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September 30, 2011

Public gives input at water permit hearing

DailyProgressBy Sean Tubbs
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Friday, September 30, 2011

Supporters and opponents of building a new dam at the Ragged Mountain Reservoir took part Thursday in a public hearing on whether the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality should approve changes to a permit that allows it to be built.

The DEQ originally issued a permit for the construction of the dam in February 2008, but it must be modified because the plan was altered.

“We are recommending approval of the modification of the permit,” said Brenda Winn, a water withdrawal project manager with the DEQ. “The environmental impacts are not significantly different.”

Download Download cover letter from DEQ to RWSA Director Tom Frederick

Download Download cover page for permit modification

Download Download general conditions under which permit modification would be issued

Download Download special conditions under which permit modification would be issued



The first phase of the dam will increase the reservoir’s capacity to 1.55 billion gallons of storage. If a second phase is constructed, the reservoir would have a total storage volume of 2.19 billion gallons.

The permit also allows for construction of a pipeline to connect the Ragged Mountain and South Fork Rivanna reservoirs. The permit lists specific amounts of water that must be released into the Moormans and Mechums rivers when new infrastructure is in place.

The community water supply plan now calls for construction of an earthen dam in two phases, which requires the permit to be modified in order to allow for different figures to be released into the Moormans River. The permit originally allowed for a concrete dam.

Under the permit, the Sugar Hollow pipeline would be retired after the dam is fully expanded and the new pipeline is built. Instead, water will be released into the Moormans River in order to supply the South Fork Rivanna Reservoir. Water would then be pumped to Ragged Mountain through the new pipeline.

Albemarle County Supervisor Dennis S. Rooker said the full board supports building the new dam and asked the State Water Control Board to approve the permit modification.

“The plan was developed over many years with careful study and provides drinking water for us while restoring rivers,” Rooker said. “The Moormans doesn’t flow 40 percent of the time … but the permit modification would allow the river to flow freely 90 percent of the time.”

Rooker said the board would prefer to build the whole dam now, but is agreeing to phase its construction because a majority on the Charlottesville City Council wants the dam to be built in two phases.

However, city resident John Morrison pleaded with the water control board to terminate the permit because it will provide more water than the community needs.

“The massive number of negative impacts of the new dam do not justify this incredible expense nor the ensuing loss of natural resources,” Morrison said. He added that he favors a plan to dredge the South Fork Rivanna Reservoir and build on top of the existing dam.

Rebecca Quinn of the group Citizens for a Sustainable Water Plan called on the permit to be terminated, not modified.

“We call on the SWCB to pay close attention to its statutory and regulatory responsibilities,” Quinn said. “Those responsibilities demand reconsideration of all the facts and new information and not just what the [Rivanna Water & Sewer Authority] wants the SWCB to see.”

For instance, Citizens for a Sustainable Water Plan asserts that the plan is based on water demand figures that are out of date. The group also claims that the RWSA inflated the cost of dredging the South Fork.

“What we know now is different than what they said,” Quinn said.

Representatives of the League of Women Voters, the Nature Conservancy, the Rivanna Conservation Society and the Southern Environmental Law Center all spoke to express their support.

Forty people had made comments by press time. About two-thirds of the speakers asked the DEQ to deny the permit modification.

Representatives of the Sierra Club expressed their opposition. Several speakers opposed to the dam said RWSA officials should be investigated by the attorney general for potential misdeeds.

Written public comments will be accepted by the DEQ through Oct. 14.

The State Water Control Board, an appointed body that oversees the DEQ, will decide on whether to grant the permit modification at its meeting in early December.

“I would like to point out that the relevant federal and state regulations are the basis of the actions to be taken by the board,” said Shelton Miles, chairman of the water control board.

 

 

September 29, 2011

County supervisors overrule city’s request for MPO to back environmental reviews and traffic studies ahead of Western Bypass contract

DailyProgressBy Sean Tubbs
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Thursday, September 29, 2011


Charlottesville City Councilor Kristin Szakos failed Wednesday in an attempt to get the Metropolitan Planning Organization’s policy board to take a new position on the Western Bypass of U.S. 29.

“I would like to make a motion that we call on the state to wait until previous studies are reviewed and the environmental review is complete and traffic modeling is conducted before proceeding on the contract to build [the bypass],” Szakos said.

