approves a vision plan for Darden that would see some residential units, and also recommends demolition of University Gardens This is a public episode. If you'd like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit

September 16, 2022: Chief Longo appears before UVA committee to discuss what's not been done since 2017 public safety audit

Play Episode Listen Later Sep 16, 2022 13:18

In today's newsletter: A University of Virginia audit of public safety recommendations from 2017 reveals that not all steps have yet been taken Charlottesville will hire a consultant to help come up with an economic development strategic plan This is a public episode. If you'd like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit

September 15, 2022: Plane crash in Batesville; Rail strike averted; What races are up in Election 2023?

Play Episode Listen Later Sep 15, 2022 17:47

On today's show:A single-engine aircraft crashed near Batesville last night, killing the pilot A rail strike has been averted across the country, avoiding disruptions to passenger rail Albemarle County wants you to mark National Preparedness Month by creating a safety plan for disastersA very brief update on the Cville Plans Together initiative It's International Democracy Day and I have a quick round-up on what races voters can expect in 2023   This is a public episode. If you'd like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit

September 13, 2022: Albemarle Supervisors to seek legislation to allow virtual advisory board meetings; UVA "Great and Good" plan turns three

Play Episode Listen Later Sep 13, 2022 19:21

On today's program:There's a big milestone coming up for construction of a roundabout at the intersection of U.S. 250 and Route 151The latest figures on inflation are out from the U.S. Bureau of Labor StatisticsThe University of Virginia marks three years since passage of a strategic planAlbemarle County Supervisors want to continue a push to allow advisory bodies to meet virtually Sign up for free to get the info. Pay for a subscription and you'll help keep my eyes and ears focused. This is a public episode. If you'd like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit

September 12, 2022: Privately-owned tourism office opens on Downtown Mall; Albemarle to take part in Safe Streets grant after all

Play Episode Listen Later Sep 12, 2022 18:31

On today's show:Updated COVID-19 boosters are available and almost everyone previous vaccinated is eligible The Chamber of Commerce has introduced the first cohort of its new Leader Lab of CharlottesvilleThe process has begun to determine if an Albemarle elementary school should continue to be named after Meriwether LewisAlbemarle County will participate after all in a transportation planning grant with other localities A private group has opened up a tourism kiosk in a storefront on the Downtown Mall Want to read or hear more about these types of things? Sign up for free! Pay for a subscription to provide fuel for future editions! Concluding notes for episode #429Another Monday program in the books. How many installments will there be this week? Stay tuned all week and let's see. I remain hopeful that one day one of these will be published before 9 a.m. but also remain realistic. I began work on this one at 5 a.m. this morning. I'll continue to work for the rest of the day, including an appearance at 5 p.m. on Charlottesville–Right Now With Courteney Stuart on WINA. I work so much because this is my business, literally. Town Crier Productions is the name of the company I formed in August 2020 to try to figure out how to pay for the thing I want to do above all - write about towns, cities, counties, or anything else that looks like it rhymes with bunicipal. The best way to keep the business going is through a paid subscription through Substack. The company Ting will match your initial payment, and I am grateful for them, for you, and for whatever teacher I once had who told me to stick to my dreams.With that in mind, I am now announcing the opportunity to give away 80 premium subscriptions to the newsletter. Someone has bought that number and I want to make sure the audience broadens. I'm still working out the basic criteria for how to hand those out, but at least one requirement will be that the recipient is under the age of 25. It's no good writing about the details of local meetings if the people who will most live the longest under the decisions made today do not know about what's happening at the tables of today. That's what this newsletter and podcast seeks to do, and will always seek do to. Thanks for being a reader or a listener.  This is a public episode. If you'd like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit

September 7, 2022: Former Councilor Bellamy appointed to public housing board; Special election looming for Virginia House of Delegates

Play Episode Listen Later Sep 7, 2022 13:57

On today's program:The Virginia General Assembly meets today with one fewer memberCharlottesville extends the deadline to file for a grant to help cover real property taxes Former City Councilor Wes Bellamy is one of two appointments to the city's public housing oversight boardSeveral updates from the city of Charlottesville including regional cooperation, the appointment of a building code official, and the reasons a traffic signal has been temporarily removed  This is a public episode. If you'd like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit

September 6, 2022: Final day to submit comment on city's zoning rewrite process; Developer seeks rezoning of former Scottsville tire factory for 205 loft units

Play Episode Listen Later Sep 6, 2022 20:43

On today's show:The Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority details a $675,000 purchase of two duplexes in the Locust Grove neighborhood Congressional elections are two months away but there's still not campaign forum scheduled for the two candidates in the Fifth DistrictA South Boston developer will appear before the Scottsville Planning Commission tonight for a rezoning for 205 units in the former Scottsville Tire Factory Today is the last day to comment on the latest document in the Cville Plans Together initiative  This is a public episode. If you'd like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit

September 2, 2022: Inflation escalates cost estimate for Buford expansion and school reconfiguration; MPO eliminates one component from Hydraulic/29 project

Play Episode Listen Later Sep 2, 2022 20:29

On today's program:The Charlottesville School Board gets an update on the reconfiguration project and learns of cost increases Amtrak announces ridership has grown on Virginia-financed train service across the CommonwealthA new podcast from the UVA School of Data Science seeks to demystify the subjectThe Bureau of Labor Statistics releases its latest employment figuresThe area's transportation-decision making body agrees to trim back the scope of funded suite of improvements at U.S. 29 and Hydraulic Road  This is a public episode. If you'd like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit

September 1, 2022: Berkley Group briefs Albemarle Planning Commission on "reset" on zoning review; Youngkin administration renews push to leave greenhouse gas compact

Play Episode Listen Later Sep 1, 2022 17:22

On today’s program:Today is the 100th anniversary of the City Manager form of government in CharlottesvilleThe Youngkin administration has laid out a pathway for leave the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative The Albemarle Planning Commission learns more about how a “reset” zoning modernization will look like This is a public episode. If you’d like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit

August 30, 2022: An update on what's new in Albemarle County parks; Spotted lanternfly effort moves into eradication phase

Play Episode Listen Later Aug 30, 2022 16:03

On today’s program:The Rivanna Conservation Alliance and the City of Charlottesville raise concerns about bacteria levels in two city streamsAn expert on invasive inspects provides an update on the spotted lanternfly quarantine Planning continues for Biscuit Run and other rural-area parks, but one Supervisors requests attention for parks in the development area This is a public episode. If you’d like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit

August 29, 2022: Former grocery store on Cherry Avenue sells for $3.5 million; Task force continues work on JMRL name

Play Episode Listen Later Aug 29, 2022 12:34

In this slice of the program:A former grocery store on Cherry Avenue changes hands as a local development firm pays $3.5 million for the property A JMRL task force is working to organize information about a potential name change, but Trustees remind people it is up to localities to make a decisionJohn Gaines of the Tenth and Page neighborhood and a frequent City Council speaker has diedA quick update on COVID as the end of summer approaches This is a public episode. If you’d like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit

August 25, 2022: Fifth/Avon group gets first look at 145-acre Sieg development proposal; Charlottesville panel approves demolition for downtown building

Play Episode Listen Later Aug 25, 2022 21:30

On today’s series of segments:The Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission schedules two meetings to address the sale of their buildings, and possible changes to a Smart Scale project at Hydraulic and 29 Charlottesville’s Board of Architectural Review approves demolition of a building on West Market StreetThe end of the Jefferson-Madison Regional Library’s Summer Reading Challenge is nearAlbemarle’s Fifth and Avon Community Advisory Committee gets a first look at a 145 acre development whose size could depend on what transportation infrastructure gets built Sign up for free and you will get a lot of information about infrastructure, housing, and more. Pay for a subscription, and you’ll help guarantee the info flows for years to come! This is a public episode. If you’d like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit

August 24, 2022: City design panel denies metal grates for Mall fountains; Charlottesville releases policy to incentivize below-market housing

Play Episode Listen Later Aug 24, 2022 17:35

On today’s show:Charlottesville Area Transit to receive grant from Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation to operate a pilot on-demand project in Albemarle CountyThe president of Mary Baldwin University will step down next JuneDetails on proposed rules to encourage creation of below-market housing units in Charlottesville Charlottesville’s Board of Architectural Review declines to allow the city’s Park and Recreation Department to install metal grates on the three fountains on the Downtown Mall This is a public episode. If you’d like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit

August 20, 2022: Virginia’s governor wants nearly $400 million in surpluses returned to taxpayers; UVA Board of Visitors meets tomorrow

Play Episode Listen Later Aug 20, 2022 17:55

Governor Youngkin seeks tax refunds in next year’s budget The University of Virginia’s Board of Visitors holds a retreat tomorrowA new hotel at the Darden School of Business is halfway completedAlbemarle County’s Economic Development Authority approves grants for two area nonprofit groups This is a public episode. If you’d like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit

August 19, 2022: Habitat for Humanity reaches financial milestone for Southwood redevelopment; Spineymussel returns to the James River

