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July 30, 2010

City Planning Commission recommends changes for 2012 Comprehensive Plan

By Jean Feroldi
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Friday, July 30, 2010

The Charlottesville Planning Commission began Tuesday the process of updating the city’s comprehensive plan to reflect new challenges and policies.

Listen using player above or download the podcast:Download 20100730_Comp_Plan_2012

Adopted in 2001, the Comprehensive Plan is a guide for the potential physical growth of Charlottesville for the next twenty-five years that recognizes resources and suggests areas for improvement. The plan was last updated in 2007.

Planning Manager Missy Creasy felt the current plan is a sufficient foundation that only needs to be updated to reflect changes in data and a few policy items.

“We felt like there was some more focused sections this review could take on, as opposed to starting from scratch with the entire document,” said Creasy.

During the July 27 meeting, commissioners agreed on areas of the plan that will need to be adjusted.  These included sections on affordable housing, transportation policy, and how the city would be affected by  the prospect of more students at  the University of Virginia.

UVa is considering increased enrollments as a way to become more financially stable and to accommodate Governor Bob McDonnell’s recent call for the creation of an additional 100,000 spaces at Virginia’s public colleges and universities.

In his farewell address, outgoing President John Casteen III wrote that he does not believe a dramatic expansion would affect the character of UVa.

“The question is not whether we will increase enrollments, but instead how,” wrote Casteen.

One proposal modeled in a recent white paper calls for as many as additional 5,000 students in the next ten years.

“If UVa adds 5,000 students… what impact does that have, how many housing units do we need, how much support are we going to need?” asked Jim Tolbert, the city’s director of neighborhood and development services. “That’s major and I don’t know that we are prepared plan wise to deal with that.”

Commissioner Dan Rosensweig said the Housing Advisory Committee’s new proposal for increased affordable housing concentrating on higher density, mixed-use developments needed to be included in the housing chapter of the 2012 Comprehensive Plan. Additionally, City Council voted in February to increase the amount of affordable housing stock from 10% to 15% over the next 15 years.

“I think housing needs a fairly major overhaul, frankly, now that HAC came up with recommendations, specifically the 15% affordable housing,” said Rosensweig. “That needs to be front and center.”

Planning Commission member Genevieve Keller was concerned about the City’s need to focus on a variety of transportation options as they push for higher density zones.

“I would definitely like to see some fleshing out in the transportation section about alternative transportation,” said Keller  “If we are going to be relying less on highway expansion and widening, what else are we going to do?”

Options for alternative transportation include increasing the amount of bike lanes and bus lines.
Keller also noted Martha Jefferson Hospital’s move to Pantops Mountain in 2011 will impact traffic patterns and the area as a whole and should be addressed in the update.
“We don’t really know yet what happens when the Martha Jefferson moves out of Locust and goes to Pantops,” said Keller. “There are losses and gains [and] challenges there.”

Overall, the Planning Commission felt a need to clarify the Comprehensive Plan for 2012, focusing on appropriate information and goals rather than going into specifics for each section.

“Everything we put in the plan we ought to think about how we are going to use it and what it means and who it’s useful to,” said Tolbert. “If it’s not relevant a year later then we probably don’t need to have it in there.”

The City Planning Commission will continue to take public input and review the Comprehensive Plan for 2012 in later work sessions.

TIMELINE FOR PODCAST:

  • 01:01 – Presentation by Jim Tolbert, Charlottesville City’s Neighborhood Development Services Director, on mixed- use corridor districts

  • 52:42 – Planning Manager Missy Creasy gives an introduction for discussion of the City Comprehensive Plan

  • 59:34 – Planning Commissioner Dan Rosensweig suggests updates for the housing and land uses sections of the comprehensive plan

  • 1:10:53 – Comments from Commission member Genevieve Keller about enrollment increases at UVa and transportation needs for the plan.

  • 1:11:50 – Discussion by Commission members about a simplification of the Comprehensive Plan

  • 1:22:29 – Conversation about how to engage the public on various issues

July 29, 2010

RWSA Board discusses timing of decision on water supply plan

DailyProgress By Sean Tubbs
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Thursday, July 29, 2010
 

With the state casting doubt on the viability of a proposed alternative water supply plan for the region, Albemarle County’s representatives on the Rivanna Water & Sewer Authority said Tuesday that they are ready to move forward with the plan adopted in 2006.

However, Charlottesville Mayor Dave Norris said the City Council is not yet ready to make that determination.

“I am not convinced that [it’s] the best path forward,” Norris said.

