Category Archives: Land Use – Albemarle

Regional Transit Partnership talks park and ride, future bus types, and CAT changes

(This article originally appeared in the July 4, 2021 edition of Charlottesville Community Engagement)

If you’re interested in driving less, and you want to know what’s happening to improve transit, a good place to start is the Jefferson Area Regional Transit Partnership. The group consists of representatives from Charlottesville Area TransitJaunt, and the University of Virginia Transit Service, as well as elected and appointed officials. It’s also a place where people can comment on transit issues.

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Fifth and Avon Group Gets Update on Southwood

After years of planning, construction is well underway for the Habitat for Humanity of Greater Charlottesville’s redevelopment of the Southwood Mobile Home Park in Albemarle’s southern growth area. Land has been cleared along Old Lynchburg Road to make way for the first phase of the project.

Andrew Baxter is the director of operations for Habitat and he briefed the 5th and Avon Community Advisory Committee at their meeting on June 17, 2021. 

“Last September as you probably are aware we had the ribbon-cutting, have owned the park for a number of years, invested a great deal in basic infrastructure and safety over the years,” Baxter said. 

In August 2019, The Board of Supervisors approved a rezoning of nearly 34 acres of land from R-2 to the Neighborhood Model District, and the concept plan in the application is for up to 450 homes. 

“We’re operating now under a 2019 approved non-displacement plan,” Baxter said. “That’s our primary commitment in this redevelopment, that we will not displace current residents of the park, unless they choose to go somewhere else.”

Baxter said the idea had been not to move any existing residents in the first phase, but issues with aging septic systems on the site forced a change. 

“If you can imagine, a trailer park that was initially put in place in the 1950’s and 1960’s, about half the park is not on public sewer so that’s created some challenges,” Baxter said.  

In all, 26 mobile homes are in the process of being relocated and that work is expected to be complete in August. Baxter said Habitat is complying with the federal Uniform Relocation Act as part of those efforts. (watch a video on the URA)

“The options vary from physically moving a trailer to an empty pad in the park and the family goes with it, to moving a family to a vacant trailer that we own, to moving the trailer off property to a location that’s identified and desirable by the family, by the homeowner,” Baxter said.

The first lots to be used for new homes will be ready this fall. 

“That will allow for the construction of what we call Village 1, so Phase 1 Village 1, which will be a combination of duplexes, there’s one single-family dwelling in Village 1, and then four condo buildings that constitute twenty units total,” Baxter said. 

Baxter said the process is also underway for existing residents to apply for Habitat’s homeownership program.

“And that is an incredibly detailed, individualized process for each family that involves financial coaching, to get those folks ready if they want to be homeowners,” Baxter said. 

At the same time, the Piedmont Housing Alliance has been successful in their application for Low Income Housing Tax Credits for 70 units in what’s to be called Southwood Apartments. (2021 LIHTC rankings)

“So there’s very low rent units will be available for certain folks if they qualify as well,” Baxter said. 

A second rezoning application is also being prepared for the rest of the park’s redevelopment. 

Partners in the project so far are Faulconer Construction, Atlantic Builders, and Southern Development. Atlantic is building the condominiums and Southern Development is building the market-rate units. 

Concept included with the rezoning request from the summer of 2019

There is other construction happening nearby on Old Lynchburg Road. After Baxter was County Planner Tori Kanellopoulos gave details on site plans that are under review, such as part of the Albemarle Business Campus development for which ground has already been broken. 

“Block 5 includes a 103,500 square foot self storage building with additional retail space and restaurant that would be 3,800 square feet,” Kanellopoulos said. 

Crozet Master Plan talk turns to implementation; Crozet Plaza update

(This article is adapted from the June 21, 2021 Charlottesville Community Engagement)

The Albemarle Planning Commission will next take up the Crozet Master Plan at a work session on Tuesday, June 22. At the June 9 CAC meeting, committee members and participating residents got a presentation on the implementation of projects intended to bolster Crozet’s urban character. They also had the chance to comment on the plan update to date.  

But first, the implementation projects. The master plan is a large overview of the entire area, and further studies are suggested. The draft implementation chapter shows a list of ten potential topics ranging from a Downtown Neighborhood Architectural and Cultural Study to a stream health study for Parrot Branch, a local waterway. Initial feedback has already been submitted and planner Tori Kanellopoulos gave the rundown for how planning projects scored.

