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Best podcasts about albemarle county

Latest podcast episodes about albemarle county

WMRA Daily
WMRA Daily 8/8/22

WMRA Daily

Play Episode Listen Later Aug 8, 2022 4:51


As the fall semester approaches, Charlottesville and Albemarle County say options for virtual learning will be limited, and in Rockingham County, one conservative board member wants to restrict what students can ask teachers to call them… State regulators approve a Dominion plan for an enormous offshore wind farm, to be paid for largely by customers… Prosecutors want an eight-year prison sentence for a police officer from southwestern Virginia who was part of the January 6th mob….

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

Charlottesville Community Engagement

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 cvillejazz.org. 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 rivannariver.org. 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 communityengagement.substack.com/subscribe

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

Charlottesville Community Engagement

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 thermalizeva.org 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 caar.com 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 campalbemarleva.org/donate. 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 communityengagement.substack.com/subscribe

Charlottesville Community Engagement
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

Charlottesville Community Engagement

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 www.ixartpark.org/soul-of-cville.City 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 plantvirginianatives.org 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 communityengagement.substack.com/subscribe

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

Charlottesville Community Engagement

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 piedmontmastergardeners.org 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 thecentercville.org.Deadline 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 communityengagement.substack.com/subscribe

Charlottesville Community Engagement
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

Charlottesville Community Engagement

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 thermalizeva.org 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 codeforcville.org 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 communityengagement.substack.com/subscribe

WCHV's Joe Thomas in the Morning Podcast
072222 @107wchv "No, It's Who Is WATCHING Them Count the Votes"

WCHV's Joe Thomas in the Morning Podcast

Play Episode Listen Later Jul 23, 2022 15:47


Steve Harvey is back and getting a team of poll watchers together for another 45-day election season (Starting September 23!!) And he'd like your help. Click HERE for his website or HERE to email him directly.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

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

Charlottesville Community Engagement

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 www.ixartpark.org/soul-of-cville.City 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 plantvirginianatives.org 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 communityengagement.substack.com/subscribe

WCHV's Joe Thomas in the Morning Podcast
072022 @107wchv "Rule of Law or Mob Rule?"

WCHV's Joe Thomas in the Morning Podcast

Play Episode Listen Later Jul 21, 2022 20:36


Give us power and your money that we can give back to you but only if you spend it on something one of our cronies makes!See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Charlottesville Community Engagement
July 18, 2022: Good leads Throneburg in fundraising through first half of 2022; UVA epidemiologist anticipates new COVID surge due to new variants

Charlottesville Community Engagement

Play Episode Listen Later Jul 18, 2022 16:04


If this were a Leap Year, July 18 would be the 200th day of 2022. However, this Monday is in fact the 199th day of the year and we are 532 days away from 2024. Are these numbers compelling or a distraction from the beginning of this 409th installment of Charlottesville Community Engagement? Let’s ask the Magic 8-ball! I’m your host, Sean Tubbs. Sign up for a paid subscription to ensure this work continues long into the future! Ting will match your first payment! See below for more. In today’s installment:An update on the COVID-19 pandemic as local experts anticipate a future surgeThe Virginia Department of Health is cautioning swimming in the western tributaries of Lake AnnaThe latest campaign finance numbers are in for Virginia’s Fifth District Storefront vacancies are up in the six commercial areas tracked by the city of CharlottesvilleAnd some updates on infrastructure projects in Albemarle CountyFirst shout-out: Piedmont Master Gardeners want to help you rethink your lawnIn today’s first subscriber supported public service announcement: Have you thought about changing 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 piedmontmastergardeners.org to learn more!Youngkin’s health department makes COVID quarantines optional in education and childcare settingOn Friday, Governor Glenn Youngkin announced that the Virginia Department of Health has updated its guidance for children, teachers and staff in educational and camp settings. “This revised guidance outlines that quarantine is no longer routinely recommended for asymptomatic individuals after exposure to COVID-19 infected individuals,” reads the updated guidance “In general masks are not routinely recommended in these settings, indoors or outdoors, except during isolation.”The guidance continues a shift away to individual decisions related to the pandemic rather than mandates. The federal Centers for Disease Control has a much more broad system of quarantine protocols, which can be reviewed here.Dr. Costi Sifri, director of hospital epidemiology at the UVA Health System, said schools and day care facilities should do what they can to improve spaces to reduce transmission, especially before the school year begins. “Those include things like just understanding whether there are more opportunities to improve ventilation and those other engineering type approaches to reducing risk of transmission within schools,” Dr. Sifri said. “We know the virus is not going to go away.” Today the Virginia Department of Health reports a seven-day average of 2,930 new cases a day and the seven-day percent positivity ratings for PCR tests is at 23 percent. This continues an upward trend that dates back to the spring as newer strains became more prevalent. Dr. Sifri said the Omicron subvariant BA.5 continues to spread and he expects an additional surge in cases at some point in the near future. “We’ve had new variants that have replaced previous variants and for most of 2022 what we’ve seen is that these variants are descendants or are related to the Omicron variant that was called BA.1,” Dr. Sifri said. Dr. Sifri said reinfection is becoming more likely due to the new strains. “That really helps us think about perhaps whom we should be trying to protect by revaccinating,” Dr. Sifri said. “The challenge is that the COVID vaccines are based on the original strain of COVID and the protection from that or from previous infection is unfortunately not as robust for general infection due to BA.5 or some of these newer variants.” Dr. Sifri said vaccination and previous infections do protect against serious outcomes, except for those who are immunocompromised. “So the CDC guidance and our recommendations are that if you are in a high-risk group, then you should make sure you are up to date with your COVID vaccine,” Dr. Sifri said. Dr. Sifri noted that nearly half of the country is currently considered by the CDC as an area of high transmission. He recommends people wear masks, but acknowledged the political reality of America in the third year of the pandemic. “We know that’s not being done in many places around the country,” Dr. Sifri said. “I just flew in from the west coast earlier this week and masking is really the exception to the rule on airplanes and in more airports right now. If you are in those situations and you’re not wearing a mask, you should anticipate that you could be exposed to COVID.”To find out if you are eligible for another vaccine dose or to get vaccinated for the first time, visit vaccinate.virginia.gov to learn more. Harmful algae bloom at Lake AnnaThe Virginia Department of Health is asking people to avoid swimming in or contact with waters on the western side of Lake Anna and its tributaries due to the presence of a harmful algae bloom. “Samples collected at six sites on the Upper and Middle Pamunkey Branch, including Terry’s Run, and the Upper and Middle North Anna Branches indicated a cyanobacteria bloom with cell concentrations at unsafe levels,” reads a VDH update posted on Friday.The next update from VDH will be given some time in the second week of August. Until then, VDH cautions people to not fish, swim, or let pets in bodies of water that smell bad, look discolored, or have visible foam or scum on the surface. For more on the topic across Virginia, visit www.swimhealthyva.com. Good leads Throneburg in fundraising for 5th District RaceThere are 113 days until election day and 59 days until the next time that candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives will have to file campaign finance reports. The most recent deadline was this past Friday for activity through June 30.In the Fifth District, Republican Incumbent Bob Good of Evington has raised $848,271 in his reelection campaign for a second term, including $149,017 in transfers. Of the $679,372 in contributions, nearly 75 percent comes from individuals or entities who contributed $200 or more. About eleven percent came from political action committees. Good has spent $570,585 and had an ending cash balance of $328,023 on June 30.Democratic challenger Joshua Throneburg of Charlottesville has raised $446,579 so far, including $50,000 in loans. Just under 77 percent of the $396,379 in contributions came from individuals  or entities who gave $200 or more. So far, Throneburg has spent $320,531 and had $126,048 in cash on hand at the midway point of the year.  For all of the details, read the quarterly reports on the Federal Elections Commission’s website. Here’s the one for Throneburg and here’s the one for Good. Second shout-out is for LEAP’s new Thermalize Virginia program In today’s second 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 thermalizeva.org to learn more and to sign up!  Storefront vacancies up slightly in Charlottesville Storefront vacancies are up in the six commercial areas tracked by the City of Charlottesville. That’s according to the latest twice a year report put together by the Office of Economic Development (read the report).“This study examines only the ground-level retail storefronts at the six major shopping centers, so vacancies on the second floor and higher are not included,” reads the report. “Not all vacant buildings are included in the vacancy rate provided .”Those six commercial areas include Barracks Road, the Downtown Mall, McIntire Plaza, Preston Plaza, Seminole Square, and the Corner. There were 22 vacancies in January and that has risen to 33 in July. That does not include storefronts that are under renovation. When factored in percentage, the vacancy rate increased from 5.01 percent to 7.21 percent. The study also does not cover West Main Street, which has some buildings that have storefronts that have never been filled. The Flats at West Village used to have a restaurant that closed before the pandemic, and one retail space required to be built due to the zoning has never been occupied. The Lark has seen two breweries come and go but the second closed during the pandemic. A retail space on Roosevelt Brown Boulevard has never been occupied.The Standard has several retail spaces, and only one has been occupied. Another appears to be a storefront, but is actually an advertisement for a ghost kitchen. Urban sidewalks are among several infrastructure projects under construction in AlbemarleEvery quarter, Albemarle County’s Facilities and Environmental Services Department puts out an update of its activities. The latest is on the consent agenda for Wednesday’s meeting of the Albemarle Board of Supervisors. (read the report)Here are some of the highlights:Construction got underway in June on over 2,000 feet of sidewalk to connect Albemarle High School to Greer Elementary School. Funding comes from a one-time Neighborhood Improvements Funding Initiative as well as the Safe Routes to School program. Replacement of 376 exterior windows at the county’s office building on McIntire Road is also underway. The windows all date back to the late 70’s when Albemarle bought the former Lane High School from the city of Charlottesville. This will reduce energy costs and the report notes that electricity consumption in June was down 13 percent over the same month in 2021. The Federal Emergency Management Agency recently awarded Albemarle a $96,261 grant to study the potential for flooding in the 770-acre Branchlands watershed. This may take some years to complete. Design for an entrance road for the first phase of Biscuit Run is still ongoing with negotiations continuing between county staff and the Virginia Department of Transportation. The first phase will consist of that road, restrooms, and a parking area. According to the report, completion of the first phase is now expected in September 2023. Albemarle is considering using land proffered to the county as part of the Brookhill development for many uses, including a relocation of the vehicle maintenance facility used by Albemarle Public Schools. Other uses might include a solid waste convenience center, such as the one that will soon get under construction in Keene. A feasibility study for the Brookhill land should be ready in mid-August. The Southern Convenience Center is expected to be completed in December on a nearly $1.1 million budget. Completion of several sidewalk projects is expected in the coming weeks. Albemarle was successful in getting revenue-sharing funds from the Virginia Department of Transportation for sidewalks and improvements on Rio Road, Avon Street, and U.S. 250 West in Crozet.“The Rio Road Sidewalk Improvement project will connect the Stonehenge residential neighborhood to the John Warner Parkway and Rio Road sidewalk system. The Avon Street Walkway/Crosswalks Improvement project will provide sidewalks on the east side from Swan Lake Drive to Mill Creek Drive and then to Cale Elementary School [sic] and on the west side from Stoney Creek Drive to Arden Drive. The US 250 West-Crozet project will consist of the construction of sidewalk and crosswalks from Cory Farms to the Cloverlawn commercial area and Blue Ridge Shopping Center.”Cale Elementary was renamed Mountain View in 2020. Secure this work’s future with financial supportThis is episode 409 of this program and I’ll be getting to work on 410 and beyond. I really want to get to 818, 820, and so on. This is the work I want to do and I believe the community benefits when I’m able to spend my time as a reporter. Town Crier Productions is not a nonprofit organization, but around a third of the audience has opted to contribute something financially. It’s similar to the old days when you would subscribe to a newspaper. I subscribe to several, myself, and would greatly appreciate your subscription. Supporting the program through a Substack contribution or through Patreon makes it very easy for me to get paid and every single dollar that I get makes me want to work that much harder to serve the community. In just under two years, I’ve produced hundreds of stories that seek to give you information about how decisions are made in our community and in the Commonwealth of Virginia.For more information on all of this, please visit the archive site Information Charlottesville to learn more, including how you too can get a shout-out! Thank you for reading, and please share with those you think might want to learn a few thing or two about what’s happening.Also, Ting will match your initial payment! Visit them today to see if they can help you speed your Internet up. This is a public episode. If you’d like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit communityengagement.substack.com/subscribe

