Charlottesville Community Engagement
Charlottesville Community Engagement
June 20, 2023: Harvey in House District 55 race as Republican; Albemarle Supervisors briefed on due dilligence for $58M land purchase
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June 20, 2023: Harvey in House District 55 race as Republican; Albemarle Supervisors briefed on due dilligence for $58M land purchase

Plus: Four of five candidates have filed paperwork for Charlottesville School Board

It’s the penultimate day before the summer solstice in the northern hemisphere of the only planet where it’s possible to listen or read Charlottesville Community Engagement, a newsletter and podcast that seeks to cover as much as possible about a very small corner of that globe. I’m Sean Tubbs, somewhat grateful that we’re now on the way to days with less sunlight. 

On today’s program:

  • A Republican emerges in the race for House District 55

  • Five candidates are now in the race for four seats on the Charlottesville School Board, though one has yet to complete paperwork

  • Juneteenth celebrations continue this week with a tour of historic sites in Southern Albemarle 

  • The latest numbers on building activity in Albemarle County are in

  • A long-awaited convenience center is set to open in southern Albemarle

  • Supervisors hear about the due diligence being conducted for Albemarle’s purchase of 462 acres near Rivanna Station 

First shout-out: Design Develop

In today’s first Patreon-fueled shout-out, architectural firm Design Develop wants you to know about a new service aimed at the development community that may not be widely known yet — 3D point cloud scanning! That’s a technique that uses specialized equipment, such as 3D scanner systems, to gather a large amount of data points that represent the surface of the scanned object or scene.

The applications of 3D point cloud scanning are extensive and cover various fields, including architecture, construction, cultural heritage preservation, virtual reality, industrial design, manufacturing, and more. These applications require accurate 3D spatial information, and Design Develop's workflow provides precise and comprehensive results, all while being more cost-effective than traditional methods.

Design Develop has expertise in this workflow for their own needs and now has a dedicated team offering this service in the Charlottesville and Albemarle Area. If you're involved in the real estate, design, or construction industry, feel free to contact us for more information or a free quote.

Visit their website for an introductory video that captures the 3D point cloud scanning of the Downtown Transit Center and a booklet that will explain more!

This is edition #547 of a newsletter that dates back nearly three years. Sign up for free, but you will be reminded frequently that the work relies on paid subscriptions. And Ting will match your first one!

Harvey re-enters race for House District 55 as Republican nominee

Republican Steve Harvey has announced he will run as a candidate for the House District seat that’s currently the subject of a bitter primary between the two Democratic candidates. Earlier this year, incumbent Rob Bell chose to retire from the General Assembly

The Virginia Public Access Project had reported that Harvey had withdrawn from the race, but the former candidate for the White Hall seat on the Albemarle Board of Supervisors announced yesterday at Hollymead Town Center. Learn more about the campaign on his website.

“As the GOP House of Delegate candidate for the 55th District it is my great hope to improve the state of political discourse in Central Virginia,” reads a section of his website. “I will focus on issues, without all the personal attacks we have seen leading up to the June Primary.”

In the open seat for the new House District 55, former Charlottesville School Board member Amy Laufer has raised more money than emergency room nurse Kellen Squire as of June 8, 2023. Details in an article now posted on Information Charlottesville.

In 2019, Harvey challenged Democrat Ann Mallek for the White Hall seat on the Board of Supervisors. Mallek won with 56.49 percent of the votes cast

Five candidates have filed for four seats on Charlottesville School Board

Today is the deadline for candidates to qualify to be on the ballot including non-partisan elected school board. There are four seats open on the seven-member Charlottesville School Board and five people have submitted paperwork to qualify. 

Amanda Burns announced her candidacy in May as did Chris Meyer, a candidate who placed fifth in a four-way race in 2019. None of the four incumbents elected that year are seeking re-election. 

As of this morning, three other candidates had filed with the Charlottesville registrar. They are Nicole Richardson who was certified on June 13 and Shymora Cooper whose paperwork was certified on June 15. 

Rosia Parker, a former member of the Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority’s Board of Commissioners,  filed some of the required papers and has until 7 p.m. tonight to complete the work. 

Juneteenth celebrations continues this week with Scottsville tour

Yesterday was the federal holiday of Juneteenth to mark the end of legal and state-sanctioned slavery in the United States of America. On June 7, the Albemarle Board of Supervisors issued a proclamation recognizing the occasion.