Albemarle Supervisors Duane Snow and Rodney S. Thomas voted against the resolution, while Szakos voted for it. Though he seconded the motion, City Councilor Satyendra Huja left the meeting before a vote was taken. Virginia Department of Transportation administrator James Utterback abstained.

Snow pointed out that Albemarle’s Board of Supervisors passed a similar resolution earlier this month.

“We decided that the contract could be awarded but we asked that the construction hold off until the studies were completed,” Snow said.


Because the project was dormant for many years, the Federal Highway Administration is reviewing previous approvals to see if they are still valid. That process will likely not conclude until at least the end of September 2012.

This week, VDOT issued a request for proposals for a contractor to both design and build the 6.24-mile, four-lane divided highway through Albemarle County. The lowest bid will be selected by the Commonwealth Transportation Board in June.

The selected company will be given two notices to proceed.

The first will be given soon after the contract is awarded to allow the firm to begin preliminary design work. Right of way acquisition and utility relocation cannot take place during this period.

The second notice, which will allow those activities plus construction to begin, will be given after the FHWA finishes its review.

Utterback said federal law will not allow construction to occur until the environmental review is completed. He said traffic modeling will be one of the first studies to be completed and could easily run parallel to the procurement process that will select a contractor.

“Any modifications that come from the environmental process would go back into the contract and the contractor would be responsible for meeting those changes and conditions,” Utterback said.

Russell “Mac” Lafferty, a non-voting member of the MPO policy board, said he was concerned those change-orders would cause the project to increase far beyond its estimated cost of $244.5 million.

“I think it’s certainly a reasonable request that you don’t hire someone before you know the full extent of the project,” Lafferty said.

Snow said he saw no reason for the MPO to weigh in and that VDOT engineers will work with the selected contractor to lower the impact of the road and make the interchanges more palatable to the community.

“Everything I’ve seen is moving in the right direction,” Snow said. “As far as I’m concerned, as the MPO, I think we let things go the way they’re going.”

However, Lafferty said he was skeptical the design-build process would take community input into account.

Ken Boyd’s committee came up with some recommendations and comments and those were not included in the RFP that just went out,” Lafferty said. “I have a problem when you have a populace that came out 2 to 1 against it [at the July 27 MPO meeting] and we didn’t address a single concern that they had.”

Utterback said VDOT will evaluate input from Boyd’s committee, Supervisor Dennis S. Rooker’s committee and other sources and will include some of that information in an addendum to the RFP that will be issued Nov. 8.

Steven Williams, executive director of the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission, said the environmental review will not result in the project being canceled.

“An [environmental impact statement] never says that a project should not be built,” Williams said. “What it says is that there are impacts and either they are not significant, they can be mitigated or they can’t be mitigated and there’s a decision-making process with regard to what approach should be taken to those impacts.”

 

 

Audio & Video of Albemarle Supervisor candidate forum - Rivanna District

2011-election-DPx476On September 28, 2011, Charlottesville Tomorrow and The Daily Progress co-sponsored a candidate forum for the two candidates running for the Rivanna District seat on the Albemarle Board of Supervisors.
 
Local residents came to the Hollymead Elementary School to hear the candidates respond to questions posed by the moderator, the audience, and each other.  Read this article for complete coverage by The Daily Progress.


Listen using player above or download the podcast: Download 20110928-Rivanna-Forum

The candidate forum participants
  • Kenneth C. Boyd (R)
  • Cynthia Neff (D)
  • Brian Wheeler, Moderator

20110928-rivanna-shurtleff Photo: Andrew Shurtleff, The Daily Progress
Used with permission

Watch the forum video

0:03:48 -- OPENING STATEMENTS

0:10:00 -- QUICK RESPONSE TOPICS

 Water plan
As the primary approach for adding to our long term water supply, do you favor dredging and water conservation before construction of a new or taller dam at the Ragged Mountain Reservoir, YES or NO?

 Western Bypass
Do you support construction of the 6.2 mile Western Bypass as currently proposed for U.S. Route 29, YES or NO?

 Property Taxes
Will you consider raising the real estate property tax rate in the next county budget to invest in capital funding priorities, YES or NO?

SEVEN MODERATOR QUESTION TOPICS

0:12:10 -- Economic Vitality Plan
What role should local government play to stimulate economic vitality?  Do you support Albemarle’s economic vitality plan and are there areas you recommend for improvement?

