Monthly Archives: February 2020

Upcoming meetings for February 24, 2020

Week Ahead for February 24, 2020

This week, Monday takes the turn as the day with the most activity. Every week is filled with key decision points for our community’s future. Every week, elected officials, staff, and the public come together to discuss options and possibilities. This newsletter tracks what’s happening before it does to keep you informed. The goal is to improve the built environment we have while preserving and protecting the natural one that sustains us all. Now, let’s get started. 

Monday, February 24, 2020: Transit detour and six meetings 

Our first item this week isn’t a meeting but important to civic life all the same. Charlottesville Area Transit (CAT) has begun a two-week detour during which no buses will serve the Downtown Transit Center on Water Street. In all, 12 of 13 routes travel use the station, which opened in 2007 and is set up for CAT vehicles to travel only in a westbound direction in what is known as a “timed-pulse” system. 

Construction of a utility duct for the CODE Building will shut down Water Street through March 7, which will force all but Route 5 to travel on an alternate pathway as it comes through downtown. The city is blocking off eight on-street parking spaces across from City Hall on East Market Street to serve as a temporary transfer point, as all buses will travel west on a street on which they normally travel east. They’ll also all use High Street, testing the city’s streets. 

This two-week shut-down offers an opportunity to take a good look at a system that currently is overly downtown-centric. Of course Charlottesville is a major destination, but this shutdown illustrates how dependent the entire transit system is on downtown. This period of discomfort is an opportunity for the community to think about how future transit routes might be drawn differently.  (CAT page on detour)


According to a calendar on Albemarle’s website, the county’s Historic Preservation Committee meets today at 4:30 p.m. in Room 241 of the main office building on McIntire Road. Last month, the group endorsed the idea of asking the Board of Supervisors to require that the Miller School of Albemarle be required to update historical documents as a condition of a pending rezoning. Last week, Supervisors deferred a vote when Miller School officials said they had not been told of the committee’s request and were thus not prepared. That may come up at the meeting today, but there’s no agenda posted. (calendar item)


The Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority gathers at 6:00 p.m. in City Council Chambers for their February meeting. On the agenda are resolutions supporting CRHA’s participation in the redevelopment of South First Street and the renovation of Crescent Halls. There is also a resolution supporting the appointment of Kathleen Glenn-Matthews as the interim director of CRHA. She has served as interim director of operations since November after becoming relocation coordinator last June. The CRHA website does not have this meeting listed, nor the agenda. (CRHA website)


The Pantops Community Advisory Committee is scheduled to meet at 6:15 p.m in the Kessler Conference Room at the Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital. The agenda hasn’t been posted yet, but the Pantops area faces many changes over the coming years, including the conversion of the I-64/U.S. 250 interchange into a diverging diamond. (Pantops CAC page)


Charlottesville City Schools begins a four-part series of Community Conversations on Equity with the first installment at Charlottesville High School beginning at 6:00 p.m. (website)

The other events are:

  • February 25th at Friendship Court at 6:30pm, 
  • February 26th at the Boys and Girls Club on Cherry Avenue at 6:30pm
  • February 27th at City of Promise at 12 noon.


Last week, the Charlottesville City Council gave the go-ahead to install another temporary marker for an auction block in Court Square where enslaved people were bought and sold. One set in the sidewalk was stolen earlier this year by an activist. A subcommittee of the city’s Historic Resources Committee had already been working on something that conveyed the enormity of slavery, and will take up the temporary markers at a meeting today at noon at the Gordon Avenue Library. (Historic Resources website)

Finally, the Social Services Advisory Board will meet at noon in the Basement Conference Room in City Hall. The meeting is open to the public. (agenda

Tuesday, February 25, 2020: A look at recycling in Albemarle

In a time when there’s much confusion about what can be recycled, the Rivanna Solid Waste Authority (RSWA) is a major resource. RSWA Recycling Director Phil McKalips will update the Board of Directors on the issue at their meeting which begins at 2:00 p.m at the Moores Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant. The group is transitioning to a monthly meeting, which will increase the profile of solid waste policy in our community. That gives us all a chance to take a look at our own habits and see what we can do to reduce the tonnage of waste that reaches the landfill. (agenda and board packet

The Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority’s Board of Directors meets immediately afterward. The RWSA is responsible for maintaining the supply of treated drinking water and selling to the Albemarle County Service Authority and the city of Charlottesville. The main item on the agenda is the introduction of the $135.2 million Capital Improvement Program for FY2021 through 2025. That figure includes long-planned projects such as renovations of the South Rivanna, Observatory and Crozet water treatment plants. Planned wastewater projects include the second phase of replacement of a sewer line that runs along McIntire Road. (agenda and board packet)


