The development of a new Comprehensive Plan for Albemarle County puts equity and climate action as major drivers of government policy. At their meeting on May 23, the Planning Commission reviewed a new mechanism that will be used to help guide decisions.
“Understanding the purpose of equity and climate action ties back to our county mission overall,” said Jesse Brookins, the county’s director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for Albemarle County. “To enhance the well-being and quality of life of all community members through the provision of the highest level of public service consistent with the prudent use of public funds.”
The three major governments in the area all have ambitious plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to eliminate fossil fuels by 2050. Those plans are measured by inventories and the city of Charlottesville has released data for the pandemic years of 2020 and 2021.
“Due to stay-at-home orders and the reduction of GHG-producing activities, emissions levels dropped significantly,” reads a press release on the topic. “In fact, community-wide emissions were 45 percent below the 2011 baseline, which meets the City’s 2030 reduction target.”
A project to install solar panels atop the Ivy Landfill has been cleared by the State Corporation Commission. That entity regulates power generation in the Commonwealth and requires Dominion Energy to submit proposed solar projects that seek to use funds from ratepayers. This dates back to the passage of the Virginia Clean Economy Act in 2020.
The project at the Ivy landfill was one of several projects Dominion submitted last October and approved by the SCC in a final order dated April 13. (read the final order)
“We anticipate that that project may be completed next year at the Ivy [Materials Utilization Center], said Bill Mawyer, the executive director of the Rivanna Solid Waste Authority that owns and mitigates the landfill, which was closed in the late 1990’s.
Last week, Albemarle County became the latest locality in the area to adopt a plan to prepare for natural disasters and other emergencies. The Thomas Jefferson Planning Districts maintains and updates the Regional Natural Hazard Mitigation Plan, a document required by the federal government in order to qualify for certain grants and other funding sources. (read the plan)
The plan also serves as a guide for how the county uses its resources.
“It covers from the preventative measures that we might be able to take to actual response strategies including staffing our Emergency Operations Center, recovery, said John Oprandy, Albemarle County’s Deputy Chief of Emergency Management with the Fire and Rescue.
The Charlottesville City Council has been awarded $7.1 million funding from the federal government to replace some of the remaining iron pipes that convey natural gas to customers in the city.
The funding comes from the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration in the U.S. Department of Transportation and ultimately from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.
“The project will enhance the resiliency of the gas system along West Main Street, a central artery that connects downtown Charlottesville to the University of Virginia,” reads a press release sent out this afternoon.
Staff at the Thomas Jefferson Planning District have spent the past year and a half updating a document that is intended to inform the local government’s preparation and response to natural disasters.
“All of the localities in the TJPDC as well as the incorporated towns currently have an adopted hazard mitigation plan from 2018 so this plan gets updated every five years,” said Ian Baxter, a planner with the TJPDC. (review the plan)
Both the Charlottesville Comprehensive Plan and the Climate Action Plan set their sights on the future of one of the services provided by the municipal government.
“The City of Charlottesville owns and maintains a natural gas utility, fossil fuel utility, which we recognize,” said Lauren Hildebrand, the city’s utilities director. “We’ve been operating this utility for over 150 years.”
Do you work for a group that may have a project that you think could demonstrate ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions? Albemarle County has announced a grant program to encourage innovation as a way to meet the goals to reduce emissions from fossil fuels to zero by 2050.
“Projects can contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions in transportation, buildings, waste, agriculture, and natural areas,” reads the website. “Projects can also contribute to increasing carbon sequestration in agriculture or natural systems.”
Church solar panels, tax change legislation fails, and MPO tried again for funding for pedestrian bridge
You can learn a lot about what’s happening in the overall community by reviewing the first several minutes of one of their regular meetings of the Charlottesville Planning Commission. The following all comes from this last Tuesday’s event.
Commissioner Phil d’Oronozio told his colleagues he would be a representative on the new appointed body that will review applications for funding from one of Charlottesville’s affordable housing pools. Applications now go through the Office of Community Solutions, which is headed by Alex Ikefuna.
“Alex expressed to us that if Commissioners wanted to have a participatory role on the CAHF allocations or the Housing Advisory Committee to see if they qualified for a category and apply which I dutifully did,” d’Oronozio said.
If you use plastic bags provided by grocery stores to take your food and beverages home in Albemarle and Charlottesville, it’s going to cost you slightly more.
“As authorized through Virginia Code §58.1-1745, retailers will be required to charge $0.05 per disposable plastic bag provided to customers at checkout,” reads a press release sent out late Monday.
The idea is to incentivize people to carry reusable bags. Revenue must go to specific sources including purchase of bags for people with eligible incomes, a marketing campaign for environmental education, or litter clean-up programs.
The tax itself will be administered by the Virginia Department of Taxation.
For more information:
Are you a retailer? Are you prepared to implement the fee? What about a consumer? Will this change your behavior?
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 December 20, 2022 edition of the program. To ensure this research can be sustained, please consider becoming a paid subscriber or contributing monthly through Patreon.