November 15, 2021: A look at 'missing middle housing' and remediation work at Acme Visible Records in Crozet

This is the middle Monday of the month, perhaps known as the Ides of November? If so, let’s hope the stabbings will kept to the lowest minimum possible, or none.

  
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WTJU is hosting Classical Listening Parties, a series of four free, casual events on Tuesdays in November. These four events are led by Chelsea Holt, pianist, teacher, and one of WTJU’s newest and youngest classical announcers. She’ll guide you through all the eras of classical music and tomorrow night at 7 p.m.: Classical. For a list of the others, visit wtju.net to learn more and sign up

On today’s show:

  • The Village of Rivanna CAC gets an update on what middle missing housing is 

  • A recap of what’s been dropped off at solid waste centers operated by one of the Rivanna authorities 

  • Work takes places this work to help remediate an industrial waste site in Crozet


Let’s begin the week with a status report on the pandemic. The Virginia Department of Health reports a seven-day average of 1,305 cases a day with 871 reported this morning. The percent positivity is at 5.4 percent, slightly up from 5.3 on Friday. There are 32 new cases in the Blue Ridge Health District and the percent positivity is at 4.7 percent. There have been five new deaths reported in the District since Friday.


Belmont Bridge update

The first major traffic shift of the Belmont Bridge is underway. All vehicular traffic will be routed to the southbound portion of the bridge, according to a project update sent out by the city of Charlottesville. New temporary traffic signals have been installed to control the new alignment. Construction got underway this year after many years of planning. To learn more, visit the city’s website.


General Assembly 2022

The two major parties have nominated their leaders for the next session of the House of Delegates. Republicans have nominated Delegate Todd Gilbert (R-15) as Speaker of the House and Delegate Terry Kilgore (R-1) as House Majority Leader. Republicans picked up five seats in the November 2 election to have a 52 to 48 edge when the General Assembly convenes on January 12. (press release)

Current Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn (D-41) has been nominated as House Minority Leader. Delegate Charniele Herring (D-46) will serve as Chair of the Democratic Caucus. (press release)


Remediating Acme

Crews are working in Crozet this month at the site of the former Acme Visible Records. The company built storage and retrieval equipment for documents from 1954 until approximately 2001. During that time, they directed wastewater into a lagoon that contained multiple pollutants. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued a permit in September 2020 to the Wilson Jones Company to mitigate the harm based on a 2019 status report from the Virginia Department of Environmental quality. All of the buildings have been removed. (permit) (basis)

Representatives of the company performing the mitigation sent an update the Crozet Community Association announcing that groundwater samples will be taken between November 10 and November 19. There are also plans this week to dig two wells to inject new chemicals into hazardous areas. 

“The wells will be installed to facilitate the completion of a pilot study for the injection of chemical oxidants which will treat the chlorinated solvent impacts in groundwater at the facility,” reads the report from a public relations company working with the Wilson Jones Company. 

As part of the permit, the land can never be used for residential purposes, schools, playgrounds, or daycare. 


Solid waste drop-off report

The Rivanna Solid Waste Authority’s Board of Directors meets for the final time of 2021 tomorrow. The packet contains data about activity at the Ivy Materials Utilization Center and McIntire Recycling Center, both of which process all manner of recycling and solid waste. 

As of late September, 42 containers of paint cans have been shipped out of the facility. 

“Each container holds about 4,200 one-gallon paint cans,” reads an operations report. “Therefore, we have shipped about 176,400 paint cans since the program began in August 2016.”

Leftover latex paint is re-processed back into commercial paint and oil-based paints are converted into fuel. 

Both September and October were busy months for the compostable food waste collection at the McIntire center, with over 8 tons being dropped off in each month. Commercial customers pay $178 a ton for disposal and residents are not charged. 

Over six hundred people participated in a Household Hazardous Waste Day held over two days in late September. Albemarle residents dropped off 22,640 pounds of furniture and mattresses on October 2, and Charlottesville residents disposed of 3,380 pounds.

