Week Ahead for March 2, 2020

Two months down, ten months to go. 2020 has been a busy year so far, and this week is no exception. This week features a key rezoning public hearing in Albemarle County, the formal beginning of Charlottesville’s budget development process, and the commemoration of the arrival of Union troops in the community in 1865, freeing thousands of enslaved people. City government has a public holiday Tuesday for Liberation and Freedom Day, as well as a series of events all week about equity and the pathway forward.  While we look to the future, the past is always with us.

Monday, March 2: Brookhill in Albemarle, City Council 

Charlottesville City Council has a full agenda that covers land use, transportation and budgetary matters. They’ll first take action on a special use permit for Harris Street Apartments, which would see 36 units built next to McIntire Plaza. The Planning Commission voted 7-0 in February to move to recommend the permit, which asks for additional residential density as well as two additional floors. Parking would be underground and the developer has to submit a traffic study before a final site plan is turned into the city. (staff report)

Next Council will take up a resolution to affirm that the $8.6 million Barracks Road / Emmet Street project funded by VDOT’s Smartscale process is compliant with the city’s Comprehensive Plan. Among other things, the project will create a safer pathway for pedestrians and cyclists along Barracks Road. Why this review? Take a look at Deputy City Attorney Lisa Robertson’s note in the staff report. The project is only about a third of the way through the planning process and construction is not expected until spring 2023. (staff report)

After that, Council will be presented with the School Board’s budget request as well as city manager Tarron Richardson’s recommended budget. My colleague Peter Krebs is watching the process closely and is asking for restoration of funding cuts to bicycle infrastructure. (budget website)

The consent agenda is also worth a review, as always.

  • Council will accept $47,540 in donations to light the skate park at McIntire Park, though the cost estimate is around $300,000 (staff report)

  • Council will officially direct the Planning Commission to review three specific ways the city’s zoning could be changed to increase the supply of affordable housing units. They received a briefing on this on February 20 and directed staff to prepare this initiation. Read the details in the staff report. (staff report)

  • Council will consider raising the maximum rate that can be charged to remove devices that can immobilize vehicles that are parked in the wrong place. Currently the maximum charge to remove a boot is $25, but that figure is not enough to incentivize potential new technologies. This is an initiative of the Parking Advisory Panel. (staff report)


People who travel on U.S. 29 north in Albemarle’s northern ring may have noticed a lot of development activity south of Forest Lakes. The Board of Supervisors approved a rezoning for Brookhill in November 2016 that included several blocks of development. Two of these will go before the Architectural Review Board at their meeting which begins at 1:00 p.m. in Room 241 at the main county office building on McIntire Road. Specifically they’ll see a final design for Block 8B and an initial plan for blocks 9, 10 and 11. Block 8B is for 110 multifamily units and the other blocks are for 85 townhouses. These are both on the western side of the project towards U.S. 29. (agenda)


This week is the tenth year in a row that the state Department of Rail and Public Transportation is marking Telework Week in Virginia, a time when employers are encouraged to let workers telecommute from home. “Telework helps alleviate traffic congestion, reduces our consumption of fuel, and improves air quality,” reads a proclamation signed by Governor Ralph Northam. Do you have the opportunity to work from home some of the time? A “higher-use” of telecommuting is one of the University of Virginia’s strategies to manage parking and transportation on Grounds. (Telework Virginia website)


The Louisa County Board of Supervisors also meets at 5:00 p.m. in the county office building in Louisa. Items include an update on broadband initiatives and a public hearing on amending the county code to provide tax exemptions for solar energy equipment. (agenda)


The Scottsville Town Planning Commission will meet at the town hall beginning at 7:00 p.m. Scottsville is a separate town that is part of Albemarle but has its own government. That differs from Albemarle’s designated growth areas, which have no independent governance. The Planning Commission will take up a special use permit for a car wash and will continue to work on the West Downtown Small Area Plan. That covers a closed factory that town officials hope will be a major redevelopment item. (agenda)

Tuesday, March 3: Code for Charlottesville “navigation” work

While Albemarle and Charlottesville both investigate policy changes to encourage the creation of more affordable housing units, others in the community are finding ways to get information out about options that do exist. The group Code for Charlottesville is working on a project they’re calling “Building a Platform to Make Housing Navigation Easier.” The idea is to help those who have federal housing vouchers find property owners who will take them as tenants.

