Jan 6 • 24M

January 6, 2022: Snook selected to serve as Charlottesville Mayor; Price to chair Albemarle Board of Supervisors

Two officials related to UVA named to Albemarle's Planning Commission

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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.
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A year ago, a crowd of people stormed the U.S. Capitol in a bid to seek a change in the 2020 presidential election. They were unsuccessful. Two months ago, there was a change in political control of Virginia’s government in another election. 

There are many statements that democracy is under siege and under threat, and that may be true. But this and every episode of Charlottesville Community Engagement seeks to document the arguments had and decisions made in a complex human civilization that each of us exists within. I’m your host, Sean Tubbs, eager to get on with an update about democracy at the community level around where I live.

Sign up for free to learn something new every day about what’s happening:

On today’s show:
  • There’s new leadership on both the Charlottesville City Council and the Albemarle Board of Supervisors

  • Governor-elect Youngkin nominated one of former President Trump’s EPA administrators to lead natural resources and environmental policy in Virginia

  • Another state of emergency is declared in advance of second winter storm to start the new year

  • New legislation continues to be filed in the General Assembly, including guarantee life imprisonment for class 1 felonies and campaign finance caps

Today’s first Patreon-fueled shout-out:

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Clean-up continues while another weather storm approaches

Albemarle County and other localities are setting up emergency warming centers as thousands in the area remain without electricity three days after a winter storm that caught many by surprise and overwhelmed tree limbs that hadn’t yet experienced wet, heavy snow. Many now never will. 

“Albemarle County was one of the most severely hit areas across the Commonwealth,” said county executive Jeffrey Richardson. “The storm has been very challenging to recover from for several reasons. One is the rate of snowfall from Monday morning around 6 a.m. to around noon. We measured up to nine or nine and a half inches of snow across Albemarle County so it was a very wide-ranging storm.”

Richardson said Dominion Energy activated its mutual aid plan and crews from eight states have been on the scene. He said resources would continue to be rerouted here. 

“Some of the mutual aid crews that were requested arrived here later than expected and that was due to Interstate blockages,” Richardson said. 

Albemarle County Executive Jeffrey Richardson

As of this morning at 10:15 a.m. there were just under a thousand homes in Charlottesville without power. In Albemarle, there are still 17,296 customers who have not yet had service restored. Half of Dominion’s 4,466 customers in Louisa remain unconnected and about a third of Fluvanna County’s 3,556 customers are without power. Continue to consult Dominion Energy’s outage map for the latest information.

If you need a center, visit the website communityemergency.org. This is a service of the Regional Office of Emergency Management and has a list of resources, including the centers. Two mobile units will be set up from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. today for people to get water and to charge mobile devices. These are at the Food Lion in the Town of Louisa and the Giant on Pantops. 

In Albemarle, the centers will be open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. today:

  • Baker-Butler Elementary School at 2740 Proffit Road with showers, WiFi, and electricity available.

  • Greenwood Community Center at 865 Greenwood Rd in Crozet from 9 am to 6 pm. WiFi and electricity available. 

  • Scottsville Community Center at 250 Page Street in Scottsville from 9 am to 6 pm. WiFi and electricity available. 

In Charlottesville, trash pickup and curbside recycling resumed today with the regular Thursday service, but the city warns service may be suspended on Friday if the storm is severe enough to shut down roads. Normal residential service will resume on Monday. 

Governor Ralph Northam has issued a state of emergency in advance of a second storm storm which is forecast for this evening. The declaration frees up more resources for public safety officials to implement parts of the Commonwealth of Virginia’s Emergency Operations Plan. It also prevents price gouging and allows department heads to waive certain procurement requirements. (read the declaration)

Pandemic update

There’s no longer a state of emergency in place for COVID-19 in Virginia, but the highest surge to date is still underway with another 15,840 cases reported today by the Virginia Department of Health. The percent positivity continues to creep up and is now at 33.6 percent statewide. The percent positivity in the Blue Ridge Health District has also increased to 25.2 percent. There are another 366 cases reported in the district today, and the town hall scheduled for tonight has been rescheduled to January 10. 

Youngkin selects former EPA administrator for Natural Resources Secretary

Governor-elect Glenn Youngkin has named a former Trump administration official to oversee the portion of the state’s executive branch that implements policy related to the environment. Andrew Wheeler has been selected as the Secretary of Natural and Historic Resources. Wheeler was confirmed by the U.S. Senate as the administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 2019 and began his career in the first Bush administration in EPA’s Pollution Prevention and Toxics office. 

Youngkin selected Michael Rolband to serve as the director of the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality. He’s the founder of a firm called Wetland Studies and Solutions Inc that helps developers in the environmental review process. 

“He founded WSSI to assist economic developers in navigating the Clean Water Act, Chesapeake Bay Preservation Act, and local environmental regulations,” reads the press release. 

In a release, Youngkin stated that the pair “share my vision in finding new ways to innovate and use our natural resources to provide Virginia with a stable, dependable, and growing power supply that will meet Virginia’s power demands without passing the costs on to the consumer.” 

