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July 20, 2012

We have a new website at www.cvilletomorrow.org

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Charlottesville Tomorrow launched a new website Friday, July 20th.  If you  made a comment on a recent story here (our old TypePad blog), it has been moved to the same article on the new site. 

Please update all of your links to Charlottesville Tomorrow's home page to www.cvilletomorrow.org


 

City Council reviews process for funding non-profits

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DailyProgressBy Sean Tubbs
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Friday, July 19, 2012

The Charlottesville City Council held a work session Thursday to discuss changes to the process by which nonprofit social service agencies are funded.
 
20120719-budget-slide
A breakdown of this year's funding as recommended by Agency Budget Review Task Force (Credit: City of Charlottesville)
“I hope we establish clear, open procedures for the use of council priority funds for ‘pilot’ programs and initiatives,” City Councilor Kathy Galvin said.
 
The goal was to better align funding with the council’s priorities.
 
A group known as the agency budget review team reviews funding requests from nonprofit agencies. It consists of members from both Charlottesville and Albemarle County and makes recommendations for both jurisdictions.
 
In the current year, the council awarded $1.87 million to 25 nonprofits ranging from $14,581 for the Boys & Girls Club to nearly $200,000 for the Monticello Area Community Action Agency.
 
“When you’re looking at ABRT funding, it’s a fairly narrow slice of our overall budget,” Councilor Dave Norris said. He added that the city addresses many of these issues through its own agencies and departments.
 
The origins of the ABRT date back to the 1980s. The group began measuring outcomes in 2001 and an objective review tool was used for the first time in 2006.
 
“In 2011, when the economy was bad, Albemarle County came to us after the applications were received and asked us to prioritize funding because their money was so tight,” said Gretchen Ellis, a member of the ABRT.
 

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July 19, 2012

Avoiding chloramines in drinking water may boost public confidence in system

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DailyProgressBy Brian Wheeler
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Thursday, July 19, 2012

Less than a week away from a major public hearing on water treatment and chloramines, the Albemarle County Service Authority heard from citizens on Thursday both for and against the proposal.

Now at least one of its members has come to the conclusion that avoiding chloramines may help maintain public confidence in the water supply.

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Albemarle County resident May Liao

County resident May Liao started the conversation by encouraging the ACSA to give further scrutiny to the costs of one of the chloramines alternatives, granular activated carbon.

“It really seems like the only reason that people are doing this is for costs,” Liao said about the Rivanna Water & Sewer Authority’s plan to use chloramines. “We have been working with … Integrated Resource Management, which suggests that Hazen & Sawyer’s numbers are greatly inflated.”

Hazen & Sawyer is the lead consultant working for the RWSA and California-based Integrated Resource Management’s Robert W. Bowcock participated in the June safe water symposium hosted by the authority.

“It would be great if we could get a further breakdown of how Hazen & Sawyer came up with those numbers,” Liao added. “Just as when you are remodeling a house, maybe we could get a third-party bid and not just trust this number that they are giving.”

In February, the RWSA approved a $5 million capital project to put chloramines in public water as a secondary disinfectant. Chlorine is and will remain the primary disinfectant. Chloramines was determined to be more cost effective than alternatives like GAC, which was estimated to cost $18.3 million.

RWSA executive director Thomas L. Frederick Jr. says the cost estimate for carbon filtration is based on the urban water treatment plants running 365 days a year at their full treatment capacity.

Chloramines are created by combining chlorine and ammonia and are intended to prevent pathogens from growing within the water distribution system. The RWSA says a new treatment approach is necessary to meet standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency.

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July 18, 2012

State transportation board transfers funds for Hillsdale Drive

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DailyProgressBy Sean Tubbs
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Wednesday, July 18, 2012

RICHMOND — The Commonwealth Transportation Board has approved the transfer of $9.7 million in additional funds for Hillsdale Drive Extended

That fully funds the current $13.8 million cost estimate for the Charlottesville road and completes a series of promises made by top Virginia officials in exchange for local support of the Western Bypass of U.S. 29
 
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Secretary of Transportation Sean Connaughton (file photo)
“We’ve made commitments to the community that we would fund certain projects and now we’re fulfilling them,” said Sean Connaughton, Virginia’s secretary of transportation. 
 
At their June meeting, the CTB fully funded the $14.5 replacement of the Belmont Bridge as well as a $7.7 million project to add a second lane on the west-bound on-ramp at the interchange of U.S. 29/250 and Emmet Street
 
The CTB also awarded in June a $136 million design-build contract to a team consisting of Skanska-USA and Branch Highways to build the 6.2-mile bypass. 
Hillsdale Drive Extended was supposed to have been funded at that time, but VDOT officials said a mistake was made with the paperwork. 
 
