Village of Rivanna CAC members resign en masse

All but two members of one of Albemarle’s growth area advisory committees have resigned. The county’s website shows eight vacancies on the Village of Rivanna Community Advisory Committee (VORCAC). That group is charged with making recommendations and providing guidance to the Board of Supervisors on land use items within the scope of the Village of Rivanna Master Plan

However, in an April 19 post on their Substack newsletter, members cited staff interference in their efforts to provide education efforts about the master plan. 

“Supervisor [Donna] Price is concerned that our review of the Master Plan update is taking too much staff time,” they wrote. “It is our opinion that more time is needed to create a working plan that can be used as intended.”

The group last met in March, but an April 11 meeting was canceled. 

The post concludes with an email Price sent to former VORCAC Chair Dennis Odinov explaining that the ongoing review of the Comprehensive Plan takes precedence over other planning activities which are requiring staff time. Price is the Board of Supervisors’ liaison to VORCAC.

“There are no active development applications ready for discussion at the VORCAC, and consistent with Staff recommendation from [Planning Director] Charles Rapp on March 1st, there is no necessity for holding a VORCAC meeting this month,” Price wrote on April 5. 

Screenshot of the vacancies section on the Albemarle County website show eight VORCAC vacancies

Many of the VORCAC members have insisted loudly for many years that the plan allows for no more than one housing unit per acre. Last October, they successfully held the Board of Supervisors to that interpretation of the vision with Southern Development’s Breezy Hill development. The company had sought to build many more units than the maximum of 80 approved by Supervisors. 

Joe Fore is a member of the Crozet Community Advisory Committee who addressed the Board of Supervisors last week about the issue. He spoke as a community member and not in an official capacity as the Crozet group’s new chair. 

“To the extent that this portends the Board’s treatment of all CAC’s, it is troubling,” Fore said. “The notion that CAC’s would be prevented from meeting or even setting their own agendas even in months where there are no pressing issues from county staff is a dramatic departure of how these committees have operated.” 

Fore said county staff have used the pandemic to assert more control over the groups. Questions sent this morning the Office of Communications and Public Engagement were not returned in time for this newsletter, but I will continue to follow-up.

There is a precedent for Supervisors putting limitations on CACs and making other changes. In December 2014, Supervisors voted to suspend the Places29 CAC and split it into three different groups at the request of former Supervisor Brad Sheffield. 

Before you go: The time to write and research of this article is covered by paid subscribers to Charlottesville Community Engagement. In fact, this particular installment comes from the April 25, 2022 edition of the program. To ensure this research can be sustained, please consider becoming a paid subscriber or contributing monthly through Patreon.

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