May 24, 2023: Albemarle to purchase 462 acres next to Rivanna Station in bid to keep it from leaving
Plus: Fadeley announces candidacy for Rivanna District seat on Supervisors
We are now at the penultimate Wednesday of May and the 21st so far in 2023. Every day is a moment in time and this is the May 24 edition of Charlottesville Community Engagement, a newsletter and podcast that pays attention to these sorts of things, but usually only in the opening paragraph. I’m Sean Tubbs.
On today’s program:
The owner of a used car dealership announces his candidacy for Rivanna District Supervisor in Albemarle County
Two of four members of the Charlottesville School Board who are up for election this fall will not seek another term and the other two are undecided, but Chris Meyer will try again
Albemarle is purchasing 462 acres of land from a private developer to allow for the expansion of Rivanna Station
First shout-out: Charlottesville Community Bikes
In this first subscriber supported shout-out, Charlottesville Community Bikes believes that bicycles can be a means to social change, addressing issues of equity, access, and inclusion. They provide free bikes to adults who need one, and have a special program that provides free bikes to children. Want to learn more or support their work? Visit charlottesvillecommunitybikes.org to learn more.
Fadeley to challenge incumbent for Rivanna District seat
The owner of a used vehicle dealership on Pantops has announced he will run for Rivanna District Supervisor as an independent candidate, setting up a second contested race for elected office in Albemarle County this year.
“I have a large stake and a personal investment in sound government in our community,” said T.J. Fadeley. “And I’ve been asking residents ‘how did you like your recent property tax bill?’”
Fadeley is a graduate of Albemarle High School who has run Free Bridge Auto for the past 20 years. He said he and many others have been shocked by two consecutive years of double-digit increases in real property assessments.
“Where’s the taxpayers’ advocate on the Board of Supervisors?” Fadeley said. “There isn’t one.”
Fadeley said all new spending by the county should be subject to a cost-benefit analysis. He said middle class property owners are feeling the pinch of higher tax bills and don’t have access to either tax relief for those with low incomes or land use taxation for those with large estates.
“Supervisors should be finding ways to reduce spending rather than raising the tax burden on residents,” Fadeley said. “Instead they just keep rubber stamping the proposed budgets of county management and every year the tax rates and the assessments and the fees go up.”
Fadeley said he would have voted to lower the real property tax rate this year. On May 3, Supervisors approved a $554.8 million budget based on a real property tax rate of $0.854 per $100 of assessed value. That’s been the same tax rate since 2019.
“Our community needs a new voice and it needs new choices,” Fadeley said. “It’s time for a local government to do what residents have been doing and to lead by example to tighten their belt. Current levels of spending are currently unsustainable.”
If he qualifies for the ballot, Fadeley will face Democrat Bea LaPisto-Kirtley who faced no challengers from within her own party. LaPisto-Kirtley won election in 2019 in a race that was technically uncontested but write-in candidate Mike Johnson received nearly a third of the vote.
In the White Hall District, newcomer Brad Rykal is challenging Supervisor Ann Mallek.
Democrat Michael Pruitt is so far the only candidate for the Scottsville District to succeed Donna Price. Price opted to not seek a second term. Independents have until June 20 to qualify for the ballot with the Virginia Department of Elections.
Two Charlottesville School Board members not seeking re-election
There are 27 days to qualify for the ballot for the November 7 general election. Today, Charlottesville City Schools announced that neither Sherry Kraft or Lashundra Bryson Morsberger will seek another term.
“I have thoroughly enjoyed my service to the Board, and the time has come for me to pass the torch to the next person,” Kraft is quoted in the press release. “Those who are considering the role have my full encouragement – it’s a rewarding, challenging, and meaningful way to contribute to our community.”
Kraft was first elected in 2015.
Morsberger was elected in 2019.
“This job and our children deserve someone who can give it the time and careful consideration it deserves,” Morsberger said. “It’s been an honor to serve, but my job, my family, and my other commitments need to take priority right now. I’m so proud of what we’ve accomplished, and there is more work to do.”
Neither Jennifer McKeever or James Bryant have filed for reelection and the release states they are still pondering their options.
So far the only candidate that has filed with the Department of Elections is Amanda Burns who announced her candidacy on Facebook earlier this month.
A second candidate, Chris Meyer, sent out a press release on Tuesday announcing his run. Meyer had previously run in 2019. Here’s a section from his release:
“Meyer, a parent of two young children in Charlottesville City Schools, wants to ensure all students can catch up from COVID educational delays, continue the enhancement of the system’s facilities including solar on school roofs, and increase the system’s financial resources by creating an endowment.”
The school system’s release quotes from the website of the Office of Voter Registration in Charlottesville.