Soundboard
Why are Charlottesville & Albemarle Governed Separately? – July 15, 2022

Soundboard

Play Episode Listen Later Jul 16, 2022 23:18


Have you ever looked at a map of Charlottesville, surrounded on all sides by Albemarle County, and wondered why Charlottesville and Albemarle are governed completely separately? Maybe you moved here from another state and were surprised to learn that your children would attend a city school rather than a county one. Or maybe you've visited northern Virginia and crisscrossed in and out of Fairfax County as you passed through the cities of Falls Church, Alexandria and even the independent city of Fairfax which is surrounded on all sides by the county of Fairfax.  The answer is that cities in Virginia are independent cities. There are 41 independent cities in the whole United States and 38 of them are in Virginia. So this week we're going to talk about what they are, why they exist and what they mean for local governance. First up, we're going to get the legal perspective from UVA Law Professor Rich Schragger. In the second half of the show we'll get a boots on the ground perspective from Charlottesville City Councilor, Juandiego Wade.https://www.law.virginia.edu/faculty/profile/rcs4t/1206421

Charlottesville Community Engagement
July 16, 2022: Laufer outraises Squire and Price for 55th House race; Charlottesville Planning Commission seeks safer school routes

Charlottesville Community Engagement

Play Episode Listen Later Jul 16, 2022 18:43


Saturday’s all right for writing! That is, writing information about land use, transportation, economic development, elections, and more! This is Charlottesville Community Engagement, a newsletter and podcast intended to let you know about a few things you didn’t know before, and intended to keep an eye on a great deal of things. I’m your host Sean Tubbs, exploring and exploiting my curiosity hopefully for your benefit. But please: No fighting! In today’s newsletter:The first campaign finance report is in for the race of the 55th House District, even if it’s still unclear when the election will be held Charlottesville Planning Commissioners seek action on safer streets in advance of the school A former Charlottesville school superintendent becomes Governor Youngkin’s permanent chief diversity officerThere’s one day left to fill out the latest questionnaire on Albemarle County’s growth management policy The head of the area’s aging services agency is elected to lead a statewide group First 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 three more Cvillepedia 101 training sessions at the Center July 18 at 2 p.m. Sign up at the Center’s website.Laufer outraises fellow Democrats in 55th District There is still a possibility that Virginia will have an election this year for the 100 seat House of Delegates. A second federal lawsuit arguing that legislators elected last November are in unconstitutional seats still awaits a final ruling and November 8 is 115 days away from today. That makes yesterday’s deadline for active candidates for the House of Delegates that much more compelling. There are currently three people seeking the Democratic nomination in the new 55th District, which includes most of Albemarle’s geography, as well as northeast Nelson County and western Louisa County. The Virginia Public Access Project has pulled together all of the filings, and former Charlottesville School Board member Amy Laufer outraised her opponents with a total of $61,731 raised in June. Fifty-seven donors contributed more than $100, requiring their identification. That includes a transfer of $7,327 from Laufer’s previous campaign for the Virginia Senate in 2019. There is one $10,000 gift from Hunter Bourne, and a pair of $5,000 gifts from Clean VA and the Morrill Family Investment. There were 68 contributions below the $100 limit. Emergency room nurse Kellen Squire raised $41,531 from March 8 to June 30. Thirty-four contributions were in excess of $100 with 406 below that threshold. There is one $20,000 contribution from Kay Ferguson.Albemarle County Supervisor Donna Price raised $11,798 with ten contributions above the $100 threshold and thirty below. Republican Rob Bell is the presumptive incumbent, currently representing the former 58th District. Bell began the year with a balance of $76,253 and has raised $5,250 so far this year. More on the status of the lawsuit in the next installment of Charlottesville Community Engagement. One days left to fill out Albemarle’s growth management surveyAs mentioned in the last program, a survey is about to close for Albemarle County’s growth management survey. The county is in the midst of updating their Comprehensive Plan, and this is the second questionnaire. Here’s more from a video produced by the office of Communications and Public Engagement (CAPE). “New development proposals that require a change in zoning or a rezoning are evaluated by recommendations in the Comprehensive Plan, including the growth management policy,” states the narrator. “As part of growth management, the Albemarle County Service Authority establishes a jurisdictional area where public water and sewer will be provided. This jurisdictional area mainly corresponds with the development area.” If  you’re interested in hearing more, the Albemarle CAPE has posted the latest episode of their Let’s Talk Albemarle podcast. The guest is Rachel Falkenstein, a manager in the Community Development department who oversees long-range planning.“Usually we look out 20 years and that number comes from the state of Virginia,” Falkenstein said. “They require localities to have a Comprehensive Plan that plans for 20 years out into the future so we use that for most of our planning documents.” As of Friday afternoon, 270 people had taken the survey, according to CAPE director Emily Kilroy. The Albemarle Planning Commission will have a work session on the Comprehensive Plan on July 26. To catch up on previous stories on land use issues in Albemarle, check out Information Charlottesville through this link. And if you’re in the mood to fill in another survey, the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission wants your input on the Regional Transit Vision Plan.. To catch up on all kinds of transit related stories, check out Information Charlottesville through this link. Youngkin appoints Atkins as chief diversity officerGovernor Glenn Youngkin has appointed former Charlottesville Superintendent Rosa Atkins to serve as Virginia’s Chief Diversity, Opportunity, and Inclusion Officer. Atkins has been serving in the position on an interim basis following the departure of his first appointee, Angela Sailor. According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Sailor left in April for a family matter. Atkins served as Charlottesville’s superintendent for 15 years before retiring. Earlier this year, former Governor Ralph Northam appointed her to serve as the acting superintendent of public instruction for the Virginia Department of Education. In the Northam administration, Atkins’ position was known as the Chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer, but Youngkin changed the name in Executive Order #10 when he appointed Sailor. “We must strengthen and focus the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (ODEI) by including in its mission the promotion of entrepreneurship and economic opportunity for all Virginians — including Virginians with disabilities — as well as the promotion of free speech and civil discourse,” reads that order.Sailor’s name is still on the website for the office. In other appointments of note, a University of Virginia official has been named to the Virginia Economic Development Partnership. Pace Lochte is the assistant vice president for economic development. Youngkin also appointed Rob Rutherford of Nelson County to the Virginia Manufactured Housing Board. Rutherford is a manager with Pro Tech Builder, a maker of modular homes.JABA leader elected to Virginia aging services associationThe chief executive officer of the area’s aging services association has been elected as president of the state entity that represents all 24 such agencies across the