And now we find ourselves at the end of the first nine months of 2022, with 93 days remaining until the conclusion. Somehow this particular 24-hour-period is International Podcast Day which I can assure you does not come with prizes. However, if you’ve never heard the sonic version of this newsletter, consider listening to the voices of the people whose quotes make up in the next 2,500 words. I’m your host, Sean Tubbs.
On today’s show:
Over 50,000 people have voted so far in this year’s General Election
The fourth round of a Charlottesville business grant program is complete
Piedmont Virginia Community College’s president says hello to the Albemarle Board of Supervisors
Albemarle staff are seeking input on the county’s next strategic plan
Participants in a site plan review for a development in Fry’s Spring express frustration over seeming lack of progress toward getting a sidewalk on Stribling Avenue
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First shout-out goes to Camp Albemarle
Today’s second subscriber-supported public service announcement goes out to Camp Albemarle, which has for sixty years been a “wholesome rural, rustic and restful site for youth activities, church groups, civic events and occasional private programs.”
Located on 14 acres on the banks of the Moorman’s River near Free Union, Camp Albemarle continues as a legacy of being a Civilian Conservation Corps project that sought to promote the importance of rural activities. Camp Albemarle seeks support for a plan to winterize the Hamner Lodge, a structure built in 1941 by the CCC and used by every 4th and 5th grade student in Charlottesville and Albemarle for the study of ecology for over 20 years. If this campaign is successful, Camp Albemarle could operate year-round. Consider your support by visiting campalbemarleva.org/donate.
First week of early voting complete
We are now in election season and in the first seven days of early voting, 57,181 people have cast their ballots by mail or in-person absentee. That’s according to data from the Department of Elections processed by the Virginia Public Access Project.
That’s 800 people in Albemarle, 413 in Charlottesville, 552 in Fluvanna, 271 in Greene, 722 in Louisa, and 244 in Nelson.
You can register to vote up until October 17.
Charlottesville funds 85 of 86 BRACE applications worth $93K
Since the beginning of the pandemic, the city’s Office of Economic Development has been distributing funding to businesses through a series of grant programs. The fourth round of the Building Resilience Among Charlottesville Entrepreneurs (BRACE) grant is complete and $93,000 has been handed out.
“The program received 86 applications totaling over $550,000 in business expenses incurred during the application period,” reads a press release. “After a thorough review, OED awarded 85 grants to small businesses and organizations that met the guidelines.”
The amounts ranged from $500 to the full $2,000. This time around, nearly forty percent of the recipients were first-time recipients.
PVCC President Runyon addresses Board of Supervisors
There’s a new person in charge of Piedmont Virginia Community College. Dr. Jean Runyon became the sixth president on July 1 and she addressed the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors earlier this month.
“Before coming to Piedmont Virginia Community College I had the privilege to serve at three comprehensive community colleges, two in Maryland, one in Colorado, and coming back to Virginia is like coming home,” Dr. Runyon said.
Runyon’s father served in the U.S. Navy and was based in the Hampton Roads area for much of that time. She takes this new position at a time when PVCC is celebrating its 50th anniversary.
“And then I think about our students, since we opened doors in 1972, about 250,000 students have come through our doors, 17,000 students have earned certificates and degrees, and others have enjoyed opportunities through workforce and our academic programs,” Runyon said.
PVCC will be launching a strategic planning process in October.
As Dr. Runyon’s appearance was wrapping up, Supervisor Chair Donna Price had this observation.
“PVCC has been recognized as the number one community college in the Commonwealth for veterans,” said Supervisor Price. “Not NOVA, Not up in Northern Virginia, not Tidewater. I’m retired Navy and spent my last six or seven years in Tidewater, but here in Central Virginia.”
President Runyon will appear before City Council at their meeting on Monday beginning at 4 p.m.
Albemarle County seeking feedback on next Strategic Plan
One big topic here on Charlottesville Community Engagement is planning. There are Comprehensive Plans, Long Range Transportation Plans, Regional Transit Vision Plans, Climate Action Plans, and so much more. There are also strategic plans, and Albemarle County is in the midst of creating one to guide the next five years.
“We have many plans in our community that drive work and progress and we really want to connect those things better and be able to align that work, so this big picture thinking allows our services to remain adaptable as our community environment changes,” said Kristi Shifflett, the director of performance and strategic planning for Albemarle County
Albemarle Supervisors reviewed a draft strategic plan at their meeting on September 21. Now that plan and its six goals are available for community members to provide feedback. The elected officials will get another look in October before the work feeds into the budget process.
“And then that goes into our five-year, long-range planning in November that really guides our financial planning,” Shifflett said.
Some of the specifics called out in the plan show the direction the county is heading in.
The new goal #3 is “infrastructure and placemaking” and calls for the creation of a public works department to help take care of public right of way.
The new goal #4 calls for an update of the county’s economic development plan and to enhance access to parkland in the urban areas
The new goal #5 calls for greater support for Albemarle County schools as well as workforce development efforts
The newest Supervisor, Jim Andrews of the Samuel Miller District, said he wanted language that encouraged civic engagement.
“I guess I’ll come from the perspective of someone who has chosen to run for this office as a service to the community and recognizing our community engagement and the importance of civic engagement,” Andrews said. “And what we can do as a community I think is an invaluable service to our future and so I wanted to see if there was a way to capture in the strategic plan that we’re doing community and civic engagement [as] community building and recognizing our role as a community builder.”
As a community member, you get to have your say, too. Take a look at the draft and weigh in on the survey on the county’s website. The form closes on October 11. (view the strategic plan development website)
(image) An image of the six goals in the draft FY24-FY28 strategic plan and how they related to each other. View the strategic plan development website. (Credit: Albemarle County)
In today’s other two shout-outs: Code for Charlottesville, and explore local media!
