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June 30, 2012

Albemarle Planning Commission kicks off review of affordable housing policy

DailyProgressBy Ian Lamb & Brian Wheeler
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Saturday, June 30, 2012

Albemarle’s Planning Commission is working to improve the way the county can best provide affordable living choices to its residents.

The commission’s recommendations will be reviewed by the Board of Supervisors later this year as it considers changes to the 2005 Affordable Housing Policy and whether to make it part of the updated Comprehensive Plan.

Ron White, Chief of Housing, Albemarle County

Current policy sets expectations for the development community as to the affordable housing support its members will need to include in a rezoning request. At a minimum, Albemarle expects 15 percent of new homes to be deemed affordable or for the developer to provide an equivalent cash contribution.

“It’s pretty much the developer’s decision,” said Wayne Cilimberg, Albemarle’s director of planning. “They craft the proffers based around what they interpret the policy to be and, in discussions with staff, what we’ve indicated what we could look at.”

Proffers are the voluntary contributions made by a developer to mitigate project impacts and to help gain the support of local officials for a rezoning request. They may include cash, open space, transportation improvements, school sites, but always some contributions toward affordable housing.

Albemarle’s housing director, Ron White, told the commission at a work session earlier this week that recent cash proffers for affordable housing have been used either as down-payment assistance or to repair existing affordable housing units. Since the policy was approved, $476,809 has been received and of that amount, $411,385 has been invested for those purposes.

“If you want to look at a comprehensive affordable housing goal, it’s not just creating new units, but also, in some way, maintaining the existing stock,” White said.

Continue reading "Albemarle Planning Commission kicks off review of affordable housing policy" »

June 28, 2012

City and county seek common goals for joint planning

DailyProgressBy Brian Wheeler & Courtney Beale
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Thursday, June 28, 2012

Planning staff and officials in the city of Charlottesville and Albemarle County will spend this summer identifying joint goals to include in their respective comprehensive plan updates.

Earlier this year, officials identified seven shared priorities: historic preservation, entrance corridors, environment, housing, economy, transportation and land use. In separate meetings Tuesday, each planning commission began identifying specific opportunities for the first three of those topics.

Summer Frederick, Project Manager, TJPDC

Summer Frederick, a project manager with the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission, spoke to the Albemarle Planning Commission after giving a similar briefing in the city.

“What we are looking for is for you to discuss these topics and come up with … specific opportunities to work with the city to come up with joint goals,” said Frederick.

The TJPDC is working with the city, county and the University of Virginia as part of a three-year $1 million federal grant awarded in 2010 for what is known as the Livable Communities Planning Project. One goal is to facilitate the comprehensive plan updates that guide local government planning decisions.

Albemarle Commissioner Bruce Dotson noted the results of a community survey from a previous comprehensive plan update.

“The thing that I remember from that … was how many residents of the city said that what they liked about the area were things that are located in the county, and vice versa, how many county residents liked things located in the city,” Dotson said. “The ultimate success in preserving the rural area is when urban people value it, and vice versa.”

Continue reading "City and county seek common goals for joint planning" »

June 27, 2012

Transportation Secretary Connaughton addresses area business leaders

DailyProgressBy Sean Tubbs
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Thursday, June 27, 2012

Business leaders from both Charlottesville and Lynchburg gathered at the Doubletree Hotel Wednesday to hear from the man who has overseen the resurrection of the Western Bypass of U.S. 29
Sean T. Connaughton, Virginia's Secretary of Transportation (Photo credit: Andrew Shurtleff/Daily Progress)
“This is a region that has grown quite a bit and you have a lot of congestion and, quite honestly, the state has not invested the type of money that you need,” said Sean T. Connaughton, Virginia’s secretary of transportation. 
Connaughton was the guest of the North Charlottesville Business Council, a group of the Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce. The organization was formed in 1993 in part to lobby against alternatives to the bypass. NCBC member Henry Weinschenk, the owner of Express Car Wash, is a long-time opponent of one such alternative, converting signalized intersections along existing U.S. 29 to grade-separated interchanges. 
“The bypass is logical, commonsense and it’s the way we’ve been suggesting for a long time,” Weinschenk said. “To build grade-separated interchanges, you’d essentially have to destroy most business along U.S. 29.” 
The interchanges were discussed while the Places29 Master Plan was developed in the last decade, but their construction was de-prioritized before the Albemarle Board of Supervisors adopted the plan in February 2011. 

Continue reading "Transportation Secretary Connaughton addresses area business leaders " »

Slideshow: Crozet Library Groundbreaking

The long-anticipated Crozet Library broke ground on June 26, 2012. In attendance at this very Crozet event (attendees enjoyed bluegrass music while they arrived) were state and local officials and community members all excited to see this dream become a reality.


City, county miss Rivanna pump station deadline

DailyProgressBy Sean Tubbs
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Albemarle County Service Authority and the city of Charlottesville will not meet a self-imposed deadline to enter into a cost-share agreement for the replacement of the Rivanna sewer pump station.

When the Rivanna Water & Sewer Authority’s board of directors voted 4-3 in December to select a location for the pump station, it also set a June 30 deadline to determine how the cost of the $40 million project would be shared.

All three of Albemarle’s representatives on the board voted against the option because they favored replacing the station at its existing location adjacent to the city’s Riverview Park. That option had a cost estimate of $27 million.

The RWSA met for the first time in a year and a half at the Moores Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant

 “We knew of no engineering reason to move it to another site and the cost of moving it was very large,” said Liz Palmer, a member of the ACSA’s board. “We thought we could design it so that it was acceptable to the community at its present site and save ratepayers $13 million.”

Instead, the station will be moved onto land at the Moores Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant. A 2,000-foot-long tunnel will carry sewage to the new station via a route that will go underneath Riverside Avenue and other roads.