“The top ranked projects were the Crozet Avenue Shared-Use Path feasibility study, the Three Notch’d Trail feasibility study, and the Route 250 West design guidelines,” Kanellopoulos said. “And then the policy projects were also ranked and the top priority was updating residential zoning designations to allow for more preservation of natural resources.”

Potential capital projects were also ranked. Kanellopoulos said the highest ranking projects are the completion of Eastern Avenue, downtown Crozet intersection improvements, and sidewalk connections. 

Let’s hear more about that Three Notch’d Trail.

“Lately there’s been a lot more focus and attention on the potential Three Notch’d Trail which would ideally connect from the Blue Ridge Tunnel along Crozet and over to Charlottesville,” Kanellopoulos said. “A feasibility study would look at this alignment and there are opportunities to partner with [the Virginia Department of Transportation] and the Planning District Commission and trails groups to look at the feasibility study for the alignment.” 

Supervisor Ann Mallek said later in the meeting that VDOT planning may not have staff to conduct that feasibility study this year, but community work can be done now to prepare for that work possibly in 2022. 

“And the other blessing that goes along with that is 2022 is when [Virginia] is going to take over the rail access right of way from CSX and therefore that increases greatly the possibility that we will be able to have a trail beside the rail,” Mallek said. 

Another “catalyst” project now in the implementation chapter is Western Park, which has long been called for in the plan and for which the county received 36 acres in 2010 as part of the Old Trail rezoning. A master plan for that project was created in 2018 that identified three phases. The first is recommended for funding, a decision which would be made by the entire Board of Supervisors during the budget process.

“This phase one would include the access road with parking, a playground, and additional support of infrastructure and utilities,” Kanellopoulos said.

Committee member Sandy Hausman noted the rankings were based on responses from fewer than a hundred people. 

“I wonder if anybody feels like this there needs to be a bit more outreach, like a mass mailing to everyone who lives in Crozet,” Hausman said. “It just feels to me that this is a relatively small group of people who tend to be paying attention to this stuff and everybody else will be unpleasantly surprised in a year or two when things start happening.”

Committee member Joe Fore said he wanted to see all three phases of Western Park listed as catalyst projects, meaning they would be prioritized first.

“I think just given the fact that it’s been in the works for so long, that the phases of at least getting started, the land is already there,” Fore said. “I understand it’s expensive but it’s not an Eastern Avenue or Lickinghole Creek bridge expensive.” 

Fore also said he would support the creation of a special taxation district to help pay for new infrastructure. The Albemarle Board of Supervisors has previously been briefed on how service districts or a “business improvement district” could be levied in certain areas to fund amenities. 

“I looked through currently, and this may be a comment for the full draft, there’s only one mention of service districts in the entire draft and that’s in reference to funding ongoing activities and services at the plaza and downtown,” Fore  said. “But I would like to see maybe a little bit more and maybe a full suggestion saying maybe this is something we should explore in Crozet to fund some of these capital projects so we’re not constantly having these be projects are ten years out.” 

The Board of Supervisors last had a formal presentation on service districts at their meeting on December 7, 2016. (presentation) (story)

Fore has looked up the section of Virginia code that allows for the creation of such districts.

“It’s a pretty broad statute as I read it,” Fore said. “Things like sidewalks, roads, programming, cultural events, economic development, beautification and landscaping. It’s a very broad statute. It seems to me you could raise money for most of the kinds of projects that we’re looking at.  When we look at the list of priorities and say, yikes! Where are we going to get all the money for this? Well, rather than say let’s raise taxes on everybody in the county, you might be able to say let’s raise funds specifically from Crozet that would stay in Crozet for some of these projects we want to see in Crozet.”

CAC member David Mitchell is skeptical of the idea and said it would lead to Crozet receiving fewer direct funds from the county.

“Over time we will start to be looked at by the other Supervisors as ‘they have their own money, they can do their own thing’ and you’re going to slowly over time lose your share of the general fund,” Mitchell said. 

Supervisor Mallek agreed.

“I would really discourage our citizenry from burdening themselves because I think David is right,” Mallek said. “We need to go to toe to toe, to say, this is a need that’s been on the books.”

Mallek singled out the Eastern Avenue connector road that will provide north-south travel. A major obstacle is the cost of a bridge required to cross Lickinghole Creek. 

