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December 11, 2009

Rooker names engineer to County Planning Commission

DailyProgress By Sean Tubbs
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Thursday, December 10, 2009

Recently re-elected Albemarle County Supervisor Dennis Rooker (Jack Jouett) has named Russell “Mac” Lafferty to serve on the county’s Planning Commission. Lafferty, a native of Crozet, will replace Bill Edgerton, who did not reapply for a third term.

“I think he would be a very good addition to the planning commission,” Rooker said while nominating Lafferty to the position. The Board voted unanimously Wednesday to approve Lafferty’s appointment.

20090624-lafferty Mac Lafferty at the June 24, 2009 meeting of the MPO Policy Board

Lafferty, a retired engineer and professor, lived in Crozet for many years before moving to the Jack Jouett District. A 1966 graduate of the University of Virginia, he has taught engineering and physics courses at Piedmont Virginia Community College as well as his alma mater. For a time, Lafferty owned and operated a firm called Deerfield Enterprises.

“My engineering background and the civil engineering experience I have from running a heavy construction company gives me an appreciation for what happens on the ground and how it affects the environment,” Lafferty said in an interview.

Lafferty has a great deal of experience serving the community. His positions in local government include a stint on the Crozet Community Advisory Council and the MPO’s Citizens (CHART) Committee. For the past year, he’s served as CHART’s representative to the MPO Policy Board.

He has also served on the board of the Second Street Art Gallery, the Senior Statesmen of Virginia and is currently active with Charlottesville-Albemarle Robotics.

While on the Commission, Lafferty will be in a position to weigh in on the five-year review of the Crozet Master Plan. He said a priority for him would be finding a way to get the new Crozet Library back into the development pipeline. Earlier this month, the Board of Supervisors agreed to defer the project from the Capital Improvement Program (CIP) due to the county’s financial crisis.

“I think [the Crozet Master Plan] has served a good purpose in that it has given some guidelines about growth,” Lafferty said. “Not only has it gotten the involvement of the citizens of Crozet, but the County has taken notice that the citizens want a great deal of input in their living conditions and environment.”

Lafferty, who is also on the board of directors for Bike Virginia, is an avid cyclist who wants improvements to Jarmans Gap Road to be completed as soon as possible.

“If Albemarle County ever gets around to developing a park in Old Trail Village, then more and more people will be walking to that park,  and right now Jarmans Gap Road is certainly not safe to bike,” Lafferty said.

Lafferty said he will reach out for advice and his insight from Edgerton before he attends his first meeting in the new year.

Lafferty will be joined by at least two and as many as three other newcomers. Incoming Supervisors Duane Snow (Samuel Miller) and Rodney Thomas (Rio) will choose their nominees from a list of applicants. Thomas could also re-appoint Commissioner Don Franco, who told Charlottesville Tomorrow last month he would re-apply.

The entire Board of Supervisors will also vote for a new at-large member of the Commission. Marcia Joseph said she would not be applying for a third term.

November 19, 2009

Turnover coming to Albemarle County Planning Commission


By Sean Tubbs
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Thursday, November 19, 2009

There will be at least three new members of the Albemarle County Planning Commission when it convenes for the first time in early January.  The changes are a result of the recent local elections and decisions by some commissioners not to seek reappointment.  That could mean big changes in the commission's approach to master planning, zoning regulations, and other key issues.

Rodney Thomas and Duane Snow in May 2009 at the Albemarle County Republican caucus

Each newly elected member of the Board of Supervisors has the option of either nominating a candidate or advertising for applications. Duane Snow, elected in the Samuel Miller district, and Rodney Thomas, elected in the Rio district, have both chosen to advertise planning commission positions to the public. Applications will be accepted on the County’s website through December 16.

The Rio District seat on the commission is currently held by developer Don Franco, who was appointed to a vacancy earlier this year. Franco, a principal with the firm KG Associates has already applied for the position, and says he thinks his experience as a developer qualifies him for continued service as a commissioner.

Thomas, a former Chairman of the Planning Commission, said in an interview that he will keep an open mind as he wades through the applications.

“I would rather someone come in with no agenda,” Thomas said. “I would like someone who knows a lot about the area and has knowledge about planning.” He said he would not rule out reappointing Franco.