Listen using player above or download the podcast: Download 20100727-RWSA

The approved plan calls for a new dam to enlarge the Ragged Mountain reservoir as well as a new pipeline to connect it to the South Fork Rivanna Reservoir. To satisfy concerns the City Council has raised about the scope and cost of the plan, the RWSA commissioned a series of studies to re-examine all of its components.

Only three of these studies remain to be completed. In August, the RWSA Board will hear details of the Interstate 64 embankment study and a review of the 2004 demand analysis. Also next month, the City Council will receive the first phase of its independently commissioned study of repairing and extending the 1908 Lower Ragged Mountain Dam.

“The whole point of doing these studies was to say, ‘Are there other ways of meeting our long-term goals,’” Norris said. He said he wanted a summary that lists the costs and benefits of four or five alternatives to the current plan.

Albemarle County Supervisor Kenneth C. Boyd objected to listing that many options, given that the studies were commissioned to reaffirm the plan, and not to start from scratch.

“We have the numbers now, so we know what the costs are going to be,” Boyd said. He said he and his board are convinced that a combination of dredging the South Fork reservoir and expanding the existing Lower Ragged Mountain Dam would not provide water to meet the target of 18.7 million gallons a day by 2055.

“I can tell you that the Board of Supervisors is solidly behind the plan we decided on in 2006,” Boyd said. “Everything we’ve done so far has just reinforced that that’s the best way to go.”

Albemarle County Service Authority Executive Director Gary O’Connell said his board was also prepared to move forward.

The discussion comes after a draft report from the Department of Environmental Quality cast doubt on the ability of dredging combined with renovations to the existing Ragged Mountain dam to meet the required long-term water needs. Norris had suggested in February 2009 that instead of building a new dam, the existing dam could be raised by 13 feet to provide sufficient water storage at a potentially lower cost.

Boyd asked Norris on Tuesday if the City Council could decide in August whether to move ahead with the approved plan. Norris said he was unsure when the council would be able to discuss the matter but that it would do so when all studies are complete.

“I’m not interested in delaying this any longer than necessary,” Norris said.

In other water supply news, further revisions of the design for an earthen dam at Ragged Mountain have enabled Schnabel engineers to lower the size of the full dam by 3 feet, while still allowing 2,189 million gallons of storage. This reduces the number of trees that will need to be removed by 3 acres, according to RWSA Executive Director Thomas L. Frederick Jr.

TIMELINE FOR PODCAST:
  • 01:00 - RWSA Chair Mike Gaffney calls meeting to order
  • 02:00 - Executive Director Tom Frederick's monthly report
  • 16:20 - Public comment from Rich Collins against the adopted community water supply plan
  • 20:00 - Public comment from Dede Smith requesting information about CIP
  • 23:20 - Public comment from Bob Gelgas in support of the adopted community water supply plan
  • 26:50 - Public comment from Neil Williamson urging swift action on water supply plan
  • 27:45 - Public comment from Tim Reese of the Piedmont Landscape Association
  • 28:44 - Public comment from Liz Palmer in support of the adopted community water supply plan
  • 30:30 - Public comment from Colette Hall questioning who is going to pay for plan
  • 33:10 - Public comment from Norman Carlson calling for swift action on water supply plan
  • 35:30 - Responses to public comment from Tom Frederick
  • 42:00 - Board discusses and adopts consent agenda
  • 42:30 - Discussion of Capital Improvement Program
  • 1:16:30 - Presentation by Greeley and Hansen representative on Sanitary Sewer Study
  • 1:31:10 - Presentation by Schnabel Engineering on implications of earthen dam
  • 1:36:30 - Presentation by Schnabel Engineering on phasing options for earthen dam
  • 1:47:30 - Discussion of next steps in the community water supply plan
  • 2:07:50 - Discussion of future of RWSA property near ACSA's Camelot Wastewater Treatment Plant


County planners give okay to expanded Fontaine

DailyProgress By Bridgett Lynn
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Thursday, July 29, 2010

 

20100727-FRP-map Click to enlarge

A proposal to increase the size of the University of Virginia’s Fontaine Research Park by 310,000 square feet has moved one step closer to reality.

The Albemarle County Planning Commission on Tuesday recommended approval for a rezoning, despite concerns from city residents that an expanded research park would mean more traffic through their neighborhoods.

“The Comprehensive Plan proposes the Sunset-Fontaine connector to be accommodated on the site,” county planner Claudette Grant said. “Outside of showing this area on the application plan, the applicant has made no commitment elsewhere to address this [project].”

