Author Archives: Sean Tubbs

Charlottesville Fire Department releases annual report; CARS wants answers on new dispatch protocol

The Charlottesville Fire Department has released its annual report for the fiscal year that ended on June 2021. In the past year there is a new chief in Hezedean Smith, recruited 22 new firefighters, and boosted work in community risk reduction. There are 114 total employees in the fire department, including six civilians. There were 5,717 calls for service, with 2,105 of those for fire calls and 3,612 medical calls. 

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Albemarle Supervisors discuss legislative wish-list including enhanced photo-speed cameras

With only four months left in the year, the 2022 General Assembly session looms large and localities across the Commonwealth are putting together their legislative wish lists. Albemarle County will meet with area legislators in November with the hopes of enticing each to carry bills for changes in state law. (read list of 2021 legislative positions)

One request has the title “Enable Civil Penalties in Lieu of Criminal Punishment.” 

“The purpose was to decriminalize a lot of the actions that are prohibited under the code,” said county attorney Greg Kamptner. 

Many of these actions relate to zoning violations and would convert them to civil infractions rather than criminal ones. Some supervisors were concerned that frequent violators are still able to be held accountable. (sample legislation

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Gurley named as Charlottesville’s school superintendent

In their first action item at their September 2, 2021 meeting, the Charlottesville School Board filled an important leadership position. James Bryant is the body’s vice chair. 

“Madam Chair, I would like to make a motion to move for the acceptance of the appointment or Dr. Royal A. Gurley Jr. for Superintendent of Charlottesville Schools,” Bryant said. 

Gurley will take the reins on October 4 as he finishes up his time as assistant superintendent for academic services in Dinwiddie County southwest of Petersburg. (press release)

“Leading Charlottesville City Schools is not something that I take lightly,” Gurley told the Board after signing his four-year contract. “I believe as Superintendent I must continue to create opportunities for our students and help them to reach their fullest potential.”

Gurley succeeds Rosa Atkins, who retired at the end of May after fifteen years in the position. 

Dr. Royal A. Gurley Jr. (Source: Charlottesville City Schools)

Places29-Hydraulic group gets updates on area projects

The county’s seven community advisory committees are intended to be monthly forums to help Albemarle staff and elected officials implement the seven areas designated for growth. They’re also places where one can learn information about developments that are underway. County planner Michaela Accardi provided an update on what’s happening at the August 16 meeting of the Places29-Hydraulic Community Advisory Committee. (download the presentation)

“The first project I’ll talk about is the Hydraulic and Georgetown office building,” Accardi said. 

The Albemarle Board of Supervisors granted a rezoning for the project back in 2008 to clear the way for offices. The project was dormant for many years, but a site plan was approved last October and construction on the one-acre site is underway. 

“The applicant is in the process of undergoing utility improvements on the site so you might see some work over there,” Accardi said. 

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Charlottesville PC reviews Urban Rivanna Corridor Plan

(This article originally appeared in the August 17, 2021 edition of Charlottesville Community Engagement)

The Rivanna River serves as the boundary between eastern Charlottesville and the Pantops area of Albemarle County. To the north is the Pen Park within Charlottesville, and the river meanders south to the Sentara Martha Jefferson complex.  What steps can be taken to connect the waterway to the built environment?

The area has been studied for many years, and the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission has been working on a study intended to unify future planning and implementation efforts. Nick Morrison is a planner with the TJPDC who updated the Charlottesville Planning Commission at their meeting on August 10. (TJPDC page on the plan)

“The goal of this phase of this planning project was to develop a vision and an action plan for that urban section of the corridor,” Morrison said. 

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Belmont Bridge construction details detailed

After several years of planning and study, there is an active construction site for the Belmont Bridge now that the project is fully approved and fully funded. The city held an information session on August 11 and Brian McPeters is with Kimley Horn, the firm that designed and engineered the bridge. The event was referred to as a Pardon Our Dust Meeting. (presentation) (watch the video)

“The project is primarily replacing the existing Belmont Bridge,” McPeters said. “That’s the bridge that carries traffic northbound and southbound over the railroad, over Old Avon, and over Water Street. It does include a secondary pedestrian-style bridge.”

(This article was originally in the August 16, 2021 Charlottesville Community Engagement)

That bridge connects to a new mezzanine to be built in the area leading to the Ting Pavilion, and will make the walkway from the bridge compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. 

“But it will also build a concrete and steel structure that will be a great gathering place and create a sense of place for folks interacting with the bridge and accessing the Belmont Bridge,” McPeters said. 

Construction of the bridge will take about 31 months from now to complete, according to McPeters, the manager of the city’s urban construction initiative. The informational meeting focused on how the traffic of all types on the roadway will be affected.

“There will be inconvenience and we do ask for your patience and it will be our job to inform you of what that inconvenience will be so you can plan accordingly and possible take an alternate route or be prepared for slight delays,” McPeters said. 

Right now, construction activities have been limited to utility relocation and parking lot construction. When things really get underway, traffic will be moved around to different sections. 

