November 16, 2021: Greystar presents 490-unit Old Ivy Residences to Places29-Hydraulic group; Champion Brewing Company and Reason Beer to merge
Another look at happenings in the area around Charlottesville
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On today’s show:
Charlottesville City Council adopts a Comprehensive Plan and Future Land Use Map after a long public process and long public hearing
President Biden signs an infrastructure bill
Two area breweries have announced a merger
The Places29-Hydraulic group gets the latest on 490 units planned for Old Ivy Road
After nearly five years of review, Charlottesville City Council has adopted a Comprehensive Plan and a Future Land Use Map intended to increase the number of housing units within city limits. Council’s vote came after a long public hearing that came after a work session held in the early afternoon where Council also discussed economic development and population trends. The public hearing ended at 10:44 p.m. and Council then discussed the matter for another hour before voting to adopt.
Up next will be the rewrite of the zoning code to eliminate legislative barriers to new residential density.
I’ll have more on the adoption of the plan and what is in it in an upcoming edition of the newsletter. Take a look at the adopted Comprehensive Plan and the Future Land Use Map here.
Two breweries in the area have announced a merger via Facebook post. Champion Brewing Company and Reason Beer will join operations in a partnership that will see Hunter Smith remain as the company’s CEO. One of Reason’s founders, Jeff Railenau, will become the Chief Financial Officer. Josh Skinner of Champion will become the Head Brewer and Reason’s Mark Fulton will become Director of Brewing Operations. Champion will relocate its production operations from a facility in the Woolen Mills on Broadway Street to Reason’s headquarters at Seminole Place on U.S. 29.
“We’re excited to announce this partnership with our good friends and esteemed beer minds across town that will bring together two skilled and like-minded teams to streamline operations under one roof,” reads a statement on Champion’s Facebook page.
President Joe Biden has signed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which will likely change the landscape for the way all kinds of projects in Virginia and the Charlottesville area are funded.
“This law makes the most significant investment in roads and bridges in the past 70 years,” Biden said. “It makes the most significant investment in passenger rail in the past 50 years. And in public transit ever.”
The bill provides direct funding to specific areas across the entire country. (details from the White House)
$55 billion to expand access to clean drinking water, eliminating lead pipes and cleaning up PFAS chemicals
$21 billion in funding to remediate Superfund sites in rural and urban communities
$66 billion for public transit, including vehicle replacement from fossil-fuel burning to zero emissions vehicles
$5 billion specifically to purchase clean school buses
$17 billion to modernize ports and update machinery to reduce congestion and emissions
$25 billion for airports including efforts to drive electrification and a transition to other low-carbon technologies
Over $50 billion in investments to protect against drought, heat waves, wildfires and floods
“The bill I’m about to sign into law is proof that despite the cynics, Democrats and Republicans can come together to deliver results,” Biden said.
There’s also funding to increase internet access.
“This law is going to make high-speed Internet affordable and everywhere, everywhere in America,” Biden said “Urban, suburban, rural, and great jobs laying down those broadband lines.”
Environmental groups in Virginia are celebrating the signing of the infrastructure bill, which will provide an additional $238 million for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for the Chesapeake Bay Program according to a statement from the Choose Clean Water Coalition.
“These additional funds will help reduce pollution in the Bay and its waterways, especially as we approach the 2025 deadline to have all pollution reduction practices in place as part of the Bay's restoration effort,” said Coalition Director Kristin Reilly.
Reilly refers to something called the Chesapeake Bay TMDL, a framework to reduce pollution across all of the watersheds that feed into the Bay, including the Rapidan, Rivanna, and James Rivers. Investments have been made over the years, including millions to upgrade the Moores Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant to reduce the amount of nitrogen and phosphorus that makes it to the Bay, creating dead zones with no oxygen.
The bill has also been celebrated by the Virginia Transit Association, who sent out a release pointing out that the bill contains $102 billion nationwide in funding for passenger and freight rail, or a 592 percent increase over usual funding levels. That could include $1.4 billion for Virginia.
“Transit will receive about $1.3 billion in formula funding over the next five years, a 34 percent increase over normal funding levels,” said Danny Plaugher, the Deputy Director of the Virginia Transit Association and the Executive Director of Virginians for HighSpeed Rail. “The Charlottesville area will receive about an extra million a year over that period. Virginia will also be competitive on several expanded transit and rail grant programs which could invest billions into our transportation network."
All of Virginia’s Democratic Representatives in Congress voted for the bill, whereas all of Virginia’s Republican Representatives voted against it. But Biden said there was support from industry.
“This law was supported by business groups — the U.S. Chamber of Commerce; the National Association of Manufacturers; the Business Roundtable, representing 200 of the largest corporations in America and other top businesses,” Biden said.
Local governments are watching closely to see what the bill may mean for their bottom line.
“Albemarle County will closely monitor avenues for local governments to apply for funding to advance our strategic infrastructure needs as guidance becomes available from the federal and state governments,” said Emily Kilroy, director of Communications and Public Engagement for Albemarle.
You’re listening to Charlottesville Community Engagement. Time for another Patreon-fueled shout-out!
