Charlottesville Community Engagement
Charlottesville Community Engagement
December 8, 2022: Mount View Baptist apartments to proceed to final Council vote; UVA Committee to review $75M Olympic center

December 8, 2022: Mount View Baptist apartments to proceed to final Council vote; UVA Committee to review $75M Olympic center

Plus: More from incoming Charlottesville Police Chief Michael Kochis

Yesterday marked eighty-one years today since the bombing of Pearl Harbor. It has been nearly 60 years since President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. Twenty-one years have passed since the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. In any lifetime there are pivotal events that change the landscape for everyone and remembered even by those not yet born. 

Charlottesville Community Engagement is produced with this in mind, always aware of the complexities that come in a civilization made up of both systems and individuals. I’m Sean Tubbs, grateful you are here to read or listen to this and all of the other installments of the program. 

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On today’s program:

  • Albemarle and Charlottesville have reached an amended agreement on parking for the future joint General District Court 

  • More from new Charlottesville Police Chief Michael Kochis from a press conference

  • A quick preview of tomorrow’s meeting of the University of Virginia Board of Visitors

  • A 60-unit development next to a Locust Grove church has moved one step closer to a final vote

Today’s first shout-out: Community Read 

In today’s first shout-out, one person who is both a Patreon and Substack subscriber wants you to know that Albemarle County’s Office of Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion is having another quarterly Community Read and Dinner tonight at the Yancey School Community Center in Esmont at 7625 Porter’s Road. 

This time around, the book is Esmont Virginia by Andi Cumbo-Floyd. Copies of this history book can be picked up at the two county office buildings and at Little Free Libraries at county parks. The event features a panel discussion and the opportunity to discuss, dine, and hear directly from active community leaders in Esmont. Learn more at 

Albemarle and Charlottesville reach new agreement on court parking

When the new joint General District Courthouse to serve both Albemarle and Charlottesville opens in a few years, county residents will be able to use either a surface lot on Market Street or the Market Street Parking Garage. That’s according to an amendment to a 2018 agreement that’s before both City Council and the Board of Supervisors. 

“The city and the county entered into an agreement to build and keep the General District Court downtown,” said Deputy City Manager Sam Sanders. 

That agreement compelled the city to provide 100 spaces and the original document stated this would be in a new parking garage to be built on city-owned land on Market Street as well as a surface lot owned at the time by both localities. 

“Council later decided not to proceed with that garage which triggered the back-up clause for providing those same spaces in the Market Street Parking Garage,” Sanders said. “Staff’s assessment proved that would be problematic and deliberations began for looking to identify an alternative.” 

701 East Market Street as seen from the city’s Geographical Information System (Credit: City of Charlottesville)

That alternative is to use the city-owned surface lot at 701 East Market for county courts parking as well as a smaller number of spaces in the garage. The city paid $2.85 million for the property next door, which contains two businesses. 

“This agreement does not, I repeat, does not impact the Lucky Seven or the Guadalajara,” Sanders said. 

Sanders said Council will make future decisions on that property. This amendment does fix up the immediate future of parking. 

“The county gets full access to 63 spaces at 701 East Market Street, five days a week during court hours for use by staff and court visitors for court business,” said Chris Engel, the city’s economic development director. “They will handle any enforcement. We will maintain the basic parking lot.” 

Albemarle will also be able to use up to 27 spaces in the parking garage via the existing validation system. 

Council will hold a second reading later this month.

“I think this is a tremendous victory for the city to not spend $10 million to $15 million on a parking garage,” said City Councilor Michael Payne. “We’re not razing a minority-owned business.” 

The city also forgoes property taxes on the 0.4 acre property which has a 2022 property assessment of nearly $2.2 million. The city does get $4,664 a month from the Lucky 7 and $6,579.30 a month from the Guadalajara. 

A previous City Council paid $2.85 million for this lot without consulting the public as part of a parking scheme that also included installing parking meters downtown. A six-month pilot program was abandoned after a public outcry. Pepperidge Farms remembers. (Credit: City of Charlottesville)

Incoming Charlottesville Police Chief Kochis addresses the press

There are still six weeks until Michael Kochis becomes the chief of police in Charlottesville but the Warrenton top cop appeared at a press conference Tuesday to answer questions from local media. He addressed several issues head-on, including a climate of suspicion against law enforcement in Charlottesville. 

“There is a volatile environment, but I don't think that's unique to Charlottesville,” Kochis said. “I think in general within our profession, you're seeing a transition. I talked about this during the forum about what does the 22nd [century] policing report look like? And that may sound simple, but that answer, I believe, is pretty complex. And I think communities, whether it be Charlottesville, Alexandria, or any other jurisdiction in this country, is going to have to really figure it out and our leaders within our police organizations are going to need to do that.” 