The station’s replacement is one of several items mandated by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality. The new pump station will be able to handle a peak capacity of 53 million gallons a day. The existing station cannot handle large volumes of stormwater, leading to sewage spills into the Rivanna River.

The RWSA charges the city and county different wholesale rates based on the percentage of flow from each community. If a specific agreement is not in place, the cost-share for new infrastructure is based on that percentage.

Continue reading "City, county miss Rivanna pump station deadline" »

June 25, 2012

New West Main hotel gets partial approval from BAR

DailyProgressBy Sean Tubbs
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Monday, June 25, 2012

The Charlottesville Board of Architectural Review has granted two approvals necessary before a new hotel can be built at the corner of West Main Street and Ridge-McIntire.

“We would like to be under construction in the spring,” said Charles Wendell, the developer of the new Marriott Residence Inn. “The design of this property is going to take six months.”

Source: City of Charlottesville

In order for design to proceed, Wendell needed the BAR to grant certificates of appropriateness because the building is located within the downtown architectural design control district.

Last week, the BAR approved the massing for the project, as well as the materials that will be used for the seven-story building.

“It sounds like the consensus is that we are OK with stucco as long as it is detailed and we can reach a color agreement further down the road,” said BAR member Preston Coiner.

The property is already zoned for commercial use so Wendell only needs the site plan to be approved by city staff.

“If we can get it approved by September, then I would think we can have a building permit by March 1,” Wendell said.

Continue reading "New West Main hotel gets partial approval from BAR" »

June 24, 2012

Routes to Greer Elementary, Jouett Middle School to get safer

DailyProgressBy Ian Lamb
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Sunday, June 24, 2012

Almost all of the students at Greer Elementary and Jack Jouett Middle School get there either by taking the bus or being driven by a parent.

20051005-SafeRoutes“There are no sidewalks on Lambs Road … it’s just not safe,” said Dieckmann Cogill, a transportation planner hired by the Alliance for Community Choice in Transportation.

However, that could change if Albemarle County is successful in getting a federal infrastructure improvement grant.

Under the federally funded Safe Routes to School program, localities may apply for grants to improve paths leading to schools to make them more pedestrian friendly. The county already has received such a grant for Burnley-Moran and Crozet elementaries and is looking to do it again.

The ACCT worked with the county to develop a travel plan for the schools to propose solutions for existing hazards. Students who walk to school are often forced to do so in the road or in the drainage shoulder.

The plan, still in its initial phase, consists of seven separate projects, each of which must be prioritized by the Department of Community Development before construction may begin.

“We have a priority list of sidewalks that we use for our request for sidewalk funding,” explained David Benish, chief of planning, in an interview. “The ability to implement the [Safe Routes to School] plan is based on the amount of funding available to do [such plans], plus all the other priority projects.”

Continue reading "Routes to Greer Elementary, Jouett Middle School to get safer" »

County holds roundtable to discuss ways of streamlining the development review process

DailyProgressBy Ian Lamb
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Sunday, June 24, 2012

Members of the development community, environmental leaders and Albemarle County officials came together last week to discuss proposed changes to the development review process. The adjustments are intended to streamline the process by which projects are reviewed.

20120613-Alb-CompPlanA collection of plans and requirements guiding development in Albemarle County

“It’s really about trying to shorten those timeframes, avoid those regulations that are not necessary, continue to maintain opportunities for the public to be involved and, overall, to maintain community quality,” said Wayne Cilimberg, Albemarle’s director of planning.

The hope is that the proposed process would provide clear expectations of the applicants and, in doing so, not only render decisions by the county in a more timely manner, but reduce the number of application re-submittals, which cost projects time and money.

“Because our application requirements are not tightened down, we find that there are things that are not provided [by the applicant] that are needed, but we’re not hearing about it until 46 days into the process,” said Cilimberg, regarding the inefficiencies of the current process. “We really would want to avoid that.”

The proposed review process for proposals that go before the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors would require applicants to submit a pre-application form with basic information about the project. Applicants would then be required to attend a pre-application meeting with county staff to identify areas of the initial project proposal that may require modification.

Continue reading "County holds roundtable to discuss ways of streamlining the development review process" »

June 23, 2012

Meet Your Government: Mark Graham

 Meet your government: Mark Graham 20120621MarkGraham (1)

Director of Community Development of Albemarle County

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

Born in Oakland, California (one of the first Kaiser Permanente babies) and raised in La Grange, Texas (home of the Chicken Ranch for those who know Texas), first came to Virginia for grad school and loved it. I seem to have kept moving from the left to the right throughout my life.    

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

Moved to Albemarle in 1999 from Nashville.  My wife and I went to grad school at Virginia Tech, fell in love with the mountains, and when an opportunity arose to get back to this part of Virginia, we jumped. 

What neighborhood do you live in now?

Ivy and love it.

Family (spouse, kids, etc)?

Wife of 32 years, Ann, statistician working in pharmaceutical research. Adult daughter, Scout, who lives in Austin. Adult son, Kyle, proudly serving in the Old Guard of the U.S. Army.

What is your alma mater and when did you graduate?

B.S. in Civil Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin in 1979 (3rd generation U.T. grad);  M.B.A. from Virginia Tech in 1986.

What were you doing before coming to the County?

Working as an engineering consultant in Nashville, Tennessee, primarily in water resources.

Continue reading "Meet Your Government: Mark Graham" »

June 22, 2012

Soundboard 6-22-2012 - 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 20120622-Soundboard

The June 22 show features contributors Giles Morris, Graelyn Brashear & Laura Ingles (from C-Ville Weekly) and Sean Tubbs & Brian Wheeler (Charlottesville Tomorrow) discussing: 

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