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March 24, 2012

Attorney files suit to stop new dam

DailyProgressBy Sean Tubbs
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Saturday, March 24, 2012

Stanton Braverman, an attorney who owns three properties in Charlottesville, has filed suit against the Rivanna Water & Sewer Authority and three other governmental bodies alleging that a new dam at the Ragged Mountain Reservoir was illegally approved.
 
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“The project to develop Ragged Mountain Reservoir as currently designed will seriously affect the value of these properties and will also affect the cost and availability of fresh water to these properties,” reads the complaint that was filed in Charlottesville Circuit Court on Friday.
 
The complaint alleges that the City Council acted illegally when it voted 3-2 on Jan. 17 to update the four-party agreement that formed the RWSA. The agreement established conditions under which the new dam and a new water transmission pipeline would be built.
 
“[City Council is] required by Section 28 of the City Charter to place the issue for a referendum and by Article VII section 9 of the Virginia State Constitution, which requires that it be approved by a supermajority of the City Council,” reads the complaint. “Neither condition has been met.”

Listen using player above or download the podcast:  Download 20120323-Alliance-Press-Conference

Braverman’s profile on the LinkedIn website states that he is an expert on immigration and naturalization law and that he has practiced with the firm Braverman and Lin since 1972. On the site, he states that his primary residence is near the Shenandoah National Park, but he also has a home in downtown Charlottesville. 

Continue reading "Attorney files suit to stop new dam" »

Planning commission endorses continued protection of most rural interstate interchanges

DailyProgressBy Courtney Beale &
By Brian Wheeler
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Saturday, March 24, 2012

After evaluating the inventory and location of land zoned for light industry, the Albemarle Planning Commission concluded Tuesday that the county’s rural interchanges on Interstate 64 should not be targeted for further development.

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County staff had presented possibilities for expanding industrial land outside of the development area to encourage target industries to locate in Albemarle. Citizens provided feedback both for and against the zoning changes, with particular emphasis on the highway interchanges.

County resident John Chavan encouraged the commission to consider the business opportunities south of the Shadwell exit on I-64, just past the growth area boundary.

“My neighbor has a 250-room hotel and my property comes right in front of [U.S.] 250 and [the Virginia Department of Transportation] says there are between 30,000 and 50,000 cars [passing every] day,” Chavan said. “To me, that is not rural.”

A rezoning request from Chavan was unanimously denied by the Albemarle supervisors in 2008. When the Pantops Master Plan was developed, Albemarle officials intentionally left the land in the rural area.

“Taking into consideration the economic downturn … our county faces, I would think that it would be prudent to put something like a mini-warehouse where the traffic is,” Chavan added. “There is a place for a tree, also there is a place for a business, especially at our interchanges.”

Morgan Butler, an attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center, said he did not see the need for increasing industrial-zoned land outside of the development area.

“As for strategies that involve letting industrial development creep into the rural areas, we just don’t see a compelling reason to consider them in this Comprehensive Plan update,” Butler said.

Butler added that current inventory of land for industrial uses meets the community’s projected needs.

“From a prudent planning standpoint, this ‘Goldilocks area’ is not a bad place to be,” said Butler. “There is no pressing need to go looking outside the development areas to designate more land for industrial use right now.”

Staff stated that the need for more industrial land was based on the size and quality of the parcels currently available to support desired businesses. Industries such as information technology, defense, security, bioscience and medical devices will need high-speed Internet, are large power users and have large water needs.

Staff said there are not many industrially zoned parcels offering these services. In addition, information technology, defense and security industries could need up to 25 acres for their facilities and there are only two parcels of that size available in Albemarle’s undeveloped industrially designated parcels.

The Crozet interchange on I-64 was a hot topic of discussion for both commissioners and the public.

Continue reading "Planning commission endorses continued protection of most rural interstate interchanges" »

March 21, 2012

Group: Suit to stop dam in works

DailyProgressBy Sean Tubbs
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Wednesday, March 21, 2012

A new group calling itself the Charlottesville Open Government Alliance said a lawsuit will be filed Friday against the Rivanna Water & Sewer Authority and others seeking to stop construction of a new earthen dam at the Ragged Mountain Reservoir.
 
The lawsuit will argue that the City Council broke Virginia law when it voted 3-2 on Jan. 17 on a final approval of the plan.
 
“The Ragged Mountain dam scheme … sells public property and the rights to our water works without the benefit of a referendum or supermajority vote as the City Charter or Code and Virginia Constitution require,” reads a news release issued Wednesday by former City Council candidate Bob Fenwick.
 
Joanna Salidis has registered the organization’s new website at www.cvillealliance.com. Both Fenwick and Salidis also worked with Citizens for a Sustainable Water Plan in its five-year battle against the dam.
 
On Tuesday, when the RWSA announced the contract for the dam’s construction had been awarded, that group’s chair, Rebecca Quinn, said it would not be filing a lawsuit.
 
