Charlottesville Community Engagement
Charlottesville Community Engagement
January 13, 2023: Albemarle property assessment hit record high in 2023 with 13.46 percent increase; Botanical Garden of the Piedmont endorsed by Planning Commission

January 13, 2023: Albemarle property assessment hit record high in 2023 with 13.46 percent increase; Botanical Garden of the Piedmont endorsed by Planning Commission

Plus: Corey Clayborne will chair Albemarle PC and work afoot to create an Albemarle parks foundation

Today those with either paraskavedekatriaphobia and friggatriskaidekaphobia may want to consider staying home. Or at least, not looking at the date. At the risk of triggering those with either friggatriskaidekaphobia or paraskavedekatriaphobia, this is the 13th day of the year and it falls on a Friday. So, please consider those with either paraskavedekatriaphobia or friggatriskaidekaphobia today. For now, it’s Charlottesville Community Engagement, intended to allay your fears of not knowing what’s happening in local government. 

On today’s program:

  • Property assessments in Albemarle County see a record increase for 2023

  • The federal metric used to gauge inflation dropped slightly in 2023

  • Corey Clayborne will serve as the chair of the Albemarle Planning Commission in 2023

  • One member of the Albemarle Board of Supervisors is helping to start a parks foundation

  • The Botanical Garden of the Piedmont clears a technical hurdle in Albemarle County

  • There are six new members of the Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce’s Board of Directors

  • There’s more time to apply for a grant for a program to draw awareness of one of Charlottesville’s Sister Cities

First shout-out: Charlottesville Jazz Society 

In today’s first subscriber-supported shout-out, the Charlottesville Jazz Society wants you to keep three dates in mind for live music in the first few months of 2023. On February 11, Charlottesville Jazz Society will have an event with the Allison Miller and Carmen Staaf duo. On March 22, it will be time for the Charlie Ballantine Trio. Then on April 20, there’s Monika Herzig’s Joni Mitchell Project. For details on all of the live music, do check out the Charlottesville Jazz Society’s website at

Albemarle assessments up 13.46 percent in 2023

The Albemarle Board of Supervisors has received one important metric they will need as they consider a budget for the fiscal year that begins on July 1, 2023. County Assessor Peter Lynch was on hand at this week’s meeting.

“The overall change due to the reassessment is 13.46 percent over 2022,” Lynch said. 

At least one Supervisor gasped in astonishment, as podcast listeners can hear. That is a historical high and continues a trend of consecutive increases since 2014 when the annual increase was 1.78 percent. In 2022, the increase was 8.4 percent. Albemarle began assessing property annually in 2008. 

Lynch said the figures are well-supported by sales and market data, but he realized that the increase may come as a surprise to many.

“The latest news about the economy and about the market is not going to make people think 13.64 percent increase,” Lynch said. 

A breakdown of single-family residential sales in 2022 (Credit: Albemarle County)

Lynch said last year his office had thought they would be hit with a record number of appeals. Instead, they had fewer than expected. 

“They understood what was going on with the market,” Lynch said. “They knew people were bidding up the sales on houses and that the assessments would be higher.” 

The assessment data is consistent with data collected by the Charlottesville Area Association of Realtors. The median sales price in Albemarle in November 2021 was $424,000 compared to $463,000 in November 2022. (read their report)

Different types of property increased at different rates. “Urban residential” increased an average of 12.73 percent while apartments increased 28.2 percent. 

“Apartments are a hot commodity in the real estate market and its really the difference between that’s an income stream that is sought after,” Lynch said.

Other residential properties up to 20 acres increased by 11.31 percent while rural properties between 20 and 100 acres increased 12.15 percent. 

Commercial and industrial property increased 15.47 percent, continuing the rebound from 2021 when this classification dropped 5.5 percent. 

A screengrab of Lynch’s presentation (Credit: Albemarle County)

The assessment increases will result in additional property taxes if the property tax rate remains the same. Remember, every assessment is unique to the property. 

