Week Ahead for December 20, 2021: Charlottesville City Council’s final agenda of the year is full; ARB to review three-story storage building at key Crozet intersection
The final regular installment of this look ahead for this year... what did you think?
It seems this is the last week of 2021 that will have government meetings, but I’ll keep an eye on next week anyway. In my years of covering meetings, there’s only one time when a meeting with actual business was held in between Christmas and New Year’s Day. It pays to always be vigilant.
Between now and Christmas Eve Eve, there are a handful of meetings and some of the business is substantial and most of that happens on Monday.
The final meeting of City Councilor Heather Hill and Mayor Nikuyah Walker will see the hiring of a firm to provide management services, allocation of a $5.5 million surplus toward city employee bonuses and raises, and much more.
Albemarle’s Architectural Review Board will review a proposal to build a three-story self-storage building at the intersection of U.S. Route 250 and Route 240 in Crozet.
Louisa County will agree to terminate the contractual obligations of a volunteer fire department and assume its property.
It’s never a dull week! Thanks as always to the Piedmont Environmental Council for their support of this work which seeks to explain as much of it as I can and to provide context that may help make it more sense. Stick around to the end of this one. I’d love to get your thoughts on a few things.
Monday, December 20, 2021
ARB to review three-story Crozet Self Storage facility
The Albemarle Architectural Review Board meets for the final time of 2021 with two items. They begin the virtual meeting at 1 p.m. (meeting info)
In the first, they’ll review an updated proposal from Yousef LC / Merchants Retail Partners LLC to construct a three-story, 90,000 square foot self-storage building at the intersection of U.S. 250 and Route 240. The property is zoned for Highway Commercial but is within the Entrance Corridor overlay. The ARB last saw the plans in September. Staff wants further changes.
“Revise the architectural design with a combination of reduced footprint, reduced height, substantial breaks in the building form, and substantial changes in depth for recesses and projections along the walls to reduce the mass and scale of the building,” reads a portion of the staff report. “Revise the architectural design to eliminate blankness on all sides of the building.”
In the second item, the ARB will review renovations to a former Goodwill building on U.S. 29 that is being repurposed as an auto-body shop. (staff report)
Louisa Supervisors meet for final time in 2021
The seven-member Louisa Board of Supervisors meets at 6 p.m. in open session in the county Public Meeting Room. There are no public hearings, but a lot of information will be presented. (agenda packet)
One discussion will be on whether to move forward with a plan to place bounties on coyotes in order to reduce their number. Administrator Christian Goodwin wrote to state officials for input on whether this is an effective strategy. Enabling legislation for such programs passed the General Assembly in 1999 but only ten counties have implemented them.
“While bounties are popular with local landowners, hunters, trappers, and some livestock producers, these bounty programs never achieve their desired objectives,” wrote Cale Godfrey of the Department of Wildlife Resources. “There is not a single documented instance of a bounty program temporarily or permanently reducing coyote populations or livestock depredation problems.”
Godfrey said to be effective, more than sixty percent of the population needs to be killed. He said the department favors targeted approaches rather than a blanket incentive program.
There will also be an update from Jaunt, a report from the Louisa County Water Authority, a grant request from the Lake Anna Civic Association, a quarterly report from the Virginia Department of Transportation, and a presentation of Louisa’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report. Supervisors will also take action on acquiring property on Poindexter Road and Industrial Drive. In the case of Poindexter Road, the Zion Crossroads Volunteer Fire Department has ceased operations and the county will assume ownership of its property.
There’s also a very thorough report from Goodwin on operations of government in the past month. Some interesting facts:
Louisa Solid Waste Management has received 13,729.59 tons of waste this year and 9,749 tons ended up in the county landfill. Other materials such as usable masonry, usable soil, and vegetative yard waste are stored on site. Over 20 tons of tires were sent off-site, as were 227 tons of white goods.
The Louisa Animal Shelter has received 539 cats and 544 dogs. Over 60 percent cats and 23 percent of dogs remain in the shelter. Just over 10 percent of cats were adopted with 3.5 percent of dogs. Fourteen cats and fourteen dogs were euthanized. Seventy-six cats were returned to their owner, while 225 dogs were so reunited.