Code for Charlottesville is seeking volunteers with tech, data, design, and research skills to work on community service projects. Founded in September 2019, Code for Charlottesville has worked on projects with the Legal Aid Justice Center, the Charlottesville Fire Department, and the Charlottesville Office of Human Rights. Visit codeforcville.org to learn about those projects.
The final comes from another Patreon supporter who wants you to go out and read a local news story written by a local journalist. Whether it be the Daily Progress, Charlottesville Tomorrow, C-Ville Weekly, NBC29, CBS19, WINA, or some other place I’ve not mentioned - the community depends on a network of people writing about the community. Go learn about this place today and get as many perspectives as you can.
NDS: Extent of design work Stribling Avenue sidewalk improvements not known
Five months have passed since the Charlottesville City Council approved a rezoning in the Fry’s Spring neighborhood for nearly 170 units on land currently undeveloped. Members of the community expressed frustration at a recent site plan meeting when they learned planning work may not yet have begun on infrastructure improvements tied to Council’s decision to allow higher density.
“I’m flabbergasted that we have moved to this point without anything being done,” said Chris, one of several people on a site plan review call held on September 14.
Staff in Charlottesville’s Department of Neighborhood Development Services continue to review the preliminary site plan for 240 Stribling, a 169-unit development made possible earlier this year when City Council approved a rezoning for about 12 acres of land in the Fry’s Spring neighborhood. Half of the units will be townhomes and the other half will be in multifamily apartments.
“The density, the number of buildings, the location of the buildings, basically the layout that went through the [Planned Unit Development] plan is the layout that was approved by City Council,” said Matt Alfele, a city planner. “So at this stage, the site plan stage, what staff is looking for is to make sure they meet the requirements laid out in the PUD development plan, and they meet the requirements laid out in the code in relation to engineering, stormwater.”
Alfele said site plans must be approved if they meet technical requirements and are not up for discretionary review.
One of the conditions in the rezoning was that Southern Development would pay up to $2.9 million for improvements to Stribling in order for the roadway to become less rural and more urban. Currently there is no sidewalk.
Southern Development hasn’t yet been issued a permit to disturb the land. The preliminary site plan has to be approved and the company has to provide the funding for the improvements to Stribling. That work doesn’t have to be complete or even underway for dirt to move.
Alfele said the city’s Public Works Department is coordinating those improvements, but Alfele didn’t have any information at the September 14 meeting.
“There’s not been any movement yet on that as far as there’s not been any design or retention of any design teams,” Alfele said.
Charlie Armstrong, vice president of Southern Development, said the roadway is important to the overall project.
The project will also connect to Morgan Court, a cul-de-sac in the adjacent Huntley Planned Unit Development. Homes there are still being built out and the entire roadway is not yet in the city’s system.
“That’s not a part of this project and really can’t be because we don’t have any ownership or authority over the Huntley streets but we’re happy to help in making something happen there if we can either after those become city streets or with an agreement with the Huntley developer,” Armstrong said.
Many speakers on the call were concerned that there was no movement to get Stribling improved. Armstrong said it is a priority.
“That sidewalk project was discussed over several years as we went through some of the discretionary approvals for this project,” Armstrong said. “The difference is that this is a private developer project. The city is not undertaking this development and Stribling Avenue is a city street. We don’t own it so anything that needs to be done along there has to be either conducted or closely coordinated with the city.”
Armstrong said the sidewalk project will likely require the city to purchase additional right of way for drainage.
“The way we’re participating is by funding it,” Armstrong said.
No one from Public Works was on the call to answer questions. That frustrated one woman named Diane.
“Why is the city of Charlottesville dragging their feet to get this Stribling Avenue improvement done because once your project is done and Stribling Avenue isn’t done, it is a huge safety priority,” the woman said. “Huge.”
Diane said she understood that Neighborhood Development Services will not build the improvements.
“We’re not talking to a different department,” Diane said. “We’re talking to you guys. And if it’s a different department, why is that department not on this call to answer these questions?”
“This is a private development not related to the Stribling improvements,” Alfele said.
“But it is!” Diane exclaimed.
Armstrong said the development’s construction should not be held up if the city is unable to build the sidewalk first.
“We can’t fix all of the city’s issues and to stop new housing in the city exacerbates other problems that the city really has to consider,” Armstrong said.
A lawsuit was filed against City Council for the rezoning back in May and has been served with the papers.
but has not been served to the city. More on the city’s response in a future edition of the program.
A request for more information from the city was not responded to by publication time. This story will hopefully be updated by the time it makes it to Information Charlottesville.
Stribling improvements key to Fry’s Spring rezoning, September 29, 2021
Council balks at $850K cost for Stribling sidewalks, October 19, 2021
Housekeeping notes for #438
The end of the month, the end of the week, and the end of this installment of the newsletter. This also marks the third time there’s been an episode on September 30. Go back and read installment #58 or listen back to #254. Or just listen to this one again, in reverse!
The next installment of this newsletter will likely be out on Monday, depending on how far I get to today so there’s still a chance it may come out tomorrow. I want to spend some time on the Planning Commission and City Council meeting from earlier this week. There’s so much to get to, and your paid subscription through Substack helps keep it all going.
And if you do subscribe, Ting will match your initial payment of $5 a month, $50 a year, or $200 a year. The first two give you first-look at premium content, and the third gives you two shout-outs a month, though that system will be revamped in the coming months.
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Music in the podcast version comes from a musical entity known as Wraki, a musical entity you can sample more of if you purchase the album Regret Everything on Bandcamp. Pay what you want! Thank you, Wraki!
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