“If you had a home worth $150,000, after the assessment it’s worth $150,000, it would have gone up around 9.13 percent,” Lynch said. “You’ll end up paying $106.75 more in taxes.”

Assessment notices will be mailed out on January 20. The new values will be reflected on the county’s GIS system the next day. Requests for reviews to the assessor’s office must be submitted by February 28. Appeals to the Board of Equalization must be made by March 30. 

Lynch encouraged people who have questions about their assessment to call the assessor’s office. 

Inflation measure dropped slightly in December 

A metric calculated by the federal government that represents the cost of goods and services for most Americans declined slightly in December. The Consumer Price Index for all Urban Consumers fell 0.1 percent, bringing the 12-month increase to 6.5 percent over December 2021. 

“This was the smallest 12-month increase since the period ending October 2021,” reads a press release from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The price of gasoline dropped as did the overall cost of energy, though the cost of shelter increased as did the index for food.  

“Indexes which increased in December include the shelter, household furnishings andoperations, motor vehicle insurance, recreation, and apparel indexes. The indexes for used cars and trucks, and airline fares were among those that decreased over the month.” 

Over the past year, the cost of food is up 10.4 percent  Cereals and bakery products are up 16.1 percent. Meats, poultry, and fish are up 7.7 percent. 

Even though this information came out yesterday, I include it today because I think details like are interesting to some of you. They certainly mean a lot to those who make decisions about vast sums of money. So, why not look at the source material when it comes out? 

Details from the “Food” index. How have you felt the increasing rise of products? How is it changing your behavior? (Credit: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)

Clayborne to chair Albemarle Planning Commission this year

The first meeting of 2023 for most elected bodies has so far featured a selection of officers, as I’ve been reporting. Usually that means the beginning of the meeting is chaired by a familiar face who is not elected. 

In the case of the Albemarle Planning Commission, that means the planning director. That position is currently held on an acting basis by Kevin McDermott. 

“I am opening this meeting because this is our organization meeting and we will begin by electing a chair,” McDermott said. 

The 2022 chair had a nomination.

“I’d like to nominate Commissioner Corey Clayborne for chair of the Albemarle Planning Commission,” said Karen Firehock, Commissioner for the Samuel Miller District. 

There were no other nominations and Commissioners voted 6 to 0 to make the selection. There is currently a vacant position in the Rio District Clayborne represents the Rivanna District and joined the Albemarle Planning Commission after a partial term on the Charlottesville Planning Commission. 

“I’m coming into my fourth year and I remember learning a lot from former Chairman [Julian] Bivins as well as former Chairman Firehock and others along the way and I ask that you just keep me on the straight and narrow this year,” Clayborne said. 

Bivins nominated Fred Missell of the Scottsville District to serve as vice chair and that election was also unanimous. 

Commissioners also discussed their committee assignments for the year. Bivins is a member of the Land Use and Environmental Planning Committee, but Missell said he also attends those meetings. His day job is director of design and development for the University of Virginia Foundation. 

Firehock said she wanted to keep the committee assignments she has already, but noted that the Acquisitions of Conservation Easement Committee has not met for some time. 

“And there’s been no movement by the Board of Supervisors to reconvene it in any way,” Firehock said. “So it doesn’t really count on my burden, if you will.” 

Firehock also said the Historic Preservation Committee has not met for several months due to a lack of quorum. 

“I don’t even know if we have enough bodies to make a quorum so that certainly needs to be addressed because that’s a really important committee for the Comprehensive Plan,” Firehock said. 

In a discussion of whether a Planning Commissioner should sit on the Natural Heritage Committee. Firehock said she is aware that some Supervisors would like to reduce the number of standing committees. 

Supervisor LaPisto-Kirtley starting a parks foundation for Albemarle

Many localities across Virginia have a private foundation that works to raise money to support their park systems. This week, one member of the Albemarle Board of Supervisors told her colleagues she is working to start one. 