“We had indicated we would bring it back to the board fully funded through a transfer process,” said Reta Busher, VDOT’s chief of programming and planning. 
 
The funding was reallocated from four projects elsewhere in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The Lynchburg District donated $1.25 million, the Salem District donated $2 million and rest came from two projects in the Staunton District. 
 

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Albrecht Place recommended for approval behind Shoppers World

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DailyProgressBy Brian Wheeler
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Wednesday, July 18, 2012

A new commercial development along U.S. 29 received a favorable recommendation from the Albemarle Planning Commission at its meeting Tuesday.

Albrecht Place will consist of a 48,000-square-foot commercial building and 183-space parking lot on about 3.4 currently wooded acres behind the Shoppers World shopping center and next to the Berkley neighborhood.

20120717-AlbrechtPlaceThe property owner, Sue Albrecht, will be moving her Design Environs company, a commercial interiors firm, to a portion of the new development. Another tenant may include a local gym.

“I am very excited that we have gotten approval from the Planning Commission,” Albrecht said after the unanimous vote.

In its deliberations, the commission overcame concerns about potential traffic impacts that had led county staff to recommend against the project until more information could be considered.

VDOT evaluated the proposal and determined it did not meet the threshold of necessitating a full traffic impact study, but that some additional analysis by the developer would be beneficial. Access to the site would be via Shoppers World, Berkmar Drive, Commonwealth Drive and 29.

“The main issue of concern with this particular rezoning request has to do with transportation,” said Albemarle County senior planner Claudette Grant. “Submission of the traffic impact analysis will provide necessary information that will help us determine what impacts, if any, this development could have on the surrounding roads.”

Woody Parrish, an architect planning the development, said he had shared his own traffic consultant’s research with staff.

“The staff report does acknowledge that this is expected to have fairly light traffic impacts,” Parrish said. “We have had a traffic consultant look at this and they have come up with estimated trip generations and that number turns out to be less than 1 percent of the traffic than is currently using this section of U.S. 29.”

“We are having a hard time spending another $15,000 [on a traffic study] to quantify information that I think we understand well enough to affirm an existing zoning designation for an infill parcel in the development area that’s fully consistent with the goals of the Comprehensive Plan,” Parrish said.

That statement struck a chord with the commission.

“Would your traffic consultant be willing to write a letter?” asked commissioner Mac Lafferty. “This seems to me to be the major hold up.”

Parrish said such a statement could be produced, and that satisfied the commission’s desire for more transportation data.

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Environmentalists say Shenandoah National Park at risk

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DailyProgressBy Brian Wheeler
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Wednesday, July 18, 2012

State and local environmental protection advocates gathered in Darden Towe Park on Wednesday to warn about federal legislation that they said poses a clear and present danger to the Shenandoah National Park and other wilderness lands in Virginia.

Activists said unless the bills pending in Congress are stopped, wilderness areas in Virginia will be threatened by road building, development and resource extraction.

Charlottesville City Councilor Dede Smith said public parks are “some of our nation’s greatest treasures.”

“Here in Virginia we are lucky enough to have one of our crown jewels in our own backyard,” said Smith. “More than one million people come to the Shenandoah National Park every year for its spectacular vistas, its quiet hollows and cascading waterfalls.”

The press conference was timed with the release of a report by Environment America, entitled “Trashing our Treasures: Congressional Assault on the Best of America.”

Priscilla Lin is a Washington-based preservation assistant with Environment Virginia, an affiliate of Environment America. The environmental advocacy organization works “to promote clean air, clean water and preserve natural spaces.”

“If passed, the three bills highlighted in this report would have particularly devastating impacts on Shenandoah,” Lin said. “The American Lands Act [H.R. 2588] would require the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management to sell 8 percent of their lands annually until 2016 to the highest bidder.”

“The Wilderness and Roadless Release Act [H.R. 1581] and the Wilderness Development Act [H.R. 2834] would allow road building and logging in the most pristine and sensitive areas of Shenandoah National Park,” Lin said.

The latter bill’s official name is actually the Recreational Fishing and Hunting Heritage and Opportunities Act.

Kyle Bonini is communications director for Michigan Republican Rep. Dan Benishek, the sponsor of the bill.

“The claim that Dr. Benishek’s Fishing and Hunting Heritage and Opportunities legislation would allow logging in any national park is factually incorrect,” Bonini said. “The bill is a common sense measure to protect the long-standing tradition of hunting and fishing on federal lands, but explicitly does not apply to logging in areas like Shenandoah National Park or any of the national parks in America.”

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