Behold the Perihelion! No, this is not the title of a new fantasy show on a prestige streamer or the latest SpaceX vehicle. The perihelion is the time of the year when the Earth is closest to the sun at 91.4 million miles. Did you know the other apsis is the aphelion? That line may be a good one for an obscure indie rock song. Will this be the first musical episode of Charlottesville Community Engagement? You’ll have to wait until the end.
On today’s show:
City Councilor Sena Magill has attended her final regular meeting and will leave office effective January 11
Applications will be accepted for someone for Council to select as a replacement for the rest of the year
Albemarle Supervisors re-elect Donna Price as chair and select Jim Andrews as vice chair
Charlottesville puts out a call for proposals for affordable housing projects
City officials talk about efforts to keep the unhoused warm during the recent cold snap
Thirty people have applied to be on the Downtown Mall Committee
And Delegate Sally Hudson will hold a virtual town hall meeting on ranked choice voting this Friday
Today’s first shout-out: LEAP wants to help you prepare for winter
Crisp air and colorful leaves. Hot cocoa. Snow days. There are plenty of reasons to be excited about winter, but the return of high heating bills is not one of them. Your local energy nonprofit, LEAP, has been empowering Virginians with energy efficiency and solar solutions since 2010. With programs for all income levels, residents can access upgrades like insulation, LED bulbs, low-flow fixtures, and affordable rooftop solar systems. Visit www.leap-va.org to learn more, and fill out the LEAP Services Inquiry form to lower high heating bills and stay cozy this winter.
You may not hear it here first, but you also might. Sign up now to make sure, either way!
Councilor Magill resigns seat effective January 11
At the tail end of a crowded Council meeting, Charlottesville City Councilor Sena Magill announced she will resign her seat effective January 11. Technically, Magill handed City Councilor Michael Payne a statement to read.
“This evening I have the regrettable news that I must step down from office,” Magill wrote. “The needs of my family have changed during my term in office and in the last few months it has become more and more apparent that I cannot meet the needs effectively of both.”
Magill’s last day will be January 11. Council will next meet in a joint session with the Planning Commission the night before.
This resignation answers the question of whether Magill would seek a second term. She received the most votes in the 2019 election with 8,420 votes in a six way race. Fellow Democrats Lloyd Snook and Michael Payne received 8,133 and 7,816 respectively. However, she had placed third in the Democratic primary that year.
It will be up to Council to fill the vacancy before elections are held later this year.
“When a vacancy occurs in a local governing body or an elected School Board, the remaining members of the body or board respectively within 45 days of the office becoming vacant may appoint a qualified voter of the election district in which the vacancy occurred to fill the vacancy,” said Charlottesville Mayor Lloyd Snook.
If Council can’t agree on someone to appoint, it will be up to the Charlottesville Circuit Court. That happened last year in Pittsylvania County when the Board of Supervisors there deadlocked 3-3 on a replacement for Banister District Supervisor Jessie Barksdale.
Last year, there were three vacancies on the Prince Edward County Board of Supervisors which were all filled by that elected body. All three ran in special elections last November, but only one was elected to a regular term. Both Prince Edward County and Pittsylvania County are in Virginia’s Fifth District.
Albemarle County has had a resignation in recent years. Chris Dumler vacated the Scottsville seat in 2013 after pleading guilty to misdemeanor sexual battery after being arrested the previous October for one count of forcible sodomy. My Charlottesville Tomorrow story from June 5, 2013 for the details.
Whoever Council appoints would have to run in the November election if they wanted to stay on. But first, that person has to be appointed first.
Snook said there will be an application process for people wanting to fill the seat. The Albemarle School Board recently filled a vacancy for the White Hall District in that fashion.
“The dates that I’m suggesting is that we call for applicants by January 30, the last Monday in January,” Snook said. “We would have a public hearing for comments, endorsements, and so on the following Monday, February 6, our regular meeting and then we commit to making our decision no later than February 21.”
Council voted 5 to 0 to enact that schedule into action. Councilors then offered their laments.
“We spent a lot of time together over the last really four years, three years on Council and one year going to so many meetings and so many forums and everything else,” Snook said. “I have always valued in particular your awareness and knowledge of and sensitivity to problems of mental health.”
City Councilor Michael Payne said he would miss Magill on Council. The pair have often voted as a bloc.
“The past three years have not been easy at all, not just with the political environment in Charlottesville but the global pandemic and the impact that’s had for everyone and their families,” said City Councilor Michael Payne. “I think your voice and perspective will be missed on Council and I hope we don’t really lose sight of the focus you’ve had throughout your life on homelessness, social services, mental health care, and things that it’s easy for local government to overlook.”
