September 28, 2021: Wawa to replace Hardee's on 5th Street Extended; Kamptner to retire as Albemarle's attorney

As the fourth quarter of 2021 approaches, another brief sliver of what's happened so far...

  
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In today’s Patreon-fueled shout-out:

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On today’s show:

  • Catching up with Charlottesville City Council with info on the police chief search, a lease for a garden in McIntire Park, and more

  • A major convenience store franchise is pursuing a fourth store in Charlottesville’s urban area

  • An update on the pandemic from Governor Ralph Northam


Since the last newsletter on September 23, 2021, COVID’s late summer surge in Virginia is showing signs of slowing down. The seven day average of new cases has decreased down to 3,003 and the seven-day percent positivity is down to 9.1 percent. That figure was 9.7 five days ago. 

In the Blue Ridge Health District, there have been 392 cases reported today since the last newsletter and and another four fatalities. The seven-day percent positivity is 7.2. 

Governor Ralph Northam held his first pandemic press briefing in some time yesterday and said this trend is encouraging.

“In the past few days, case numbers have started to move down and hospitalization numbers are leveling off and that is a hopeful sign,” Northam said. “But the numbers are still way too high.”

Northam reminded Virginians that at one point at the beginning of the summer, there was a day with less than a hundred new cases. 

As of today, 60.1 percent of Virginians are fully vaccinated and 71.5 percent of the adult population is now fully vaccinated. 

“The data show that nearly everyone who is getting COVID is unvaccinated,” Northam said. “I want to repeat that. Nearly everyone who is getting COVID is unvaccinated.”

You can check the data here.

The Delta variant began widespread transmission in early June and Northam said the current surge could have been avoided if people had gotten their shot or shots. He said the cost of hospital care for this summer’s surge is $5 billion and rising. Northam said at this point, there is little he can do to urge people who refuse to get the vaccine, but he brought up his personal experience contracting COVID.

“Believe me, you don’t want to get it,” Northam said. “My case was back in September, and a year later I still can’t smell anything or taste anything and now the COVID variant that’s going around is a lot worse than the one in September.”

You can watch all of Northam’s briefing on YouTube. He has updated on booster shots and more. (watch)


Albemarle County will soon begin a search to find a new county attorney. Greg Kamptner has been in the position for nearly six and a half years and will retire next year, according to materials for Wednesday’s closed door meeting of the Board of Supervisors.

Kamptner began working for the county in 1995 and became deputy county attorney in 2007. If you’re interested in land use law in Albemarle and Virginia, Kamptner literally wrote the handbook. (Land Use Law Handbook)


A site plan has filed for a Wawa gas station within the city of Charlottesville on 5th Street Extended. If approved and constructed it would be either the third or fourth franchise within the urban area around Charlottesville. Plans have also been filed for a Wawa at the corner of Route 29 and Greenbrier , just over the line in Albemarle. 

The property in Charlottesville is currently a Hardee’s restaurant. A virtual site plan conference is scheduled for October 20. Materials for that meeting sent to neighborhood associations do not identify the 5,300 square foot gas station as a Wawa, but the agenda for the September 14, 2021 Planning Commission identifies Wawa as the subject of a future consideration by the Entrance Corridor Review Board. That will be the only legislative approval required for the project as the property is zoned for Highway Mixed Use Corridor. 


In today's subscriber-fueled public service announcement:

Lovers of used books rejoice! The Friends of the Jefferson Madison Regional Library will resume the tradition of their annual Fall Book Sale this October 2nd through October 10 at a new location! The Friends of the Library sale will take place at Albemarle Square Shopping Center from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. each day. Half-price days on October 9 and October 10. Questions? Visit jmrlfriends.org for more information.


To celebrate my high school reunion this weekend, I took a few days off last week. That means there will be a lot of segments this week about a lot of different meetings I missed. There’s a lot to get through so we’re all caught up. 

Let’s go back first to the City Council meeting from September 20, 2021. City Manager Chip Boyles brought up an op-ed column he wrote for the Daily Progress regarding his decision at the beginning of this month to fire former Police Chief RaShall Brackney.

“While standing firm on the decision I did make, the fact is I could have handled the decision quite differently,” Boyles said. “I could have and should have engaged Council and my leadership team in more deliberating and on my intended actions so that I not only had their input but also had a broader perspective of the community’s response.”

Boyles said he could not talk about all of the reasons for the firing at this time due to confidentiality but did say he did meet with representatives of the Police Benevolent Association about their survey. He said the August 20 press release that went out unsigned was approved by him, and that the briefly retired Major Jim Mooney will serve as assistant chief only until an interim police chief is hired. 

“Procedures are in place to create a committee for both the interim police chief search and to fill the permanent police chief position,” Boyles said.

That will consist of one City Councilor, representatives from the city manager’s office, the Police Civilian Review Board, the Human Rights Commission, and three other members of the public. 

Later, Council voted 4-1 on a resolution to approve the report for how the city spent its Community Development Block Grant and HOME funding for fiscal year 2020 which ran from July 1, 2020 to June 30 of this year. Mayor Nikuyah Walker voted against what’s known as the Consolidated Annual Performance and Evaluation Report (CAPER). (staff report)

“The CDBG and the entitlement portion of what’s in here, I think there are some things we could do differently,” Walker said. “And I have questions that I have expressed the entire time I’ve been here about the HOME funds are used and whether the citizens are receiving the best services possible.”

After that, Council held the first reading of entering into a ground lease with the Botanical Garden of the Piedmont, a nonprofit that has been working with the city to use a portion of land in the northeast corner of McIntire Park.

“Documentation previously approved at the Council level goes back to September of 2012 with a master plan of McIntire Park,” said City Manager Boyles. “There have been conceptual designs, resolutions for agreement, a [memorandum of understanding] with the McIntire Botanical Garden, and then most recently in 2017 a final site plan approval for McIntire Park.”

Under the terms of the MOU, the Botanical Garden of the Piedmont would cover the costs of any buildings or structures in the site. Under the terms of the lease, they would have to begin construction within five years of it being signed. 

“This would be a landlord/tenant lease and not a partnership with the botanical garden,” Boyles said. “The city is not asked to contribute any financial resources to this other than once complete, Parks and Recreation would be asked to maintain the parking lots and the sidewalks of the parking area.” 

The project will include a stream restoration and a pedestrian trail through the area. The proposed ground lease will be updated to provide more clarity on this item before the second reading and public hearing on Council’s October 4 meeting. There will be no cost to visit the park but there will be a fee to reserve function space. (9/20 edition of the ground lease)

Next, the Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority (CRHA) briefed Council on the way several public housing construction projects are being financed.

But, we’re going to hold off on that one for today until a future installment of Charlottesville Community Engagement.  This week I’m hoping to get one out each day so I can get caught up with what I’ve missed. I hope my writing continues to be of benefit to you.

Please send it on to someone else you think might be interested!