Commonwealth. Marta Keane of JABA will begin a two-year term as president of the Virginia Association of Area Agencies on Aging (V4A).Keane has been CEO of JABA since 2013. According to a release, during that time she helped form the Charlottesville Area Alliance as an umbrella organization for various entities that work with senior services in the community. “With this comes challenges to meet their increasing and changing needs, and opportunities to identify and maximize the strengths that seniors bring to our communities,” Keane is quoted in the release. “During the next two years, I hope to continue our efforts with demographic services to better identify areas that have unmet needs, work with networks to identify new ways to meet the needs, and identify new funding sources to allow us to grow and sustain critical services."JABA was formed in 1975 as the Jefferson Area Board for Aging. In today’s other two shout-outs: Local media and Code for CvilleCode 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 codeforcville.org 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!Charlottesville Planning Commissioners seek Council action on safer streets on school routesAs of today, there are 39 days left until the first day of school in the City of Charlottesville. Yesterday, the school system held a Transportation Talk and Walk Session to discuss a recent alert from Superintendent Royal Gurley that the bus driver shortage has worsened and walk zones will be expanded. This past Tuesday, the city Planning Commission was briefed on a request from one of its members that city government take steps to make routes to school. They got an update from Missy Creasy, Charlottesville’s assistant director of the Neighborhood Development Services office (NDS). “The city has a pretty robust program that they’re putting together to address how they are addressing the shortage at this point in time and some pretty innovative things on there,” Creasy said. These include encouraging older students to take Charlottesville Area Transit routes, hiring more crossing guards or finding more volunteers, and buying smaller buses that don’t require drivers to have commercial licenses. NDS director James Freas said the shortage provides an opportunity to apply goals of the recently adopted Comprehensive Plan to a real life problem. “Wrapped up in this challenge is an opportunity to explore those options,” Freas said. “The flip side of that is that it’s a little early for us right now in that we are in the process of building out a transportation planning program.” In May, Council was briefed by Deputy City Manager Sam Sanders on a series of problems with how the city has run its transportation planning program. For instance, transportation planners have had too high of a workload, and the city has been unable to move some projects forward. There’s also a vacancy in the position of bike pedestrian coordinator after the last person left the job at the end of 2021 to work for a consultant. “We expect that position to post very soon and see that position as really being able to take a lead role in doing exactly this type of work and that is coming up with innovative, innovative, and low-cost ways of improving pedestrians, particularly children’s safety, in the neighborhoods around our schools,” Freas said. Creasy said that the traffic engineer and the Safe Routes to School coordinator no longer work in NDS. Instead they work for the Public Works department, a decision made by former City Manager Tarron Richardson. Creasy said NDS does coordinate with public works, but more people are needed to implement what’s in the Comprehensive Plan. “We do have really good support for continuing to move forward in this direction,” Creasy said. “We have tools in place but we just need to fill them with humans so that we can keep the work going.” Creasy said she is aware of grassroots efforts to make things better, but coordination with the city is needed. Freas said that one remedy would be to paint bump-outs at curbs to provide more space for people. “It’s a significant safety improvement and you can do that with paint and potentially flex-posts, but even to do just that, you do have to do some engineering design, you do need to coordinate with public works street folks,” Freas said. Freas said that there’s a possibility of maybe having something done within six weeks, but he cautioned that it will be hard to do in that time frame. “I think, A, the school department’s plans are really good, I think they have some good solutions in place, and B, I think we can build towards that and start contributing the safety improvements we need to make as we go forward,” Freas said. Commissioner Rory Stolzenberg said he supported the idea of an official letter to City Council, but also said funding needed to be in place to implement the solutions.  “Is it safe to assume there is not within the currently allocated budget enough money to really address the things that staff would potentially want to address?” Stolzenberg asked. “Or potentially to hire outside traffic engineers to take some of the load of our in-house resources?” Freas said he would need to have a scope of work before answering that question. “We don’t have an identified line item for that right now so we would be cobbling together money from other sources,” Freas said. Stolzenberg said he would like the Planning Commission to recommend identifying money in the current fiscal year so incremental improvements can be made throughout the school year. He pointed out that Council voted in late June to purchase property for parking.“Council just spent $1.65 million on a parking lot with 40 spaces,” Stolzenberg said. “It seems to me that we can find money within the currently allocated [Capital Improvement Program] that could be reallocated to make sure that kids don’t get run over by cars on their way to school.” Stolzenberg also asked if the city has explored the ability to install cameras in school zones to capture people who speed. Freas and Creasy said they did not know if the city has done that research. The Commission agreed to send a letter to Council seeking support for the work. Stolzenberg said he would draft that document. The discussion took place just before the Commission’s joint public hearing with City Council. Vice Mayor Juandiego Wade said he heard the message.“It doesn’t have to be a war and peace type of document,” Wade said. “We understand the issues and we’re hearing a lot of from the citizens now.” Two more Talk and Walk sessions are scheduled this month. Do you have a specific concern? Drop me a line and I’d like to hear about it. Housekeeping notes for the conclusion of today’s newsletter:Thanks for reading! Today’s show is a rare Saturday show. Coming up next is the Week Ahead for July 18, as well as the Government Glance at the Fifth Congressional District. That’s a separate Substack. Music in the podcast version is composed by an entity currently going by the name Wraki. You can purchase the latest tracks on Bandcamp in an album called regret everything.  I certainly hope you will check it out! Finally, I can’t say enough positive things about Ting’s generous sponsorship. If you sign-up for Ting service, you’ll get:Free installationSecond month of Ting service for freeA $75 gift card to the Downtown MallAdditionally, Ting will match your Substack subscription to support Town Crier Productions, the company that produces this newsletter and other community offerings. So, your $5 a month subscription yields $5 for TCP. Your $50 a year subscription yields $50 for TCP! The same goes for a $200 a year subscription! All goes to cover the costs of getting this newsletter out as often as possible. Learn more here!Charlottesville Community Engagement is free to receive, but supported by paid subscriptions. If you subscribe, Ting will match your initial contribution! This is a public episode. If you’d like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit communityengagement.substack.com/subscribe

Charlottesville Community Engagement
July 13, 2022: Updates on land use master planning in Albemarle, Charlottesville, and the University of Virginia