The Greene County Board of Supervisors has a full agenda, including an application to rezone a 2-acre parcel in Ruckersville from A-1 to B-3. The owners do not have a specific business in mind for the property, but want to add this property to three other lots that are already zoned for business use. In this case, the property is not within the designated growth area. That’s lead to a resolution from staff to recommend denial. (staff report) (presentation)

Supervisors will also: 


At 5:00 p.m., the Albemarle Board of Supervisors will begin a series of work sessions on County Executive Jeffrey Richardson’s proposed $451 million budget for fiscal year 2021. This meeting will be held in Room 241, which does not have many seats for the public. The presentation will be streamed online. You can review the video of Richardson’s February 19 presentation to the Board here


Nelson County’s Planning Commission meets at 7:00 p.m. to discuss changes to the zoning code regarding how structures with non-conforming uses are to be treated. There are no active land use applications on the agenda. (agenda

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

The Charlottesville Planning Commission will take a look at three topics at a work session scheduled for 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. in the Neighborhood Development Services conference room in City Hall. That includes a first look of the Cherry Avenue Small Area Plan, a document crafted by Fifeville residents with coordination from the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission (TJPDC). (Staff report and plan)

Next, the Planning Commission will meet with the consultants who are part of a nearly $1 million contract to oversee completion of the city’s next Comprehensive Plan. Current members of the group have different interpretations of why the Commission’s state-mandated review has not yet resulted in a completed product and they’ll have a chance to discuss the work that has been undertaken since 2017. They’ll also be asked questions about housing, and I will be curious to see if the presentation will take into Council’s decision last week to move forward with specific zoning changes designed to increase the supply of affordable and supported housing units. (staff report)

Finally, Commissioners will have a work session with Southern Development about a proposal to rezone 11.4 acres of property off of Stribling Avenue in the Fry’s Spring neighborhood from single-family residential to a zoning type that would accommodate 170 units on the property. The Planning Commission saw a previous proposal that would have created 68 duplexes. The new submission would see 74 two-to-three story townhomes and 96 apartment units spread across four buildings. Under this arrangement, Southern Development is proposing to contribute “significant funding for bike and pedestrian improvements on Stribling Avenue.” (staff report and presentation)


When I think of places to go see lectures, the University of Virginia Research Park does not usually come to mind. However, Meg Heubeck from the Center of Politics will present Talking Turkey: Taking the ‘Dis’ out of Civil Discourse beginning at noon at Town Center Two. The University of Virginia Foundation is seeking ways to increase the public profile of the research park. Later this year, a new connector road paid for by the foundation will extend from Airport Road into the research park. (RSVP for the event)

Thursday, February 27, 2020

The Places29-Rio Advisory Committee is scheduled to meet at 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. There’s no agenda at the moment, but possible topics include the March 4 Board of Supervisors public hearing for the rezoning of 999 Rio Road, as well as the forthcoming Planning Commission public hearing on Parkway Place. If rezoned, both projects will need viable transit multimodal service so residents can have alternatives to driving. (Places29-Rio Advisory Committee page)


The forum to improve transit in the region is the aptly-named Regional Transit Partnership (RTP), which meets at 4:00 p.m. at the Water Street Center at 407 Water Street. The body consists of Albemarle, Charlottesville and University of Virginia officials, and is attended by transit agencies throughout the area. This will be the first meeting of the year and comes at a crucial time for transit decisions in our community. 

The agenda includes a presentation from a Leadership Charlottesville group that has been working on interviewing transit riders and people who don’t currently take a bus. Finding out what obstacles people have is an important step toward getting them to seek alternatives. 

Another item on the agenda is a presentation from a series of listening sessions conducted last fall by the Virginia Conservation Network and the Virginia Transit Association. That work may help inform a visioning process for regional transit that the TJPDC is seeking grant and local funding to conduct. (agenda and packet

This meeting provides the last chance for the Regional Transit Partnership to discuss the upcoming budget cycle for Albemarle and Charlottesville. Albemarle Supervisors will hold a work session on transit funding on March 11 to discuss CAT’s $1.7 million request in funding, a request that is not included in County Executive Jeffrey Richardson’s proposed budget. Instead, Richardson recommended the same $1.043 million in funding that is in the current year’s budget, as well as a $387,562 contingency. 