City, county and university planners agreed on the concept for the road as part of a 2004 planning study. The road would reduce traffic congestion on Old Lynchburg Road and would link to the county’s designated growth areas south of Interstate 64.

The University of Virginia Foundation originally proposed in 2007 to expand Fontaine Research Park by 725,000 square feet but has scaled that back to 310,000 square feet.

“The major issue was the need for a traffic study,” Grant said. “The traffic study revealed that the research park could propose an additional 310,000 square feet instead of 725,000 square feet in order to mitigate traffic impacts.”

Fred Missel, director of design and development of the UVa Foundation, said at the Fry’s Spring Neighborhood Association’s meeting held earlier this month that the county has not yet decided what the exact route of the connector should be. However, the county is suggesting at least one alternative.

“Staff believes an alternative location would be to utilize parts of Natural Resources Drive which accesses the Department of Forestry building,” Grant said. “This would necessitate relocation of a part of this road which the applicant has indicated they are not supportive of because this would generate too much traffic going through the park.”

Staff also recommended the applicant participate in a Sunset-Fontaine connector study that the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission will be undertaking.

The Board of Supervisors will hold a public hearing for the UVa Foundation’s plans at their meeting September 8.

July 28, 2010

RWSA unveils five-year, $171.6 million capital budget plan

DailyProgress By Sean Tubbs
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Projects to maintain the community’s urban wastewater system are the primary driver of a $171.6 million capital improvement program for the Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority.

The five-year plan, which was presented to the RWSA board on Tuesday, anticipates spending $49 million on projects related to the urban water system and $121 million on the urban sewer system.

“We have inherited an infrastructure that has not been well taken care of in the past, but could be in the future,” said the RWSA’s executive director, Thomas L. Frederick Jr.

Download Download RWSA's Draft Capital Improvement Plan

20100727-RWSA-breakdown
A breakdown of projects related to the community water supply plan. Click to enlarge.
The capital budget is derived by calculating all the projects, both water and sewer, that RWSA engineers have recommended as necessary. While a final decision about the future of the long-term community water supply plan has not been made, the capital plan assumes construction of the water plan adopted in 2006.

Typically the RWSA has adopted a capital budget every year, but it has been more than two years, in part because cost estimates for construction and design for a new dam at Ragged Mountain more than doubled from the $34.5 million budgeted in 2008.

The capital budget also sets aside $2.3 million for right of way acquisition for a pipeline to connect the Ragged Mountain and South Fork reservoirs. Construction of the pipeline is not included in the five-year-plan and in February was projected to cost $63 million total.

The capital budget has been updated to reflect Schnabel Engineering’s design for an earthen dam and assumes spending $37.4 million on final design and construction. That figure includes mitigation required by federal and state permits, as well as an enhanced embankment where the reservoir touches Interstate 64.

20100727-Frederick
Tom Frederick
Frederick said RWSA will not have to raise water rates to cover the costs of a new earthen dam in part because the authority has already been saving for its construction. However, Frederick said the RWSA will need to raise wholesale rates an average of 5 percent each year of the CIP to finance wastewater projects.

The majority of money recommended in the capital budget is to address wastewater issues. In March, the city of Charlottesville, Albemarle County and the RWSA all agreed on a coordinated plan to reduce the amount of stormwater that infiltrates the system. Projects include the Moores Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant, the replacement of the Meadow Creek Interceptor and upgrades of various pumping stations.

Dede Smith of the group Citizens for a Sustainable Water Plan questioned several aspects of the capital budget. She pointed out that a study of the pipeline released earlier this year only listed a cost estimate of $1.3 million for right of way for the pipeline. Smith also claimed the terms of the agreement on which the RWSA operates were not being honored.

“As a city resident, I object to the city for paying for any expansion of the water supply,” Smith said.

The RWSA wholesale rates are split into two sections. The city and county pay a portion toward operating costs, and another toward debt service to pay for RWSA infrastructure.

“With respect to water supply, there was a cost allocation agreement adopted in 2003 that established a split of 27 percent to the city and 73 percent to the county,” Frederick said. “Those percentages can be changed immediately upon the adoption of a new agreement.”

The city has been in negotiations with the Albemarle County Service Authority on a new agreement.

“The cost allocation agreement that we’re operating under now was for a different set of improvements,” said the city’s public works director, Judith Mueller. “Until we’re clear on what we’re going to build, it’s hard to do the cost [allocation].”

