Another month, another summary of property transactions in Charlottesville. I’ve written about land use issues in the city and Albemarle County for many years, and this is an exercise I began doing toward the end of my time at Charlottesville Tomorrow. I wanted to better understand the finances involved with the business of land development as the Comprehensive Plan review got underway in early 2017.
Real estate is complicated, and now that I ‘m an independent journalist, I want to broaden my knowledge. The way I’ve done that for the past 17 months has been to go transaction by transaction. Each of these is an anecdote, but I’m finding it very interesting to learn what I can and share it with you.
Before the pandemic, Charlottesville Area Transit hired the firm Nelson Nygaard to take a look at its routes to suggest changes to optimize service. The study was done but nothing has been implemented so far. The Jefferson Area Regional Transit Partnership got an update at their meeting yesterday.
“CAT planned on implementing that system optimization plan last year but they’ve been dealing with driver shortages like every other transit agency in the country so that’s been postponed,” said Jim Baker of Nelson Nygaard.
Plus: An update on city’s shortage of building inspectors
On Tuesday, City Council appointed Laura Knott and Sally Duncan to the city’s Historic Resources Committee and Dashad Cooper to the Police Civilian Oversight Board. Other appointments included members of the Sister Cities Commission, the Region 10 Board, and the Retirement Commission.
However, they did not fill all the open positions.
“Appointments to the Planning Commission have been postponed until the July 18 Council meeting,” said Charlottesville Mayor Lloyd Snook. “There were a few people we needed to interview and didn’t have time to do it today and at least one person was not available.”
There’s less than a week until the fiscal new year for Virginia and its local governments. On Tuesday, Charlottesville City Council got an update from interim City Manager Michael C. Rogers on what can be expected in terms of “one-time money” in the form of a financial report. (read the report)
“And we see that there’s a projected $14 million surplus for revenue,” Rogers said.
The final public meeting for the development of a Regional Transit Vision will be held tonight in an online format. The Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission is overseeing the study, which seeks to come up with an aspirational document for enhanced public transportation throughout the entire Charlottesville area including Buckingham County.
The draft document has gone before the Charlottesville City Council and the Albemarle Board of Supervisors, as I’ve reported. But the Regional Transit Vision also has been to the outlying counties. Last week, Boards of Supervisors in both Fluvanna County and Greene County had a briefing.
“It started in the summer of 2021 with assessing the situation,” said Lucinda Shannon, a planner with the TJPDC. The $350,000 study was conducted by the firms AECOM and Jarrett Walker + Associates.
Albemarle County and the Legal Aid Justice Center helped prevent 158 evictions in a pilot program that ran from December to this May. Albemarle County sent out a press release this morning announcing the results.
“Many rent-relief programs are phasing out, yet there remain many Albemarle families still deeply affected by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Supervisor Chair Donna Price is quoted in the release. “Low-income households have not recovered as quickly, and programs such as this provide additional stability for households continuing to face financial hardships, using federal relief dollars to fund legal services and to provide wrap-around support.”
The Albemarle County Planning Commission had a long public hearing on June 14 on Greystar Development’s rezoning request for up to 525 units on about 35 acres on Old Ivy Road.
The five parcels of property are nearby University Village, Huntington Village, Ivy Gardens, and several office spaces mostly owned by the UVA Foundation.
“And then to the north of course is the Darden Business School at UVA, North Grounds including the law school and other nearby UVA destinations,” said Rebecca Ragsdale, a planning manager with the county.
Two of the three components of Charlottesville’s update of its overarching land use policies are complete, and the work towards the third is moving along. Last week, the city released what’s being called the Diagnostics and Approach Report which provides a pathway forward for how the city’s zoning ordinance will be rewritten. (read the draft)
“This zoning rewrite project is not about adding more plans, goals, or objectives – this work is entirely focused on implementing the Affordable Housing Plan and the Comprehensive Plan,” writes James Freas, the city’s director of Neighborhood Development Services.
A public-private partnership to relocate a skate park removed for road construction resulted in a new facility in McIntire Park opening in 2019. But until now, there have been no lights due to budget cuts to the project made to get it completed.
This morning the city announced a fundraising goal has been met and lights will be installed by mid-September. When in place, the park will stay open until 10 p.m.
“The lights are LED fixtures from MUSCO Lighting, chosen for their low-light pollution, energy use, heat emission, and longevity,” reads a press release.
Former Charlottesville Police Chief RaShall Brackney has filed a lawsuit in federal court against multiple parties alleging that, among other things, the city of Charlottesville acted unlawfully when former City Manager Chip Boyles fired her last September 1. She’s seeking ten million dollar in damages. (read the suit and its exhibits)
In addition to Boyles, Brackney’s complaint in the Western District of Virginia also includes: former city Communications Director Brian Wheeler; city attorney Lisa Robertson; acting police chief Latroy “Tito” Durrette; former assistant police chief James Mooney; current Councilors Sena Magill and Lloyd Snook, former Councilor Heather Hill, and former Police Civilian Review Board chair Bellamy Brown.
She also named Mike Wells of the Police Benevolent Association as a defendant.