Duane Snow will select someone to replace Eric Strucko, who won election to the Samuel Miller seat on the county school board. Snow could not be reached for comment .

The entire Board will also vote on the planning commission’s seventh member, an at-large representative. That seat’s current occupant, Marcia Joseph, has decided not to reapply. Joseph has served three two-year terms and said she wanted to give someone else a chance at representing the entire county.

“What I’m hoping is that the person they select will have the knowledge and history and has been here long enough to understand the workings of the community,” Joseph said.

20070710-Edgerton Outgoing Planning Commissioner Bill Edgerton
Commissioner Bill Edgerton (Jack Jouett) has declined to be reappointed to a third term. Supervisor Dennis Rooker said in an interview that he has a candidate in mind, but is not ready to make the name public. Rooker said he wants to make sure that his choice shares his same planning philosophy.

“With Bill Edgerton, I had that for eight years,” Rooker said. He will talk with his candidate about master planning, transportation and the County’s designated growth areas.

After the last county election in 2007, Supervisor Lindsay Dorrier advertised the Scottsville seat that had been held by William Craddock and selected Linda Porterfield’s name from a stack of applications. She will serve two more years, as will Tom Loach (White Hall) and Cal Morris (Rivanna).

Since being on the Commission, Porterfield has advocated positions that at times were at odds with her colleagues. For instance, she has called for the County to change its rules that limit development at exits off of Interstate 64.

“I’m on the record as wanting to see the county of Albemarle try to attract as much business industry as possible because it helps us with our tax base,” Porterfield said.

Joseph, who in 2007 ran as a Democrat challenging Supervisor Ken Boyd for re-election to the Rivanna seat, said she is not too worried about the upcoming changes in the composition of the commission.

“Whatever your political leanings are, some times [commissioners] rise above that and look at the community as a whole and what’s good for the community,” Joseph said.

Rooker said he hoped that the new commission will be efficient.

“The planning commission can save the Board of Supervisors immense amounts of time if they are doing a thorough job of vetting the planning issues before they get to us,” Rooker said.

Edgerton said he hoped the newcomers would be well acquainted with county issues.

 “I think [we need] somebody who has had some experience in the development arena in Albemarle County, but is also willing to try to figure out how to balance community needs against property rights,” Edgerton said.

September 23, 2009

Charlottesville Planning Commission to continue pre-meeting routine

By Tarpley Ashworth
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Charlottesville Planning Commission has decided to continue the practice of holding an informal “pre-meeting” before its regular televised business meeting. At their work session on September 22, 2009, Commissioners debated the merits of the gatherings as part of a general discussion on streamlining their activities.

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The pre-meetings, which are open to the public but not broadcast on local television, are intended as an opportunity for Commissioners to ask clarifying questions  about items on that evening’s agenda.  With two members absent, the Commission made no official change, but those present did express verbal support for keeping the practice going on nights when Planning Commission has a regular meeting.

When more than two members of the Planning Commission meet at any location to discuss public business, it is a public meeting under Virginia law which requires the meeting to be advertised in advance, open to the public, and to have meeting minutes.

Planning Commissioner Genevieve Keller called the pre-meetings her “psychological adjustment time” between her regular work day and Commission duties. She said the time allows her to accurately review the night’s agenda items in a relaxed setting with other Commissioners.

Commissioner Dan Rosensweig echoed Keller’s sentiments.

“After working all day long on something else, you get to come here and refocus,” he said. “It might have been four days ago that I prepared my questions and read through the packet,” said Rosensweig. “The questions that other people ask [at the pre-meeting] are really, really valuable.”

However, new Commissioner and former Charlottesville School Board Member John Santoski  said he sympathized with citizens who felt that the 4:30pm pre-meeting starting time was inconvenient or exclusionary.

“People felt like something is going on behind closed doors, or very minimally, it wasn’t accessible to the public,” said Santoski. “If we have those questions at 5:00, we’ll have the same questions at 5:30. So why not do it out in front of the public?”

Santoski was not wholly against pre-meetings in general, but wanted to express the concerns of citizens he had talked to. He said that if the Commission deemed the pre-meetings essential, he would not object.