“The goal of this project is to develop software for the internal use of credentialed housing navigators that provides navigators with an up-to-date and comprehensive list of the available rentals in the Charlottesville area, along with the various screening policies employed by landlords,” reads the notice for a kickoff event being held at the Haven beginning at 7:00 p.m.

Todd Niemeier with the city’s Office of Human Rights will discuss the challenges faced by people with low incomes and Code for Charlottesville representatives will talk about how the work will be organized. A series of follow-up events will be held throughout the spring. (RSVP page)


The Albemarle Board of Supervisors will hold their second work session for County Executive Jeffrey Richardson’s proposed budget. This time will cover operating expenses, including funding for community development, parks and recreation, and public works. The meeting begins at 3:00 p.m. in Room 241 in the county’s main office building on McIntire Road. (agenda)


Charlottesville City Hall is closed all day and there are no meetings due to the commemoration of Liberation and Freedom Day.  There are a series of events all week to mark the occasion. Check the city calendar’s website for a full listing. (calendar)

Wednesday, March 4: What will Albemarle’s planners do?

The Albemarle Board of Supervisors meets at 1:00 p.m. and after a series of proclamations they will hold a work session on something called the Community Development Work Program. This is the first time that new director Jodie Filardo will present an update on what staff feels the Department of Community Development can handle in the coming year.

“The ongoing challenge is to manage the Board’s interests while addressing the needs of the department to build capacity in a world of increasing volumes in the CDD workload,” reads the staff report.

Supervisors last reviewed the work program in September, and since then two new Supervisors have joined the Board. It is important to track what staff works on and what never seems to make the cut. For instance, a further look at the county’s lighting ordinance to strengthen Dark Sky protections has been listed as a potential project for years, but not prioritized. For me, this is one of the most crucial discussions of the year. (staff report) (2019 staff report)

In the evening session, Supervisors will hold a public hearing for 999 Rio Road, a greenfield development proposed on two acres at the intersection of Rio and Belvedere Boulevard. The property is zoned for R-4 and developer Nicole Scro seeks a change to the Neighborhood Model District. Supervisors last saw this project last September when they sent it back to the Planning Commission. The current proposal is for 28 units and a maximum of 6,000 feet of office space. That’s down from as many as 46 units. (staff report)

Following that public hearing is another on County Executive Jeffrey Richardson’s proposed $451 million budget for FY21. Have you had a look yet? This year the budget’s title is “Expanding Opportunity” and is based on no new increase in the property tax rate. (budget page)

On the consent agenda:

  • The Piedmont Housing Alliance is seeking to build 80 units in a section of the Southwood redevelopment project off Old Lynchburg Road. Habitat for Humanity of Greater Charlottesville obtained a rezoning for the project in August 2019. PHA needs the Board’s support for low-income housing tax credits for this phase of development, which would be new development along Old Lynchburg Road. (staff report)

  • There is new information about when several construction projects will get underway in Albemarle County. According to the VDOT monthly report, the first of six Smartscale projects will get under construction this summer. (VDOT report)

Thursday, March 5: UVA tops a long list of meetings 

The University of Virginia Board of Visitors meets all day and on Friday for their first major meeting of the year. The Buildings and Grounds Committee meets at 3:30 p.m. today at the Rotunda. The agendas for the meeting are not yet available. (BOV website)

Charlottesville City Council will hold the first work session on Dr. Tarron Richardson’s budget beginning at 5:00 p.m. in CitySpace. Have you taken a look yet? (budget page)

The Charlottesville Bike and Pedestrian Committee Meeting will also meet at 5:00 p.m. but in the Neighborhood Development Services conference room. This month features a discussion with Charlottesville Police Captain Victor Mitchell, as well as a review of the Safe Routes to School program. There will also be an update on the city’s capital improvement program. Dr. Richardson’s budget currently shows no additional funding for bicycle infrastructure in FY21. (agenda)

The Albemarle Board of Supervisors will also have a budget work session beginning at 3:00 p.m. in Room 241 of the county’s main office building on McIntire Road. (BOS agendas)

The Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission will meet at 7:00 p.m. in their offices on Water Street. There does not appear to be a major item on the agenda for this regional body. Still, the packet is worth reviewing each month as it can give clues to future events and initiatives. (agenda)

Sean Tubbs
Attachments area

Week Ahead for February 24, 2020

Week Ahead for February 24, 2020

This week, Monday takes the turn as the day with the most activity. Every week is filled with key decision points for our community’s future. Every week, elected officials, staff, and the public come together to discuss options and possibilities. This newsletter tracks what’s happening before it does to keep you informed. The goal is to improve the built environment we have while preserving and protecting the natural one that sustains us all. Now, let’s get started. 