In his remarks, Vice Mayor Juandiego Wade referred to a practice that allows Councilors to evade open meeting rules when getting briefing from city staff.
“You know, as we have these 2-2-1 meetings, you have been my partner with that and being able to work really well together,” Wade said. “We’re just going to miss, there have been so many times with four gentlemen up here, what we would have missed out on if you hadn’t said ‘Hey guys! What about so-and-so?”
Councilor Brian Pinkston also expressed his view that Magill will be missed.
“I’ve been grateful for your support and friendship and support over the years ever since we were on the Board of Region 10 together,” Pinkston said. “I know this has been a very decision for you and I admire your courage and doing it and looking out for your family.”
More from the City Council meeting later in this newsletter as well as future installments.
Price elected for second year to chair Albemarle Supervisors; Andrews becomes vice chair
Albemarle County Supervisor Donna Price may not be running for a second term, but she will serve as that elected body’s chair for 2023. The six-member body had their organizational meeting this afternoon as conducted by County Executive Jeffrey Richardson.
“At this time, I will conduct the election of the chair and I will open the floor to nominations and I will open the floor for nominations for chair of the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors,” Richardson said.
“Mr. Richardson, it is a privilege to nominate Supervisor Donna Price to be our chair for 2023,” said Supervisor Ned Gallaway of the Rio District.
The vote was unanimous and Price took her seat in the center of the dais.
“I will open up the floor for nominations for vice chair of the Albemarle Board of Supervisors,” Price said.
Supervisor Bea LaPisto-Kirtley of the Rivanna District held that position last year, but nominated someone else for 2023.
“I would like to have the honor of nominating Jim Andrews as vice chair,” LaPisto-Kirtley said.
In his remarks, Andrews noted the difference in how Albemarle’s transition went compared to one of the houses of Congress.
“We seem to have gotten through this a little faster than the U.S. House of Representatives,” Andrews quipped.
At publication time, a fourth ballot for Speaker of the U.S. House failed.
Price thanked her colleagues for their confidence in her. She addressed Vice Chair Andrews.
“I want to thank you and first the Board first for electing you and also you for being willing to serve in this capacity because one of the most important things that we do here is work towards continuity of our exception working relationship,” Price said. “The hallmark of this board has been our collective commitment to serve our community even when we may disagree on individual items that come before us, and I look forward to another year of exceptional service together.”
The seats held by LaPisto-Kirtley, Price and White Hall Supervisor Ann Mallek are up this year. So far, no one has filed a statement of organization in Albemarle except for Michael Pruitt, who is running for the Scottsville seat.
Charlottesville seeks proposals for affordable housing fund
Charlottesville City Council adopted a new Affordable Housing Plan in March 2021 that called for reform to the way city funds are handed out to nonprofits and others. Last October, the city announced a new approach which created four distinct funding opportunities and have so far released details on how to apply to three of them.
Yesterday the city issued a request for proposals for the final bucket.
“This competitive application process is open to affordable housing organizations that actively address the affordable housing needs of low- and moderate- income households,” reads a press release for the Charlottesville Affordable Housing Fund. “CAHF funds will be used to support affordable housing projects located within the City of Charlottesville.”
The deadline to apply is January 31. The application states that $835,000 will be available in this cycle and the awards will be made on May 1, 2023.
“That gives our housing providers an opportunity to apply for funding to add to our housing stock,” said Deputy City Manager Sam Sanders.
Eligible products include:
Promoting, preserving and producing quality, long-term affordable housing options; providing housing related services to low-income and moderate-income households;
Providing support for non-profit and for profit organizations that actively address the affordable housing needs of low- and moderate- income households.
Last year, Council received an audit on how nearly $46.7 million in CAHF funding has been used since 2010. The fund was created by Council in 2007. That was such a big report I wrote three articles on it:
Proposals for funding for “Housing Development Project Investments” were due on November 30. These are for major capital projects and are often used to help supplement applications for Low-Income Housing Tax Credits.
Proposals for funding for “Housing Operations & Community Support” through the city’s Vibrant Communities Fund were due on December 30.
The fourth category is through the Community Development Block Grant program. That deadline for proposals was on October 31.
I have some questions out to the city that were not returned by deadline, so I’ll post this segment to Information Charlottesville as soon as I have the answers.
