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May 16, 2012

County staff outline new development review process with early engagement of neighbors

DailyProgressBy Sean Tubbs
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Albemarle County Planning Commission has signaled its willingness to support changes to the process through which rezoning and special-use permits are handled by county government. 
In January 2010, the Albemarle Board of Supervisors adopted an economic vitality action plan that directed staff to find ways to make it easier for businesses to expand in the county. One of the directives was to streamline the legislative review process by which all discretionary land use decisions are made. 
“The focus was on codifying our expectations, being clear on what we need to have in the process to serve the applicants best,” said Wayne Cilimberg, the county’s director of planning, at a Tuesday work session.


Listen using player above or download the podcast: Download 20120515-APC-Legislative-Review

One of the main goals is to get projects to public hearings as swiftly as possible. 

Cilimberg said that may be accomplished by ensuring applications are as complete as possible from the beginning. 
“The proposed process changes are to require pre-application meetings [with staff] and for the applicants to provide a completed pre-app form for those meetings,” Cilimberg said.
Within ten days, the applicant would be notified if their submission would be accepted. If not, a checklist would be provided telling the applicant what information is missing. 

Continue reading "County staff outline new development review process with early engagement of neighbors" »

May 14, 2012

Soundboard 5-11-2012 - Charlottesville's news straight from the source


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 20120511-Soundboard 

The May 11 show features contributors Graelyn Brashear & Laura Ingles (from C-Ville Weekly) and Sean Tubbs (Charlottesville Tomorrow) discussing: 

  • Bids opened for U.S. 29 Western Bypass
  • City agrees to sell land near Oakwood Cemetery for affordable housing project
  • A look at the local biotechnology sector
  • guest Dorrie Fontaine, Dean of the UVA School of Nursing
  • guest Michele Claibourn, a researcher with UVa's Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service on her report "Blacks in Virginia"
  • Charlottesville City Council supports legalization of marijuana

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




May 12, 2012

Locavore expo puts spotlight on area’s local farmers and food innovators

DailyProgressBy Brian Wheeler
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Saturday, May 12, 2012

The Charlottesville City Market was bigger than ever Saturday morning — literally. As part of the Tom Tom Founders Festival, the market area was expanded for a Locavore Expo to celebrate and educate the community about local food.

Expo organizer Natasha Sienitsky, a member of the Charlottesville Planning Commission, said local food complimented the festival’s innovation program.

“I think it’s a natural fit for the innovation series because it’s an area that our community has been particularly innovative in,” said Sienitsky. “It’s something there is clearly passion for in the community.”

Locavore Expo organizer Natasha Sienitsky

Listen using player above or download the podcast:
Download 20120512-TTFF-Locavore

While parents made their market purchases, Sienitsky made sure the more youthful locavores had learning opportunities too.

“We had seed ball making for kids, and we did veggie prints with them,” Sienitsky said. “The whole idea is that by getting kids excited and engaged about food, and seeds and planting and harvesting, that will create the next generation of consumers who feel passionately about local food.”

Sienitsky and her husband Oliver Platts-Mills, who co-founded the Tom Tom festival with Paul Beyer, hosted a panel discussion on local foods inside the South Street Brewery.

Representatives from Albemarle County, the Local Food Hub, the Jefferson Area Board for Aging, and the Piedmont Environmental Council talked about their work. They described a wide variety and scale of local food initiatives in the community.

Continue reading "Locavore expo puts spotlight on area’s local farmers and food innovators" »

May 11, 2012

Leaders say unique qualities of Charlottesville-Albemarle make it a special place for start-up companies

DailyProgressBy Brian Wheeler
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Friday, May 11, 2012

As one of almost 60 bands in the Tom Tom Founders Festival was setting up its equipment on the stage at The Haven, Oliver Platts-Mills was busy getting the ironing board in place for the pre-concert activities.

Oliver Platts-Mills poses a question to Albemarle Supervisor Ann H. Mallek

The improvised green ironing board table and stuffed animal buffalo mascot have become fixtures of the festival’s panel discussions on innovation.

“The idea behind this series is to look at the ongoing innovation in Charlottesville and the future of innovation in Charlottesville,” said Platts-Mills, a Tom Tom co-founder. “When we talk about ‘place-based innovation,’ we are specifically talking about how Charlottesville as a place affects the type of innovation that’s happening.”

Listen using player above or download the podcast:
Download 20120511-TTFF-IS

The month-long series of panel discussions wrapped up Friday evening with an inside look at local startup Relay Foods and a keynote presentation by the chairwoman of the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors, representatives from the University of Virginia and Virginia’s secretary of commerce.

“I would generally describe the efforts of Albemarle County as [being in] the quality of life business,” said Albemarle board Chairwoman Ann H. Mallek. “We know that we need economic vitality and opportunity all across the board for citizens of all skill levels, and we need to find ways to preserve and conserve our rural areas.”

UVa’s vice president for research, Tom Skalak, described how the university is trying very hard to increase knowledge sharing and dissemination with the local community.