Monday, February 24, 2020: Transit detour and six meetings 

Our first item this week isn’t a meeting but important to civic life all the same. Charlottesville Area Transit (CAT) has begun a two-week detour during which no buses will serve the Downtown Transit Center on Water Street. In all, 12 of 13 routes travel use the station, which opened in 2007 and is set up for CAT vehicles to travel only in a westbound direction in what is known as a “timed-pulse” system. 

Construction of a utility duct for the CODE Building will shut down Water Street through March 7, which will force all but Route 5 to travel on an alternate pathway as it comes through downtown. The city is blocking off eight on-street parking spaces across from City Hall on East Market Street to serve as a temporary transfer point, as all buses will travel west on a street on which they normally travel east. They’ll also all use High Street, testing the city’s streets. 

This two-week shut-down offers an opportunity to take a good look at a system that currently is overly downtown-centric. Of course Charlottesville is a major destination, but this shutdown illustrates how dependent the entire transit system is on downtown. This period of discomfort is an opportunity for the community to think about how future transit routes might be drawn differently.  (CAT page on detour)


According to a calendar on Albemarle’s website, the county’s Historic Preservation Committee meets today at 4:30 p.m. in Room 241 of the main office building on McIntire Road. Last month, the group endorsed the idea of asking the Board of Supervisors to require that the Miller School of Albemarle be required to update historical documents as a condition of a pending rezoning. Last week, Supervisors deferred a vote when Miller School officials said they had not been told of the committee’s request and were thus not prepared. That may come up at the meeting today, but there’s no agenda posted. (calendar item)


The Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority gathers at 6:00 p.m. in City Council Chambers for their February meeting. On the agenda are resolutions supporting CRHA’s participation in the redevelopment of South First Street and the renovation of Crescent Halls. There is also a resolution supporting the appointment of Kathleen Glenn-Matthews as the interim director of CRHA. She has served as interim director of operations since November after becoming relocation coordinator last June. The CRHA website does not have this meeting listed, nor the agenda. (CRHA website)


The Pantops Community Advisory Committee is scheduled to meet at 6:15 p.m in the Kessler Conference Room at the Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital. The agenda hasn’t been posted yet, but the Pantops area faces many changes over the coming years, including the conversion of the I-64/U.S. 250 interchange into a diverging diamond. (Pantops CAC page)


Charlottesville City Schools begins a four-part series of Community Conversations on Equity with the first installment at Charlottesville High School beginning at 6:00 p.m. (website)

The other events are:

  • February 25th at Friendship Court at 6:30pm, 
  • February 26th at the Boys and Girls Club on Cherry Avenue at 6:30pm
  • February 27th at City of Promise at 12 noon.


Last week, the Charlottesville City Council gave the go-ahead to install another temporary marker for an auction block in Court Square where enslaved people were bought and sold. One set in the sidewalk was stolen earlier this year by an activist. A subcommittee of the city’s Historic Resources Committee had already been working on something that conveyed the enormity of slavery, and will take up the temporary markers at a meeting today at noon at the Gordon Avenue Library. (Historic Resources website)

Finally, the Social Services Advisory Board will meet at noon in the Basement Conference Room in City Hall. The meeting is open to the public. (agenda

Tuesday, February 25, 2020: A look at recycling in Albemarle

In a time when there’s much confusion about what can be recycled, the Rivanna Solid Waste Authority (RSWA) is a major resource. RSWA Recycling Director Phil McKalips will update the Board of Directors on the issue at their meeting which begins at 2:00 p.m at the Moores Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant. The group is transitioning to a monthly meeting, which will increase the profile of solid waste policy in our community. That gives us all a chance to take a look at our own habits and see what we can do to reduce the tonnage of waste that reaches the landfill. (agenda and board packet

The Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority’s Board of Directors meets immediately afterward. The RWSA is responsible for maintaining the supply of treated drinking water and selling to the Albemarle County Service Authority and the city of Charlottesville. The main item on the agenda is the introduction of the $135.2 million Capital Improvement Program for FY2021 through 2025. That figure includes long-planned projects such as renovations of the South Rivanna, Observatory and Crozet water treatment plants. Planned wastewater projects include the second phase of replacement of a sewer line that runs along McIntire Road. (agenda and board packet)