20100727-Norris
Mayor Dave Norris
Mayor Dave Norris said he agreed with Smith that the city should not be paying for capacity that it does not need. However Norris also supports a study, currently under way, which will reexamine the 50-year demand projections for both Charlottesville and Albemarle.

“The four-party agreement is pretty clear … that the locality that seeks an increase in supply is expected to pay for that supply,” Norris said.

The RWSA will vote on the capital budget at its meeting in September. Frederick also said he expected a new cost allocation agreement could be in place by then as well.

Biscuit Run state park could open in 2014

DailyProgress By Sean Tubbs
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Wednesday, July 27, 2010

The director of Virginia’s state park system said Biscuit Run could open as a park within four years, depending on whether the General Assembly approves a bond referendum in 2012.

“If the stars all line up, it could happen,” said Joe Elton, state parks director.

The land was sold to the state for $9.8 million on the last day of 2009 by Forest Lodge LLC, a company that had paid $46.2 million for 1,200 acres. In 2007, the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors approved a rezoning that would have allowed the construction of 3,100 homes south of Charlottesville.

However, the poor economy prompted the landowners to work with the state on a deal that involved selling the land below market rate in exchange for preservation tax credits.

“Biscuit Run was a surprise opportunity for us,” Elton said. “For 20 years there’s been the notion that there’s a need for a state park in the greater Charlottesville area.”

Last week, Elton gave an update on master-planning efforts to members of the group Charlottesville Area Tree Stewards. He said the park’s cultural and natural resources have been surveyed, and the boundaries of the park have been marked. An advisory committee is working on the plan now, and there will be at least two meetings early next year to get input from the public. The master plan will have to be approved by the Board of Conservation and Recreation.

Virginia’s park system was created in 1936 and has since expanded to 35 parks. Elton said the system received an injection of resources for improvements due to a pair of bond referendums in 1992 and 2002. A third is being considered for 2012, which could provide the capital for phase one of Biscuit Run, which would allow the park to be open to the public at least during the day by 2014 at the earliest.

“Phase one is infrastructure,” Elton said. “Roads, trails, picnic areas.”

Full build-out of the park would likely include cabins, which have become a money-maker for the park system. Elton said the state made more than $4 million in rentals last year, all of which goes back into the system.

Some in the community hope the park will include athletic fields, but Elton said such amenities are not likely to become part of the plan.

“State parks are generally more passive recreation,” Elton said. In all, he said he anticipated that less than 15 percent of the park would be developed, leaving the rest for open space.

One potential obstacle to the park’s swift development is a desire to keep the park intact. Currently, there is a 36-acre parcel owned by the Breeden family, the original owners of the larger parcel sold to Forest Lodge LLC in 2004. Elton said negotiations are under way to conduct a land swap.

“We’d like to not have a hole in the middle of the park,” Elton said. “They’d like to be on the edge of the property.”

The General Assembly would have to approve any land-swap deal.

Elton himself has visited the property three times to determine its suitability for a park.

“When I got to the highest point [in the park], I had a 360-degree view and I don’t remember seeing any evidence of man. I saw forest,” Elton said.

July 25, 2010

DEQ: Water plan alternative fails to meet goals

DailyProgress
DownloadDraft letter from DEQ
DownloadDEQ's draft model summary
By Brian Wheeler
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Sunday, July 25, 2010

DEQ analysis finds Norris proposal would not provide sufficient supply

A plan that features dredging as a cornerstone of the area’s 50-year water supply plan falls short of long-term needs and might require costly new permits to be put in place, according to an analysis by Virginia’s Department of Environmental Quality that could be delivered to local officials as early as this week.

The analysis comes as local leaders appear close to having all the information they say is needed to make a final call on the components of a water plan that was originally approved in 2006 with a price tag of $142 million but has been the subject of contentious debate over costs and design ever since.

DEQ officials say the plan proposed by Charlottesville Mayor Dave Norris, which combines dredging with a smaller dam at Ragged Mountain Reservoir, fails in multiple ways to meet the community’s water supply goals. Dredging was not a piece of the 2006 plan but emerged as a possible part of an alternative solution.

According to Scott Kudlas, a DEQ director responsible for surface and groundwater planning, the Norris plan does not provide enough water, known as “safe yield,” and water releases from the dams would not meet stream-flow requirements in the community’s previously approved permits.

“Our conclusion is that the safe yield of the alternative will not meet the demand,” Kudlas said in an interview. “In order to meet the in-stream flow requirements in the permit, the locality would have to be in voluntary [water] conservation [mode] all the time, and they still wouldn’t meet the in-stream flows from the original permit during the full range of conditions.”

