Tourism is one of the region’s largest industries, and the pandemic has shown just how important the sector is to the municipal bottom line. Russ Cronberg has been general manager of the Boar’s Head Resort for the past five years. He gave a presentation on October 25 to the Board of Directors of the Charlottesville Albemarle Convention and Visitors Bureau. The CACVB markets the region as a tourism destination and is funded by a portion of the transient lodging tax.
“We have 3,891 hotel rooms roughly give or take a room or two in our market currently,” Cronberg said. “Our annual occupancy is around 65 percent.”
Before the passage of the Clean Water Act in 1972, it would be commonplace for factories to discharge pollutants into rivers and streams without any consideration of the effect of the natural world.
Nearly fifty years later, there is a system of permits and regulations in place to improve water quality. The Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority is working with certain industries in the community to pre-treat industrial waste before effluent is released into the ecosystem.
Election day is just a few days away and the final campaign finance reports have been filed in advance of the big day. Today let’s look at House of Delegates races. Albemarle County currently has four different districts within it boundaries.
Let’s start with the 25th House District, which stretches from Albemarle into Augusta and Rockingham Counties. Democrat Jennifer Kitchen is challenging incumbent Republican Chris Runion. Kitchen began the October reporting period with $108,930 on hand, raised an additional $29,673, and spent $37,189.
The Albemarle Economic Development Authority administers grant and bond programs that seek to encourage businesses to expand in Albemarle or to locate their operations there. On October 19, 2021, the seven-member EDA Board of Directors formally authorized their role in a performance agreement for the firm Bonumose to open a demonstration facility in the former State Farm Building. That came at a joint meeting with the six elected members of the Albemarle Board of Supervisors.
Doug Walker is the Deputy County Executive.
“These two bodies work in collaboration with each other,” Walker said. “They are considering the same projects, the same agreements, and they do them in concert with each other.”
A routine closed-door meeting of key planning officials in Albemarle, Charlottesville, and University of Virginia was held last week on October 15. The Land Use and Environmental Planning Committee (LUEPC) had four presentations on items related to climate adaptation.
Paul Zmick, Director of Energy and Utilities at UVA, gave a presentation on the school’s efforts to develop a strategy for thermal energy use. That’s one way UVA hopes to become fossil-free by the year 2050. A recent study evaluated dozens of potential ways to reduce reliance on old technology. Some strategies are recommended to be dropped from further analysis such as solar thermal, biomass, and deep geothermal. (presentation)
Charlottesville has issued a routine request for proposals for a firm to provide advice with financial services related to the city’s capital improvement program as well as the issuance and administration of debt. The city’s request details the city’s existing $207 million in outstanding debt which includes a total of $17.8 million in debt service for the current fiscal year. (read the RFP)
Charlottesville sells municipal bonds each spring for the CIP as well as four utilities that are all separate accounts. This year the city issued $20.8 million in bonds, $8.22 million of which is for new debt. The city has held a AAA bond rating from Standards and Poor’s since 1964 and a AAA bond rating from Moody’s since 1973.
Last campaign finance report before the election
Election Day is one week away and the latest campaign finance reports have been submitted to the Virginia Department of Elections.
In the Charlottesville Council race, Democrat Brian Pinkston began October with $14,400 and raised only $25 in contributions. He loaned himself $1,815 and spent $1,816 in the period leaving a balance very similar to where he started. Pinkston has raised $111,122 in the campaign (info).
Ticket mate Juandiego Wade began the month with $15,201 on hand and raised an additional $140. He spent $175 leaving a balance also similar to where he started. Wade has raised $81,375 this cycle. (info)
Independent Yas Washington raised no money and spent no money and had a balance of zero on October 21. She’s raised and spent a total of $415 in the election cycle. (info)
This past month I have received at least two dozen “price decease” alerts from realtor.com. How is that translating into the market? Read ahead and find out for yourself in this anecdotal look at property transactions in Charlottesville during September. Properties appear to be sold above assessment in most all cases.
Of particular interest to me are two property transfers in areas that are to be designated as “sensitive” to displacement in the Future Land Use Map and the Comprehensive Plan. The Planning Commission recommended adoption of the draft this past week and details still need to be worked out about the mechanism by which bonus units will be allowed in those areas.
One on Charlton Avenue in the Rose Hill neighborhood was over 53 percent of the 2021 assessment. Another on Anderson Street in 10th and Page went nearly 190 percent over assessment, though that reflects major renovations made by the previous owners. What, if anything, might have been altered with different land use rules?
Charlottesville City Council held a work session yesterday on how to cover the costs of sidewalk improvements for Stribling Avenue to support a 170 unit development on about 12 acres of undeveloped land. James Freas is the director of the city’s Neighborhood Development Services department.
“So, as many as you know, there’s a [Planned Unit Development] proposed for 240 Stribling Avenue,” Freas said. “The proposed project includes a mix of apartments, townhouses, two-family units.”
An Albemarle County start-up that seeks to create an artificial sweetener for the mass market will set up shop at the former regional headquarters of the State Farm insurance company.
Governor Ralph Northam was on hand to announce that the firm Bonumose will partner with the Hershey Company to research and develop reduced or zero sugar chocolate.
“This is a $28 million investment that Bonumose is putting forth in the Commonwealth of Virginia,” Northam said.