0:15:35 -- City-County-UVA relations
How should the city, county and the University of Virginia work together to enhance our community’s unique character and economic vitality?

0:18:55 -- Western Bypass
Do you believe the Western Bypass project is consistent with the character of our community and the public’s vision for transportation in Albemarle County?

0:22:44 -- Growth area boundary adjustments and/or expansions
Should the board consider boundary adjustments for Albemarle County’s designated growth areas to create new locations for business on land currently zoned as rural areas?  Does it matter if the land is in the watershed of the South Fork Rivanna Reservoir?

0:27:20 -- Education
Albemarle County’s vision statement calls for a “world class” public education system.  What does that mean to you and how will you support that goal?

0:30:38 -- Your priorities
What is your top priority for action by the board of supervisors if you are elected?

0:33:46 -- Your qualifications for Board of Supervisors
Please describe your past experience that qualifies you to be on the Albemarle Board of Supervisors.

0:37:20 -- AUDIENCE QUESTIONS

1:00:54 -- CANDIDATES ASK EACH OTHER QUESTIONS

1:10:40 -- CLOSING STATEMENTS

 

September 28, 2011

City will pay to initiate work on dredging proposal

DailyProgressBy Sean Tubbs
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The city of Charlottesville has agreed to pay $50,000 in upfront costs to prepare a request for proposals to dredge a portion of the South Fork Rivanna Reservoir.

“We’d like to see dredging move forward as soon as possible,” said City Manager Maurice Jones.

The Rivanna Water & Sewer Authority voted 4-3 Tuesday to allow the city to pay for the hiring of HDR Engineering to finalize preparations for a request for proposals to seek bids for dredging in at least the upstream portions of the reservoir.

Albemarle County’s three representatives on the RWSA board voted against the proposal because they said action on dredging should wait until the city and county agree on how the two jurisdictions will split the cost of pending capital projects such as the new earthen dam at Ragged Mountain.

“Given the dynamics around dredging and water supply, it seems like it would be prudent to make sure that that final agreement talks about what we’ve talked about here,” said County Executive Thomas Foley.

However, Jones reminded the RWSA board that the Albemarle County Service Authority was previously allowed to spend nearly $900,000 to pay Schnabel Engineering to proceed with final design of the new dam.

“The city would do the same thing with dredging until we have an official cost-share,” Jones said. He added that the city and county would still split the cost of both projects, but would determine the ratio later on.

Michael Gaffney, chairman of the RWSA, voted for the proposal.

“I think it’s important that we treat both the dam and dredging equally and I think this does it,” Gaffney said.

20110628- Rivanna

Thomas L. Frederick Jr., executive director of the RWSA, told the board he hoped it could reach agreement on the cost allocation by the end of October so a request for proposals to build the dam could be issued.

Jones said he felt a cost-share agreement was near, but the ACSA’s executive director, Gary O’Connell, said he was not as confident they were ready to present something to the City Council and the Board of Supervisors.

“We have some more discussion and I don’t know exactly how close we are at this minute,” O’Connell said. “Ideally, by the end of October we will have something in place to go forward with.”

One remaining issue is specifying the conditions that will trigger a second phase of the dam expansion. In February, the City Council voted 3-2 vote to proceed with an earthen dam built at an initial pool height rise of 30 feet.

City councilors had expressed the hope that that might be the only reservoir expansion necessary, but county officials have sought to build the dam at its full designed height of 42 feet.

“You’ve got a bunch of different issues that are being looked at all at once,” O’Connell said.

Supervisor Kenneth C. Boyd said he believes the two sides have reached an impasse and asked if they would agree to arbitration. Jones disagreed with Boyd’s interpretation of the reasons for delay.

“It’s not unusual to have a back and forth during negotiations and that’s exactly what we’ve done,” Jones said. “We’ve never reached a point where we’re not sure what to do next.”

Foley asked what would happen if an agreement is not reached by October.

Frederick said the RWSA board would be asked at its next meeting, on Oct. 25, if it wants to put the dam project out to bid.

“There’s no law that says you can’t go ahead and advertise for bids without a cost-share agreement,” Frederick said. “I do not think that it would be wise to award a contract without having the agreements in place.”

