September 7, 2023: Greene County imposes restrictions on municipal water use; Charlottesville sale of West Main sliver is on hold
Plus: Albemarle County Supervisors authorize issuance of $178 million in bonds
Today is Day 250 of Year 2023, with another 115 to go until we all take a leap into the next year. The relevance of these numbers will depend on the reader or listener’s perception of time. Every edition of Charlottesville Community Engagement captures a point in time, though not always in a strictly linear fashion. I’m Sean Tubbs, a person seeking to produce as many of these snapshots as possible.
In this edition:
Greene County has placed restrictions on water use to drought conditions
A plan for Charlottesville to sell a small sliver of city-owned land on West Main is now on hold
Albemarle Supervisors authorize bonds to pave way for purchase of 462 acres of land in the northern part of the county near Rivanna Station
First shout-out: Two important health events
In today’s first subscriber-supported shout-out: There are two health-related events coming up in the community and perhaps you or someone you know should attend.
First, September is Sickle Cell Disease Awareness Month and there’s a blood drive taking place on September 29 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Mount Zion First African Baptist Church at 105 Lankford Avenue. Everyone is welcome but Black donors are especially asked to donate blood because one in three will match a patient with Sickle Cell disease. Four tickets to a UVA home football game will be raffled off at the drive.
The next day at the same location there will be a Men’s Day Health Event from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. There will be health screenings, tournaments, giveaways, and food catered by the Mount Zion First African Baptist Church Nutrition Ministry. Free transportation is available. Contact me for that contact information.
Greene County implements water restrictions
Low level of water in the Rapidan River has led Greene County to place its public utility customers on mandatory restrictions.
“Greene County operates as a run-of-the-river intake system and with low water flow of the Rapidan River, we feel it is prudent to take the step of instituting water-use restrictions for residents and businesses within the county,” said Alan Harrison, Director of Greene County Water and Sewer.
“While these restrictions apply only to customers of Greene County Water, it’s important for everyone to practice water conservation measures until the community as a whole has received ample rainfall,” Harrison continued.
A national map of drought conditions maintained by the National Drought Mitigation Center classifies most of Greene County as in moderate drought with the northern tip in severe drought along with several other counties heading up toward the Maryland border.
The northern half of Albemarle County and Charlottesville are in moderate drought.
“The news out of the Shenandoah Park is that streams and rivers are closed to fishing due to low stream flows and high water temperatures,” said Albemarle Supervisor Ann Mallek at Wednesday’s Board meeting.
The restrictions in Greene prohibit the watering of most outdoor vegetation except limited watering for newly seeded lawns, watering by commercial nurseries of freshly planted plants, and overnight usage of dedicated irrigation systems.
Washing of vehicles with public water is also prohibited except for in facilities with recycling systems that have been approved by the county. People are also asked to use less water with shorter showers and only using dishwashers and washing machines if they are full.
Fines for violations would be between $100 and $2,500 depending on the scope of the incident.
For a full list of restrictions, visit the Greene County website.
Supervisors Ann Mallek said many streams in the White Hall District have dried up. Though Albemarle County has not issued any restrictions, she urged everyone to conserve water.
“There are no rules for rural well use but if you’re using a lot on your own well you may be depleting your neighbors’ aquifer as well,” Mallek said.
Reservoirs maintained by the Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority are at 94.82 percent of their useable capacity as of Tuesday.
City’s sale of land on West Main Street on hold
Charlottesville will likely not collect nearly $120,000 in revenue for the sale of a small sliver of land on a busy thoroughfare.
In August, a majority of City Council indicated they would be willing to sell a small rectangular property that Charlottesville owns in the 600 block of West Main Street.
A public hearing was held and no one spoke and a resolution to sell the property for $119,108 the 0.0263 acre sliver moved on to second reading.
However, comments from some in the community prompted City Manager Sam Sanders to remove the item from the consent agenda for Tuesday’s Council meeting and he explained his reasons.
“One to give staff additional time to reconsider what particular actions were taken in order for them to reach the conclusion to recommend the potential sale in the first place,” Sanders said. “In addition to that, there [are] ongoing conversations with the property owner.”
That property owner is Main Street LLC, an entity that traces back to San Francisco-based developer Allan Cadegene who developed many properties along West Main Street with his late partner Gabe Silverman.
Former Charlottesville Mayor Kay Slaughter spoke at the community matters portion of the meeting to urge Council to vote no on any proposal to sell the land.
