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August 27, 2010

Future of McIntire Recycling Center uncertain

DailyProgressBy Sean Tubbs
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Friday, August 27, 2010

The Rivanna Solid Waste Authority has amended the agreement by which Albemarle County and Charlottesville will pay for the continued operation of the McIntire Recycling Center and the Ivy Materials Utilization Center. Included in the new agreement is a provision that neither locality is required to keep paying after Dec. 31.

The RSWA’s executive director, Thomas L. Frederick Jr., said in an interview that he cannot rule out the closure of both facilities.

“We have to know what the revenue sources will be to continue the programs,” Frederick said.

Mcintire-road-center

To save money, the RSWA cut back hours at the recycling center and stopped accepting hazardous materials such as paint, batteries and compact fluorescent bulbs.

Frederick told the RSWA board at its meeting Tuesday that there has been a substantial increase in complaints related to the cutback in services. The RSWA will offer a one-day collection of hazardous materials next spring, but many board members expressed concern that is not a long-term solution for a community that has grown accustomed to disposing materials safely.

“It’s an issue that all communities are dealing with,” said Judy Mueller, the city’s director of public works. “There’s no magic answer that anyone’s come up with.”

“Hazardous materials are very expensive because there are rigorous federal regulations that have to be complied with,” Frederick said. He added that the nearest landfill permitted to handle such materials is in South Carolina.

The RSWA has traditionally funded operations through the sale of recycled materials collected at McIntire and tipping fees made by trash trucks that use the Ivy facility. However, tonnage received at Ivy has reduced dramatically in the past several years as haulers have chosen to use other, private facilities.

In fiscal year 2005, 105,593 tons of municipal solid waste and other items passed through the Ivy facility. In FY2009, that number had dropped to 69,636 tons.

“In years prior, the RSWA was charging a higher tipping fee at the Ivy transfer station and had rights to control customers from Albemarle and Charlottesville at BFI’s transfer station,” Frederick said. The surplus went toward funding public services such as the McIntire Recycling Center.

In 2007, the city and county signed the local support agreement to address the RSWA’s ongoing operating deficits. The RSWA board also directed Frederick to lower the fees at Ivy because private facilities, such as the one operated by van der Linde Recycling at Zion Crossroads, could provide the service at a lower rate, in part because they do not have to subsidize the free recycling services offered to the public.

In June, the RSWA board passed a $2 million budget for fiscal year 2011, a 47.5 percent decrease from the previous year. Under the new terms of the agreement approved Tuesday, the county is now responsible for paying 85 percent of the cost of continued operations at the Ivy facility and 67 percent of the cost of running the McIntire Recycling Center with the city picking up the balance, 15 percent and 33 percent, respectively. The percentages represent the approximate split by which residents of each jurisdiction use RSWA services.

“My sense of [the City Council] is that we’re interested in exploring continuing to be part of the recycling center at McIntire,” Councilor David Brown said. However, Brown added the city had no reason to continue contributing to the Ivy facility.

In addition to the Ivy and McIntire centers, the RSWA also administers the environmental remediation at the now closed Ivy Landfill. The University of Virginia also contributes to the landfill cleanup. The city, county and UVa are expected to pay $875,480 on the cleanup this year. That direct contribution to the RSWA is governed by a separate 2005 memorandum of understanding, which would continue in effect even if the city ended its support for the RSWA’s other activities next year.

August 25, 2010

Fate of water supply plan will soon be before City Council

DailyProgress

By Sean Tubbs
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Wednesday, August 25, 2010

For the past several months, the Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority’s Board of Directors has been reviewing all of the components of the community’s long-term water supply plan adopted in 2006. On Tuesday, board members heard details on the final two pieces of information they had requested.

Charlottesville Mayor Dave Norris said the City Council will review the information at a September work session before deciding on how to proceed.

“We absolutely need to get council on record, given this new information,” Norris said. “Do we still stand by the original vote or do we modify the plan in one direction or another?”

Acting city manager Maurice Jones said the council would also hold a public hearing in September to get further input from citizens.

Listen using player above or download the podcast: Download 20100824-RWSA


Albemarle County Supervisor Kenneth C. Boyd said he had been concerned when the cost estimate of the new dam at the Ragged Mountain Reservoir tripled in September 2008. However, Schnabel Engineering has since recommended a design for an earthen dam with a cost estimate ranging from $28.5 million and $36.6 million, which includes final design and engineering work. Boyd said at the meeting that he was ready to vote in favor of the revised plan.

