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June 16, 2012

Meet Your Government: Mary Joy Scala

Meet your government: Mary Joy Scala 

Preservation and Design 20120615MaryJoyScalaPlanner, City of Charlottesville

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

Born in Trenton, NJ but grew up in a historic  house on the main street of a small town in Yardley, Pennsylvania.

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

To attend UVA. I remember first arriving via Rt. 22/231 and thought it was beautiful. Having grown up between New York and Philadelphia, I was intrigued by the rural mailboxes and gravel roads.

What neighborhood do you live in now?

Fry’s Spring Neighborhood. I like living in a historic neighborhood but my house is not historic. My front door is painted Lime Pop.

Family (spouse, kids, etc)?

I adore my two wonderful and creative sons and equally fabulous daughters-in-law who live in Alexandria and in the Bronx. I will become Abuela Mary Joy in a couple weeks!

What is your alma mater and when did you graduate?

I studied architecture at UVA and graduated with a Masters in Planning the same year as Ralph Sampson. Which was lucky because, even though it was pouring rain, I got to graduate on the lawn. My undergraduate degree is in Studio Art from Mary Washington.

What were you doing before coming to the City?

I was Executive Director at Valley Conservation Council, http://valleyconservation.org/ a non-profit in Staunton, VA.  It’s a great organization that protects farmland in 11 Shenandoah Valley counties and I still support their efforts.

Continue reading "Meet Your Government: Mary Joy Scala" »

May 20, 2012

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" »

April 28, 2012

Meet Your Government: Wayne Cilimberg

CilimbergMeet Your Government:
Wayne Cilimberg
Director of Planning, Albemarle County

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

Born and raised in Richmond.  I’ve lived in Virginia all my life.

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

Moved from Culpeper in 1989, but I had actually been commuting from there since I started with the County Department of Planning and Community Development in 1986.  Previously worked for the Rappahannock-Rapidan Planning District Commission in Culpeper.

What neighborhood do you live in now?

Locust Grove in the city.


Wife Lee, step daughter Jessie, step son Devin, sons Justin and Jared.  We’re empty nesters now except for Tilly our 17 year old dog!

What is your alma mater and when did you graduate?

Graduated twice from “that other school”, Virginia Tech; BA Urban Affairs in 1976 and Masters in Urban and Regional Planning in 1981.

What were you doing before coming to the County?

Before government (and grad school) I worked for a Savings and Loan in Richmond for 3 years during the 70’s.  I ended up managing a branch of Virginia First S&L with the bulk of my work being in mortgage lending.  In the very conservative lending environment of those times, someone in the modern day mortgage lending business would probably consider what we did back then to be prehistoric!

Continue reading "Meet Your Government: Wayne Cilimberg" »

January 19, 2012

Virginia Supreme Court ruling limits power of planning commissions

DailyProgressBy Sean Tubbs
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Virginia Supreme Court has ruled that planning commissions do not have the power to grant waivers that allow property developers to deviate from zoning ordinances.

“Delegation of such authority to the [Albemarle] planning commission is inconsistent with the general role of planning commissions, as reflected by their enabling statutes,” reads the ruling issued last Friday from Justice William C. Mims.

Albemarle County Attorney Larry Davis said in an interview that the county has delegated decision-making powers to its Planning Commission for many decades.

“It’s an important decision that affects our processes, and not just in Albemarle County, but every locality statewide,” Davis said.

The case, Sinclair v. New Cingular Wireless et al., stems from a waiver granted in February 2010 by the Albemarle Planning Commission that allowed the construction of 103-foot cell tower on land subject to the county’s critical slopes ordinance.

Kent Sinclair, an Albemarle resident who owns adjoining property, argued at two public hearings against the waiver. After the commission granted it, Sinclair filed a suit that claimed Albemarle was in violation of the Dillon Rule, which prevents localities from exercising power not granted to them by the General Assembly.

The Albemarle Circuit Court did not agree with Sinclair’s complaint, and the case was appealed to the Virginia Supreme Court, where justices ultimately upheld Sinclair’s suit.

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December 14, 2011

Resignations add to supervisors’ list of seats to fill

DailyProgressBy Kurt Walters
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Wednesday, December 13, 2011

The resignation of William Daggett, vice chairman of Albemarle County’s Architecture Review Board, has added one more item to the docket of board and commission nominations the county Board of Supervisors will take up in January at the first meeting of the year.

William Daggett at a July 2011 ARB meeting on the Stonefield development's Regal Cinema

Daggett, who was first appointed to the ARB in 2007, said that an unexpected increase in the amount of travel required for his architecture job with Daggett + Grigg was responsible for his decision.

“It’s fair that they [the ARB] have folks who can be there,” said Daggett in an interview. “My business is taking me away.”

