Nov 4, 2021 • 15M

November 4, 2021: Study underway for alternative to Rassawek site for Zion Crossroads water intake; Council to make leadership announcement on Friday

Plus, 98.4 percent of UVA Health staff are vaccinated as well as info on the Central Virginia Small Business Development Center

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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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Let’s begin today with a Patreon-fueled shout-out

The Plant Northern Piedmont Natives Campaign, an initiative that wants you to grow native plants in yards, farms, public spaces and gardens in the northern Piedmont. The leaves have started to fall as autumn set in, and as they do, this is a good time to begin planning for the spring. Native plants provide habitat, food sources for wildlife, ecosystem resiliency in the face of climate change, and clean water.  Start at the Plant Northern Piedmont Natives Facebook page and tell them Lonnie Murray sent you!

On today’s show:

  • More details about the next phase of public housing redevelopment in Charlottesville

  • Council to make a leadership announcement Friday at 3 p.m.

  • UVA Health System reports vaccination numbers

  • Louisa Supervisor Fitzgerald Barnes holds a one-vote lead over his challenger

  • An overview of the Central Virginia Small Business Development Center

  • And Louisa Supervisors an update on a plan to bring water from the James River to Zion Crossroads


We begin the day with an announcement of something that’s happening tomorrow. City Council will meet at 3 p.m. for an open meeting with the one word description of “Personnel.” City Communications Director Brian Wheeler explained in an email to me this morning that it will be a leadership announcement. There is no interim city manager in place. What will happen? Leave your guess in the comments. (meeting info)

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There’s a very close race in one of Louisa County’s magisterial districts. In the Patrick Henry District, incumbent Fitzgerald Barnes has a one-vote lead over challenger William Woody Jr. Qualified absentee ballots can be counted up until tomorrow at noon.

Thanks to Tammy Purcell of Engage Louisa for the heads-up.

Review all of the results from Louisa County on the Virginia Department of Elections’ website.

 


Employees at the University of Virginia Health System had a deadline of November 1 to get a COVID vaccine. Wendy Horton is the CEO of the UVA Health System. 

“At this point today, we are at 98.4 percent fully vaccinated or exempt as a health system and this includes UVA Community Health as well,” Horton said.

However, that leaves 173 employees who will either resign or be terminated for non-compliance. Horton said that includes 83 people who directly work with patients and that number includes 43 registered nurses. People who refuse the vaccine will be suspended without pay for a certain period of time for reflection. Those with approved medical exemptions must have a COVID test each week. 

Today the Virginia Department of Health reported 1,494 new cases and the seven-day percent positive rate dropped to 5.4 percent. Another 69 deaths have been reported since Tuesday. The Blue Ridge Health District reported 58 new cases today. The percent positivity in the district is 5.1 percent. 


Yesterday, the City of Charlottesville held a public meeting for the next phase of redevelopment at the Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority. Carrie Rainey is an urban planner in the city’s Department of Neighborhood Development Services.

“What we’re looking at right now is a final site for what is currently a by-right project to build a new apartment building with structured parking at 715 Sixth Street SE,” Rainey said.

Riverbend Development is working with the CRHA on this project, continuing a partnership that has also been involved with Crescent Halls and the two phases at South First Street. CRHA has a new redevelopment coordinator in Brandon Collins, formerly with the Public Housing Association of Residents. 

“Our resident planners at 6th Street have been working diligently on this plan and I think it really reflects CRHA’s approach to resident-led planning and we’re confident this is the best use of this site,” Collins said. 

The project is at the corner of Monticello Avenue and 6th Street SE. Six of the existing townhouse units will be removed in this first phase at this property. 

“The reason we’re taking this approach is because we want to ensure that we have a promise and a priority to the residents of public housing that no one will be displaced throughout the redevelopment process,” said Ashley Davies, vice president at Riverbend Development. 

In all of these redevelopment projects, the land will continue to be owned by CRHA, but the actual structure will be owned by a nonprofit holding company connected to CRHA. The height of the building has not been finalized.

“It’s going to be a three or four story building,”  Davies said, “We’re still working with the resident planners to determine the exact height of the building and number of units, but for now the site plan shows this as a three-story building and 39 units.”

The current zoning is Downtown Extended which would allow for that height. There would be at least 40 parking spaces in a structure beneath the building. The goal is to get the site plan approved in order to help qualify an application for Low Income Housing Tax Credits from the entity formerly known as the Virginia Housing Development Authority. 

Davies said a master plan is in development for the entire four-acre site, but there is no timeline for how that will proceed. 