“I ask the city retain public ownership, improve and maintain the Starr Hill green space by planting additional trees to cool and beautify the area,” Slaughter said.
Slaughter said the city should not sell land without robust public input and outreach.
“Here the public interest is in demand for additional shade trees along a busy street in a historic already designated as a tree desert,” Slaughter said.
One nearby Starr Hill resident urged the city to program the space.
“Plant some trees there,” said Pat Edwards. “Put a bench there so that what when my dog walks me and I’m worn out, I can sit.”
Sanders said the city has been negotiating with Main Street West LLC about other solutions to satisfy what they had wanted to do, but did not give further details. He said the city will hang on to the land for now.
“The intention is that we will continue to look at it internally,” Sanders said. “If there is a reason to bring [the resolution] back we will bring it back but at this moment we will consider the matter not for sale until something changes.”
There is no longer any sort of a master plan for how infrastructure on West Main Street should be built. Last June, City Council canceled all four phases of a West Main Streetscape that had been in the works since 2013. (read the story)
Second shout-out: Charlottesville Jazz Society
In today’s second subscriber-supported shout-out: The Charlottesville Jazz Society continues a new monthly series showcasing this area’s great local jazz talent. On September 24 at Miller’s beginning at 6 p.m., the spotlight will be on John D’earth who will play tracks from his album Coin of the Realm. Read a review over at WTJU while you wait for the big day.
D’earth and his quintet will play from approximately 6 to 8 pm before opening things up to any musicians who want to sit in and jam. These Local Jazz Spotlight shows are free and open to the public and are sponsored in part by WTJU Radio. The CJS is grateful to Miller’s for their long-time support of jazz in Charlottesville, and for offering a home for this new series.
For more information on The Charlottesville Jazz Society, now in its 16th year of preserving jazz through live performances and education, visit cvillejazz.org.
Albemarle Supervisors move forward with $178 in bonds with a third to be devoted to land purchase
The Albemarle Board of Supervisors has followed through with a prior decision to purchase 462 acres of land near Rivanna Station. On Wednesday, Supervisors voted unanimously to authorize the issue of municipal bonds to finance the property acquisition as well as items in county’s capital improvement plan.
“The financing plan that we have before the Board today is a little unique,” said Jacob Sumner, the interim director of finance for Albemarle County. “Unique in that it is one financing package but within that package it contains two debt issuances, and two distinctly different debt issuances.”
The total amount to be issued is $178 million with $118 million going to finance projects in the capital improvement program such as expansions at Crozet and Mountain View elementary schools. Some of the funds will also cover the expansion of the county courts complex in downtown Charlottesville.
“I will note that of the $118 million dollars, $40.2 million have already been expended so that first $40 million of this issuance will be going to reimbursing the county for these capital improvements,” Sumner said.
The rest will go to pay for projects approved in the programs that are nearing construction. This is routine business as usual for Albemarle.
“The issuance is a bond anticipation notes not to exceed to $60 million for the acquisitions of the Rivanna Station Futures property,” Sumner said.
Rivanna Station Futures is the code name for the 462 acres near Rivanna Station that Albemarle is planning to purchase from an LLC associated with developer Wendell Wood.
The six Supervisors already approved that purchase back on May 24 but the deal has not yet closed. The term for these bond anticipation notes is five years rather than the twenty year term for the CIP bonds. Sumner said this shorter term gives the county the opportunity to seek other partners who might shoulder some of the cost of debt service on the purchase. At that point the debt would be converted to long-term.
“These are partners to be named as we continue to go through our work with the state, asking the state to help us with this perimeter,” said County Executive Jeffrey Richardson. “Maybe you would approach it almost like a master plan for what the Rivanna property could be over the next five, ten, fifteen years.”
Richardson said partners could also be private partners or academic institutions.
The bond issuance will also need to be approved by the Economic Development Authority at their meeting on September 19.
“Staff would then move into October in engaging with the rating agencies and we would work through our presentation on our projects and then obtain our credit rating from the agencies at that time,” Sumner said.
For more information, check out these resources:
After six-month delay, Virginia General Assembly passes budget bill, Sarah Vogelsong, Virginia Mercury, September 6, 2023
Virginia sales tax holiday on track to return Oct. 20-22, Nathaniel Cline, Virginia Mercury, September 6, 2023
New zoning ordinance draft divides Charlottesville community, Finn Trainer, Cavalier Daily, September 6, 2023
To the attic with you, #574!
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