One question I have is how well this process matches the agreement adopted by City Council and the Board of Supervisors last year. The Intergovernmental Memorandum of Understanding is intended to govern Albemarle’s relationship to CAT including how budgets are to be developed. There’s a lot to think about between now and Thursday. (MOU)


Leaders talk solutions to climate crisis at League of Women Voters panel

As the world continues to reel from emergency after emergency related to a changing global climate, an increasing number of people want to take action but may not know where to begin.

“One of the big things I hear from people is that they’re overwhelmed by climate change and don’t know where to begin and don’t know what to do in their personal lives to make an impact on this incredibly enormous problem,” said Susan Kruse, executive director of the Community Climate Collaborative.

Kruse was one of four speakers at a panel discussion put on by the League of Women Voters of the Charlottesville Area called Hot Matters: Climate Crisis. Around 50 people attended the February 16, 2020 event.

“The Natural Resources Committee members were wondering what could be done with all of the possibilities of combating climate change,” said Muriel Grim, the committee’s chair. “What are some of the steps that we could take that would be most effective?”

A deadline for action is looming. In November 2018, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change announced the global temperatures need to be kept from increasing above the 1.5 degree Celsius of warming in order to avoid cataclysmic changes for world ecosystems. To get there, IPCC scientists recommended a crucial target of reducing global greenhouse gas emissions by 45 percent by 2030.

“That’s 10 years we have to get there and we have a long way to go and need to all pull as a community together to figure out ways to move forward,” Kruse said.

In February 2019, Albemarle County, Charlottesville and the University of Virginia all announced they would set seek to achieve the 45 percent reduction by 2030 and to reach carbon neutrality by 2050. Last December, the the University of Virginia went one step further and announced they would become carbon neutral by 2030 and to be fossil-fuel free by 2050.

The co-chair of UVa’s Sustainability Committee said it is important for public agencies to set aggressive goals, but the follow-through is crucial if the community is to meet its goal.

“You’ve got to have tactics and a road map to get you there,” said Cheryl Gomez, operations director for facilities management at UVA. “2030 means you have to be really focusing on what you have to do to get some quick wins. You have to be thinking about strategy because that’s less than a decade away now. It’s starting to tick away.”

Gomez said UVA does not have all of the answers of how it will get to the 30 percent goal, but they are working on strategies.

“Every decision we make today will be totally driven and informed by that ultimate goal,” Gomez said.  That means each new building is more energy efficient than those that came before. It means trying to reduce demand for parking by encouraging alternatives.

“If there is still some fossil fuel emissions, carbon emissions, left associated with that new construction we will need to offset that by additional renewable energy in some form,” Gomez said, giving the example of installing more utility-scale solar.

The environmental sustainability manager for the city of Charlottesville said UVA can move faster to implement policies because it has more control over its own destiny.

“Sometimes a city or a county is a little envious of a large local partner like a university that has control over a lot of what happens in that footprint,” said Kristel Riddervold. “We have similar plans on a different scale of improving the efficiency of our existing buildings, looking at expanded deployment of solar [and] looking at electrifying our municipal fleet. The challenge is how to move forward and what areas to focus on.”

Charlottesville conducted inventories in 2000, 2006, 2009, 2011 and 2016. Overall, the city saw a 23 percent decrease in greenhouse gas emissions over that period.

“You can’t manage what you’re not measuring,” Riddervold said. “Having benchmarks at the home scale or community scale is incredibly important because we have more biases on where to focus our efforts.”

Local government also contributes to transportation systems to help people get around the community. Land use planning can create dense neighborhoods where more people can efficiently. [1] 

Riddervold said local planning should be taking climate and emissions into consideration. Charlottesville has begun a new effort to update the Comprehensive Plan.

“This is going to be looking at the housing strategy and the zoning ordinance,” Riddervold said. “Going to those meetings, which may feel like they were something other than climate action, in my opinion are the right meetings to go to talk about climate action.”

One bill pending before the General Assembly would require localities to add a resiliency plan for climate change to their Comprehensive Plans.

“You may have heard of things like small area plans, or Streets that Work, transportation improvement Plan, housing redevelopment plans and urban forest planning,” Riddervold said. “All of these topics are places where we are starting to sort of demand of ourselves that we look at those things through the emissions lens.”

Riddervold the city is working on many projects, including a landfill diversion strategy to reduce the amount of solid waste that ends up being buried. 

“There is an extraordinarily large portion of the waste that goes to landfills that is organic and when the decomposition happens, the gases that come off of that are things like methane,” Riddervold said.

