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July 18, 2012

Council upholds Stonefield stormwater violation; Edens uncertain of next steps

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DailyProgressBy Sean Tubbs
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Charlottesville City Council has upheld a determination by city staff that the developers of Stonefield in Albemarle County violated an erosion control permit by opening up a new stormwater pipe before certain conditions were met.

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A view of the drainage basin to the east of Stonefield. Credit: City of Charlottesville

“I think staff’s determination is appropriate and that they have not followed through the plan and conditions of the permit,” Mayor Satyendra Huja said.

The managing director of Edens, the developer of Stonefield, said he was disappointed in the council’s unanimous decision.

“We’re dying to deliver this first-class project,” Steve Boyle said. “We’ve got tons of people that are waiting for new jobs here.”

The city issued a violation notice on June 1 and Edens made an appeal. The City Council began its review of the appeal shortly before 11 p.m. on Monday near the end of a busy meeting.

“Stonefield is a project in Albemarle County on the west side of U.S. 29,” said Jim Tolbert, the city’s director of neighborhood development services. “The drainage outfall for that project, however, comes into the city on the east side of U.S. 29 and drains into Meadow Creek.”

That meant Edens had to obtain an erosion and sediment control permit from the city because land within Charlottesville would be disturbed as a result of Stonefield’s development.

Listen using player above or download the podcast: Download 20120716-CC-Stonefield

Before bulldozers began clearing land for Stonefield, all the rain that fell on the 65-acre property drained slowly through a 42-inch pipe under U.S. 29, designed to reduce the water’s velocity. That pipe also carried water from farther west of Stonefield that previously flowed naturally through an unnamed creek.

As part of Stonefield’s stormwater management plan, the creek was routed through a pipe that connects with a new 72-inch pipe that was drilled underneath U.S 29. The 42-inch pipe will primarily carry stormwater that falls on the northern half of Stonefield.

Both pipes eventually flow into a drainage channel on property in Charlottesville owned by Seminole Square, the U.S. Post Office and the Pepsi-Cola facility.

Continue reading "Council upholds Stonefield stormwater violation; Edens uncertain of next steps" »

July 17, 2012

AUDIO -- McIntire botanical garden proposal gets support from City Council

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By Ian Lamb
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Tuesday, July 17, 2012

For close to a year the Charlottesville Department of Parks and Recreation has been working to create a plan for what the eastern side of McIntire Park will look like following the completion of the Meadow Creek Parkway.

20120716-McIntireParkEast-DraftMPThe plan Charlottesville City Council viewed July 16 featured an improved Dogwood Vietnam Memorial and a relocated skate park. In addition, it moved the wading pool from its current location and added a soccer field.


Listen using player above or download the podcast: Download 20120716-CC-McIntirePark

However, many of the comments shared during the meeting centered on the park’s inexpensive golf course and the proposed botanical gardens.

“Golf benefits just a few hundred people a year, while passive parks and educational uses of a botanical garden might use this space a thousand times,” said city resident Elly Tucker.

The renovation of the park calls for the golf course to be removed from the park by 2020, but makes no explicit plans for relocation. To many, losing the public course would be detrimental to the community.

“I encourage you to find a place for inexpensive golf and youth golf before you force it out of McIntire,” said Susie Hoffman, a city resident whose son plays at McIntire through The First Tee program. “This would be a great loss to the community.”

Organizations such as The First Tee of Charlottesville use the course to teach skills and values to community youths through golf. In response, some at the meeting recommended that Meadowcreek Golf Course at Pen Park be made more available for student programs and affordable golf.

“The Parks Department and maybe some community members should get together and talk about using Meadowcreek Golf Course in a different way,” suggested city resident and former mayor Virginia Daugherty. “There could be a day or two … when the rates are lower. We pay for other things for our low-income community and we can do that too.”

Continue reading "AUDIO -- McIntire botanical garden proposal gets support from City Council" »

Council denies rezoning for infill development in Rose Hill neighborhood

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DailyProgressBy Courtney Beale
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Charlottesville’s City Council voted 3-2 Monday to deny a request to rezone a lot in the Rose Hill neighborhood out of a concern that the resulting development would be out of character with the area.

20120717-RosannaDannaCvilleThe developer, Rosanna Danna LLC, requested a zoning change on the properties in order to build a six-unit apartment complex on a site zoned for single-family housing.

Even though the change in land use did not match the Comprehensive Plan, the Planning Commission unanimously supported the zoning change because it was in line with current development policies.

“The [Comprehensive Plan] map is a general map and the policies are where we try to fall back,” said Jim Tolbert, director of the Neighborhood Development Services. “The policies they looked at are that we want to promote infill development and more density in areas that are adjacent or near public transit or public facilities.”

The property slated for redevelopment is near Burley Middle School, as well as public transit.

However, Councilor Kathy Galvin expressed concern that the rezoning may not be what Rose Hill neighborhood residents want. She referred to the 2006 Design Day held by Neighborhood Services that allowed Rose Hill residents to outline their priorities for their neighborhood. In those plans, residents stated that they wanted to maintain the character of single-family homes.

