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 city of Charlottesville has begun moving ahead with changes to the city’s Downtown Mall, which will turn 50 in the year 2026. Last week, the Board of Architectural Review weighed in on one change intended to make parts of it a little safer.
“This is a request from the city of Charlottesville to install metal grates at the three small fountains located on the Downtown Mall,” said Jeff Werner, the city’s historic preservation planner. “The situation we have is that because of issues related to pedestrian safety and ADA accessibility concern, the decision was made to install grates.”
The Charlottesville City Council has officially adopted a plan to guide environmental protections along the urbanized portion of the Rivanna River. The Urban Rivanna Corridor Plan is now a referenced part of the city’s 2021 Comprehensive Plan.
“It’s past time but I’m glad we’re getting to it now finally to begin to recognize the fact that the Rivanna River is an asset to Charlottesville and is not merely a barrier,” said Charottesville Mayor Lloyd Snook.
Deputy City Manager Sam Sanders has explained what the city is going to address safety concerns on Fifth Street Extended. According to crash data from the Virginia Department of Transportation, there were three fatalities in 2020 on the divided highway. Police have confirmed there was another on the night of New Years Day.
“We very much remain concerned about the serious safety concern along that corridor,” Sanders said. “Our traffic engineer has been working to effect improvements with a few updates. We are pursuing a speed limit reduction. We have been working on that and you will have that matter before you at your next meeting.”
The winter storm yesterday ended up canceling all three of the government meetings scheduled including the Albemarle Architectural Review Board. That group last met on December 20 when they weighed in on a self-storage facility proposed for the intersection of U.S. 250 and Crozet Avenue. Margaret Maliszewski is a planning manager who works with the ARB. (watch the meeting)
“The proposed building is three stories tall with a 30,000 square foot footprint,” Maliszewski said. “The building as shown on the plan measures 260 feet by 120 feet.”
A crash in the 900 block of Fifth Street Extended late Saturday night has killed a Richmond woman, according to a report from CBS19 News. That’s prompted the group Livable Cville to call on Charlottesville City Hall to move forward with planned solutions. A series of fatalities in 2020 led to a petition drive that led to a conversation on City Council that November of that year at which traffic engineer Brennan Duncan offered several recommendations including lowering the speed limit. Livable Cities wants to know why none of them have been implemented.
The December 9 meeting of the Buildings and Grounds Committee meeting was a shorter one than usual, but members were briefed on several items of note. One related to UVA’s sustainability efforts. Colette Sheehy is the Senior Vice President for Operations and State Government at UVA.
“You’ll recall that the big audacious goal for sustainability is to be carbon neutral by 2030 and fossil-fuel free by 2050,” Sheehy said. “Overall our emissions are down by 44 percent over the last decade which is equivalent to about 160,000 tons of carbon.”
Charlottesville City Council held a work session yesterday on how to cover the costs of sidewalk improvements for Stribling Avenue to support a 170 unit development on about 12 acres of undeveloped land. James Freas is the director of the city’s Neighborhood Development Services department.
“So, as many as you know, there’s a [Planned Unit Development] proposed for 240 Stribling Avenue,” Freas said. “The proposed project includes a mix of apartments, townhouses, two-family units.”
And a quick look at what projects are funded
When the Charlottesville-Albemarle Metropolitan Planning Organization’s Policy Board next meets, there will be a new person representing the Virginia Department of Transportation. Sean Nelson will become the new district engineer for VDOT’s Culpeper District, which spans nine counties.
“I am honored to return to Culpeper District as the district engineer and look forward to working with our talented teams and valued community partners,” Nelson is quoted in a September 30 press release. “I was born and raised in Louisa and am now raising my family there. I am proud to come home and am committed to making a difference in this region.”
Will the city be able to build the infrastructure residents to allow for a more dense development on Stribling Avenue? At their meeting on September 14, 2021, the Charlottesville Planning Commission pondered this question and a public-private partnership could be worked out to cover the costs that a cash-strapped city cannot afford.
Southern Development seeks a rezoning to Planned Unit Development to build up to 170 units on about 12 acres of wooded land. That came after a directive at an earlier work session for the firm to increase the units in the development.
“The Planning Commission told us very clearly that you wanted to see something less dense and more suburban,” said Charlie Armstrong, vice president at Southern Development.