His travel schedule, which he predicted would continue, meant that Daggett had to miss a majority of meetings between late July and December, which he termed a “burden” to the rest of the five-member board in his resignation letter.

The county is currently accepting applications for a replacement to serve the duration of Daggett’s term, which ends in November 2012. Daggett’s seat, like all members of the ARB, is at-large, representing the entire county.

County staff said that the list of applicants would be made public Dec. 30 and that supervisors would make a selection at their first meeting of the new year, on Jan 4.

Continue reading "Resignations add to supervisors’ list of seats to fill" »

August 03, 2011

Fifeville resident named to Planning Commission

DailyProgressBy Sean Tubbs
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Charlottesville City Council has appointed Fifeville resident Natasha Sienitsky to an open seat on the city’s Planning Commission.

“Part of the appeal of Charlottesville is the green space, access to the mountains and the burgeoning local food movement,” Sienitsky said. “That’s part of what we want to keep.”

Natasha Sienitsky

Sienitsky, 31, is associate director of planning and facilities for the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, which owns and operates Monticello. She graduated from Wesleyan University in 2001 and received a master’s in planning from the University of Virginia in 2007.

Sienitsky formerly served on the Charlottesville Housing Committee and has volunteered with the Albemarle Housing Improvement Program. She was one of 12 applicants for the vacancy created when Commissioner Jason Pearson stepped down.

“It was an extremely competitive pool,” said Mayor Dave Norris. “Natasha was the consensus pick because of her experience with housing and community development issues, her involvement in the Fifeville neighborhood, and her appreciation for the diversity that makes Charlottesville a great place.”

Sienitsky’s husband, Oliver Platts-Mills, grew up in the area and graduated from Western Albemarle High School. The pair moved to Charlottesville in 2002.

“We had been living abroad and thought of Charlottesville as a stopping off point,” Sienitsky said. “We were en route to D.C., where all the big jobs were, and we just never left. We nestled in and don’t really see leaving here anytime soon.”

Sienitsky said Charlottesville is a city in transition.

“We’re not talking about New York City here — it’s still Charlottesville. We’re no longer a small town but we’re also not a megalopolis. There is a young entrepreneurial set that’s coming in and doing great things but at the same time there are older residents who still think of Charlottesville as a small town,” Sienitsky said. “There is also a big population of people living in poverty and I would like to see more equity.”

According to Sienitsky, one way to achieve that goal is to continue the city’s policy of encouraging development of more affordable housing stock.

“Right now in Charlottesville, you’re either in a single family house or an apartment building,” Sienitsky said. “There should be a greater mix of housing types.”

Sienitsky said she supports increased housing density in areas of the city where it is appropriate, particularly in the West Main corridor because of the connection between downtown and UVa.

“I would not want to see [a developer] go onto a street in Belmont and tear down all the houses and build dense apartment buildings,” Sienitsky said.

The commission is beginning the process of updating the city’s Comprehensive Plan. Sienitsky said she expects that process to inform where dense development will occur.

“It’s up to the community to decide where [density] should be through the public process,” Sienitsky said.

Sienitsky and her husband have renovated two houses in the Fifeville area.

She said she applied for the position in part to ensure the neighborhood was represented on the Planning Commission.

“A lot of people are interested in the neighborhood,” Sienitsky said. “A lot of building is going on even though things have slowed down.”

Sienitsky is a member of the Charlottesville Ultimate Disc Organization and the Charlottesville League of Urban Chicken Keepers.

“We do it for the eggs, because the eggs are delicious,” Sienitsky said.

Sienitsky will take her seat at the commission’s next meeting, on Aug. 9. Her term will expire at the end of August 2014.


October 19, 2010

Albemarle zoning official named to Charlottesville planning commission

By Sean Tubbs
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Charlottesville Tomorrow

An Albemarle County code enforcement officer has been named as the newest member of the Charlottesville Planning Commission. Lisa D. Green is a Belmont resident and one of six people interviewed by City Council to replace Bill Emory on the Commission.

“I believe I have a civic duty as a home owner and a resident of Charlottesville to have a vested interest in growth and development of my community,” Green wrote in her application to serve on the commission.

Green, a Tennessee native, moved to Charlottesville from Alexandria in June of 2001. She currently works for Albemarle County’s Department of Community Development.

Green said she was attracted to Charlottesville because it has the amenities of a big city but also a slower pace of life. She bought her house in Belmont shortly before the restaurant Mas opened up on Hinton Avenue. In April 2009, Green urged the planning commission to deny expansion of the neighborhood commercial corridor zoning district to allow a property owner to open another restaurant on the street.

“[Belmont] has definitely become more of a focal point of the city,” Green said. “It’s nice to be able to live and walk and be able to grab coffee or have dinner. But as with anyth0069ng, too much of anything is sometimes not the best for you.”