Frederick reminded the board that if the contract for the dam is not awarded by the end of December, the RWSA will be violation of an agreement it made with the Virginia Soil and Water Conservation board on a schedule for replacement of the dam. That panel has extended an existing permit on several occasions in the past.

On Thursday, the Department of Environmental Quality will hold a public hearing on modifications for the permit that allows the RWSA to construct the dam. Because the dam will be built in two stages, the permit had to be amended to allow the RWSA to release less water into streams until the dam reaches its final height.

Download Download cover letter from DEQ to RWSA Director Tom Frederick

Download Download cover page for permit modification

Download Download general conditions under which permit modification would be issued

Download Download special conditions under which permit modification would be issued

The new dam has received permits from the Virginia Department of Health and the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation. In October, the RWSA will present the Virginia Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration with plans for an enhanced embankment for where the expanded reservoir would touch Interstate 64. A public meeting on that aspect of the plan will be held at 6 p.m. Oct. 19 at the Albemarle County Office Building-McIntire.

 

Public to see 3 options for Rivanna pump station

DailyProgressBy Sean Tubbs
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Rivanna Water & Sewer Authority’s board of directors has decided to keep all three options for the replacement of the Rivanna Sewer Pump Station on the table, despite learning Tuesday that one of the concepts is significantly more expensive.

All three concepts will be shown to the public at a meeting Oct. 20.

 

Listen using player above or download the podcast: Download 20110927-RWSA

“I can appreciate the board wanting to allow public comment, but after the public meeting the staff will be pushing you to narrow alternatives,” said Thomas L. Frederick Jr., executive director of the RWSA.

The station is being replaced with a facility that can process 53 million gallons of sewage a day. The existing station is not capable of handling large amounts of stormwater that infiltrates the sewer system after heavy rainfall, leading to some raw sewage flooding into Moores Creek and the Rivanna River.

The RWSA must decide on an option by Dec. 31 in order to comply with a consent agreement it made with the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality.

20110823-Janice-Carroll
Janice Carroll of Hazen & Sawyer (file photo)

Janice R. Carroll, an engineer with Hazen and Sawyer, presented details to members of the board Tuesday.

 

Option A would replace the existing station in place at a cost between $25 million and $27 million. This option has been opposed by residents of the Woolen Mills neighborhood, but Hazen and Sawyer said it could be designed to fit in with the architecture of the community.

Option D would build a new pump station across the Rivanna River down the hill from State Farm Insurance’s regional headquarters at a cost of around $55 million. State Farm has previously expressed its opposition.

Carroll said Option D is more expensive because initial drilling has revealed fractured hard rock masses that could be problematic to remove.

“‘D’ as in ‘difficult,’” Carroll said. “One of the difficulties or risks is that in trying to do the excavation for the pump station there would be a risk of creating rock slides on that slope.”

Option E would extend the existing Rivanna Interceptor by about 2,000 feet by drilling a tunnel at a cost of between $38 million and $40 million. The pump station would then be built on the grounds of the Moores Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant.

Each option has potential risks. Option E would require more geotechnical work in order to determine how the tunnel would be drilled, and would also require coordinating with the CSX Railroad.

Option A would require a future City Council to approve a special-use permit for construction after it has been designed.

Option D would require permits from the Virginia Marine Resources Commission and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, as well as a critical slopes waiver from Albemarle County.

Albemarle Supervisor Kenneth C. Boyd said he was prepared to remove Option D at the State Farm site immediately.

“It’s almost embarrassing to go forward with a $55 million project that is clearly identified to be something that is going to be difficult to do,” Boyd said.

City Councilor David Brown was equally prepared to remove Option A.

“It seems like concept A would require city approval twice,” Brown said “It would require city approval now, and now there is unanimous City Council opposed.”

Brown said even if the council changes its mind after the October meeting, a future council would have to approve the special-use permit.

“That’s a tremendous amount of political uncertainty to navigate,” Brown said.

The RWSA reached consensus that all three concepts be taken to the public meeting, which will be held at 6 p.m. Oct. 20 at the Albemarle County Office Building-McIntire.

 

 

September 27, 2011

Proposal to expand Redfields recommended for denial

DailyProgressBy Brian Wheeler
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Albemarle County Planning Commission faced two challenges Tuesday evening — a renewed request for a major residential development that it had previously discouraged and an auditorium full of frustrated residents determined to make sure undeveloped land in the Redfields neighborhood remains that way forever.

