Week Ahead for September 6, 2021: Louisa BOS to talk utility-scale solar policy; Charlottesville Council to talk statue's fate

Another look at what's coming up in

Technically we will not have the first full week of September until the next one with much of the country on holiday for Labor Day. There are no government meetings, and this week is not a very busy one. So, this is a shorter entry than most. 

One of the threads this week will be the ongoing fall-out from City Manager Chip Boyles’ firing of Police Chief RaShall Brackney. That will no doubt come up at the City Council meeting Tuesday and the Police Civilian Review Board (PCRB) on Thursday. This would be a good time to observe. In addition, the City Council will approve the hiring of a new executive director to run the PCRB. The hiring of Hansel Aguilar is on Council’s consent agenda Tuesday

Thank you to the Piedmont Environmental Council for their sponsorship of this work. They’ve helped me launch this venture off the ground with over a year of support. I am very grateful!

Monday, September 6

There are no meetings today. 

If you can take the day off, you should consider doing so. 

If you are working, I thank you for the work that you are doing, no matter what it is. Our lives are precious and finite, and I am hopeful that as many of you as possible are able to use your time doing something you want to do. I’m grateful to those who have supported this work to date. I will be spending some of the time working, because I’m so glad to get to do the work I love to do. 

Later on today, I will be sending out my summary of real estate transactions in Charlottesville from August. Paid subscribers to Substack get a first look, and Ting will match the first payments. Learn more here.

Tuesday, September 7

The Louisa County Board of Supervisors meets in open session at 6 p.m. in the Louisa County Public Meeting Room. This is a good chance to learn some things about what’s happening in Louisa. (agenda packet)

There are five information items on the agenda. They are:

  • A presentation from the Louisa Arts Center

  • An update from the Louisa Chamber of Commerce

  • A legislative update from the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission

  • A discussion of a well insurance program for county residents

  • A discussion on how to plan for future utility scale solar applications. 

“To date, applicants have submitted six utility-scale conditional use permit requests involving almost 4,000 acres,” reads the staff report from that last one. “Currently no guidelines, policies, or ordinances exist which control either suitable locations or numbers of land use amendments necessary for establishing such facilities.” 

Later in the evening there are three public hearings. 

One is to amend the county ordinance to allow golf carts and utility vehicles to operate on roads in the Blue Ridge Shores subdivision. The second is a request to amend a proffer for property owned by the Louisa County Industrial Development Authority. Specifically, the amendment would allow a utility scale solar facility at the Cooke Industrial Park. 

The third is for a rezoning for Microzyme LLC for land currently zoned commercial to be converted to industrial. This is for the Bio-Cat manufacturing facility. For more details about what’s happening in Louisa, check out Engage Louisa

A Tuesday meeting of the Charlottesville City Council

Charlottesville City Council meets at 6:30 p.m. (meeting info)

There are several items on the consent agenda worth noting and I’ll do that first because there are some things that I suspect will be removed from the agenda. Do you have a guess on which ones? Leave your take in the comments below. 

  • First reading of a $288,172 grant from the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development to assist individuals with AIDS or HIV. The Department of Human Services and the Thomas Jefferson Area Coalition for the Homeless (TJACH) applied for the funding, and this is a renewal of previous support. (staff report)

  • There’s also a first reading for TJACH’s contribution of $10,000 to the city’s Department of Human Services to expand the hours that the Pathways Community Resources Navigation program operates from 30 to 40. (staff report)

  • There’s first reading of a pass-through of $49,000 from the Supreme Court of Virginia for the operations of the Charlottesville-Albemarle Therapeutic Docket operated by Offender Aid and Restoration. (staff report)

  • There are several amendments to the Community Development Block Grant and HOME Investment partnerships that will be adopted once Council holds a second reading. (staff report)

  • There’s also first reading of a pass-through of $240,000 for operations of the Charlottesville / Albemarle Adult Drug Treatment Court. (staff report)

  • There’s a resolution to accept $5,000 from the BAMA Works for the Department of Human Services’ Community Attention Foster Families for a program to recruit Black, Indigenous, and People of Color to be foster families. (staff report)

  • VDOT is in the process of de-authorizing a Recreational Access grant awarded in 2018 to the city of Charlottesville for a project to build a bridge into McIntire Park from Melbourne Road. Council has previously used $50,000 from a capital contingency fund to serve as a local match. Now the city’s Parks and Recreation Department is asking for that $50,000 to go toward building the bridge. Frankly, there’s a lot of questions about this one and I’ll be sending over a list of them on Tuesday. (staff report)

  • Jaunt holds its annual shareholders meeting on October 13 and the city can send a total of four representatives and they need to appoint a proxy. (staff report)

  • Council will be asked to approve the hiring of Hansel Aguilar as the executive director of the Police Civilian Review Board. (staff report)

  • Second reading of an ordinance amendment to make language in the city code gender neutral (staff report)