On October 9 the Ivy MUC accepted appliances and Albemarle residents parted with 6,800 pounds and 160 freon units. Charlottesville residents dropped off 1,400 pounds and 30 freon units. On October 16, unwanted tires had their turn and nearly 49 tons were processed for recycling. 

The RSWA continues to work through a permit modification with the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality to up the tonnage allowed at the Ivy MUC from 300 tons a day to 450 tons a day. 


You’re listening to Charlottesville Community Engagement.

Interested in learning more about the Ancestral Monacan Homelands in Albemarle and Charlottesville along the Seminole Trail on which our 21st century communities have been built Interested in learning how to document the history, present, and future? Tomorrow the Albemarle Charlottesville Historical Society will hold a two-part event  in-person at Northside Library beginning at 5 p.m. 

First, UVA Professor of Anthropology Jeffrey Hantman will discuss his work, which includes which includes archaeology and history of the Monacan people, now with a new emphasis on how the Monacans were targeted by the eugenics movement. That will be followed at 6 p.m. with a workshop on cvillepedia, a collaborative encyclopedia. There will be a tutorial and I’ll be on hand to demonstrate how I use the site to keep the community informed. 

Professor Hantman’s talk will also be available through Zoom. Visit jmrl.org to learn more and to register for both programs. 


Missing Middle

Finally today, on Thursday, the 5th and Avon Community Advisory Committee will discuss an 85-unit rezoning that developers say will provide “missing middle housing” in the form of triplexes, duplexes, and multifamily units. But what is missing middle? Tori Kanellopoulos is a senior planner with the county. 

“Missing middle housing is housing that is between single-family detached housing and larger apartments and is intended to be compatible and scale and form with existing single-family attached,” Kanellopoulos said. 

Kannellopoulos said these units tend be smaller and are more affordable because the cost of land is spread across multiple units. 

“This is a concept that has gained a lot of attention recently though many of these housing types have existed for decades or longer and actually used to be permitted through many localities,” Kannellopoulos said. “Now localities are relegalizing these units by updating their zoning ordinances.” 

In July, Albemarle Supervisors adopted the Housing Albemarle plan, which seeks to encourage the development of more units with the hope that greater inventory will help with affordability. Renters and morgage-holders who pay more than 30 percent of their income on housing costs are considered distressed. That’s in part because Albemarle is an affluent community with a high median income. 

“Median home values in the county are about $138,000 higher than the U.S. median and about $83,000 higher than the Virginia median,” Kannellopoulos said. “Forty-two percent of renter households and 18 percent of homeowner households in the county are cost-burdened, meaning they are paying more than 30 percent of their gross income toward housing.”

The situation is perhaps worse when other factors are taken into consideration such as the cost of transportation, child care, health, and food. 

To encourage creation of more of these housing types, planners created the Middle Density Residential land use category and debuted this in the Crozet master plan, over the opposition of some on the Crozet Community Advisory Committee. 

“The category recommends a density of 6-12 units per acre with up to 18 units per acre by meeting middle density housing types or affordability criteria beyond baseline housing requirements,” Kannellopoulos said. 

Most members of the Village of Rivanna Community Advisory Committee were opposed to the rezoning of Breezy Hill for 80 units on about 76 acres due to it being technically above one unit per acre. VORCAC Chair Dennis Odinov expressed skepticism that allowing more density would translate to more affordable prices. 

“These things have good intentions but in reality a lot of times they just over a period of time they just don’t work,” Odinov said. “That’s my concern. I’m no oracle and I may be wrong but that’s my experience and what I’ve seen. I’ve lived a lot of different places.” 

Odinov wanted to hear more about why many in Crozet were opposed to the concept. 

Details about how this might be implemented can be seen in the appendix of the Crozet Master Plan. Take a look beginning on page 72 of the .PDF


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