Charlottesville Community Engagement

Play Episode Listen Later Jul 13, 2022 17:27


Does Wednesday the 13th make you tremble in fear? What about the fact that we’re now 110 days away from Halloween? Or perhaps the fast-paced motion of a rapidly revolving world has you dizzy? Either way, we are still supposed to be in the middle of the days of haziness and laziness, but somehow craziness abides each and every day. Charlottesville Community Engagement intends to bring some focus on an ever-changing landscape. I’m your host, Sean Tubbs. In today’s edition:A new health partnership is sponsoring an event this Saturday to promote better health outcomes in vulnerable communitiesSeveral area organizations receive funding from Sentara Healthcare Inflation is up as measured in the latest update of the Consumer Price IndexAn update on the Cville Plans Together initiative as well as a status report on the development of the University of Virginia’s next master plan Time is running out to fill out the latest survey in Albemarle County’s Comprehensive Plan review First shout-out is for LEAP’s new Thermalize Virginia program In today’s second 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 thermalizeva.org to learn more and to sign up!  UVA continues to develop next master planThe University of Virginia is in the midst of updating its master plan, which is to be known as the 2030 Grounds Plan. These meetings are not open to the public, but the documents and presentations are available for your review. According to a presentation at the June 15, 2022 meeting of the Master Planning Council, the next plan will integrate several recent plans such as the 2030 Great and Good Strategic Plan as well as sustainability goals. The first phase of the plan’s update began last summer and the second phase took a look at Big Ideas, System Plans, and Redevelopment Zones. One identified opportunity is to:“Improve the Grounds-City interface through ongoing collaboration and cooperation on sustainability, equity, and community well-being,” reads a bullet point on slide 11 of the presentation. Big ideas include the goal of requiring second year students to live on Grounds, creation of mixed-use nodes including one at Fontaine Research Park, and creation of transit priority corridors. The presentation also includes maps for where future parking structures might be. In June, the Buildings and Grounds Committee recommended approval of an update to the UVA capital plan to include a $54 million 1,000 space garage. Potential locations could include Fontaine Research Park and North Grounds, as well as two other locations. (slide 28 for details). The third phase will begin to draft the actual plan. Both the Master Planning Council and the Land Use and Environmental Planning Committee (LUEPC) were asked what they thought of the Big Ideas and what was missing. The LUEPC committee is a closed-door body of Albemarle, Charlottesville and UVA staff that replaced what has been a public body in late 2019. Development of the 2030 Grounds Plan will continue throughout the rest of the year. The Charlottesville Planning Commission got an update on what’s happening at one of those nodes from Bill Palmer, their non-voting representative from the University of Virginia’s Office of the Architect. “At the Ivy corridor, the big construction site down there continues,” Palmer said. “The School of Data Science is the building you see coming out of the ground. A lot of steel in that one that, as well as the landscaping and the stormwater pond, which I heard held up well in the rain last weekend.” How does this compare with how the University markets the Charlottesville area to its students? Take a look at a video from May 2018. A series of speakers extol the virtues of this place. “The University feels like a major part of this community and town,” one unidentified voice can be heard. “There is this separation but also togetherness.” “You want to be part of a community that is constantly evolving, not in a rush, but gradually so you can make the place work for you,” says another unidentified speaker whose voice may sound familiar. You’ll have to hear the podcast to make your guess. Deadline for Comprehensive Plan survey in Albemarle fast approaching Albemarle County is in the first phase of a review of its Comprehensive Plan with an eye on a growth management policy. A second questionnaire on the policy closes on July 17, and Albemarle’s Communications and Public Engagement office produced an explanatory video. “The growth management policy is one of the tools that we use to implement the county’s vision by helping us to make intentional decisions about how and where we grow and what areas are protected,” states the narrator of the video.The video states that one purpose of a growth management policy is to ensure that there are services for a growing population, including the provision of water and sewer services. “The majority of new residential, commercial, retail, office, industrial, and mixed-use development is intended to be within the county’s development areas,” the video continues. “The rural area is intended to have limited residential development.” Different community groups are also encouraging community members to fill out the survey.The Forest Lakes Community Association reminded its members of the basic gist of the growth management policy. “Designated Development Areas currently comprise only five percent of Albemarle County while Rural Areas currently comprise 95 percent of the County,” reads the newsletter. “Yet we in Forest Lakes are seeing the developmental impacts more directly, since the limited Development Area includes the 29-Corridor to the west of Forest Lakes.” The Forest Lakes Community Association had argued against the nearby Brookhill and RST Residents developments, and points out there’s currently no public transportation in the area. “Roads are planned that will eventually connect both developments directly to Ashwood Boulevard, with estimates of up to a 50 percent increase in daily traffic utilizing the Forest Lakes South exit,” the newsletter continues. Former members of the Village of Rivanna Community Advisory Committee also want people to fill out the survey. The group quit en masse in April which you can read about on Information Charlottesville or on their Substack newsletter.This spring, the Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors were presented with a build-out analysis to determine if there’s enough room in the existing development area to meet the needs of a growing population. Albemarle Planning Commission briefed on build-out analysis, Information Charlottesville, May 25, 2022New report shows potential for Albemarle's growth if the county wants it, Daily Progress, May 24, 2022Supervisors got an update on June 1, 2022 that I’ve yet to write about, but will before the end of the summer. You can watch the video of that meeting here, and let us know what happened!NDS Director gives an update on Charlottesville’s Comprehensive PlanIt’s a hot summer for big land use plans. Charlottesville is in the third phase of its Cville Plans Together initiative which has already seen adoption of an Affordable Housing Plan as well as an updated Comprehensive Plan that gives more development rights to mostly every residential lot in the City.How those development rights will turn into future buildings will depend on the update of the city’s zoning code that is now underway. In June, the city released a Zoning Diagnostics and Approach report.“Basically, a slate of ideas for how we can modify our zoning to implement the Comprehensive Plan that you all and Council adopted last November,” said Neighborhood Development Services Director James Freas to the Charlottesville Planning Commission last night. The next step will be the development of a new Frequently Asked Questions list based on input taken at a public forum in June. “Our public feedback period lasts until all the way through until the end of August,” Freas said.In early August, Freas said the city will release the inclusionary zoning and market analysis report.“The market analysis piece of that is the piece looking at how might our real estate development marketplace here in Charlottesville react to this new zoning?” Freas said. “What we can expect in terms of the timing for new development, the types of new development that might happen, and where it might happen based on our existing market conditions and what we can not to that.” If you’re interested in what’s happening with the property market in Charlottesville, I track that and will have a piece that paid Substack subscribers will get a first look at tomorrow. In the meantime, visit Information Charlottesville to catch up on monthly anecdotal reviews. Sign up for a paid subscription to get the June report tomorrow!Happy 2nd birthday to Charlottesville Community EngagementToday is the second anniversary of Charlottesville Community Engagement. I posted the first episode to what’s now become Information Charlottesville. This first version is about five minutes long, but I decided to commit to putting together something on a regular basis. I had produced the Charlottesville Quarantine Report since March 2020, and was quickly wanting to branch out.I’ve been able to do this work thanks to a great number of people who have been supporting the work through Patreon. I’m grateful to those who thought my return to local journalism would be worth funding, and so I got to work as soon as I could. A few days after July 13, 2020, I launched this Substack because the delivery platform is so easy to use. This has also brought in more revenue, with many generous supporters who want me to produce as much information as I can about the items I’ve been covering for many years. This shout-out is a thank you, but it’s also a hope that if you’ve not opted to support the work yet, you might consider doing so at some point in the near future. I depend on subscriptions and Patreon contributions, as well as a couple of sponsorships. I’m looking to sustain the information and to continue serving the community. And with that, it’s back to the work! Inflation increases by largest amount since November 1981Real quick segment here. You’ll hear about inflation from lots of sources today, but I wanted to direct you to the original press release. The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics today released the latest Consumer Price Index (CPI), which indicates that the average cost of all tracked items has increased by 9.2 percent from June 2021 to June 2022. For the month, the CPI increased 1.3 percent over May. Energy costs increased 7.5 percent since May with gasoline increasing 11.2 percent. When you exclude food and energy, the index rose 0.7 percent in June. Several organizations get funding from Sentara HealthcareEarlier this month, Sentara Healthcare announced nearly $5 million in funds for organizations across North Carolina in Virginia. Distributions from the Sentara Healthier Communities Fund include several in the greater Charlottesville area. “These investments will directly support programs and initiatives that address social determinants of health and promote health equity by eliminating traditional barriers to health and human services,” reads a release that went out on July 6. The local groups that received funds are:Brave Souls on FireCharlottesville Redevelopment & Housing Authority Common Ground Healing ArtsHabitat for Humanity of Greater CharlottesvilleLoaves & Fishes Food Pantry, Inc.Meals on Wheels of Charlottesville/AlbemarleThe Women’s InitiativeThomas Jefferson EMS Council Tour of Faith Mobile Community event to be held to promote health benefits of walkabilityA relatively new public health program to improve health for vulnerable community members will hold an event this Saturday morning to spread awareness of their work Betsy Peyton is the director of WellAWARE, a partnership program between UVA Health, the Charlottesville Free Clinic, and Central Virginia Health Services that seeks to serve medically underserved communities. “We are an innovative, new community health program that sends community health workers into people’s homes to help connect them to better health care,” Peyton said. Peyton said this includes neighborhoods such as Rose Hill and the 10th and Page neighborhood as well as the Esmont area in southern Albemarle. “We chose these neighborhoods related to health data,” Peyton said. “Highest rates of obesity, stroke, highest rates of low acuity emergency room visits, so people going to the emergency room for things like a headache.” WellAWARE is intended to connect people to primary care physicians. “We’ve signed a lot of people up for Medicaid who are scared to go the doctor because they weren’t sure how they would pay,” Peyton said. “We drive people to the doctor or provide free cabs to the doctor.” Peyton said the organization also holds events to promote awareness of healthy lifestyles, and this Saturday there’s one coming up in central Charlottesville.“So this event, we’re partnering with Move 2 Health Equity and it’s going to be a big event in Washington Park called Healthy Streets and Healthy People,” Peyton said. Peyton said the event will draw importance to the need for environmentally healthy streets. “If you’ve looked at maps of Charlottesville and the region, the areas that have the least shade also have the worst health outcomes, are also the poorest, and traditionally African-American neighborhoods,” Peyton said. “And so part of the mission of this event is to talk about more bikeability, more tree canopy, usable parks.” The event will take place between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. There will be a “gentle” walk/run with prizes, a field day event for kids, and gardening sessions where people can take home containers of potted herbs and vegetables. There will also be some general medical training. Learn more in this link to a press release.Housekeeping notes for the conclusion of this installment:Now that this newsletter is two, I am going to begin to add this end section with wrap-ups and acknowledgements. This is in part to curb on the rambling that occurs at the end of the podcast. Beginning today, I will acknowledge that most of the music in the podcast is composed by an entity currently going by the name Wraki. You can purchase the latest tracks on Bandcamp in an album called regret everything. If you’re interested in a shout-out, consider becoming a Patreon Subscriber, or drop me a line and we can find another way. The shout-outs may be changing soon in the near future. I am certain that does not mean they will be translated into Esperanto. Sed ili povus esti.Charlottesville Community Engagement is free to receive, but supported by paid subscriptions. If you subscribe, Ting will match your initial contribution! This is a public episode. If you’d like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit communityengagement.substack.com/subscribe

Charlottesville Community Engagement
July 7, 2022: Housing partnership endorses Piedmont Housing Alliance application to lead UVA affordable housing effort