Second shout-out goes to Camp Albemarle
Today’s second subscriber-supported public service announcement goes out to Camp Albemarle, which has for sixty years been a “wholesome rural, rustic and restful site for youth activities, church groups, civic events and occasional private programs.”
Located on 14 acres on the banks of the Moorman’s River near Free Union, Camp Albemarle continues as a legacy of being a Civilian Conservation Corps project that sought to promote the importance of rural activities. Camp Albemarle seeks support for a plan to winterize the Hamner Lodge, a structure built in 1941 by the CCC and used by every 4th and 5th grade student in Charlottesville and Albemarle for the study of ecology for over 20 years. If this campaign is successful, Camp Albemarle could operate year-round. Consider your support by visiting campalbemarleva.org/donate.
Deputy City Manager Marshall details city’s efforts to keep people warm during cold snap
The temperatures today will be in the mid-60’s but just over a week ago the air around Charlottesville remained below freezing much longer than usual. That put a lot of vulnerable people in danger and the City of Charlottesville made efforts to help.
“During the cold snap, we’re very thankful that we were able to work hand in hand with our nonprofit partners at the Haven as well as at PACEM to ensure that members of our community who found themselves unhoused were kept safe and warm,” said Deputy City Manager Ashley Marshall.
Marshall said both the Department of Human Services and the Department of Social Services worked with those groups during the time. She encouraged anyone who knows someone who is unhoused to call the homeless intake hotline at (434) 207-2328.
“While we don’t have that weather this week, we will continue to work to make sure that kind of engagement occurs,” Marshall said.
The ten day forecast from Weather Underground does not show a return to a cold snap in the next 240 hours. City Councilor Brian Pinkston thanked Marshall and city staff for their work.
“I think we all had a sense it was going to get cold but I don’t think we had a sense it was going to get that cold,” Pinkston said. “And then that it happened just before the holiday weekend. I’m just grateful you all met and came up with a plan and executed the plan. I’m just glad to see that sort of collaboration happening.”
How cold was the snap? I asked Travis Koshko of CBS19 for context.
“According to CHO observations it looks like we were below freezing for at least 50 hours from 12/23 at 10:53 am to 12/25 at 12:53 p.m.,” Koshko wrote in an email this afternoon.
Hudson plans Town Hall for ranked-choice voting
In 2020, legislation introduced by Delegate Sally Hudson authorized the use of ranked-choice voting in some elections in Virginia. On Friday, she’s holding a virtual town hall to discuss where things stand in getting area localities to adopt the practice. There was another event last night at Northside Library. Register for the event on Hudson’s website.
For background, here are two articles I’ve previously written:
Albemarle Supervisors exploring ranked-choice voting, November 15, 2022
Albemarle Registrar: Ranked choice voting not ready for 2023, November 25, 2022
Thirty people apply to be on Downtown Mall committee
The 50th anniversary of Charlottesville’s Downtown Mall will be here in three years and the city is making preparations. One first step is to form a committee and the deadline to apply has passed.
“We received 30 applications and probably have about half that number of seats available for this committee,” said Deputy City Manager Sam Sanders.
Sanders said the candidates are being reviewed and sat in the near future.
Look Back at 2022 with Sean Tubbs, Charlottesville-Right Now with Courteney Stuart, December 29, 2022
Albemarle County Supervisors highlight priorities for 2023, Dryden Quigley, NBC29, December 30, 2022
A look back at 2022 in Nelson County, Justin Faulconer, Nelson County Times, January 2, 2023
Concluding paragraphs to make the end of #479
And this is a reminder that the City of Charlottesville has $24,000 in grants available for projects related to a Sister City. A press release for that went out yesterday, and for details you can take a look at the article I wrote that is now on Information Charlottesville.
But gosh, what a day! It’s not every day that someone resigns from public office. One item I was not able to track down today was whether anyone has resigned from City Council in recent memory. I was not able to do so, but perhaps you’d like to try? Or, perhaps you’d like to get more involved with research into history and other things?
If so, I’m putting in a plug here for cvillepedia, an online encyclopedia that is open to anyone. Cvillepedia is currently coordinated by the Albemarle Charlottesville Historical Society, and I get a small monthly stipend to help out with some site maintenance. I’m looking for volunteers to help!
But back to the business at hand. Subscriptions, Patreon, and all of that. You know the information. You know that Ting will match your initial Substack subscription.
If your New Year’s resolution is to have faster broadband, Ting can help! If you sign up at this link and enter the promo code COMMUNITY, you’ll get:
A second month for free
A $75 gift card to the Downtown Mall