Jul 13, 2022 • 17M

July 13, 2022: Updates on land use master planning in Albemarle, Charlottesville, and the University of Virginia

Plus: WellAWARE hosting community health event this Saturday at Washington Park

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Sean Tubbs
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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Does Wednesday the 13th make you tremble in fear? What about the fact that we’re now 110 days away from Halloween? Or perhaps the fast-paced motion of a rapidly revolving world has you dizzy? Either way, we are still supposed to be in the middle of the days of haziness and laziness, but somehow craziness abides each and every day. Charlottesville Community Engagement intends to bring some focus on an ever-changing landscape. I’m your host, Sean Tubbs. 

In today’s edition:

  • A new health partnership is sponsoring an event this Saturday to promote better health outcomes in vulnerable communities

  • Several area organizations receive funding from Sentara Healthcare 

  • Inflation is up as measured in the latest update of the Consumer Price Index

  • An update on the Cville Plans Together initiative as well as a status report on the development of the University of Virginia’s next master plan 

  • Time is running out to fill out the latest survey in Albemarle County’s Comprehensive Plan review 

First shout-out is for LEAP’s new Thermalize Virginia program 

In today’s second Patreon-fueled shout-out: Have you been thinking of converting your fossil-fuel appliances and furnaces into something that will help the community reduce its greenhouse gas emissions? Your local energy nonprofit, LEAP,  has launched a new program to guide you through the steps toward electrifying your home. Thermalize Virginia will help you understand electrification and connect you with vetted contractors to get the work done and help you find any rebates or discounts. Visit thermalizeva.org to learn more and to sign up!  

UVA continues to develop next master plan

The University of Virginia is in the midst of updating its master plan, which is to be known as the 2030 Grounds Plan. These meetings are not open to the public, but the documents and presentations are available for your review. 

According to a presentation at the June 15, 2022 meeting of the Master Planning Council, the next plan will integrate several recent plans such as the 2030 Great and Good Strategic Plan as well as sustainability goals. 

The first phase of the plan’s update began last summer and the second phase took a look at Big Ideas, System Plans, and Redevelopment Zones. One identified opportunity is to:

“Improve the Grounds-City interface through ongoing collaboration and cooperation on sustainability, equity, and community well-being,” reads a bullet point on slide 11 of the presentation

Big ideas include the goal of requiring second year students to live on Grounds, creation of mixed-use nodes including one at Fontaine Research Park, and creation of transit priority corridors. 

The presentation also includes maps for where future parking structures might be. In June, the Buildings and Grounds Committee recommended approval of an update to the UVA capital plan to include a $54 million 1,000 space garage. Potential locations could include Fontaine Research Park and North Grounds, as well as two other locations. (slide 28 for details). 

The third phase will begin to draft the actual plan. Both the Master Planning Council and the Land Use and Environmental Planning Committee (LUEPC) were asked what they thought of the Big Ideas and what was missing. The LUEPC committee is a closed-door body of Albemarle, Charlottesville and UVA staff that replaced what has been a public body in late 2019.

Development of the 2030 Grounds Plan will continue throughout the rest of the year. 

The 2030 Grounds Plan will build on recent activity at the University of Virginia. (download the presentation)

The Charlottesville Planning Commission got an update on what’s happening at one of those nodes from Bill Palmer, their non-voting representative from the University of Virginia’s Office of the Architect. 

“At the Ivy corridor, the big construction site down there continues,” Palmer said. “The School of Data Science is the building you see coming out of the ground. A lot of steel in that one that, as well as the landscaping and the stormwater pond, which I heard held up well in the rain last weekend.” 

How does this compare with how the University markets the Charlottesville area to its students? Take a look at a video from May 2018. A series of speakers extol the virtues of this place. 

“The University feels like a major part of this community and town,” one unidentified voice can be heard. “There is this separation but also togetherness.” 

“You want to be part of a community that is constantly evolving, not in a rush, but gradually so you can make the place work for you,” says another unidentified speaker whose voice may sound familiar. You’ll have to hear the podcast to make your guess. 