Charlottesville Community Engagement

Play Episode Listen Later Jul 7, 2022 22:04


Numerological hijinks ensue today on 7/7/22. This is the 188th day of this particular orbital period, and there are 177 left until the next one. What does it all mean? What you make of it! If you’re one who misses celebrating an independent nation, July 7 also marks when the Solomon Islands observes Independence Day. No fireworks, please! I’m your host, Sean Tubbs, puzzling over what all of it might mean. You will need to click through to the website to see the whole thing. Also, please let me know if you have any trouble with links. There appears to be an issue. On today’s program:The Virginia State Police releases crime data for 2021, and violent crimes increased statewide The Regional Housing Partnership endorses a coalition led by the Piedmont Housing Alliance to build affordable housing at two sites to be donated by the University of Virginia Foundation through a ground leaseThe Albemarle County Electoral Board names a new registrar tIt’s been two months since the Board of Equalization affirmed nine out of eleven requests to lower real estate property tax assessments Charlottesville will purchase land on East Jefferson Street for additional municipal parking spaceFirst shout-out: WTJU staging the Cville Puzzle Hunt on August 27In today’s first 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 cvillepuzzlehunt.com. Regional Housing Partnership endorses Piedmont Housing Alliance’s application to build affordable housing at two UVA sitesThe Central Virginia Regional Housing Partnership is a function of the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission and consists of elected officials, representatives from nonprofits, and developers. Last year they developed the Planning for Affordability report intended to suggest strategies for each of the six localities to create more below-market housing opportunities. (read that plan)On Wednesday, the group convened for one purpose. For background, the University of Virginia and its real estate foundation are offering land through a ground lease at three sites in the community for a partner to construct affordable housing. They issued a request for qualifications in June to develop sites on Fontaine Avenue and Wertland Street. (agenda packet)There was a pre-proposal presentation on June 22 led by Fred Missel, the director of development for the UVA Foundation. In a separate capacity, Missel is also a member of the Albemarle Planning Commission. Wednesday’s partnership meeting was to vote on an endorsement of the Piedmont Housing Alliance’s desire to lead a large group of partners to develop the two sites.“We have pulled together a largely local team of nonprofits and one for profit organization to come together to ideally provide a holistic housing ladder with a holistic set of viewpoints to make sure we are being responsive to the needs not just within those two sites,” said Sunshine Mathon, the executive director of the Piedmont Housing Alliance. That for profit developer would be Riverbend Development, which has assisted the Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority with its recent redevelopment efforts. Another partner would be the Virginia Community Development Corporation and another would be 7 and M Development. A letter in the RHP agenda packet includes more details. “The development team is partnering to design, build, and operate affordable housing on both sites, with a focus on a broad array of housing opportunities, focused on rental housing for people earning 30 to 60 percent of area median income, but also including more deeply affordable rental housing, affordable homeownership opportunities, market rate housing, community amenities, and commercial space,” reads the letter.However, many of the partnership members had to recuse themselves from the vote out of conflicts of interest. That included:Dan Rosensweig of the Habitat for Humanity of Greater CharlottesvilleSunshine Mathon of the Piedmont Housing AllianceKeith Smith of the Piedmont Community Land Trust (now part of Piedmont Housing Alliance)Shelby Edwards of the Public Housing Association of Residents Anthony Haro of the Thomas Jefferson Coalition for the HomelessColette Sheehy is the Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of the University of Virginia. She also abstained from the vote but is not part of the development. “That was an impressive list of local organizations involved in this space and I was just curious if you anticipate anybody else out there locally that might propose anything?” Sheehy asked. Mathon said he thought there may be another group.“I think there are probably still one or two organizations which may find their way into a different team but I’m not 100 percent sure,” Mathon said. Those who were able to vote to support the letter were Antwon Brinson of the Piedmont Workforce Network, Greg Powe of Powe Studio Architects, Ned Gallaway of the Albemarle Board of Supervisors, Peter Holman of the University of Virginia Credit Union, Rachel Jones of the Louisa Board of Supervisors, Charlottesville Mayor Lloyd Snook, and Kim Hyland of the Fluvanna-Louisa Housing Foundation.“Seven yes, zero noes, and six abstentions,” said Ian Baxter, a planner with the TJPDC. One of those abstentions was Keith Smith, a realtor and chair of the Piedmont Community Land Trust.“This is what this body was designed to do and this is great stuff,” Smith said. The application is due on August 2. Will there be any other applications? Albemarle hires new registrar from within The Albemarle County Electoral Board has promoted the deputy registrar to serve as the new Director of Elections. Lauren Eddy has worked for the Voter Registration and Elections Office for 17 years, and will succeed Richard “Jake” Washburne, who will be retiring at the end of the month.“I can’t think of anyone more qualified than Lauren to take on this role,” Washburne is quoted in a release.Eddy has been deputy registrar for the past 15 years. She’s a native of Albemarle and is a Virginia Registered Election Official as well as a National Certified Elections/Registration Administrator.Charlottesville Board of Equalization declined all but one assessment appealsIt has now been seven weeks and two day since the Charlottesville Board of Equalization met on May 17 to hear appeals from property owners of their 2022 real estate tax assessments. Eleven were scheduled but one withdrew. The Board affirmed the property assessments in all ten of the cases that were heard. (read the minutes)The owner of an apartment in the Belmont Lofts wanted the BOE to lower the assessment to $265,000 down from the $400,900 for 2022. The Board agreed to lower the amount to $365,000. GIS for this property currently says $364,000. The owner of 409 Park Street in North Downtown sought reduction to $750,000, but the BOE affirmed the $914,800 assessment. The owner of 1010 Peartree Lane in the Locust Grove wanted to have the assessment dropped to $265,650 but the Board affirmed the $323,700 as the fair market value. The owner bought the 0.21 acre property in 1976 for $34,000. HPTMI Corporation owns the Residence Inn on Millmont Street. They argued the fair market value should be $11,547,400 rather than the $14,762,600 for 2022. The BOE disagreed and affirmed the assessment. When the motel was built in 1997, it was assessed at $3,845,500 and steadily increased each year until this year, when the assessment dropped around $1.5 million. The owners of the Omni Hotel withdrew their appeal of the property’s $35.8 million 2022 assessment. Like the Residence Inn, the assessment has been dropped since 2020 due to the pandemic. There’s still an active lawsuit regarding the 2021 assessment. Last year, the Omni sued Charlottesville over what they perceived as an overpayment of taxes. Read an April 2021 story by Tyler Hammel in the Charlottesville Daily Progress. Ludwig Kuttner sought an unspecified reduction for an industrial building at 1155 5th Street NW next to the Willoughby Shopping Center and claimed “appraiser failed to take into consideration the tremendous impact that ‘Covid’ had on all businesses and property owners.” The Board affirmed the assessment of $2,888,500 and said Kuttner presented no new evidence.Kuttner also sought an assessment reduction for the 10,75 acres of the Ix property, a request he has made in the past. This time, he cited the same reason. The property was assessed at nearly $14.4 million and it will stay that way. Read about the 2017 appeal on Charlottesville Tomorrow. The section of the Ix property that is operated as the Ix Park and is rented to Three Notch’d Brewery was assessed at $5.62 million. The BOE affirmed. Kuttner also sought relief for the Terraces at 100-106 West Main Street. The city assessors valued it at $12,690,400 and the Board of Equalization affirmed that amount.The same story can be said about 201 E. Main Street, otherwise known as Central Place. Kuttner made the same argument but the BOE affirmed the $2.83 million assessment for 2022. Kuttner also represented the owners of 301 E. High Street and made the same basic argument about COVID. The Board also affirmed this property.  