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.
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.”
There are eight days left until classes begin for pupils in Charlottesville City Schools, and more will be walking to school due to a severe lack of people currently employed to drive school buses.
“Due to the ongoing bus driver shortage, we have expanded our ‘walk zones’ to 0.75 miles for the elementary schools, and 1.25 miles for Walker, Buford, and [Charlottesville High School],” reads an email sent to interested parties. “This change brings our walk zones closer to regional and national norms.”
Charlottesville has now received all of the $19.6 million in funding it will receive from the federal government as part of the American Rescue Plan Act fund. Interim City Manager Michael C. Rogers gave Council an update at their meeting on July 18.
“It’s been a big help for local government in terms of recovery from the impact of the pandemic,” Rogers said.
Classes begin for Charlottesville City Schools in four weeks and work continues to prepare for a year in which more students will not be eligible to get a ride on a school bus. A driver shortage has led the school system to expand walk zones that are still being finalized.
“We are hoping to let families know this week about their current bus eligibility and whether they have a bus request on files,” reads an email update sent to interested parties on Monday. “This status update will tell families if their child is in a walk zone or eligible for the bus.”
Every quarter, Albemarle County’s Facilities and Environmental Services Department puts out an update of its activities. The latest is on the consent agenda for Wednesday’s meeting of the Albemarle Board of Supervisors. (read the report)
As of today, there are 39 days left until the first day of school in the City of Charlottesville. Yesterday, the school system held a Transportation Talk and Walk Session to discuss a recent alert from Superintendent Royal Gurley that the bus driver shortage has worsened and walk zones will be expanded.
This past Tuesday, the city Planning Commission was briefed on a request from one of its members that city government take steps to make routes to school. They got an update from Missy Creasy, Charlottesville’s assistant director of the Neighborhood Development Services office (NDS).
“The city has a pretty robust program that they’re putting together to address how they are addressing the shortage at this point in time and some pretty innovative things on there,” Creasy said.
A new partnership has formed between the City of Charlottesville and an entity that secures open space easements in Virginia, and that will slightly increase the cost of land transactions.
“We have a property owner that we’ve been negotiating with and we have a granting agency in the Virginia Outdoors Foundation that’s providing the funding which has already been appropriated,” said Chris Gensic, a planner in the Parks and Recreation Department.
Charlottesville City Council has voted to rezone nearly 12 acres of land in the Fry’s Spring neighborhood in order for Southern Development to build 170 units. They also voted for the first time on a proposal that would tie a specific infrastructure project to increased revenues that will be generated by higher property taxes.
“This is going to allow us to get infrastructure that we need in that part of the city that we would not have otherwise done,” said Councilor Brian Pinkston.
The members of the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission have indicated support for two separate planning efforts for more pathways in the region. Both Albemarle County and Greene County are seeking federal funds to build new infrastructure.
“The grant would fund a shared bike pedestrian path from the city of Charlottesville to Crozet likely along U.S. 250,” said Jessica Hersh-Ballering, a transportation planner with Albemarle County. “From there it would continue west all the way to the Blue Ridge Tunnel in Nelson County.”