“We are doing a number of things to make the university much more outward-facing,” Skalak said.

“There’s been a real effort in recent years to improve the whole ecosystem,” added Philippe L. Sommer, director of entrepreneurship programs at UVa’s Darden Graduate School of Business Administration. “It’s not just about what is going on at UVa, or Darden, it’s about what’s going on in the whole community and trying to make that interface much more dynamic.”

Continue reading "Leaders say unique qualities of Charlottesville-Albemarle make it a special place for start-up companies" »

May 10, 2012

Social media and mobile web developers share insights on their growing businesses

DailyProgressBy Brian Wheeler
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Tom Tom Founders Festival held the fourth in a series of weekly place-based innovation talks Wednesday with a panel discussion examining how businesses are incorporating social media and mobile software applications into many facets of their work.

Local experts described how they are growing their businesses in Charlottesville as they help other companies implement their marketing and digital plans.

Listen using player above or download the podcast: Download 20120509-TTFF-IS

“We are a digital marketing company,” said Ryan Derose, founder of VibeThink. “What that really means is a digital strategy and building digital assets, from websites to mobile applications, then we also execute [those strategies].”

VibeThink launched in January and its four staff members already are working on a number of significant projects, including the digital strategy and new website for C-Ville Weekly.

20120509-TomTom1(In photo L to R) Oliver Platts-Mills (Tom Tom), Ryan Derose (VibeThink), Evan Cooper (Red Light Management), Tobias Dengel (WillowTree Apps), and Marijean Jaggers (Jaggers Communications)

Evan Cooper, director of digital strategies with Red Light Management, described how the changing music industry has elevated the importance of online connections.

“I handle the digital strategy for the East Coast side of our company — online fan clubs, online stores, all the social media stuff,” Cooper said. “It’s about figuring out the best strategy for an artist. We have all shapes and sizes and we figure out what the best fit is for those bands.”

“The music space has changed drastically, the big part of that being the move into the digital realm,” Cooper said. “Every touch point has some digital component.”

Continue reading "Social media and mobile web developers share insights on their growing businesses" »

May 08, 2012

New Dominion electrical substation gets approval from city planners

DailyProgressBy Sean Tubbs
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Tuesday, May 8, 2012

A plan by Dominion Virginia Power to increase the reliability of Charlottesville’s electric grid took one step forward Tuesday as the city Planning Commission voiced approval.
Design Development LLC was hired to create a model that shows how the substation would fit on the existing site 
Dominion required a special use permit in order to build what is known as a “backbone structure” at the back of its Charlottesville headquarters on Hydraulic Road.
“Electric substation facilities act as a conduit between high voltage lines and [the] lower voltage lines that which serve homes and businesses,” said Jonathon W. Schulitis, a site specialist with Dominion.
“What a substation does is provide an off ramp from the interstate of the electrical transmission system,” Schulitis added. “The substation will take power from that system and break it down to the distribution voltage. The more access you have provides for more [reliability].”
The permit is required because the structure will be 15 feet taller than that the 80 feet currently allowed in highway corridor zoning. However, there are existing utility poles that are already higher than that.
Staff recommended approval of the permit because the station is located along an existing transmission corridor and will increase the reliability of electricity in the area.
“The proposed substation will support the commercial growth the highway corridor is intended to facilitate,” said city planner Michael Smith. “In order for Charlottesville to continue promoting land use policies encouraging dense, urban development, the city must have adequate infrastructure.”

Continue reading "New Dominion electrical substation gets approval from city planners" »

Placemaking: A Blueprint for our Future



Watch the video filmed by Brian Wimer

Download Download the presentation

On April 26, Charlottesville Tomorrow held its annual community conversation. This year’s topic was “Placemaking: A Blueprint for our Future.” Over 130 community members turned out to hear Dr. Katherine Loflin present her findings from the Knight Foundation's Soul of the Community project on how attachment to place drives a community’s economic vitality – and how understanding those attachments can direct the ways in which we as a community choose to change and grow.

The top-4 attachment factors (full study):

  1. Social offerings
  2. Openess
  3. Aesthetics
  4. Education

If you weren't able to attend, here's a little background: The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and Gallup recognized that there had long been a connection between employee satisfaction and business productivity, and they wondered if the same could be applied to communities. So they set out to see if there was any connection between people’s general feelings of satisfaction about where they lived and the overall productivity and economic health of a community.

The resulting study of 26 communities, called the Soul of the Community, ended up drawing clear parallels between what they call “attachment drivers” and the growth of a local economy. Purposefully emphasizing those drivers in community-wide decision making and keeping place central to decisionmaking is what they call placemaking. Download the latest results from the project here.

At Charlottesville Tomorrow, we view ourselves as conveners of a conversation. We want you to get involved and make an informed choice. We think clearly understanding what makes our community special in a way that acts as a context for the decisions we make about how we change and grow is important; to that end, over the next few weeks we'll be bringing you commentary from people who attended the event and want to share their thoughts on Placemaking in this community.