If you are interested in running for office in Virginia, please refer to the State Board of Elections website for information. Local candidates i.e. City Council, School Board can contact our office at 434-970-3250 or email with questions or to request hard copies of campaign finance forms and other reporting documents. It is imperative, before launching a campaign, that a potential candidate read the current Candidate Bulletin (PDF) provided by the Department of Elections.
Second shout-out: The Plant Northern Piedmont Natives Campaign
Since the very beginning of this newsletter, one Patreon supporter who has been there since July 2020 has used his shout-out to draw your attention to the work of the Plant Northern Piedmont Natives Campaign. The campaign is a coalition of grassroots partners including motivated citizens and volunteers, partner organizations, and local governments who want to promote the use of native plants. Spring has sprung but you still have time to learn about what you need to plan to attract pollinators who’ll keep native species going. To learn more, visit plantvirginianatives.org to download Piedmont Native Plants: A Guide for Landscapes and Gardens.
Albemarle to purchase 462 acres of land on U.S. 29 to enable possible expansion of Rivanna Station
The Albemarle Board of Supervisors is planning to purchase hundreds of acres of land on U.S. 29 North from developer Wendell Wood to help preserve the continued existence of a key military base in northern Albemarle County.
“Albemarle County will assume an agreement to purchase approximately 462 acres in the Rivanna Magisterial District for about $58 million,” said Supervisor Chair Donna Price. “The vision for this purchase is to solidify the long-term vibrancy of Rivanna Station in Albemarle County.”
Economic development officials have worked through a limited liability company called Rivanna Station Futures to negotiate the purchase of land through the sale of revenue bonds. The seller is technically called Next Generation LLC for which Wood is the registered agent.
“Rivanna Station Futures allows Albemarle County to remain an attractive and protected home to Rivanna Station which is the anchor for this industry sector,” Price said.
On May 3, Supervisors heard about the impact the defense sector has on the economy and were told there is an annual impact of $1.2 billion a year. They were also told that other communities might be looking to poach Rivanna Station.
The move will allow for the National Ground Intelligence Center and other military entities to expand in place. The current footprint for Rivanna Station is about three buildings and a parking lot on about 75 acres.
Albemarle intends to work with development partners on a new 100 acre site to provide space to grow the defense sector as well as other economic development opportunities.
“Through the establishment of an Intelligence Community Innovation Acceleration Campus, this campus will be a place for public sector organizations, private sector businesses, and academic institutions to work together to co-create solutions to the biggest challenges facing our nation and the world,” Price said.
This campus would be modeled after a similar one in St. Louis.
The purchase will also allow for the future construction of a connector road that will provide a second vehicular access to Rivanna Station from U.S. 29. In May 2018, the county purchased a property that formerly housed a psychic business for $250,000.
Representatives of Rivanna Station approached the county in 2018 about future expansion needs. The county performed what is known as a Business Retention and Expansion visit to see what needed to be done. A key theme was that the U.S. Army was concerned it might not have room to grow.
If this purchase goes through, Price said the space will now be protected from encroachment.
“Rivanna Station is the only military base in the Commonwealth that is currently not landboud by adjacent developers,” Price said. “By Albemarle County acquiring this property, we protect the security and integrity of the station while simultaneously expanding its capacity for both remaining in Virginia and meeting the growing demand for its national defense work.”
Representatives of the U.S. Army were not present for the media briefing in part because a final decision has not been made.
“By acquiring this land, it gives us the best opportunity to keep Rivanna Station here, but not only to keep it here, to see it grow,” Price said.
A request for comment from the U.S. Army was not received by publication time, but there’s a lot more of this story to tell.
There are still a lot of moving pieces to figure out according to Deputy County Executive Trevor Henry but this announcement can put things in motion.
“What is critical about today is about being able to obtain site control,” Henry said. “The work that we’ll do immediately, we have staff already engaged to do our due diligence of the site to make sure it is buildable to the level that we think it needs to be to afford the vision that we have proposed and have reviewed today.”
Henry had no timeline for when anything might go to construction but many partnerships have to be built first.
“This is a long game project,” Henry said. “The work today secures us in our ability to have open conversations with the Department of Defense.
Staff will present financing options to the Board of Supervisors on June 7 and a public hearing on the real estate and acquisition will be held on June 21.
Contractor behind Buford overhaul promises to 'hit the ground running', Hawes Spencer, Charlottesville Daily Progress, May 22, 2023
Two Amherst supervisors appointed to committee exploring ag complex with Nelson, Justin Faulconer, Amherst New-Era Progress, May 23, 2023
Nelson County GOP chooses Ligon for South District supervisor nomination, Emma Martin, Lynchburg News and Advance, May 23, 2023
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