The Greene County Board of Supervisors has a full agenda, including an application to rezone a 2-acre parcel in Ruckersville from A-1 to B-3. The owners do not have a specific business in mind for the property, but want to add this property to three other lots that are already zoned for business use. In this case, the property is not within the designated growth area. That’s lead to a resolution from staff to recommend denial. (staff report) (presentation)

Supervisors will also: 


At 5:00 p.m., the Albemarle Board of Supervisors will begin a series of work sessions on County Executive Jeffrey Richardson’s proposed $451 million budget for fiscal year 2021. This meeting will be held in Room 241, which does not have many seats for the public. The presentation will be streamed online. You can review the video of Richardson’s February 19 presentation to the Board here


Nelson County’s Planning Commission meets at 7:00 p.m. to discuss changes to the zoning code regarding how structures with non-conforming uses are to be treated. There are no active land use applications on the agenda. (agenda

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

The Charlottesville Planning Commission will take a look at three topics at a work session scheduled for 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. in the Neighborhood Development Services conference room in City Hall. That includes a first look of the Cherry Avenue Small Area Plan, a document crafted by Fifeville residents with coordination from the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission (TJPDC). (Staff report and plan)

Next, the Planning Commission will meet with the consultants who are part of a nearly $1 million contract to oversee completion of the city’s next Comprehensive Plan. Current members of the group have different interpretations of why the Commission’s state-mandated review has not yet resulted in a completed product and they’ll have a chance to discuss the work that has been undertaken since 2017. They’ll also be asked questions about housing, and I will be curious to see if the presentation will take into Council’s decision last week to move forward with specific zoning changes designed to increase the supply of affordable and supported housing units. (staff report)

Finally, Commissioners will have a work session with Southern Development about a proposal to rezone 11.4 acres of property off of Stribling Avenue in the Fry’s Spring neighborhood from single-family residential to a zoning type that would accommodate 170 units on the property. The Planning Commission saw a previous proposal that would have created 68 duplexes. The new submission would see 74 two-to-three story townhomes and 96 apartment units spread across four buildings. Under this arrangement, Southern Development is proposing to contribute “significant funding for bike and pedestrian improvements on Stribling Avenue.” (staff report and presentation)


When I think of places to go see lectures, the University of Virginia Research Park does not usually come to mind. However, Meg Heubeck from the Center of Politics will present Talking Turkey: Taking the ‘Dis’ out of Civil Discourse beginning at noon at Town Center Two. The University of Virginia Foundation is seeking ways to increase the public profile of the research park. Later this year, a new connector road paid for by the foundation will extend from Airport Road into the research park. (RSVP for the event)

Thursday, February 27, 2020

The Places29-Rio Advisory Committee is scheduled to meet at 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. There’s no agenda at the moment, but possible topics include the March 4 Board of Supervisors public hearing for the rezoning of 999 Rio Road, as well as the forthcoming Planning Commission public hearing on Parkway Place. If rezoned, both projects will need viable transit multimodal service so residents can have alternatives to driving. (Places29-Rio Advisory Committee page)


The forum to improve transit in the region is the aptly-named Regional Transit Partnership (RTP), which meets at 4:00 p.m. at the Water Street Center at 407 Water Street. The body consists of Albemarle, Charlottesville and University of Virginia officials, and is attended by transit agencies throughout the area. This will be the first meeting of the year and comes at a crucial time for transit decisions in our community. 

The agenda includes a presentation from a Leadership Charlottesville group that has been working on interviewing transit riders and people who don’t currently take a bus. Finding out what obstacles people have is an important step toward getting them to seek alternatives. 

Another item on the agenda is a presentation from a series of listening sessions conducted last fall by the Virginia Conservation Network and the Virginia Transit Association. That work may help inform a visioning process for regional transit that the TJPDC is seeking grant and local funding to conduct. (agenda and packet

This meeting provides the last chance for the Regional Transit Partnership to discuss the upcoming budget cycle for Albemarle and Charlottesville. Albemarle Supervisors will hold a work session on transit funding on March 11 to discuss CAT’s $1.7 million request in funding, a request that is not included in County Executive Jeffrey Richardson’s proposed budget. Instead, Richardson recommended the same $1.043 million in funding that is in the current year’s budget, as well as a $387,562 contingency. 