Norris said he had not yet made up his mind.

“I’ve personally been swayed by some of the new data that’s come in,” Norris said. “We need to give each councilor a chance to go on record of saying whether they’re behind the original plan or if they want to see it modified … We all want to come to a decision and move forward.”

 

20100824-Swartz
Steven Swartz

At Tuesday’s meeting, engineer Steven Swartz gave a presentation of his review of the 2004 demand analysis on which the plan is based. He said his revised figure that the community will need of 18.45 million gallons a day in 2060 was not a precise prediction, but was adequate for planning purposes.

“Projecting 50 years ahead with precision is difficult at best,” Swartz said. “The best strategy is to use the best information and sound judgment based on professionals in that field.”

Members of Citizens for a Sustainable Water Plan took issue with the methodology used by Swartz.


Group member Dede Smith said his report was as flawed as the Gannett Fleming analysis because it did not factor in recent water conservation trends.

“No longer can we assume those trend-lines of water use apply,” Smith said. “We will see even more dramatic reductions in our water supply.”

Swartz said the trend line represents both upward and downward pressures on demand. On one hand, water conservation efforts will reduce demand on a per capita basis. On the other, population increases will be a significant driver.

“Planners in the city tell me they’re expecting an influx of baby boomers who will be seeking less land to mow, and more communal type of living,” Swartz said.

On the same day of the meeting, city officials announced that the business research firm Kiplinger had named the Charlottesville area as the No. 1 place in the country to retire.

The other study reviewed by the RWSA on Tuesday was one conducted to determine what improvements would need to be made to strengthen the Interstate 64 embankment and to protect the reservoir from hazardous materials if a tractor-trailer crashed near it.

20100824-Embankment
I-64 Embankment on the south side (Source: Volkert)

Engineers with the firm Volkert analyzed traffic and concluded the likelihood of such an event is one incident every 110 years. Even so, Volkert recommended that a floating boom be placed downstream of the embankment. They have also suggested the boom could be installed as part of a 350-foot floating footbridge so pedestrians could continue to walk the entire perimeter of the reservoir. Strengthening the embankment and installing the boom would cost around $2.2 million. There is no cost estimate for how much the pedestrian bridge would cost.

Download Download presentation given by Volkert on I-64 embankment

The RWSA board agreed to hold a meeting of the four boards only if the council decides it wants to modify the plan. RWSA board secretary Mary Knowles was directed to go ahead and schedule that meeting.

The final item remaining is the cost estimate for repairing and/or building on top of the existing Lower Ragged Mountain Dam. That study, by Black & Veatch, was requested by the City Council.
One city resident defended the plan.

“I’m afraid we’ve been led into a tangle of distracting arguments,” said James Nix.

He pointed out that the dredging plan would also require eventual replacement of the Sugar Hollow pipeline, upgrades to water treatment plants as well as continued costs associated with storing dredged material.

Also at the meeting, the RWSA approved an extension of permission to the University of Virginia rowing teams to continue using the South Fork Rivanna Reservoir for practice and meets. As part of the condition, UVa is required to research electric-powered boats as a way to reduce the risk of contamination by gas-powered engines. They’ve spent $40,000 to date, according to coach Kevin Sauer.

TIMELINE FOR PODCAST:

  • 01:00 - Meeting called to order by Chair Mike Gaffney
  • 02:30 - Public comment from Rich Collins of Citizens for a Sustainable Water Plan
  • 06:20 - Public comment from Dede Smith of Citizens for a Sustainable Water Plan
  • 10:00 - Public comment from Kelton Flinn calling the Swartz report's methodology into question
  • 13:45 - Public comment from Richard Lloyd of Citizens for a Sustainable Water Plan
  • 17:10 - Public comment from Tom Olivier of the Piedmont Group of the Sierra Club
  • 20:00 - Public comment from city resident Jim Nix
  • 22:23 - Public comment from Kirk Bowers, Albemarle County resident
  • 26:15 - Public comment from Neil Williamson of the Free Enterprise Forum
  • 28:40 - Public comment from Liz Palmer of the Albemarle County Service Authority
  • 32:30 - Response from Albemarle County Supervisor Ken Boyd
  • 34:00 - Response from Tom Frederick, executive director of the RWSA
  • 36:15 - Consideration and approval of the consent agenda
  • 36:30 - Consideration of extension of waiver for UVa rowing teams
  • 43:00 - Review of Swartz review of demand study
  • 1:13:20 - Mayor Norris asks Swartz questions about his study
  • 1:31:00 - Presentation of Volkert report
  • 1:50:30 - Discussion of next steps in the water supply plan

August 24, 2010

Opponents say review of water supply demand failed to account for conservation

DailyProgressBy Brian Wheeler
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Opponents of the community’s long-term water supply plan on Monday blasted the conclusions reached by an engineering firm hired to review the demand assumptions that serve as the basis of the document.