“We have made all of these zoning changes prior to 2007 that were counting on that bridge and we absolutely have a moral obligation to build it,” Mallek said.

Eastern Avenue is ranked #8 on the county’s transportation priority list and there was an update in May. There’s not yet a full cost estimate on what it will cost, but engineering work is underway. 

“This project is currently being evaluated through an alignment study and conceptual design which is funded through the Transportation Leveraging Fund in the [Capital Improvement Program],” reads the update. “The alignment report was presented to the Board in January and the preferred alignment was selected. This project is being considered for a Revenue Sharing Grant application.”

Allie Pesch, the chair of the CAC, said she wanted Eastern Avenue to be the top implementation priority.

“I like seeing Eastern Avenue at the top of that list,” Pesch said. “That is a priority for everyone in our area and just so overdue.”

After this discussion of implementation, county planner Rachel Falkenstein turned the conversation to the working draft of the master plan. The draft that will be reviewed by the Planning Commission at their work session on Tuesday incorporates feedback from the June 9 CAC meeting. (download the draft

“We still have a couple of steps to go before we get to our public hearings and we’ll continue to accept feedback and make revisions to the chapters and to the content,” Falkenstein said. 

A work session with the Board of Supervisors will take place in August. (Watch the CAC meeting on YouTube)


A few days after the CAC meeting, the Downtown Crozet Initiative held a public meeting to talk about a 30,000 square foot plaza intended to be located at the former Barnes Lumberyard. The plaza would anchor a mixed-use building and a hotel through a public-private partnership. The idea involves construction of a connector road using revenue-sharing funds from VDOT. That process requires a local match. 

Frank Stoner is a principal at Milestone Partners which seeks to redevelop the space. They’re putting up $2 million to serve as that match. 

“This project started in 2014,” Stoner said. “We developed this road plan in 2016, 2017. Most of the design elements of the road have been resolved. We felt strongly and I think the community felt strongly and the county felt strongly that the streets had to be appropriate for the small town that is Crozet and not be a highway through the middle of downtown which is kind of where VDOT wanted to go with it.” 

In all, VDOT is providing $2.49 million in funds for the road improvements. Milestone is paying $2 million and donating the land for the plaza and roads. The Downtown Crozet Initiative will raise $1.6 million or more to program the plaza. Albemarle County has contributed $1.6 million in cash to the project, and will provide another $1.6 million in rebates through a process known as tax increment financing. (read the June 2019 performance agreement)

Stoner said the idea is to build an urban plaza, not a park. 

“And most importantly we wanted this plaza to be the heart not just of the neighborhood but the Crozet community,” Stoner said. 

CreditDowntown Crozet Initiative

VDOT is contributing $2.5 million and the Downtown Crozet Initiative is seeking to raise over a million in private funds. 

“Which will be used to fund essentially the furniture, fixtures and equipment, sculpture, artwork, seating, all of that kind of stuff that goes in the plaza,” Stoner said. 

The designs aren’t close to final yet, but Stoner wanted to get feedback from the community. There are also no identified tenants for any of the spaces yet. 

“We haven’t really been in the position to take commitments because there have been so many unknowns because of the VDOT plans and then we had some stormwater issues we had to work through and so it has just been one obstacle after another,” Stoner said. 

Stoner said if all goes according to plan, construction could get underway next year. To Stoner, success means making sure it’s a place to expand what already makes Crozet Crozet.

“If we can’t create a place that’s affordable for local businesses, then we’re not going to succeed,” Stoner said. 

In April 2020, the firm Downtown Strategies unveiled their report on a Downtown Strategic Vision for Crozet. Stoner suggested interested parties might take a look. (take a look)

Nearby there is a separate VDOT project to rebuild the existing Square to add sidewalks and address ongoing stormwater issues. (watch the June 14 presentation)

UVa making plans for Ivy Garden redevelopment

(This installment was originally posted in the June 9, 2021 edition of Charlottesville Community Engagement)

The University of Virginia’s Board of Visitors met earlier this month. One of the items on the Building and Grounds Committee’s agenda was approval of a master plan for the redevelopment of Ivy Gardens, an apartment complex between Old Ivy Road and Leonard Sandridge Road that was built in the late 1960’s. 

University Architect Alice Raucher explained the purpose of creating a master plan. 

“It is in general always good to have a plan and physical master planning helps to set priorities to inform future plans,” Raucher said. “It often aligns limited physical resources with often equally limited financial resources and provides the opportunity for broad University and community engagement to create a shared vision.” 