Alexia Williams of CBS19 News asked about the lawsuit from former Charlottesville Police Chief RaShall Brackney who is alleging racism and sexism in her legal case. Kochis said he met Brackney when she attended the November 28 Police Civilian Oversight Board forum but otherwise has not talked to her.  (Brackney sues the City of Charlottesville, other parties, June 17, 2022)

“I'm not going to pass judgment on her or any of that to be completely honest with you,” Kochis said. “I will say the accusation of racism within not only a police department, any government entity or any position of trust, should be taken very seriously… But I will tell you that the accusation, you know, the officer, those officers who are accused of that if there are any that are being accused of that I don't have specifics at this point. They deserve a full investigation.”

Isabel Cleary of NBC29 asked Chief Kochis how he would address the personnel shortages. 

“The city manager has been pretty clear to me that recruitment and retention is one of those priorities,” Kochis said. 

Alice Berry of the Daily Progress also asked a question. 

“Can you tell us more about your plan to address rising gun crime in Charlottesville?” Berry asked.

“There is an issue with guns in the streets of Charlottesville, whether the data supports that or not, because the community obviously feels that way,” Kochis said. “So we need to figure out why that is, and who is these guns into the city, and address them. And so, you know, again, without having all the data matters as well, right. And that's understanding what the community feels like how the community feels, and then also understand what does the data show. And then you got to put all that together and come up with a strategy to address those specific issues.

For the rest, download this transcript of the full audio, or take a listen to the full audio on the Charlottesville Podcasting Network.

The first transcript of a press conference posted here! There are likely many mistakes as I’m not adept at this yet. But this is one more way Town Crier Productions seeks to engage the public by providing the words of those who are in charge as they answer questions from the press. Download it here:

New name for Darden hotel; Committee to review designs for Olympic center, Karsh Institute of Democracy

The University of Virginia’s Board of Visitors is in town this week and begin committee meetings today . That includes the Buildings and Grounds Committee, which has a few items of note on the agenda tomorrow. 

First, the new hotel at the Darden School of Business is to be named after Frank Sands, a 1963 Darden Graduate. 

“Mr. Sands, who passed away in 2021, served as a leader in his field and his community, and spent countless hours offering counsel and guidance as a member of the Darden School Foundation Board of Trustees,” reads the staff report in the packet.

Sands made a $68 million donation to Darden in the name of his late wife, the largest single donation in school history. The hotel will be run by Klimpton Hotels & Restaurants. The hotel itself is to be marketed as the Forum Hotel. 

“Given that a forum is a place that facilitates the exchange of ideas and the discussion of important public issues, the proposed marketing name aligns with the University’s commitment to free expression and inquiry and open discussion,” the staff report continues. 

The hotel got under construction in the spring of 2021 and is expected to be completed next spring. 

The Buildings and Grounds Committee will also see the schematic design for a $75 million Olympic Sports Center intended to support 27 varsity sports. 

“The Olympic Sports Center program includes training and performance areas, locker rooms, sports medicine, hydrotherapy pool areas, work environments for staff and coaches, conference and meeting rooms, sports nutrition, and building support spaces comprising a total square footage of approximately 100,000 [gross square feet],” reads the staff report. 

A site plan for the proposed Olympic Sports Center (Credit: University of Virginia)

Committee members will also see a schematic design for the new Karsh Institute of Democracy in the Ivy Road corridor. 

“The Karsh Institute of Democracy is envisioned as an ecosystem of spaces designed to support scholarship and engagement around the challenges that face democracy,” reads that staff report. “The four-story facility will include an approximately 425- seat state-of-the-art auditorium that will enable events to be hosted in-person and broadcast globally.” 

Visit the Board of Visitors website for more information on this week’s meeting. 

Second shout-out: Homelessness in Charlottesville: From Stigma to Solutions

Want to learn how to help our unhoused neighbors find affordable permanent housing? LivableCville is hosting a webinar, "Homelessness in Charlottesville: From Stigma to Solutions", on Wednesday, December 14 at 5:30 PM. Learn from experts from The Haven and the Blue Ridge Area Coalition for the Homeless about housing, homelessness,and policy recommendations to address homelessness in Charlottesville. Registration information is available at

Mount View PUD will proceed to Council vote

A rezoning at a church in the Locust Grove neighborhood will proceed to a vote by City Council rather than going back to the Planning Commission for a new public hearing. Four out of five Councilors were satisfied Monday with changes to the plan for the Planned Unit Development planned for Mount View Baptist Church. 

“The PUD development plan proposes up to 72 dwelling units at an approximate density of 22 dwelling units per acre,” said Carrie Rainey, the city’s urban planner. 

Block One consists of the existing church which would not be redeveloped at this time. However, the PUD calls for commercial space to be allowed in the existing building, perhaps for  a daycare. Up to 12 dwelling units would be allowed in this location in the future. 

“Sixty multifamily residential units within six structures are currently proposed within Block Two,” Rainey said. 

The conceptual plan for the Mount View Planned Unit Development. (download the entire plan) (Credit: Shimp Engineering)

The Planning Commission recommended denial at their meeting in September on a 4 to 1 vote with one member abstaining. They generally supported the density but had concerns that the level of affordability for the required below-market units was not deep enough and that the term was not long enough. 