“I do think of the Design Day comments as something that’s part of what we should be referencing” Galvin said. “I’m very much a supporter of making sure that we have density tied to well-designed transit and infrastructure, but I’m also very concerned about public process and whatever public process and documents [we have] that gives us an idea of the community’s vision, [we should be] consulting that.”

Continue reading "Council denies rezoning for infill development in Rose Hill neighborhood" »

Plans approved for Fresh Market in Albemarle Square

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DailyProgressBy Courtney Beale
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Tuesday, July 17, 2012

At Monday’s Albemarle County Architectural Review Board meeting, members approved the design for a Fresh Market specialty grocery store that will occupy the old Circuit City building in the Albemarle Square shopping center on U.S. 29.

20100515-CityMarketThe Fresh Market will feature outdoor seating and a design that mimics a farmer’s market. Board members said they were pleased with the developer’s latest plans to add another set of windows to the front of the building.

“You have done a fantastic job and … if you can do anything to make these windows happen … we would certainly be pleased with it,” said board member Paul Wright.

“Compositionally, it is nicer,” board member John Quale said.

Members called attention to the fact that the windows would only be a positive addition if they did not feature spandrel glass, which gives a uniform appearance in building walls.

“Spandrel glass on the entrance corridor is discouraged,” said ARB chairman Fred Missel.

The board also held a work session to discuss Albemarle County’s requirement for relegated parking along entrance corridors that keeps parking lots out of view. Staff emphasized the importance of maintaining the ability to convert complexes along entrance corridors into walkable areas for the future.

“We’ve got to set things up for a ‘now’ and a ‘later’ so that you have that place where people … have the right place to walk, and the right place to walk is not right up on the road with the moving traffic. It’s pushed back,” said Elaine Echols, principal planner for Albemarle County.

Continue reading "Plans approved for Fresh Market in Albemarle Square" »

July 15, 2012

Soundboard 7-13-2012 - Charlottesville's news straight from the source

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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 20120713-Soundboard

The July 13 show features contributors Giles Morris, Laura Ingles, Ryan McCrimmon & Graelyn Brashear (from C-Ville Weekly) and Sean Tubbs & Ian Lamb (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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Local officials and residents reflect on chloramines and prepare for public hearing

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DailyProgressBy Courtney Beale
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Sunday, July 15, 2012

In the aftermath of a well-attended symposium in June on alternatives for public drinking water treatment, area officials are preparing to hold a joint meeting to receive public comment from the Charlottesville-Albemarle community.

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Charlottesville City Councilor Kathy Galvin

The public hearing is being held July 25 in response to concerns about one of the water treatment approaches, the use of chloramines. Since the public became aware of the Rivanna Water & Sewer Authority’s March 2011 decision to use chloramines, some concerned residents have advocated for alternatives like carbon filtration.

Now some of the elected officials who will make the final decision say they are looking forward to the public feedback and reaching consensus on changes that must be made to comply with federal mandates.

Balancing public safety with increasing prices is on the minds of local representatives.

“You can say no cost is too high [to ensure safety], but we make those decisions all the time,” Albemarle Supervisor Dennis S. Rooker said. “There’s a point at which you do draw the line and say, ‘Well perhaps the additional cost is not worth the increase in safety.’”

A RWSA consultant, Hazen and Sawyer, estimates the installation of chloramines will initially cost about $5 million with an additional $102,000 per year to operate. The next most-affordable option is granular activated carbon (GAC), which Hazen and Sawyer estimates will have an upfront cost of $18.3 million and cost $983,000 per year to operate.

Chloramines opponents believe the benefits of GAC filtration are worth the additional cost.

“Just because Charlottesville and Albemarle County had the misfortune of qualifying for the cheapest solution … doesn’t mean we have to take it over the safest one,” May Liao, a county resident, said during Wednesday’s Board of Supervisor’s meeting.

Continue reading "Local officials and residents reflect on chloramines and prepare for public hearing" »

Meet Your Government: Summer Frederick

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 Meet your government: Summer Frederick 20120626-Frederick_Summer

Project Manager, Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission

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

I was born in Lake Forest, IL, and raised in Annandale, VA

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

I moved here July of 1997 to finish my undergraduate degree at UVA

What neighborhood do you live in now?

Belmont!

Family (spouse, kids, etc)?

Parents and extended family scattered near and far.

What is your alma mater and when did you graduate?

I started college at West Virginia Wesleyan College, left after two-and-a-half years, took a good bit of a break from higher education, then returned and graduated from UVA.

Twice - 1999 BA, and 2005 MUEP

What were you doing before coming to the TJPDC?

I worked for Albemarle County as a Senior Planner of Current Development. The "Current Development" division no longer exists. The Community Development Department has changed so now all long range planning and development review is under the "Planning Services" division.

Your job title is Project Manager for the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission - what, in your own words, would you say you do?

I keep the Livable Communities Project moving forward, making sure all the various pieces and parts are working together as they should.