“We were disappointed when we read the report,” said Dede Smith of Citizens for a Sustainable Water Plan. “The actual water usage data that we have seen in the last 10 years, with the full impacts of water conservation, should have been factored in when in fact it was not.”

The Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority board is expected to discuss the report at its meeting today.

RWSA Executive Director Thomas L. Frederick Jr. disagreed with the critical assessment.

“From my review of the report, it does take into account conservation of all types that have occurred in the last eight years,” Frederick said in an interview.

Prepared by Steve Swartz of Swartz Engineering Economics, the report recommends that the RWSA establish a new demand goal for the water plan of 18.45 million gallons a day for the year 2060.

Swartz reviewed the 2004 study completed by consultant Gannett Fleming, which had previously set a goal of 18.7 mgd for 2055. He concluded in the report that the community experienced a “one-time reduction in demand” caused by a variety of factors, including the 2002 drought, and that “data from the past 16 years do not indicate any change to long-term trends.”

The report indicates that increased enrollment at the University of Virginia, combined with increased commercial and residential growth in Charlottesville and Albemarle, will drive local population growth, and thus water demand.

Smith emphasized in her remarks the importance of the 1992 federal Energy Policy Act, which she said would significantly reduce household water usage by requiring more efficient toilets, showerheads and faucets.

“The report does not even mention federal [water efficiency] mandates that have come into place since the 2004 demand study that have dramatically impacted our water use,” Smith said.

Frederick said the Gannett Fleming “trend line from 2004 also took into account future conservation.”

20100823-CSWP-chart
Chart by Citizens for a Sustainable Water Plan comparing Swartz's demand trend to that of a linear trend of actual water usage since 1983.

At Monday’s news conference, group member Rich Collins characterized the RWSA as “so committed to its early permitted activity that it is unwilling to explore, much less to decide on, a better option.”

Collins said his group’s alternative water plan, which has dredging as its centerpiece to create more storage capacity, would provide 14 million gallons a day to 16 million gallons a day in “safe yield” for the water supply in 2060. Charlottesville Mayor Dave Norris, who also sits on the RWSA board, has indicated the City Council should soon be ready to make a decision on the next steps for the water plan.

“I personally am reserving judgment until I have heard from Mr. Swartz,” Norris said in an interview. “If he is not able to demonstrate how his report adequately incorporated … conservation and efficiency, that would give me pause with regard to proceeding with a massive new dam that we may not need.”

“That’s the beauty of the [alternative] plan, we know because of studies we have done that dredging will produce a significant amount of water and the first phase can be done at relatively low cost,” Norris said. “While I am not endorsing it yet, there is an argument to proceed with dredging in the short run.”

Ann Mallek, the chairman of the Albemarle Board of Supervisors, said she was comfortable the Swartz study was pointing the community in the right direction to satisfy its long term water needs.

“Demand needs to be based on a long period of time, not just a short period that supports your point of view,” Mallek said in an interview.

“The extra use anticipated by the University of Virginia and future industrial needs all show that we are in the right ball park,” Mallek said. “It wouldn’t bother me to have a water supply that would last to 2060 or 2070. That’s what our citizens want us to do, to plan for the infrastructure that we need.”

August 22, 2010

Crozet “Downtown Mall” gets OK from advisory group

DailyProgress

By Bridgett Lynn
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Sunday, August 22, 2010

A group that oversees planning in Crozet has endorsed a new concept to redevelop a lumber yard on the Square into a walkable and livable community similar to Charlottesville’s Downtown Mall.

“We need a pedestrian mall in Crozet,” said Mike Marshall, chairman of the Crozet Community Advisory Council. “This comes into Crozet’s life at a very fortunate time for us.”

Listen using player above or download the podcast: Download 20100819-CCAC

The CCAC voted Thursday to recommend rezoning the 14.74-acre J. Bruce Barnes Lumber Yard and CSX railroad property to allow for future development as part of the Crozet Master Plan.

Member Kelly Strickland abstained because he helped to draw the plans for the property.