Green’s appointment comes at time when some in the community are questioning whether the strategy of growing more densely is wise. She said she is aware of the tension.

 “The challenge we have is to maintain our rich history and also change with the times and keep up with new technology and the new way of planning so that we can maintain that world class city status because that’s what we all strive for,” Green said “What people love about Charlottesville is that it is small.”

In 1992, Green graduated from Muscle Shoals Community College in northern Alabama with an associate’s degree in drafting and design technology. She has been a member of the Virginia Association of Zoning Officials, the Virginia Citizens Planning Association, the Virginia Board of Zoning Appeals, and the Virginia Zoning Officials Education Committee.

Closer to home, Green has served on the Belmont Neighborhood Association and has been a member of the Charlottesville Trail Running Club, the Charlottesville Bike Club, and the Albemarle County Wellness Committee.

 “Lisa impressed us with her breadth of experience with planning and zoning issues, her commitment to community engagement, her neighborhood advocacy work, and her understanding and appreciation for Charlottesville's diversity of populations and needs,” said Mayor Dave Norris in an e-mail to Charlottesville Tomorrow.

Green calls herself an outdoors person, and said transportation issues are important to determining Charlottesville’s future character.

“The time has changed now where the focus is not necessarily on cars, but how our environment is changing,” she said.

Green’s first meeting will be a work session next Tuesday that begins at 5:00 in the Neighborhood Development Services’ conference room in City Hall.

August 12, 2010

City planning panel may have second vacancy

DailyProgressBy Sean Tubbs
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Thursday, August 12, 2010

Jason Pearson

While the Charlottesville City Council is currently accepting applications for the Planning Commission vacancy left by Bill Emory, there is a possibility that current Chairman Jason Pearson may also depart.

Commissioners Genevieve Keller and Michael Osteen were reappointed to their seats by the City Council earlier this month, but Pearson’s term ends Aug. 31 and the council has yet to take action on his seat.

“I recently stepped down as president and CEO of GreenBlue, and this has provided me an opportunity to explore some independent projects and new avenues for professional engagement and public service,” wrote Pearson in an e-mail to Charlottesville Tomorrow.

“As I explore these further, I am uncertain whether I will be able to dedicate sufficient time to the work of the commission,” he said.

Pearson said he would continue to play a role in the ongoing revision of the city’s steep slopes ordinance as well as a review of how the Cherry Avenue mixed corridor is being planned.

At this time, the council has chosen to simply not fill Pearson’s seat when his term expires at the end of the month. According to Mayor Dave Norris, that will allow Pearson to continue serving. The commission’s bylaws specify a term can be extended in this fashion.

“Jason is a very valuable member of the Planning Commission and if there’s a way to keep him in the role, we’d like to see him continue,” Norris said.

Meanwhile, the city is continuing to take applications for the seat vacated by Emory. He resigned in May for personal reasons.

The deadline for applications is Aug. 27, with interviews before the council tentatively scheduled for the last week of the month. Applications can be sent to the clerk of council. The new commissioner is expected to join in September.


Download Download planning commission application


“I hope that council will reflect on the mix of current commissioners and attempt to identify commissioners who can enhance and broaden the diversity of viewpoints and expertise already present on the commission,” Pearson said.

The commission is currently made up of an architectural historian (Keller), two practicing architects (Osteen and Kurt Keesecker), two nonprofit leaders (John Santoski and Dan Rosensweig) and Pearson.

Norris said he would particularly like a candidate who has a vision for helping the city become more pedestrian and bike friendly.

“I’d personally like to see someone who is going to ask the hard questions about how planning decisions are going to affect our neighborhoods,” Norris said.

A new chair and vice chair will be appointed at the September meeting. Pearson has also said he is not sure if he will continue in a leadership position.

“I think we have some excellent candidates for chair among my colleagues, and I would welcome an opportunity to support any of them,” Pearson said.

Planning commissioners receive $2,900 a year for their service. The chair receives $3,500.

June 08, 2010

Emory resigns from Planning Commission

By Sean Tubbs
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Bill Emory
Woolen Mills resident Bill Emory has resigned from the Charlottesville Planning Commission, effectively immediately. Emory cited “personal reasons” for his abrupt exit.

Emory was appointed to the Commission in September 2008 to fill a vacancy left when Hosea Mitchell declined to seek an additional term.

In an e-mail to Charlottesville Tomorrow, Emory acknowledged he resigned in a letter to Mayor Dave Norris but did not elaborate.

Commission Chair Jason Pearson said he would be missed.

“He consistently brought a unique and valuable voice to our deliberations,” Pearson said. “As a careful student of public process, he never failed to highlight voices and perspectives that might otherwise have been overlooked.”