In the regular session, there are three items. In the first, there are suggested changes to the make-up of the city’s Retirement Commission. (staff report)

In the second, Council will be asked to officially approve the design elements shown at a public hearing in July for the Barracks Road / Emmet Street Smart Scale project. The city was awarded $8.6 million for the project in the second Smart Scale round with no local match required. Review the presentation from the July 7 Design Public Hearing here. (staff report) (previous story)

In the third, there will be an update on entities from across the United States who have submitted requests to purchase or otherwise acquire the Lewis, Clark, and Sacajewea statue that stood for over 100 years at the intersection of West Main Street and Ridge Street. Seven offers have been made. City Manager Boyles is recommending a two-person Council committee form to make a recommendation on who should be selected. (staff report)

ARB to review Albemarle Business Campus apartments, Crozet Self-Storage

The Albemarle Architectural Review Board will meet at 1 p.m. The first item on the agenda is a review of five apartment buildings at the Albemarle Business Campus. These would be three-story structures that the applicant states will not be very visible from the 5th Street Extended, an entrance corridor. Also on the agenda are reviews of the renovation of Umansky Subary and a new self-storage facility at 5696 Rockfish Gap Turnpike. The latter was approved as the Crozet Gateway Center in the mid-2000’s but that project was never built. In this case, the applicant promises “no rowdy customers, (meeting info)

Permit sought for camp on U.S. 29 south of Charlottesville

Applicants who are seeking special use permits in Albemarle County are required to hold a meeting with the community to explain the purposes of the new activities that would be allowed if the permit were granted. The calendar shows a virtual meeting at 7 p.m. for a proposal for a day camp and boarding camp to operate on land off of U.S. 29 several miles southwest of Charlottesville. However, materials in the application’s folder on CountyView shows that the applicant requested a deferral on August 27. The meeting will take place anyway. (meeting info)

Wednesday, September 8

The 2021 election is less than two months away. There are no contested seats for the Albemarle Board of Supervisors, which means there will be no public forums for the three districts whose legislators are up for a vote. 

City Council has two of five seats up for election and the first fall candidates forum takes place today when the Senior Statesmen of Virginia host an in-person event at The Center at Belvedere at 1:30 p.m. 

“All four candidates running to fill two seats for the Charlottesville City Council will be attending,” reads the announcement on the SSV website. “The candidates are Brian R. Pinkston (D), Juandiego Wade (D), Nikuyah R. Walker (I), and Yas Ariel J. Washington (I).” 

The host for the event is Bob Beard, a former news anchor with CBS 19 and career journalist. Register in advance virtually, or take this opportunity to go visit the Center.

On September 30, the Free Enterprise Forum and Town Crier Productions will host an event for the four candidates. Details to come in the very near future. You can watch the last one here.

In actual  meetings:

  • The James River Water Authority’s Board of Directors meets in-person at 9 a.m. There was no agenda on the meeting info page.

  • There is a site plan for 1525 Emmet Street North in Charlottesville. An applicant is seeking to replace an existing commercial building with a dentist’s office. The structure has most recently been a payday loan operation. (meeting info)

Thursday, September 9

My reporting over the years has been focused on buildings and roads and infrastructure. In the past year of producing a regular newsletter and podcast, I have been covering public safety issues in summary. This week, the future of the Charlottesville Police Department will be discussed and there will be many points of view and perspectives. It’s an important discussion that affects anyone living here. 

With land use, I always issue my standard disclaimer that I have no idea what should happen. Now that the Charlottesville Community Engagement newsletter has extended to cover a wider array of issues including policing, I issue the same disclaimer. I don’t know anything, but I’m asking questions in order to figure it out. 

Having said that, the Police Civilian Review Board meets virtually at 6:30 p.m. (meeting info)

There’s no published agenda as I type this, but there’s a lot happening involving policing and public safety. This is a time for people to pay attention and to watch the primary sources as they unfold. 

  • The Albemarle Conservation Easement Authority meets at 4:30 p.m. They will get an update on the county’s Stream Health Initiative. (meeting info)

  • The Charlottesville Parks and Recreation Advisory Board meets at 5:30 p.m. There’s no agenda yet, but I am looking forward to an update on the status of the Smith Aquatic Center which remains closed. The city has invested in upgrades to the facility to address persistent air quality issues, and at one point it was announced it would open in August.  (meeting info)

  • The Human Rights Commission’s Accessibility Committee meets at 6:30 p.m. (meeting info)

  • The Human Rights Commission’s Housing Committee meets at 6:30 p.m. (meeting info)

  • The Human Rights Commission’s Legislative Committee meets at 7 p.m. (meeting info)

Friday, September 10

The Charlottesville Historic Resources Committee meets virtually at 11 a.m. The agenda includes a discussion on engagement efforts with the families of people who were formerly enslaved, an update on the downtown walking tour, and signage for the future Vinegar Hill Park. (meeting info)