Deputy City Attorney Richard Harris added some historical context to the discussion by saying that when pre-meetings were first developed by the Planning Commission, they were intended to be strictly informal clarification sessions held prior to regular meetings. However as time went on, pre-meetings evolved into more official gatherings where it became out of the ordinary for a Commissioner to not attend. Harris said his opinion is that pre-meetings are beneficial to Commissioners seeking answers to questions pertaining to that night’s agenda items.

Planning Director Missy Creasy agreed that pre-meetings are an important component of the Planning Commission’s work, but told Commissioners to be especially careful to not express personal opinions during the pre-meeting because debate should be reserved for regular meetings.

At the end of the discussion, all Commissioners agreed to retain the pre-meetings at 4:30pm for informational purposes. The first half-hour will be for dinner with official questions beginning at 5:00. The Commission will revisit this issue again at their regular meeting in October when they will likely adopt an official pre-meeting policy.

In other developments, the Planning Commission also discussed moving the public hearing component of their regular meetings from 6:30 to 6:00pm. They will also revisit this issue at next month’s meeting when all Commissioners are present. Chairman Jason Pearson and Commissioner Michael Osteen were not present.


0:57 - Keller asks about meeting time change
1:06 – Planning Manager Missy Creasy says Commission can adopt whatever meeting time change they want, but Commission must change its bylaws to do so
3:08 – Keller asks if bylaws could say that pre-meeting started at a certain time, but if the commissioners decided that they didn’t need the full time then they could start the meeting earlier
3:18 – Creasy wonders how that determination would be made
4:11 – Creasy says that staff preferences are that meeting starts at 5:30pm and public hearing starts at 6:00pm
5:34 – Keller asks if staff has preference on pre-meeting
5:37 – Creasy says pre-meeting was originally a clarification session that evolved into discussing details which had to be reined in
7:41 – Keller asks how Commissioners feel about moving public hearing to 6:00
8:08 – Keller asks about how Commissioners feel about pre-meeting
8:13 – Rosensweig says pre-meeting is very helpful to him
9:40 – Deputy City Attorney Harris says that pre-meeting changed from less informal to more formal and almost required
11:52 – Santoski raises concern about pre-meetings not being as accessible as regular meetings
13:28 – Harris says pre-meeting is beneficial for clarification purposes
13:55 – Santoski thinks pre-meetings can cover too many issues that public should be able to hear
13:20 – Keesecker says pre-meeting are valuable and should be retained in some way
16:29 – Creasy says pre-meeting questions allows staff time to seek answers to questions if needed
18:27 – Creasy says that pre-meetings  which stay to clarifications are helpful, but when Commissioners share opinions, they need to be told to save that for the regular meeting
20:47 – Rosensweig supports a more informal pre-meeting at 4:30 and more formal pre-meeting at 5:00
22:32 – Harris doesn’t like idea about advertising pre-meeting at 4:30 since this might confuse citizens
23:17 – Keller is concerned about if they don’t advertise the 4:30 pre-meeting start time, then they would be in violation of the law
24:47 – Keller says that the only potential bylaws change is for the 6:00 public hearing since commissioners want to keep the 4:30 start time for pre-meeting

June 25, 2009

City seeking two new Planning Commissioners; Lewis, Farruggio stepping down

By Sean Tubbs
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Thursday, June 25, 2009

The City is taking applications for two vacancies on the Charlottesville Planning Commission. Commissioner Cheri Lewis has served two terms and is ineligible for reappointment, and Commissioner Michael Farruggio has decided not to see a second term. Their terms expire at the end of August.
Potential members must be Charlottesville residents who are “qualified by knowledge and experience to make decisions of community growth and development.” At least half of the Commission must consist of property owners, which means citizens who are renting are eligible to serve.

The Commission serves as an advisory body to City Council and is charged with developing and evaluating the City’s comprehensive plan. They hold one regular meeting per month, as well as one work session. Each member also takes on committee assignments and some serve on other advisory bodies throughout City government.

Recent topics that have come before the Commission include whether or not to expand Belmont’s commercial corridor to accommodate another restaurant, how to amend the City’s zoning to accommodate single resident occupancies, and a preliminary site plan application for a new Whole Foods on Hydraulic Road.