“I am exploring starting a parks foundation with a group of people and I would look for the Board’s support in doing that,” said Supervisor Bea LaPisto-Kirtley of the Rivanna District. “This is very similar to the Police Foundation.”

The Albemarle School Board has a public foundation as well. Four of LaPisto-Kirtley’s colleagues expressed support for the idea.

“It really would be a benefit to our community and while it’s not a Board of Supervisors’ action, our community throughout the county and the region will benefit from the work that you are bring forward,” said Chair Donna Price. 

LaPisto-Kirtley said Supervisor Ned Gallaway also supported the idea but he was not present at the beginning of the meeting. 

As for parks, other localities that have a foundation include Fairfax County, Virginia Beach, Prince William County, and Orange County.  

Second shout-out: WTJU seeks hosts for classical music

Have a passion for classical music? Want to listen to composers old and new... and then share those works with others? WTJU 91.1 FM Community Radio is seeking new volunteer hosts in its classical department! WTJU gives you all the tools and training you need to share your good taste with our loyal listeners. Learn more at 

Albemarle PC endorses Botanical Garden of the Piedmont

The Botanical Garden of the Piedmont has cleared a technical hurdle to its future existence in a portion of McIntire Park that is within Albemarle County. 

“The proposed activity has been determined as a public use… by our zoning administrator,” said David Benish is a development process manager with the Albemarle County Community Development. “Public uses are permitted by-right in all zoning districts. However, if the proposed public use is not identified in a Comprehensive Plan, a review for the proposal’s compliance with the Comprehensive Plan is required, and that’s a state code requirement.” 

The Botanical Garden of the Piedmont leases land from the city of Charlottesville for their future facility on about 14.7 acres. Three of those acres are within Albemarle County.

“The specific site you can here on the map is 950 Melbourne Road,” Benish said. “It’s the southwest corner of the intersection of Melbourne Road and the John Warner Parkway.” 

The red asterix marks the spot that is within Albematle County (Credit: Botanical Garden of the Piedmont)

Benish said the uses proposed are consistent with the Comprehensive Plan.  

“We see Botanical Gardens as a feature not uncommon to public parks and it is consistent with the city’s East McIntire Park Master Plan and although that plan is part of the county’s plan, it did play into the baseline designation for this area as a public park and open space,” Benish said. 

And that’s exactly what the nonprofit group that is planning the Botanical Garden of the Piedmont wants to achieve. 

“The garden is being planned as a place for everyone to learn, play, explore, relax, and gather,” said Jill Trischman-Marks is the group’s executive director. “The garden will be a community asset that’s open to the public year-round and will combine accessible outdoor community garden rooms and interior garden spaces.” 

When built, there will be no admission fee for the main gardens, but revenue will come from renting spaces for events. 

“The garden will also include smaller areas to serve as outdoor classrooms for exploration and learning such as our children’s discovery garden, our aquatics garden, and across the stream, our tree canopy walk,” Trischman-Marks said. 

The section that will use land in Albemarle County will contain the parking, the Garden Pavilion, and the children’s discovery garden. The latter will be the first garden to be constructed at the whole facility. Trischman-Marks said an architect has not yet been selected, but prospective respondents to a request for proposals will visit the area soon. 

Negotiations began with Charlottesville Area Transit for a public transit stop and talks are also going on with Jaunt. Trischman-Marks said she may be getting help from the National Park Service. 

“I actually found out today that the National Park Service program, the [Recreational, Trails, and Conservation Assistance program], is actually going to provide us with 20 hours of support services this spring because nobody could tell me what I need to document in order to prove that I need a bus stop,” Trischman-Marks said. 

Trischman-Marks said she thought access to green space should be a priority for transit. The federal assistance will help with documenting how many people are using the garden. 

In the meantime, the garden is preparing to handle things on its own for its own events.

