Charlottesville City Council and the Charlottesville Planning Commission met on April 25, 2023 to get another update on the rewrite of the zoning code. The roll-out of the next set of draft rules is slightly delayed.
“I think it’s no secret that we are a little behind schedule and we’ve been wrestling with where we are right now and what we have yet to come,” said James Freas, the city’s director of Neighborhood Development Services on the third module of the draft zoning.
At the tail end of the April 19 work session, Supervisors asked if they had any other items to bring up. Supervisor Chair Donna Price had two items.
“First one, ranked-choice voting,” Price said. “Where do we stand in terms of any expenses associated with ranked-choice voting if the Board were to proceed with that this fiscal year?”
Last November, Supervisors were told the county would not be ready for that change in time for the June 20, 2023 primary as I reported at the time.
There are five Boards or Commissions in Albemarle County for which the members get paid a small stipend. These include the Architectural Review Board, the Board of Zoning Appeals, the Equalization Board, and the Planning Commission. The Fire Prevention Board of Appeals is the same body as the Board of Building Code Appeals.
Last week, Supervisors were briefed on a recommendation to increase the stipend. Bowman noted two other boards whose members are paid.
“I will note that the Electoral Board members also receive compensation but that is set by the General Assembly,” Bowman said. “The Albemarle School Board members receive compensation and that’s approved by the School Board and not the Board of Supervisors.”
So you’ve read this newsletter or listened to this podcast for a while. Or maybe you just started. Either way, perhaps you’d like to have a chance of being in the newsletter! One way to do that is to get yourself appointed to a Board or Commission in the City of Charlottesville. Applications are open now.
“We believe it is not only the right, but the responsibility of interested and capable citizens to become engaged in local government policy by advising City Council on important community-related issues,” reads a press release that went out this morning.
The Board of Supervisors adopted a strategic plan last year which serves as the underpinning of the draft budget for fiscal year 2024.
“One of the takeaways and themes of this budget is that there have been some objectives which are really about taking our existing resources and work plans and seeing those through,” said Andy Bowman, Albemarle’s chief of budget. “There are also those objectives where we really need additional resources to move those forward.”
After six work sessions and multiple town halls, the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors will hold the public hearing tonight on the $551.5 million total budget for fiscal year 2024.
The recommended budget for this year included funding over five years for two grass fields at the new Biscuit Run Park.
“This would be a total project of $3.9 million with design and construction that would take place with those fields beginning in fiscal year 26,” said Andy Bowen, Albemarle’s Chief of Budget.
The Albemarle Board of Supervisors updated the county’s housing policy in July 2021 when they adopted the Housing Albemarle plan but have so far not passed an ordinance to impose requirements on developers to set aside a percentage of units as affordable. They didn’t get any closer to doing so at a work session held on April 19 and will have another one soon in the near future.
Last Wednesday’s work session was the latest in a series of discussions intended to create a system of financial incentives for developers to designate units as affordable. The most recent one was in February. (Albemarle Supervisors briefed on grant program to incentivize creation of below-market units, February 15, 2023)
This time around, Housing Policy Manager Stacy Pethia wanted feedback from Supervisors.
“We would really like to get feedback on the proposed cash-in-lieu payments [and] if those amounts are set at an appropriate level,” Pethia said. “Board feedback on a proposed right of nonprofits to purchase affordable dwelling units.”
One year ago, the Albemarle Board of Supervisors invested $625,000 from its housing fund in the Piedmont Community Land Trust, an entity that is now under the umbrella of the Piedmont Housing Alliance. The chair of the land trust’s board appeared before the Board of Supervisors yesterday.
“We have taken that money and converted it into 12 permanent new construction units,” said Keith Smith. “Just to put a little numbers to it, that translates into $4.8 million dollars worth of homes.”
There will soon be no more restrictions on who can attend meetings held by Charlottesville city government. The city has remained one of the only localities in Virginia to still be holding some of its meetings electronically and restrict physical participation due to COVID-19.
“Effective May 1, 2023, the following will go into effect,” said Deputy City Manager Sam Sanders. “The Clerk of Council will discontinue seat reservation procedures making the Council Chambers accessible to anyone.”
In the past six months, the city of Charlottesville has made changes to the way affordable housing projects are funded in the city.
Every fall, the city will send out a Notice of Funding Availability announcing the different buckets of money available, including the Charlottesville Affordable Housing Fund. The CAHF was created in the late 2000’s. (City announces new funding opportunities for affordable housing projects, October 17, 2022)
“There have been process changes since the Office of Community Solutions was created and the Affordable Housing Plan was enacted by the Council in 2021,” said Alex Ikefuna, the director of the city’s Office of Community Solutions.