Deadline for Comprehensive Plan survey in Albemarle fast approaching 

Albemarle County is in the first phase of a review of its Comprehensive Plan with an eye on a growth management policy. A second questionnaire on the policy closes on July 17, and Albemarle’s Communications and Public Engagement office produced an explanatory video. 

“The growth management policy is one of the tools that we use to implement the county’s vision by helping us to make intentional decisions about how and where we grow and what areas are protected,” states the narrator of the video.

The video states that one purpose of a growth management policy is to ensure that there are services for a growing population, including the provision of water and sewer services. 

“The majority of new residential, commercial, retail, office, industrial, and mixed-use development is intended to be within the county’s development areas,” the video continues. “The rural area is intended to have limited residential development.” 

Different community groups are also encouraging community members to fill out the survey.

The Forest Lakes Community Association reminded its members of the basic gist of the growth management policy. 

“Designated Development Areas currently comprise only five percent of Albemarle County while Rural Areas currently comprise 95 percent of the County,” reads the newsletter. “Yet we in Forest Lakes are seeing the developmental impacts more directly, since the limited Development Area includes the 29-Corridor to the west of Forest Lakes.” 

The Forest Lakes Community Association had argued against the nearby Brookhill and RST Residents developments, and points out there’s currently no public transportation in the area. 

“Roads are planned that will eventually connect both developments directly to Ashwood Boulevard, with estimates of up to a 50 percent increase in daily traffic utilizing the Forest Lakes South exit,” the newsletter continues

Former members of the Village of Rivanna Community Advisory Committee also want people to fill out the survey. The group quit en masse in April which you can read about on Information Charlottesville or on their Substack newsletter.

This spring, the Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors were presented with a build-out analysis to determine if there’s enough room in the existing development area to meet the needs of a growing population. 

Supervisors got an update on June 1, 2022 that I’ve yet to write about, but will before the end of the summer. You can watch the video of that meeting here, and let us know what happened!

NDS Director gives an update on Charlottesville’s Comprehensive Plan

It’s a hot summer for big land use plans. Charlottesville is in the third phase of its Cville Plans Together initiative which has already seen adoption of an Affordable Housing Plan as well as an updated Comprehensive Plan that gives more development rights to mostly every residential lot in the City.

How those development rights will turn into future buildings will depend on the update of the city’s zoning code that is now underway. In June, the city released a Zoning Diagnostics and Approach report.

“Basically, a slate of ideas for how we can modify our zoning to implement the Comprehensive Plan that you all and Council adopted last November,” said Neighborhood Development Services Director James Freas to the Charlottesville Planning Commission last night. 

The next step will be the development of a new Frequently Asked Questions list based on input taken at a public forum in June

“Our public feedback period lasts until all the way through until the end of August,” Freas said.

Ideas included in the report are to write zoning rules that will increase by-right development, meaning an applicant would not need to go before the Planning Commission or the City Council. (view the report)

In early August, Freas said the city will release the inclusionary zoning and market analysis report.

“The market analysis piece of that is the piece looking at how might our real estate development marketplace here in Charlottesville react to this new zoning?” Freas said. “What we can expect in terms of the timing for new development, the types of new development that might happen, and where it might happen based on our existing market conditions and what we can not to that.” 

If you’re interested in what’s happening with the property market in Charlottesville, I track that and will have a piece that paid Substack subscribers will get a first look at tomorrow. In the meantime, visit Information Charlottesville to catch up on monthly anecdotal reviews

Sign up for a paid subscription to get the June report tomorrow!

Happy 2nd birthday to Charlottesville Community Engagement

Today is the second anniversary of Charlottesville Community Engagement. I posted the first episode to what’s now become Information Charlottesville. This first version is about five minutes long, but I decided to commit to putting together something on a regular basis. I had produced the Charlottesville Quarantine Report since March 2020, and was quickly wanting to branch out.

I’ve been able to do this work thanks to a great number of people who have been supporting the work through Patreon. I’m grateful to those who thought my return to local journalism would be worth funding, and so I got to work as soon as I could. 