Virginia State Police release 2021 crime report for the Commonwealth The rate of violent crime in Virginia increased in 2021 according to new data from the Virginia State Police. Last week, the agency’s Criminal Justice Information Service’s Data Analysis and Reporting Team (DART) published a report for last year showed an overall increase in murders, forcible sex offenses including rape, robbery, and aggravated assault. “There were 16,823 violent crime offenses reported in 2021 compared to 15,713 violent crime offenses reported in 2020, representing a 7.1 percent increase,” reads a press release on the report. Some of what’s in the report: There were 562 homicides in Virginia in 2021, a 6.4 percent increase. Of that amount, 38.6 percent were men between the ages of 18 and 34. Over $131 million worth of vehicles were stolen in 2021, a 3.8 percent increase. Firearms were used in 82.1 percent of homicides and 48.6 percent of robberies. There were 123 hate crime offenses involving 106 victims in 2021. That’s down 35.3 percent from 2020. These involve either aggravated assault, vandalism, or destruction of property. Fraud offenses were up 8.4 percent in 2021.Not all of the numbers are increasing. The number of burglaries continued to decline with an 8.3 percent drop in 2020. That’s part of a long-time trend. “In 2021, there were 10,464 burglaries and attempted burglaries whereas in 2011 there were 27,872, representing a decreased burglary rate in the last decade from 344.24 to 120.89 per 100,000 population,” reads the summary. Drug arrests were down 46.7 percent, with one major driver being the decriminalization of possession of less than an ounce of marijuana. The DART report also breaks down offenses by locality. The Albemarle County Police Department reported 4,191 total offenses and 1,527 arrests. There were no murders or negligent manslaughter, but there were 12 kidnapping incidents, 76 aggravated assaults, 99 burglaries, and 107 stolen vehicles.(page 92 of the .PDF)Charlottesville also reported no murders, but there there were 3,052 offenses tracked. There were 11 kidnappings, 162 aggravated assaults, 127 burglaries, and 155 stolen vehicles.  (page 130)There were no murders reported in any of the other localities in the Thomas Jefferson Planning District. The Fluvanna Sheriff’s Office reported four kidnappings, 29 aggravated assaults, 13 burglaries, and 12 stolen vehicles. (page 170)In Greene, there were five kidnappings, 21 aggravated assaults, 12 burglaries and 15 stolen vehicles. (page 186)There were nine kidnappings reported by the Louisa County Sheriff's Office in 2021. There were 21 aggravated assaults, 11 burglaries, and 32 stolen vehicles. (page 223)The Nelson County Sheriff’s Office reported five abductions, 26 aggravated assaults, 49 burglaries, and 18 stolen vehicles (page 241). Today’s second-shout: LEAP’s Thermalize Virginia program In today’s second 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 thermalizeva.org to learn more and to sign up!  City to purchase downtown land for surface parking Sometimes it takes a while to get everything I’d like to write about in the show. For instance, so far, I’ve written several segments from the June 21, 2022 meeting of the Charlottesville City Council. Charlottesville’s FY22 surplus likely to increase, June 24, 2022Council makes appointments, but not yet to Planning Commission, June 24, 2022RWSA to vote today on Central Water Line project, June 28, 2022Charlottesville briefed on city-owned property, June 30, 2022Is there room for one more to memorialize, and is it worth it, two and a half weeks later? Yes. Charlottesville City Council has authorized the city’s economic development director to purchase 921 E. Jefferson Street for $1.6 million. Here’s Chris Engel. (read the staff report)“This parcel is four tenths of an acre and is currently used as a 39-space surface parking lot,” Engel said. “Staff recommends purchase as it puts the city in control of an asset that will help with current and future parking capacity issues.” Engel said one reason is to help satisfy the terms of an agreement between Albemarle and Charlottesville related to parking for the joint General District Court that will be built downtown. “Most of that agreement spoke to the creation of a new parking structure that the city was to undertake as part of its agreement with the county,” Engel said. “That project was ultimately canceled as you know last year about this time.” Engel said the agreement allows the city options to provide spaces at either the existing 7th Street surface lot or at Market Street Parking Garage, both owned by city government. He said either would displace existing parkers and this lot would be a replacement.Engel said volume in the Market Street Parking Garage is not at pre-pandemic levels but the city is currently on a waiting list for new monthly pass holders at that structure. If the county chooses 100 spaces at the Market Street garage, Engel said that would crowd out the ability of people to park there on a transient basis. “So you’d in some way be jeopardizing the health of the surrounding business community that relies on those spaces for activity,” Engel said. Engel said this purchase would also make up for the loss of 50 spaces that used to be underneath the Belmont Bridge but won’t be coming back when that project is complete. He said the city will also eventually lose a parking lot with 61 spaces for employees at a site on Levy Avenue owned by the Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority. “If we were to add 39 spots we would still have a net loss of parking spaces in and around the downtown area,” Engel said. The current owner of the property is Gewinn Investors III, a firm that bought the land in 1985 for $175,000. The land is currently assessed at $953,000 and the sales price would be over 73 percent above the assessment. In January 2017, the city paid $2.85 million to purchase the corner lot at Market Street and 9th Street for a new parking garage. That transaction was 40.55 percent above assessment at the time. Councilor Michael Payne said the city was wrong to have entered into the agreement with the county, but he said they should be given the 100 spaces in Market Street Garage. “Quite frankly depending on how that’s implemented I don’t think that’s the end of the world but my understanding is that a majority of Council does not agree with that sentiment,” Payne said. However, he said he could support the purchase of this space if it meant keeping the two structures the city owns at the corner lot. “If purchasing this resolves the courts agreement in place of building a 10-million plus and tearing down Lucky 7 and Guadalajara to build a surface lot, it potentially makes sense to me,” Payne said. Engel said he could make no guarantees, but purchasing this lot would delay that outcome. Councilor Brian Pinkston said during his time in office to date, parking has proven to be controversial. “If you talk with folks at the Downtown Mall, they’re like ‘we absolutely need more parking’ and if you talk with other constituencies, they’re like ‘no, you’ve got plenty of parking,’” Pinkston said. Pinkston said he relies on staff to provide recommendations about occupancy and utilization rates. “Grabbing these 39 spaces for lack of a better term and taking advantage of this opportunity to acquire these 39 spaces basically is insurance against future possibilities,” Pinkston said. . Charlottesville Mayor Lloyd Snook said the property would be ready to go for the city’s parking needs for now. That would allow more time to watch trends and collect data on actual usage of the new courts. “Five years from now we decide we don’t in fact need those parking places, I think we will probably have profited from the wait,” Snook said. The vote was 4-1 with Payne  against.There is no overall parking plan for the City of Charlottesville, or for Albemarle County. The University of Virginia has a Parking and Transportation Master Plan from 2019 which seeks to manage parking demand. In June, the University of Virginia’s Building and Grounds Committee approved a plan to move forward with a 1,000 space parking garage with a $54 million budget but with no location determined. (UVA committee briefed on new capital projects, June 4, 2022)The current rewrite of the zoning code also provides another opportunity related to parking. The Zoning Diagnostics and Approach Report calls for the reduction of parking requirements in addition to allowing greater residential density throughout the city. Visit the Cville Plans Together website to learn more. See also:Toward a TDM plan for Charlottesville, June 9, 2021A quick plug for Michael ClemFinally today, local singer songwriter Michael Clem is looking for subscribers to his YouTube channel. Take a look at his trailer! This is a public episode. If you’d like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit communityengagement.substack.com/subscribe