20120426-audienceOver 130 community members turned out to hear
Dr. Katherine Loflin present her findings from the
Knight Foundation's Soul of the Community project
Panel_1A local panel, composed of Kathy Galvin, David Sloan
Paul Beyer, and Andrea Douglas, responded 

Photo credits: Rich Tarbell

This event was made possible by the generous support of the
Charlottesville Area Community Foundation and
the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

CACF_logo Kflogo-300x50

Listen using player above or download the podcast:
Download 20120426-Placemaking



  • 00:01:07 - Introduction by Michael Bills, Chairman, Charlottesville Tomorrow Board of Directors
  • 00:05:20 - Presentation by Dr. Katherine Loflin
  • 01:01:00 - Panel introductions and discussion
  • 01:24:22 - Audience questions


View photos by Rich Tarbell on Flickr

May 07, 2012

Startups finding their place near UVa, Downtown Mall

DailyProgressBy Courtney Beale
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Monday, May 7, 2012

Amid recent community discussions about innovation, entrepreneurship and industries targeted for growth, the physical spaces sought by startup companies seem less likely to be found in a traditional office or research park.

University of Virginia Research Park on U.S. Route 29 North

Buildings in close proximity to the University of Virginia or directly on Charlottesville’s Downtown Mall appear to be gaining favor.

Michael J. Prichard, chief technology officer and founder of WillowTree Apps, chose the Downtown Mall instead of a traditional office park as the location to grow his business.

“As a tech company, we like to be more in an urban area rather than somewhere removed,” Prichard said. “[The Downtown Mall] is more of a metropolitan, city feel and better for our company culture.”

“Having all the restaurants, coffee shops, etc. in walking distance is a huge plus for our team,” said Tobias A. Dengel, chief executive officer of WillowTree Apps.

Prichard elaborated that he didn’t think those experiences would be as likely to happen in an office park.

“Our employees would revolt if we tried to move. It would be pretty hard to pull us out of here,” said Prichard. “For us, it’s just the fact that you would be removed from the center of town. Most of the parks I know are a little bit outside of the city … you have to drive to go anywhere.”

Continue reading "Startups finding their place near UVa, Downtown Mall" »

May 04, 2012

City catering business wins top prize at innovation pitch night

DailyProgressBy Brian Wheeler
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Friday, May 4, 2012

In an evening full of new ideas, more than 100 people cast their votes and Sandra Carter and her Sixth Street Mini Mart Catering business were named the winner of the first Tom Tom Founders Festival’s “crowd sourced pitch night.”

Sandra Carter gets the good news about winning the $1,000 prize

“I am on a crusade to resurrect my sister’s catering business to see her dream manifested into an establishment that is loved, respected and appreciated among generations to come,” Carter told the audience at the Thursday event. “My sister Denise was an amazing woman who was loved by so many people for her heart and food.”


Listen using player above or download the podcast: Download 20120503-TTFF-pitch-night

Carter’s store, at the intersection of Sixth Street Southeast and Montrose Avenue, sits on the border of the city’s Belmont and Ridge Street neighborhoods.

Audience members paid a $10 entry fee and 10 teams had four minutes each to make a pitch for why their idea deserved the $1,000 grand prize.

Entries included a variety of innovative projects such as a smart phone application to find taxis, a nonprofit giving platform utilizing personal investment accounts, and a team of University of Virginia students launching a “micro-volunteering” resource platform.

Carter said winning the prize money would help her family buy new equipment for catering and take care of some legal work necessary for the business.

Continue reading "City catering business wins top prize at innovation pitch night " »

May 03, 2012

Biotech leaders say their industry is primed for growth around university

DailyProgressBy Brian Wheeler
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Thursday, May 3, 2012

On one side of town, advocates for limiting local population growth told the Albemarle supervisors a new study recommending industries targeted for economic growth was flawed. In part, they said, because new businesses would seek to retain in the community students graduating from the University of Virginia.

Graham Anthony, CFO of Biovista

Later that evening in the city of Charlottesville, a mix of local officials, investors, innovators and start-up incubators gathered to talk about the work that’s already happening to grow the area’s biotech sector.

Listen using player above or download the podcast:
Download 20120502-TTFF-IS

A panel of speakers assembled Wednesday as part of the Tom Tom Founders Festival’s innovation series said they need students to stay in the area after graduating and that biotech is growth that’s good for the community.

In the audience of about 40 people, City Councilor Kathy M. Galvin challenged the crowd to work toward getting local government and the community to “embrace the idea of growth” to address “entrenched poverty.”

“I think when we no longer have 18 percent unemployment among our 18- to 30-year-old population in the city, when we no longer have over 50 percent of our children on the free and reduced[-price] lunch program in the city, [then] I think we can be very comfortable and say we don’t need to worry about growth and economic vitality,” Galvin said.

Continue reading "Biotech leaders say their industry is primed for growth around university" »