Continue reading "Meet Your Government: Summer Frederick" »

July 14, 2012

Air station at AHS monitors ozone levels in Albemarle County

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DailyProgressBy Ian Lamb
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Saturday, July 14, 2012

On the grounds of Albemarle High School, a small metal structure sits sniffing the air for pollutants and recording what it finds. Installed in 2008, the Ambient Air Monitoring System has been measuring the amount of ozone and PM2.5, the term for fine solid and liquid particulates 2.5 micrometers and smaller, in Albemarle County.

20120703-MaxOzone-graph2008-2012YTD
Caption here

The levels of the pollutants are then sent to the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality to determine whether or not the air in Albemarle meets the Environmental Protection Agency’s federal standards.

Areas that fail to meet the standards are deemed “nonattainment” by the EPA and are required to then formulate a long-term strategy for reducing the amount of pollutants.

However, according to Carolyn Stevens, a DEQ environmental specialist, man-made and industrial pollutants are only one part of the pollution that contributes to nonattainment.

“People instantly think to curtail industry, and there are things we could do for industry, but there are other sources,” said Stevens, referring to strategies employed in nonattainment areas. “There are also environmental and meteorological issues.”

Ozone is a secondary pollutant, which means that it is created when pollutants such as nitrogen oxides (NOx) or volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are produced and met with direct sunlight and high temperatures.

“[Nonattainment] is dependent on things we have no control over,” said Stephen Williams, director of the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission. “The hotter, more humid it is, the more likely you are to have a nonattainment event.”

Continue reading "Air station at AHS monitors ozone levels in Albemarle County" »

July 12, 2012

Bypass opponents launch campaign to promote alternatives

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DailyProgressBy Sean Tubbs
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Thursday, July 12, 2012

Two organizations opposed to the Western Bypass of U.S. 29 in Albemarle County have produced a three-minute video to encourage citizens to consider alternatives to the 6.2-mile, four-lane highway.

“We put this video together to highlight better approaches to solving traffic problems on U.S. 29,” said Morgan Butler of the Southern Environmental Law Center on Thursday. “The community itself has developed an approach that is far less damaging than the bypass; it’s more cost-effective, and it provides benefits that the bypass simply does not.”
 
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This conceptual image from the video depicts how a grade-separated interchange at Hydraulic Road and U.S. 29 might look like. Click here to see the video. Credit: Southern Environmental Law Center
In June, the Commonwealth Transportation Board awarded a $136 million contract to design and build the bypass to a team consisting of Skanska-USA and Branch Highways. 
 
However, the Skanska-Branch team cannot begin work on the final design until after the Virginia Department of Transportation completes an environmental assessment. The last study, known as an environmental impact study, was concluded in 2003. 
 
The Federal Highway Administration is expected to determine in the fall if further scrutiny is required. The environmental groups hope the FHWA will make a decision that stops the bypass once again.
 
“If changes have been made to the proposed project — or new information has become available — since the original EIS that would lead to significant environmental impacts, a supplemental EIS may be warranted,” said Doug Hecox, a FHWA spokesman.
 
Butler said the community’s development of the Places29 Master Plan is one of those changed circumstances. In addition to other transportation improvements, the plan approved in 2011 eventually calls for grade-separated interchanges at Hydraulic Road and Rio Road, the extensions of Hillsdale Drive and Berkmar Drive and an additional off-ramp at the U.S. 29/250 Interchange. 
 

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July 11, 2012

Stonefield’s grading and stormwater reviewed by Albemarle

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DailyProgressBy Sean Tubbs
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Facing the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors, the developers of Stonefield had simply hoped to get an extension on the deadline to plant vegetation. However, the mixed-use development got more scrutiny Wednesday on the water below ground level than the plants above.
 
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A view looking down at the 72 inch pipe at the center of the controversy. Credit: City of Charlottesville
The board took the opportunity to discuss the developer’s alleged violation of a Charlottesville-issued erosion and sedimentation permit. The county’s water protection ordinance requires developers to plant vegetation on graded property within a specific timeframe and Edens has been unable to meet deadlines because of various delays. 
 
“This project has already received an administrative extension which took them to July, so now they are requesting a board extension which would take them … until the end of October,” said county engineer Glenn Brooks. 
 
Brooks said vegetation cannot be planted until the land on the 65-acre site is in its final graded state. That will require a basin that is currently retaining stormwater to be filled in. 
 
Stonefield’s Trader Joe’s and Regal Cinema are well underway as the first buildings approved for a development with a footprint twice as large as Charlottesville’s Downtown Mall.
 
Before development of the site, stormwater on the northern end of the property drained through a 42-inch pipeline underneath U.S. 29 into a drainage channel on property in the city owned by Seminole Square Shopping Center, the Pepsi-Cola bottling factory and the U.S. Post Office. 
 
As part of its post-development stormwater management plan, Edens has built a second 72-inch pipe to carry water that drains from 108 acres of land west of the Stonefield property, as well as excess stormwater for when the 42-inch pipe backs up during heavy rainfall. 
 
The city’s department of Neighborhood Development Service issued a violation notice to Edens on June 1 after the pipe was opened this spring. The city claims the pipe was to remain plugged until Edens made certain improvements to the drainage channel. Those improvements require permission from the owners of Seminole and the Pepsi facility. 
 

Continue reading " Stonefield’s grading and stormwater reviewed by Albemarle" »