Charlottesville Planning Commission updated on tree canopy work, VDOT pipeline studies

A key highlight of the meeting of any appointed or elected body that works on land use issues is the section where members make reports. 

Commissioner Karim Habbab is a member of the Citizens Transportation Advisory Committee, which is part of the transportation planning framework operated by the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission. That group is overseeing the preparation of a new long-range transportation plan.

Habbab reported on some of the analysis of public input to date at the October 10, 2023 Planning Commission meeting.

“They said there’s a strong preference on prioritizing multimodal projects rather than traffic congestion reduction,” Habbab said. 

To learn more about the Moving Toward 2050 plan, check out the Story Map created by the TJPDC

Commissioner Rory Stolzenberg is a member of the technical committee that advises the Metropolitan Planning Organization’s Policy Board. That’s the regional decision-making body for transportation projects and Stolzenberg updated the Commission on the two “pipeline studies” underway on Ivy Road and Barracks Road.

“The hope is to make those have better facilities especially for bike/ped but Barracks Road will be a problem especially at the interchange,” Stolzenberg said.  

Habbab is also a member of the Tree Commission and had this information to report. 

“We have great news that we got awarded $300,000 through the Inflation Reduction Act that will allow us to do another canopy study with on the ground analysis and inventory of both public and private properties,” Habbab said. 

The award announcement has not yet been made. 

A study from 2022 found that the total amount of land covered by trees decreased from 45 percent to 40 percent from 2014 to 2018.

Habbab also reminded Commissioners that the city intends to plant dozens of trees this November on public land, as I reported in September. Habbab reported on other efforts underway as well. 

ReLeaf [Charlottesville] is going to be doing some planning in the Rose Hill neighborhood of about 75 trees,” Habbab said. “And the Charlottesville Area Tree Stewards will be planting about 20 trees at Rives Park.” 

A page from the 2022 tree canopy study (Review the study here)

Commissioner Philip d’Oronzio said the Housing Advisory Committee met several times in the past month. The group includes d’Oronzio and the leaders of several nonprofit housing organizations. 

“All of those meetings focused heavily on exactly what you’d expect which would be zoning, anti-displacement and the like,” d’Oronzio said. “We’ve produced some work product that’s been shoved toward the Planning Commission and some interim stuff that we are working on.”

More on that as we get to that section of the meeting. 

There was no report from the University of Virginia’s representative on the Charlottesville Planning Commission. 

“I think everything that I mentioned last month is still operable,” said Bill Palmer, the GIS Planner for the UVA Office of the Architect. “Nothing new to report.” 

The UVA Board of Visitors has met once since the Planning Commission’s last regular meeting. Here’s an update on what I was able to write about in the past six weeks or so. 

Commissioner Rory Stolzenberg is the new Planning Commission representative on the Land Use and Environmental and Planning Committee. That’s a closed-door body that consists of city, Albemarle County and UVA officials. 

The charter for LUEPC was changed on July 21 to further make clear it is not a public body unlike the Planning and Coordination Council that it replaced in late 2019 The minutes state these are the reasons for LUEPC’s existence:

  • “Allow professional staff to collaborate and develop solutions on a continuous basis with regularly scheduled reports to leadership of all three entities”
  • “Retain visibility into the substance of the work via publicly posted agendas, notes, and materials.”

According to the July 21, 2023 minutes, they were to have met on August 18. However, the LUEPC website does not list a meeting from that date or from September. 

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 October 12, 2023 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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