Calls to contact members of the new organization were not returned Wednesday.

Continue reading "Group: Suit to stop dam in works" »

Water authority awards dam contract to Thalle Construction

DailyProgressBy Brian Wheeler
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Thalle Construction of Hillsborough, N.C., has been formally awarded the contract to build the new earthen dam for the Charlottesville-Albemarle County community water supply.

The Rivanna Water & Sewer Authority finalized the agreement Tuesday.

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New earthen dam at Ragged Mountain Reservoir
Source: RWSA, visualization by Design Develop LLC

“We have issued the notice of award and it was signed this morning,” said Thomas L. Frederick Jr., the RWSA’s executive director. “The notice to proceed [with construction] will be issued when all the contract documents are properly executed. Our best guess is that will take another two-three weeks.”

“We are excited for the opportunity to work with Rivanna and the residents towards the successful completion of this water supply project,” said Joseph M. Schiavone Jr., a senior project manager with Thalle. “We enjoy this type of work. It’s very challenging.”

In December, Thalle was announced as the low bidder among nine competing firms. Thalle bid about $21.5 million on the first phase of the dam. The earthen dam will be built downstream of the 1908 concrete dam at the Ragged Mountain Reservoir.

The contract executed this week is technically for the dam’s first phase, which would raise the water level by 30 feet. However, in January the city of Charlottesville and Albemarle County agreed to build the dam all at once and only fill it to 42 feet as water demand requires.

Frederick said Thalle will submit a change order covering the extra work to build the dam to its full height.

“$26.9 million is our projection for the total project cost in the construction phase,” Frederick said. “It is sufficient to cover those expenses.”

Continue reading "Water authority awards dam contract to Thalle Construction" »

First Tee officials make pitch for continued use of McIntire Park

DailyProgressBy Sean Tubbs
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The directors of First Tee of Charlottesville asked the City Council Tuesday to keep local golfers in mind as they consider the future of the eastern half of McIntire Park.
 
A master planning process to determine the future of the park is currently underway, and the organization is hopeful that golf will continue to have a home there in some form. 
 
“No one here is averse to having another facility,” said Wayne Hall, the chair of First Tee of Charlottesville’s advisory board. “[But] the question is where, and how much. You already have golf at McIntire. It can be [kept] in part of the park.”
 
The meeting was attended by Councilors Dave Norris, Dede Smith and Kristin Szakos. Councilor Kathy Galvin and Mayor Satyendra Huja did not attend. 
 
The First Tee Program is part of the Parks and Recreation Department, but is also a chapter of a national organization that has over 200 branches. The city entered into a contract with the group in 2004, and that contract expires in 2019. 
 
Sue Parson, associate director of Central Atlantic regional affairs for The First Tee, said the program teaches core values that are embodied in the game of golf and aims to instill resilience, the ability to set goals and interpersonal skills.
 
“Do you know how many people don’t know how to look someone in the eye and shake their hand?” Parson asked. “This is what we mean when we talk about life skills, and when they’re off the course, they can still use it.” 
 
In 2011, the program had 402 children enrolled. More than half of them came from Albemarle County, and 30 percent came from the city of Charlottesville
 

Continue reading "First Tee officials make pitch for continued use of McIntire Park " »

March 19, 2012

City Council holds public hearing on FY13 budget

DailyProgressBy Sean Tubbs
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Monday, March 19, 2012

Only a half dozen Charlottesville residents appeared Monday at a public hearing on the city’s budget for the fiscal year that begins on July 1.

“It is unfortunate that more citizens do not participate,” said Colette Hall, a resident of north downtown. “As you consider each item, the general fund, the capital improvement budget, remember that someone else has provided that money.”

The City Council is reviewing a $146.2 million budget for fiscal year 2013, a 2 percent increase over the current fiscal year’s budget. The total includes $16.37 million for capital improvements.

The city’s tax rate has been set at 95 cents per $100 assessed property value since fiscal year 2008, when it was lowered from 99 cents.

“As a result of the new assessment numbers, 98 percent of residential property owners will see no change a decrease in taxes,” City Manager Maurice Jones said. “We are not proposing a tax increase or a reduction in services.”

There was some discussion of whether to raise the tax rate, even though the city has advertised the stable rate and thus cannot increase it this year.

Continue reading "City Council holds public hearing on FY13 budget " »

March 18, 2012

Meet Your Government: Dan Eggleston

Dan Eggleston

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Fire Rescue Chief,
Albemarle County

Where were you born (and raised, if different)?

 I was born in Richmond, Virginia and grew up in Chesterfield County.

When and why did you move to the Charlottesville/Albemarle area?

 I was always drawn to the Charlottesville/Albemarle area for the many outdoor opportunities and the various attractions the area has to offer. I first found out about the Fire Rescue Chief position while attending the Senior Executive Institute at the University in 2001, so I jumped at the chance to apply. One thing led to another, and I accepted the job and moved to the area in 2002.

What neighborhood do you live in now?

I was fortunate to meet a local volunteer fire fighter and realtor, D.B. Sandridge, soon after moving to Albemarle and D.B. convinced me to move to wonderful Crozet. Actually, it was the ride out 250 west heading towards Crozet – the view sold me right away. 

What is your alma mater and when did you graduate?

I received my undergraduate degree in Business from Averett University and graduate degree in emergency management from the University of Richmond.

Continue reading "Meet Your Government: Dan Eggleston" »

March 16, 2012

Soundboard 3-16-2012 - Charlottesville's news straight from the source

Soundboard

 

WTJU 91.1 FM, Charlottesville Tomorrow, and C-Ville Weekly have launched a collaborative news radio program.

Soundboard: Charlottesville's news straight from the source

Each Friday from 4-5 PM, tune in to hear area journalists and guests discuss local news, culture, and community issues in the Charlottesville area. Whether we're talking about city politics, scientific innovations, or the local music scene, you'll get to hear in-depth discussion about stories that matter.

Soundboard is co-hosted by WTJU's Lewis Reining and Charlottesville Tomorrow's Jennifer Marley.

We are pleased to share a recording of our first live program, a podcast you'll be able to regularly download from this website, via RSS, and via Charlottesville Tomorrow on iTunes.

Listen using player above or download the podcast: Download 20120316-Soundboard

The March 16 show features, soon to be regular contributors, Giles Morris & Laura Ingles (C-Ville Weekly) and Sean Tubbs (Charlottesville Tomorrow).  Plus, guests in studio were on hand to talk about plans for McIntire Park East, the local Hip Hop scene, and the Tom Tom music festival. 

The panel also dives in to news about the Urban Agriculture Collective of Charlottesville, the debate about chloramines in our water, and city/county budgets. 

Future programs will include other local reporters working at WTJU, Charlottesville Tomorrow, C-Ville Weekly, and The Daily Progress. 

We hope you enjoy it, and we look forward to your feedback!

 
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March 15, 2012

DEQ briefs localities on quality of area streams

DailyProgressBy Sean Tubbs
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality is moving ahead with an effort to clean up four polluted streams in Albemarle County and Charlottesville.

Lodge Creek, Meadow Creek, Moores Creek and Schenks Branch are all considered to be impaired by the DEQ because they are not healthy environments for aquatic life. Fishing and swimming are prohibited.

As part of a plan to restore the streams, the DEQ hired the Biological Systems Engineering Department at Virginia Tech to identify pollutants in the watersheds of the four streams.

“We think sediment is the major stressor and if we can provide a suitable habitat for [microorganisms], that will allow them to come back,” said Gene Yagow, a senior research scientist at Virginia Tech. “We think these changes in sediment will get us there, and we will monitor the aquatic community to see if that happens.”

Sediment chokes off life by depriving habitats for microorganisms that make up the bottom of the food chain.

Yagow and his researchers calculated that over 3,200 tons of sediment enter Moores Creek every year, flowing in from stormwater that falls onto the waterway’s 21,860-acre watershed. The study is recommending that steps be taken to reduce that amount by 500 tons a year, or a 15.8 percent reduction.

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Tara Sieber of the DEQ stands in front of a map depicting impaired streams

“Everyone has seen a dump truck load of dirt being brought down a street,” said Tara Sieber, a water quality coordinator for the DEQ.

“One dump truck load is about 20 tons of dirt,” Sieber said. “Think about 160 of those trucks being transported down Moores Creek every year. Our goal for Moores Creek is to reduce that to about 135 trucks.”

The research found that Lodge Creek receives 177 tons a year of sediment; 577.3 tons a year flow into Schenks Branch and 1,587 tons enter Meadow Creek. Similar reductions are recommended for those waterways.

Sieber presided over a meeting Thursday to gather input from the public on the next stage of the clean-up process, which is to create an implementation plan to meet the sediment reduction goals.

Continue reading "DEQ briefs localities on quality of area streams" »

Residents share feedback on Virginia’s plan for state parks

DailyProgressBy Courtney Beale
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Thursday, March 15, 2012

Supporters of local parks voiced their opinions during Thursday’s state public hearing about the Virginia Outdoors Plan. The plan is updated every five years and is the gateway to acquiring state and federal funding for land conservation, outdoor recreation and open space planning.

Representatives from organizations like Albemarle Natural Heritage Committee, Virginia Canals and Navigation Society, the Piedmont Environmental Council and others gave input as to what they believed had been left out of the plan.

Topics included increased collaboration between localities and agencies to connect trails, protection of rare and endangered species, safety issues facing bike paths and the accessibility of local trails to the handicapped.

Lonnie Murray, representing the Albemarle Natural Heritage Committee, asked the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation to focus on connecting natural areas so that wildlife would be able to move freely between them.

“We’re not just creating isolated pockets of protections — we’re creating corridors,” Murray said.

Continue reading "Residents share feedback on Virginia’s plan for state parks" »