Summary of November’s TJPDC meeting: 50th anniversary, $2M for affordable housing, and more

The Thomas Jefferson Planning District will mark its 50th anniversary next year. But what does the agency do? Every month I take a listen and write up a rundown for Charlottesville Community Engagement. Here’s the one from November 4, 2021.

The TJPDC’s public entity’s creation stemmed out of reform in Virginia. David Blount is the deputy director of the TJPDC and he explained the passage of the Regional Cooperation Act in 1968.  (state code)

“[Planning District Commissions] and the framework for them is laid out in state code,” Blount said. “It’s encouraging and facilitating not only that local government cooperation, but also providing that link between the state and localities for addressing issues on a regional basis.” 

TJPDC formed later than other similar bodies. The body last met on November 4. Executive Director Christine Jacobs said the agency has been awarded $2 million in funding from the Virginia Housing Development Authority to distribute to groups who can build affordable housing units. 

“We have cast a very wide net to make sure we are reaching out to potential public, nonprofit, private developers to submit proofs of concept so that we can see what types of projects are eligible under this funding,” Jacobs said. 

Applications are due on November 29 and the application can be found on the TJPDC website.

The TJPDC continues to oversee the creation of a “regional transit vision” with a meeting scheduled for November 18. 

“We want to make sure we get as much as the public’s voice in that regional transit vision plan as possible,” Jacobs said

To add your voice, there are two surveys you can fill out before participating in that November 18 meeting. (surveys are here)

One of the technical reports made as part of the study depicts residential density in the entire TJPDC region. (download)
November Roundtable

TJPDC meetings offer the opportunity for members to share what it happening in their localities. Yesterday I reported on Albemarle’s $13.2 million unaudited surplus from fiscal year 2021. Except, Albemarle doesn’t call it that. Here’s Supervisor Donna Price. 

“We don’t really see it as a surplus, but we do see it as a positive variance and that’s really a difference there because when that pandemic first hit we cut back on our spending substantially,” Price said.

The chair of the TJPDC Board of Commissioners is Jesse Rutherford, recently re-elected to another term on the Nelson County Board of Supervisors. He appreciated Price’s distinction. 

“You taught me something that I’m going to bring with me to my tax accountant,” Rutherford said. “Positive variance. I’m already texting my account and we’re getting rid of the word net income.” 

City Planning Commissioner Rory Stolzenberg noted that the seven member advisory body recommended approval of the city’s Comprehensive Plan update on October 12. He also provided an update on the redevelopment of public housing. 

“The very first buildings, the phase one of South First Street building in the empty ballfields, the first two buildings are just about complete structurally,” Stolzenberg said. “They have roofs and walls and are topped out. So they just need to be finished and that means building 3 can start.”

The Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority will hold a work session on November 11 on the draft annual plan that must be submitted to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. (presentation) (draft plan) (register for 5 p.m. meeting)

2021 began with Chip Boyles as the executive director of the TJPDC, a position he left to become City Manager. He resigned on October 12, citing professional and personal abuse in the wake of the firing of Police Chief RaShall Brackney. 

City Councilor Michael Payne reported the news. 

“I won’t sugarcoat it,” Payne said. “It’s probably the biggest challenge we face. Just the turnover there. We’re in a maybe unique situation where this internal stuff has a major impact on our ability to execute a lot of the things we want to begin, Comprehensive Plan, housing, climate action planning. It makes it difficult for our ability to do long-range planning as well.” 

Rutherford offered the services of the planning district.

“Of course if there’s anything that we can do as an organization to assist in whatever way, we’re here for you,” Rutherford said. “What happens to Charlottesville does have a regional effect.” 

(This article originally appeared in the November 10, 2021 edition of Charlottesville Community Engagement).

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