“Generally speaking, during daytime hours, traffic will always have one lane northbound and one lane southbound, and then you’ll have turn lanes at the intersections similar to what you have today,” McPeters said. 

For the full details, take a look at the presentation. 

Some highlights from the project:

  • Five-way intersection at Old Avon/9th/Garret/Levy will be simplified with removal of Old Avon movement, with a section of Old Avon become a pedestrian plaza space 
  • Expansion of the pedestrian passageway from the bridge to the Pavilion area
  • A pedestrian passageway will be built at the Graves Street intersection to replace existing at-grade crosswalk 

Charlottesville property transactions in July 2021

(This piece went out first to paid subscribers of Charlottesville Community Engagement. Consider purchasing a subscription to help pay for this community resource!)

Another month in 2021, another time of interesting activity in the Charlottesville property market. Only a handful are below assessment, and there are quite a number of transactions that are well over assessment. There are a few items of new construction selling on infill properties, two major transactions on the mixed-use section of Cherry Avenue, and new homes in the Belmont Point and Lochlyn Hills neighborhoods continue to sell to their first owner.

What jumps out at you?

July 1, 2021

  • A commercial building that has been home to a doctor’s office on 10th Street NE sold for $1,295,000, which is 9.09 percent over the 2021 assessment. The purchaser is Little High LLC.
  • A unit in the condominium building on Cream Street sold for $235,500, which is 11.9 percent below the 2021 assessment. The purchaser is Wellington Properties LLC.
  • A two bedroom house on Cameron Lane on 0.316 acres in the Lewis Mountain Neighborhood sold for $487,500, or 17.5 percent over the 2021 assessment. 
  • A three bedroom house on Goodman Street in Belmont neighborhood built in 1929 sold for $600,000. That’s 52.98 percent over the 2021 assessment. 
  • As reported in the July 7, 2021 Charlottesville Community Engagement, Woodard Properties has purchased another couple of properties on Cherry Avenue in an area currently zoned for mixed-use. The company paid $1.55 million for two properties at 801 Cherry Avenue, currently a vacant lot. That’s 41.24 percent over the 2021 assessment. In April, Woodard Properties paid $3.1 million for the Cherry Avenue Shopping Center and five vacant properties behind it. These two lots make up about 0.85 acres.
Commercial building at 308 10th Street NE
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Studying the expansion of transit in Albemarle County

Charlottesville Area Transit is in the midst of studying how it might increase its service into northern Albemarle County. The northernmost stop for CAT has for many years been at the Wal-Mart on U.S. 29.

(This article was originally part of the August 11, 2021 edition of Charlottesville Community Engagement. Sign up today!)

At the same time, Albemarle County and the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission are doing the exact same work as part of a study partially funded by the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation. 

Boris Palchik is a transit planning project manager with Foursquare Integrated Transportation Planning, a firm hired to help conduct the work. The other consultant is Michael Baker International. Palchik ran a meeting on July 26 that sought to get initial feedback for the study.

“It’s really a feasibility study and implementation plan for expanding transit service in both population and employment centers in Albemarle County,” Palchik said. 

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Council indicates support for Belmont rezoning

There’s an age-old question in land use. Which comes first? The development, or the infrastructure? Should developments be limited in size if all of the pieces aren’t yet in place to support additional residents? 

The topic came up during Council’s consideration on August 2 on the rezoning of 1206 Carlton Avenue which will allow development of an eight-unit apartment complex on a currently empty lot in Belmont. The project also requires a special use permit. City planner Matt Alfele represented city staff. 

“The applicant is also requesting side setbacks be modified from 13 feet to 8 feet,” Alfele said. “The application materials indicate the height of the building would be approximately 40 feet but no greater than the R-3 allotted 45 feet.” 

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Developer seeks rezoning for 525 units off of Old Ivy Road

A developer that builds rental housing throughout the world has filed an application with Albemarle County to rezone 36 acres of undeveloped land on Old Ivy Road for 525 units. Greystar wants to build on property to the west of the University Village retirement community and Huntington Village. 

“The residences planned for the Property are proposed to be entirely for rent, at least initially, in response to a strong interest in rental properties in the area,” reads the narrative for the proposal

In all there are five properties involved in what’s being called Old Ivy Residences, all but two of which are zoned already at the R-15 zoning category required for density. One 5.52 acre property is zoned R-1. However, there is also an application to change the status of steep slopes on the property from preserved to managed. The lands are currently owned by the Filthy Beast LLC, Father Goose LLC, and the Beyer Family Investment Partnership. 

According to the narrative, there would be 77 single-family homes, 43 townhouses, 58 duplexes and 312 apartments. Again, all rental. 

“Market research demonstrates a demand for single- family residences for young families, young professionals, graduate students and retirees who desire more space but are not interested in, or able to purchase a home at this stage of their lives,” the narrative continues. 

An existing pond on the property would be retained and serve as open space and for stormwater management. Some of the land had been purchased by the Virginia Department of Transportation for the Western Bypass, a project that was canceled in 2014. 

The western edge of the property is the U.S. 250 bypass 

(This article originally appeared in the August 4, 2021 installment of Charlottesville Community Engagement)

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