A year ago this week, Norris and David L. Slutzky, then chairman of the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors, met with DEQ officials in Richmond and asked them to run computer models to evaluate the Norris proposal. The goal was to determine if the region’s 50-year water supply plan could be adjusted to save millions in construction costs without having to restart the state and federal permitting process.

The DEQ’s draft letter accompanying the study concludes that implementing the Norris plan would also “likely require a major permit modification or the issuance of a new permit” for the 2006 water plan.

“When we walked away from that meeting, it was pretty clear to me that the jig was up and that this whole discussion of alternative plans was smoke and mirrors that doesn’t have any grounding in reality,” Slutzky said after reviewing the study. “Now we’ve got some evidence to support that.”

Norris said he needed more time to review the DEQ’s analysis.

“I need to read the report and see how definitively they say … whether or not there might be an acceptable alternative or whether they say nothing short of the current plan is going to pass muster,” Norris said in an interview. “If DEQ comes back and says that the other scenarios that we posited do not meet the requirements, then obviously that’s a major obstacle.”

The draft results were released in response to a Freedom of Information Act request from Charlottesville Tomorrow. DEQ officials said in an interview that Norris had not contacted them in the past year, but that they were actively preparing to submit the study to local officials and could do so as early as this week.

“Frankly, one of the primary reasons there was a delay to providing this information to the localities was that we were really hoping that they would work this out and we wouldn’t have to comment on it,” Kudlas said.

The draft DEQ study provided to Charlottesville Tomorrow indicates that the dredging of South Fork Rivanna Reservoir, combined with a renovation and expansion of the existing 1908 dam at Ragged Mountain, would deliver a safe yield of approximately 16.8 million gallons a day, 1.9 million gallons short of the original goal.

In 2004, the firm Gannett Fleming published a demand analysis projecting that the water supply would require a safe yield of 18.7 million gallons a day by the year 2055 to meet the needs of a growing population and for times of severe drought.

However, the Rivanna Water & Sewer Authority is now restudying the safe yield targets at the request of Charlottesville’s City Council. Norris has said he wants the demand analysis to be updated with three new pieces of information: actual water consumption figures since 2004, data on the city’s conservation measures, and land use decisions made since 2004.

“I have always questioned whether the 18.7 MGD threshold is accurate or not and I have never contended that the alternative scenario that I and others have been pursuing is going to meet [that goal],” Norris said. “I am quite certain it won’t, but the question is whether that is a legitimate goal.”

Norris said his initial reading of the DEQ’s draft letter indicated to him that permit modifications could also be taken under consideration.

“I was pleased to see in the letter that they don’t say outright that changes would require a new permit, that we may be able to amend the existing permit,” Norris said.

Thomas L. Frederick Jr., the RWSA’s executive director, said in an interview that changing the demand projections in the permit could introduce delays in the water planning effort.

“If we were to change that number, I think it’s very uncertain how the regulatory agencies would respond,” Frederick said. “The most severe response would be that you would have to start over again and develop alternatives from scratch.”

“The timing is definitely a concern. We have an opportunity today to construct a project that’s been approved, and has all the permits issued,” Frederick. “It is assured to provide the long term needs of this community, and in the minds of most people it could possibly go well beyond 50 years and at a very good price in today’s market. Why would we want to go back and try to modify the plan with the significant uncertainly in cost and time that that might entail?”

Kudlas said the DEQ had been content with the 2004 demand analysis. It’s up to local officials to decide whether to revisit that analysis, he said, but doing so could carry risks.

“We were very satisfied with the demand analysis they presented to begin with and thought it was well done and was reasonable. It is the locality’s prerogative to take another look at it,” Kudlas said. “One of the risks that the locality will need to balance as they look at that projection is what the incremental cost would be should they significantly underestimate the growth. … If you squeeze down your demand, at this point, to justify a smaller facility, you increase the chances that you might be wrong and you might need to add additional storage between now and 2055.”

“Good judgment would tell you that the demand projection is likely understated,” responded Slutzky when asked about the 50-year demand projections. “What we are really talking about here are delay tactics from people who don’t want to just admit they had good intentions, a good idea, and it just didn’t work out.”

“The problem with just looking at those three things [in the new demand analysis] … is that it doesn’t take into account the long-term implications of the [Albemarle County] Comprehensive Plan,” said Slutzky, who says a greater percentage of the population will live in growth areas on public water.