“On June 19, 1865, more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed to free all enslaved people, enslaved Americans in Galveston, Texas, were finally told that they were free from the bondage of slavery and were, for the first time, recognized as citizens of our Nation,” reads the proclamation.

Ed Brooks, the program coordinator for the Yancey School Community Center, accepted the proclamation. He pointed out that there are pictures in the county office building that commemorate the Union Mills community of freed people that developed after the Civil War on the South Fork of the Rivanna River.

“Those pictures, they do mean a lot and also the placing of the historical marker in the lynching death of John Henry James at the county courthouse,” Brooks said. “And this is huge. The vote in September 2020 for the removal of the Confederate statue in the courthouse. You were the first local body in Virginia under the new Virginia statute to remove this by a vote.” 

Brooks said Albemarle’s investment to turn the former Yancey Elementary School into a community center is helping to address health and wellness issues. He said there’s a heritage celebration on display at the moment and invited members of the community to visit. 

“For the last weekend in June, we are going to be celebrating a tour of the African American historic sites in Scottsville on Saturday the 24th starting at 10 a.m. at Union Baptist Church on Hardware Street Extended,” Brooks said. “It will end at the Scottsville Museum.” 

That tour is being organized by Preservation Piedmont if you want to sign up

Brooks said the Yancey Community Center is now underneath the Parks and Recreation Department after being part of the Office of Equity and Inclusion. 

Take a listen to Brooks’ full comments in a post to the Charlottesville Podcasting Network.

Take a look at the full proclamation

Albemarle posts building activity reports for first quarter of 2023

Albemarle County periodically posts two very handy documents that are useful in determining where construction is happening and where people are about to move. Earlier this month, the Board of Supervisors officially recognized the building permit report for the first quarter of 2023 as well as a report on certificates of occupancy. 

“During the 1st Quarter of 2023, 91 certificates of occupancy were issued for 196 dwelling units,” reads the latter report.

Of those, 163 were in the designated growth area and 32 were in the rural area. The total amount is more than in the first quarter of 2022 when the total number was 129.

There were 779 certificates of occupancy issued in all of 2022 compared with 960 in 2021 and 1,143 in 2020. The majority of units in all four years are multifamily units compared to single-family homes. 

Meanwhile, there were fewer building permits issued in the first quarter of 2023 compared to previous years. Only 94 permits were obtained from January to March compared with 464 in the first quarter of 2020, 232 in 2021, and 177 in 2022. Visit the building permit report for the full amount of information contained within. 

Credit: Albemarle County 

Second shoutout: Friends of Downtown Charlottesville contest winners

In today’s second Patreon-fueled shout-out, the Friends of Downtown Charlottesville spent the month of May with a series of events designed to promote Downtown in Bloom. One of the activities involved businesses decorating flower boxes for a competition. Now, Friends of Downtown Charlottesville have a tie for the winners!

Both Pikasso Swig and Central Place came in first with a tie of 110 voters each! Third place goes to Common House. Hooray to all for participating! 

Want to know what’s happening today? Check out the event calendar to learn what’s on offer. Stay tuned for more activities put on by Friends of Downtown Charlottesville and visit their website at friendsofcville.org!

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Southern Albemarle Convenience Center opens Thursday

A project intended to help reduce litter and illegal dumping in southern Albemarle County will open this Thursday. The Rivanna Solid Waste Authority will hold a grand opening at 10 a.m. for the Southern Albemarle Convenience Center. 

“The Southern Albemarle Convenience Center will offer source-separated recycling of corrugated cardboard, newsprint, office paper, mixed paper, plastic films, #1 and #2 plastic containers, glass containers (jars and bottles), mixed metals, and aluminum beverage containers, as well as ‘Tag-A-Bag’ household trash disposal,” reads the press release. 

Albemarle County covered the $1.65 million cost for the facility which will be open six days a week. The RSWA will own and operate the facility which is located at 6269 Esmont Road in Keene. 

A rendering of the Southern Convenience Center (Credit: Rivanna Solid Waste Authority)

Public hearing tomorrow night for Albemarle purchase of 462 acres 

The decision by the Albemarle Board of Supervisors to spend $58 million to purchase 462 acres of land near Rivanna Station has been pitched as an investment in the county’s future economy. On Wednesday, there will be a state-mandated public hearing on the acquisition as it pertains to business and industrial use. Supervisors got a briefing at their meeting on June 7.