One question I have is how well this process matches the agreement adopted by City Council and the Board of Supervisors last year. The Intergovernmental Memorandum of Understanding is intended to govern Albemarle’s relationship to CAT including how budgets are to be developed. There’s a lot to think about between now and Thursday. (MOU)



Week Ahead for January 27, 2020

Week Ahead for January 27, 2020

The first month of 2020 is almost in the books and this final week of January is much quieter than in recent weeks. I only have items for the first three days. This is the lull before a very busy February begins and the arrival of budget season. 

Monday, January 27, 2020

The Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority’s Board of Commissioners meets today as both itself and as the nonprofit entity that exists to facilitate expansion and renovation of the city’s public housing stock. The regular meeting begins at 6:00 p.m. in City Council Chambers followed by the Charlottesville Community Development Corporation. Among other things, the CRHA will get a report from the interim operations director, Kathleen Glenn-Matthews. (CRHA agenda)

The CCDC will get an update on public housing redevelopment, including the news that Virginia Supportive Housing and CRHA will take another year to plan for redevelopment of a site on Levy Avenue. VSH has withdrawn its request for city funding for this year for a project known as Crossings II. The deadline to submit an application for low-income housing tax credits is coming up in March. The project could grow to include additional units, a University of Virginia Health Clinic and a “financial opportunity center.” (update) (CCDC agenda


The city’s Department of Social Services Advisory Board will meet at 12:00 p.m. in the Basement Conference Room in City Hall. The group is charged with monitoring social welfare programs in Virginia and one of its power and duties is “to interest itself in all matters pertaining to the social welfare of the people in the city.” There’s no agenda online but minutes from previous meetings as well as annual reports can be found here

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

The two authorities that handle solid waste, sewage, and drinking water meet this afternoon for the first time in 2020. If you’re interested in recycling issues, be sure to dig into the Rivanna Solid Waste Authority agenda for the special meeting that begins at 2:00 p.m. at the Moores Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant. For instance, more than 113,400 paint cans have been dropped off at the Ivy Materials Utilization Center since August 2016. “The oil-based paints that are collected are beneficially used as fuel for heat recovery and the latex paints are re-processed back into commercial paints,” reads a report from RSWA’s director of solid waste. The document also notes that a new pilot program has begun at the McIntire Recycling Center to separately collect pizza delivery boxes. These can’t be recycled due to grease, but can be used for composting. (RSWA packet)

Immediately following the solid waste meeting is the Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority. The packet for this meeting is also full of interesting facts, including that the wastewater treatment plant generates 14,000 tons of biosolids each year. These are hauled to McGill Environmental in Waverly at a cost of $456.25 per trip. Another tidbit is that the agency is spending $75,000 on emergency repairs to cover up an exposed waterline. A staff report notes that “RWSA staff discovered that a large section of bank had collapsed within McIntire Park due to recent rains and runoff, causing approximately 20 feet of RWSA’s 24 inch Urban Waterline to become exposed.”  The RWSA Board will also be asked to approve a $36 million contract for English Construction Company to perform upgrades to the Observatory and South Rivanna Water Treatment Plants. (agenda)


A Daily Progress article from Sunday makes mention of a meeting between the City Council and the Charlottesville School Board, but this is not listed on the websites of either entity. The article states the meeting is to be held at 6:00 p.m. at the Charlottesville Albemarle Technical Education Center (CATEC). 


The Greene Board of Supervisors meets with their county School Board beginning at 5:30 p.m. in the administration building in Stanardsville. The regular meeting will include an update from the Ruckersville Advisory Committee, a citizen group convened to oversee the small area plan drafted for one of the county’s two designated growth areas. Among the group’s recommendations are to improve signage along U.S. 29 and to seek state funding for streetscape improvements. An audit of the county’s zoning code will get underway this year to inform other aspects of the Ruckersville Area Plan. (RAC recommendations) (agenda)

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

All seven of Albemarle’s Community Advisory Committees will come together at 6:00 p.m. in Room A at the county office building on 5th Street Extended. The meeting is a chance for all of the committee members to get an update on county policy on capital planning, budgeting, transportation, and all of the other details you’d expect are ingredients for a growing county. Each CAC represents a specific designated growth area, and the meetings are the best chance to get involved with growth and development issues. There are vacancies on all of the committees and the county is seeking applications


Renewal and information

This is a non-news post. Or rather, it is about the site in general.

This is still a staging area for something that may happen in the future. We created it in order to experiment, and the experiment has largely been on pause. That will change in the near future.