The Rivanna Solid Waste Authority now offers a drop-off point for household composting at the McIntire Recycling Center, as does the city of Charlottesville at the farmers’ market.

Staff is currently researching the Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy program to help encourage businesses to upgrade their cooling and heating systems. (one resource)

“Climate protection or climate action sometimes feels like it’s a topic people are tackling in parallel or in isolation to a lot of other things,” Riddervold said. “I would suggest one of the opportunities is to integrate the topic in other core priorities that we’re tackling.”

For instance, if you give up driving alone to work, you’re also taking one less car off of the highways during periods of congestion.

Kruse said programs run by C3 like the Better Business Challenge are designed to bring people together to lower the barriers to participation.

“When people are acting alone they tend to feel like it’s not enough and what they’re doing doesn’t matter,” Kruse said. “It’s also hard to know if you are choosing the right path forward.” 

Gomez said the public also needs to be aware of the current gutting of environmental regulation at the federal level.

“Some of you may recall [enactment of] the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the National Environmental Protection Act and all of these amazing [bills] that were enacted in the 70’s under President Nixon,” Gomez said. “We could literally absolutely see from year to year, decade to decade, the incredibly positive impact these regulations had on our air, water and land. We cannot let these regulations get gutted and eliminated and taken away.”

Gomez said money spent to address climate change should be considered an investment rather than a cost.

The reality of fighting climate change at the local level is that no one is ever really in charge. Our elected officials come and go, leaving staff to implement plan after plan.

“Decision makers are trying to figure out what part and what [role] local government should be playing and those decisions are being influenced by conversations over coffee about things that are important to constituents,” Riddervold said. “There’s a role for staff, for the community, and for city management to bring initiatives and ideas to the decision-makers about what [climate action] looks like in our community.”

“We have got to figure out how to achieve mutual goals around climate and affordable housing,” Kruse said. “We need to be expanding our definition of who is a climate leader. I think affordable housing is very much a climate issue. If you can’t afford to live near where you work and you have to live far out from the community and you have to drive in every day, that is a climate issue.”

“One of the challenges is how do you tackle this topic at the 30,000 foot level but have it be granular enough and accurate enough that you can have real policy and program decisions,” Riddervold said.

One woman pointed out the forum was held on a Sunday, when transit service is drastically reduced.

“I’m optimistic because I’m seeing some really cool and innovative things happening in technology where there are huge and dramatic improvements,” Gomez said. “UVA currently uses 30 percent less water today than our high water mark of usage.”

“You need larger institutions to put in the investments for things like battery storage to make it more deployable and applicable for smaller scale uses,” Turner said.

Albemarle County is continuing to develop a climate action plan after making that the number one strategic goal in the fall of 2018.

Upcoming meetings for February 3, 2020

Good morning, and welcome to another quick look forward at what’s happening at local meetings in Albemarle, Charlottesville and beyond. February gets off to a quick start and here’s what we know so far. As always, please let us know what we might have missed. 

Monday, February 3, 2020

Charlottesville City Council begins its first meeting of the month beginning at 6:30 p.m. at City Hall. The agenda for tonight covers both land use and social justice issues. 

The first public hearing deals with the $5.8 million surplus left at the end of fiscal year 2019, which ended last June. Council first discussed this at their last meeting on January 21, and made some adjustments at the budget retreat on January 23. Still in the resolution is $1.25 million for a compensation study as well as $700,000 in additional money for the Charlottesville Affordable Housing Fund. (staff report)

Council will then take up the form based code for a portion of the Strategic Investment Area. In January, the Planning Commission had their public hearing and sent the plan on with several concerns. This is the first of two readings by Council, so a final decision won’t be made at this meeting. (staff report

After a discussion about the signs at the Dairy Central development, Council will take up the report on disproportionate minority contact in the adult criminal justice system. The firm MGT Consulting Group has completed a report on the topic for both Charlottesville and Albemarle County. (staff report)

There are lots of interesting items on the Council consent agenda, which is voted on as one big block at the beginning of the meeting. 

