The Albemarle Board of Supervisors has approved a rezoning to allow 525 units to be constructed on undeveloped land off of Old Ivy Road, despite concerns from neighbors that the project would overwhelm the transportation network. The Virginia Department of Transportation is undertaking a “pipeline” study of the U.S. 250 corridor west of Charlottesville that will identify potential projects to address congestion.
Some parts of the 35 acre property had already been rezoning to the higher intensity categories of R-10 and R-15, but some of the property is zoned for single-family residential. Much of the property is designated as urban density residential.
“That is the highest density residential future land use classification that we have in any of the master plans,” said county planner Cameron Langille. “It basically allows for any residential dwelling unit type to be developed at densities between 6 and 34 units per acre.”
For many years, the city has been planning and preparing to replace a bridge that carries Dairy Road over the U.S. 250 Bypass. On Thursday, the city awarded a “design build” contract to the firm A. Morton and Associates.
“In this method, the designer and builder work on the same team from preliminary design to project close-out,” reads a press release that went out in January. “This method allows better communication of intent and constructability right from the start.”
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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.
Ten years have passed since the Virginia Department of Transportation analyzed the Route 151 corridor in Nelson County and now it’s time for another study to begin. Such work can help identify projects to address safety concerns, and the Nelson County Board of Supervisors got a briefing at their meeting on Tuesday.
“And I’m happy to say that we’ve had success not only through the Highway Safety Improvement Program but also through Smart Scale getting a number of projects vetted and fully funded and constructed along this corridor,” said Rick Youngblood is a planner with the Virginia Department of Transportation’s Lynchburg District.
“There’s still more work to be done and that’s why we’re looking at this study again,” Youngblood said.
The firm RK&K is working with VDOT on the study, which Youngblood said is not a land use study. The land use work will be done separately as part of the county’s Comprehensive Plan review that is under way. That’s not directly related to this study.
“The part of the study aspect is not to define future growth or the possibility for future growth,” Youngblood said. “We’re trying to correct the measures and issues that are on there now in preparation for the future based upon the data that we collect.”
This study will cover a fourteen mile stretch from Afton Mountain Road to about two and a half miles south of Beech Grove Road. They will look at crash data and locations as part of the work.
“Seven intersections total and these are what we call [Potential Safety Improvement] intersections,” Youngblood said. “They meet a certain metric to be identified as a high accident intersection. We are aware that there are other intersections that have come up.”
A stakeholder meeting for the study took place in mid-January and Youngblood said data collection is about three months behind schedule in advance of going to the public for comment. There will eventually be an online survey as part of the public involvement.
“We’re hoping to be able to catch folks that are coming through the area as well and not just those that live in the area,” Youngblood said.
The 2013 study included some recommendations for multimodal improvements such as bike lanes, particularly in the Nellysford area. Currently there are almost none. Youngblood characterized the landscape.
“You’ve got rolling terrain, you’ve got short shoulders, there are crossover accidents, there are road departures, there are no bike-pedestrian facilities throughout the corridor,” Youngblood said. “Mind you, when these recommendations come up they will be pricey. Bike and ped specifically. Bike and ped facilities are pricey and expensive and they are high-maintenance.”
A website will be created for the study and there will be two public meetings that are not yet scheduled.
Additionally a project to convert the intersection of Route 151 and Route 6 has been recommended for funding in the current Smart Scale round.
The Albemarle Board of Supervisors adopted a plan called Housing Albemarle in July 2021 that is intended to increase the number of housing units in the county. That came with a goal of requiring a minimum of 20 percent of new units to qualify as “affordable.” That’s up from 15 percent in the current policy which applies to units that need rezonings or special use permits.
“At that time, the Board delayed full implementation of the policy until a package of the developer incentives could be identified and approved that would support developer efforts to meet the new goals of that policy,” said Stacy Pethia, the county’s housing policy manager.
The Charlottesville Area Association of Realtors has reported fewer sales in the fourth quarter of 2022.
“There were 917 homes sold in the CAAR market in the fourth quarter of 2022, which is a 25 percent reduction in sales from this time last year, or 311 fewer sales,” reads one of the takeaways from the quarterly report.
The University of Virginia has asked a total of five entities to respond to requests for proposals to develop two sites for housing units that will be rented or sold to households with qualified incomes.
There are many sources for funding for affordable housing projects and that includes the federal government. Locally, the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission and the City of Charlottesville operate something called the HOME Investment Partnership Consortium.
“This program provides annual entitlement funding through HUD for housing rehabilitation, down-payment assistance or new construction for qualifying households in the region,” reads the website for the partnership.
It has been a year and a half or so since the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission adopted a document called Planning for Affordability that sought to help all six regions in the community update the housing chapter of their respective Comprehensive Plan.
The work is part of something called the Central Virginia Regional Housing Partnership, a subset of the TJPDC. This month, members of the partnership have been appearing before different elected bodies to share what the group does. Albemarle County’s turn is this Wednesday, but Charlottesville City Council saw the presentation on January 17. (view the presentation)
“The ‘why’ behind the partnership was created is that we all know we have housing affordability issues and its not just specific to any one jurisdiction that’s in the Commission,” said Ned Gallaway, the Rio District representative on the Albemarle Board of Supervisors. “It is a regional issue and while regional solutions may vary depending on if you are urban or rural, perhaps our solutions with our boundaries, but the information sharing, the data collection, and the efforts should be shared to help us all solve the problem.”
Earlier this month, Governor Glenn Youngkin’s office announced the distribution of $2.9 million in grants across Virginia for programs to help keep people from being evicted from their homes. That includes an additional $275,000 for the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission for another year of work. (view the TJPDC Eviction Reduction Pilot grant page)
“Funding will support an Eviction Case Management Program at the newly created Financial Opportunity Center / Housing Hub as well as the creation of an eviction prevention case manager position, a second landlord navigator position and an additional court navigator position,” reads the press release.