If you can read this, we thank you for subscribing to the site. In the days and weeks to come, there will be more to say. For now, we are reflecting on the future and the recent past.

There is a need for information about how our society and civilization functions. We are in a time of history, when there is so much uncertainty. We hope to bring a different approach but we need to write it out first. Stay tuned.


PACC-Tech briefed on Fontaine plans

The Three Party Agreement calls upon the three entities to cooperate on planning in areas of mutual interest. According to the document, Area B land is that which “lies at the boundaries of or between the University and either the City or the County and on which the activities of any or all three of the parties might have an effect.”

Since 1986, elected and appointed officials have met quarterly as part of an entity known as the Planning and Coordination Council.

“Area B will be designated a ‘study area’,” the document states. “The City, County and  University will work with each other to try to develop a master plan for the study area perhaps by  beginning with its most critical parts. The intent is that the results of the cooperative study will be made a part of the Comprehensive Plan of each body.”

The three parties have rotated the meetings every year since then. In 2018, it has been Albemarle’s turn to host the meetings. The PACC-Tech Committee met on October 18. One of the topics was a new master plan for the Fontaine Research Park. The park dates back to the mid 1990’s and currently has 580,000 square feet of office space.

“The University [has] purchased the property in its entirety,” said Alice Raucher, the University’s Architect. “We’ve always owned a portion of it alongside the UVA Foundation, but we purchased the balance of it this past year.”

Raucher said the University sees a near-term potential to expand to 1.1 million square feet.

They have hired the Baltimore firm of Ayers Saint Gross to work on a plan that looked at capacity buildouts and provide a future layout for the park.

“What we think a near-term potential for square footage is about 1.1 million gross square feet,” Raucher said. “We think the current and future uses are clinics and research and offices and it will stay that way primarily for research at the Health System, but with more amenities.”

Raucher envisions turning some of the space into a place where you can have a cup of coffee or have lunch. Right now, people have to leave the area for these types of services.

Raucher said the study is being done to create new spaces for clinics that are currently in older facilities on Central Grounds. Moving them away would reduce vehicle trips headed in that direction.

“We certainly want to move a lot of the walk-in or drive-in visits,” Raucher said. “We know its a traffic issue and there’s older facilities down there so one of the options is to look at Fontaine.”

Raucher said there is a perception that Central Grounds and Fontaine Research Park are far away from each other, but she said that’s not the case.

“We really want to acknowledge the fact that Fontaine is so close in,” Raucher said. “There’s a bike-ped trail that connects you to West Grounds. We’d like to bolster that connection in developing this.”

The near-term plan would include construction of a new parking structure along Fontaine Avenue on currently undeveloped land. This would eventually replace surface parking elsewhere that would be reclaimed for office space.

Raucher said the Fontaine structure could also serve as satellite parking for athletic events.

“It allows us to move parking away from the center and start building the connective tissue in a way so that you can park once and use our University Transit, CAT or JAUNT to get around,” Raucher said.

A 250,000 square foot research and academic building and a 250,000 square foot clinical building would be built as replacements for the West Complex at the UVA Medical Center. A new public space would be created as well in the middle of the research park.

545 Ray C. Hunt would be demolished as part of the near-term plan. It would be replaced with a new way to get around the park.

“What we’re thinking about is imposing a rational structure,” Raucher said. “Instead of the middle green that currently is not occupied because that middle central green is actually in back of the buildings. The front of the buildings face the parking lots. We would impose a Main Street, essentially, allowing that to be a walkable, drivable Main Street.”

Raucher said construction is far from imminent and it would be phased when it does occur.

“This is a master plan,” she said. “There’s no project associated with this yet. We’re sharing our initial plans.”

Raucher said the University will complement the Fontaine Avenue Streetscape project currently being conducted by the city. That project spans from Jefferson Park Avenue to the city limits.

“We would then take the sidewalk from that point and bring it into Fontaine Research Park to aid that connectivity,” Raucher said. “The other important note is the bike-ped trail route to our science and engineering area and West Grounds goes through Piedmont Housing [complex]. The more we develop these connections, the more ability there is to walk and bike and not have to drive.”

Raucher said Piedmont Housing is currently a very low density site but there are plans to alter that in the near future.

“If anything, that would be a great place to think about other types of residential that would be able to do cross Fontaine,” Raucher said. “We’ve had our eye on that for quite a while.”

Ikefuna said the city has also submitted a capital improvement program request for a Fontaine West project that would further build out the streetscape.