Ivy Gardens is made up of 17 acres and has 440 residential units close to North Grounds, Darden, the School of Law, and the Miller Center for Public Affairs, and the Center for Politics. 

“In 2016, at the direction of the University, the Foundation purchased Ivy Gardens and although its structures are aging, the property is currently income producing with units that primarily house our graduate students in a low-density, automobile-oriented development,” Raucher said. 

The proposed redevelopment plan would increase the number of units to 718 and would add about 46,000 square feet of academic space and 69,500 square feet for commercial uses. The latter would be clustered in a new Town Square that would front onto Old Ivy Road. To the immediate north would be a Residential Commons with different kinds of housing types. In the middle would be a Central Green. A pedestrian bridge would cross Leonard Sandridge Drive, allowing safe passage to Darden and the Law School. 

Source: University of Virginia Office of the Architect
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Albemarle planning commission endorses new hydroelectric plant on the hardware

(This episode was initially posted as part of the June 5, 2021 edition of Charlottesville Community Engagement)

A plan to update  a hydroelectric plant at the Jefferson Mill Dam on the Hardware River obtained a recommendation of approval from the Albemarle Planning Commission on June 1, but not without a tough question intended as a softball. In beginning of the 21st century, construction of dams is strongly discouraged in most cases, with the exception of impoundment for water supply. But the Jefferson Mill Dam dates back to the beginning of the 19th century. Bill Fritz is the county’s development process manager. (staff report)

“The existing dam and the adjacent building date to the 1800’s and the mill building is now used as a home,” Fritz said. 

Power has been generated at the location for much of that time, but the proposal is to update the turbine that’s within an underground water room through which a diverted portion of the river flows. 

“The project will improve the outfall from the water room, install new inlets to bring water to the turbine,” Fritz said. “The applicant has submitted by far the most extensive and complete application I’ve seen in thirty plus years I’ve worked for the county.”

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Albemarle Supervisors updated on Broadway Blueprint

In 2019, the Albemarle County Economic Development Department began a planning study of the roadway that leads to the Woolen Mills factory, a historic property that has renovated in recent years by developer Brian Roy. The main entrance is along Broadway Avenue, which extends from Carlton Avenue at the border between the city of Charlottesville and Albemarle County. In all, there are about 45 acres of land that were the subject of an interim study presented to the Board of Supervisors in November of 2019. 

“The goal at that time was to leverage the public and private investment that had taken place and projected to take place at the Woolen Mills redevelopment and the Willow Tree relocation at that site,” said J.T. Newberry in the economic development department. 

Much of the land is zoned for light industrial use, and several businesses are operating in the area. Construction of the new Woolen Mills Industrial Park is underway. The Board of Supervisors was to have seen the results of an implementation study in April 2020, but the pandemic put a pause on the work.

“Nevertheless we have tried to stay engaged with stakeholders on the corridor,” Newberry said. “There have been a number of projects that have continued on the private side.”

After the interim study, Albemarle staff met with city staff at least twice, and the blueprint has been run by the Planning Commission, the Economic Development Authority, and the Office of Equity and Inclusion. The latter suggested a new approach to the project following the signing of a memorandum of understanding on the topic by Charlottesville, Albemarle County and the University of Virginia. Roger Johnson is the director of economic development for Albemarle.

“We are going to pause our project and go back and review the Broadway corridor through an equity lens,” Johnson said. “We don’t know if that will change anything substantively or not but we expect that it will.” 

That will include a meeting with the city’s new Deputy City Manager of Racial Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, Ashley Marshall. 

Next steps could include creation of a business association for the area, similar to the Downtown Crozet Association. Another would be to create an arts and cultural district for the location. 

“Some other types of activities we are contemplating are to complete pedestrian and bike connectivity, multimodal streetscape, enhanced public transportation,” Johnson said. 

Those activities are now considered to be long-term goals. 

A map of the area covered by the Broadway Blueprint

an update on transportation projects in albemarle county

(This segment originally appeared in the May 29, 2021 edition of Charlottesville Community Engagement)

At the height of the Great Recession earlier this century, Albemarle County froze many positions and slowed contributions to its capital improvement program. One job that was not filled for many years was transportation planning, but for the past few years, Albemarle has put together an organized list of potential projects to address road capacity issues as well as bike and pedestrian connections.