20110123-RedfieldsAfter a lengthy public hearing attended by 200-plus people, the commission voted unanimously to recommend denial of a rezoning request from local developer Gaylon Beights and the Redfields Development Corp. Commissioner Duane Zobrist recused himself from the meeting because of past representation of the applicant.

Beights petitioned the county to allow him to develop a 58-acre site for 126 new homes in Redfields. More than 20 neighbors reminded the commission Tuesday of promises they said were made that the land would be preserved as open space.

Listen using player above or download the podcast:
Download 20110927-AlbPC-Redfields

Catherine Cassety has lived in Redfields for the past 10 years. She said the plat for her home clearly labeled the land proposed for the new development as open space.

“When we bought our house, I did my due diligence,” Cassety said. “My agent called the Realtors and employees at the Redfields Development Corp. and they told us this would be open space. We should be able to rely on these public documents.”

“I feel like we are opening a Pandora’s box as soon as we start allowing rural areas to be developed by developers,” said resident Stephanie Polackwich. “We have a plan, we need to stick to it. The citizens and taxpayers of Albemarle County count on you to do this. You are the stewards of our lands and I hope you are taking that responsibility seriously.”

The proposed expansion of the Redfields neighborhood off Sunset Avenue Extended was recommended for denial by county staff. Located in Albemarle’s rural area, the project ran into trouble in large part because it would require an adjustment to the county’s designated growth area.

“The proposed residential development is inconsistent with the growth management policy and the rural area policies,” said senior planner Claudette Grant. “Staff recommends denial … because the residential use proposed is not in compliance with the Comprehensive Plan’s land use designation.”

Steve Blaine, an attorney with LeClair Ryan representing the project, said he thought the residents’ concerns were sincere, but unfortunate.

“They may be mistaken expectations,” Blaine told the commission. “The county cannot be bound by mistaken expectations.”

Blaine told the commission that the developers had consistently represented their intent to build on this part of Redfields in the future. The proposal includes new townhomes, detached homes, a playground area and basketball court.

Blaine said trails impacted by the development would be replaced and some acreage would be dedicated, permanently this time, as open space.

“We agree there is confusion about what open space means,” Blaine said to the commission after the public hearing. “Does there need to be a major re-education of our real estate agents? Yes, I think we have heard that tonight.”

“I cannot support this application,” said Commissioner Linda Porterfield. “I told the applicant on Friday that I didn’t understand why they were back in here because they were directly sent on a path by this commission … to be considered with all the other applications …to expand the development areas.”

The Planning Commission will start a comprehensive review of all the growth area expansion proposals in October.

Porterfield added that she did not think the Redfields expansion proposal was “in keeping with the character of the neighborhood as it has developed over 20 years.”

The Albemarle Board of Supervisors is expected to review the rezoning request at a meeting before the end of the year. The board will be asked to consider whether it should act on this request separate from the others included in the comprehensive review effort.

Northern interchange concepts for Western Bypass unveiled at town hall

By Sean Tubbs
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Monday, September 26, 2011

20110926-Giometti-Diverging
VDOT engineer John Giometti explains one of the concepts for a northern terminus which would use two traffic signals and a "diverging diamond"

A task force convened by Supervisor Kenneth C. Boyd has told the Virginia Department of Transportation how they would like to see a northern terminus for the Western Bypass designed, but they have received no guarantees that their recommendations will be incorporated into the request for proposals that will be issued later this week.

“I implore VDOT to include these recommendations in the initial RFP and/or any subsequent amendments,” said David Shifflet, a task force member who serves as the president of the Forest Lakes Community Association.

Listen using player above or download the podcast: Download 20110926-Town-Hall

 The task force has met twice with VDOT officials and made four basic recommendations.

First, they want to ensure the terminus stays on the west side of U.S. 29 and south of Ashwood Boulevard. Second, they want the footprint to be as small as possible and to have no impact on the existing at-grade intersection of U.S. 29 and Ashwood. Third, they do not want any at-grade interchanges or traffic lights. Fourth, they did not want to allow any u-turns.

“Task force members were unanimous in their support of these recommendations,” Shifflet said “We feel their inclusion into the design requirements of the northern terminus by VDOT is imperative to protect the entrance ways of the Forest Lakes and Hollymead communities.”