Cheri Lewis (file photo)

Lewis joined the Planning Commission soon after unsuccessfully applying to the City’s Board of Architectural Review. Because Lewis is a Republican, she did not think she had a chance of being appointed to the Commission, but was encouraged to apply by then-Mayor David Toscano and Councilor Blake Caravati.

“If anyone is reluctant to apply, I would tell them to be encouraged because their chances are probably better than mine were”, Lewis said in an e-mail to Charlottesville Tomorrow. Lewis also said that anyone appointed to the Commission must be willing to work hard and must have a significant amount of time in order to do the job.

“You must be prepared to leave your predispositions, prejudices, agendas and niche expertise at the door of City Hall,” Lewis added. “You must be willing to make sometimes unpopular decisions based on our ordinances and guidelines and on behalf of all of the citizens of our City. 

Michael Farruggio, a full-time officer with the Charlottesville Police Department, said in an e-mail to Charlottesville Tomorrow that he is stepping down in order to spend more time with his children.

Michael Farruggio (file photo)

“My kids are now 7 and 9 years old,” Farruggio said. “Four years ago they were 3 and 5 and me being away at meetings had less of an impact.” He recommended that applicants to contemplate how each developments that comes before the Planning Commission will affect the long-term future of Charlottesville.

“When it's done, and the developer has made their money and the politicians have moved on, will it be an asset or a detriment?” Farruggio asked.

Anyone wishing to apply should phone City Council Clerk Jeanne Cox at 970-3113. The deadline to apply is July 16, 2009. If Council receives enough applications to fill the two open positions, interviews with Council will likely be held in August with an appointments made later that month. Terms will begin on the first of September.

June 03, 2009

Tolbert discusses future of planning Charlottesville

By Julia Glendening & Sean Tubbs
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Over the past several years, there has been a concerted effort to increase population density in Charlottesville while also maintaining the City’s green space. As part of the “Urban Places, Rural Spaces” exhibit at the Charlottesville Community Design Center, on May 27, 2009 Jim Tolbert of the City’s Department of Neighborhood Development Services gave a talk entitled “How Our Creative City is Growing Smarter.” 

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20090527-Jim Tolbert-cityscape
Tolbert's lecture covered the challenges and benefits of planning Charlottesville's future

Tolbert's lecture described the evolution of community planning and explained how his department, the City Planning Commission and the community will determine the next steps for developing Charlottesville. He explained some of the community ideals that factor into decisions reached by the Planning Commission with staff guidance.

“Mixed use development, economic opportunity, housing, strong neighborhoods, neighborhoods that would be self sufficient and mixed, accessibility, public transportation, and trees, parking, green space,’ Tolbert said. “Those were the things that we felt should guide us.”

Common themes were the ability to link areas to downtown Charlottesville, increasing the density of housing in the downtown area, and continuing mixed-use development. During his talk, Tolbert detailed actions staff has taken to implement these goals. 

Tolbert also commented on the effectiveness of these strategies. He believes that Charlottesville now has “a mall that is healthier” because it features a mix of uses in one location. He ended his talk by listing two challenges he feels need to be addressed:  making Charlottesville more urban; and reducing pressure from University students on local housing and traffic.

Download Download Jim Tolbert's presentation


  • 01:30 - Opening comments
  • 03:00 - Description of 1994 Sustainability Accords
  • 10:10 - Description of Ideal Community Factors determined by citizens
  • 15:00 - Comments on how Planning Commission reaches goals
  • 18:30 - Description of Charlottesville neighborhoods
  • 24:30 - Comments on how goals will be translated into actions
  • 30:00 - Comments on whether these strategies have worked
  • 33:50  - Closing remarks
  • 35:00 - Question: Why have some projects been discarded and will more follow?
  • 36:00 - Question: What changes are being considered for downtown parking?
  • 37:35 - Question: What steps are being taken to increase support of local businesses?
  • 40:45 - Question: How do you decide issues about commercial businesses?
  • 46:15 - Question: Where do you see Charlottesville growing in the future?
  • 47:50 - Question: What are the major items that are being dealt with right now?
  • 50:15 - Question: Can you elaborate on Belmont zoning
  • 54:00 - Question: How will Charlottesville increase road sharing and the safety of bikes?
  • 56:30 - Question: Will utilities be put underground?
  • 57:00 - Question: How are sites double checked and enforced?
  • 1:00:00 - Question: What will be done to develop Preston Ave area?