20100819-Roell
Katurah Roell

“If you imagine Charlottesville’s Downtown Mall, it’s a complete mixture of uses,” said Katurah Roell, president of President of Piedmont Development Group and a representative of the lumber yard. “This is a very small scale, a version of that, but what it does create is the ability to have a gathering space and some place where people love to go [in] Crozet.”

Under this concept, the lumber yard would be redeveloped into a space that would be open to a mixture of uses. The concept provides 100,000 square feet of light industrial building space and would account for almost one-fifth of development for light industrial use in the Master Plan, according to Roell.

“From [research and development] business to office space, restaurants, retail [and] some housing,” Roell said, “it will provide a variety of opportunities for people to locate their businesses, live, work, play and entertain each other.”

20100822-Crozet-Mall
Click to enlarge


Crozet’s downtown is also under pressure to compete with other mixed-use neighborhoods such as Old Trail Village, which has a shopping village, golf course and other amenities.

“There are many existing businesses … that have considered going to Old Trail,” Roell said. “[We want] to be able to provide an office complex in here somewhere, where literally several hundred people can be employed.”

Some CCAC members were concerned that parts of the concept would not fit the area.

“It looks like there is a lot of on-street parking, and I don’t think that’s been thought out very well for that area,” member Charles Mitchell said. “I don’t want us to do something stupid.”

“There is close to over 700 parking spaces shown here,” Roell said. “That’s based on square footage, density, no particular use, and it’s also tied to Crozet downtown and/or light industrial zoning district parking requirements that are county ordinances.”

Some members of the public were concerned that the plan could disrupt their privacy.

“I’m wondering what kind of buffer zone there is going to be between these two- and three-story buildings and my backyard,” said Ellen McKenna, a resident of Hill Top Street. “I have a very private backyard and whenever this plan is fully implemented, I’m going to have buildings looking down into my yard. So my sense of privacy will be pretty much gone.”

“[The buildings are] 60 feet away from the property line,” Roell responded. “[And] those large trees along the back of the boundary of the property were intended to be left intact.”

“If anything, the downtown plan [makes] it more flexible for people to build buildings,” said Tom Loach, a member of Albemarle’s Planning Commission. “We should try and actively get employment in the downtown area.”

“I think it’s a very intelligent plan,” Marshall said. “I think it’s drawn by people who know what they’re doing. I think it’s highly in sync with what we hoped would happen in downtown when we designed the downtown zoning district.”

According to county planner Elaine Echols, county staff will submit a report to the Planning Commission presenting the CCAC’s input on the proposal. The county Board of Supervisors is expected to hold a work session on the updated Crozet Master Plan on Sept. 1.

“I’m very glad that we’re thinking about all of these issues because having something as wonderful as [this] is going to bring people to [Crozet],” said Ann H. Mallek, chairwoman of the Board of Supervisors.

August 20, 2010

Demand analysis review finds long term water needs largely unchanged

DailyProgress

By Sean Tubbs
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Friday, August 20, 2010

20100819-Swartz-Graph
The Swartz report suggests a permanent reduction in demand occured after the 2002 drought, but population increases will drive consumption in the future

An engineering firm hired to review the demand projections in the Charlottesville-Albemarle water supply plan has determined that there was a one-time drop in water consumption in the aftermath of the 2002 drought but that the area’s long-term supply needs are largely unchanged.

The analysis addresses a major question raised by the City Council about the accuracy of the 2004 demand analysis prepared by engineering firm Gannett Fleming. The water plan 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.

“We believe the data to date suggest this is a one-time reduction in demand rather than a new trend in water demands,” wrote Steve Swartz in the report prepared by Swartz Engineering Economics.

 

Download Download Swartz report on the 2004 demand analysis

 

The engineering company, based in Stuart, also concluded that the 2004 demand analysis was conducted using sound engineering principles.

However, the report also recommends that the Rivanna Water & Sewer Authority establish a new demand goal of 18.45 million gallons a day for the year 2060, a lower figure than that set by Gannett Fleming in 2004.

Swartz adjusted the figure because of a drop in water demand since 2002, but concluded long-term water usage would continue to grow because of projected population increases.

“We see no basis in the data for concluding that the likely long-term rate of growth in demand as projected by the 2004 study has changed,” Swartz wrote.

In June, the RWSA hired Swartz at a cost of about $25,000 to review Gannett Fleming’s 2004 study. Their demand analysis set a goal that the authority needed to be able to provide at least 18.7 million gallons a day by 2055 to meet “safe-yield” requirements.

Federal and state permits were issued for the community water supply plan, which met that goal with a new dam at the Ragged Mountain Reservoir as well as a new pipeline to connect it with the South Fork Rivanna Reservoir.