The UVA Foundation owns land nearby in the northwest quadrant of the U.S. 29 / I-64 intersection. The Board of Supervisors approved a rezoning in July 2011 allowing for office space, but the project has not yet been built.

Is PACC-Tech a place to talk about affordable housing?

Ikefuna gave an update on the city’s affordable housing initiatives at the meeting.  Council recently authorized the spending of $200,000 to develop an affordable housing strategy, but he said the problem could not be addressed without regional cooperation.

“The issue of housing cuts across a good [amount] of land use in the city, county and UVA and the city cannot address that particular issue alone,” Ikefuna said. “It is true that UVA is a major economic engine locally but the impact on affordable housing is huge.”

Ikefuna said the three groups should be meeting together to solve the problem of housing for those with very low incomes. He said high demand and low housing supply has priced many out of the market. Ikefuna called upon UVA to do more to address the issue.

“I think the University and the city have both been very supportive along with the county on transportation and transit because as we know affordable housing isn’t just composed of the housing itself but also what they call the affordability index which is housing plus travel,” said Andrew Gast-Bray, the director of the county’s community development department.

In other words, people who have long commutes spend more on transportation costs, making their seemingly affordable housing situation less so.

Gast-Bray said the county is seeking ways to build more transit-friendly housing types that would be attractive to faculty.

“The county has been creeping along a little trying to wait to make sure we understand what’s really missing from the housing picture so that we don’t build something that’s not necessary,” Gast-Bray said. “But we are sensitive to these issues.”

Gast-Bray then asked if the existing planning bodies set up by the Three Party Agreement are the appropriate venues to discuss housing issue.

“One of the bright spots of PACC-Tech and PACC is the ability of the three entities to talk, but it was set up for land-use,” Gast-Bray said. “Are there other opportunities to talk?”

Gast-Bray pointed out there is also the Metropolitan Planning Organization and the Regional Transit Partnership, two entities that are convened to deal with transportation issues.  Ikefuna said a more holistic discussion was warranted.

“You can’t discuss land use without the other variables,” Ikefuna said. “Two of them are transportation and housing. Transportation and land use inform each other.”

Raucher said the scope of PACC-Tech is limited.

“If it’s land use that’s fine,” Raucher said. “If it’s policy, we’re not the PACC.”

Raucher said the Regional Housing Partnership would be a better forum to discuss the cost of living in the area.

“I think there are a lot of discussions going on and it’s a question of how the information gets shared,” Raucher said. “We can specify areas that are good for mixed-use and ideal for residential. I agree [with Gast-Bray] that that there’s no point in having mixed-use and transit if you don’t have the residential.”

Raucher said PACC-Tech can suggest what land uses should be in various parts of the community but actual policy must come from PACC and other bodies.

Gast-Bray said PACC-Tech could be a body where all the issues get discussed.

“Do you think that in that context we could look at [it] as opposed to siloing all of the different subject matters?” Gast-Bray asked. “At some point it would be nice to have something to show the nexus between where transportation, land use, housing, economic development and green infrastructure come together.”

Raucher said information does get shared because so many PACC-Tech members also serve on other bodies.

“We don’t design in a vacuum,” Raucher said. “We do design with the city and the county and all  of the issues that you’re doing in mind.”

Raucher pointed out UVA’s new president, Jim Ryan, has convened a task force to discuss regional issues.

“[That] would include wages, housing, education, health care and other matters that come up,” Raucher said. “All the discussion that has been happening has been taken seriously. There’s not going to be a quick fix to anything but I think with the initiation of this broad working group, they’re going to identify some of the top issues and then take that further.”

At the meeting, Raucher said construction of a 350-bed student dormitory is underway on Brandon Avenue and a request for qualifications is out for a second residence hall of similar size.

“This is starting to chip away at the upperclass housing deficit that we experienced due to state-mandated enrollment growth,” Raucher said. “Pretty soon we will have 700 beds online and then there’s in the capital plan another project for a site yet-to-be-determined for another 300 or so beds.”



An October update on the “Cultural Landscape Report”

For several years, many in the historic preservation  community have sought a study of Charlottesville’s Downtown Mall that would review its past as a way of preparing for its future.

At the October 11, 2018 meeting of the PLACE Design Task Force, the first topic was related to an update on the “Cultural Landscape Study” from Jeff Werner, the city’s historic preservation planner.  City Council approved $50,000 in the current budget for such a study, which PLACE has been calling for for a while.