“We are in a contract acquisition state thanks to the action the board took [on May 24],” said Trevor Henry, the deputy county executive. “We have made our escrow deliverable and met that within the contract terms and are in a 90 minute due diligence period.”

That means that the county is investigating several aspects to see if the land can actually handle the level of activity planned for the future. 

“We are going to look at conditions of the land itself,” said Lance Stewart, the county’s director of Facilities and Environmental Services. “We’ll also be doing some early conceptual developments, sketches, and models for infrastructure. That would be roads and utilities primarily.” 

A slide from the presentation made to the Board of Supervisors on June 7 

Albemarle will also inherit existing obligations on the land from the existing owner such as a parking agreement with Rivanna Station and the lease of a farm house. There are also agricultural uses underway but the county still has to determine who is renting the land. 

Some of the work is also being coordinated by the firm Line + Grade. Among other things, all of the land has to be surveyed.

“That effort will also include soil mapping,” Stewart said. “Drainage area mapping is important to his particular project because we anticipate subdividing one of the parcels where we retain half and the other half stays with the owner based on the fall line of one of the drainage areas.” 

An environmental assessment will also determine whether there any brownfields that may need remediation or whether there are cultural resources or endangered species that will require mitigation. 

Stewart also said initial talks are underway with the Virginia Department of Transportation regarding the extension of Boulders Road to provide a second entrance off of U.S. 29 to the military base. 

“We could find concerns in any one of these area that might influence cost or the buildable land within the development areas but ultimately no one factor is likely going to recommend against moving forward with this but we have to make sure we have all of the information we need,” Stewart said.  

Some of the land is outside of the county’s development area and would have to be added for the project to go forward under Albemarle’s long-standing growth management policy.

The acquisition will be financed through the sale of bonds on a five-year basis, according to interim finance director Jacob Sumner. The idea will be to shift to a different financing structure once more partners come on board but Sumner listed the bottom line for now.

“The annual debt service on that will be approximately $3.1 million,” Sumner said. “We do have in our FY24 [Capital Improvement Program] plan, about $14.4 million included in the economic development funding for public-private partnerships.” 

Those bonds would be issued through the Albemarle Economic Development Authority. Their Board of Directors are getting a briefing right at publication time.

Now, on to partners. Henry said there was a meeting facilitated by the Matrix Group at the North Fork Discovery Park on May 31 led by Craig Crenshaw, Virginia Secretary of Veterans and Defense Affairs. There were nearly three dozen stakeholders from the military, academic officials, and members of the Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce’s Defense Affairs Committee. 

“As the Secretary has said, he’s been keeping his powder dry in order to help sponsor this work now through the rest of the state,” Henry said. “We are spinning off to have engagement with the rest of the secretariats in likely the July timeframe with a goal of getting to the Governor on this project in late summer.” 

As for the public hearing, County Attorney Steven Rosenberg said it has a very limited purpose.

“When the Board approved its resolution on May 24, it approved the acquisition of the entire 462 acres of land and authorized the County Executive to take further actions to complete the acquisition,” Rosenberg said. “So there’s no further action required by the Board to acquire the land.” 

Rosenberg said the county will not actually purchase the land for several months as the due diligence continues. Public comment itself won’t persuade the county to change course, but staff recommended a public hearing because of the possibility it could be used for business use in the future. A resolution reaffirming the acquisition will be taken after the public hearing.

Will you speak? What will you say? 

One of the slides in a presentation made to the Board of Supervisors on June 7, 2023

Reading material: 

Noting the end of #547:

Another installment is behind us and another one is just ahead! The landscape is worth reviewing constantly and reporting about what can be seen. A general theme of 2023 for Town Crier Productions is how to expand by hiring additional people to do the work. I believe that journalism is a crucial tool to keep a democracy going. 

Thank you to the hundreds of people and the handful of sponsors who are keeping Charlottesville Community Engagement going in that direction. If you join them with a contribution through Substack, Ting will match your initial payment! 

And if you sign up for Ting 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

Special acknowledgement today to Susan McGinnis for providing vocal talents for the most recent podcast. Also Wraki for being a good egg and providing music. 

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