A few days after July 13, 2020, I launched this Substack because the delivery platform is so easy to use. This has also brought in more revenue, with many generous supporters who want me to produce as much information as I can about the items I’ve been covering for many years. 

This shout-out is a thank you, but it’s also a hope that if you’ve not opted to support the work yet, you might consider doing so at some point in the near future. I depend on subscriptions and Patreon contributions, as well as a couple of sponsorships. I’m looking to sustain the information and to continue serving the community. And with that, it’s back to the work! 

Inflation increases by largest amount since November 1981

Real quick segment here. You’ll hear about inflation from lots of sources today, but I wanted to direct you to the original press release

The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics today released the latest Consumer Price Index (CPI), which indicates that the average cost of all tracked items has increased by 9.2 percent from June 2021 to June 2022. For the month, the CPI increased 1.3 percent over May. Energy costs increased 7.5 percent since May with gasoline increasing 11.2 percent. 

When you exclude food and energy, the index rose 0.7 percent in June. 

Details in the Consumer Price Index. For even more information, visit the Bureau of Labor Statistics release. 

Several organizations get funding from Sentara Healthcare

Earlier this month, Sentara Healthcare announced nearly $5 million in funds for organizations across North Carolina in Virginia. Distributions from the Sentara Healthier Communities Fund include several in the greater Charlottesville area. 

“These investments will directly support programs and initiatives that address social determinants of health and promote health equity by eliminating traditional barriers to health and human services,” reads a release that went out on July 6

The local groups that received funds are:

Community event to be held to promote health benefits of walkability

A relatively new public health program to improve health for vulnerable community members will hold an event this Saturday morning to spread awareness of their work 

Betsy Peyton is the director of WellAWARE, a partnership program between UVA Health, the Charlottesville Free Clinic, and Central Virginia Health Services that seeks to serve medically underserved communities. 

“We are an innovative, new community health program that sends community health workers into people’s homes to help connect them to better health care,” Peyton said. 

Peyton said this includes neighborhoods such as Rose Hill and the 10th and Page neighborhood as well as the Esmont area in southern Albemarle. 

“We chose these neighborhoods related to health data,” Peyton said. “Highest rates of obesity, stroke, highest rates of low acuity emergency room visits, so people going to the emergency room for things like a headache.” 

WellAWARE is intended to connect people to primary care physicians. 

“We’ve signed a lot of people up for Medicaid who are scared to go the doctor because they weren’t sure how they would pay,” Peyton said. “We drive people to the doctor or provide free cabs to the doctor.” 

Peyton said the organization also holds events to promote awareness of healthy lifestyles, and this Saturday there’s one coming up in central Charlottesville.

“So this event, we’re partnering with Move 2 Health Equity and it’s going to be a big event in Washington Park called Healthy Streets and Healthy People,” Peyton said. 

Peyton said the event will draw importance to the need for environmentally healthy streets. 

“If you’ve looked at maps of Charlottesville and the region, the areas that have the least shade also have the worst health outcomes, are also the poorest, and traditionally African-American neighborhoods,” Peyton said. “And so part of the mission of this event is to talk about more bikeability, more tree canopy, usable parks.” 

The event will take place between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. There will be a “gentle” walk/run with prizes, a field day event for kids, and gardening sessions where people can take home containers of potted herbs and vegetables. There will also be some general medical training. Learn more in this link to a press release.

Housekeeping notes for the conclusion of this installment:

Now that this newsletter is two, I am going to begin to add this end section with wrap-ups and acknowledgements. This is in part to curb on the rambling that occurs at the end of the podcast. 

Beginning today, I will acknowledge that most of the music in the podcast is composed by an entity currently going by the name Wraki. You can purchase the latest tracks on Bandcamp in an album called regret everything. 

If you’re interested in a shout-out, consider becoming a Patreon Subscriber, or drop me a line and we can find another way. The shout-outs may be changing soon in the near future. I am certain that does not mean they will be translated into Esperanto. Sed ili povus esti.

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