Play Episode Listen Later Aug 19, 2022 21:25

We find ourselves now at the August 19 mark, which seems like it is close to the end of 2022. Yet, inputting certain figures into the Year-O-Meter would indicate the passage of time has not passed the threshold of two-thirds. If numbers aren’t your metric, consider the sun will rise and fall 34 more times before the Fall Equinox. Either way, this is another Friday edition of Charlottesville Community Engagement intended to bring you information you may need between now and then. I’m Sean Tubbs. You can sign up for free, but Ting will match your initial payment if you opt to support this work financially. See below for details. In the next several hundred words:The Albemarle County Economic Development Authority has endorsed a $600,000 pay-out for Habitat for Humanity’s redevelopment at Southwood There’s a new principal at Charlottesville High School and two elementary schools The Charlottesville Alliance for Black Male Achievement is holding an event this Sunday to get students ready for the beginning of the school year next WednesdayThe Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources took steps this week to restore an endangered species to the James River First shout-out: Livable Cville event on zoning rewriteIn today’s first Patreon-fueled shout-out, Livable Cville wants you to mark your calendar for August 31 for an educational talk about the next steps in the Cville Plans Together initiative. They’ve invited James Freas, the city’s Director of Neighborhood Development Services, to talk about the rewrite of the city’s zoning ordinance in an online webinar.  The talk will include a presentation on the Draft Zoning Diagnostic & Approach Report and the soon to be released Market Analysis/Inclusionary Zoning Study. The talk begins at 5:30 p.m. and will include a question and answer period. Sign up to get your place at the virtual table for Livable Cville’s Update and Next Steps for the Cville Plans Together initiative. Redevelopment work continues at Southwood Work continues to redevelop the Southwood Mobile Home Park as a mixed-use community that will offer new homes to those who have lived there. The chief executive officer of Habitat for Humanity of Greater Charlottesville gave an update to the Albemarle County Economic Development Authority on Tuesday. “So when Southwood is done it will be somewhere between 1,000 and 1,100 homes and up to 700 of them will be affordable depending on subsidies that we get and how things develop,” said Dan Rosensweig, Habitat’s chief executive officer. Habitat entered into a performance agreement with Albemarle and the EDA to provide a certain amount of affordable housing in exchange for financial payments and tax breaks.“Our work at Southwood is part and parcel of our larger scale work to create mixed income neighborhoods and affordable home ownership in the region,” said Dan Rosensweig, the chief executive officer of Habitat for Humanity of Greater Charlottesville. “We were a pioneer in this. We were the first Habitat nationally to do it and the first in the country to do mixed-income neighborhoods. We’ve now done ten mixed-income neighborhoods and built almost 300 homes in those neighborhoods.”Rosensweig said in 2004, Habitat stepped in to save the Sunrise trailer park in Charlottesville from development and the result is a mixed-income community. “Sunrise today is a neighborhood of front porches and back porches and open space for the community to use,” Rosensweig said. “To our knowledge it is the first mobile home transformation without displacement and that sort of set us up for Southwood.” Habitat purchased the land in 2007 and the agency has operated it ever since.“It was a mess,” Rosensweig said. “There were fires, trailers catching on fire, sewage bubbling into people’s trailer through their commodes. And it’s large. It’s on an enormous scale.” Rosensweig said Habitat invested in infrastructure and entered into an agreement with Albemarle County for how redevelopment as a collaborative relationship as well as the performance agreement worth $3.2 million in both cash and tax rebates. “Our deliverables in the first phase… are 75 affordable homes and our milestones are multiple,” Rosensweig said. “We’ve had to meet milestones in terms of submitting building permits, getting Low Income Housing Tax Credits apartments under contract.”The latest milestone was to raise at least 95 percent of the funds necessary to purchase the building materials for the Habitat units. That released an appropriation of $600,000. “We’re overperforming that performance agreement by quite a bit in that first phase,” Rosensweig said. “Per the performance agreement we’ve promised 75 affordable homes in the first phase alone. We’re building 207 affordable homes.”As part of the first phase, the Piedmont Housing Alliance is constructing an apartment building financed through Low Income Housing Tax Credits. Rosensweig said construction of two Habitat homes is almost complete and site work is underway for the rest. The second phase of the project still needs a rezoning and this will go before the Board of Supervisors on September 21. Full build-out of the project will take another dozen or so years. “As part of phase 2 we’re planning a business incubation center and a little bit of a neighborhood downtown,” Rosensweig said. “Some of the uses we’re trying to attract are shared commercial kitchen, a business incubation center, a cafe, early childhood education center and potentially some other non residential uses such as a credit union.”  Habitat has offered to reserve seven acres for a school that Rosensweig hoped would be more urban in scale with at least two and a half stories. However, they can’t give the land over for free. “In the $500 million cost of Southwood, by far the largest contribution to filling up the bucket is market-rate lot sales and so if we were to give that away we would lose tens of millions of dollars of lot sales which cross-subsidize the affordability,” Rosensweig said. “What we have done is proportionally offered a discount if the school would like to purchase it.”The final determination of what will happen remains to be seen especially with a rezoning vote pending. Deputy County Executive Doug Walker weighed in.“There is ongoing dialogue between the planning staff and the school staff about the viability of this site for their plans so that we can be in a position to share with the Board of Supervisors whether this is a viable site or not,” Walker said. “I do know that those conversations are ongoing.”Rosensweig said the way the proffer is worded gives the county until 2027 to make a decision. The EDA unanimously approved a resolution to acknowledge the latest milestone and release the $600,000. New faces at Charlottesville City SchoolsWe are now five days away from when school will go back into session in Albemarle County and Charlottesville. There will be some new faces at some schools. Rashaad Pitt took over as the principal of Charlottesville High School earlier this week after serving most recently as assistant principal of George Wythe High School in Richmond. Pitt began his educational career teaching history in Petersburg City Public Schools and has also worked in Chesterfield County, Hampton City Schools, and the Virginia Department of Juvenile Justice. According to a release, his area of expertise includes community outreach, restorative justice, instructional leadership and professional development. Pitt succeeds Eric Irizarry, who stepped down after six years at CHS to become Director of Equity, Family, and Community Relations for Albemarle County Public Schools. “I am excited to begin this next chapter,” Pitt is quoted in the news release. “I want to build on the strong success and good work of Dr. Irizarry, and I look forward to working with the excellent leadership team and staff at CHS.”Two other principals in Charlottesville have been promoted from within the school division. Chantel Beverly is the new principal at Venable Elementary School. Beverly has been assistant principal at Greenbrier Elementary since 2019 after teaching in Petersburg and Richmond. Carmella Johnson took over as principal at Clark Elementary School in July. Since 2017, she has been an assistant principal and instructional coach at Johnson Elementary School and before that Johnson taught at Greenbrier for ten years. Free haircuts to be offered this SundayWith school fast approaching, it’s time for many to get their appearance ready. This Sunday, several groups will gather at the Boys and Girls Club at Buford Middle School for back-to-school bash from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. There will be free hair cuts, among other things. The Charlottesville Alliance for Black Male Achievement is organizing the event with 100 Black Men of Central Virginia, House of Cuts Barber Shop, the Uhuru Foundation, Peace in the Streets, as well as the Boys and Girls Club of Charlottesville. “Free haircuts, braids, and raffle prizes will be available and Prolyfyck Running Creww will be giving out free shoes to high school students,” reads a press release on the city’s website.”De-La-Roll will provide free skate lessons to those interested as well.” The event is open to all. Second shout-out goes to Camp AlbemarleToday’s second subscriber-supported public service announcement goes out to Camp Albemarle, which has for sixty years been a “wholesome rural, rustic and restful site for youth activities, church groups, civic events and occasional private programs.”Located on 14 acres on the banks of the Moorman’s River near Free Union, Camp Albemarle continues as a legacy of being a Civilian Conservation Corps project that sought to promote the importance of rural activities. Camp Albemarle seeks support for a plan to winterize the Hamner Lodge, a structure built in 1941 by the CCC and used by every 4th and 5th grade student in Charlottesville and Albemarle for the study of ecology for over 20 years. If this campaign is successful, Camp Albemarle could operate year-round. Consider your support by visiting Spinymussel returns to James River A small invertebrate that scientifically goes by the name James River Spineymussel  has not been seen alive in the waterway its named for since the late 1960s. “We’re pretty confident that they’re extirpated from the main stem river and even if they’re still out there, they’re probably at such low levels that they’re not really biologically like they should,” said Brian Watson, a top biologist for freshwater mussels at the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources. On Wednesday morning, Watson and his crews were at five locations on the James River to reintroduce about 1,300 individuals back into the waterway. These were all raised at a mussel hatchery in Charles City. The goal is to repopulate a species that is one of dozens of freshwater mussels that used to be commonplace in what is now North Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia.For many years, biologists in Virginia have taken this seriously. “We have about 80 species which ranks us about sixth in the United States in terms of diversity,” Watson said. Watson said there are roughly 900 species of freshwater mussels across the globe and around 300 are in the United States. One of those species is the James River Spineymussel, which is on the federal endangered species list as critically endangered. Watson said the small creatures play an important role in the ecosystem as they feed from their position on the beds of rivers and lakes filtering water for food and nutrients. “We often talk about freshwater mussels as the livers of the river,” Watson said. “When you’re heard historically about how oysters could clear the Chesapeake Bay, the entire water volume, within about a month when oysters were at their heyday, freshwater mussels used to do a similar thing for our freshwater creeks and streams and rivers.” For decades, aquatic biologists have sought to restore creatures back to habitats that became uninhabitable due to all sorts of pollution. An interesting adjective to describe mussels is “benthic” which means anything that lives on the bed of a waterbody. “And since these are benthic organisms that live in the stream bottoms and they don’t move around like freshwater fishes do, they are relatively good indicators of water quality so if something is going wrong at a site or there’s a change for the negative for water quality, mussels are usually going to give you an indication that something’s going on.” To get mussels to be in a place takes a lot of factors, so Watson said putting them back in a former habitat from which they’ve disappeared means a lot of biological steps will need to be taken.“They kind of have a unique life cycle for an invertebrate,” Watson said. “They are an obligate parasite, most of them are. They have a larva that typically has to attach to a particular fish species to complete their life cycle. So it’s a really small larvae that females hold inside of their gills.” Watson said a small shell that looks like a Pac-Man will snap shut when in the presence of the fish to hitch a ride. They’ll use chub, minnow, or several other species. “And if they’re successful and stay on the fish, they will transform into a juvenile, drop off, and if they happen to drop off in a suitable location and conditions are right then they will grow to be a sub-adult and then an adult.” If the fish have moved on, then the life cycle is interrupted. Some species of mussels can live for decades, but they may die out if the waters are impaired. For decades, biologists have been restoring fish to rivers made more habitable by the Clean Water Act. Now research into doing the same thing for invertebrates, including this release of the James River Spineymussel. To make that work, the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources has approached the local governments in Albemarle, Buckingham, and Fluvanna counties to ask for permission even if might not strictly have been necessary. “The way the language reads in our current regulation is that if we’re going to introduce any new species to an area that is a game animal or a game bird or a fish that we need the authority and the cooperation of the local government of the locality it will be released into,” Watson said. “So when you look at that language it doesn’t necessarily say freshwater mussel or invertebrates.”Watson said notifications have been made because of the regulated nature of the James River Spineymussel. In Albemarle, its presence in the 1980’s was enough to put regulatory approval of the Buck Mountain Reservoir in doubt and the project was abandoned. In 2022, Albemarle’s consent for the release was on the consent agenda for their May 18 meeting. Watson had an audience with the Buckingham County Supervisors earlier this month but had not heard back from Fluvanna as of this past Tuesday when our interview was conducted. The project definitely has the support of Matt Lawless, the administrator of the Town of Scottsville. “Having a healthy and scenic river that’s accessible and safe for everybody to use is what Scottsville is all about,” Lawless said. “That’s been our history for hundreds of years and we feel really responsible for our little piece of the river and we take its quality and its health very seriously.”  The individual mussels released are all three years old and Watson said they should be ready to reproduce.  “Right now we would consider them adult mussels,” Watson said. “They should be reproductively mature so that when they are released into the river, assuming that every goes right, that they should start reproducing next year or within the first years that they’re out in the river so that they’re not young individuals that are just dropping off of the fish.” The work to propagate mussels dates back to the late 90’s and Watson said teams used to send them out at an earlier stage in the life cycle. The results were not successful. This batch has been kept in the hatchery longer than usual due to various approval processes. So, how will Watson and his team measure success? There are three metrics. First, they’ll check to see how many survive. “The second is are they reproducing after you put them out,” Watson said. “So at the certain time of the year when the females would have those larvae inside of them, we will try to monitor those locations and check some of those animals to see if they are what we call ‘gravid’ or not and that’s when the females have the larvae inside their gills.” The third step is to see if those larvae can get onto the fish as part of their role as obligate parasite. All of the individuals that went out this week are tagged so they can be monitored. “So the hope will be that as we monitor these in the future, if we start to see younger individuals that do not have tags on them, then that tells us that they are new individuals that are recruiting into the population.”Watson said it is inevitable that many of the introduced species will float downstream over time and that they won’t be detectable. Still, he predicts survival rates will be high. Monitoring efforts will continue and Watson said people should be patient for results. “And it could take a decade or two to actually see something going on,” Watson said. “There have been some restoration and recovery work with rare mussels out in the Mississippi River where they put lots and lots of individuals out there. You’re talking like thousands to tens of thousands of animals out in spots and they are just now starting to see recruitment in some of these areas where they’ve placed large  numbers and you’re like a decade later.” Housekeeping for Episode #419I had not expected to take two days to get to another installment, but somehow that’s what happens. I am the sole writer and producer of this newsletter, which also means I have to do all of the business activity. Yesterday there were things needed to be attended to, but I hope to get to all of the stories I want to write in the coming days and weeks. I’m glad to have written about something a little different in the last segment. It’s amazing to think how everything we see in front of us came to be. In the case of the Spineymussel, I’m inspired by all of the steps necessary to make it all work out. I hope to be here well into the future.To get there, I will need to navigate the waters of accounting and finance, which is a long way of saying I depend on reader and listeners support to keep this going. About a third of you paying, which is a pretty good showing. But, I need more to do so or I’ll have to consider a different path. Perhaps the best way to support me is through a Substack subscription. If you do so, Ting will match your initial payment! And, if you sign up for their services through this link you’ll get a free standard install, your 2nd month free, and a $75 downtown mall gift card! Enter the promo code COMMUNITY for full effect. Either way, I thank you for reading or listening. Today’s podcast outro is completely different from this, so go and listen to see what I said. I enjoy being mysterious. This is a public episode. If you’d like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit

August 16, 2022: Charlottesville extends police chief survey by one week; Safety prep continues for school year; Planning funds awarded for Three Notched Trail

Play Episode Listen Later Aug 16, 2022 18:25

In today’s edition:As the school year approaches, Charlottesville’s Deputy City Manager gives an update on efforts to make safer routes for walking pupilsThe federal government will give $2 million to help Albemarle plan for the 25-mile long Three Notched Trail A long-time Charlottesville musical institution celebrates the century mark tonight with a free concertA member of the public housing authority’s Board of Directors has been reappointed but there’s still two vacanciesCharlottesville will extend a community survey for police chief by one more weekLots of updates from Charlottesville City Manager’s report including an update on the possibility of ranked choice voting This is a public episode. If you’d like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit

August 15, 2022: Charlottesville Planning Commission continues discussion of approach to zoning code rewrite; public comment window open through the end of the month

Play Episode Listen Later Aug 15, 2022 19:53

On today’s show:The final beam is placed atop the new School of Data Science at the University of Virginia...Charlottesville’s Economic Development Office seeks a consultant to help with a five-year strategic plan, and opens up a new round of BRACE funding for businesses...Preservation Piedmont is seeking proposals to pay for research into historic buildings...And review continues of the way that Charlottesville will rewrite its zoning ordinance. This is a public episode. If you’d like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit

August 5, 2022: Albemarle Supervisors endorse Rio Road Corridor plan; Charlottesville seeks input on next Police Chief