Charlottesville Community Engagement
July 1, 2022: Injuries from firearms on the rise in Virginia; New laws take effect today; Piedmont Housing gets $2M from federal government for Friendship Court, Southwood

Charlottesville Community Engagement

Play Episode Listen Later Jul 1, 2022 17:16


For those who follow government budgets in Virginia, Happy 2023! Fiscal year 2023, that is. To my knowledge, there is no celebration but there likely will be a few hiccups here and there as new laws take effect and some cheering as municipal and state employees receive pay increases with the new budget. But for a massive celebration, you’ll have to head north to the border where it’s Canada Day. I’m Sean Tubbs, and I strive to make as many days as possible have a new installment of Charlottesville Community Engagement and so far I’m one for one for the fiscal year.On today’s program:A brief look at new laws that go into effect today The Virginia Department of Health announces a dashboard to track firearm injuries in the CommonwealthCharlottesville City Schools expect the bus driver shortage to worsen and are encouraging parents and guardians to think about alternative methods of transportCharlottesville Area Transit looks at several different kinds of new bus sheltersPiedmont Housing Alliance gets another $2 million from the federal government to help subsidize Friendship Court and Southwood Apartments RCA seeks volunteers for clean-up of invasive vines In today’s first Patreon-fueled shout-out, the Rivanna Conservation Alliance wants you to know about some upcoming opportunities to volunteer. For the mornings of both July 7 and July 9, RCA is seeking people to help clean up invasive vines in the Dunlora neighborhood near a recent buffer planting. Clearing out the vines will help protect newly planted trees and is part of  natural forest regeneration project conducted by the Virginia Department of Forestry. RCA will provide gloves and some cutting equipment, or you can bring your own but leave the chainsaws at home! Visit rivannariver.org to learn more! Fiscal Year 2023 begins: Some of what’s newIt’s the first day of the Fiscal Year 2023, and July 1 brings with it several changes in rules, regulations and rates. A whole host of new legislation has gone into effect, according to a status report put together by David Blount of the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission. (view his latest update) Another 37 miles of the middle portion of the James River are now considered scenic, as are another 23.2 miles of the Maury River. Also, an 8.8 mile section of the Shenandoah River. There is now a Forest Sustainability Fund to promote public education about outdoor recreation and forest conservation The Town of St. Charles in Lee County in no longer exists (updated!)It is now a Class 6 felony to steal a catalytic converterThere can now be seven judges in Virginia’s 31st Judicial Circuit, which covers the area around Manassas in northern Virginia Localities must report potential cybersecurity threats to the Virginia Fusion Intelligence Center Localities smaller than 40,000 people can now opt out the Marcus Alert System If you’re hunting with a dog, the dog needs to wear an identification tagFor more on new state laws, read this Associated Press article. The elimination of the 1.5 percent state sales tax on groceries does not go into effect until January 1. At the local level, Albemarle County’s food and beverage tax rate increases to six percent of the total bill and the transient occupancy rate increases to eight percent. Charlottesville’s meals tax rate increases a half-percentage point to six and a half percent. The one penny increase in the real estate property tax rate is already in effect, as that rate goes by the calendar year. State agency launches dashboard to track firearms injuries in Virginia The number of firearm injuries in Virginia that resulted in emergency room visits increased by nine percent from 2020 to 2021. That’s according to a new dashboard unveiled yesterday by the Virginia Department of Health that tracks the information by age, sex, race, and ethnicity. The data is tracked by counting up the number of times key phrases are used when a patient gives a reason for a visit. The terms include: gun with wound, gunshot, buckshot, revolver, rifle, shotgun, firearm, pistol, handgun, been shot, I was shot, I got shot, or graze with bullet. A press release points out that:Emergency room visits for firearms injuries have increased 72 percent from 2018 to 2021Since the data set begins in January 2016, 86 percent of visits for firearm injuries are males In 2021, 65 percent of patients were Black In 2021, 31 percent were between the ages of 18 and 24In the Blue Ridge Health District, there have been 294 visits to emergency rooms for firearm injuries since 2016. The work is covered by a grant to the VDH from the Centers for Disease Control to help improve public health surveillance of firearm injuries, according to a release. For acronym fans, the CDC program is known as Firearm Injury Surveillance Through Emergency Rooms, or FASTER. The dashboard does not yet extend to hospitalizations and deaths, but that’s expected later this year. Those who are going to take a look at the data are reminded to review a list of limitations with what’s known as syndromic surveillance. Pandemic update: Still on the plateauIt’s another holiday weekend during the era of COVID-19 and Virginia remains on a plateau of a high number of cases. The seven day percent positivity for testing is 20.5 percent, up from 17.4 percent on June 23. Today the Virginia Department of Health reports another 3,393 new cases. That’s based on PCR tests and does not include at-home tests. “There is still a fair amount of disease in the community,” said Dr. Costi Sifri, the director of hospital epidemiologist at the University of Virginia Health System. “We’re certainly seeing that with our staff. In fact, there are a fair number of people that are out right now because they have COVID and its frustrating.”Dr. Sifri said many have already had COVID and are vaccinated, but COVID-19 continues to mutate with new strains. However, vaccination has led to less severe cases.“What we are not seeing is people getting critically ill like they were before so the fact that folks are vaccinated has made a huge difference in how the disease presents,” said Dr. Reid Adams, chief medical officer for UVA Health. According to the VDH, nearly 83 percent of the adult population is fully vaccinated. There is a seven-day average of 3,000 doses administered a day. Dr. Sifri said this is a good time to get a booster if you have not done so. He also said a panel of the Food and Drug Administration is encouraging to continue vaccine manufacturers to continue development of new versions that can combat the latest variant of the Omicron strain. Dr. Sifri said people should not wait. “I would advocate if you are eligible for a booster and its been a long time since your body has seen the spike protein, it’s a good time now to get it to prevent infection,” Dr. Sifri said. Visit vaccinate.virginia.gov to schedule an appointment. Piedmont Housing Alliance gets $2 million in additional federal funding The U.S. Treasury Department has awarded $2 million to the Piedmont Housing Alliance through its Community Development Financial Institutions fund. Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine made the announcement in late June. The funding comes specifically from the Treasury Department’s Capital Magnet Fund. In a release, Piedmont Housing Alliance said the funding would provide gap funding for the second phase of Friendship Court as well as the 206 apartments the agency is building at Southwood to satisfy the terms of funding Habitat for Humanity of Greater Charlottesville received from the Albemarle County and the Albemarle Economic Development Authority. “High development and construction costs, high land and acquisition costs, and limited subsidy resources translate to significant funding gaps for affordable housing developments,” reads the release. “Without adequate subsidies, it is virtually impossible to build affordable housing.”In the fiscal year that begins today, the city of Charlottesville is providing an additional $2.5 million to Piedmont Housing Alliance for the second phase of Friendship Court. Another $10.25 million in city funding for Friendship Court in FY24 through FY27. The adopted capital improvement program for Charlottesville also shows nearly $5 million in city subsidies for two other affordable housing projects, both located on Park Street and rezoned by City Council earlier this year. Today’s second shout-out: Frances Brand and Cvillepedia 101In 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 four Cvillepedia 101 training sessions at the Center every Monday beginning July 11 at 2 p.m. Sign up at the Center’s website.Charlottesville schools preparing for “worse” situation for bus drivers this fallThere are 54 days until Charlottesville City Schools begin for the next academic year. The school system is seeking assistance and input on alternative methods of getting students to school as an ongoing transportation crisis continues. “As we look to fall 2022, our school bus challenges appear to be worse, not better,” reads a website set up to provide information in advance.The website states the city’s efforts to incentivize new drivers by increasing pay and offering bonuses are not working out. As such, the city wants to get parents ready for potential alternatives. Supporting walking in expanded walk zonesEncouraging use of public transportationCollaborating with community partners to support bikingAdding mini-school buses (hopefully electric)The first of several listening sessions will be held next Wednesday at Westhaven, with others scheduled later in the month at Friendship Court and Hearthwood Apartments. Charlottesville Area Transit designing new bus sheltersAs it seeks to find new drivers, Charlottesville Area Transit is also working to redesign its bus shelters. The agency has hired the firm Wendel Companies to come up with a customized template, and the Regional Transit Partnership got a briefing on the work last month.“We’re really looking at how to look at transit holistically, how to encourage people to take transit,” said Jeana Stright of Wendel Companies. “Part of what makes people want to take public transportation is having a place to wait for the bus, having amenities while you are there, or having a system for what reflects their needs.” Three concepts for the future shelters have been designed, one of which mimics the design of the Downtown Transit Station on Water Street. Stright recommends benches be present in all shelters, as well as space for wheelchairs. She also suggests one modular design with easy to replace parts due to the possibility of vandalism. “We are also looking at a way to incorporate local artists or local communities into the stops to be able to help yourself as you’re riding along on the bus as well, as you’re passing these different shelters, seeing different art, seeing different color schemes perhaps as part of that art panel, so that you can say ‘I’ve driven by that really cool fruit graphic,” Stright said. The partnership was asked to provide feedback. There was no specific information provided about how much each would cost, or how much of a budget CAT has to install the shelters. However, Stright said they have researched costs and all three options would be in the same basic price range. One member of the partnership said she was concerned about the practicality of some of the shelters. “I love all the designs but once again it’s a question of taxpayer’s dollars,” said Albemarle Supervisor Bea LaPisto-Kirtley. “And the artwork I think is great if we can afford it. But I like simple.”Albemarle Supervisor Diantha McKeel said she has been working with CAT Director Garland Williams on the idea of incorporating artwork into some bus shelters. “That artwork would need to be funded privately by neighborhoods,” McKeel said. “We wouldn’t be using [tax] dollars. You know, the murals that got put up on Georgetown, and Barracks, and Hydraulic? Those were all privately funded so that’s what we’d be talking about.” McKeel said it was crucial that the shelters provide relief from the sun and rain. See also: Next steps outlined for Charlottesville Area Transit route changes at partnership meetings, June 24, 2022Watch the partnership meeting:Support the program!This is episode 403 of this program and it contains stories you’re simply not going to see anywhere else. At least, a style you won’t find except here and Information Charlottesville. Town Crier Productions is not a nonprofit organization, but around a third of the audience has opted to contribute something financially. It’s similar to the old days when you would subscribe to a newspaper. I subscribe to several, myself!If you are benefiting from this newsletter and the information in it, please consider some form of support. I am not a nonprofit organization and most of my time is spent in putting the newsletter together, which includes producing the podcast.Supporting the program through a Substack contribution or through Patreon makes it very easy for me to get paid and every single dollar that I get makes me want to work that much harder to serve the community. In just under two years, I’ve produced hundreds of stories that seek to give you information about how decisions are made in our community and in the Commonwealth of Virginia.For more information on all of this, please visit the archive site Information Charlottesville to learn more, including how you too can get a shout-out! Thank you for reading, and please share with those you think might want to learn a few thing or two about what’s happening. This is a public episode. If you’d like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit communityengagement.substack.com/subscribe

Charlottesville Community Engagement
June 30, 2022: City Council briefed on property owned by Charlottesville government, deny request to convey sliver of land in North Downtown