Opponents of the plan have argued that a drop in water demand since 2002 is indicative of a long-term trend, and that the community should develop a new plan that is less expensive, factors in greater conservation, and relies more on dredging than dam building.

In 2000, the average annual daily demand for water was 11.04 million gallons per day. For 2009, that number had dropped to 9.105 mgd, well below the projected trend calculated in the Gannett Fleming analysis.

Thomas L. Frederick Jr., executive director of the RWSA, said trend lines in long-term projections are not expected to predict the future with 100 percent accuracy.

“We all know that in the real world, things work in cyclical manner. There are periods of up and periods of down,” Frederick said. “You don’t look at a demand forecast like someone would look at a prophecy.”

The group Citizens for a Sustainable Water Plan has indicated on its Web site and in recent presentations that by its calculations, the RSWA will need to provide only 14 million to 14.5 million gallons a day in 2055. The group’s Kevin Lynch, a former member of Charlottesville’s City Council, said he needed more time to review the Swartz report. Other representatives of the group said they would issue a statement on Saturday.

Analysts with Swartz concluded that the drought of 2002 led to a reduction in overall demand equivalent to 1.4 million gallons a day because of water restrictions imposed by the city and the Albemarle County Service Authority. Restrictions were also mandated in the summer and fall of 2007.

The Swartz report says the 2002 drought also led the University of Virginia to take steps to reduce its water usage, leading to what Swartz calls a one-time “permanent step-down” in UVa’s water use.

However, the report concluded that increased enrollments at UVa and an increased presence in Albemarle County by the nation’s defense sector will drive population growth and thus water demand.

Swartz said the recession has also played a role in depressing water demand.

“Historically, economy-based reductions in water use have proven to be temporary, with water use recovering rapidly with renewed economic activity,” reads the report.

The Swartz report is one of the final pieces of information requested by the RWSA board during a review of the components of the water supply plan. The RWSA is awaiting results of a study evaluating the embankment along Interstate 64, which would be inundated by water if the Ragged Mountain Reservoir is enlarged. Also, the City Council is waiting on a cost estimate for safety improvements and expansion options at the existing Lower Ragged Mountain Dam.

“I think in the end the [RWSA] board has to look at what’s available, including public input, and make a decision,” Frederick said. “What are we going to build now and what are we going to build later?”

The City Council is expected to hold a work session on the issue in mid-September before making a decision on how it wants to proceed. Mayor Dave Norris was unavailable for comment.

Kenneth C. Boyd, an Albemarle County supervisor who also serves on the RWSA board, is calling for a larger meeting of all the boards with jurisdiction over the community’s water supply infrastructure.

“Our board feels it is time to sit down as four boards in a work session to look at all the studies,” Boyd said in an interview.

 

August 18, 2010

Supervisors launch budget process at meeting with school officials

By Sean Tubbs
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Wednesday, August 18, 2010

20100817-Boards
The two boards met at CitySpace to begin the FY2012 budget process

As Albemarle County begins another budget cycle, members of the county’s two elected bodies sat down Tuesday to discuss ways to improve communications. Supervisors and school board members aired their grievances about how the current year’s budget was developed.

In April, the School Board approved a $142.9 million budget for FY2011, $6.1 million  less than the previous budget. Some of the savings came from eliminating more than 40 staff positions, including the equivalent of 22 full-time teaching positions.

The Board of Supervisors kept the property tax rate at 74.2 cents per $100 of assessed value. Because property values declined, the average tax bill was around $90 lower than the previous year.

The session was facilitated by Bill Bosher, executive director of the Commonwealth Education Policy Institute at Virginia Commonwealth University. Bosher’s group has conducted management reviews of the school system and Albemarle County government.

“One assumption is that a school system works in the context of budget projections and needs to offer a budget that is balanced within those projections,” Bosher said. “For us today, I believe you want to talk more about what are the mechanisms we can use to confront that process.”

Listen using player above or download the podcast: Download 20100817-BOS-SB


During the three hour session, Supervisors and School Board members discussed how to better improve how they communicate information about each other’s needs.

Supervisor Ken Boyd, who served on the school board from 1999 to 2003, said he thought the school board members didn’t understand the constraints placed on local government by the recession.

“You didn’t really do a good job of explaining to us why you needed [an] additional two or three million dollars,” Boyd said. “You never told us what your expenditures were and how much you anticipated them to be.”