“With respect to the city conservation efforts, that’s lovely, but the state says we already consume the lowest per capita amount of water than anyone else in the commonwealth,” Slutzky said. “Is it realistic to expect the state to believe that we can lower that further with certainty over the next 50 years?”

“At what point do we have enough information to believe we can make the best decision for this community?” asked Frederick. “The Rivanna Board of Directors, with the advice that they are going to get from the elected officials, is going to have to make a determination at some point … because there will always be more questions about more scenarios that someone can ask if they want to delay the project.”

Norris made clear in an interview that his immediate goal is to get more information on the community’s projected water needs.

Norris said he has “never been one to say we should modify the demand in order to justify a smaller facility.”

“I have always said I want a more accurate picture of the demand, and if that argues for a larger facility, then I will support a larger facility,” he said.

July 22, 2010

BAR reviews new Waterhouse design, grants Martha Jefferson Historic Conservation District

By Jean Feroldi
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Thursday, July 22, 2010

Architect Bill Atwood is moving towards a final design for his Waterhouse development on Water Street. Presenting a revised proposal to the Charlottesville Board of Architectural Review Tuesday, Atwood sought approval of the overall massing and material choices for the six-story building, leaving smaller details to be worked out later. 

“I am asking for pretty much material and massing only, the color and the detail and then fenestration is ahead of us,” said Atwood.

Since introducing the Waterhouse development five years ago, Atwood has redesigned his vision for a mixed- use building numerous times as a struggling economy and environmentally-focused design ideas presented new challenges. Originally proposed as two nine-story towers, Atwood opted for a more horizontal approach with his recent designs, focusing on commercial space.

Atwood’s updated plan, which he hoped would address some of the suggestions offered by the BAR in a June meeting, was met with some criticism. Board members overall felt the façade articulation and proportioning of the building could be improved upon to engage the public and the street.

BAR member William Adams advised larger setbacks could be introduced to give some dimension to the building.

“I would like to see provisions for more kind of urbanity or enlivening of the street on the Water Street side, which might mean pulling back on the garage entry side,” Adams said.

Anxious to move forward with the construction of the building, Atwood asked the BAR to support the conceptual ideas, namely the overall massing, for Waterhouse.

“Is it safe to say, because we are under a certain time constraint, that the massing relative to certain adjustments could be approved?” asked Atwood.

Waterhouse is set to include 45,000 sq. feet of office space for an unnamed client employing 230 people.

Board member, Eryn Brennan, recognized Atwood’s concern, making a movement to approve the conceptual massing of the building, while still allowing Atwood to modify the form if necessary.

“Massing to me just means general height and width, I mean that does not mean to me façade articulation as presented here tonight, so in that vein I could support the massing…but I think there is much further refinement for the actual articulation of the façades that could happen,” said Brennan.

The BAR agreed on the conceptual forms of Waterhouse and Atwood will present more specific designs at a future meeting. 


Martha Jefferson Historic Conservation District could see future growth


In other business, the BAR reviewed a request by the Martha Jefferson Neighborhood Association for approval of the Martha Jefferson Historic Conservation District, which would be comprised of 125 properties along Locust, Lexington, and Grove Avenues. The goal of neighborhood residents is to protect the historical character of the area by requiring any construction or demolition in the proposed boundaries first be approved by the BAR.

During a June BAR meeting, the Board determined a committee of members should be established to flesh- out criteria for the district before any decision could be made. In response, a subcommittee involving a BAR member, City staff members, and three neighborhood residents, met June 25 to define the conservation district boundaries and outline significant features of the Martha Jefferson neighborhood.

The committee determined that the district would follow the same boundaries as the Martha Jefferson Historic Register District established in 2007.

Board members supported the neighborhood’s proposal, questioning only the “donut hole,” a group of sixteen properties located within the district’s boundaries not subject to the Conservation District’s criteria.  These properties, north of the Martha Jefferson Hospital on St. Charles Avenue, are also not in the historic register district.

Mary Joy Scala, Charlottesville City’s Preservation and Design Planner, advised the BAR that the boundaries determined by the subcommittee were not absolute and other properties could be added to the Conservation District later even if they were not in the historic register district.

“This is the first conservation district so it’s almost a trial to see how the guidelines work, to see how the people react to being in the district,” said Scala. “I think the thought was let’s do this boundary that we have already established and then if that works and people are interested, then you could add to the district at a later date.”

Members of the Martha Jefferson Neighborhood Association said they were pleased with the results of Tuesday’s meeting, and the BAR unanimously approved the Martha Jefferson Historic Conservation District.