Kayli Wren reported on their August 2017 request for Charlottesville Tomorrow.

One of the themes expressed in Wren’s article is that there is a stand-off between differing bodies and entities within City Government related to the future and current maintenance of the Downtown Mall, which was created in 1976 when a portion of the street was bricked over according to the design of landscape architect Lawrence Halprin.

The Mall is not currently listed as its own separate entity on the National Register of Historic Places, and some in the community such as University of Virginia landscape architecture professor Beth Meyer have argued too many deviations from Halprin’s plan could affect its ability to qualify.

At the PLACE meeting, the group got an update on the study from Jeff Werner, the city’s historic preservation planner. He has been in the position for over half a year now, and said he has the bandwidth to try to get the study moving. He has been working with many stakeholders in city government to get a request for proposals together for the study, but he is uncertain that $50,000 will be enough for everything everyone wants to accomplish.

Rachel Lloyd, a landscape architect and PLACE member since the group was formed in 2012, said the study needs to have a correct foundation for maintenance guidelines, and that requires including being informed by ideas of what the original idea for the mall would be.

Werner said he has been through a lot of that, but that there are other stakeholders who want to ensure that the Mall’s future includes a recognition of social segregation in the past. He said there is also interest in weaving in how the events of August 12, 2017 become part of the cultural and historic fabric going forward.

But he can say, in the meantime, there are practical elements that the city needs to address as soon as possible. For instance, what is the process for removing a dead tree? There needs to be a process to remove dead trees.

(as an aside, Wren wrote about the health of the trees earlier in the summer of 2017. This article also contains downloads of several studies about the health of the trees)

Lloyd asked if Werner had seen her scope document for the cultural landscape report. He said he has seen it and knows what a cultural landscape report is, but there’s a bigger issue. There needs to be a process for how decisions are made about the maintenance and infrastructure. He’s not sure that’s his role to take on, but that something needs to be done to answer that question.

Lloyd said they don’t want to call it a cultural landscape report anymore. When she was drafting her scope, she wanted to accomplish the same goal Werner wants to accomplish.

Mike Stoneking, chair of the PLACE Design Task Force and member of the Charlottesville Tomorrow Board of Directors, suggested matching up the scope with what the Parks and Recreation Department wants the scope to be. But he added PLACE doesn’t want the study to be just a maintenance document. It needs to recognize the important of public space is important. Seating is important, and different stakeholders want different outcomes. For instance, the Downtown Business Association of Charlottesville has championed removal of benches in the past, such as the ones taken away in 2013 at Central Place.

For two years, the Board of Architectural Review and the Parks and Recreation Department have been at odds about replacing the original chairs. Parks and Recreation have purchased backless benches designed to discourage long periods of sitting. That is anathema to some on the BAR and some in the preservation community.

Lloyd suggested that students at the University of Virginia could help produce the request for proposals. She also wants a PLACE member on a steering committee to further discuss the matter.

Alex Ikefuna, director of the Department of Neighborhood Development Services, said he will get together with parks director Brian Daly to see where they are, and he would report back to PLACE. 

Stoneking asked who the client who will be served by the RFP and the resulting report? Who gets to direct the answers to the questions?

Galvin said anything having to do with policy should go to Council. Ikefuna said Parks and Rec are working on the project, they’re the client. Galvin said this is a process and a project that is beyond purview of one department. City manager should appoint a steering committee to get the topic off of the ground.

Werner said at the very least there has to be a decision about who decides what. That might be a City Council led discussion. Galvin said she was confused and said the study would be looking to include government (she was late to the meeting and missed the discussion at the top)

[This paragraph to serves as an observation that the 2009 renovation of the mall had not yet come up in conversation. Wasn’t some of this covered then? Would that be part of the literature review? I recall that was supposed to include a maintenance effort, but I guess it did not resolve the underlying process review?]

Werner said a goal of this is to determine who makes the decisions. He said that may not be able to be done by $50K. Galvin said multiple departments have purview over the mall – public works, police, P&R, fire, NDS, economic development. That’s why this is a city-manager discussion level. Maybe next step is for Werner, Daly, Oberdorfer to meet with Murphy.

Galvin said there have been two previous attempts to create a business improvement decision to raise additional tax money to pay for upkeep of the mall. She said these were done in part because there was no point person for who is responsible for the mall. Stoneking said there needs to be a curator.

Werner said he has heard that he should not narrow the scope of the document as he continues work on it