Charlottesville Community Engagement

Play Episode Listen Later Jun 30, 2022 18:41


Halfway through the year? Today’s the 181st out of a scheduled 365, so we’re technically 49.5 percent of the way through 2022 though the fiscal calendar resets at the clock strikes midnight! This is Charlottesville Community Engagement, a newsletter and podcast that has sought to keep track of these things for nearly two years. Thanks to readers and listeners for helping keep the beads of the abacus in motion. This work is free, but it does cost me to put the time in. Sign up for a paid subscription, and Ting will match your initial payment!On today’s program:Albemarle Supervisors hire Staunton’s former city manager as the new county attorneyAn update on a federal lawsuit to force a House of Delegates race this fall Charlottesville City Council is briefed on the properties it owns inside and outside city limits and learns there has not been one central locationCouncil ponders giving up a “paper street” and denies a request to give up a small sliver of land in North Downtown First shout–out: JMRL to kick off the Summer Reading ChallengeIn today’s first subscriber-supported public service announcement, the Summer Reading Challenge put forth by Jefferson Madison Regional Library continues! You and members of your family can earn points for prizes in a variety of ways, such as reading for 30 minutes a day, reading with a friend, creating something yourself, or visiting the library! You can also get two points just by telling someone about the Summer Reading Challenge, so I guess I just added two more! Visit JMRL.org to learn more about this all ages opportunity to dive into oceans of possibilities! Legal drama continues in second suit to force 2022 House of Delegates election There are 131 days until the general election and a new lawsuit to force a Virginia House of Delegates race is still alive. Richmond resident Jeffrey Thomas Jr. filed a suit against the Board of Elections in the Eastern District of Virginia earlier this month that picked up a dismissed complaint that the legislative boundaries in place for the 2021 race were unconstitutional. As I reported earlier this month, Judge David Novak had set up a schedule for how information related to the case was to be filed. That schedule has not been followed. Thomas filed an amended complaint on June 16 that added two additional plaintiffs from two other legislative districts, one of whom is the former president of the Loudoun County NAACP.  Both are appearing pro se, or without a lawyer. The motion also added the Department of Elections as a defendant. “Plaintiffs and all other voters and residents in [House District 71], [House District 32], and [House District 10] have had their voting strength and political representation unconstitutionally diluted or weakened by the failure of Defendants to conduct, enact, or oversee decennial constitutional reapportionment, redistricting, or elections,” reads paragraph 54 of the amended complaint. The state responded in a motion objecting to the addition of the new plaintiffs and sought a new schedule. Judge Novak responded by granting an extension to July 1 for the defendants to file a motion to dismiss the case. A joint stipulation of facts was filed on June 24, but the next day, Thomas filed a motion requesting sanctions against the state for not agreeing to 47 facts that were in previous stipulations. Many of these relate to the population imbalances across the old districts with the most populated being at 130,192 residents and the least having 67,404 people. The plaintiffs allege this is a violation of the Equal ProtNovak denied this motion on Tuesday, and we wait to see if a motion to dismiss is filed by Friday. Former Staunton City Manager to serve as Albemarle County AttorneyAfter a months-long search, the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors has hired the former City Manager of Staunton as its next county attorney. Steven Rosenberg will start work on July 27. “The Board has taken a lot of time to find somebody that not only possesses the skills and the abilities that we seek in a county attorney but also is the person that joins our organization at the right point in the progression that we are attempting to achieve as an organization,” said Supervisor Ned Gallaway who headed up the search. Rosenberg became Staunton’s Deputy City Manager in May 2013 and was promoted to the top job in July 2019. He left the position in January 2022, according to his LinkedIn profile. Prior to that, he was associate general counsel of the University of Virginia for five and a half years. He was also Augusta County attorney from May 2003 to December 2007. Rosenberg did not make comments at the end of a closed meeting yesterday but is quoted in a press release. "During my nearly two decades as a neighbor of Albemarle County, I’ve become familiar with the county, most notably its quality of life and the strength of its organization—one committed to excellence and a culture of service. I am excited to join the Board and staff in such a positive environment and to work with them to serve the Albemarle County community,” shared Rosenberg.Albemarle closing Mint Springs beach until further nticeToday could be the last day to swim at Mint Springs near Crozet this summer. Albemarle County has announced the outdoor swimming area will be closed until further notice, but the beaches at Chris Greene Lake and Walnut Creek will remain open Thursday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Those two places will also be open on July 4. The reason is a lack of staff, according to an Albemarle County’s director of communications and public engagement. Charlottesville continues to operate only one outdoor pool a day to combat their shortage of lifeguards. Washington Park is open Sunday through Wednesday with Onesty Pool only open on Sundays. 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 campalbemarleva.org/donate. Charlottesville Council briefed on city-owned propertyThe city of Charlottesville owns 170 pieces of property and another 18 in conjunction with Albemarle County. Does it need all that land and space? That was one of the undercurrents of a discussion and briefing Council had at a work session on June 21. “The approximate acreage of city-owned properties within the city is 798 acres and over 2,800 acres of city-owned properties located within [Albemarle] County,” said Brenda Kelley, the city’s redevelopment manager based in the Office of Community Solutions. Kelly said at the outset what would not be in her presentation. (view the presentation)“This discussion will not include a discussion on streets, alleys, paper streets and paper alleys which are basically unimproved streets and alleys,” Kelly said. More on one of those later in this installment. City-owned properties include the fire stations, City Hall, the schools, parks, and other properties. Lesser known properties include an L-shaped half-acre parking lot on West Main Street that leads to the half-acre Starr Hill Park and a quarter-acre parking lot on Estes Street in the Fifeville neighborhood. In 2019, the city purchased just over an acre of land adjacent to Jordan Park for $270,000. “And the previous property owners had already platted these six lots so this is another city-owned property that at some point we probably need to look at the possible development of affordable housing,” Kelly said. “That’s one of the discussions we had early on when the city first approved the approval of the purchase of this property.” In the county, the city of Charlottesville owns 67.56 acres on Avon Street Extended with some of that property being used by Charlottesville Area Transit. The city also owns 1,023 acres at the Sugar Hollow Reservoir and ten acres at the Albemarle Lake subdivision, both purchased originally for water supply. All of this land takes management.“We do have some challenges when we talk about city-owned properties,” Kelly said. “We need to develop a better consistent process when we have requests to dispose of the properties or acquire the properties. Maintaining these properties. Are there departments currently maintaining these properties? We think a lot of them are being maintained. And are any of these properties developable?” As with city leases, no one has been coordinating all of the information over the years. Now Council has a chance to act on policies for what to do next. “And there [are] a lot of properties that are adjacent to right of ways and is that something the City Council wants to look at,” Kelly said. “Do we want to approach adjacent property owners and see if there is an interest in putting those on the tax rolls.” Kelly said staff will come back to Council with another summary of city agreements not tied with leases that may not be coordinated in one central office. “We have now the information we need to start addressing the concept even of consistent policies and a consistent point person to work all of this out so we will be coming back to you,” said interim City Manager Michael C. Rogers.Rogers said there is an opportunity for Council to determine what it would like to do going forward. City Councilor Michael Payne said he wanted to know if this might help resume discussions of creating a city-owned land bank to acquire property for public purposes. “We’re land-locked, ten and a half square miles,” Payne said. “Our single most valuable asset is the land we own and I think land acquisition in particular is the single most important action we can take, both for economic development and affordable housing.” Deputy City Manager Sam Sanders said there could be a future conversation about a land bank ordinance, but the research is meant to get Council to a point where they would have enough useful information. “This all is a centralizing effort at this time so we can get our arms around what we have but really it is this conversation that is going to feed us on what next steps we want to take,” Sanders said. Councilor Magill seeks policy on conveying of “paper” streets to landownersLater on in the meeting, Council had several items related to land use. One of them was a request from the owners of a lot on 6th Street SW in Fifeville for the city to convey to them a strip of property. (staff report)“And this property is a platted 20 foot right of way that is labeled Oak Street,” said Lisa Robertson, the city attorney.That section of Oak Street has never been built and it what’s known as a “paper” street. Council closed a 77-foot section of that same paper street in 2010 between 6 and 6 ½ Streets. In that case, one half of that former city property went to straddling property owners. No one initially spoke at the public hearing, but City Councilor thought she and her colleagues should put a pause on the conveyance. “Until we figure out holistically what we’re going to do with the paper streets, the piecemealing of people who know to be able to come to City Council or to come to get the street closed, I don’t feel it’s a fair overall process,” Magill said. Magill said until the process is more clear, she would like Council to stop granting them until the policy is more clear. Vice Mayor Juandiego Wade said he’s handled many paper streets when he was a planner. He said he was okay with deciding them on a case by case basis because every property may have unique conditions. “I think it would maybe be hard to come up with an overall city policy because each one might be different,” Wade said. The two property owners did want to speak at the public hearing, but had not been recognized but later did have the chance to have their say. “Currently the actual alley isn’t in great condition,” said Vignesh Kuppusamy. “There’s a tree that fell over in a recent storm that’s dead and kind of rotting there so we were also thinking that if we were to do this and be granted the land together with the owners of 313 we could clean the area up and make it look nicer.” Wade supported the idea of developing a policy, but said he would feel comfortable granting this conveyance. So did Councilors Brian Pinkston and Michael Payne.“To be honest I haven’t thought about it too much but my initial reaction is that shouldn’t hold us up on doing some on a case by case basis,”  Payne said. The matter will come back up for a second reading at Council’s next meeting on July 18. Council denies request to give up 0.02 acres of land on 9th Street NEIn a similar matter, Council denied a request from a landowner to be given a 0.02 acre vacant lot at the corner of East Jefferson Street and 9th Street for free. Charlottesville Mayor Lloyd Snook said there are two chestnut trees on the property. (staff report)“The trees are huge and they’re beautiful and they’re worth more to the city I suspect then they would be to the neighbor,” Snook said. “My own feeling about is that we should not be in the habit of giving away real estate especially if it’s on a road where we may decide we want to have a bike lane or a wider sidewalk.”The property is within the jurisdiction of the East High Streetscape project.The owner of the adjacent property, Thomas Gierin, said those trees are infested with ivy and he said the city is not equipped to take care of the maintenance. He said he could take better care of the property. “I have worked with the city arborist office to have them come out and perform maintenance,” Giren said. “They did come in I believe in February to do some maintenance and I spoke with them about doing the things it would to make those trees healthy and thriving and they said ‘we’re just here to keep the branches away from the street.”Gieren said he would be paying property taxes if he owned the land, and that he would grant an easement for any future transportation project. Councilor Magill said she would prefer the city to retain ownership.“One of the most expensive things about doing sidewalks and doing everything else is the getting the right of way and by giving up land that we have the right of way to, we limit ourselves and potentially cost us significantly more in the future.” Snook said he felt there could be a negotiation with Gierin to work out a deal.“I’m certainly not prepared to say yes but I’m also not prepared to say, no, never,” Snook said. Council voted 4-1 on a motion to deny the request with Wade dissenting. Support the program!This is episode 402 of this program and it contains stories you’re simply not going to see anywhere else. Town Crier Productions is not a nonprofit organization, but around a third of the audience has opted to contribute something financially. It’s similar to the old days when you would subscribe to a newspaper. I subscribe to several, myself! If you are benefiting from this newsletter and the information in it, please consider some form of support. I am not a nonprofit organization and most of my time is spent in putting the newsletter together, which includes producing the podcast.Supporting the program through a Substack contribution or through Patreon makes it very easy for me to get paid and every single dollar that I get makes me want to work that much harder to serve the community. In just under two years, I’ve produced hundreds of stories that seek to give you information about how decisions are made in our community and in the Commonwealth of Virginia.For more information on all of this, please visit the archive site Information Charlottesville to learn more, including how you too can get a shout-out! Thank you for reading, and please share with those you think might want to learn a few thing or two about what’s happening. This is a public episode. If you’d like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit communityengagement.substack.com/subscribe