“Those conversations are really just beginning to understand what the overall needs are for that area,” Davies said 

Comments brought up during the site plan conference included landscaping, parking requirements, and pedestrian safety.  The community garden maintained and operated by the Urban Agriculture Collective will be removed to make way for the new units. 

NDS staff will make comments on the site plan and submit those back to the development team later this month. 

A location map from the CRHA Master Plan for Redevelopment that was adopted by the CRHA in the summer of 2010 (review)

You’re listening to Charlottesville Community Engagement. Time for the second of two Patreon-fueled shout-outs: 

Do you suffer from Classical Music Insecurity Complex? That is, you like classical music you hear, but you feel intimidated by all the stuffy etiquette and specialized knowledge? Suffer no more!

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 beginning Tuesday, Nov 9th, 7 p.m.: Early & Baroque. For a list of the others, visit wtju.net to learn more and sign up


The seven-member Louisa County Board of Supervisors got an update on Monday on the water supply plan for Zion Crossroads, but they also got a pitch from the Central Virginia Small Business Development Center (CVSBDC). The entity is partially funded by the Small Business Administration.

“We’re funded by the [Small Business Administration] and the localities that we serve to provide business advising services to individual localities,’ said Greg Dorazio, the assistant director of the CVSBDC. 

The CVSBDC covers ten counties stretching from Nelson County to Culpeper County from its headquarters in Charlottesville. The idea is to level the playing field for small businesses through counseling. 

“We have access to research and resources including capital, access to technical experts,” Dorazio said. 

Last year, the Charlottesville Investment Collaborative became the small business center’s fiscal partner.

“Their microloan program is one of the best ways for small businesses to get capital and a lot of folks don’t really know about it,” Dorazio said. 

Last year during the pandemic, the small business center provided more than double the number of hours of working with clients from around 2,200 hours to over 5,000. That’s in part because of the transition to virtual meetings. 

“When we’re talking about the client service time, that’s one-on-one with a business owner,” Dorazio said. “We’re really helping them figure out what is the problem they’re facing right now? What are the decisions they need to make? And what do we need to do to help them get the resources they need to make good decisions about their business and continue to grow and move forward?”

Dorazio was before the Louisa Board of Supervisors to ask for referrals for businesses as well as $21,249 in funding for the next fiscal year. That decision will come during the budget cycle.

A slide from Dorazio’s presentation to the Louisa Board of Supervisors (download the rest)

The Louisa Board of Supervisors also got an update on progress to build a waterline from the James River to Zion Crossroads. Louisa and Fluvanna are both members of the James River Water Authority, an entity that exists for the purpose.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will have to grant a permit for the project and the James River Water Authority was about to submit one that included an intake at the site of Rassawek, an important site in the history of the Monacan Indian Nation. Justin Curtis is with Aqualaw, a firm hired to prepare and submit the permit.

“At our request, that application has been put on hold while we evaluate an alternative a site a couple of miles up the river,” Curtis said. “We’re doing that in coordination with the Virginia Department of Historic Resources (VDHR) as well as the Monacan Indian Nation.”

Curtis said the decision point for the James River Water Authority will be whether to pursue the alternative, or proceed with the Rassawek site. That could come in December or January. 

The Rassawek site was selected in 2013 and two of three required permits had been granted. All of the planning work had been conducted.

“That site had been selected because it was the shortest, it was the least expensive, and it followed a bunch of existing corridors and lines which is utility siting 101,” Curtis said. “Fewest number of landowners affected and it had the right water quality and quantity to meet our needs.”

Curtis said the Monacans had been consulted, but their stance changed as the granting of the permit drew closer. The federal government recognized the tribe in January 2018. (Learn more about Rasswak from Cultural Heritage Partners)

“To get the final permit we needed from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, we have to go through this process where have to mitigate any impacts to historical or cultural resources and that involves consultations with the tribes and certain other agencies and that added a lot of time and expense to the regulatory process,” Curtis said. 

Curtis said Alternative 1C, also known as the Forsyth site, is the preferred site for the Monacans. 

“And we ended up reaching an agreement which was memorialized in writing in January of this year and what we came to an agreement on was that if JRWA went and did a new archaeological study of that alternative site and that study did not find any evidence of buried human remains or historic burial sites, then the Monacans would not oppose the project and they would support the project and help us work through the remainder of the permitting process,” Curtis said. 

The first phase was completed in August and while historic materials were found, none of them were human remains. The second phase started on Monday and will be concluded the week of December 6. The results will be discussed at the next  meeting of the James River Water Authority on December 8. 


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