Monthly Archives: January 2019

Newscast for January 4, 2019

Welcome to another look at local and regional government, in newscast form! Today’s installment is brought to you by Court Square Tavern, open in historic downtown since 1976. Consider Court Square Tavern for the next time you want to get together with a bunch of friends in a comfortable and welcome setting. Now, onto the news.  

The Charlottesville Planning Commission will meet all day tomorrow to begin the third year of reviewing the Comprehensive Plan. State law mandates that every planning commission in the state create a plan “for the physical development of the territory within its jurisdiction.” Charlottesville City Council approved the last comp plan update in 2013, and began its review in early 2017.

“I don’t think that it’s any surprise that this is a major undertaking and that probably we understand how important this particular Comprehensive Plan is to our city at this time,” said Lisa Green, chair of the Planning Commission at a Council meeting in December. 

There has been a lot of turnover on the group since the review began with several new members appointed in the wake of a renewed community effort to increase the number of affordable housing units in the city. Commissioners will meet all day in city hall to discuss the land use chapter of the plan, as well as something called the future land use map. A revised map could eventually lead to more homes in some neighborhoods. Stay tuned and we’ll keep you informed.


The current Comprehensive Plan designates the western edge of the city’s Little High Neighborhood as “Neighborhood Commercial.” That designation seemed confusing to many residents of the neighborhood when Council in December 2017 approved a special use permit to build over 120 apartments on a site currently owned by a former doctor’s office. That would double the number of housing units in the neighborhood. In addition to filing a lawsuit against the city, Little High residents have also asked for a historic survey of their neighborhood to see if it might become a historic district. On Monday, Council will see on their consent agenda an appropriation of just over $21,000 in city funds toward the effort. The Virginia Department of Historic Resources has awarded another $12,000.


Danville has joined the list of Virginia cities that are calling upon the General Assembly to legalize casinos within the Commonwealth. The Danville Register and Bee reports that the City Council has passed a resolution in support of upcoming legislation that would allow citizens in Danville, Portsmouth and Bristol to decide in a referendum whether gambling resorts could be operated in those cities. Councilors said such a resort could inject Danville with a massive influx of new revenues.

“This is the most significant economic development opportunity Danville has seen in my lifetime,” said vice mayor J. Lee Vogler. “We’re talking about nearly 7,000 jobs and nearly $1 billion into our local economy in the next decade.”

The vote to adopt the resolution was unanimous on the nine-person body. Mayor Alonzo Jones said the additional revenues could help prevent future tax increases and would help rebuild the city’s schools. The legislation has not yet been filed with the legislative information system.


A member of the Virginia House of Delegates from Vienna has filed a bill that would change the way members of some state environmental boards are appointed. Currently the governor appoints all of the members of the Air Pollution Control Board, the Waste Management Board and the State Water Control Board. Proposed legislation from Delegate Mark Keam would allow legislators to name five members to each body, reserving only two for the executive branch. Last month, Governor Ralph Northam drew fire for naming two new members to the Air Pollution Control Board shortly before that panel was to vote on a permit for a compressor station in Buckingham County necessary for Dominion’s Atlantic Coast Pipeline. That vote has been delayed until next Tuesday, and the new members will not participate.


And finally, Delegate David Toscano said yesterday that he will not carry legislation to amend Charlottesville’s charter to allow City Councilors to raise their salaries. A split Council voted in December to request such a bill as part of the city’s legislative package. Toscano told the Daily Progress he felt the idea needed to be vetted by the public. Localities in Virginia must get permission from the General Assembly to amend their charters, which are documents that lay out the basic rules for municipal government. Senator Creigh Deeds has not indicated whether he would introduce the bill.

And that’s it for today’s installment. Thanks to our sponsor, Court Square Tavern, for their support of our program. We’ll be back on Monday for another week of quick round-ups of local government news from across Virginia. Thanks for listening.

Newscast for January 3, 2019

Welcome to the Local Government news roundup for January, 3, 2019. We’re still working on the name, and the content, but the goal is to provide another source for what’s going on in and around the greater Charlottesville. Today’s installment is brought to you by Court Square Tavern, a local institution since 1976. Located in the old Monticello Hotel, consider Court Square Tavern the next time you want to meet a good friend.

The Harrisonburg Citizen reports that the five-member Harrisonburg City Council has chosen Deanna Reed to serve as its presiding officer for a second term. Newly elected Councilor Sal Romero will serve as the vice mayor. Reed’s election was not unanimous, as Councilor George Hirschmann decided not to support a second term. The Citizen reports that Reed’s election breaks a tradition where the top vote-getter is selected as mayor. Romero received 6,740 votes in the November election.

That’s according to the Virginia Department of Elections. Incumbent Christopher Jones was re-elected with 6,188 votes in the five person race. Reed said her top two priorities this year are to accelerate construction of a second high school for Harrisonburg as well as increasing the amount of affordable housing in the city


The University of Virginia’s real estate foundation has purchased another property on Ivy Road. In mid-December, the UVA Foundation purchased a two-story home at 2019 Ivy Road for just under a million dollars. The 0.42 acre property was assessed in 2018 at $538,100. The Foundation has slowly been purchasing land along the corridor for many years, and this is the second piece of land on the southern side of Ivy the Foundation purchased in 2018. In mid-October, the foundation bought 101 Bollingwood Road for $850,000, more than double the assessed value of $376,400. The foundation or the University owns all but one property on the northern side of the road between Emmet Street and Copeley Road. Expect the entire corridor to transform over the next several years as the University seeks to implement a master plan.


In other UVA Foundation news, a site plan has been filed to transform a vacant property owned on Seminole Trail into an AutoZone franchise. The land is at the corner of U.S. 29 and Westfield Road. The design will go before the Architectural Review Board in January. The foundation purchased the land in 2006. A restaurant used to stand on the land but was torn down after a fire. According to the site plan, the Autozone will generate 378 vehicle trips a day.


The Chesapeake Bay Commission will meet for this first time this year today at for a two-day session in Annapolis, Maryland. The body is made up of legislators from Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania, three of the six states and the District of Columbia. In 2019, the body will be chaired by Virginia State Senator Frank Wagner, a Republican who represents Virginia’s 7th Senate District. At the top of the meeting, the group will be briefed on the progress of a “pollution diet” mandated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. In a process known as the Watershed Implementation Program, or WIP, localities across the Bay’s entire watershed must come up with plans that show how they will reduce the amount of nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment that eventually flows into the largest estuary in the United States. The Chesapeake Bay Commission does not have any binding authority, but provides a chance for elected officials and others to learn about what’s going on to clean up the Bay, from multiple perspectives. Friday’s session will see two presentations on the what the business community is doing toward the effort.


We have more annual precipitation figures to report from 2018. Preliminary reports from the National Weather Service show that rainfall totals in Blacksburg, Charlottesville, Lynchburg, and Richmond were up significantly last year. Virginia Water Central gathered the information, which shows that Charlottesville received 20 inches over the annual normal of 40.89. That figure is an average of the past three decades. The Washington-Dulles Airport reported 66.75 inches last year, a 25 inch increase. Virginia Water Central also reports that the state is drought-free. That’s not the case in much of the western portion of the country.


And finally today, next week the Virginia Department of Transportation will temporarily close Proffit to through traffic in order to clean underneath a bridge that spans the Rivanna River. Debris became trapped under the bridge after those heavy flooding events last year, causing concern that future floods might seriously damage the bridge. Motorists are advised to seek alternate routes to get between U.S. 29 and Virginia Route 20.