“Subsequent to the public hearing, the applicant submitted a modified PUD plan and updated a final proffer statement,” Rainey said. “Generally the modifications to proffer one revise rent and income limits and extend the affordability period from ten years to 20 years.”

The city’s Office of Community Solutions would like to see that period extended to at least 30 years as called for in the Affordable Housing Plan. The draft inclusionary zoning requirements would set that at 99 years. 

Another change to the Mount View PUD was the addition of 270 linear feet of sidewalks on River Vista Avenue. 

Only three of five Councilors were present for the public hearing in September. 

Council had a choice to proceed with their deliberations or send it back to the Planning Commission to review . City Attorney Lisa Robertson found that no new public hearing would be required if Council wanted to proceed.  

Council was willing to proceed. 

“This is a better application than what was in front of us in terms of the affordability components,” said City Councilor Brian Pinkston. 

However, Pinkston had concerns about the impact on the transportation network of the northern side of Charlottesville but not enough to cast a no vote. Pinkston is himself a resident of the Locust Grove neighborhood, as is Juandiego Wade 

“We’re putting in two new developments on Park, MACCA and Park Street [Christian] and I think all three are exceptional projects,” Pinkston said.  “Our road infrastructure… I don’t want to say it doesn’t meet capacity because I can’t say that, but there’s the perception of a lot of cut-throughs happening in that area and this would simply drive it up.” 

City Councilor Sena Magill said she thought the project as a whole could use more review.

“I would be much more comfortable with it going back to the Planning Commission to make sure that that is what they felt and that they have a chance to sign off on that,” Magill said. 

City Councilor Michael Payne said he was concerned that developers appear to be getting the density they would be getting under the Future Land Use Map, but are not being held to the affordability requirements that will be a part of the future zoning ordinance. 

“We’re much closer here but I am concerned that the length of affordability is dramatically different from what would be required in our inclusionary zoning ordinance,” Payne said. 

Pinkston said he would prefer to proceed toward Council approval. 

“The reason they rejected the proposal wasn’t because they hated the project,” Pinkston said. “They liked the project. They weren’t satisfied that the affordability components, mostly the affordability pieces, were really fleshed out.” 

Wade agreed with Pinkston.

Charlottesville Mayor Lloyd Snook was torn. He was not present at the September Planning Commission meeting but watched it while visiting family members who recently had a child. He said on one hand, sending it back to the Planning Commission would be good practice. 

Magil repeated several times during the meeting that the Planning Commission had voted unanimously to recommend denial, but the vote was 4 to 1, with one member absent and one member abstaining. The staff report for Council did not list a vote count. 

“I also have some further concerns about this being a [Planned Unit Development] and there are concerns here about whether or not it is fulfilling what a PUD is supposed to be or whether it’s a way around zoning,” Magill said. 

The staff report for the item did not include a vote count (read the report)

Magill said she would be a no vote but might be persuaded to vote yes if it went back to the Planning Commission. 

Kelsey Schlein with Shimp Engineering represented the applicant. She said the project should not have to wait until the city’s future land use rules are completed, and that the application had been changed to reflect Commissioner feedback. 

“This project really just got caught in the change of things where we had the public hearing for the Planning Commission on September 13 and the draft inclusionary zoning analysis was released a week and a half after the advertisement had already gone out,” Schlein said. 

Snook asked City Attorney Lisa Robertson if the developer would consider another change before the second reading is held. 

“If the affordability period was increased to 30 or to 99 years, could that change be made at the second reading?” Snook said. 

Robertson said if changes are made and Council wants to proceed toward a vote, there will need to be a new document created. 

“The agenda materials for the next Council meeting should include an updated cover sheet prepared by the developer showing not only the proffer changes that were presented to you tonight, but adding an item showing any further changes made between tonight and the next reading,” Robertson said. 

Schlein’s boss, civil engineer Justin Shimp, said the reason they did not ask for a deferral at the September 13 meeting is that they felt comfortable they understood the Planning Commission’s objections and subsequently made the changes. 

“I think they had spent two and a half hours talking about it and felt like they had vetted it very thoroughly,” Shimp said. 

The item will come back for second reading at Council’s next meeting on December 21. Snook said he was hopeful there would be additional changes related to affordability. 

Reading material for this episode

Housekeeping notes for #468

First of all, Tuesday’s edition was #467 and not #466. #466 was on Monday. This should not really to matter to anyone as this number is really an internal aspect of producing a regular newsletter and podcast. But, an error warrants a correction! 

Thank you to Jenn Finazzo, Bree Luck, and Michael Kilpatrick for audio contributions to the podcast.

This edition was intended to come out late afternoon yesterday, but 468 launches in the morning. Let’s see what that does for traffic. There are hundreds of you reading or listening to this work, and a good deal of you are paying. Thank you. You’re helping pay for the continuing production of articles intended to inform you about what’s happening. In the future, you’ll be paying for Town Crier Productions to hire more people. We’re not quite there yet.

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Charlottesville Community Engagement
Charlottesville Community Engagement
Regular updates of what's happening in local and regional government in and around Charlottesville, Virginia from an award-winning journalist with nearly thirty years of experience.