The nominations will have to go through the General Assembly.

To learn more about these nominations, here are some additional resources:

More General Assembly bills

We’re now six days away from the 2022 General Assembly and there are more pieces of legislation to review. The closer we come, the more narrow this list will be. For the full list, visit the General Assembly’s Legislative Information System. (view by the day)

  • A bill from Delegate Terry Kilgore (R-1) would terminate the Town of St. Charles and incorporate its assets and debts into Lee County. (HB83)

  • Kilgore also has a bill that would allow out-of-state audiologists to practice in underserved parts of the Commonwealth if doing so as part of a nonprofit organization’s service efforts. (HB84)

  • Incoming Delegate Tim Anderson (R-83) would implement campaign finance limits (see image below) (HB85)

  • Anderson also has a bill requiring the Department of Elections to create a searchable campaign database. The current database is here and there’s also the Virginia Public Access Project. (HB86)

  • Senator Thomas Norment (R-3) filed a bill that would allow localities to apply for funds to maintain historic African American cemeteries. There is similar legislation in the House of Delegates. (SB76)

  • Norment has another bill that would require people in all localities in Virginia to go through an additional 90 minutes of driver education to be spent with parents or guardians. (SB78)

  • Senator Bill Stanley (R-20) filed a bill requiring anyone convicted of a Class 1 felony to be sentenced to life in prison. (SB79)

  • Stanley has another bill that would prohibit elections officials from receiving gifts and funding for voter education programs and other outreach programs. (SB80)

  • Stanley has another bill that would limit the power of the Air Pollution Control Board to consider facts and circumstances when considering reasonability to approving variances, not making regulations. (SB81)

  • If a city reverts to a town, police officers will have the right to buy their motorcycles (SB82)

  • Stanley also has a bill that would require Martinsville voters to approve reversion to becoming a town in Henry County, and they’d have to do so by July 1, 2026. (SB85)

  • The mandatory age for judges to retire would be increased from 73 to 75 under another bill from Senator Stanley. (SB83)

  • Another bill from Stanley would allow the New College Initiative to provide workforce training, a service that must currently be provided by the community college system. (SB84)

  • Primitive campgrounds would be exempted from sanitary requirements under another bill from Stanley, though the Virginia Department of Health could require one toilet for every 75 campers. (SB86)

  • Stanley has three other bills related to animal breeders. SB88 would require entities that breed dogs or cats to document each animal for two years after a sale or transfer. SB89 would prohibit the sale of unneutered or unspayed animals. SB90 would require breeders to offer animals for adoption before euthanization, a requirement that currently only applies to animal testing facilities. 

Proposed campaign finance limits under a bill from Delegate Tim Anderson (HB85)
Second Patreon-fueled shout-out

The Plant Northern Piedmont Natives Campaign  an initiative that wants you to grow native plants in yards, farms, public spaces and gardens in the northern Piedmont. Winter is here, but spring isn’t too far away. This is a great time to begin planning for the spring. Native plants provide habitat, food sources for wildlife, ecosystem resiliency in the face of climate change, and clean water.  Start at the Plant Northern Piedmont Natives Facebook page and tell them Lonnie Murray sent you!

A divided council selects Snook as Mayor, but unanimously elects Wade as Vice Mayor

In their first vote of 2022, Charlottesville City Council chose Lloyd Snook to serve as mayor for the next two years. The first meeting with newcomers Brian Pinkston and Juandiego Wade was opened by Deputy City Manager Ashley Marshall. 

“The person elected to serve as Mayor will preside over City Council meetings and may call special meetings, make some appointments to advisory boards, and serves as the head of government for ceremonial purposes and official functions,” Marshall said. “The vice mayor substitutes whenever the mayor is not available.” 

Wade nominated Snook for the position of Mayor. 

“I think that he has the knowledge of governance to handle this position,” Wade said. “I think he understands the great importance of the position, and that the eyes of not only the city but a much broader audience will be looking upon him and I think that he understands the importance and knows what it takes to hear everyone’s voice.”

Snook said the city needs a vision as well as a management team to implement that vision. 

“Our Comprehensive Plan sets out a compelling vision for the city that I think all five of us endorse,” Snook said. “A city of equity and opportunity where all people can thrive, a city with a rich and diverse culture where all people are welcomed and valued and respected, a well-planned city of neighborhoods with a variety of affordable housing choices, a city that demonstrates environmental and climate leadership, a government where all of our employees are respected and decisions are made with an eye on equity.”

Snook said as mayor he wants to lead the recruitment efforts for a new city manager who will serve a long term. In the meantime he said the Comprehensive Plan has 308 different strategies but there’s no clear sense of how to turn that into an action plan for the government. He said he wants to set up new advisory committees that can provide a jumpstart on the rebuilding process. 

“In addition to the criminal justice and Marcus Alert task forces, and the Housing Advisory Committee, a climate change advisory committee, a group to work on transit and transportation policy, a group to develop a plan for historic Charlottesville,” Snook said. 

Councilor Sena Magill had a different nominee in mind. 