Play Episode Listen Later Aug 5, 2022 21:06

What recourse do we have except to simply pursue this August 5 in the best manner possible? On this Blogger Day, I celebrate with another installment of Charlottesville Community Engagement, a newsletter and podcast intended to shed light on various happenings in and around the area. I’m the writer and host, Sean Tubbs. What are you writing these days? Sign-up for free, but paid subscriptions come with benefits and the satisfaction you’re helping pay for the PACER bills! Ting will match. See below! On today’s program: The former Commissioner of Revenue in Greene County has been sentenced to three months in federal prison for attempted witness tamperingUnemployment drops to pre-pandemic levelsCharlottesville seeks input on what kind of person should be the next police chiefAlbemarle Supervisors endorse a pan for improvements on Rio Road but one member says that doesn’t mean final decisions have been madeCharlottesville City Council is briefed on the preparation for the next fiscal year First shout-out goes to the Charlottesville Jazz Society In today’s first subscriber supported public service announcement, are you looking for something new to listen to in the form of live music? The Charlottesville Jazz Society has you covered with an ongoing list of dozens of events coming up at venues across the area. That ranges from rumba guitar duo Berta & Vincent at Glass House Winery this Saturday afternoon to the Charles Owen Trio at Potter’s Craft Cider on Saturday, August 28. The Charlottesville Jazz Society is your source to plot out your musical journey and you can get started at Thanks to a subscriber for being on both Patreon and Substack to qualify for this shout-out.Greene’s former Commissioner of Revenue sentenced in witness tampering caseThe former Commissioner of Revenue in Greene County has been sentenced to three months in federal prison for intervening in an investigation of his son’s drug distribution charges. Larry Snow, 73, pleaded guilty in May to one count of attempted witness tampering for trying to dissuade a confidential informant. “According to court documents, Larry Snow used his access as the former Commissioner of Revenue to a Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) database as part of an effort to retaliate against and tamper with the confidential informant, Person A, after Person A aided law enforcement in controlled purchases of methamphetamine and heroin from Bryant Snow,” according to a release from the United State Attorney for Western District of Virginia. Specifically, the elder Snow sought to print out material identifying the informant for his son to use to intimidate and to discredit that person while incarcerated at Central Virginia Regional Jail. Snow resigned in May 2022 as Commissioner of the Revenue in Greene, having been elected in 2019 while under indictment. National employment returns to pre-pandemic levelsThere were 528,000 nonfarm jobs added across the United States of America in July, according to the latest employment figures released this morning by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The unemployment rate is at 3.5 percent. “Both total nonfarm employment and the unemployment rate have returned to their February 2020 pre-pandemic levels,” reads a release that was sent out this morning. The report also notes that the number of permanent job losers is now lower than February 2020. The long-term unemployed is defined as those jobless for more than 27 weeks, and that figure is also below pre-pandemic levels. Other statistics in the release are worth noting. In July, 7.1 percent of the workforce continued to telecommute due to the pandemic. The labor force participation rate is defined as “the percentage of the civilian noninstitutional population 16 years and older that is working or actively looking for work.” That figure was at 62.1 percent in July, lower than the February 2020 figure of 63.4 percent. The next employment numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics will be out September 2. Charlottesville seeking input on police chief searchHow much experience should the next Charlottesville Police Chief have? What leadership qualities would you like to see? What should the police department leader’s top priority be?Those are some of the questions in a survey that the firm POLIHIRE is conducting as part of their contract to conduct a search for the next chief. The survey is open through August 15 and is available in English and Spanish. (fill out the survey)The person hired will replace Acting Chief of Police LaTroy A. Durrette who has been in the position since former City Manager Chip Boyles fired RaShall Brackney after three years on the job. Brackney sued the city and several individuals for race, color, and gender discrimination, as well as interference with contract, unlawful retaliation, violation of the state’s whistleblower statute, and more. According to a series of waivers filed in the case, all defendants have until sixty days after July 1 to respond to the case. Albemarle Supervisors endorse Rio Road Corridor PlanThe Albemarle Board of Supervisors has officially endorsed a plan that offers guidance for how future intersection improvements on Rio Road may look in the future. “This is a planning level document that establishes a vision for improvements along the corridor with sufficient analysis of the conceptual design to understand whether the proposed concepts can address future and existing conditions and can meet [Virginia Department of Transportation] and other relevant engineering standards,” said David Benish, development process manager for Albemarle County. The county hired the civil engineering firm Line + Grade to develop the plans. Supervisors were last briefed on the work last October and the Planning Commission saw the draft in May. The work was split into two sections to reflect two different roadway characters. “Phase one is very much an arterial roadway [with] five lanes with a continuous left-hand turn lane in the middle,”  said Dan Hyer with Line + Grade. “Whereas phase two still resembles in many locations the local collector that it is. It’s very much a local road.” Hyer said the work involved analyzing crash data such as at the intersection of Hillsdale Drive and Rio Road. Eighty-nine percent of crashes at the location are left-hand turns. As such, recommended changes are to eliminate that movement at Hillsdale, Old Brook and Northfield. “The solution that we have recommended basically absolves all left-hand turn movements by replacing the two intersections with a singular dog-bone or bean-shaped roundabout,” Hyer said.  Belvedere Drive and Rio Road would be turned into a “Continuous Green-T” intersection and Albemarle has applied for funding. A roundabout is funded at John Warner Parkway and Rio Road and that will soon get under design. The second phase of the project is broken into three segments, with the northern one including two planned developments. The Board of Supervisors approved the 328 Rio Point apartment complex last December, and an application has been filed for 43 town homes just to the south in a project called Rio Commons. “And we think that if those developments can work with this plan that the corridor can transform in a positive way and that some of the risks that we’ve identified can be mitigated through the build-out of these developments,” Hyer said. Supervisor Ned Gallaway of the Rio District was the lone vote against the Rio Point development last December. He said he was concerned about more people in the area.“As we approve the sidewalks and the access down to the Parkway, we’re only creating more pedestrian activity and that’s going to introduce a vehicular piece which is going to be really dangerous so I think we need to get our heads around that sooner rather than later,” Gallaway said.Gallaway said his endorsement of the plan did not mean that he supported the specific recommendations involved. He said there is a competing plan to reroute Hillsdale Drive that would take away the need for the bean-shaped roundabout. “We know that that intersection is completely problematic and needs a solution but it just may not be the solution that’s in the study so if we vote to approve the study, it doesn’t mean we’re necessarily voting to approve that project,” Gallaway said. As for phase two, Gallaway said he would like to see more traffic calming to slow down the speed of traffic, similar to the bump-outs on Park Street in the City of Charlottesville between the U.S. 250 bypass and downtown. Gallaway said he was grateful staff was able to work to get the corridor study done. The vote to endorse the plan was unanimous and it will now be considered as part of the update of the Albemarle County Comprehensive Plan, otherwise known as AC44.Second shout-out: Save the date for Rivanna Conservation Alliance’s Community Watershed clean-upIn today’s second Patreon-fueled shout-out: Mark your calendar for RCA’s third annual Rivanna River Round-Up community watershed cleanup coming up on Saturday, September 24. The RCA organized the first round-up in September 2020 as a safe way for the community to give back to the river during the COVID-19 pandemic. Over the last two years, a total of 245 volunteers have cleaned up 67 miles of streams, nearby trails and the Rivanna River, removing 192 tires and 213 large bags of trash from the waterways. Details will soon be made available and you can get those by signing up for the Rivanna Conservation Alliance newsletter at You can get your own shout-out for a $25 a month Patreon contribution! For more information, visit Information Charlottesville.Charlottesville City Council briefed on planning for next year’s budget Fiscal Year 2023 is just over a month old, but the budget process in Virginia never really stops as local governments seek to provide services. In April, Council adopted a $212.9 million general fund budget that was 10.76 percent higher than the one for the year before. That’s built on increased assessments for both real estate and personal property as well as a one-cent increase in the real estate tax rate. That was the first such increase in several decades. There are about 30 weeks until whoever is City Manager in March 2023 presents a recommended budget and 36 weeks until Council is expected to adopt their amended document. Council got a briefing this past Monday and learned about some of the factors coming up and some suggested the schedule be moved up. (view the presentation)Will the budget continue to grow at a double-digit level, or will it be more modest? How much will it cost to implement pay and benefit increases that may come through a collective bargaining ordinance? What about the cost of inflation? While the answers aren’t yet known, the foundation is being laid for whatever will end up happening. At the end of August, city departments will be sent packets to request funds for capital projects and these will be due by the early October. There’s at least one change to that process.“We’re going to include a Planning Commission member on the review team,” said Krissy Hammill, the city’s director of budget and performance analysis.Requests from nonprofits and outside agencies are due sometime in mid-October and recommendations from the Vibrant Community team will be completed in mid-January. Also around that time will be another change to the budget process.“It’s called the city manager budget forum,” Hammill said. “The date for this will be January 10 and it will be held at Carver Recreation Center. This will be an opportunity for the city manager to make a presentation and to engage in public discussion.”Hammill said the growth in the budget for next year is expected to be more modest than the 10.76 percent increase from FY22 to FY23. She’s also keeping an eye on inflation.“We already know that there are cost increases that we’re seeing both just in general things as well as capital projects due to supply chain issues and inflation,” Hammill said. “We’re not sure of what exactly what the revenue impact would be for a potential recession if there to be one.” There will likely be higher compensation costs for city employees due to collective bargaining as well as a need to carry on the ongoing costs of positions funded using one-time money. Between now and the budget adoption, Council may have an updated strategic plan paid for through the city’s use of American Rescue Plan Act funding. “The time is right,” said interim City Manager Michael C. Rogers. “In doing the strategic plan right, we’ll get a consultant to engage you individually and collectively over the next few months and by the time we get to April, we ought to have a new direction or at least some themes.”City Councilor Michael Payne said he wanted to make sure there is funding to address a human resources phenomenon known as compression, funding for climate, and for city investment in nonprofits to build subsidized housing. “How can we get our adopted Affordable Housing Plan and that $10 million a year into a more stable place in terms of how we’ll fund it at $10 million a year which is what the plan calls for,” Payne said. Payne also wants to make sure there is funding to invest in public transportation. Rogers said a compensation study is expected to be completed by the end of the year. “That will tell us where we are compared to other jurisdictions in the region in terms of our salaries,” Rogers said. “It will define a competitiveness gap.”The Fluvanna County Board of Supervisors were briefed on their compensation study on Wednesday. Rogers said the August 15 Council work session will feature a presentation of the collective bargaining ordinance followed by a first reading on September 6 with adoption currently anticipated on September 19. “And we expect that there will be a push to begin to recognize collective bargaining units after that,” Rogers said. Another direction to budget staff is to reexamine a policy where 40 percent of new revenues created by additional real estate taxes goes to Charlottesville City Schools. Some on the current Council have called for that agreement to be revisited, and Rogers said budget staff would look into it and begin preliminary discussions with the school system.“And at some point the Council probably should have that meeting with schools to discuss an issue like this,” Rogers said.As for increased spending on public transit, Rogers said current planning by the Thomas Jefferson Planning District is relevant. A governance study for how to implement a proposed Regional Transit Vision is about to get underway.“The long term play is probably the discussion about a regional transit agency, and what are the dynamics that need to be in place for us to move that forward,” Rogers said. “It’s been talked about a long time.” The current calendar calls for the second public hearing on the budget to be held on April 3, 2023 and for adoption at a special meeting on April 11. City Councilor Sena Magill said she wanted to adjust the schedule so that the final public hearing does not happen during the week City Schools are on spring break. “And it’s just one more way that it makes it harder for some people to serve on Council,” Magill said. Charlottesville Mayor Lloyd Snook said he would like to see the budget process moved up further so that Council could have more influence. The budget is introduced to the public the first week of every March. “There are places, particularly in Northern Virginia, where Council is involved in budget discussions by mid-December,” Snook said. “They’re not waiting until February or March and the practical effect of what we do is that our opportunity for actually commenting on things is compressed into about four weeks.” Snook said he would like to see the budget introduced in early February. Rogers said he would look into seeing if that could be accomplished, but it would leave for no break at all for budget staff. Hammill suggested holding budget development work sessions when needed. One such work session that comes to mind is the one last September when Council signaled its willingness to transfer a financial commitment for the West Main Streetscape toward school reconfiguration. That gave staff direction as they built the FY23 budget.Payne pointed out that Albemarle County has adopted their budget in May for the past two years. Rogers and Hammill said they would return with more options. For all of my stories on the budget process in Charlottesville, visit Information Charlottesville.Housekeeping notes for edition #416When will the next installment of Charlottesville Community Engagement? Good question. I can tell you there will be a Week Ahead out on Sunday as well as the Government Glance which is a look at what’s coming up in all of the localities across the Fifth Congressional District of Virginia. Reporting for today’s installment included a look-up on the Public Access to Court Electronic Records to learn a little more about the lawsuit filed by the former Police Chief. Today’s search only cost $2, but this is the kind of cost it takes to produce informational content that intends to keep you up to date. So, if you’re like to support this program which includes expenses like court reporting, consider a paid subscription through Substack. If do so, Ting will match your initial payment! And, if you sign up for their services through this link you’ll get a free standard install, your 2nd month free, and a $75 downtown mall gift card! Enter the promo code COMMUNITY for full effect. Music comes from the D.C. entity that currently goes by the name Wraki, selected randomly from a bin of basement-recorded cassette tapes. You can support that work by purchasing the album Regret Everything for whatever you would like to pay. Now, off to prepare for a trip to a different location in which I will continue to produce a couple editions of Charlottesville Community Engagement. It’s my pleasure to do so and I do hope you will help support me to keep this going for a long time come. This is a public episode. If you’d like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit

August 3, 2022: Throneburg challenges Good to a debate for Fifth District seat; Albemarle PC sees options to continue for growth management

