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.”
As Charlottesville contemplates a more dense future with more people, how can today’s elected officials ensure the infrastructure is in place before new homes are built?
The fate of Southern Development’s request to rezone undeveloped land in the Fry’s Spring neighborhood depends on if Charlottesville Council is satisfied sidewalks will be built on Stribling Avenue.
“At 12 acres, this is one of the largest undeveloped properties within the city,” said City Planner Matt Aflele.
This month all of Albemarle’s seven advisory committees have been briefed on transportation projects from the county’s planning staff. In recent years, Albemarle has been successful at securing money for projects, such as the conversion of the Route 151 and U.S. 250 intersection to a roundabout.
On March 8, 2022, the Crozet Community Advisory Committee had their turn. Planning Manager Kevin McDermott explained how the process works in Albemarle.
“We regularly update a list of transportation priorities and this list basically is every project that’s been identified,” McDermott said. (read the list)
Tonight the Charlottesville City Council will take up two land use items.
The first is a request from an out-of-town developer to build 28 units on 0.62 acres at the end of Valley Road Extended. On March 8, the Planning Commission voted 4-3 to recommend a rezoning and a special use permit, and 5-2 on a critical slopes waiver for the project. At that meeting, Vice Mayor Juandiego expressed skepticism for the $48,000 the developer has agreed to pay sidewalk improvements somewhere in Fifeville. (staff report) (story and audio piece I wrote on the PC hearing)
Later this week, a task force appointed by City Council to make recommendations for how federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds are spent will meet. Earlier this month, Council agreed to reallocate money a previous task force had opted to spend on a sidewalk on Franklin Street in Belmont, but less than staff had suggested. (staff report)
Erin Atak is the city’s grants coordinator.
“On January 14, 2021, Charlottesville was found to be noncompliant for the second consecutive year with CDBG requirements,” Atak said. “The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development] noted that Charlottesville’s lack of spending performance was an issue.”
At any given point there are dozens of candidates for transportation projects in the community. In recent years, Charlottesville has been successful in seeking funding for streetscape projects to add bike lanes, sidewalks, and other urban amenities.
The next deadline for Smart Scale funding process through the Virginia Department of Transportation is coming up later this year and one of the projects under consideration is a bridge for pedestrians and bicyclists that would cross the Rivanna River. (most recent presentation)
Plans are being made to build a pedestrian and bicycle bridge over the Rivanna River and the Charlottesville Planning Commission got an update last night. The Thomas Jefferson Planning District Committee is leading the efforts and a stakeholders group has been meeting to review options. One of its members is Planning Commission Karim Habbab.
“The two options that we’re looking at are a connection near Riverview Park on Chesapeake and the other would be at the Wool Factory,” Habbab said. “One would span between city and county and the other would be basically on county land.”
In their final item of the year, Council agreed to cancel a project to build a sidewalk on Franklin Street using federal funds that come through the Community Development Block Grant process. The project had been selected by a task force but was defunded earlier this year because it could not be completed by a federal deadline.
Deputy City Manager Sam Sanders recommended Council consider moving away from the task force model.
“Routinely, a task force model doesn’t necessarily help to meet the regulatory conditions because typically what you’re doing is simply allowing community members to pick projects and they don’t necessarily always know the details that go into executing,” Sanders said.