Monthly Archives: February 2022

Urban Heat island data available

Staff working on climate action issues in Charlottesville have published the results of a survey conducted last summer to map out temperature and humidity levels across the city. 

“How urban environments and neighborhoods are built affects the amount of heat absorbed and retained, which can increase or reduce the impact of extreme heat events,” reads a page on the city’s climate protection website. “Increases in extreme heat are one of the top projected impacts Charlottesville will experience from climate change.”

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House subcommittee kills school sales-tax bills

Charlottesville’s plan to invest dozens of millions in public schools conclusively lost one financing source this morning. A subcommittee of the House Finance Committee voted to lay three bills on the table that would have allowed localities to decide if they wanted to raise the sales tax to finance school construction. 

Under current law, localities have to ask permission from the General Assembly to hold a referendum in which community members would decide whether to levy the tax. For the past two years, the Democrats held a majority and legislation passed that put the question on the ballot in Danville and Pittsylvania County. Danville approved a one percent sales tax increase with a 60 percent margin, but Pittsylvania voters rejected the tax on a 33 vote margin. 

The Republicans picked up seven House of Delegates in that same election, giving them a 52-48 advantage. House Finance Subcommittee #3 has seven members, four of whom are Republicans. 

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JMRL and NAACP team up to offer paid internship

The Jefferson Madison Regional Library and the Albemarle-Charlottesville NAACP are teaming up to offer a paid internship for local Black students to encourage them to consider library work as a profession. Students are asked to write a 300-word essay on literacy and education as well as academic information. The deadline to apply is April 15, 2022. 

“The program offers 200 annual hours of library work experience and a stipend of $3,000,” reads a press release. “In addition, Interns are eligible for an annual scholarship of $2,000 to be used toward completion of an Associate’s, Bachelor’s, or Master’s degree.”

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January 2022 Property Transactions: Midway Manor sells for $16.5 million; CRHA to hold public hearing on financing

Some people know much more about how real estate works than others. I disclaim I own one house within Charlottesville but otherwise have no interest in using additional property to advance my material wealth. For others, this is their career. I write these because as the community seeks solutions to the high cost of housing, I feel it is crucial to have a sense of what’s happening even if I’m still learning all of the mechanics.

I will also disclaim I do make a living writing about the place around me. I’ve spent nearly fifteen years paying close attention to land use issues and I’m making a living off of it in that manner. This summary goes first to paid Substack subscribers but will be posted to Information Charlottesville on Wednesday. Thank you to the hundreds of subscribers for helping Town Crier Productions get off the ground!

This is the 13th of these reports. For this first one for this year, I’ll be posting the assessment increases for both 2021 and 2022. For some transactions, I’ll throw in sales prices over the 2020 assessment for a sense of scale. Assessments increased an average of 10.77 percent this year

The sales prices here are tied to contracts signed in late November or in December, so the use of the 2022 assessment is meant for illustrative purposes. This report is an exercise for all of us to review in the hopes of better understanding the forces at work.  

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Richardson presents $565M “Transform Albemarle” budget to Supervisors

A strong projection of revenues in Albemarle has led County Executive Jeffrey Richardon to present the Board of Supervisors with a budget for fiscal year 2023 that is twenty percent higher than the existing year. (download the budget)

“This fiscal year’s recommended budget is built to transform Albemarle,” Richardson said. 

The property tax rate will remain at 85.4 cents per $100 assessed value. Property assessments in Albemarle are up an average of 8.4 percent in 2022. Sales tax, food and beverage tax, and transient occupancy taxes are up 17.1 percent from FY21.

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Charlottesville Parking Advisory Panel discusses civilian enforcement of parking

Charlottesville in November 2020 was in a different place, with interim City Manager John Blair at the helm. At that time, the city’s Parking Advisory Panel endorsed a proposal to ask the City Council to transition enforcement of on-street parking limits from the police department to a civilian contractor. (Parking panel supports non-police enforcement, November 18, 2020)

Since then, Blair left the city. Chip Boyles was hired and resigned within nine months, shortly after he terminated former Police Chief RaShall Brackney. 

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Albemarle Supervisors discuss incentive package for housing 

Last July, the Albemarle Board of Supervisors adopted a housing plan that seeks to increase the number of units guaranteed to be rented or sold below the market rate. Housing Albemarle was adopted without a system of incentives to developers to keep those prices lower than they otherwise would be. That came back to the Board on February 16. 

Albemarle Housing Coordinator Stacy Pethia has suggested creation of an overlay district in the zoning code that would allow for reduced fees and other waivers in exchange for creating lower-priced units. 

“We did engage with developers and we had four meetings with developers between June and October of last year,” Pethia said. “During the first two meetings, staff listened to developer concerns and discussed housing policy goals. Based on that feedback collected during those meetings and research into incentive programs implemented in localities within Virginia and across the country, staff developed a list of potential incentives that could be in a package.”

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Charlottesville releases Zoning 101 presentation

The next new information in Charlottesville’s rewrite of the zoning code won’t be available until mid-April when staff and Rhodeside & Harwell will publish a document with an inventory of the existing housing stock versus what could be built under the new future Land Use Map. This will take the form of a Diagnosis report and an Approach report. 

In the meantime, the city and the Cville Plans Together team has published a new page to provide an education on what the zoning process is all about. 

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Midway Manor subject of new affordable housing development

The Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority will hold a public hearing next Monday on the issuance of up to $23 million in bonds that would be used by a California-based company to redevelop Midway Manor. In January, the property sold for $16.5 million, more than double its 2022 assessment of $7.5 million. 

According to a legal notice published in the Daily Progress, the new company has requested the CRHA issue up the exempt facility bonds “to assist the Applicant in financing or refinancing a portion of the costs of acquiring, constructing, renovating, rehabilitating and equipping an age restricted affordable housing development to be known as Midway Manor Apartments, to consist of 94 one-bedroom units and 4 two-bedroom units.”

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Albemarle County offers comments on transfer of CenturyLink assets

This week, the State Corporation Commission is holding two meetings on a petition from Lumen Technologies to take over control of CenturyLink. Among the public comments submitted so far is the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors who sent a letter on February 10 summarizing concerns they made to Lumen officials at a January 12 meeting. As part of the deal, the new company would acquire copper-based assets and the county wants to make sure that service continues. (hearing webpage)

“Many of our vulnerable communities live in the rural areas of our county, where topography and distance often preclude cellular coverage,” the letter reads. “For these residents, this copper-plant is a vital lifeline for accessing 911 service, particularly during and after severe weather events.” 

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