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May 02, 2012

Supervisors approve effort to recruit new Albemarle industries

DailyProgressBy Sean Tubbs
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Albemarle Board of Supervisors has endorsed a study that recommends the county pursue specific industries, despite opposition from groups who claim further growth will harm the environment. 
“Though more and bigger businesses will benefit a few… for most of us the new firms will not improve our lives,” said Jack Marshall of the group Advocates for a Sustainable Albemarle Population.  

The Thomas Jefferson Partnership for Economic Development paid the firm Younger Associates $150,000 to study the region’s economic strengths and weaknesses to determine what would be the most appropriate businesses to recruit. 

“The recommendations take into account our community’s strategic focus on balancing growth with maintaining outstanding quality of life,” said county spokeswoman Lee Catlin.  

“It’s [also] important to remember that the study’s primary outcome is on providing employment opportunities for current residents,” Catlin added.

However, Tom Olivier of the Piedmont Group of the Sierra Club said the plan was flawed in part because it would seek to retain talented University of Virginia students after they graduate. 

 “As you know, human population growth harms our environment,” Olivier said. “Our organization believes that county economic programs should be judged by the extent to which they support a vision for a sustainable community in which every resident has an opportunity to live a good life.” 
The Younger report suggested that Albemarle seek to attract three target industries: biosciences and medical devices; business and financial services; and information technology. 

Continue reading "Supervisors approve effort to recruit new Albemarle industries " »

April 24, 2012

Planning Commission recommends changes to allow more rural lodging

DailyProgressBy Sean Tubbs
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Albemarle Planning Commission has voted 4-2 to recommend zoning changes to facilitate the opening of more bed and breakfasts in the county’s rural areas.
Albemarle’s zoning code currently allows property owners to open up to five rooms to overnight visitors as a by-right use, but they must either live in the structure or hire an on-site manager.
“Someone has to reside within that building,” said Amelia McCulley, the county’s director of planning.
One of the changes recommended for approval is that the property owner or manager could live elsewhere on the property but must still be present.
Under current rules, rooms cannot be located in secondary structures on the property.
“Sometimes there are rooms spread through the property in convenient locations, such as old barns and apartments above garages,” McCulley said.
If the zoning code change is adopted by the Albemarle Board of Supervisors, rooms could be opened on any structure that meets the building code for dwelling units.
“Any structure used as a guest use still requires all the building and safety approvals,” McCulley said. “Not every barn and accessory structure can be reasonably or feasibly converted into a guest room and any that are would have to meet regulations.”

Continue reading "Planning Commission recommends changes to allow more rural lodging" »

April 19, 2012

Council chooses Habitat/Southern to site near Oakwood Cemetery

DailyProgressBy Sean Tubbs
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Charlottesville City Council is poised to select Habitat for Humanity and Southern Development to develop 3.5 acres near the city’s Oakwood Cemetery.
“If this is done right, we can send a message about the development principles we want,” Councilor Kathy Galvin said.
A conceptual drawing of the Habitat/Southern plan. Elliot Avenue is on the right hand side of the image (Source: City of Charlottesville)
The land is undeveloped because the city has used the site as a landfill.
“It has been used as a site to receive construction debris for a number of years,” said Jim Tolbert, the city’s director of neighborhood development services. “We’ve had soil borings done and there is at least 20 feet of [debris].”
The city held a design charette in early 2011 to solicit ideas on how to develop the property, which is a 10-minute walk from downtown.
“The consensus of that discussion was that the future development should be of a scale that related to existing development, should respect the cemetery, but should be at a density appropriate for a prime downtown walkable location,” Tolbert said.

Continue reading "Council chooses Habitat/Southern to site near Oakwood Cemetery" »

April 12, 2012

Supervisors approve Estes Park rezoning

DailyProgressBy Sean Tubbs
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Albemarle Board of Supervisors approved Wednesday a new 68-unit neighborhood north of the Forest Lakes community despite concerns from two members who objected to the way an affordable housing requirement was phrased. 
Estes Park is being developed by River Bend Management, which needed a rezoning of 12.75 acres in order to allow for that number of homes. 
At issue was River Bend’s desire to pay a cash proffer of $754,000 towards capital improvement projects, an amount that assumes a certain level of affordable housing. 
“That’s based on an amount that reflects a deduction for 10 affordable housing units being built,” said David Benish, the county’s chief of planning. “That [number] is reflective of the 15 percent required under the [county’s] affordable housing policy.”
However, River Bend has not decided yet whether to designate those units as affordable.
“I would love to build those affordable units, but we’re not the company who will be building the houses,” said Alan Taylor, River Bend’s vice president. 
Instead, the company plans to prepare the lots and turn them over to a builder. 

Continue reading "Supervisors approve Estes Park rezoning" »

April 11, 2012

Elected officials react to study identifying new business targets

DailyProgressBy Sean Tubbs
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Charlottesville city councilors and Albemarle County supervisors were briefed Wednesday on the results of a targeted industry study commissioned by the Thomas Jefferson Partnership for Economic Development.
Sharon Younger
Sharon Younger, the consultant who conducted the $150,000 study, said both communities should focus on industries that provide high-paying wages while creating other support jobs.
“There are a lot of things that balance this economy that do not belong [strictly] in the 10.4 square miles of Charlottesville,” Younger said.
Councilor Kristin Szakos said a regional approach to economic development could provide job opportunities for city residents.
“They may live in Charlottesville but they could work in Albemarle County,” Szakos said.
Councilor Dave Norris asked Younger what a targeted industry study would have looked like if the charge had been to lift as many people out of poverty as possible.
“That was clearly not reflected in this report,” Norris said. “How would that have shaped the findings?”
Younger said successful economic development strategies are not meant to end poverty, but to improve a community’s overall economy.
“We have targets that were put there thoughtfully to create a [job] ladder,” Younger said. “You want something that has a high job-multiplying effect.”