Louisa received $33,863 in revenue from the Parks, Recreation, and Tourism department
Public hearing on public housing’s annual plan
In November, the Board of Commissioners of the Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority held a work session on a report the CRHA must submit to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The CRHA Board will not meet but there will be a public hearing on the annual plan in the evening anyway. I reported on its development in November.
There does not appear to be information about this public hearing on the CRHA website and no link to how members of the public could participate in the public hearing. There is a draft of the FY22-FY23 plan for review.
I’ll post a link to the hearing when I find it. In the meantime, read the story. The city is in the process of investing millions in the redevelopment of public housing sites, two of which broke ground this year.
Charlottesville City Council has a very full meeting
The five-member Charlottesville City Council will begin its final meeting of 2021 in closed session at which they will discuss appointments to boards and commissions. They’ll also discuss personnel and presumably bids for a firm to provide managerial services in the absence of a dedicated interim city manager following the resignation of Chip Boyles in October.
The evening session begins at 6:30 p.m. There is an agenda for the meeting, but there are no links to any of the individual items. This is unusual, especially given the number of items of weight on the agenda. (evening session Zoom registration)
L.A. group slated to get Jackson statue
The final item on the consent agenda is one reading for “approving the final disposition of the Thomas J. ‘Stonewall’ Jackson Statue.” A California organization called LAXART will pay $50,000 for the statue.
“LAXART will install the Jackson Statue at [the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art], as part of an exhibit that will include other similar statuary, all of which will be exhibited alongside works of contemporary art presented in a manner that will contextualize these monuments socially, historically, and art-historically, in order to critique and confront the false narrative and ideology of the Lost Cause,” reads the staff report.
Second reading of $17,488 from insurance reimbursements for damaged equipment owned by the Public Works Traffic Division. (staff report)
Second reading of appropriating $245,725 in a Virginia Department of Transportation grant for pedestrian improvements at Preston Avenue and Harris Street. (staff report)
Second reading of $307,000 from the Virginia Community Flood Preparation program to develop a stormwater management model for the city’s portion of the Moores Creek watershed. The money comes from Virginia’s participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. (staff report)
First of two readings of a $608,263 grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development from the COVID Homelessness Emergency Response Program (CHERP). The funding passes through to the Thomas Jefferson Coalition for the Homeless (TJACH). (staff report)
$5.5 million surplus
After matters from the public, business gets underway. The first item is a public hearing and first reading of a budget amendment for the current fiscal year to appropriate a $5.5 million surplus from the last one. Council had a work session on this item on December 6 that I wrote about if you’d like background in addition to the staff report. (staff report)
Staff is recommending using the entire surplus for employee bonuses as well as a six percent salary increase. The latter is a “market adjustment which recognizes the need for the City to retain and recruit qualified employees.” There’s also another transfer of $6.7 million in funds that had been set aside as a reserve for COVID. The proposal is to transfer those funds back into the capital improvement program. That funding is not currently anticipated in the draft CIP. I have another story from the December 14 public hearing held by the Charlottesville Planning Commission.
A second reading is required at a different meeting unless Council votes to suspend their rules.
PCRB to PCOB?
Next is the second reading of an ordinance to expand the functions of the Police Civilian Review Board as a new Police Civilian Oversight Board. Councilor Lloyd Snook will present the changes which reflect additional powers granted to such bodies by the General Assembly in 2020. One sticking point is a provision that requires members to ride along with a police officer at least once a year. (staff report)
That’s followed by the second reading of a rezoning from R-2 to R-3 on Nassau Street that would allow for ten units in two buildings. (staff report)
Final place for Their First View of the Pacific?
Next up, Council will consider the final disposition of the Lewis, Clark, and Sacagewea statue that stood for nearly 100 years on West Main Street. The city will donate the statue to the Lewis and Clark Exploratory Center, where the sculpture created by Charles Keck has been stored since July of this year. One resolution would require certain conditions, such as some say by the Lemhi Shoshone tribe as to how the statue will be contextualized.