Play Episode Listen Later Aug 3, 2022 23:18

There are many made-up holidays that somehow have found their way into being mentioned on this particular channel of programming as part the introduction. For some reason, today is Clean Your Floors Day, though it’s unclear who makes the money off of those greetings cards. But how clean are your floors? Are you a rebel without a broom, or are you a vacuum warrior? It’s a very good thing that none of the rest of this installment of Charlottesville Community Engagement has anything to do with this particular topic. But I will have you know, I mopped mine yesterday in anticipation of this very important day. On today’s show:So far there are no debates scheduled in the contested Fifth Congressional District race but Democrat Josh Throneburg wants to change thatArea home sales volumes have decreased, though the cost to buy a place to live continues to increaseGreene County hires a water and sewer director to prepare to expand supplySeveral area organizations receive funding from Virginia Humanities, including a project to tell stories of PVCC students who have been or are in prisonAlbemarle County continues to review its Comprehensive Plan and the seven-member Planning Commission got their chance to review growth management options late last month First shout-out is for LEAP’s new Thermalize Virginia program In today’s first Patreon-fueled shout-out: Have you been thinking of converting your fossil-fuel appliances and furnaces into something that will help the community reduce its greenhouse gas emissions? Your local energy nonprofit, LEAP,  has launched a new program to guide you through the steps toward electrifying your home. Thermalize Virginia will help you understand electrification and connect you with vetted contractors to get the work done and help you find any rebates or discounts. Visit to learn more and to sign up!  Challenger Throneburg challenges Good to an in-person debateThe Democratic candidate in the Fifth District Congressional race has asked his opponent to agree to meet in person for a debate or other kind of candidate forum before the November 8 election. Josh Throneburg of Charlottesville became the candidate earlier this year before the primary when he was the only one to qualify for the ballot. “There’s one question I get asked more than any other and that is, when will the two of you debate?” Throneburg asked in a campaign video sent out this morning. Throneburg addressed his comments directly to Good and said there were at least three organizations that would hold a campaign event, and that he’s accepted all of them.“But you have either rejected or ignored those invitations and so I want to make things crystal clear. I, Josh Throneburg, challenge you, Representative Bob Good to an in-person debate sometime between now and November 8.”Good is seeking his second term in the U.S. House of Representatives having defeated Cameron Webb in the 2020 election. Candidate Good did participate in a September 9, 2020 virtual campaign forum put on by the Senior Statesmen of Virginia. You can take a listen to that whole event at the Charlottesville Podcasting Network. A request for comment or a response is out to the Bob Good for Congress campaign. CAAR: Charlottesville real estate market continues to cool as prices continue to increaseThe number of sales in the Charlottesville housing market continues to drop as the median sales price continues to climb. That’s according to the latest report from the Charlottesville Area Association of Realtors. (view the report) “There were 1,380 homes sold in the CAAR area in the second quarter,” reads one of the bullet points in the CAAR Home Sales Report for the second quarter. “This is an eleven percent drop from the second quarter a year ago, which is 165 fewer sales.” CAAR’s jurisdictional area is the same as the Thomas Jefferson Planning District with the city of Charlottesville as well as the counties of Albemarle, Fluvanna, Greene, Louisa, and Nelson. The median sales price increased to $417,850, an eleven percent increase over the second quarter of 2021. Additionally, supply has increased with 741 active listings in the area, a 28 percent increase over the same period in 2021. To put the increase in perspective, consider that the median sales price for the second quarter of 2018 was $301,000. The report also covers recent economic trends such as steady job growth and low unemployment. “Several job sectors have fully recovered and have actually expanded since the start of the pandemic, including the Professional and Technical Services sector, and the Federal Government sector. The homeownership rate within these two job sectors tends to be relatively high, so growth in these sectors provides fuel for the housing market in Virginia.”However, the leisure and hospitality sector continues to show signs of recovery. Mortgage rates are higher than last year, but have shown a slight decline from the end of June when the average rate on a 30-year fixed was 5.7 percent. However, the report acknowledges the cooling effect of rates that have increased two percentage points so far this year. Sales volumes were down in all localities except Greene County where there was a 33 percent increase in sales. There were 122 homes sold in that jurisdiction between April and June of this year compared to 92 in the same period the year before. The median sales price increased in all of the jurisdictions, but Nelson County saw the biggest jump in values from $285,000 in second quarter of 2021 to $425,000 in the second quarter of 2022. Visit to download the report. What do you think? If you’re a property owner, how does this change your views on what you may do with your own place? What about if you want to own? Say something in the comments. New water and sewer director in GreeneGreene County is preparing for anticipated population growth by expanding its urban water supply. Now the locality has hired its first ever water and sewer director. “Mr. Greg Lunsford… will oversee the development of a team to operate Greene County Water and Sewer Department as Greene transitions out of the Rapidan Service Authority,” reads an announcement posted to the county’s Facebook page. Greene County recently left the RSA in order to build a reservoir that’s already received permission from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The idea is to impound White Run to create storage. (learn more on the Greene website)Lunsford recently served as the town manager of Elkton in Rockingham County where the release states he helped advance a water system upgrade. In Greene, he will lead the work to create a water and sewer ordinance to govern the new supply. Virginia Humanities awards grants to area nonprofitsThe state agency that serves as the official humanities council for Virginia has made its latest round of grants to nonprofit organizations that seek to tell new stories about the people who have lived in the Commonwealth. “We want Virginians to connect with their history and culture and, in doing that, we hope we’ll all get to know each other a little better,” reads the About section of the website for Virginia Humanities. In all, Virginia Humanities awarded $153,200 to eighteen organizations including several in this general area. The Catticus Corporation of Berkeley, California will get $10,000 for a project to build a website intended to tell the story of Barbara Johns and the 1951 student walk out in Prince Edward County to a larger audience across Virginia and the nation. James Madison University will get $5,400 toward a project called A Miserable Revenge: Recovering 19th-Century Black Literature from the Shenandoah Valley. This will transcribe a handwritten novel by George Newman around 1880. Newman was an African American educator from the Winchester area. The Louisa County Historical Society will get $7,000 for a project called Representing our Residents: African American History at the Louisa County Historical Society. This will be a series of oral history interviews and public outreach activities.The National D-Day Memorial in Bedford will get $8,000 for a project called Someone Talked! A Podcast of the National D-Day Memorial. This will include conversations between the prolific WWII historian John McManus and other scholars and is intended and designed to reach and engage new audiences now that the generation that lived through WWII has passed. A project to add two Louisa County churches to the National Register of Historic Places received $3,000.Piedmont Virginia Community College will receive $10,000 for the PVCC Prison Creative Arts Project. The idea is to collect original writing from incarcerated PVCC students and then create a theatrical production based on the stories. The Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Museum will get $8,250 to make three videos to introduce the Monacan Nation as “custodians of the lands and waters in and around Charlottesville” to serve as land acknowledgments The Virginia Tech Foundation will receive $20,000 for a podcast to be called Tribal Truths on the histories and cultures of state and federally recognized Tribes in Virginia. To see the rest, visit the release at Virginia Humanities. Second shout-out goes to Camp AlbemarleToday’s second subscriber-supported public service announcement goes out to Camp Albemarle, which has for sixty years been a “wholesome rural, rustic and restful site for youth activities, church groups, civic events and occasional private programs.”Located on 14 acres on the banks of the Moorman’s River near Free Union, Camp Albemarle continues as a legacy of being a Civilian Conservation Corps project that sought to promote the importance of rural activities. Camp Albemarle seeks support for a plan to winterize the Hamner Lodge, a structure built in 1941 by the CCC and used by every 4th and 5th grade student in Charlottesville and Albemarle for the study of ecology for over 20 years. If this campaign is successful, Camp Albemarle could operate year-round. Consider your support by visiting Albemarle Planning Commission reviews seven options for growth management Is this the summer of 2022, or is it the Summer of AC44? AC44 is the name Albemarle County has given for the review of its Comprehensive Plan. That’s a document Virginia requires all localities to adopt and review every five years. Albemarle last updated its plan in 2015 and work got underway earlier this year. “We’re currently in phase one, plan for growth, where we are reviewing and evaluating the current growth management policy, using lenses of equity, climate action, and capacity projects,” said Tori Kannellopollous, a senior planner with Albemarle County.At the end of this phase, staff and hired consultants will have developed a draft vision for “growth and resilience” on which new policy objectives will be written.  The work so far has led to the development of seven growth management policies for the public to review. “We are planning having in-person and virtual roundtables and online opportunities in step three,” Kannellopollous saidThe Commission will then review the work in September followed by a review by the Board of Supervisors. Discussions about what changes might come in the rural area will come during phase two of the Comprehensive Plan Review. Several Commissioners wanted to know if survey responses have done enough to capture a diversity of opinion. “I did a deep dive on the last one that came out and when I look at the demographics, the demographics really trend white, upper class, middle-upper class, and extremely well-educated,” said Commission Julian Bivins. “What I’m nervous about is that those responses become the drivers for lots of decisions.” Charles Rapp, the deputy director of the Community Development Department, said he expected participation to increase when the plan review gets into specifics.“People are excited to get into the specific topics [and] into the details of this plan,” Rapp said. “At this point we’re still at such a high level trying to figure out which of those avenues we’re going to go down and which ideas we want to explore and what are those topics that we want to dive into.” The Commission also got an update on the buildout analysis of the county’s existing capacity for new homes and businesses. The firm Kimley Horn has been hired to conduct that work. Kannellopollous had several preliminary observations.“In mixed-use developments, the residential component tends to fill out first and the non-residential component may not build out until years later,” Kannellopollous said. “When factoring in site readiness and site-selection criteria, there appears to be sufficient capacity for commercial and retail uses but much less currently available for office and industrial uses.” Another finding is that new developments are not being approved at the maximum possible, and that by-right developments also do not use all of the potential building space recommended in the existing Comprehensive Plan.Seven growth management optionsThe firm EPR has been hired to help develop the growth management options. “These were developed by the consultants and the staff after the first round of public input,”  said Vlad Gavrilovic with EPR. “They’re not intended as picking one as the winner or the loser. They’re intended to initiate discussion.” Let’s go through them. Here’s option one:“Applying more density and more in-fill development within the existing development areas and retaining and enhancing green infrastructure,” Gavrilovic said. “Next option was looking in the development areas to adjust the densities and reduce the maximum densities to more closely align with what people have actually been building as.” The third option would be to develop criteria for which the growth area might be adjusted. “Looking at new criteria to identify when, where, and how growth areas should be expanded,” Gavrilovic said.  “The next option was opportunities for non-residential development around the interchanges on I-64 to support job growth and economic development.” Option five would explore the possibility of rural villages. “Rural villages where you would promote small scale commercial and service uses to nearby rural area residents,” Gavrilovic said. “Number six was looking at current service provisions and seeing if adjustments are needed to ensure equitable distribution of services, particularly health and safety services.” The final option is to “explore opportunities to promote forest retention and regenerative land uses in the Rural area that support climate action goals.” So those are the seven scenarios. A second round of community engagement went out with these results. “We heard that the three options that best support climate action were regenerative uses in the rural area, rural villages, and distribution of service provision,” Kannellopollous said. “The three options that best support equity were service provision, rural villages, and providing more density and infill in the development areas with green infrastructure.” For the “accommodating growth” lens, the top three options were rural villages, non-residential development at Interstate interchanges, and service provision. Commissioner feedbackCommissioner Karen Firehock said she saw the provision of infrastructure to support development areas as an equity issue.“People should be able to walk to a park or a trail or a healthy environment near to where they live and not have to get in the car and drive a really long way to find something green,” Firehock said. Firehock said the county is expanding some services into the rural area, such as the Southern Convenience Center in Keene. She said that will make it easier for people to meet other environmental goals. Commissioner Lonnie Murray lives in the rural area, and hopes the growth management strategy does not undo work to date. “I think it’s important to have a concept of ‘do no harm’ in the rural area,” Murray said.As an example, he said he wants the county to stop paving gravel roads in the rural area. Bivins urged the Commission to look ahead to the next redistricting after the 2030 Census, when he said the urban areas will continue to have more of the county’s expected population. “If we do not increase the development area, Samuel Miller [District] will end up in the near future as the largest land mass district in Albemarle County.” Bivins said “From an equity standpoint, one has to say ‘is that where we want to go as a county?’” The Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service currently projects Albemarle’s population as increasing to 124,016 by 2030, up from 112,395 in the U.S. Census of 2020. Commissioner Fred Missel said he wanted to know more information about how capital infrastructure works together to support development.“How does the capital plan for infrastructure, how does that inform development and how are they linked together?” Missel asked. “Not to throw the [Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority] into the mix it’s just one that comes to mind. What is their capital plan and how does that support strategic density? How does it support sustainability?” Missel’s day job is as director of design and development at the University of Virginia Foundation. The Foundation is pursuing a rezoning at its North Fork Discovery Park for a potential mixed-use residential complex. If you’d like to learn more about capital projects in Albemarle County, click here.If you’d like to learn more about the Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority’s Capital Improvement Program, download it here.Luis Carrazana’s day job is at the University of Virginia’s Office of the Architect. He said he wanted better metrics. “And a lot of times we focus on the big picture but we lose that option to say ‘we know we’re going in the right direction if we’re achieving A, B, C, and D,” Carrazana said. “So I would encourage everyone to think about that as well.” Planning Commissioner Corey Clayborne said density in the right place can help the county achieve certain goals, but he also acknowledged a tension with those who have pushed back. “That’s something we kind of have to wrestle to the ground and I’m not sure if that would be part of the final deliverable here as much as, is there an education sense in this process with the community as we step through this?” Clayborne asked. “Does that mean there are graphics or visuals? I’m not sure what that answer is yet but addressing it… if we can get our arms around and embrace strategic density, I think if you start talking about design importance, that could be a major key to affordable housing.” Commissioner Dan Bailey said one piece of data is experience that comes from what’s been approved and what’s actually been built. “I live in Belvedere and it has a concept that’s been there for nearly ten years of having centers in the community, but it’s been vacant for ten years,” Bailey said. “And we’ve done a lot of approving these novel neighborhood model density and other things where they should have this retail or office building. I would really love to know how many of them have actually been developed.” The next step will be a series of public engagement on the themes as well as the growth management options. Stay tuned. If you’re interested in this topic, invest an hour in the conversation to inform how you might participate. Housekeeping notes for 415 (Clean Floor edition)That’s the end of another installment of the program. Thank you so much for being here! I hope to have another one out tomorrow, followed by another on Friday. Then the Week Ahead and the Government Glance. The latter is the first publication of the new Fifth District Community Engagement.  That’s another service of Town Crier Productions, a company formed to keep you in the know. Contributions and payments to Town Crier Productions cover the cost of reporting. That includes a bill with the United States for the Public Access to Court Electronic Records. I use that service to stay up to date on federal lawsuits such the one former City Manager Tarron Richardson had filed against the city, or the two court cases that sought a House of Delegates race this year.  So, if you’re like to support this program which includes expenses like court reporting, consider a paid subscription through Substack. If do so, Ting will match your initial payment! And, if you sign up for their services through this link you’ll get a free standard install, your 2nd month free, and a $75 downtown mall gift card! Enter the promo code COMMUNITY for full effect. All of the funding goes to ensure I can keep doing the work, which two years ago included bringing the audio from a campaign forum to the public via the Charlottesville Podcasting Network. That’s also part of Town Crier Productions. There’s a lot, and your support will help me pull all of the pieces together into whatever it becomes. Music comes from the D.C. entity that currently goes by the name Wraki, selected randomly from a bin of basement-recorded cassette tapes. You can support that work by purchasing the album Regret Everything for whatever you would like to pay. Now. Off to go clean some floors. This is a public episode. If you’d like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit

August 2, 2022: No House of Delegates race in 2022; Albemarle Supervisors agree to lease part of J.C. Penney for public safety operations, vehicles