20100817-Bosher
Bill Bosher of the Commonwealth Educational Policy Institute

For the next hour, school board members and supervisors argued over the details of last year’s budget and pledged to do a better job of relaying information as next year’s budget is developed. It is anticipated that the School Board will need to make further cuts in the FY2012 budget due to continued reductions from state government.

One outcome of Tuesday’s retreat is likely to be increased meetings between the two bodies, especially during when the budget process gets underway. Supervisor Dennis Rooker said he thought that would go a long way towards increased trust.

“If someone on our board has a perception that they’re wasting money or they should find savings someplace, let’s put it on the table and talk about it,” Rooker said. “It’s very easy not to like somebody you never sit down and talk with.”

The two boards will next meet in October to further discuss the budget. Bosher advised that the boards not to negotiate about money at that meeting, but simply provide each other with information.

“If you have a chance to fairly put your stuff in front of the body that funds you, and they say no, all you really asked for was a fair hearing,” Bosher said. “There’s always going to be a next season.”

TIMELINE FOR PODCAST:

  • 01:00 - Introduction from Bill Bosher of the Commonwealth Educational Policy Institute.
  • 23:30 - Comments from Lane Ramsey
  • 31:00 - Bosher asks elected officials why they are proud of Albemarle
  • 43:30 - Bosher asks what elected officials can do to create mechanisms to work through difficult times
  • 54:30 - Conversation on previous year's budget process begins
  • 1:34:00 - Bosher asks elected officials to suggest ways of ensuring communications stay open
  • 1:41:00 - Bosher re-opens session after break
  • 1:49:00 - Bosher gives feedback on what he's heard listening to the conversations

Albemarle planners update zoning for industry and home businesses

By Bridgett Lynn
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Wednesday, August 18, 2010

As Albemarle County seeks to expand its commercial tax base, it is also taking steps to update zoning related to industrial activity and home-based businesses.  Increasing economic development opportunities was a key objective of the “economic vitality plan” approved by the Albemarle Board of Supervisors earlier this month.

Listen using player above or download the podcast: Download 20100818-PC

On Tuesday, the Albemarle County Planning Commission endorsed a proposal to amend the performance standards of industrial zoning districts.  County staff said the update was important to help prepare for expanded industrial business opportunities countywide.

“Performance standards … are utilized to control and limit the impacts generated by the use of land,” said county zoning administrator Amelia McCulley. “This is the first comprehensive amendment of this section of the ordinance since 1980, and that’s a long time.”

According to staff, the amendments are intended to better evaluate industrial impacts, update outdated references, and clarify regulations and procedures.

“[Performance standards] address operations such as noise, water, air pollution, vibration, dust, and electrical impulses,” McCulley said. “We’re adding the requirement … that the applicant provides us copies of their state and federal permits.”

Owners of land used for industry as well as certain home occupations will have to provide a copy of state and federal agency permits so that the county has their permits on file and because it shows how they have to operate.

“That’s also something that the public would have access to if an industrial use is coming in some area near them,” McCulley said.

In January, the board of supervisors reviewed recommendations to increase the supply of available industrial land and improve flexibility in the zoning ordinance. Further, in June, the board amended the county’s zoning ordinance to allow some heavy industrial activity to take place on land currently designated for light industry.

No date has been set yet for a public hearing before the planning commission on the proposed amendments.

20100817-PC


The commission also reviewed a proposed zoning text amendment regarding home businesses.

“The [home occupation] business is a business in a residence, and so these are regulations that would try to control some of the impacts that we can foresee,” McCulley said. “It doesn’t take away anything that they would be able to [do] for their personal use.”

The proposed amendment would allow home occupations to be subject to administrative review and action with appeals head by the Board of Zoning Appeals.

“The purpose of changing the text for home occupations is to reevaluate by right uses and uses allowed by special use permit,” McCulley said. “[The purpose is] also to provide clarification, flexibility, and a streamlined process for home occupations in both the rural areas and the development areas while continuing to protect the neighborhood character and quality of life for all residents.”

One of the prohibited uses listed as part of a home occupation is using a home regularly for church gatherings which raised concern among the commissioners.

“We might be running into a problem with the first amendment with that,” Commissioner Calvin Morris said. “We might be shooting ourselves in the foot.”

Staff will take the recommendations made by the planning commission and present a revised zoning text ordinance to the commission within the next couple of months.

