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the idea of asking the Board of Supervisors to require that the Miller School of Albemarle be required to update historical documents as a condition of a pending rezoning.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:
- Get an update from the Virginia Department of Transportation (March 2020 report)
- Review the Greene County Strategic Plan
- Learn about a program to restore a riparian buffer along Stanardsville Run, part of the James River Buffer Program (staff report)
- Discuss a request from Supervisor Davis Lamb that the school system return surplus funds at the end of each fiscal year (Lamb letter)
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)