July 21, 2010

ACSA debates source of funding for Glenmore water tank

By Sean Tubbs
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Who should pay when the Albemarle County Service Authority decides to build new infrastructure to increase the reliability of its water distribution system? The ACSA Board of Directors briefly explored that question last week while discussing a proposed $2 million water tank to serve the Village of Rivanna.

Listen using player above or download the podcast: Download 20100715-ACSA-Glenmore-Water-Tank

At their July 15 meeting, the ACSA board heard a report about a location study for a water tank which would add redundancy, but not additional storage capacity. The tank would ensure the growth area around the Glenmore community continues to have water if there is a break in the line that carries water to eastern Albemarle County.

 “From a system planning standpoint, you put things in place to anticipate something bad happening,” said ACSA executive director Gary O’Connell

As part of the conceptual phase, the ACSA hired the Michael Baker Jr. engineering firm to determine how big the structure should be and to provide a preliminary cost estimate. The size and location of the tank will be determined if the project moves into a design phase.

20100715-John-Martin
ACSA Board Member John Martin
“I think the tank should be built, but I think we should explore who should pay for it,” said ACSA board member John Martin.  He suggested the possibility of creating a special rate district or even asking the developers of Glenmore to pay for it.

Martin said that when the Board of Supervisors approved the rezoning for the Glenmore development in December 1990, they accepted a proffer that required then developer Frank Kessler to cover the full costs of creating the infrastructure for water and sewer services.

“In order to build [Glenmore], they had to build a 23,000 foot water pipeline from the urban area to where the [neighborhood] was going to be,” Martin said. “One of the proffers was that the developer would provide water and sewer collection, distribution and treatment facilities at his expense.”

Martin said he wanted to know why the developers did not build the tank as Glenmore developed.

Jim Colbaugh, who represents the Scottsville district on the ACSA board, said a tank was possibly not considered to be necessary as the community was growing. 

“Now it’s [over] 800 homes, and it’s a little different and it’s going to be more different as future growth occurs,” Colbaugh said. “They probably never considered capacity issues for a tank when the 1990 agreement was made.”

Download Download staff report on proposed Glenmore water tank

Download Download documentation of proffers for Glenmore rezoning


Colbaugh said he would support the ACSA paying for the tank because it would be to increase system reliability, and not to expand capacity. He cited the upgrades the authority currently performing in the Scottsville system as a comparable project. The ACSA is also planning for a tank in the West Leigh subdivision to provide similar redundancy.

O’Connell said the ACSA might not want to set the precedent of asking developers to pay for system enhancements and other capital projects not related to enhancing capacity. He said traditionally such projects have been paid for by current ratepayers.

“With the reserve that we have, we have the ability to finance it and pay for it if the board wanted to move forward,” O’Connell said.

O’Connell said he would like the board to sort out who will pay for it before taking the project to the community for their input. The ACSA Board will discuss the issue again at its meeting in August.

City preparing to get bids for dredging South Fork

DailyProgress

By Sean Tubbs
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Charlottesville Mayor Dave Norris has asked city staff to begin writing a request for proposals for companies interested in dredging the South Fork Rivanna Reservoir to remove some of the sediment that has accumulated there over the past 43 years.

“What I want to do is to get our ducks in a row so that we’ll be prepared to issue the RFP if council decides officially that dredging should be part of the water-supply solution,” Norris said in an interview. He added that he expects that decision to be made within a couple of months.

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HDR Project Manager Carey Burch briefs Council on the study
Dredging was not included in the community water supply plan adopted in 2006 because it was deemed too expensive and because it failed to provide enough water storage capacity for the community’s anticipated needs in 50 years. Instead, the water plan specified a new dam be built at the Ragged Mountain Reservoir as well as a pipeline to supply it from South Fork.

Opponents of the plan, which carried an original price tag of more than $140 million, have urged the council to insist on updated studies, including a second look at dredging. As part of a series of studies, the Rivanna Water & Sewer Authority commissioned HDR Engineering to conduct a dredging feasibility study and the council heard the report at its meeting Monday.

HDR identified a total of 1.4 million cubic yards that could be removed without affecting protected wetlands or the shoreline. Project Manager Carey Burch said one of the challenges to dredging is the requirement to find a site for the sediment to dry out.

“There’s not a lot of flat land near the reservoir that doesn’t have something on it,” Burch said. “There are a lot of rolling hills. Land in a conservation districts is out. Land that is in flood plain is out.”