TIMELINE FOR PODCAST:

00:52 – Amelia McCulley updates board on industrial uses performance standards
10:20 – Commissioner Calvin Morris asks how the county will handle all the performance standards and recommends a member of staff be sent to a schooling on international environmental standards
12:40 – Commissioner Tom Loach asks if there are any follow up conditions
16:07 – Commissioner Linda Porterfield asks what types of home occupations the performance standards will apply to
18:07 – McCulley begins second worksession for a zoning text amendment for home occupations
29:22 – Morris questions the prohibited uses that are not considered for home occupations
1:22:30 – Conclusion

 

August 16, 2010

Water use increases at the University of Virginia

DailyProgress By Sean Tubbs
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Monday, August 16, 2010

Water consumption at the University of Virginia has increased for the fifth consecutive year, according to data provided by university officials.

Usage on the UVa campus and the medical center increased by half a percentage point from 528.9 million gallons in fiscal 2009 to 531.29 million gallons in fiscal 2010. This figure does not include water purchased at buildings operated by the private University of Virginia Foundation.

20100816-UVA-Water-Chart
Click to enlarge

“While the university continues to benefit from the many water conservation initiatives that have been implemented, the construction of energy- and water-intensive research and hospital facilities in the last couple of years is starting to cause an upward trend in water consumption,” wrote UVa’s director of utilities, Cheryl Gomez, in an e-mail to Charlottesville Tomorrow.

However, Gomez said, UVa’s overall water usage has become more efficient since 1999, when the school consumed 671.7 million gallons.

“Water usage in 2010 is down 21% from its peak in 1999 despite a 19.8% increase in gross square feet and a 15.7% increase in the number of faculty, staff, and students since that year,” Gomez wrote.

When viewed on a per capita basis, usage has dropped from 22,748 gallons per person in 1999 to 15,545 per person in 2010. During that time the population of people served increased from 28,705 to 34,176.

The city of Charlottesville provides water to UVa under a contract that grants the university a special rate. This contract makes up 31.2 percent of the total water the city sells to its customers, according to Sharon O’Hare, a utilities analyst for the city. O’Hare added that the city does not track water usage per capita.

Download Download 1981 UVa water and sewer agreement

“I’m so impressed with the level of water conversation that UVa has attained in the past decade,” said Dede Smith of the group Citizens for a Sustainable Water Plan. She points to the drop in per capita usage as an example of how water conservation measures can reduce overall water demand.

In its last academic year, UVa had a total of 14,297 undergraduates and 6,598 graduate students.

In 2004, the firm Gannett Fleming conducted a demand analysis that serves as the basis for the water supply plan currently being debated in the community. The analysis, which established a goal of 18.7 million gallons a day of available water supply, assumes that the university would grow by 100 students per year to reach an ultimate student population of 25,000 by 2055.

Download Download 2004 Demand Analysis conducted by Gannett Fleming

However, UVa officials have recently indicated that growth could occur more quickly.

At a July retreat, UVa’s governing body discussed the possibility of increasing enrollment to help the school’s finances in the face of state budget cutbacks. Austin Ligon, a member of the Board of Visitors, wrote a paper that outlines two scenarios in which the university would grow by 2,000 in five years or by 5,000 students over 10 years.

Ligon’s paper does not address how such increases would affect community infrastructure such as water supply. However, city, county and regional officials have begun to take notice.

Download Download Austin Ligon's "New Financial Model Discussion Paper"

“We’re aware that [UVa] may be making some decisions that would mean more students at the university during our planning period than what had been projected in 2004,” said Thomas L. Frederick Jr., executive director of the Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority.

Frederick said a review of the 2004 demand analysis commissioned by the RWSA will be available Friday. Swartz Engineering Economics was hired to determine whether the assumptions in the analysis are still valid, including how much growth UVa anticipates.

“It’s a factor we have to take into consideration, but it’s not the only one,” Frederick said.

Smith said growth at the university would not affect the community’s future water needs.

“Their growth has much less impact than that in the county,” Smith said. “It’s just a blip on the map of the water supply because UVa conserves water at a much higher rate.”

UVa officials could not be reached for comment.

August 13, 2010

Commission approves Jefferson School rezoning

DailyProgress

By Sean Tubbs
Charlottesville Tomorrow
stubbs@cvilletomorrow.org

When the former Jefferson School opens next year as a community center, there will not be a hotel, a laundry or an auto-repair shop in the site’s future. That’s because the developer has agreed to waive the right to those potential uses as part of the rezoning process.

“It was the will of the Planning Commission that hotel use is inappropriate at the site,” said L.J. Lopez of Stonehaus, the firm working with the Jefferson School Partnership on the former all-black school’s transformation.