Play Episode Listen Later Aug 2, 2022 15:55

Welcome to the 214th day of the year, which means we are now 58.6 percent of the way through 2022. There’s still plenty of time to improve your averages, or lower them, depending on the rules of whatever game you may be playing in your head. On paper, today is August 2, and there’s five months left until Charlottesville Community Engagement will devote its attention to 2023, declared already by the United Nations as the International Year of the Millets. Are you ready? Sign up for a free or paid subscription to get articles about what’s happening in the area. See below for an offer from Ting that could help us both!On today’s program:Charlottesville is taking precautions in preparation of the five year anniversary of the Unite the Right rallyA federal judge has dismissed a second lawsuit seeking a House of Delegates race in 2022Area law enforcement agencies had a recent crackdown on speeding on U.S. 29 Charlottesville’s Fire Department is deploying more medical equipment The Albemarle Board of Supervisors authorizes a lease for the county to lease a portion of a former department store for public safety vehiclesFirst shout out: Soul of Cville to mark Fifth Anniversary of A12In today’s first shout-out: Three groups are preparing to hold the second annual Soul of Cville festival to celebrate Black excellence in Central Virginia. Chic & Classy Image Consulting, 101.3 JAMZ, and the Ix Art Park Foundation will host the event will be held on August 12, August 13, and August 14 and will feature: Live music and performancesA fashion showA Black artisan market featuring local vendors, Food from local Black-owned restaurantsA pop-up skate event with De La Roll, An art show called There Are Black People in the Future with The Bridge PAI. On Friday there will be a screening of the 1989 film Do the Right Thing, with an afterparty in the Looking Glass hosted by 9 Pillars Hip Hop. For details, visit on alert for fifth anniversary of A12This week marks five years since the Unite the Right rally and violent conflicts in downtown Charlottesville. Yesterday the city sent out a press release stating that there is no “specific credible threat” but that precautions will be taken. “CPD is maintaining a status of heightened situational awareness and monitoring chatter from intelligence sources to be prepared to increase available coverage Downtown and in parks, which can be activated quickly in response to any pop-up emergencies that might occur,” reads that press release.The eastern vehicular crossing of the Downtown Mall at Heather Heyer Way will be closed from Thursday August 11 at 6 p.m. until Sunday morning August 14 at 6:30 a.m. There is a planned event at the Ting Pavilion for Fridays after Five on Friday. No House of Delegates race in 2022If you’re a candidate for the Virginia House of Delegates, it’s now pretty much certain you’ll be on the ballot in 462 days if you get the nomination or otherwise qualify. Judge David Novak of Virginia’s Eastern Federal District Court has dismissed a second lawsuit seeking an election this year. (read the ruling)“Like just about everything else in our society, the unprecedented COVID-19 global pandemic impacted the work of the United States Census Bureau, delaying the sending of the results of the 2020 Census to the states,” states the introduction to Novak’s order to dismiss the case. That delay meant Virginia did not have updated boundaries for the General Assembly or the House of Representatives until the end of 2021. At the time, Richmond attorney Paul Goldman had an active suit against the State Board of Elections arguing that the 2021 elections were unconstitutional because they were based on data from the 2010 Census. After several months of legal proceedings including an appearance before the Fourth Circuit of Appeals, Judge Novak and two other judges ruled that Goldman lacked legal standing to have brought the case. A few days later, Richmond author Jeffrey Thomas Jr. filed a second suit based on Goldman’s main arguments. Novak’s order recounts the long legal saga to this point, including the failure of the Virginia Redistricting Commission to reach consensus on new maps as well as the COVID-related delays.“Because Plaintiff’s attempts to lay blame on Defendants for the delays caused by the unprecedented pandemic fails, Plaintiffs are unable to trace their injuries to Defendants,” Novak writes. Judge Novak’s order is made without prejudice, which means a new suit could be brought, but there are 98 days until election day. Efforts made to crack down on distracted drivers on U.S. 29Vehicular crashes are up on Virginia roads this year and late last month area law enforcement agencies teamed up on to enforce speeding and distracted driving laws on U.S. 29. On July 21, Albemarle County Police, Charlottesville Police, and the University of Virginia police were out in force from the Greene County border to the Nelson County line. “We usually see at least 700,000 vehicles daily on that stretch of roadway,” said Albemarle Master Police Officer Kate Kane. “Consequently it adds up to a lot of crashes unfortunately.” During the one-day initiative on July 21, there were 197 traffic stops and 201 summons were given out. Just over half of those were for speeding. The chances of surviving are dramatically diminished the faster you go.“Logic would tell you that when speed goes up, survivability goes down,” Kane said. “We don’t realize how fragile we are. Even with the seat belts, even with the air bags, even with the best protection technology, we cannot avoid all crashes. If you’re traveling at 75 miles an hour or higher, your body just can’t take that kind of impact.”As of today, there have been 527 fatalities on Virginia roads in 2022 according to a dashboard on the Virginia Department of Transportation’s website. Charlottesville Fire Department to deploy more devices on medical callsSome vehicles used by the Charlottesville Fire Department on medical calls will soon carry additional devices intended to increase the chances of a patient surviving a cardiac arrest. The Department secured $64,000 from a Community Development Block Grant in the last fiscal year to purchase four chest compression devices to assist in the performance of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). They’ll be placed on two fire engines and two ambulances.“Based on Neighborhood Risk Assessment data, residents in all nineteen (19) neighborhoods are expected to benefit from deploying these devices, most notably Tenth and Page, where the data highlights the significant importance of timely interventions,” reads a press release sent out on Friday. The department will also begin to implement video laryngoscopes, which are devices that assist with the intubation of patients. “The [Airtraq] devices have been used in pre-hospital systems and in emergency departments to improve success in airway management,” the release continues. Yesterday was the first day that Scott Carpenter will serve as the Deputy Chief of Operations. According to a July 15 press release, Carpenter has been with the Charlottesville Fire Department for 22 years. Second shout-out: The Plant Northern Piedmont Natives Campaign Since the very beginning of this newsletter, one long-time Patreon supporter has used his shout-out to draw your attention to the work of the Plant Northern Piedmont Natives Campaign. The campaign is a coalition of grassroots partners including motivated citizens and volunteers, partner organizations, and local governments who want to promote the use of native plants. Summer is in high gear and pollinators are active! Want to learn more? Visit to download Piedmont Native Plants: A Guide for Landscapes and Gardens. Albemarle Supervisors approves rent former J.C. Penney as public safety operations centerAlbemarle County will move forward with the lease of a former department store at Fashion Square Mall to serve as a new operations facility for fire and police. “It does have a central location, it’s got a very large warehouse, with a great loading dock,” said Lance Stewart, the county’s director of facilities and environmental services.  “All together it's about 33,000 square feet which is almost a third of the J.C. Penney site. On July 20, Supervisors authorized a lease and signaled a willingness to pay over $3 million in capital costs to get it ready for public safety work. “This has been a known and growing need for many years including capital requests that were submitted for new construction in the past but not funded,” said Lance Stewart is the director of the Facilities and Environmental Services Department in Albemarle County. David Puckett, the Deputy Chief of Operations at Albemarle Fire Rescue, reminded Supervisors that they have hired several personnel in recent years to expand capacity. “While the vast majority of those positions are out in the field directly providing service there are a number of administrative positions added to make sure we could successfully on-board, train, and support those personnel long-term.” Puckett said. Puckett said space is full at the county’s offices on Fifth Street Extended.  The Department also now has its own dedicated fleet manager as well as a mechanic to conduct in-house repairs. All that work also requires space, and the J.C. Penney used to have a tire shop. “The lack of a centralized facility has required us to store parts and equipment in fire station closets and storage rooms throughout the county,” Puckett said. “This has resulted in loss productivity. As an example, if a mechanic is out working on a truck only to determine that the part needed to complete the repair is halfway across the county, it requires more time and energy to go get the part before they complete it.”Puckett said stations themselves are not really set up for vehicle repair.Albemarle Police Chief Sean Reeves said more space has also been a capital need requested by law enforcement. “Some of the capital improvement projects from over ten years ago, from two chiefs of police ago, called for a site that we could use to expand stored evidence, store vehicles that are in evidence, and an evidence processing bay that we do not have,” Reeves said. Colonel Reeves said using the J.C. Penney site would cut down on the capital cost to build such a place. He also said the traffic unit would move to the new location, freeing up space at the County Office Building on Fifth Street Extended.“And that space that’s freed up at COB-Fifth, what that would do is go toward supporting the mental health unit, the officers that are going to be picked and selected as staff for the new mental health unit,” Reeves said.  The J.C. Penney site is owned separately from the rest of Fashion Square Mall by a subsidiary of Seminole Trail Properties. Stewart said this use would not preclude redevelopment of the site in the future. The project is also outside of the jurisdiction of the Albemarle Architectural Review Board. The lease would be for ten years with options to extend that as well as to expand to more of the J.C. Penney site in the future. The rent of $558,000 a year is based on $12.50 per square foot, and the rent would increase by 3.5 percent each year. “And I can tell you that having looked at a number of industrial and commercial properties that we thought might be suitable options, that is well below typical for the market,” Stewart said. Final details will be worked out as the lease is negotiated. Supervisor Ned Gallaway lauded staff for negotiating a good price and said this was a good location for this use. “This is an area where the Rio Road Small Area Plan is,” Gallaway said. “When we think of the county investing in this location, we can be a vibrant anchor tenant to an area that needs redevelopment and needs activity.Housekeeping notes for edition #414If you’ve been wondering if there is going to be a summer break for Charlottesville Community Engagement, we’re sort of in it. I am hoping this week to write up as much as I can before cutting back to almost no newsletters and podcasts for next week. I’ve got a rare opportunity to go on a vacation, and I’m tempted to try to not pay attention. But that’s the difficult thing - I don’t want to stop paying attention to the items happening in the area in and around Charlottesville. In fact, I’ve set up Town Crier Productions to harness my curiosity about what’s happening and a passion for documenting what’s going on. We’re now in the third year of this experiment, and I’m grateful for everyone who has helped with a financial contribution to keep it going. The best way to make a financial contribution is by purchasing a subscription through Substack. if you do so, Ting will match your initial payment! And, if you sign up for their services through this link you’ll get a free standard install, your 2nd month free, and a $75 downtown mall gift card! Enter the promo code COMMUNITY for full effect. Music on the podcast version of the show comes from the D.C. sensation Wraki, and you can support their work by paying whatever you want for the album regret everything on BandCamp. Finally, if you’ve missed anything or want to do a deep dive on a topic, take a look at the Information Charlottesville archive. Want to read articles on land use in Albemarle? Click here!What about information on Virginia elections? Click here!What about uncategorized articles? And what category should they be in? Please send this on to someone else so we can continue to grow the audience. Thanks for reading and listening! This is a public episode. If you’d like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit

July 29, 2022: Albemarle denies request to import dirt to farm near Chris Greene Lake; Supervisors award $3.3M to two Southwood projects