In July 2019, they adopted a priority list ranging from Hydraulic/29 Improvements at #1 to U.S. 250 West / Gillums Ridge Road Intersection Improvements at #89. 

“That list provided all capital transportation projects that are recommended through the various county planning processes,” said Kevin McDermott , a chief of planning in Albemarle, in a May 19 to the Board of Supervisors. (review the update)

The list is intended to help planners identify funding sources for projects, such as the Virginia Department of Transportation’s Smart Scale program as well as the county’s own capital improvement program.  

“We have gotten 12 projects from that 2019 project list funded,” McDermott said. 

  • Hydraulic 29 / Improvements, including a pedestrian bridge over U.S. 29 and a roundabout at Hillsdale and Hydraulic, are slated to be funded at $24 million by Commonwealth Transportation Board in June (#1)
  • U.S. Route 250 improvements to add median between Route 20 and Rolkin Road to receive $6 million in Smart Scale funding using $2 million in local funds (#2)
  • Route 20 / U.S. 250 intersection will be rebuilt using funding from 2018 Smart Scale round sometime in 2024 (#3)
  • Berkmar Drive will be extended further north to Lewis and Clark Drive, providing a continuous roadway to UVA North Fork Research Park. Funding came from VDOT’s revenue sharing program.
  • Further changes to Fontaine Avenue / U.S. 29 intersection including a shared-use path (#6)
  • A roundabout will be built at Old Lynchburg Road and 5th Street Extended with $5 million in VDOT funds and $2 million in Albemarle funds (#7)
  • A roundabout at Rio Road and the John Warner Parkway is recommended for $8 million funding in the current Smart Scale process and $2 million in Albemarle funds will be used (#15)
  • Bike and pedestrian improvements will be made on Old Lynchburg Road using Albemarle funds (#26)
  • A section of the Northtown Trail shared-use path will be built between Seminole Lane North and Carrsbrook Drive at a cost of $4 million (#35)
  • A greenway trail on Moores Creek and a trail hub at 5th Street Station will receive Smart Scale funds and has a total cost of $10 million (#40)
  • A park and ride lot will be constructed near Exit 107 and Crozet Park to serve Jaunt and the future Afton Express at a cost of $3 million (#82)This map depicts location of projects that have received funding since 2019 (Credit: Albemarle County)

McDermott’s purpose for appearing before the supervisors was to get their preliminary support for the next round of transportation projects. At the top of a short list for this year’s cycle of VDOT revenue-sharing funds is the completion Eastern Avenue, a north-south roadway designed to increase connectivity and traffic circulation throughout Crozet. 

“That project is currently being evaluated through an alignment study and conceptual design which the county has funded through our transportation leveraging project,” McDermott said. “We have just recently received the updated cost estimates from that consultant we have hired and their preliminary cost estimates are now at $19,983,000.” 

That would require at least a $10 million match from county funds. However, if approved the state funding would not be available until 2027. 

Another project on the list for potential revenue-sharing projects is one to build bike and pedestrian improvements on Mill Creek Drive to Peregory Lane, a top priority in a recent corridor study. That has a cost estimate of $2 million. 

Applications  for revenue-sharing projects are due this year.  Next year Smart Scale projects will be due. Potential applications to be made next year include a roundabout at District Avenue and Hydraulic Road, a realignment of Hillsdale Drive, and a roundabout at the intersection of Belvedere Boulevard and Rio Road. 

There’s plenty of time to get involved with these applications. Keep reading and stay tuned.

University of Virginia resumes housing initiative for up to 1,500 units

(This article originally appeared in the April 30, 2021 installment of Charlottesville Community Engagement)

The University of Virginia has begun planning work to implement their pledge to build up to 1,500 housing units to be designated for people at certain income-levels on land owned by UVA or the UVA real estate foundation. At a virtual event Thursday night, President Jim Ryan said housing is one of five areas identified for community partnership.  The original announcement of the UVA housing initiative was made on March 10, and the news was quickly overshadowed by the World Health Organization declaration the next day of the COVID pandemic. 

“So, a year later I’d like to begin by restating our goal upfront, and the goal is really simple,” Ryan said. “It’s to support the development of a thousand to 1,500 of affordable housing units across Charlottesville and Albemarle County over the next ten years. We’ll do this by contributing land and partnering with a third-party developer. I will say that financial profit is not at all our driver and that our goal has the support of the Board of Visitors and the entire leadership team at the University.” 