HDR is recommending a multi-phase, one-time dredging project that would cost $34 million to $40 million and take about seven years. The first phase would cost between $8 million and $13 million to gain 58.6 million gallons of storage. The cost depends on whether sand contained in the sediment could be sold.

Burch said sand is particularly valuable, with a cost ranging from $52 and $62 per cubic yard.
The second phase would cost between $26 million and $27 million to restore 169 million gallons of storage. Burch said this phase would be more expensive because it would require the construction of basins to retain water during the dewatering process.

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RWSA Executive Director Tom Frederick
In response to a question from Councilor Satyendra Huja, RWSA Executive Director Thomas L. Frederick Jr. said dredging alone would not provide enough water for the community’s future needs.

“The community water supply plan approved in 2006 identified a need for 1.7 billion gallons of additional storage [for the year 2055],” Frederick said. He said dredging as outlined by HDR would supply only 13 percent of that amount.

Supporters of dredging praised the HDR study but said the feasibility study’s approach constrained the dredging alternatives. For example, they said, HDR was told to identify only two potential dewatering sites.

Former City Councilor Kevin Lynch said issuing an RFP for dredging would allow the private sector to come up with its own solutions and may produce lower bids.

“I think you’ll find that when it’s a real RFP and people are talking about real money and not just a study, you’ll get better proposals back and you’ll see parcels [of land] that were not [considered] in the study,” Lynch said.

Norris said he is leaning towards dredging but is not ready to decide his vote until additional studies are completed.

“I haven’t been convinced yet that we can’t meet our 50-year water supply needs through a combination of dredging and a slightly enlarged dam at Ragged Mountain,” he said.

In August, the firm Black and Veatch will complete the first phase of a study of whether it is feasible to build on top of the 102-year-old Lower Ragged Mountain Dam instead of building a new, larger earthen dam downstream. The RWSA board will also get a report in August related to a re-examination of the 2004 demand analysis that served as the basis for the community water supply plan.

July 20, 2010

City planners grant tree-removal request for Huntley development

By Sean Tubbs
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Tuesday, July 20, 2010

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Beyer wants to remove this copse of trees to avoid building a retaining wall in order to build 4 homes
Despite complaints from neighboring residents, the Charlottesville Planning Commission voted at their meeting last week to allow the removal of 10 mature trees in the 110-home cto the landscape plan approved in 2004 would eliminate the need for major retaining walls.

Members of the Fry’s Spring Neighborhood Association pleaded with the commission to deny the request.

“When they received permission to build this giant development of in-fill housing, [Beyer] knew perfectly well that there was challenging topography,” said Andrea Weider. She added that the neighborhood fought hard to require that the trees be spared when the original rezoning was granted by City Council.

Weider argued that if the Commission granted the request, they would be fundamentally changing the parameters of the original PUD.

“This group of ten that we’re talking about today are some of the very few that are left on this completely vanquished landscape of 22 acres,” said Weider. Instead, she said Beyer should be required to build the retaining walls as shown in the adopted plan.

The property was rezoned to Planned Unit Development in 2004 and to date, only 26 of the approved 110 homes have been built.  Previous attempts to amend the site plan in April 2007 were deferred.

“There’s no doubt that Huntley has been controversial in the past,” said developer Paul Beyer. “The issue in a nutshell is that the current grades are going to require significant retaining walls in order for the homes to be built.”

These walls would be at least 25 to 30 feet tall, and Beyer said that could present a safety issue. He said he understood the concerns of neighbors, but said his development was a net positive for the city.

 “Huntley was designed to keep the professional classes in the city,” Beyer said. “It was seen as a need to make sure that we kept in the tax base people who use city services, [so] they don’t go into Albemarle.”

The five commissioners who participated in the discussion all agreed that to grant the landscape amendment would not significantly change the concept plan under which the PUD was originally granted. They agreed that with sufficient mitigation, removing the trees would be a more favorable option than building the retaining wall.

Commissioner Genevieve Keller abstained from the vote because she was unable to visit the site before the meeting. Commissioner John Santoski recused himself from the debate because he lives near the property.

Commissioner Michael Osteen said the solution should not be to require a specific number of trees, but rather to ensure a more complete approach.

“For all the problems that we have had [with Huntley], the one thing that is going to bail this thing out is a reforested hillside ten years down the road,” Osteen said.

The request was granted with several conditions. An exact number of trees was not specified, but Beyer has been directed to work with the city arborist to adequately reforest the section of land. Beyer also must report back to the city on the development’s progress in two years time.