At a town hall meeting Monday night, Shifflet said VDOT has been receptive to the recommendations but are unable to guarantee they will be incorporated into the parameters that would be issued as part of the RFP when it is released later this week.

Harold Jones, Jr., a VDOT location and design engineer from Culpeper who is serving as the project manager for the bypass, told the audience that the highway will be planned and constructed using a design-build approach.

“In this format, contractors are involved early on in the design process so their valuable input can be on the front-end to try to come up with a better solution before the final design is complete,” Jones said.

Jones said his job was to receive public input and pass them on to his superiors at VDOT who will make the final call on the parameters of the RFP.

“There will be a decision, beyond me, about what will be included and what won’t be based on public input,” Jones said.  ‘We appreciate all the input we have gotten and it’s being made known throughout [VDOT].  As part as defining the parameters by which the RFP will be issued, some may be incorporated and some may not be.”

After a lengthy question and answer period, VDOT engineers unveiled two conceptual drawings for what the northern terminus might look like. They stressed these were not directives to potential bidders.

“It’s important to figure out what exactly will work and won’t work,” said VDOT engineer John Giometti. “What we’ve done is try to take some of this initial public feedback and see if [requests] can even be accommodated from an engineering standpoint.”

One of the concepts displayed would use two new traffic lights south of Ashwood Boulevard to help traffic navigate a “diverging diamond” design that would briefly see traffic travel on the other side of the road in order to accommodate the bypass on-ramps. VDOT is planning to build the first of these in Virginia at Zion’s Crossroads.

“That would be a small footprint and low-cost because there would not be any bridge structures included in the interchanges,” Giometti said.

However, Giometti said task force members did not like the idea of new traffic lights, so a second conceptual design was created to show how the bypass could connect to U.S. 29 via grade-separated interchanges.

 “This [second] design appears to incorporate the recommendations of the task force,” Shifflet said. “I hope they’re listening. We’re the ones who have to drive up and down this road every day.”

20110926-jones
VDOT engineer Harold Jones Jr. explains the other conceptual alternative

Giometti said bidders will not be restricted to the concepts. However, the exact parameters of the RFP will not be known until it is advertised later this week.

Ann Thornber, a member of the task force, said she was happy to have participated in the process because she said it will result in a better road for Forest Lakes.

 “We didn’t want any more stoplights,” Thornber said. “We’re going to be pushing and will keep in touch,” Thornburgh said.

Russell “Mac” Lafferty, an Albemarle County Planning Commissioner and member of the CHART committee, said he was concerned that public input from the task force was not going to be included in the initial RFP.

“They are saying that the first chance to really give public input will be in November,” Lafferty said. “By then, much of the design process may be completed.”

Giometti said the southern interchange would also be designed by the winning contractor and could result in a smaller footprint than the one designed in 1997.

“A three-story flyover ramp is not something that the community has ever been thrilled with so that’s one of the things we’re hoping we can eliminate,” Giometti said.

He added that could mean traffic lights at the southern interchange, but the exact design will not be known until VDOT issues an award.

 

September 25, 2011

Albemarle increasing lobbying effort for new athletic fields

DailyProgressBy Kurt Walters
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Sunday, September 25, 2011

At the final public hearing for the Biscuit Run State Park master plan, Albemarle County officials issued a self-described “plea” for the state to further consider the inclusion of athletic playing fields.

The nine-month-long planning process has ended with a number of amenities sought by local residents, but not the athletic fields that have the backing of county supervisors, many members of the public and local sports organizations.

20110801-BiscuitRunConcept

Click image for larger version of August 1, 2011
Biscuit Run State Park concept plan

“I would just like for you to at least get this proposal to Richmond, ask for their consideration, and we’re certainly not asking you or the state for [the fields] to be on your dime,” said Bob Crickenberger, Albemarle’s parks and recreation director. “Let it be on the county’s dime, but at least give us the opportunity to speak in favor of this and work together.”

The county’s proposal, conveyed at multiple meetings and in an Aug. 30 letter to the Department of Conservation and Recreation, cites a current deficit of 11 game-quality athletic fields in the area, with that deficit potentially rising to 19 fields within five to 10 years.