UVA President Jim Ryan

In the past year, Charlottesville City Council has adopted a new affordable housing strategy. The Albemarle Planning Commission has a public hearing next Tuesday about the update of the county’s policy. And the Central Virginia Regional Housing Partnership has been holding a speakers’ series on views from the development community

UVA’s work will happen in that regional background, as UVA steps into a role they’ve not played before. Chief Operating Officer J.J. Davis is serving as chair of the UVA Affordable Housing Advisory Group which includes community members. 

“The goal for this initial phase of this work is to learn more about how you see the University contributing to affordable housing solutions in our community and to collect input that will help this stage,” Davis said. 

(visit the Working Group’s website to watch the video and learn more)

No sites have yet been determined for where new units might be. A quick look at area GIS records shows that the UVA Foundation owns around three dozen properties in Charlottesville, and that the Rector and Visitors of the University own around 90. UVA-proper owns over 70 parcels in Albemarle and the foundation owns several dozen. 

To sort through the possibilities and to establish criteria for hiring that third-party developer, UVA has hired Gina Merritt of Northern Real Estate Urban Ventures to work through this phase, which will result in the development of a “request for proposals.” 

“My team’s role in the University’s affordable housing initiative is to help UVA to develop a framework for implementing this initiative,” Merritt said. “The University plans to solicit developers to help develop University property in a way that meets our collective goals.”

This will include market research, review of previous studies, and discussion of comparative examples.

“And once the sites are selected for development, we will evaluate zoning, determine what housing and income types should be located on each site, and then draw diagrams to show the potential scale of these buildings,” Merritt said. “We will run financial models to determine the best way to finance the development and identify possible resources to fund the project.” 

Merritt presented three examples of developments she’s been involved with. One of these is the 70-unit Nannie Hellen at 4800 in Washington D.C. where one-third of the units were replacement units for public housing, and the rest were financed through Low-Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC). 

The trio took questions from those on the virtual call. J.J. Davis asked the first.

“A lot of organizations are already doing affordable housing work,” Davis asked. “Where will UVA fit in so that they are not competing or duplicating efforts. Jim?”

“That’s a great question and in some respects that’s part of the community engagement process,” Ryan said. “The landscape is filled with people who are working on this issue already and we want to figure out the best way we can fit into this landscape so that we’re not duplicating efforts or competing but instead complementing the efforts.”

“Next question,” Davis asked. “When will the units be built?” 

“Well, we want to get started as soon as possible,” Ryan said. “As I mentioned earlier, the goal is to complete a thousand to 1,500 units over ten years. Our thought is that we will start with one project. We are not that experienced with this so what we want to do is start with one project and take the lessons we’ve learned there when we move on to the second or third projects.”

Near the end of the presentation, Merritt took advantage of the poll feature in Zoom to take the pulse of those attending. Nearly ninety percent of those participating supported the idea of UVA developing housing for the community on its property. 

President Jim Ryan concluded the event.

“UVA and our neighbors in Charlottesville, Albemarle, and the surrounding counties are linked together and our fates are tied together and one of the reasons for us to be a good neighbor is because of that. I think helping to contribute to… increasing the supply of affordable housing is one part of that,” Ryan said. 

Low-income housing project gets $4.25 million boost from CACF

(This story first appeared in the March 29, 2021 installment of Charlottesville Community Engagement)

The Charlottesville Area Community Foundation has made its largest ever grant with $4.25 million going to Piedmont Housing Alliance for their redevelopment of land on U.S. 29. Piedmont Housing is working with the Thomas Jefferson Area Coalition for the Homeless and Virginia Supportive Housing to redevelop the Red Carpet Inn site for a total of 140 units that will be guaranteed to be rented at prices for people with extremely low and very low incomes. Eboni Bugg is the director of programs for the CACF. 

“This first came on our radar last April when we received a grant application from TJACH and PACEM and the Haven regarding wanting to ensure that there was a non-congregate option for our homeless community members so that they could weather the pandemic without being in congregate shelter,” Bugg said.

The Albemarle County Board of Supervisors rezoned the land for the project in February. The Red Carpet Inn will continue to be used as a shelter by TJACH in the short-term as the project moves forward. Bugg said the CACF’s investment is made in the spirit of community health. There will be an update on grant at an event on April 15. 