Charlottesville 350 is the local chapter of a national organization that seeks to reduce dependence on fossil fuels. Charlottesville 350 uses online campaigns, grassroots organizing, and mass public actions to oppose new coal, oil and gas projects, and build 100% clean energy solutions that work for all. To learn more about their most active campaigns, including a petition drive to the Richmond Federal Reserve Bank, visit their Facebook page at facebook.com/cville350
A proposed rezoning requested by Greystar Development for about 36 acres of land off of Old Ivy Road will be slightly smaller than the 525 units requested in the first application, but it will still be fairly substantial.
“Our current plan is to have about 490 units,” said Valerie Long, an attorney with Williams Mullen. “We’re still under 20 dwelling units per acre so well within the range that’s permitted.
The Places29-Hydraulic Community Advisory Committee got a first look at the Old Ivy Residences project, which is currently not scheduled for a public hearing before the Planning Commission. (watch the meeting)
The land is split between five parcels, with three of them already zoned for 15 units per acre.
“R-15 residential zoning allows for basically any type of residential development whether its single family detached, single-family attached, or multifamily apartments,” said county planner Cameron Langille.
One parcel allows for ten units per acre, and the other is currently zoned for one unit per acre.
The application is to make them all R-15. A previous rezoning approved by the Board of Supervisors in 1985 has a condition that states that the Old Ivy Road corridor needs to have been upgraded to a certain performance level before development can begin.
“The applicant is asking for us to evaluate that and make a recommendation as to whether corridor has been improved to that extent,” Langille said.
The board also approved a rezoning in 1996 for one of the parcels that restricts certain uses. Langille said the applicant wants the Board to drop that condition. There’s also a request to disturb slopes which involves changing their classification from preserved to managed.
The county’s Comprehensive Plan designated three of the parcels as urban density residential, which allows anywhere between 6 units and 36 units per acre. Land along the U.S. 250 Bypass is designated as parks space and currently is the home of a section of the Rivanna Trail. Greystar officials said that would continue.
Staff has conducted one review and the developer is working through the various questions from staff.
John Clarkson is a managing director with Greystar Development, a national developer with projects all across the United States of America.
“There are opportunities in University towns that lack housing opportunities, very important housing opportunities to provide that level of affordability to make those communities sustainable over the long term,” Clarkson said.
Dan Nickerson, a development senior associate with Greystar, is a graduate of the nearby Darden School.
“The number one thing we love about this site is the natural landscape and we’ve done the best job we could and we think we’ve done a really good job preserving the landscape while enabling the density that the Comp Plan allows,” Nickerson said.
Old Ivy Road is a two-lane road that has a one-way underpass near its eastern intersection with Ivy Road without a sidewalk or bike lane. The western intersection as well as a two-lane bridge over the bypass are also constraints. Long acknowledged that traffic congestion is an issue.
“Obviously those issues are existing, have been growing and increasing over the past few decades, but Greystar is committed to continue looking at those challenges and collaborating with [the Virginia Department of Transportation] and the county planning staff as appropriate to work toward identifying solutions,” Long said.
Long said Greystar would be willing to pay a “proportional amount” for some of those solutions.
VDOT’s Six-Year Improvement program includes funds for a $3 million replacement of the bridge over U.S. 250, but the description currently states it will be built with no additional capacity. Preliminary engineering is underway now with construction scheduled for Fiscal Year 2024.
Long said county officials have been able to at least carve out some improvements for the project.
“They were able to include in that project design that there will be a pedestrian lane on the new bridge,” Long said.
Members of the CAC and the public had the opportunity to ask questions and make comments. Sally Thomas served four terms on the Board of Supervisors and lives next door in the University Village apartment building.
“We don’t oppose having neighbors and we are delighted that they are neighbors that care about the environment,” Thomas said. “We also do have a lovely old stand of trees, some over 100 years old, and we want to try to preserve and protect those.”
Thomas said University Village wants to make sure there are pathways that safe and attractive and avoid the trees.
Kathleen Jump of Huntington Village complex said she likes to walk, but said this section of Albemarle is landlocked with many obstacles for pedestrians.
“The eastern bridge is a concern and the pedestrians at that end of Old Ivy Road put their lives in their hands when they cross under that bridge,” Jump said.
Kevin McDermott is a chief of planning in Albemarle who specializes in transportation.
“We have been evaluating both ends of Old Ivy Road as Valerie mentioned also, very recently, to try to see if there are options for improving them,” McDermott said. “Nothing has jumped out as an easy solution right now. Trying to expand that underpass is going to be extremely expensive.”
McDermott said VDOT is working with a consultant to look at both ends of the road to come up with solutions, possibly to inform a Smart Scale application for next year.
Taylor Ahlgren just moved into Huntington Village. He wants the development to do as much as it can to discourage vehicular travel. Here’s what he would like to see.
“Supporting future residents to stay away from using a car and using alternative means of transportation,” Ahlgren said.
The project currently does not have a public meeting scheduled with the Planning Commission. Stay tuned.
Also nearby is the Ivy Garden complex, which the University of Virginia will be redeveloped as a mixed-use community. The UVA Buildings and Grounds Committee got a briefing on that project in June.
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