“I would like to nominate Michael Payne for Mayor,” Magill said. “Councilor Payne is very good at bringing people together across many different places. I have seen him put into words clearly thoughts and ideas that are often complex and make them reachable and is someone I know would do a very good job as well.” 

Payne accepted the nomination.

“We are a divided community and divided along race, class, ideology, education level, and this has been a time of unprecedented crisis in a lot of ways,” Payne said.

Payne the pandemic has frayed the social fabric but said there has been a demonstrated ability to advance public policy on Council.

“Specific issues like implementing our affordable housing strategy, creating a land bank, creating our climate strategy and implementing it, as well as small things we see every day like recent calls from the community to take actions about Fifth Street,” Payne said.

Payne said the city needs a well-functioning government, and added that the city has been implementing some of its vision, such as adopting the Future Land Use Map and investing in the redevelopment of the city’s public housing units. He said his leadership would continue that work. 

Snook got the nod on a 3 to 2 vote. There was only one candidate for vice mayor when Councilor Pinkston nominated Wade.

“Juandiego Wade has been a fixture in this community for decades,” Pinkston said. “He served at all levels. He has so much to contribute. He has a courageousness but also a humility that is instructive for me. I’m grateful for his leadership in the city and I think he will make a fantastic vice mayor and I hope others will vote the same.”

They did. Wade said he would accept the challenge. 

“I have kind of fancied myself as the type of person who works behind the scenes to help get things done and look at the fruition of the efforts of myself and others,” Wade said, 

That vote was unanimous. More on the City Council meeting in future editions of Charlottesville Community Engagement

Price to chair Albemarle Board of Supervisors

The six-member Albemarle Board of Supervisors has selected Donna Price to serve as the chair for the next year. Price is in the third year of her first term and she was the only nominee. There was no discussion and the vote went quickly. 

“What sets Albemarle County apart from other local municipalities has been the steady, stable, and long-term leadership of the Office of County Executive and the County Attorney,” Price said. “The foresight of our County Executive, Jeff Richardson, the astuteneess of our county attorney Greg Kamptner and the dedication of innumerable citizens and public servants in an era of anger and while a deadly pandemic that has killed over 825,000 Americans… Albemarle County has not only survived. We have thrived.” 

Rivanna District Supervisor Bea LaPisto-Kirtley will be the vice chair. 

The public also heard from new Supervisor Jim Andrews, the new representative from the Samuel Miller District. He said he wants to hear from the public. 

“I don’t think I have all of the information and the Board doesn’t have all the information or ideas and the public can help,” Andrews said. “Right now I’m wishing for a wealth of great ideas from people.” 

Supervisor Jim Andrews

Supervisors also made appointments to Boards and Commissions. Former Supervisor Liz Palmer has been reappointed to the Albemarle County Service Authority, where she served before being elected to the Board of Supervisors in 2013. Charles Tolbert and Nathan Moore were reappointed. 

Two UVA officials join Albemarle Planning Commission

The new at-large member of the Planning Commission is Luis Carrazana, who is employed by the University of Virginia Office of the Architect as the Associate University Architect. Fred Missel, development director at the University of Virginia Foundation, will represent the Scottsville District, replacing Rick Randolph who retired. 

Julian Bivins, Daniel Bailey, and Karen Firehock were reappointed to their terms representing Jack Jouett, Rio, and Samuel Miller Districts. 

Charlottesville, Albemarle, and the University of Virginia entered into a Three Party Agreement in 1986 that allowed for UVA officials to serve as non-voting members of the city and county Planning Commissions. 

Later this year, the Planning Commission will take up a rezoning request at the North Fork Research Park for a rezoning of land to the Neighborhood Model Development district. UVA has selected this as one of three sites where they will work with a developer to built up to 1,500 affordable housing units. The rezoning application submitted in December would see up to 1,400 units at the site as well as a maximum of 3.7 million square feet of non-residential use. The development would span between Airport Road Drive and Lewis and Clark Drive, and would utilize a completed extension of that roadway that the UVA Foundation funded. The Discovery Park is owned by the foundation.

The Planning Commission will get to review the rezoning of a portion of land at the North Fork Discovery Park, but will either Carrazana and Missel have to recuse themselves from the vote? 

Supervisors also delegated some of their members to Boards and Commissions. 

And this morning, Clerk of Council Kyna Thomas sent over this list of what Councilors are serving on what regional boards. 

  • Sena Magill will serve on the Albemarle Charlottesville Regional Jail Authority Board 

  • Juandiego Wade will serve on the Charlottesville Albemarle Convention and Visitors Bureau 

  • Lloyd Snook and Brian Pinkston will serve on the Darden Towe Park Board, along with Albemarle Supervisors LaPisto Kirtley and Gallaway. 

  • Pinkston and Snook will serve on the Metropolitan Planning Organization Policy Board. Both will also serve on the Regional Transportation Partnership providing consistent representation on both bodies. 

  • Pinkston will serve on the Rivanna Solid Waste Authority and the Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority (PINKSTON)

  • Payne will continue on the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission 

What do you think?