March 13, 2009

At housekeeping meeting, Charlottesville Planning Commission declines to limit Council power over BAR

Last year, the duties of the Charlottesville Planning Commission were changed slightly to allow its seven members to spend more time shepherding the ongoing evolution the City’s zoning regulations. Less time was to be spent on individual projects. 

That new focus came into sharp relief during the Commission’s meeting on March 10, 2009. There were no individual projects on the agenda. Instead, Commissioners heard one request to amend the comprehensive plan  and considered seven separate changes to the zoning ordinance. Consideration of these changes was requested by staff and included the following recommendations:

1.    Restrict City Council’s review of Board of Architectural Review (BAR) decisions to a technical review, rather than allowing Council to weigh in with their own opinions on a particular project
2.    Lower the number of unrelated people who could live in the R-2U zoning district near the University of Virginia from 4 to 3
3.    Allow for final site plans to be submitted with the signature of the project director, rather than the City Engineer as currently required
4.    Change the code so that references to “Access and Pedestrian Walkways” link back to the City Engineer’s “City of Charlottesville Standards and Design Manual” rather than the code itself
5.    Revise the section that deals with Parking Garages so that maximum widths of driveways are governed by the Design Manual and not the code itself
6.    Revise the “parking location and driveway sections” of the code to match the same maximum widths called for in the manual
7.    Simplify the zoning code’s definitions of “building height” and “grade” and to add a definition for driveways

The public hearing on all seven items lasted for over two hours. It was decided before the meeting began that a decision on item two would be deferred, but the Commission discussed the matter anyway. Items three, four five and seven and were voted on separately and approved 7-0. Item six was approved on a 6-1 vote, with Commissioner Michael Osteen voting against because he thought the ordinance change would encourage larger driveways.

City Planner Nick Rogers presented the amendments to the Commission. He explained that staff keeps a list of various zoning issues that are identified throughout the course of their work.

“Various typos, discrepancies, problem areas,” Rogers said. “Often these changes are typically minor in nature… Many of the changes that happen to be on this list are anything but minor.”


Staff recommended that the Commission defer consideration of item #2 due to a concern that not enough people had been notified of the public hearing. If allowed, the change would reduce a developer’s ability to build four-bedroom apartments near the University. The R2-U district contains 356 individual properties, both developed and undeveloped, and is largely near the University north of Fontaine Avenue.

Rogers said the recommendation was being offered because when staff was going through the district to look for typos, they discovered that a developer could build units in R2-U that would allow for four unrelated people to live together.

“As staff members, we were under the impression that it had been three unrelated,” Rogers said. “We operated under the understanding that was not the intent.” Staff then initiated the amendment in order to correct the code to what they thought it should be. In doing their research, they found the matter came up when Planning Commission held work sessions in September 2002 on what would become the City’s 2003 rezoning.

“There’s information in the minutes about two Planning Commissioners liking the idea of having three un-related persons in low-density areas and four unrelated persons in high density areas.” Rogers went on to describe how this section was never really cleared up in the residential density matrix, which shows the various number of peoples included in each district.

Commissioner Dan Rosensweig called the idea an “effective down-zoning” and wondered if the move would discourage density around the University.

“Are [the special University zoning districts] functioning in a way that we want them to function, creating student density where we want student density?” Rosensweig asked. He also pointed out that if the zoning ordinance were changed, all of the existing structures would be non-conforming. He asked staff to provide more information on how many would fall into this category.

During the public hearing on this item, Fontaine Road property owner Keith Lancaster said his street is unique as an example of a walkable community where 94% of the structures are rental units. He said tenants have easy access to bus lines, restaurants, jobs at the Fontaine Research Park and the University of Virginia.

The Commission voted to defer the decision until a later date.


The official request from staff was to formally remove Council’s de novo review of the appeals. That’s a legal term that means that when Council receives the appeal, it is permitted by City code to hear the entire case. Rogers said staff’s decision to initiate the removal stems from a September 2006 meeting between the City attorney, two Councilors, two Commissioners and two members of the BAR. 