Anthony Haro of the Thomas Jefferson Area Coalition for the Homeless (TJACH) speaks with Eboni Bugg of the Charlottesville Area Community Foundation at the Red Carpet inn (Credit: CACF)

Albemarle Supervisors seeks faster review of Comprehensive Plan

The Albemarle Board of Supervisors said last week they want a faster review of the county’s Comprehensive Plan and that three years will be too long. 

Supervisors last updated the plan six years ago and much has changed since then, according to Planning Manager Rachel Falkenstein. 

“Since the 2015 update, we have had significant work on: climate action planning; economic development; and equity, inclusion, and infrastructure investments and we want to better align the plan with those initiatives,” Falkenstein said.

Falkenstein said the Comprehensive Plan also needs to inform a rewrite of the rules of where development can go, and how. 

“We’ve identified the need for a zoning ordinance update and doing the comp plan update now to incorporate these initiatives will help set that stage,” Falkenstein said. 

In February, Supervisors had pushed back on the three year process staff recommended to update the Comprehensive Plan and asked for a more expedited review. However, Falkenstein said staff still believed in a 36-month process. 

“We feel that given the level of engagement and the breadth of topics that are covered in the comp plan, that three years is really a realistic timeline for this work,” Falkenstein said. 

A detailed community engagement plan will come back to the Board later this year. A project advisory group would be formed to oversee the process and members would be paid a stipend. Staff has now changed that to have the funding to used to “reduce barriers to participation.” These could include access to language as well as transportation. 

Supervisor Ann Mallek said the existing plan is clear to read, and she did not want that to be lost as the current plan is amended.

“The benefit of our comp plan and I think why it won awards and is very well accepted is its readability and the fact that it is not just the last 12 months of something,” Mallek said. “It is a very long term history document about how we got here.” 

Supervisor Liz Palmer said she wanted the Planning Commission to weigh in about whether the plan needed to be rewritten, or just updated.

“I am concerned about this idea of a three-year plan being a complete rewrite of this Comprehensive Plan and that’s the part I’m really struggling with,” Palmer said. 

Palmer also wanted to know if the zoning ordinance and Comprehensive Plan could be updated at the same time given many conflicts. County Attorney Greg Kamptner said he would prefer to do the comp plan update first. 

“The ideal situation would be to have a comp plan and then immediately follow it with a comprehensive rewrite and updating of the zoning ordinance because it is 40 years old,” Kamptner said. 

Palmer asked if that would mean the zoning rewrite would not begin for three years. Planning Director Charles Rapp said supervisors will have the chance to weigh in with more direction as the work plan for the Community Development Department comes before them. He said work on the the zoning rewrite could at least begin before the comp plan is finished. 

“I think once we get to that framework for the comp plan so we know what it’s going to contain, then we can go ahead and start making progress on the zoning ordinance,” Rapp said. 

Charlottesville hired one consultant to produce an affordable housing plan, a Comprehensive Plan, and a new zoning ordinance. The Cville Plans Together initiative just completed the housing plan, which Council endorsed earlier this month. Albemarle Supervisors had a public hearing on their new housing plan last week, but sent it back to the Planning Commission for further work. I’ll have more on that in the next installment.  

As for the Albemarle Comprehensive Plan, Supervisor Diantha McKeel also thought three years was too long to wait, and that parts of the zoning needed to be changed sooner. 

“The zoning, the code, it is critical to getting it updated,” McKeel said. “To be honest with you it’s really my priority along with specific areas in the comp plan. Economic development. Climate action. I mean, I could go through and name maybe just a couple of others.” 

Deputy County Executive Doug Walker said he heard a disconnect between staff and the Board on this issue. He provided some clarifications.

“This is not intended to be a rewrite which was actually done the last time,” Walker said. “It is an update but I acknowledge that to some extent updating and rewriting may seem a lot the same if we’re not very careful about how we distinguish one from the other.” 

Falkenstein said staff will come back with a more detailed scope, but still maintained the process will be lengthy. County Executive Jeffrey Richardson agreed.

“The staff is trying to manage this and manage the Board’s expectations,” Richardson said. “Three years sounds like a long time but everywhere I have ever been, a Comprehensive Plan update takes quite some time because of the domino effect of touching all of the various aspects of the plan document.”  

(This story was originally posted in the March 23, 2021 installment of Charlottesville Community Engagement. )

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