The partnership and Stonehaus are seeking rezoning from B-1 to B-2, which does allow for restaurants. A rezoning is required because the Jefferson Area Board for Aging has signed a letter of intent to operate some services in the new building, including a cafe.

The item was deferred from the Charlottesville Planning Commission’s July meeting when representatives of Stonehaus were not willing to give up the right to use the property for certain types of businesses allowed in B-2 zoning. Lopez was willing to do so at the commission’s meeting Tuesday.

Staff also recommended that the City Council initiate a process in which the building might be listed as an “individually protected property.” Such a designation would require the property owner to go before the Board of Architectural Review to request permission for demolition or exterior changes.

Lopez said the status isn’t necessary because the partnership is applying for tax credits related to the school’s status as a historic resource. A condition of the credits is that the property must be unchanged for a period of time.

One commissioner thought that was insufficient.

“I would be more comfortable [with individually protected property status] because if it’s just under the tax credits, it could potentially be demolished after five years,” Commissioner John Santoski said.

However, Lopez said the partnership would not stand in the council’s way.

“While we think [individually protected property status] may be overkill, we’re happy to work with staff towards working towards that goal,” Lopez said.

Commissioner Dan Rosensweig said he was not sure if the step was necessary.

“I’d like to have more dialogue with the property owner to get a sense of their intent,” Rosensweig said.

The commission voted 3-0 to recommend approval. Commissioners Genevieve Keller and Kurt Keesecker recused themselves from the vote as they are both involved with the project. Commissioner Michael Osteen was not present.

The item will next go before the City Council for a public hearing. Ordinarily the council holds a joint public hearing with the Planning Commission but a quorum of councilors was not available.

Other tenants at the redeveloped school will include Piedmont Virginia Community College, the Piedmont Family YMCA and the Literacy Volunteers of Charlottesville-Albemarle. If the council approves the rezoning, construction on the $17 million project could begin this fall.

Download Download proffer letter for Jefferson School rezoning

 

August 12, 2010

City planning panel may have second vacancy

DailyProgressBy Sean Tubbs
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Thursday, August 12, 2010

20100810-Pearson
Jason Pearson

While the Charlottesville City Council is currently accepting applications for the Planning Commission vacancy left by Bill Emory, there is a possibility that current Chairman Jason Pearson may also depart.

Commissioners Genevieve Keller and Michael Osteen were reappointed to their seats by the City Council earlier this month, but Pearson’s term ends Aug. 31 and the council has yet to take action on his seat.

“I recently stepped down as president and CEO of GreenBlue, and this has provided me an opportunity to explore some independent projects and new avenues for professional engagement and public service,” wrote Pearson in an e-mail to Charlottesville Tomorrow.

“As I explore these further, I am uncertain whether I will be able to dedicate sufficient time to the work of the commission,” he said.

Pearson said he would continue to play a role in the ongoing revision of the city’s steep slopes ordinance as well as a review of how the Cherry Avenue mixed corridor is being planned.

At this time, the council has chosen to simply not fill Pearson’s seat when his term expires at the end of the month. According to Mayor Dave Norris, that will allow Pearson to continue serving. The commission’s bylaws specify a term can be extended in this fashion.

“Jason is a very valuable member of the Planning Commission and if there’s a way to keep him in the role, we’d like to see him continue,” Norris said.

Meanwhile, the city is continuing to take applications for the seat vacated by Emory. He resigned in May for personal reasons.

The deadline for applications is Aug. 27, with interviews before the council tentatively scheduled for the last week of the month. Applications can be sent to the clerk of council. The new commissioner is expected to join in September.

 

Download Download planning commission application

 

“I hope that council will reflect on the mix of current commissioners and attempt to identify commissioners who can enhance and broaden the diversity of viewpoints and expertise already present on the commission,” Pearson said.

The commission is currently made up of an architectural historian (Keller), two practicing architects (Osteen and Kurt Keesecker), two nonprofit leaders (John Santoski and Dan Rosensweig) and Pearson.

Norris said he would particularly like a candidate who has a vision for helping the city become more pedestrian and bike friendly.

“I’d personally like to see someone who is going to ask the hard questions about how planning decisions are going to affect our neighborhoods,” Norris said.

A new chair and vice chair will be appointed at the September meeting. Pearson has also said he is not sure if he will continue in a leadership position.

“I think we have some excellent candidates for chair among my colleagues, and I would welcome an opportunity to support any of them,” Pearson said.

Planning commissioners receive $2,900 a year for their service. The chair receives $3,500.