“While it was not the meeting’s primary focus, the discussion drifted to how BAR appeals are handled by City Council,” Rogers said. Each City and County in Virginia can decide for themselves how much power the elected body can have over the appointed one. He said Council’s de novo power may have originated at a time in the early 90’s when Council did not want the BAR to be an obstacle to development.

Commissioner Genevieve Keller asked if the amendment was in response to any particular BAR decision that had recently been appealed to Council. Last year, Council spent several hours hearing the appeal of a large residence on Second Street NE  and eventually upheld the BAR’s decision to approve the home.

However, Nick Rogers said the amendment was only being proposed because it was on the planning staff’s housekeeping list. Mary Joy Scala, the City’s Historic Preservation Planner, said she didn’t think it was necessary for Council to be required to hear every appeal from the BAR from the beginning.

“The reason for that is because the BAR has nine qualified members with varied design expertise,” Scala said. She said Council has heard eleven appeals of BAR decisions since 2005 and Council overturned the BAR in 4 cases.  Scala said she supported the ordinance change because she did not think that de novo appeals were necessary.

Lewis wanted to know why the amendment was being suggested, given that there are so few appeals. Scala said she thought Council’s time was being unnecessarily taken up by having to perform the full review. Lewis wanted to know which City Councilor thought it was burdensome to hear the review. Scala referred back to the 2006 meeting, but could not name the Councilor who had suggested removing de novo.

Lewis continued to press and quoted the staff memo for the ordinance, which defended the removal of Council’s de novo power because of “a change in the relationship between Council and the BAR.” Lewis said that neither Rogers or Scala had addressed that point.

“Please tell me about the relationship between Council and BAR, and how Council used to perceive BAR as an obstacle, and why they don’t now,” Lewis said. “This proposed language would greatly limit a power that City Council has.”

Scala said she had not had any conversations with a Councilor on the issue since 2006.
City Council sits in on Planning Commission public hearings. Councilor Satyendra Huja said during the entire time he worked in City government, that Council has always had the option of fully reviewing a BAR decision. Commissioner Genevieve Keller, who has been active in the community for decades, said her memory matched Huja’s.

“My sense is that prior to 2003, Council had discretion to take into account a number of factors and did so whenever something came on appeal, and that there was a certain climate in the late 1990’s… to make sure that the Council didn’t feel bound to go by what the BAR had done,” Keller said. She added she didn’t think the item had come forward because of any recent incident.

Both Commissioners Mike Farruggio and Dan Rosensweig agreed with Lewis and said the ordinance should be left as is. Rosensweig suggested deferring the motion until such time as the Council adopts a historic preservation district, which is awaiting its second hearing. As currently written, Council would not have de novo power when it hears appeals of BAR’s decisions in those areas of the City that will be covered by the historic preservation district.

Councilor David Brown said he thought that Council should not be over-turning decisions based on design. “If it comes down to us reviewing a decision of a Board that we’ve appointed that’s full of design professionals, we probably shouldn’t get too far down the road of micromanaging the design aspects,” Brown said.

Chairman Jason Pearson

Chairman Jason Pearson wanted to know if there was a happy medium between de novo and a strict technical review. Pearson said his concern with the language of the existing ordinance is that it currently appears to compel Council to always perform a de novo review. Lewis answered by making a motion to recommend denial of the ordinance change. Keller suggested that the Commission defer the decision and invite members of the historic preservation community to weigh in. Lewis said she would be willing to revisit the issue at a future work session.

Lewis’s motion passed 6-1 with Chairman Pearson voting against. 

Sean Tubbs


March 04, 2009

Slutzky picks developer Don Franco to serve on Albemarle County Planning Commission

Newly appointed Planning Commissioner Don Franco

Albemarle County Supervisor David Slutzky (Rio) has chosen Don Franco of KG Associates to fill a vacancy on the Albemarle County Planning Commission. Franco will replace Jon Cannon, who resigned in order to become the Deputy Commissioner of the Environmental Protection Agency.

Franco’s nomination was approved at the Board’s meeting on March 4, 2009. Franco is the President of KG Associates, an Albemarle County-based developer that counts Rivanna Village, Cascadia and Glen Oaks among its recent developments.

Franco will serve the remainder of Cannon’s term, which expires at the end of this year.