  • Council will vote on a letter of support for the proposed Afton Express Transit Service which would connect Staunton and Charlottesville via a bus route. The Central Shenandoah Planning District Commission is applying for a state grant for a three-year demonstration of the service. (staff report)
  • PACEM, the organization that houses the homeless during cold winter nights, has asked for $20,000 in funds from the city’s Human Service Funds to cover additional transportation costs. (staff report)
  • Council will approve a sublease agreement to operate the City Market in 2020 on the privately-owned surface parking lot at 100 Water Street. The cost to the city is $99,750 from April to December. Developer Keith Woodard has leased the space from the Charlottesville Parking Center for several years in anticipation of the West 2nd development that has now been abandoned. (staff report)


The Louisa Board of Supervisors meets in open session at 6:00 p.m. in the county meeting room. There are no major rezonings on the agenda, but the Board will vote on a proposal to allow representatives of groups to speak for up to five minutes at public hearings. The idea meets all four of the Board’s Strategic Initiatives. Supervisors will also get an update on long-term transportation priorities for Louisa. All 12 of them are intersection improvements. (agenda)


The Albemarle Architectural Review Board meets at 1:00 p.m. in Room 241 of the county’s office building on McIntire Road. In the first item, they will review a proposal for a cell tower on U.S. 250 near Crozet. In the second, they’ll hold a work session on the new Malloy Ford. (agenda

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

The Albemarle Planning Commission meets at 6:00 p.m. in Lane Auditoriums and has two public hearings, each of which touch upon the county’s growth management policies. In the first, Tiger Fuel is seeking a special use permit to build a gas station, convenience store and restaurant on Black Cat Road at exit 129 on Interstate 64. The property is outside of the county’s development area and is not on public water and sewer. (staff report

In the second, the owners of a 3.6 area property on Stony Point Road on Pantops are seeking a rezoning from residential to commercial so they can open up daycare facility for up to 124 children. While in the development area, the Pantops Master Plan designates part of the land to be Urban Density Residential and the rest as Parks and Green System. Our Neighborhood Child Development Center needs a new home by the summer because their existing site on Ivy Road has been sold. (staff report)


The Albemarle Board of Zoning Appeals meets at 2:00 p.m. in Lane Auditorium. On the agenda is a rehearing of a case involving a law office that operates out of a couple’s home in the Rivanna District. (agenda)

The Charlottesville Tree Commission meets at 5:00 p.m. for a two-hour meeting that has 55 minutes scheduled for a discussion of “goals, objectives and committee structures.” According to the city website, the panel is to “serve strictly in an advisory role” to “protect and improve the urban forest.” After that, Commissioners will discuss the Community Forestry Management Plan for 142 acres of new parkland adjacent to the Ragged Mountain Natural Area. Other topics include a future canopy study, an update on the Capital Improvement Program and an item on “upcoming projects that impact trees.” 

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

The Albemarle Board of Supervisors has a relatively light meeting to start the month, beginning at 1:00 p.m. in Lane Auditorium. (full agenda)   

Housing coordinator Stacy Pethia will give an update on the formation of a new county policy on affordability. Last April, a needs assessment conducted by the the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission (TJPDC) found that more than 10,000 Albemarle families struggle with the cost of housing. A stakeholder committee has been meeting since October and a draft policy will be the subject of a joint work session with the Planning Commission in April. (staff report)

The rest of the regular agenda will feature an update on the Bright Stars pre-school program, a report from the Department of Social Services, and a report on the three-month autonomous shuttle program in Crozet operated by Perrone Robotics last year. The county funded the AVNU project through the Economic Development Authority in partnership with Jaunt. 

“During the course of the pilot, safety of operations was paramount,” reads the report. “There were no accidents or unsafe incidents throughout the pilot program.” (report) (funding agreement)

The consent agenda features several items of note:

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Since 1972, the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission has been in operation to connect and coordinate regional government services. Many agencies in the area got their start as TJPDC programs, such as Jaunt, Jefferson Area Board for Aging, and the Piedmont Housing Alliance. TJPDC staff work on land use, transportation, housing, solid waste, and many other areas of interest to Albemarle, Charlottesville, Fluvanna, Greene, Louisa and Nelson.  

The TJPDC’s work is governed by a 12-member Board of Directors that meets on the first Thursday of each month. Tonight is the first meeting for City Councilor Michael Payne, Albemarle Supervisors Ned Gallaway and Donna Price, and Louisa Supervisor Eric Purcell. The meeting is held at 407 Water Street in downtown Charlottesville beginning at 7:00 p.m. (full packet)


The Crozet Master Plan revision continues at 6:30 p.m. with another workshop at Western Albemarle High School. This time the “Character and Land Use” event will discuss neighborhoods and housing. (plan website)

Friday, February 7, 2020

Not quite a government meeting, but we welcome the new U.S. citizens who will be sworn in at a Naturalization Ceremony at the U.S. District Courthouse at 255 West Main Street, beginning at 11:00 a.m.