It is fairly common for planned developments in the community to become controversial. A plan to build 245 units in three apartment buildings in the floodplain along East High Street is attracting a lot of opposition, including a filing on October 4 with the Federal Emergency Management Agency challenging a recent flood map amendment.
Charlottesville’s Department of Neighborhood Development Services hosted a site plan review conference on October 5 to give members of the public the chance to have their say, even if the project is allowed under the city’s rules.
“Our team is excited about the opportunity to create a high-quality, multifamily residence at this strategic location in Charlottesville,” said Gray Poole, a partner with the Selwyn Property Group of Charlotte, North Carolina.
Charlottesville City Council adopted an affordable housing plan in March 2021 and more than a year and a half later one of the recommendations is being implemented.
“Charlottesville should build governance structures that institutionalize an equitable and efficient implementation of the Affordable Housing Plan,” reads one goal on page 13 of the plan.
Topic discussed at closed-door meeting of Albemarle, Charlottesville, and UVA staff
For those interested in infrastructure planning, not all meetings are open to the public. The Land Use and Environmental Planning Committee is made up of staff and appointed officials from Albemarle County, Charlottesville, and the University of Virginia. They gather once a month behind closed doors to talk about issues of regional interest. This was the spirit of a 1986 document called the Three Party Agreement. (view the Three Party Agreement)
At the most recent LUEPC meeting on September 16, city traffic engineer Brennen Duncan gave an update on the city’s planning for projects to address safety issues on Fifth Street, a four-lane divided highway that runs between downtown and Harris Road. The city did not submit an application for funding through the Virginia Department of Transportation’s Smart Scale process as part of a deal to boost the city’s project management capabilities. (view the presentation)
The Downtown Mall is 46 years old and remains a destination for locals and out-of-towners alike. One thing has been constant for most of that time.
“There [has] not been in the history of the Mall any truly accessible public restrooms that are proximate to where people are when they’re on the Mall,” said Chris Engel, the city’s economic development director. “Prior to COVID the transit center which is at the east end of the mall and it had some public facilities on the lower level.”
Five months have passed since the Charlottesville City Council approved a rezoning in the Fry’s Spring neighborhood for nearly 170 units on land currently undeveloped. Members of the community expressed frustration at a recent site plan meeting when they learned planning work may not yet have begun on infrastructure improvements tied to Council’s decision to allow higher density.
“I’m flabbergasted that we have moved to this point without anything being done,” said Chris, one of several people on a site plan review call held on September 14.
A planned detour of the intersection of U.S. 250 and Route 151 in Albemarle County has wrapped up earlier than expected. Night-time closures of the intersection took place to reconstruct the approach Route 151 makes toward the federal highway.
“Crews with the contractor, Curtis Contracting Inc. of West Point, Va., worked extended shifts to accomplish the work necessary to reestablish access through the intersection and remove the detours,” reads a press release.
The roundabout is expected to be completed in February. Curtis Contracting is also working on the diverging diamond at I-64 and U.S. 250 which is also scheduled to be finished early next year.
The Virginia Department of Transportation has followed through on a plan to help the city of Charlottesville get better about actually building projects for which it has been funded. On Tuesday, officials briefed the Commonwealth Transportation Board on the cancellation of three projects for which the city received funding from the Smart Scale process in the past few years.
“I’m presenting to you a proposal to cancel three Smart Scale projects,” said Kim Pryor, VDOT’s Director of Infrastructure Investment. “Preston Avenue and Grady Avenue, West Main Street Phase 2 and West Main Street Phase 3.”
The final project in what’s known as Route29 Solutions is making its way through the last steps of the planning process. Last week, the Charlottesville-Albemarle Metropolitan Planning Organization Policy Board got an update on the status for a future project that includes five separate components at the intersection of U.S. 29 and Hydraulic Road.
“We’ve kind of gotten to a situation right now where we’re over budget based on updated estimates and some of the things that we’ve looked at it,” said Sean Nelson, the administrator of the Virginia Department of Transportation’s Culpeper District.
The Charlottesville City Council has reappointed Laura Goldblatt to a term on the Board of Commissioners for the Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority. The body was created in 1954 after a referendum narrowly passed that spring, and oversaw the razing of Vinegar Hill and the creation of public housing units across the city as part of an overall urban renewal plan.
Goldblatt is an assistant professor of English at the University of Virginia.
“There are still two vacancies on the CRHA Board which we will take up after as we are required by statute and ordinance after we have interviewed the applicants so that will be taken up in September,” said Charlottesville Mayor Lloyd Snook.
The effort to link the Blue Ridge Tunnel in Afton to Charlottesville with a continuous shared-use path has received a major boost from the federal government. A $2 million grant authorized by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will be awarded to Albemarle County for the Three Notched Trail Shared Use Path Plan.
“A ‘shared use’ path is typically a 10’ wide paved trail that is physically separated from the motor vehicle travel way and allows bi-directional pedestrian and bicycle traffic,” reads a website for the project. “Once built, the TNT will provide local residents and visitors with car-free transportation and recreational opportunities.”