Continue reading "Elected officials react to study identifying new business targets" »

Planners get first look at 204-unit city-county neighborhood

DailyProgressBy Sean Tubbs
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The site of a former wastewater treatment plant near Pen Park is under consideration for the construction of 204 homes in both Albemarle County and Charlottesville.
“First and foremost in our approach to residential development is the creation of a neighborhood,” said L.J. Lopez of Milestone Partners, the developer of the proposed Lochlyn Hill. “We want to create a sense of place and a sense of community.” 
Source: Milestone Partners
Lopez briefed the Charlottesville Planning Commission on Tuesday on preliminary plans for Lochlyn Hill, which will require a rezoning of 25.6 acres in the city to “planned unit development.”
Development on 11 acres in Albemarle would be by-right. The development would consist of single-family homes, cottages and townhomes.
The Rivanna Water & Sewer Authority sold the Meadowcreek Wastewater Treatment Plant in 1996 to Meadowcreek LLC for residential development. Lopez said the property has gone through environmental remediation following the plant’s closure.
Lopez said development would occur over many years through several phases. A large village green would be located in the center of the development and 15 percent of the units would be designated as affordable.
“Our objective is to partner with existing nonprofits in our area that have expertise and are closer in touch with the affordable housing buyer,” Lopez said.

Continue reading "Planners get first look at 204-unit city-county neighborhood" »

March 30, 2012

Soundboard 3-30-2012 - 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 20120330-Soundboard

The March 30 show features contributors Giles Morris & Laura Ingles (from C-Ville Weekly) and Sean Tubbs (Charlottesville Tomorrow) discussing: 

  • Charlottesville residents celebrate the 2nd anniversary of the health reform law
  • VDOT’s change of plans for the Western Bypass construction
  • Guest Toan Nguyen on the innovative project between the Community Investment Cooperative and Tom Tom Founders Festival
  • land use planning in Charlottesville
  • Guest Kevin Pujanauski on the first Startup Weekend in Virginia for entrepreneurs
  • the upcoming weekend of music with Soundscapes of Jefferson’s America
  • Guest John Donnelly on PVCC’s associate degree program for the inmates of the Fluvanna Women’s Correctional Facility
  • Guest Paul Hughes on the Virginia Food Heritage project
  • and the 10-miler that kicks off tomorrow morning

We hope you enjoy it, and we look forward to your feedback!




Community gets engaged on West Main's past, present and future


On Thursday night at Charlottesville Tomorrow's monthly News n' Brews, about 70 community members packed into Zinc to talk about the evolution of the West Main Street area.

Curious about who owns property there?  So were we...

Here's how we captured the conversation...

March 28, 2012

Charlottesville leaders ponder future land uses

DailyProgressBy Sean Tubbs
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Nearly 1,800 new homes have been built in Charlottesville since 2001 when the City Council adopted a comprehensive plan that encouraged mixed-use and dense residential development. 
The Charlottesville Planning Commission and the City Council were asked Tuesday if they wanted to continue policies supportive of that approach as the comprehensive plan is reviewed this year. 
“There are a couple of high level questions we need answered to make sure we’re on the same page,” said city planner Brian Haluska.
NDS Director Jim Tolbert briefed the commission and council on land use policies since 2001
 Neighborhood Development Services Director Jim Tolbert said the city planned for high-density development by amending its comprehensive plan in 2001 and then changing the zoning code in 2003 to encourage development along key corridors. 
“In many communities, when you see their planning commissions meet, there are always re-zonings on the table,” Tolbert said. “We said, ‘Let’s make everything we can permitted [by-right] so we don’t have to go through the debate of what we want every time.’” 
Commissioners and councilors were generally in agreement that the city’s growth policies should proceed. 
“I think the idea for strengthening corridors is still a valid idea and should continue,” said Mayor Satyendra Huja.
However, Councilor Dede Smith said if the city continues to encourage growth, there would be an effect on city neighborhoods. 
“As we bring in more industry and jobs and density, we also need to be very cognizant that we need to protect our neighborhoods from cut-through [traffic],” Smith said. “We already have a big problem.” 

Continue reading "Charlottesville leaders ponder future land uses" »

Event discusses past, present and future of locally grown food

DailyProgressBy Courtney Beale
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Increasing awareness of how closely Central Virginia’s history is tied to farms and produce was the topic of discussion at the first Central Virginia Food Heritage Gathering.

20120326-Food-Heritage-CTMonday’s event welcomed those invested in increasing local food efforts to share stories and recipes, and to even swap seeds.

“The hope of this project is that by building what we know about our food heritage we will be able to grow a local food system that promotes our food-based heritage,” said Tanya Denckla Cobb, associate director for the Institute for Environmental Negotiation at the University of Virginia and one of the founders of the Virginia Food Heritage Project.

The event featured interview stations to capture locals’ food-related memories and displayed maps where attendees could mark historical food production sites such as farmers’ markets and mills. The Virginia Food Heritage Project will use this information to create an interactive map that will be posted online, allowing anyone to contribute knowledge of historical food sites.

Denckla Cobb stated that the positive impacts of food heritage on the local economy are significant. She briefly named cider, tomatoes and beans as local products that possibly could increase economic vitality of agriculture in the region.

Continue reading "Event discusses past, present and future of locally grown food " »