Sean Tubbs

January 29, 2009

Cannon resigns from Albemarle County Planning Commission; Slutzky to appoint replacement

Jon Cannon

Jon Cannon has resigned from the Albemarle County Planning Commission, effective immediately. Cannon, who was appointed by Supervisor David Slutzky (Rio) in January 2006, is concentrating on his duties as a member of President Barack Obama’s transition team.

Cannon is Director of the Environmental and Land Use Law Program at the University of Virginia’s School of Law. He came to Charlottesville after a stint as the General Counsel of the Environmental Protection Agency. Cannon will be taking a leave of absence from UVA during the spring semester.

In an e-mail interview with Charlottesville Tomorrow, Cannon said he was proud of the diverse set of opinions held by Commissioners which allowed the group to work to improve developments such as Biscuit Run.

“The members' different perspectives, I thought, contributed to the evolution of a well-tailored, balanced approach over a number of sessions,” Cannon said. “It has been the Commission's ability to work as a deliberative body, rather than just a collection of individual views, or votes, that has most impressed me.  I'm hopeful that that deliberative quality can continue.  It is a great asset to the County.”

Cannon also praised what he describes as a “highly-skilled” County staff that works to support the Commission.

“Without this support, the Commission could not function effectively,” Cannon said.
Slutzky will now have a chance to name a replacement for Cannon, whose term expires at the end of 2009.

Sean Tubbs

January 07, 2009

New Leadership for the County Planning Commission

20070925strucko Eric Strucko (Samuel Miller) has been elected as Chair of the Albemarle County Planning Commission for 2009. Strucko, who has served on the Commission since 2006, serves as the Chief Financial Officer for the University of Virginia's Health Services Foundation.

Jon Cannon (Rio) will continue to serve as the Commission's Vice Chair, but was not present at the meeting. 

Strucko is a staunch supporter of the County's Comprehensive Plan and has consistently opposed any efforts to expand the County's designated growth areas. Strucko made two unsuccessful runs for the Board of Supervisors in 1999 and 2003 as a candidate from the White Hall district.  He was appointed to the Planning Commission by Supervisor Sally Thomas after a move into the County's Samuel Miller district. After taking the gavel, Strucko thanked Cal Morris (Rivanna) for his service as chair in 2008. 

In other news, Commissioner Linda Porterfield (Scottsville) requested that the Planning Commission eliminate meetings held during the last week of each month. Morris said that staff should have the discretion to schedule that meeting when necessary. Commissioner Marcia Joseph (At-Large) agreed with Morris and said she did want to have long meetings. Porterfield said her concern was that there have been many recent meetings with light agendas.

Wayne Cilimberg, the County's Director of Planning, said two regular meetings plus one work session each month should be sufficient due to the low volume of current applications. 

Fania Gordon, Sean Tubbs, and Brian Wheeler

October 17, 2008

Pearson predicts shorter meetings if City streamlines development review

Planning Commission Chairman Jason Pearson

The Charlottesville City Council recently initiated a review of the activities of the Planning Commission as part of an effort to streamline the procedures by which projects are approved. The October 14, 2008 Charlottesville Planning Commission meeting was a preview of the format of future meetings if those changes are adopted by Council, according to Commission Chairman Jason Pearson.

“The main nature of that shift would be that we would probably spend a lot less time talking about individual site plan applications and spend more time talking about ways of improving the zoning code itself,” Pearson said. He encouraged those who follow the Planning Commission to comment and to participate in the discussion.

The Commission’s meeting only lasted for four hours, relatively short compared to two meetings this summer which concluded after midnight. The Commission held public hearings that considered altering the definitions of a ‘bed and breakfast,’ whether theaters should be allowed in mixed use districts, and whether the City can allow for planting strips between curbs and sidewalks. There were no public hearings on individual items, though the Commission did approve preliminary site plans for Phase II and Phase III of the Grove Square project near the UVA Medical Center.

The City Planning Commission will hold a work session on October 28 from 5-6pm in the basement conference room in City Hall to discuss the streamlined approach. That meeting will be followed by a joint work session with the Albemarle County Planning Commission to discuss the housing report and recommendations of the joint affordable housing task force sponsored by Charlottesville, Albemarle and University of Virginia.

Fania Gordon and Sean Tubbs