Emory was absent at a meeting when the Commission approved a 28-unit housing development at the site of the historic Timberlake-Branham home. Before joining the commission, Emory had sued the city claiming that a rewrite of the city’s zoning ordinance in 2003 mistakenly removed a protection that guarded vacant land around the house from development.

The city will announce the opening and begin accepting applications in the near future for Emory’s replacement. City Council will interview candidates and make a selection later this year.

“I encourage any citizen who cares about the future of this City to consider applying to serve as a Commissioner,” said Pearson. “Our job as Commissioners is to advise [City] Council in translating the long-term ambitions of the community into meaningful regulations that can guide Charlottesville's future development.”

January 12, 2010

New members join Albemarle Planning Commission tonight

By Sean Tubbs
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The transition of power in Albemarle County continues this week as the appointees of two newly-elected Supervisors take their seats. New members will join both the Planning Commission and Albemarle County Service Authority at meetings this week. The Planning Commission will welcome two new members, one returning member, and a former member.

The Board of Supervisors chose attorney and Crozet resident Duane Zobrist to be the body’s at-large member. 

Zobrist was first appointed to the Commission in September 2006, but was not re-appointed after former Supervisor David Wyant lost the White Hall seat on the Board of Supervisors to Ann Mallek. During the campaign, he donated $2,500 to the campaign of Supervisor Duane Snow (Samuel Miller), according to the Virginia Public Access Project.

Zobrist predicted there would be a return to more development in the county as the economy rebounds.

 “The Planning Commission’s job is to serve the directives and the policies laid down by the Board of Supervisors,” Zobrist said in an interview with Charlottesville Tomorrow. “Since I am going to be the at-large member, my job will be to represent the interests of the entire board, and not any particular district.”

There has been a great deal of turnover in the past two years since Zobrist departed. The only sitting member of the Commission who was present at that time is Cal Morris (Rivanna). Since that time, both Linda Porterfield (Scottsville) and Don Franco (Rio) have joined the Commission.

2007franco Don Franco appearing before the Commission shortly before his appointment in February 2008
Franco, a principal with KG Associates, replaced former Commissioner Jon Cannon last February. Supervisor Rodney Thomas (Rio) re-appointed him to the seat last week.

Franco said he is excited to be coming back, and predicted that the Commission will revisit the Places29 Master Plan at some point this year.

“I’m not sure the new board members feel the same way about Places29 as previous board members,” Franco said. One key issue will be whether Albemarle County’s growth area should be expanded to allow for development along the proposed Berkmar Drive Extended. That road was singled out as a key transportation priority in “action plan” adopted by Supervisors last week. The Board will hold a work session on the master plan this Wednesday.

The Commission will also see two newcomers.

Supervisor Duane Snow appointed Ed Smith of Ivy to serve as the representative for the Samuel Miller District. Smith works for Parham Construction, as its Vice President for Operations, and has over 45 years of experience in the construction industry. He said he was asked by Snow to apply for the position.

“I’m hoping to bring a common sense approach to the issues that come up,” Smith said in an interview.

During the campaign, Smith donated $100 to the campaign of independent John Lowry.

In December, three-term Supervisor Dennis Rooker announced the appointment of Mac Lafferty to represent the Jack Jouett District. Lafferty has been a member of several committees, including the Crozet Community Advisory Council and a local transportation planning body called CHART. He replaces Bill Edgerton, who served two terms under Rooker.

One of the first actions at tonight’s meeting will be the election of a new chairman. Former Chair Eric Strucko was elected to the Albemarle County School Board.

Two new ACSA members

Two new members of the Albemarle County Service Authority Board of Directors will attend their first meeting this week. Snow appointed Marvin Hilton to serve as the Samuel Miller representative and Thomas appointed Dave Thomas to represent Rio.

Thomas, who is no relation to the man who appointed him, is a district chair for the County Republicans. He’s also an attorney with the law firm of Michie Hamlet. In his application, Thomas said he applied for the position because of an interest in the community water supply plan.

“While it is clear that the County needs to explore increasing the supply, it is less clear how it should proceed in the most cost-effective manner,” Thomas wrote.

Hilton is a retired engineer who first moved to the community in 1959, when he attended the University of Virginia. In his application, Hilton said he was encouraged by Snow to apply for the position after learning of his background as a civic engineer..

Both will be on hand as the ACSA Board meets Thursday to review applicants for the open position of executive director. Gary Fern will step down from that post at the end of the February.

Liz Palmer, whose term representing Samuel Miller on the ACSA expired at the end of December, had re-applied for her seat. Snow chose Hilton instead, but thanked Palmer for her service shortly after making the appointment last week.

“She served faithfully, did her homework, and worked extremely hard for the county,” Snow said.