Play Episode Listen Later Jul 29, 2022 21:43

Going up? Going down? Or, staying in the same place? Those are the only options to ponder now that it is National Talk In An Elevator Day. The idea is to spark up a quick conversation with a stranger while you level up - or down. So, polish up your pitch and perhaps you will find your way somewhere new? That’s one thought to have on July 29, 2022 and this installment of Charlottesville Community Engagement hopes to get to the bottom of a few things. I’m your host, Sean Tubbs. Sign up for free to be informed about a great deal of things! Pay for a subscription and you’ll help the information keep flowing!On today’s show:The deadline will soon close to tell the University of Virginia that your company wants to build affordable units as part of a housing initiativeAlbemarle Supervisors approve funding to further advance affordable housing projects at SouthwoodThere’s another algae bloom at Chris Greene Lake And Albemarle Supervisors deny a request from a landowner next to the lake to import clean fill to help restore the land to raise livestock First shout-out: Piedmont Master Gardeners want to help you rethink your lawnIn today’s first subscriber supported public service announcement: Want to change up your lawn to something more sustainable for pollinators and other creatures? The Piedmont Master Gardeners wants you to know about a program called Healthy Virginia Lawns which can assist you in your transition. The program is a joint venture of Virginia Cooperative Extension and the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation. If interested, the first step will be for a Piedmont Master Gardener to come for a visit for an assessment and soil tests. Healthy Virginia Lawns will give you a customized, science-based roadmap to a greener landscape that protects water quality, wildlife and other resources along the way. Visit to learn more!And if you want to learn more about how to use water more efficiently while gardening, Piedmont Master Gardeners are hosting a program at the Center at Belvedere this Tuesday, August 2, at 6:30 p.m. Learn more at looming for responses to UVA housing initiativeFirms and entities that seek to be part of the University of Virginia’s initiative to build up to 1,500 subsidized housing units have until Tuesday to answer a request for qualifications (RFQ). The University of Virginia Foundation has announced three sites on which mixed-use developments will be built, and the RFQ is for a 24 acre site on Fontaine Avenue known as Piedmont as well as a two acre site on Wertland Street near the intersection with 10th Street NW. Two weeks ago, the Foundation put out a list of answers to questions raised at a June 10 pre-proposal conference. (view the answers)“We expect submissions to provide clear examples of the approach to planning and development on other similar projects managed by the respondent,” reads the response to the first question. The document states that there have been no discussions with either Albemarle or Charlottesville about potential rezonings that might be necessary for the projects. The Piedmont site is located within Albemarle county and offers about 12 developable acres. The 10th and Wertland site is within Charlottesville close to three apartment buildings that have been constructed in the last ten years on West Main Street. There will be no homeownership options at either site and the Foundation’s involvement will be limited to leasing the ground to the development team. Existing tenants at the two locations are on year-to-year leases and have been informed of the potential redevelopment. Some but not all of the new tenants in the new buildings will be required to have specific low incomes. “Our team’s analysis demonstrates a need for units at [30 percent to 60 percent of area median income], but it will be up to the development team to determine the best approach to maximize affordability while producing a financially feasible project,” reads the response to question 10. The Foundation is also not stating a unit count at either location.“The count should be identified by the selected development team’s development program and financial plan,” reads the response to question 14. “It is assumed that teams will seek to maximize the number of affordable units while working to offer a variety of affordability levels across the development.”The response also clarifies that the units are not being targeted for UVA employees but for community members at the 30 percent to 60 percent level. The UVA Foundation has previously offered land at the North Fork Discovery Park, but an RFQ for that project will not be issued until after a rezoning is completed. See also:UVA announces three sites for affordable housing projects, December 14, 2021Places29-North committee gets first look at North Fork rezoning to add residential, March 3, 2022University of Virginia issues first request for qualifications for affordable housing developers, June 10, 2022Regional housing partnership endorses Piedmont Housing Alliance’s application to build affordable housing at two sites, July 7, 2022Albemarle Supervisors approve nearly $3.3 million in additional funding for projects at Southwood There’s a lot of demand for funding for housing projects across the community, and Albemarle County set aside some of its share of the American Rescue Plan Act to provide support to nonprofit agencies. The county asked those entities to apply for funding for affordable housing projects last gal “During the [Agency Budget Review Team] and [American Rescue Plan Act] processes we received requests for more than $20 million in funding support,” said Stacy Pethia, Albemarle’s Housing Policy Manager.On April 20, the Albemarle Board of Supervisors approved $1.29 million from the FY22 budget for three projects. “That money went to the Albemarle Housing Improvement Program to preserve 41 affordable units,” Pethia said. “$625,000 went to the Piedmont Community Land Trust to create 12 permanently affordable new housing units. And $250,000 was awarded to expand the county’s current energy improvement program and that would extend that program for an additional 25 existing units.” Another $2.7 million from Albemarle’s share of ARPA was set aside for housing, and Pethia said much of that went to the Premier Circle project being developed by Piedmont Housing Alliance, Virginia Supportive Housing, and the Thomas Jefferson Area Coalition for the Homeless. On July 20, Supervisors were asked to approve funding for two additional projects. “The staff is requesting the Board approve $3.3 million in funding [and] $3 million of that will be given to Piedmont Housing Alliance to support their Southwood Housing project and $306,000 will go to Habitat for Humanity to provide temporary rental assistance for 40 Southwood families that need to be relocated during the redevelopment process,” Pethia said. That relocation will take place for two years as the second phase of Habitat’s Southwood redevelopment gets underway. The total project cost is $2 million, making the county’s cost about 15 percent of that total. Pethia said the relocation will be in a building being constructed as part of phase one. Pethia said Piedmont Housing Alliance’s Southwood Apartments will have 121 units in the first phase of the Southwood redevelopment. “Those units will serve households with incomes between 30 percent and 60 percent of the area  median income,” Pethia said. “The total project cost is $24.9 million.”Pethia said Albemarle’s total contribution for that project will end up around 12 percent of the total cost, or about $25,000 per unit. The main bulk of the funding comes from the sale of Low-Income Housing Tax Credits but other sources include the National Housing Trust Fund and the Virginia Housing Trust Fund. Albemarle’s Office of Housing will also dedicate eight vouchers to the project. “That equals approximately $500,” Pethia said. “That will provide rental assistance to dedicated units for 15 years.”Supervisor Ann Mallek asked what would happen after that 15 years. Pethia responded they would have to remain affordable for 30 years because that is the requirement under the Low Income Housing Tax Credits mechanism. Supervisor Ned Gallaway said Supervisors have to have a discussion about the future of the county’s affordable housing trust.“We’re on the 20th day of the Fiscal Year and our affordable housing fund, which we’ve taken probably four years to get up to $5 million is now down to under $500,000 again,” Gallaway said. “That’s not bad because we’re using it but there’s still so much out there that we need to do.” Gallaway said the county needs to do more than rely on surpluses and one-time money. Second shout-out: Join me for a Cvillepedia training session - Brand styleIn today’s house-fueled public service announcement, the Albemarle Charlottesville Historical Society wants you to know about an upcoming exhibit at the Center at Belvedere featuring portraits of several historical figures active in the Charlottesville area in the 1970’s and 1980’s. Frances Brand was a folk artist who painted nearly 150 portraits of what she considered “firsts” including first Black Charlottesville Mayor Charles Barbour and Nancy O’Brien, the first woman to be Charlottesville Mayor. Brand’s work will be on display from July 5 to August 31 in the first public exhibit since 2004. And, if you’d like to help conduct community research into who some of the portraits are, cvillepedia is looking for volunteers! I will be leading a Cvillepedia 101 training session at the Center August 1 at 2 p.m. Sign up at the Center’s website.Another algae bloom at Chris Greene LakeAlbemarle County has closed the beach to people and animals at Chris Greene Lake due to another harmful algae bloom. “People and dogs are prohibited from swimming in the lake until further notice,” reads a press release that went out on Wednesday. “Hiking trails and the dog park remain open, and boating is still permitted.:This is the second such event in less than a year. Another harmful algae bloom shut down the water last October and Chris Greene Lake was reopened after tests showed reduced levels of the bacteria that cause the blooms to occur. Another bloom in June 2018 prompted the county to hire the firm SOLitude Lake Management to conduct a study of the lake’s chemistry to understand the source. Their work found that organic material has accumulated at the bottom of the lake since it was created in the 1970’s. Lower oxygen in warmer months releases phosphorus into the lake upon which the algae feeds.“Algae are naturally-occurring microscopic organisms that are found in fresh and salt waters of Virginia and around the world,” reads the Virginia Department of Health’s website on harmful algae blooms. “Most algal blooms are not harmful but some do affect fish and humans, as well as other animals like birds and marine mammals.” Western portions of Lake Anna are also experiencing harmful algae blooms and an advisory was issued on July 15. The next report on that situation is expected on August 10. Albemarle Supervisors deny landowners request to be exempt from new rules on clean fillThe Albemarle County Board of Supervisors has taken action on the first test of an ordinance adopted in the fall of 2020 to regulate the practice of importing dirt from construction sites and other excavations to agriculturally zoned land. “The fill regulations were developed to protect public health, safety, welfare, and those regulations were designed to limit the scale and impact on roads, the adjacent areas, noise, runoff,” said Bart Svoboda, the county’s zoning administrator. The owner of two properties just to the west of Chris Greene Lake wants an exemption from all of those rules because he says they restrict a contract he has with the federal government to further develop forested land that was clear cut in 2009 that he now wants to become suitable for livestock pasture. “I am currently working on a multiyear, federally-funded environmental quality incentive program  to improve the overall agricultural production of a 254 acre farm that has been in my family since the 1730’s,” said Tim Kindrick. The request is the first to come in since Supervisors adopted updated rules for what’s called clean fill on September 16, 2020. The new rules only allow imported fill on two acres per property. About 90 acres of the property were clear cut in 2009 and the stumps were left to decompose in place in order to prevent erosion. To move the land into productive use as pasture, Kindrick entered into a contract with the United States Department of Agriculture’s National Resources Conservation Service. One of the items in the meeting packet is a letter from Kory Kirkland with the NRCS. (read Kindrick’s application)“I have been working with Tim Kindrick on a multiyear project to conserve, improve, and protect the natural resources on his farm. This project promotes improved pasture condition and use, permanent/ perennial vegetation, and some use exclusion on areas that are most vulnerable. Part of the project area includes the area that Mr. Kindrick has proposed to use clean fill dirt as a land treatment to improve existing [conditions] for continued/ improved agricultural use.” Clean fill means solid matter brought from other sites that could include soil and other inert materials that change the topography of the landscape. Kindrick told the Board of Supervisors the project is agricultural in nature and that the new rules should not apply due to the Virginia Right to Farm Act. He said he has been held hostage by the new ordinance. Zoning administrator Bart Svoboda said staff does not see it that way. (county fill-dirt rules)“Under our ordinance, the zoning ordinance, the activity is not agricultural,” Svoboda said. “Fill activity is specifically excluded as an agricultural activity under state code and local code.”Svoboda acknowledged that the Virginia Right to Farm Act does restrict localities from regulating many agricultural uses, but clean fill brought in from external sites is not one of them.  “That activity of bringing fill from offsite is not an agricultural use,” Svoboda said. “It supports agriculture but under those definitions it is not agricultural use.” Svoboda said staff recommended denial in part because there was no plan for how environmental effects would be mitigated under the plan. Supervisor Jim Andrews questioned the request for exemption from all of the rules. “My sense is that this is really an attempt to say that this regulation shouldn’t apply at all and asking us to make that determination which seems highly inappropriate,” Andrews said. “Without conditions I can’t understand what I’m really looking at.” Before we get to the end of the story, we have to go back. Earlier in the meeting, Brian McCay spoke on behalf of the Earlysville Forest Homeowners Association and said Supervisors should not grant the exemption. “Earlysville Forest has a right of way easement with the Kindrick family that was signed when the neighborhood was first developed,” McCay said. The neighborhood dates back to the 1980’s and McCay said the terms give the association an 15-foot easement intended for a driveway that links to Carriage Hill Drive. “However that driveway is now being used as access for the fill dirt operation requiring repeated trips by heavy dump trucks and is not adequate for that purpose,” McCay said. When asked by Supervisor Ned Gallaway to further explain the neighborhood’s opposition, McCay spoke a second time saying he was not opposed to the use of the property. “Our opposition is directly to the use of this access by heavy equipment and we want to stop that basically,” McCay said. Supervisor Donna Price said she toured the property with Kindrick and saw the installation of mechanisms to keep additional organic material from being washed into the watershed of Chris Greene Lake. “I did have a tour of part of the property and I did see where livestock exclusion fencing has been constructed to protect the waterways,” Price said. “My concern here is that our ordinance may have someone created what I’d call the law of unintended consequences by limiting the soil to have to come from the farm itself.” Price said the farm was in existence many years before the homes were built on Carriage Hill Road and that Kindrick had a legal right to use it. “It is a farm,” Price said. ”A farm naturally engages in some sort of industrial use.” Price asked for a legal perspective on whether the county’s ordinance was against state rules.“As Mr. Svoboda said at the beginning, there’s a difference between agricultural use on the one hand and fill use on the other and as Mr. Svoboda also pointed out, there was a recent amendment to state law that specifically amended agricultural activity so as not to include imported fill,” said Deputy County Attorney Andy Herrick. Supervisor Ann Mallek said the county’s new rules on clean fill were the subject of much public discussion over several years.“I cannot support someone saying ‘I don’t want this law to apply to me,’ and I think we have to make a decision based on the information we have now and if there’s a future application that comes in with something different, that would be fair to the neighbors and to the process.” Supervisor Ned Gallaway said he was sympathetic to the landowner, but the county put its ordinance into place for a reason. “I think even then we knew that this would likely frustrate good actors coming forward but the regulations and the ordinance were put in place to stop the bad actors and the activity that we were concerned about,” Gallaway said. There are six ways you can get a waiver but Kindrick wanted a blanket exemption from all of the rules. Gallaway suggested a new application that sought to justify the waiver. Price said she also could not support a blanket exemption. “But I really want county staff to do what I believe county staff does which is help this community member achieve within the law what he wants to do which is to improve the quality of his farm,” Price said. The motion to deny the application for a special exemption was approved unanimously. Housekeeping notes for episode 413:And that’s it for another edition of Charlottesville Community Engagement, and you may have noticed a focus on Albemarle County. I’d been wanting to get some of these items out there and it took a bit. There’s so much going on and I hope to have another edition out Monday at noon. Between now and then, there’s the Week Ahead coming out on Sunday. There will also be another look at what’s happening at government meetings in the Fifth District in the new Government Glance. In a few days, the above stories will be on the Information Charlottesville website. Want to read articles on land use at the University of Virginia? Click here!What about information on local waterways? Click here!How about economic development? Elections in Virginia? The archive grows each week!All of this is supported by readers and listeners under the Town Crier Productions company I formed two years ago and am still learning how to operate. I’m breaking even, but I’d very much like to find a way to grow. There are ways to do that!For one, if you sign up for a paid subscription through Substack, Ting will match your initial payment! And, if you sign up for their services through this link you’ll get a free standard install, your 2nd month free, and a $75 downtown mall gift card! Enter the promo code COMMUNITY for full effect. Music on the podcast version of the show comes from the D.C. sensation Wraki, and you can support their work by paying whatever you want for the album on BandCamp. My sincere hope today, though, is that someone will ponder the concept of elevators. And what would happen if they could predict the future? Ting will match your initial contribution if you sign up for a paid subscription! This is a public episode. If you’d like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit

July 27, 2022: Rogers briefs City Council on how to spend $14.8M in ARPA funds; Two new members will join the city Planning Commission in September