Bill Mueller, executive director of the Soccer Organization of Charlottesville-Albemarle, said overuse and lack of “rest” has led to a steady decline in field quality.

“As the executive director of our organization, I can tell you from firsthand experience that the quality of fields is declining,” Mueller said. “It’s bad and it’s getting worse … the use just outpaces the ability to maintain the fields.”

Representatives from DCR have said at previous meetings that state parks typically don’t include such facilities.

“At this time, we are not going to propose the athletic fields as part of the park,” said Janit Llewellyn Allen, a DCR environmental program planner, when the master plan was unveiled last month. “We are not changing our paradigm.”

Biscuit Run State Park is located in Albemarle’s Scottsville District on a 1,200-acre site south of Charlottesville between Route 20 and Old Lynchburg Road.

DCR has touted the inclusion of other amenities as a result of public feedback, including an amphitheater and multi-use pavilion, which were requested by local music and dance advocates. The concept plan for the park also includes areas for cabins and campgrounds; 10 to 12 miles of trails for hiking, mountain biking and equestrian uses; and a visitors’ center.

Others, however, argued that unusual amenities were only fitting for a park that arose out of the ashes of a planned housing development. Biscuit Run was originally going to have up to 3,100 homes, an elementary school and “championship” playing fields.

Chris Dumler, a Democrat running for the Scottsville District seat on the Albemarle Board of Supervisors, said the park’s proximity to a population center makes Biscuit Run different from other state parks.

“You don’t have a thousand families a day who want to go out to the Great Dismal Swamp to play soccer,” Dumler said.

The demand for soccer and other athletic fields in greater Charlottesville is evidenced by the volume of public comments received by the DCR. Eighty-seven of the 140 total comments received were in support of athletic fields at the park, far outpacing the next highest topic, equestrian trails, which received 33 comments. Only one resident expressed an opposition to the fields.

Jim Norwood, the Republican running for the Scottsville District seat, attended the last public hearing and said he would support playing fields.

“When I’m elected, I would certainly champion a request to the state for the [athletic field] property allocation,” Norwood said. “I would also feel confident that I could rally the support of the Board of Supervisors for that request.”

At least three current supervisors — Ann H. Mallek, Dennis S. Rooker and the retiring Lindsay G. Dorrier Jr. — have publicly supported the proposal. Dumler also said he would support the proposal if elected to fill Dorrier’s seat.

“I would hope that state-level policymakers would be willing to sit back and listen and say, ‘OK, we’re building a park in your backyard and obviously you have a huge population base here who have paid state taxes for as long they’ve lived in the area,’” Dumler said. “It’s just a matter of giving ’em some elbow, I think.”

The Department of Conservation and Recreation is accepting public comments on the plan for Biscuit Run State Park until Friday. Comments may be submitted to janit.llewellyn@dcr.virginia.gov.

http://www.cvillepedia.org/mediawiki/index.php/Biscuit_Run_State_Park

September 23, 2011

Audio & Video of Charlottesville City Council candidate forum

2011-election-DPx476On September 20, 2011, Charlottesville Tomorrow and The Daily Progress co-sponsored a city council candidate forum for six of the seven candidates (eight at that time) running for three of the five seats on Charlottesville City Council.
 
Local residents came to the Burley Middle School auditorium to hear the candidates respond to questions posed by the moderator, the audience, and each other.  Read this article for complete coverage by Charlottesville Tomorrow.

 


Listen using player above or download the podcast: Download 20110920-CityCouncilForum

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The candidate forum participants
  • Brandon Collins (I)
  • Bob Fenwick (I)
  • Kathleen M. Galvin (D)
  • Satyendra Huja (D)
  • Dede Smith (D)
  • Andrew Williams (I)
  • Brian Wheeler, Moderator

Not participating

Charlottesville City Council
candidate forum
from Charlottesville Tomorrow on Vimeo.

QUICK RESPONSE TOPICS

Water plan
As the primary approach for adding to our long term water supply, do you favor dredging and water conservation before construction of a new or taller dam at the Ragged Mountain Reservoir, YES or NO?

Meadow Creek Parkway
Do you support construction of the Meadow Creek Parkway in the city of Charlottesville, YES or NO? 

Ward-based elections
Would you support switching from at-large seats to ward-based representation for elections to Charlottesville City Council, YES or NO?

