Monthly Archives: March 2023

Release of Charlottesville’s second zoning module delayed

This week those following the rewriting of Charlottesville’s zoning code had expected to be able to review the second module of the new draft. The first was released in early February and set out the basic rules for what could be built and where. The second will add more of details on items such as parking, landscaping, and affordability requirements.

“Given certain circumstances outside of our control, I’m having to exercise what I said early on that we may need to change our release schedule,” said James Freas, the director of Neighborhood Development Services. 

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Planning Commission likely to review 245 units planned for East High Street

The developers of a proposed 245-unit apartment building on East High Street along the Rivanna River submitted a third version of a preliminary site plan in late February, around the same time that Charlottesville City Council agreed to hire a firm to appraise the potential value of the site

This week, the Deputy Director of the Department of Neighborhood Development Services reported that a third round of comments has now been sent out. Those documents are not easily available without requesting them, but Missy Creasy said a round of recent public comment may lead to a Planning Commission review of the site plan.

“So the code allows for the commission, even though this is a ministerial review, the code does allow for the Commission to call up a site plan that wouldn’t necessarily come forward and I understand that we are likely to get paperwork from this body to do that,” Creasy said. 

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UVA building report on Fontaine, Center for Politics: Does Area B still exist?

The rest of today’s newsletter uses the March 14 meeting of the Charlottesville Planning Commission as its primary source material. There’s a lot to go through.

The Commission got an update from Bill Palmer, their non-voting representative from the Office of the University of Virginia Architect. The terms of the 1986 three-party agreement on planning state that this position is to exist. (read the document)

“We have a number of large projects going on,” Palmer said.

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Charlottesville City Council hears from department heads at budget work session

Council hears from Police Chief Kochis, CAT director Williams

Charlottesville City Council continues to comb through the budget for the next fiscal year that begins on July 1, 2023. As the city prepares itself for a future with more residential density, staying on top of the budget is a good way to track preparations. 

One of the key subjects areas of Charlottesville Community Engagement is the budget process of Albemarle County and Charlottesville. There’s a whole set of stories on Information Charlottesville that captures this topic over time. 

Charlottesville’s budget was introduced at the March 6 meeting, as I reported at the time with a second story from March 9

Council held their first work session on the budget on March 9, 2023. Here’s a summary of what I heard. (slides from the presentation)

Interim City Manager Michael C. Rogers’ recommended budget is just over $226 million, $13 million higher than in the current fiscal year.

“Mostly from real estate taxes, $9 million,” Rogers said. “And the food and lodging sales taxes increased, for a total sum of $13 million.” 

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Dashad Cooper to run for Charlottesville City Council instead

And then there were three candidates running for the 54th House District. Fifeville resident Dashad Cooper has opted to run for the Democratic nomination for Charlottesville City Council.

Cooper had filed to be on the ballot for the General Assembly seat being vacated by Delegate Sally Hudson but updated his paperwork this week to potentially fill another vacancy.

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Albemarle Supervisors continue review of $551.5M budget

Albemarle County Supervisors are in the throes of going through a $551.5 million budget and have held three budget work sessions including one that wrapped up today.  

The total budget is $551.5 million as we learn from Andy Bowman, the chief of the county’s Office of Management and Budget. 

“This is a decrease from last year of $35 million, or six percent,” Bowman said.

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Virginia passenger trains set new record in January

The temporary shutdown of the pandemic caused a plunge in many charts including those that depict ridership on public transit. The Virginia Passenger Rail Authority this week has reported that ridership on state-funded trains has not only returned to pre-pandemic levels but has also set a new record. 

Ridership on the four Amtrak routes in January was 87,300, a 27.7 percent increase over January 2020. That’s a new record for the first month of the year. The train lines to Roanoke and Norfolk both saw big increases in ridership due to additional service. 

The Amtrak service between Roanoke and D.C. saw 22,639 riders in January, up from 16,689 three years ago. The Norfolk route had 31,226 passenger journeys, up 62.5 percent from January 2020. The service to Newport News stayed about the same at 24,215 and the service to Richmond was up 11.4 percent to 9,220. 

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Three years have passed since the pandemic

It has now been over three years since former Governor Ralph Northam declared a state of emergency related to the arrival of COVID-19 as part of a global pandemic. Three years ago this week, rules were put in place to keep people apart to stop the spread of what was then an unknown virus whose impact wasn’t fully known. 

“It’s clear that we’ve learned many lessons along the way and I think the overall assessment is that this pandemic was incredibly challenging,’ said Dr. Costi Sifri, the director of hospital epidemiology at the University of Virginia Health System.

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Property transactions in Albemarle: Inaugural Edition – January 3 through January 11, 2023

After two years of tracking property transactions in Charlottesville, I’m pleased to finally present the same service for Albemarle County. I have been meaning to do this for a while and this is the first installment. Paid subscribers to Charlottesville Community Engagement got a first look a few weeks ago.

Unlike the Charlottesville list, this will be a more regular edition published when I can get around to it. I will post as many as I can as I try to figure out more about what’s happening.

This is not a complete list of transactions but tracks everything deemed as “value” I’m doing this to see how close the 2023 assessments are coming in compared to sales prices. The market has slowed down after years of being fairly hot. Now, we wait and see what happens. 

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TJPDC round-up: Assessments up all over, Nelson County commuting patterns

The Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission is made up of five counties and the City of Charlottesville. Like similar bodies across Virginia, the TJPDC’s mission is to help those localities with both planning and implementation. 

For instance, the TJPDC is currently leading a 13-county effort to use federal funding to leverage private dollars to expand broadband internet across southern and central Virginia. Locally, the body now collects county-issued cigarette taxes. 

The Board of Commissioners meets monthly and provides an opportunity to check-in with what’s happening around the region. All across Virginia, it is budget time and that includes Louisa County, where Rachel Jones represents the Green Springs District on the Board of Supervisors.

“Our [real estate property] assessments went through the roof and I think many of yours did, too,” Jones said. “It’s not just Louisa County. It hits hard for our residents. Last year we did make adjustments to our personal property tax and I think we will be probably be figuring out if there’s anything we can do to help with our assessments.” 

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