“At past events we have shuttled guests to the garden from Charlottesville High School when it wasn’t in session and we plan to use this strategy in the future,” Trischman-Marks said.

The site of the garden was a former leaf dump for the city of Charlottesville. Trischman-Marks said they’ve been able to reclaim the space since 2019 by removing native invasive species and creating the first few trails. They now have over 470 volunteers assisting them with the work. (corrected, 7:51 p.m., 1/13/23) 

Commissioners had a few questions. Lonnie Murray wanted to know about the parking. 

“Have you considered low-impact development and about using permeable paving and other ways to mitigate stormwater?” Murray asked. 

Trischman-Marks said she was excited to talk about the parking which will reclaim water for other purposes.

“What you see in the center is actually a rain garden so all of the water from the parking lot will drain into this central area,” Trischman-Marks said. “It will filtered and go under the garden where it will also capture rooftop water from the buildings and then go through a series of water falls so that it can also be aerated.” 

Commissioner Luis Carrazana noted that there have been issues with birds striking the glass at the Piedmont Family YMCA built in the western side of McIntire Park. 

“You had a beautiful image there with a lot of glass and timber and a beautiful structure,” Carrazana said. “But if you just look into some of the mitigations for birdstrike glass, there’s plenty of technology out there that really works well.” 

Commissioner Julian Bivins said he was hopeful a transit solution could be found. 

“It is not unknown to my colleagues that I continue to be sort of gently annoyed that all of the green spaces in the county are drivable,” Bivins said. “None of them except for one park in the district that I happen to represent, and that’s the Charlotte Humphris Park, can you walk to. I’m going on record saying yet again that for a community that claims to be this place of grace, you can’t get to any of those places for quiet solitude or meditation without driving a vehicle.” 

No one spoke during the public hearing and the six Commissioners voted to find it in accord with the Comprehensive Plan. 

Watch the presentation:

Chamber of Commerce names new members

The organization that aims to promote the business community in the area has named new members of its Board of Directors. The Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce announced six new people this week.

  • Rita Bunch, Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital

  • Libby Edwards-Allbaugh, The Tax Ladies

  • Rudy Fernandez, Northrop Grumman

  • Allison Linney, Allison Partners

  • David Mitchell of Great Eastern Management Company

  • Todd Rowley, Old Dominion National Bank 

Each will serve a three-year term. To learn more about any of the above, take a look at the press release that went out this week

The new chair of the Board is Rebecca Ivins of the construction firm Hourigan. 

The new members of the Board of Directors for the Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce 

Sister City Grant application extended to January 18

Do you have an idea to help bring greater cultural awareness to one of the Charlottesville’s Sister Cities? An application deadline for up to $4,000 has been extended to January 18. For more information, read my article from December 12, 2022. Or check out the press release. 

Reading material:

Housekeeping for #484

Well, we go through this Friday the 13th edition with no major mishaps. Except, there was. The podcast version of this had to be reassembled due to a computer crash and an Adobe Audition session that was not recovered. It’s a fantastic program, but later versions don’t seem to retain sessions. I must remember to save.

I am saved, of course, by all of the paid subscribers to Charlottesville Community Engagement. I’m able to pay for things like Adobe Audition or deed research and websites because there’s an increasing number of people who want this work to continue, even if there’s still not regular schedule. 

And of course, Ting matches the initial payment for every subscription, whether it be $5 a month, $50 a year, or $200 a year. Someone is about to purchase one of those latter ones, because they come with two shout-outs a month! The shout-out system is a strange economy that’s providing useful.

High-speed Internet is also useful and Ting offers that service. 

And, if you want to upgrade your Internet provider, check out Ting! 

If you sign up at this link and enter the promo code COMMUNITY, you’ll get:

  • Free installation

  • A second month for free

  • A $75 gift card to the Downtown Mall

Thanks to Wraki for music that appears occasionally and new music will debut in episode #500! 

Thanks to Jenn Finazzo and Bree Luck for voice work this week. 

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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.