SEVEN MODERATOR QUESTION TOPICS

Your qualifications for City Council
Please describe your past experience that qualifies you to be on City Council.

Transportation / Transit
Do you support an expanded transit system? If so, how would you raise the money to pay for additional service?

City-County-UVA relations
How should the city, county and the University of Virginia work together to enhance our community’s unique character and economic vitality?

Workforce development / Jobs
Last month the Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce reported that Charlottesville lost 3,248 jobs during the years 2000 to 2010.  What specifically should city council do to promote employment?

Education
Do you support the city school board’s grade reconfiguration initiative?  Why or why not?

Comprehensive plan
Recent projections show that the city’s population will increase significantly in the next 50 years.  What changes would you advocate for in the city’s comprehensive plan to address that growth?

Police / crime
What is your top priority for the city police department?

After the moderator questions, the candidates each answered one question from the audience.  Then each candidate had an opportunity to ask another candidate a question.

 

Rosehill, Kellytown residents share concerns with council

DailyProgressBy Sean Tubbs
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Friday, September 23, 2011

Residents of two of Charlottesville’s central neighborhoods had the opportunity Thursday night to give advice to city councilors and department heads about how local government can work more effectively to serve their needs.

The City Council’s latest town hall meeting was targeted at residents of the Rose Hill neighborhood and a nearby community that is only now finding an identity.

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“We’ve discovered a lot of people don’t know what Kellytown is,” said Tom Bowe, the president of the Kellytown Neighborhood Association.

One city councilor said he could understand that sentiment.

“I’ve lived on Rugby Avenue for thirty years, and I wasn’t really sure if I was a resident of Kellytown,” said City Councilor David Brown. “Part of it in my view is that neighborhoods form around a community of interest, and that’s often a problem. What are the problems that can bring an identity to this neighborhood?”

City government recognizes many neighborhoods, but does not make decisions about their boundaries.

Bowe said problems facing the neighborhood include cut-through traffic on Rose Hill Drive, as well as the pressures of more development. He said the neighborhood is considering seeking historical status from the city in part to help protect its residential character.

“We’re concerned about commercial development on Rose Hill Drive and Amherst Street," Bowe said. He pointed to a pending development by Artisan Construction that will consolidate four businesses into one medical clinic, which he said will include an inappropriate access onto Amherst Street.

“That is a neighborhood street,” Bowe said. “If [patients] want to go to Barracks Road after they go to the clinic, they would cut through our neighborhood.”

Susan Hoffman, a resident of Augusta Street, said she felt a developer outmaneuvered the neighborhood during a rezoning process that allowed for the development.

“It is difficult for a neighborhood to pull together and come to a consensus in a short amount of time,” Hoffman said. “For the developer, that’s their business, and they have lawyers. We felt like we didn’t have any voice in the matter.”

Jim Tolbert, the city’s director of neighborhood development services, said he understood the neighborhood’s concerns, and that his department tries to inform citizens about how rezoning and other development applications work.

“If neighbors have concerns, we’ll give you advice on how the process works,” Tolbert said. “We’re not going to tell you how to defeat it, but we’ll put you in touch with the developer and help you strategize.”

Neighborhood resident Anne Colony is helping to research the history of Kellytown.

“It’s apparently one of the first free black neighborhoods in Charlottesville,” Colony said. “We are talking about doing a historic plaque to give a little of the history.”

Colony added that many in the neighborhood believe that Thomas Jefferson looked at the area as a potential location for the University of Virginia.

Tolbert also used the meeting to educate people about a new honorary street name that is being applied to Rose Hill Drive. The street will gain a second name, Jackson P. Burley Drive, from Preston Avenue to Madison Avenue.

James Hollins, the president of the Rose Hill Neighborhood Association, asked the council to increase police patrols.

“Rose Hill is basically a quiet area and we like to keep it quiet and have the police come through late at night,” Hollins said.

In 2009, Councilor Kristin Szakos campaigned on a platform to hold town hall-style meetings in order to reach people who might feel uncomfortable coming to city hall for a regular meeting.

“I think they are going probably better than we expected,” said city spokesman Ric Barrick.

The program will continue next year, but Barrick said neighborhood associations will be encouraged to take a more active role in planning them.

The next town hall meeting will be held on Oct.13 at Walker Upper Elementary School for residents of the Greenbrier and Rugby neighborhoods.