Play Episode Listen Later Jul 27, 2022 19:15

You can tell a lot about a person by what they think about the noise that emanates from the bagpipe, a woodwind instrument perhaps best associated with Scotland but with origins that might date back to the Hittite people from three thousand years ago. Even if are not a fan of the combination of melody and drone, July 27 is the day to appreciate this unique musical instrument. Perhaps this is the day you buy one for the enjoyment of your friends, family, and co-workers? I’m Sean Tubbs, and not a cent or shilling is being paid to Charlottesville Community Engagement by Big Bagpipe. Sign up to make sure each email finds its way to your inbox. Payment isn’t necessary but does tend to help keep the electrons flowing to make the work possible. On this version of the show:Charlottesville continues to prepare for a school year in which more students will not be able to catch a yellow school busTwo new members will soon join the Charlottesville Planning CommissionA former member of the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors has diedCharlottesville City Council hears from the interim City Manager on how $14.8 million in American Rescue Plan Act funding could be spent First shout-out is for LEAP’s new Thermalize Virginia program In today’s first Patreon-fueled shout-out: Have you been thinking of converting your fossil-fuel appliances and furnaces into something that will help the community reduce its greenhouse gas emissions? Your local energy nonprofit, LEAP,  has launched a new program to guide you through the steps toward electrifying your home. Thermalize Virginia will help you understand electrification and connect you with vetted contractors to get the work done and help you find any rebates or discounts. Visit to learn more and to sign up!  Preparations continue in Charlottesville for more to walk to school Classes begin for Charlottesville City Schools in four weeks and work continues to prepare for a year in which more students will not be eligible to get a ride on a school bus. A driver shortage has led the school system to expand walk zones that are still being finalized. “We are hoping to let families know this week about their current bus eligibility and whether they have a bus request on files,” reads an email update sent to parents interested parties on Monday. “This status update will tell families if their child is in a walk zone or eligible for the bus.”The notice also states that priority will be given to families living further away from schools. The actual bus assignments will be released in August. Last week, the city administration told City Council that staff is recommending using $500,000 from the city’s share of the American Rescue Plan Act to help pay for safety improvements. “We’ve added $500,000,” said interim City Manager Michael C. Rogers. “Higher amounts were suggested. In talking with staff we believe that we have other funds in the budget that can actually exceed the amount that has been suggested in the past by some of the communications from people but this is a high priority area and we are offering that up for your consideration.” More on ARPA later in the newsletter. In their update, city schools say they are in conversations with the city, parents, and community members about sidewalks and intersections that need to be improved. Last week, Deputy City Manager Sam Sanders said the city government will follow the school system’s lead.“What we’re doing is working directly with schools and trying our best to make sure that their priorities are what we prioritize and what we do to help them through this process because we’re seeing this as everyone’s issue,” Sanders said. Sanders said the work to address safety concerns will continue past the first day of school. “And then to go beyond that and basically reboot our Safe Routes to School program,” Sanders said. “That’s what this is really synergized at this time by allowing all this focus on what we’ve been doing and what we’ve been talking about doing.” Sanders said there are also conversations with Albemarle about how to collaborate on pupil transportation for special needs students. The school system is also encouraging people to report problem locations using the MyCville app or by phoning 434-970-3333, option #2. Two other ways people can become involved are: Take a walk along a school route and make your observations known in a Google Doc created by the school systemApply to be a regular or substitute crossing guard or walking school bus leader - paid positionsThe school system will hold a final “walk and talk” this Friday at Mount Zion First African Baptist Church from noon to 2 p.m. There will also be an online Q&A session on August 10 at 5 p.m. (register)Council make two new appointments to Planning CommissionWhen the Charlottesville Planning Commission meets on September 13, two veterans of other advisory bodies will take their place at the makeshift dais in CitySpace. Carl Schwarz served two terms on the Board of Architectural Review from 2014 to the end of last year. He’s an architect in private practice who lives in the 10th and Page neighborhood. Phil d’Oronzio has been the chair of the Housing Advisory Council Committee since August 2014. He’s the CEO of Pilot Mortgage who lives in the Belmont neighborhood. The pair join three Planning Commissioner who were reappointed by Council at their meeting on July 18.“By some accident of history we wound up with five different Planning Commissioners whose terms expire on August 31, 2022,” said Charlottesville Mayor Lloyd Snook. By Virginia law, the seats have to be staggered so that terms don’t expire all at once. To make that work, they had to technically reconstitute the body and reappoint everyone, even those who terms were not yet.Commissioner Hosea Mitchell was appointed to Seat One for a term expiring on August 31, 2023. Mitchell served a partial term in the late 2000’s before rejoining the Commission in June 2018 to fill an unexpired term. He is retired from a career in the medical business. Commissioner Rory Stolzenberg was appointed to Seat Two also for a term expiring on August 31, 2023. Stolzenberg first joined the Commission in October 2018.  He’s a software engineer with Lumin. Seat Three will continue the appointment of Lyle Solla-Yates whose term expires at the end of August 2024. Solla-Yates has been on the Commission since March 2018 and is the current chair. He works for the University of Virginia School of Architecture. Commissioner Liz Russell will continue in Seat 4 with a term that also expires at the end of 2024. Russell has been on the Commission since September 2020. She’s the director of planning, sustainability, and project management at the Thomas Jefferson Foundation. Seat 5 will continue to be occupied by Commissioner Karim Habbab until August 31, 2025. Habbab was appointed in June 2021 and is an architect with BRW Architects. The terms of Schwarz (Seat 6) and d’Oronzio  (Seat 7) and Schwarz will expire on August 31, 2026. The reconstitution of the Planning Commission comes at a time when the city is rewriting the Charlottesville zoning code to increase density. That’s a major objective of both of the Affordable Housing Plan adopted in March 2021 and the Comprehensive Plan updated in November 2021. Former Albemarle Supervisor Cooke dies at 90 A woman who served two terms on the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors has died. Patricia Cooke was elected in 1981 to what used to be called the Charlottesville District and was re-elected in 1985. According to her obituary in the Daily Progress, Cooke graduated from Lane High School in 1950 and opened a laundry business with her husband in 1956. She also had a bridal and formal wear company. A funeral service will be held on Friday.The Charlottesville District became the Rio District at some point during the tenure of Cooke’s successor, David Bowerman. Bowerman served four terms until retiring the Board at the end of 2004. He passed away in March 2020 while he was a sitting member of the Albemarle County Board of Zoning Appeals. In today’s other two shout-outs Code for Charlottesville is seeking volunteers with tech, data, design, and research skills to work on community service projects. Founded in September 2019, Code for Charlottesville has worked on projects with the Legal Aid Justice Center, the Charlottesville Fire Department, and the Charlottesville Office of Human Rights. Visit to learn about those projects. The final comes from another Patreon supporter who wants you to go out and read a local news story written by a local journalist. Whether it be the Daily Progress, Charlottesville Tomorrow, C-Ville Weekly, NBC29, CBS19, WINA, or some other place I’ve not mentioned - the community depends on a network of people writing about the community. Go learn about this place today!Council briefed on potential usage of ARPA funds Charlottesville has now received all of the $19.6 million in funding it will receive from the federal government as part of the American Rescue Plan Act fund. Interim City Manager Michael C. Rogers gave Council an update at their meeting on July 18.“It’s been a big help for local government in terms of recovery from the impact of the pandemic,” Rogers said. Council has already appropriated $4.81 million of the funding and has an unallocated balance of $14.8 million. Money spent so far went to four different categories recognized by the U.S. Department of the Treasury. Of that $14.8 million, $2.28 million was already designated for various uses during the development of the budget for the fiscal year that began on July 1. For the balance, Rogers suggested the following uses:For economic development:$750,000 to the Charlottesville-Albemarle Convention and Visitors Bureau to make up for revenue loss from decline in meals tax revenue. Albemarle County is also being asked to make the same contribution. $300,000 for improvements to the Downtown Mall coordinated with Friends of Downtown Cville. The Mall turns 50 in 2026 and Rogers said a task force may be formed to help mark that occasion and prepare for the next fifty years$100,000 for updates to wayfinding One million for a strategic investment fund for economic development$500,000 for the Meadow Creek Trail to close a gap for a VDOT-funded projectInternal uses:$829,000 for equipment replacement$200,000 for facilities repair$270,000 to augment the Human Resources including hiring a deputy director and a recruiter$200,000 to fund Council’s development of a new strategic planPublic safety: $1.4 million for additional COVID spending should future surges have a greater community health impact$1.1 million to help Charlottesville Fire Department with its accreditation, including hiring three more battalion chiefs for two years$450,000 to help retain personnel in the Charlottesville Fire Department$50,000 to help retain personnel for the Sheriff’s Office$500,000 for the “Safe Routes to School Fund” Human service support:$700,000 for the Emergency Assistance - Pathways program which would include additional rental assistance$1.63 million for affordable housing and homeless services$500,000 for the Community Health Initiative $1 million for the Agency Investment Fund $580,000 for Community Arts Investment$176,000 for the Office of Human Rights to hire an investigator to look into claims under the Fair Housing Act $40,000 for an emergency generator for a city shelter that would be used in major catastrophes The combined $2.63 million for affordable housing and the agency investment fund would be disbursed through a competitive process separate from the “Vibrant Community” process the city has used since 2019 to allocate funding for nonprofits. The Community Health Initiative would support public health projects.“Think of this funding as being available for a previously floated idea of the Community Care Team or something of that nature in order to do a really needed and wonderful pilot to see what would be the best support for our community,” said Deputy City Manager Ashley Marshall.Council was to have discussed a proposal for a Community Care Team at its meeting on February 7 but the item was pulled. The topic did come up as part of a Council work session on May 2. Councilor Brian Pinkston noted that additional on-going positions were being proposed to be created with the one-time ARPA money.“Hiring people with one-off type of funding is something we’re trying to be careful of,” Pinkston said. Rogers said those positions would be proposed to continue into the future and the city would have to find other funds to cover them. Councilor Michael Payne questioned the use of $750,000 to go to the CACVB. The city’s economic development director said the money would help the destination marketing organization with a current cash flow situation caused by the way it is funded. “There’s a two year lag in the funding cycles so the money wasn’t needed two years ago,” said Chris Engel. “It’s needed now because that cycle is playing through.”Council got a briefing on the CACVB in June and learned that the agency received $680,000 from ARPA that flowed through the Virginia Tourism Council. (read the story)“Given that state support I’m a little skeptical about how much is really needed for the CACVB as well as whatever specific measurable deliverables we will get for that investment,” Payne said.  Council will be asked to take action on the appropriations at its August 1 meeting. There’s also an additional $2.52 million for which Rogers has not made any suggestions for how it should be spent. “We look forward to our dialogue on this,” Rogers said. “This is meant to be a first start to set us on a direction to address some things we really need to address in the coming months and thought that these funds would be a good way to do it.” Thoughts? Leave a comment below. Housekeeping items for episode #412That’s another program in the archives, and in a few days you’ll be able to read these stories on the Information Charlottesville website I created to help me keep track of what I’m reporting. Want to read articles on land use in Charlottesville? Click here!What about infrastructure updates? Click here!How about climate action? Elections in Virginia? The archive grows each week!All of this is supported by readers and listeners under the Town Crier Productions company I formed two years ago and am still learning how to operate. I’m breaking even, but I’d very much like to find a way to grow. There are ways to do that!For one, if you sign up for a paid subscription through Substack, Ting will match your initial payment! And, if you sign up for their services through this link you’ll get a free standard install, your 2nd month free, and a $75 downtown mall gift card! Enter the promo code COMMUNITY for full effect. Music on the podcast version of the show comes from the D.C. sensation Wraki, and you can support their work by paying whatever you want for the album regret everything on BandCamp.My sincere hope today, though, is that someone will go and buy a bagpipe. If you do, please let me know. If you have one already, record yourself and send me the audio! Or any exotic instrument, really. This is a public episode. If you’d like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit

July 22, 2022: Temporary four-member Council defers two land use votes, holds first reading on plastic bag tax

Play Episode Listen Later Jul 22, 2022 15:39

Welcome to Spational Noonerism Day, which doesn’t exactly toll off the rung. But if words seem to be a crittle bit lazy today, we can always mely on the rajesty of numbers as it is either 7/22/22 or 22/7/22, depending on what side of the Atlantic you’re on. This is Communville Charlotteminity Engagement and I’m Tawn Shubbs. Now, on to the information. On today’s program:Charlottesville City Council holds first reading on a five-cent tax on plastic bagsA contract has been awarded for a streambank restoration in McIntire ParkAnd Charlottesville City Council defers two land use votes due to a missing member but approve a plan to convert a single family house into a mixed-use apartment buildingFirst shout out: Soul of Cville to mark Fifth Anniversary of A12In today’s first subscriber-supported shout-out: Three groups are preparing to hold the second annual Soul of Cville festival to celebrate Black excellence in Central Virginia. Chic & Classy Image Consulting, 101.3 JAMZ, and the Ix Art Park Foundation will host the event which will be held on August 12, August 13, and August 14 and will feature: Live music and performancesA fashion showA Black artisan market featuring local vendorsFood from local Black-owned restaurantsA pop-up skate event with De La RollAn art show called There Are Black People in the Future with The Bridge PAI. On Friday there will be a screening of the 1989 film Do the Right Thing, with an afterparty in the Looking Glass hosted by 9 Pillars Hip Hop. For details, visit Council holds first reading on plastic bag taxCharlottesville City Council has taken a first step on implementing a five cent tax on most plastic bags at retail stores. A first reading was held on Monday but the public hearing will be held on August 1. “It’s still a work in process at this point and we’re not ready for a final version of it,” said Charlottesville Mayor Lloyd Snook. Deputy City Manager Sam Sanders explained that the General Assembly adopted legislation in 2020 to allow localities to levy the tax. He said there are only four ways the revenue can be used. “We can provide reusable bags to [Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program] and [Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children] recipients, we can produce education to reduce environmental waste, work on mitigation on pollution and litter, and work on environmental clean-up.” Sanders said some bags are exempt, such as durable plastic one with handles intended to be used for multiple uses, and plastics for some types of groceries such as ice cream and meat. “The retailer does the work of collecting the tax,” Sanders said. “They are permitted to retain one cent of every five cents collected to offset their collection and remittance expenses. It’s very much a similar process to how they collect retail sales and use collections. They will send those in to the Virginia Department of Taxation each month.”If approved, Charlottesville would begin collecting the tax on January 1, the same day the tax will go into effect in Albemarle County. Sanders said the city has met with county officials to coordinate efforts and communication. He said the city will need to distribute reusable bags in advance to people who will really need them. “That additional five cents each visit for all the items they would be acquiring adds up over time so we want to make sure that we’re making an equity investment in the roll-out of this particular tax,” Sanders said. One of the details to be worked out is the type of reusable bag. Linen, canvas, or another kind of plastic? “That will be one of the program details that we will definitely be looking for additional feedback,” Sanders said City Councilor Brian Pinkston said that he looks forward to hearing from the public.“To me this seems pretty non-controversial,” Pinkston said. “It seems like a win-win type thing but maybe I’m missing something.” While the public hearing will be held on August 1, Council may not take a vote until August 15 in case something there’s a logistical challenge brought up by the public. City awards Schenks’s Branch contractThe city of Charlottesville will hire a North Carolina based company to restore the streambank of a waterway that runs through McIntire Park. KBS Earthworks won the contract through a competitive bidding process. “The Schenks’ Branch Tributary Project consists of a construction of a priority II and priority III stream restoration to stabilize 818 linear feet of existing impaired stream,” reads the project description in the construction documents that KBS Earthworks will implement. KBS Earthworks will be paid $762,277.27 for the work, according to the notice of award issued yesterday. Funding for the project comes from the Stormwater Local Assistance Fund administered by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality. “The stream is experiencing active severe erosion of its banks and bed, sending excessive amounts of sediment downstream to waterways listed as impaired by DEQ,” reads a StoryMap on the project that was published in February. “As a result, the stream offers poor habitat for aquatic organisms and is largely inaccessible to the public.” When completed, the restored stream will run through the Botanical Garden of the Piedmont.  Second shout-out: The Plant Northern Piedmont Natives Campaign Since the very beginning of this newsletter, one long-time Patreon supporter has used his shout-out to draw your attention to the work of the Plant Northern Piedmont Natives Campaign. The campaign is a coalition of grassroots partners including motivated citizens and volunteers, partner organizations, and local governments who want to promote the use of native plants. Summer is in high gear and pollinators are active! Want to learn more? Visit to download Piedmont Native Plants: A Guide for Landscapes and Gardens. Four member Council delays action on two land use items, approves a thirdCharlottesville City Council has existed as a five member body since 1928 when an amendment to the charter added two more Councilors. In 1981, voters approved a referendum to expand the number to seven, but Council ordered a revote and the idea was defeated the second time around.This past Monday’s Council meeting illustrates what can happen when one member is not present. Vice Mayor Juandiego is on a sabbatical in Ethiopia with his church. There were three land use items on the agenda and two of them were deferred, both for slightly different reasons. For background, read my June 30, 2022 story Charlottesville Council briefed on city-owned property. In the first item, Council opted to wait on a vote to vacate a paper alley in the Fifeville neighborhood. “The owners of 323 6th Street SW have asked the city to close this 20 foot platted right of way,” said City Attorney Lisa Robertson. “City Council back in 2010 previously closed a different section of the platted street.” City Councilor Sena Magill repeated her concerns about doing this without a policy in place that explains to the public what paper streets are and how they can be vacated. “Having been a homeowner who has easements who looked to try to get easements closed around 2010, I was told it couldn’t be done,” Magill said. Robertson said each case is different given the age of the plat, size of property, presence of other easements, and so on. She said Magill was right that the city has taken many approaches. “A few years ago, a previous City Council determined that you should use a scoring rubric to determine whether or not to close certain platted alleys,” Robertson said. Robertson said the city’s new Office of Community Solutions is looking into the topic as part of their efforts to get handle on what property the city owns. Mayor Snook said he shared Magill’s concern of a lack of policy.  So did City Councilor Michael Payne, but he said he would support this particular vacation. Pinkston asked if there would be a downside to waiting. That’s when Mayor Snook brought up the fact Council was down one member. “As least one concern for right now is that I don’t know if we would be 3-1 or 2-2, but if Vice Mayor Wade was here, he would presumably be able to break a tie,” Snook said. Council opted to defer a vote to the August 15 vote. 1000 Monticello Road decision deferredAfter that, Council took up a special use permit to allow 11 units at 1000 Monticello Road. An existing apartment complex is on the property and the permit is required for additional density in a structure that would be built on what is now a driveway. Council denied a similar request last year on a 3-2 vote after several speakers had argued that the developer should be held accountable for a decision to raise rents that many long-term residents could not afford.  Since then, a second application was submitted that increased the number of units that would be guaranteed to be rented out below market. “The Planning Commission reviewed this at their June meeting and recommended that the application be approved,” said city planner Brian Haluska. (See also: Planning Commission recommends approval of 11 units at 1000 Monticello Road, June 15, 2022)Haluska said the application did not trigger the city’s existing affordability requirements but seven out of the eleven units would have some income restrictions. According to the resolution, five of the apartments would be classified as “For-Rent Affordable Dwelling Units” and would be reserved for ten years to households making less than 65 percent of the area median income at a total cost (rent plus utilities) that cannot exceed the fair market rent as established by the U.S. Department Housing and Urban Development.Two of the units would be “For-rent Workforce Affordable Dwelling Unit” at rent (plus utilities) that could not exceed 125 percent of the fair market value. To qualify, households must be at 80 percent of the area median income. (look up Virginia’s fair market rent rates)Earlier in the meeting, several employees of the Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority urged Council to vote the project down because they said the affordability terms were not long enough or deep enough. “The city really needs to take a look at what units are being constructed not only through the [special use permit] process but what units you are incentivizing when you all fund projects as well,” said John Sales, executive director of the Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority. Sales said Council should follow the recommendations by the Office of Community Solutions to lengthen the affordability term to thirty years rather than the ten proffered by the developer. In April 2021, a group that calls itself the Charlottesville Low-Income Housing Coalition published a study called “Why Building More Market-Rate Housing Will Not Solve Charlottesville’s Housing Crisis.” (read the report)Kelsey Schlein of Shimp Engineering was on hand to explain what the rents would be for the five affordable units. “The 2022 HUD [Fair Market Rent] for a one bedroom is $1,063,” Schlein said. “The Charlottesville [Metropolitan Statistical Area] median family income is $111,200.” The rents for the other two would be at 125 percent of the fair market rate, which would be under $1,300 a month. Councilor Magill indicated she would vote no.“I don’t see how this project has significantly altered from when it came before us,” Magill said. Councilor Michael Payne said he would also repeat his no vote. “Just to note for the historical record at this site that the lease terminations and evictions happened and there will be a net loss of affordable housing even if this is approved or not,” Payne said. Pinkston made a motion to approve the special use permit, and Snook seconded. Snook had voted in favor last year. “I guess the question is do we want to wait until Vice Mayor Wade is back to break the tie,” Snook said. “I would,” Pinkston said.At this point, another representative of the applicant requested a deferral. Pinkston withdrew his motion, and the matter will come back on August 15. Councilor Payne voted against the motion to allow the item to be deferred. In the final matter, Shimp Engineering also sought an increase for a density increase at 923 Harris Street to replace a single-family house for a multi-use building with seven apartments. The land is zoned industrial and Charlottesville Mayor Lloyd Snook said he was concerned about taking away developable land for businesses. However, there were enough votes to proceed and Council approved it on a 3-1 vote. More from City Council, including a report on the Planning Commission votes in the next installment of Charlottesville Community Engagement. End of the newsletter business notesWhat’s the 411? This edition of Charlottesville Community Engagement! Thank you to all of the supports who help make this possible and have allowed me to improve this product over the past two years. This is a service of Town Crier Productions.You can join in and help make sure I make it to 822 by signing up for a paid subscription through Substack. If you do, Ting will match your initial payment. Go visit their website and see what they may be able to do for your Internet needs. Ting supports this brand of community engagement with a match! Paid subscriptions are fuel and each new payment makes me work that much harder for the community. This is a public episode. If you’d like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit

July 20, 2022: Charlottesville responds to the heat by opening cooling centers; Sanders updates Council on efforts to make school walking routes safer

Play Episode Listen Later Jul 20, 2022 16:49

Fifty-three years today, human beings landed on Earth’s moon. As far as I know, they didn’t stay very long but I’ve not had the chance to check out the scene myself. But with enough subscriptions to Charlottesville Community Engagement, I will consider purchasing a rocket just to make sure. For now, it’s the July 20, 2022 edition of the program and I’m your lunatic host, Sean Tubbs. On today’s program:The city of Charlottesville opens up cooling centers as temperatures continue to climbInterim Charlottesville City Manager Michael C. Rogers and his staff provide updates on the Crescent Halls bus stop as well as efforts to make walking school routes saferChamber’s Minority Business Alliance seeking applications for 2022 Vanguard AwardA local brewery unveils the official lager of the University of Virginia Charlottesville wants more people to apply to various boards and commissionToday’s first shout-out: Charlottesville Area Tree Stewards to lead more walksIn today’s first subscriber supported public supported public service announcement: Want to know more about our majestic wooden neighbors that help purify the air and provide shade on these hot summer days? The Charlottesville Area Tree Stewards have two upcoming walks where you can learn more about trees in the area: This Saturday at 9 a.m., a group will be led through Darden Towe Park beginning at the Lewis and Clark Exploratory Center to see Ancient tOsage Orange trees, a historic Monticello Tulip Tree, elm tree devastation due to the emerald ash borer, and common deciduous and conifer trees. (register)On July 29 at 9 a.m, three stewards will lead a walk through Belmont with about twenty stops to explore urban (register)Become a member, and you’ll get access to even more Charlottesville Area Tree Stewards events!Charlottesville opens up cooling centersWith temperatures this week in the 90’s and possibly above, the city of Charlottesville has officially launched several places where people can go to stay out of the heat.  Key Recreation Center, Tonsler Recreation Center, and the Jefferson-Madison Regional Library have been designated as cooling centers during the day until further notice. Key Recreation Center is located at 800 E. Market Street.  The hours of operation are 5:30pm– 9pm Monday through Friday; 1pm– 6pm on Saturday and Sunday.  Tonsler Recreation Center is located at 501 Cherry Avenue.  The hours of operation are Noon – 9pm Monday through Friday; 1pm-6pm Saturday and closed on Sunday.Jefferson – Madison Regional Library (Central Branch) is located at 201 E. Market Street.  The hours of operation are 9am-9pm Monday through Thursdays; 9am-5pm Friday and Saturday; closed Sunday.Planning for heat for near-term, long-termThe Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission is working on an update of the Regional Hazard Mitigation Plan, which is intended to help coordinate public response to natural disasters. There’s a section on extreme heat that may be useful to know at a time when heat records are being surpassed across Europe. “Extreme heat can be defined as temperatures that hover 10°F or more above the average high temperature for the region, last for prolonged periods of time, and are often accompanied by high humidity,” reads page H-25 of the plan. “Under normal conditions, the human body’s internal thermostat produces perspiration that evaporates and cools the body. However, in extreme heat and high humidity, evaporation is slowed, and the body must work much harder to maintain a normal temperature.”As with COVID-19, extreme heat effects take a toll more strongly on the elderly, people with respiratory difficulties, and those with other health vulnerabilities. The City of Charlottesville recently produced a summary of hazards associated with climate change. (read the report)“The climate models show that by 2050, Charlottesville may experience more than twice as many extreme heat events annually as there were in 2020,” reads page 3 of that report. “By 2100, there may be almost seven times as many.” One way to cool off is at an outdoor pool. Both Albemarle County and the city of Charlottesville have struggled to fill positions this summer. Charlottesville has offered signing bonuses for lifeguards and pool managers, but Deputy Parks and Recreation Director Vic Garber told City Council on Monday that the decision to only open one outdoor pool a day is still in effect.“We are probably 70 percent there so we’re still rotating Washington Park and Onesty but we’re working very hard,” Garber said. The issue also came up at today’s meeting of the Albemarle Board of Supervisors.“In the next ten days, we’re looking at temperatures each day going over 90 up to 100,” said Supervisor Chair Donna Price. “The last seven years have been the hottest in recorded history. Climate change is real and I would ask everyone to be careful, to do what you can to reduce the heat footprint that you are creating.”Price said that includes reducing driving, drawing shades, and raising the thermostat for air conditioning. What do you do when it gets hot out? Say something in the comments. City Manager Rogers provides updates on Crescent Hall bus stop, other mattersOnce a month, interim Charlottesville City Manager Michael C. Rogers publishes a written report that summarizes recent activities. In my fifteen years of covering and monitoring Charlottesville government, this is one of the most thorough and useful documents produced by the city. (read the report)On Monday, Rogers offered some verbal updates taken from the report. Earlier this year, Charlottesville Area Transit had proposed moving a bus stop at Crescent Halls, a temporarily vacant apartment complex owned and operated by the Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority. In April, the Public Housing Association of Residents pushed for CAT to reconsider and Rogers said the city has listened.“A decision has been made and the bus stop will not be moved,” Rogers said. “The bus stop will not be moved. It will stay right there so we are very pleased to make that announcement.”The stop is currently served by Route 6, which currently travels between the University of Virginia Health System, Downtown Mall, and Willoughby Shopping center. There are plans to change the route to eliminate the UVA connection, but implementation of those changes are delayed due to a lack of drivers. (Next steps for Charlottesville Area Transit route changes outlined at partnership meeting, June 24, 2022)Rogers said work continues on development of a collective bargaining ordinance and Council will have a work session at 4 p.m. on August 15. The company Venable LLP has been hired to assist with the work. A firm has also been hired to assist with a search for a new police chief.“We selected a company called Polihire out of Washington, D.C.,” Rogers said. “They will work with us on developing an aggressive community outreach program. We look forward to hearing from the community with respect to what kind of chief do they want.”The city has also hired Steve Hawkes as the director of information technology and Caroline Rice as the new Public Engagement Coordinator. Kyle Ervin will be the Public Information Officer for public safety. He was formerly the marketing coordinator for CAT. Sanders provides updates on school walk zonesDeputy City Manager Sam Sanders said the local government continues to work to address driver shortages for the school system. There are 35 days to the first day of school and there will not be as many bus routes. “We are working in collaboration with Charlottesville City Schools to solve the various issues that may result from having an additional 750 kids having to walk to school this year,” Sanders said. Last week, the Charlottesville Planning Commission told Council they wanted to see solutions in place before school begins. (read that story)Sanders said talks have been held with Albemarle County Public Schools about collaborating with one possibility being for special needs students to make sure they can get to school. Another collaboration could be with Jaunt to see if there is a possibility to share drivers.“We won’t be able to use their equipment because of the federal nature of the funds that they receive but when drivers are working for Jaunt they may be able to drive for us so we’re looking to see if we can figure out a way to make that possible,” Sanders said. Sanders said the planning affects multiple localities across the region and regional approaches are required. He said the city is also looking to find ways to work with groups who want to solve the identified problem. “We’re looking to capture proposals from neighborhood led groups hoping that we’ll be able to deploy those groups in doing some of the work as well since they have offered to do so,” Sanders said. That includes suggestions from Livable Cville and the city’s Bike and Pedestrian Advisory Committee. In a future edition of Charlottesville Community Engagement, we’ll hear more about the possible addition of $500,000 in American Rescue Plan Act funding to cover the costs of some of the work. “Our goal will be to quickly get some of these things out and basically available to make this process a little bit easier,” Sanders said. If you have a student or students in Charlottesville Public Schools, what do you plan to do? Second shout-out: WTJU staging the Cville Puzzle Hunt on August 27In today’s second Patreon-fueled shout-out: By now, readers and listeners know WTJU’s position on algorithms. But do you know that the radio station celebrates puzzles? In fact, on Saturday, August 27, WTJU is organizing the Cville Puzzle Hunt, a huge, cerebral puzzle that will spool out across downtown Charlottesville. The Cville Puzzle Hunt will take you and a team of friends on a wild afternoon running around trying to untangle five diabolical, large-scale puzzles inserted into the urban landscape. The opening clue will be read at 1 p.m. at the Ix Art Park. Find out more about this WTJU-organized event at Chamber’s Minority Business Alliance seeking applications for 2022 Vanguard AwardDo you know someone who should be recognized for their efforts to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion? Or a small business or group that seeks the same goals? The Minority Business Alliance of the Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce is taking applications through August 5 for the John F. Bell Sr. Vanguard Award. “The MBA Vanguard Award is named in honor of John F. Bell Sr., a strong, determined and respected business leader and citizen who established successful businesses during a time when the larger society wasn’t welcoming to or supportive of the Black business community,” reads a press release for the award.This will be the tenth annual award. Previous recipients include Community Investment Collaborative, William Jones III, Hollie Lee, Eugene and Lorraine Williams, Forward Adelante Business Alliance, and Kaye Monroe.Nominations can be submitted here. Champion to make official lager for University of VirginiaThe Champion Brewing Company began operations ten years ago with a small brewery in downtown Charlottesville. Now they’ve expanded to multiple places across Virginia and are part of the larger Champion Hospitality Group with restaurants in Stonefield, Gordonsville, and across Charlottesville.In 45 days, the first University of Virginia home football game will be held at Scott Stadium. Yesterday, Champion announced that its Cavalier Lager will become the officially licensed beer for UVA sporting events.“As life-long UVA sports fans, it’s been a dream of the team to have a Cavalier beer offered at UVA games,” said Champion CEO Hunter Smith in a release. “It’s a hometown lager brewed with our college athletes and their fans top of mind.”The beer will also be available in area stores. This is the first year that the University of Virginia has licensed an official beer. Vacancies still remain on various board and commissions in CharlottesvilleThe next edition of Charlottesville Community Engagement will provide details of who got appointed to the Charlottesville Planning Commission. Council made those appointments at the end of the July 18 meeting, and I’m going through that one chronologically. Earlier in this meeting, Charlottesville Mayor Snook LLoyd pleaded with the public to consider getting involved.“We need more people applying for Boards and Commissions,” Snook said. “We’ve got a couple of Boards and Commission that are down a couple of people. The Region 10 Community Services Board is one. The Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority is another. Historic Resources Committee. The Jefferson Area Community Criminal Justice Board. Jaunt. [Charlottesville Albemarle Convention and Visitors Bureau] needs a representative from the tourism industry.” If you’d like to apply, visit the city’s website. Here’s a list of all the boards.Housekeeping items for the end of #410Thanks for reading today. Charlottesville Community Engagement is a service of Town Crier Productions, a limited liability company set up to produce information about the public policy and the built environment in Charlottesville and beyond. We are now in the third year of this publication, and this is installment 410. Please consider a paid subscription to ensure I make it to the fourth year. There’s a lot at stake as we continue to live our complex lives in a democratic civilization that always needs its community members to pay attention and to look at the documents up close. The podcast version contains music created by the entity currently known as Wraki and made available with permission. To support that band, consider buying the album regret everything, available on Bandcamp on a ‘pay as you can’ basis. Support for Charlottesville Community Engagement also comes from Patreon supporters of Town Crier Productions, who also help fund other projects such as Fifth District Community Engagement and the Information Charlottesville archives.If you sign up for a paid subscription through Substack, the company Ting will also match your initial payment. Their support for Charlottesville Community Engagement is a crucial element required for the sustained production of all of my work. I’m grateful, and hope to continue answering the calling I hear to help inform you of things that are happening. Charlottesville Community Engagement is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber. This is a public episode. If you’d like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit