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May 24, 2012

Traffic model projects heavy use for a future Eastern Connector

DailyProgressBy Sean Tubbs
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Thursday, May 23, 2012

A traffic model conducted by the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission shows that an Eastern Connector linking U.S. 29 with Route 20 would carry high traffic volumes if its alignment went through a section of Charlottesville’s Pen Park
 
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This map depicts the traffic model generated by the MPO for a four-lane Eastern Connector that travels through or near Pen Park
However, at Wednesday’s meeting of the Metropolitan Planning Organization, local officials said they found challenges with all four different road alignments and expressed doubts it could be built.
 
“This project has some of the most substantial [traffic] rearrangements of any of the projects we’re looking at,” said Stephen Williams, the executive director of the TJPDC. 
 
The TJPDC is currently updating the MPO’s long-range transportation plan. That document lists all road projects that are both planned for the next 25 years and eligible for federal funding. 
 
In February, the MPO policy board directed staff to model hypothetical projects such as the Southern Parkway, an expansion of the Western Bypass of U.S. 29, as well as the Eastern Connector. 
 
MPO staff used a computer model to calculate how much traffic would be generated by each of the projects. The model is built on projected traffic conditions for the year 2040 and assumes that all projects on the current long-range transportation plan have been completed. 
 
The work involved four alternatives for the Eastern Connector, including two that would enhance Polo Grounds Road and Proffit Road. It also included two alternatives that would travel west of Route 20 north of Darden-Towe Park, cross the Rivanna River, travel along the southern and western edges of Pen Park, and connect to Rio Road. 
 
“Both of these alternatives draw an awful lot of traffic,” Williams said. 
 

Continue reading "Traffic model projects heavy use for a future Eastern Connector " »

May 23, 2012

County planners support museum for Teddy Roosevelt’s rural retreat

DailyProgressBy Sean Tubbs
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Wednesday, May 23, 2012 

A proposal to build a historical center at President Theodore Roosevelt’s rural Albemarle retreat near Keene has cleared its first step in county government. 
 
The county Planning Commission recommended approval Tuesday of a special use permit allowing for construction of a small museum and restroom facility at Pine Knot. 
 
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Beazley addresses the Albemarle Planning Commission
Pine Knot is a rustic cottage nestled in the middle of southern Albemarle,” said Paula Pierce Beazley, president and chair of the Edith and Theodore Roosevelt Foundation. 
 
Edith Roosevelt selected the spot as a getaway for the 26th president of the United States.
 
“He needed a place for rest and repairs within a day’s trip of Washington, yet remote enough and deep within the woods so as to leave his presidential cares behind,” Beazley said. 
 
Pine Knot is currently not recognized as a historical center under the zoning code.
 
“They’re looking to bring the use of the site as a historical center with special events into compliance with our zoning ordinance,” county planner Andy Sorrell said. “The events would promote the mission of the historical center.”
 

Continue reading "County planners support museum for Teddy Roosevelt’s rural retreat " »

With rising public interest, information session scheduled on chloramines debate

DailyProgressBy Brian Wheeler
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Rivanna Water & Sewer Authority will hold a public information session on June 21 regarding the proposed use of chloramines as a secondary water disinfectant in the urban water supply starting in 2014.

At its meeting Tuesday, the RWSA board of directors discussed concerns raised by local residents about potential negative health impacts of the new treatment process.

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Kathleen M. Galvin, Charlottesville City Council

The board also received a detailed seven-page memo from its executive director, Thomas L. Frederick Jr., addressing 13 issues raised by the public at last month’s meeting.

“I would hope what we could have is a dialogue that allows for the exchange of information,” Frederick said. “What we are trying to do here is inform the public on an option that we believe, the EPA believes, the Virginia Department of Health believes, is an acceptable option.”

The meeting will be held in Lane Auditorium at the Albemarle County Office Building-McIntire. Questions from the public will be accepted in writing at the meeting and may be submitted in advance via the RWSA website.

A public hearing on the issue also will be held at a separate meeting of the “four boards” responsible for the local water supply — the RWSA, the Albemarle County Service Authority, Charlottesville’s City Council and Albemarle’s Board of Supervisors. That meeting has not been scheduled, but is expected to occur in late June or early July.

“We’ve stated as many times as we possibly can … that a thorough study was done on the options,” Frederick said. “What EPA is doing is they’re changing the rules by which byproducts have to be measured in the distribution system and what constitutes compliance with drinking water standards.”

Continue reading "With rising public interest, information session scheduled on chloramines debate" »

May 22, 2012

Land trust tested as new approach for creating affordable living choices

DailyProgressBy Courtney Beale
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Habitat for Humanity of Greater Charlottesville and the Thomas Jefferson Community Land Trust have combined forces to create two affordable homes on Cleveland Avenue in the city. The collaboration is the first of its kind in Virginia.

“This is a pilot project to work out some of the kinks but we hope this is the first of many Habitat and land trust partnerships,” said Dan Rosensweig, Habitat’s executive director, at a Tuesday groundbreaking ceremony.

“This is the beginning of a new type of sustainable, affordable housing,” said Frazier Bell, chair of the land trust. “We are looking forward to many more sustainable, affordable housing units in the area and to working with Habitat.”

The partnership, which has been in the works for several years, combines the two organizations’ methods to achieve one common goal — provide affordable housing.

Habitat creates affordable housing through volunteer work. The TJCLT, a nonprofit formed in 2008, provides affordable housing by purchasing land and then leasing it to homeowners for a nominal fee. This allows the owners to only purchase the building, lowering the cost of homeownership.

“The beauty of this is that it is an effective mechanism to maintain affordable housing, especially in a place like Charlottesville,” said Robert J. Adams, a staff member of the land trust.

The collaboration ensures that by separating the price of the land from the price of the house, the property will remain affordable into the future. Because real estate prices tend to increase, the land trust’s lease will last for 90 years, stabilizing the price and ensuring the affordability of these homes for generations.

“In the year 2100, we can come back to this property and it is still going to be affordable,” said Melissa Thaxton, grants coordinator in the city’s neighborhood development services office.

Continue reading "Land trust tested as new approach for creating affordable living choices" »

Council holds public hearing on utility rates

DailyProgressBy Sean Tubbs
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Tuesday, May 22, 2011

The Charlottesville City Council held its first public hearing on new utility rates for the fiscal year that begins July 1.
 
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Sharon O'Hare briefs Council on the utility rates for FY2013
“The average customer in the city of Charlottesville who has all three utilities — gas, water and wastewater — will be able to save about $7.04 a month,” said Sharon O’Hare, the city’s assistant finance director, at Monday night's council meeting.
 
O’Hare said the typical family will pay $24.51 a month for water, about the same as the $24.63 rate under the current structure.
 
Sewer rates will increase 10.44 percent, from $25.10 a month to $27.72 a month. The Rivanna Water & Sewer Authority increased its wholesale rates by 12.14 percent to cover capital projects such as the $40 million replacement of the Rivanna Pump Station.
 
Gas rates will decrease 12.25 percent.

Continue reading "Council holds public hearing on utility rates" »

May 20, 2012

Soundboard 5-18-2012 - Charlottesville's news straight from the source

Soundboard

Soundboard: Charlottesville's news straight from the source

A collaborative local news radio program by WTJU 91.1 FM, Charlottesville Tomorrow, and C-Ville Weekly.

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.

Podcasts may be downloaded from this website, via RSS, and via Charlottesville Tomorrow on iTunes.

Listen using player above or download the podcast: Download 20120518-Soundboard

The May 18 show features contributors Graelyn Brashear & Laura Ingles (from C-Ville Weekly) and Sean Tubbs (Charlottesville Tomorrow) discussing: 

 

Soundboard is produced by Robert Packard and Nathan Moore. We hope you enjoy it, and we look forward to your feedback!

 
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CvilleTomorrow_OffcUse_x750

 
 
Cville-weekly-logo

Meet Your Government: Claudette Grant

Meet Your Government: Claudette Grant Claudette_Grant
Senior Planner, Albemarle County

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

My parents migrated to the United States from the island of Jamaica. For a variety of reasons they decided to settle in Hartford, Connecticut, which is where I was born and raised. 

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

I came to Charlottesville a little over twenty years ago to attend graduate school at UVA. Like so many other residents, I fell in love with Charlottesville and Virginia and did not leave.

What neighborhood do you live in now?

I live in the Locust Grove neighborhood in the City.

Family (spouse, kids, etc)?

I am married to Juandiego Wade, whom I met in graduate school and we have a 9 year old daughter, Gabriella.

What is your alma mater and when did you graduate?

I went to the University of Connecticut for undergraduate school and the University of Virginia for graduate school.

What were you doing before coming to the County?

My work background is one in which I have worked with every form of government from the federal, state and local level. Prior to working for Albemarle County, I worked for the City of Charlottesville, administering the Community Development Block Grant program and as a planner. My work experience has not always been with government bodies, though. After graduating from UVA I worked for a non-profit agency in Richmond as a housing counselor.

Continue reading "Meet Your Government: Claudette Grant" »

May 18, 2012

Judges rules against citizen lawsuit seeking to stop water plan

DailyProgressBy Brian Wheeler
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Friday, May 18, 2012

Judge Cheryl V. Higgins has ruled against a citizen lawsuit seeking to stop the community water supply plan and validated the project’s current bond financing arrangement.

In Albemarle County Circuit Court Friday, Higgins ruled that the water supply plan’s permits and cost sharing agreement constituted a legal lease agreement between the city of Charlottesville, Albemarle County, the Albemarle County Service Authority and the Rivanna Water & Sewer Authority.

Raggedhome_photo3
Rendering of earthen dam now under construction at the Ragged Mountain Reservoir. Source: RWSA

Stanton Braverman, a retired immigration attorney from Madison who owns property in the city of Charlottesville and who opposes the water plan, filed his lawsuit in March. He argued that the Charlottesville City Council had illegally sold land to the other parties to build the new Ragged Mountain Dam and that his due process rights had been violated.

“The court cannot find that there is a sale,” Higgins said. “For there to be a sale there has to be a transfer of title or ownership interest, and I cannot find that in these documents.”

“It is clear that the intent of the parties is to treat this as a lease and the term ‘lease’ is used consistently [in the documents],” Higgins said. “With respect to the 40-year [duration], it is clear and expressed. These are leases and not in excess of 40 years.”

Outside the courthouse, RWSA executive director Thomas L. Frederick Jr. said he was pleased with the outcome and that a positive message is being sent to prospective bond purchasers.

“We are pleased with the ruling,” Frederick said. “It allows the project that our board of directors has directed us to [complete] to proceed.”

Continue reading "Judges rules against citizen lawsuit seeking to stop water plan" »

May 17, 2012

VDOT to fully fund Belmont Bridge, Hillsdale Drive Extension

DailyProgressBy Sean Tubbs
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Thursday, May 17, 2012

Virginia Secretary of Transportation Sean Connaughton appears to have fulfilled a promise to pay for several road projects in return for local support for the Western Bypass of U.S. 29 in Albemarle County.
 
Last summer, Connaughton indicated in writing that he would recommend funding for the Belmont Bridge replacement and an extension of Hillsdale Drive in VDOT’s six-year improvement program for fiscal year 2013.
 
Albemarle Supervisors Duane E. Snow and Rodney Thomas said they would not vote to allow construction funding to be allocated to the bypass unless those projects were also funded.
 
20120517-utterback
 Jim Utterback
“The draft [six-year improvement program] has an additional $10 million for the Belmont Bridge and there’s about that for Hillsdale as well,” said Jim Utterback, the administrator of VDOT’s Culpeper District.
 
Utterback’s comments came during a briefing before the Planning and Coordination Council, an entity made up of Charlottesville, Albemarle and University of Virginia officials.
 
The extension of Hillsdale Drive has a cost estimate of $29.9 million. With only around $13 million allocated, the project will only move forward if shopping center owners along its alignment donate land for the right of way.
 
With this funding, VDOT engineer Brent Sprinkel said the Hillsdale Drive extension would go to advertisement in July 2015. Previously no advertisement date had been specified because funding sources were unclear.
 

Continue reading "VDOT to fully fund Belmont Bridge, Hillsdale Drive Extension" »

May 16, 2012

City parks board recommends plan to remove McIntire golf by 2020

DailyProgressBy Sean Tubbs
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The golf course on the eastern side of Charlottesville’s McIntire Park will make way for other uses if a master plan recommended Wednesday by the city’s parks and recreation advisory board is adopted by the City Council.
 
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A new concept was unveiled before the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board began their discussion. (Click to enlarge)
The board voted 7-2 on a transitional plan that would give the First Tee of Charlottesville time to find another course to serve as its primary location.
 
“The golf experience would remain in the park, but it would revert to passive area no later than January 1, 2020,” said Brian Daly, the city’s director of parks and recreation.
 
The area on the north side of the park would immediately be reserved for a botanical garden. That would give a nonprofit foundation time to raise funds to get their project off the ground with potential expansion after 2020.
 
Three concepts were taken through the public planning process, which has been underway since last September. The board’s discussion was launched by a new conceptual drawing that had not previously been seen by either its members or the public; phasing the transition was its main update.
 
“What we’ve done at this point is take the universal comments that have been received and worked really hard to come up with a concept that is thoughtful and meets the community’s desires for how the land should be used well into the future,” Daly said.
 
Daly said staff suggested a phased approach because access to the park will be limited during the construction of the city’s portion of Meadow Creek Parkway and its grade-separated interchange with U.S. 250.
 
The new concept would relocate the McIntire skate park to the southern end of the park. The Dogwood Vietnam Memorial would remain in place. 
 
The wading pool would remain in place through Labor Day of next year and then would be closed to provide room for the skate park.
 

Continue reading "City parks board recommends plan to remove McIntire golf by 2020" »