“As of the time this agenda memo is written, staff does not have a clear sense of whether there is a consensus among councilors on this/these issues,” reads the staff report.
The granite base remains and someone will also have to cover the costs of removing it.
Corporate city manager era to begin?
Then Council will hire a firm to provide the service of running the government. A Council with two members in their final meeting will make a decision that will set the tone for the first six months of the next Council.
“Although the more common method of engaging a City Manager is to hire an individual as an employee, with a payroll-processed salary and benefits, on occasion local governing bodies in Virginia have elected to engage a chief executive/ administrative officer by hiring a firm/ business entity to provide those services as an independent contractor,” reads the staff report. “The City of Petersburg used that method some years ago, and in the Summer of 2021 Matthews County, Virginia engaged a firm to provide interim county administrator services.”
The staff report doesn’t specify, but the Petersburg example could refer to when the Robert Bobb Group was hired in the fall of 2016 to run the financial affairs of the city at a time of near collapse. The Richmond Times Dispatch reported in October 2017 that the firm received $830,000 for its work.
Another group that provides such services is the Berkley Group through its Executive Transition Assistance program. Their website states they’ve been hired for this program in communities ranging from the town of Abingdon to the town of Windsor. The Albemarle County Service Authority has utilized their services as has Greene County.
Affordable housing funds report
That’s still not the end of the meeting. Council will then get the results of a review of the Charlottesville Affordable Housing Fund. The firm HR&A was hired in June to continue work that resulted in the Affordable Housing plan adopted by Council in March.
Their audit found that the city has spent $46.7 million on affordable housing initiative since 2010, with the money coming from the general fund, the Charlottesville Affordable Housing Fund, the capital budget, and federal housing funds. Forty-seven percent of this amount has gone toward development, 40 percent went to programs including home rehabilitation and homelessness services, and eleven percent went to subsidize the operations of nonprofits. Two percent were used in internal city administration.
“The spending yielded a total of 2,300 households served and 1,600 units created or preserved,” reads the staff report, which also suggests next steps. The staff report does not contain a link to the report and does not break down who got funding.
I look forward to the report so I can add to a list I’ve been curating on cvillepedia for many years. If you want to know how the CAHF was used from 2007 to 2018, go take a look.
The final item of business on the agenda for this version of City Council is a review of the Community Development Block Grant task force. This item was postponed from the December 6 meeting. (staff report)
Tuesday, December 21, 2021
The Charlottesville Board of Architectural Review meets virtually beginning at 5:30 p.m. Items on the agenda include a garden at the Haven on West Market Street, alterations to a fraternity house, and construction of an apartment complex in the 600 block of West Main Street. The latter project is being developed by Jeffrey Levein, who also developed Six Hundred West Main Street next door.
In other meetings:
The Greene County Emergency Services Advisory Board meets in person at 6 p.m. (agenda)
Wednesday, December 22, 2021
Just a few meetings today.
The Albemarle Broadband Authority meets virtually at 5 p.m. They’ll get an update on projects funded through the Virginia Telecommunications Initiative in 2021. There will also be a discussion of phone and internet outage reporting, and the Broadband Accessibility and Affordability Report. (meeting info)
There’s a community meeting at 5 p.m. for a special use permit at the Cash’s Corner Substation owned by the Central Virginia Electric Cooperative. The request is to expand the fence to accommodate an upgrade in voltage. (meeting info) (narrative)
Greene County’s Board of Zoning Appeals is scheduled to meet in person beginning at 7:30 p.m. but there’s no agenda on the county website.
Thursday, December 23, 2021
There are not any meetings today and may not be any more until 2022 begins. There will be a Week Ahead on Sunday but it will be more of a look ahead and a year in review.
I’d also like to include some of your questions, comments, and observations in that report. If you have a moment, would you mind providing some thoughts or responses to these questions?
What issues do you find to be the most compelling?
What stories or trends have stood out for you in 2021?
What do you hope will happen in 2021?
Have a fantastic holiday no matter how you choose to spend it. I’m grateful to be able to provide this information to you each and every week. I’ll be back next with something a little different. Fingers crossed for no meetings?