By Sean Tubbs
Monday, March 28, 2011
Work has begun on implementing a $999,000 “sustainable communities” grant awarded last year to the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission . The Albemarle and Charlottesville planning commissions gave input on the grant at a joint work session on Tuesday, March 22.
Listen using player above or download the podcast: Download 20110322-Joint-PC-meeting
Part of the grant, which is from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, will allow the city and county to hire additional staff to help rewrite their comprehensive plans. The plans help guide land use and zoning decisions.
“We’re both working on our comprehensive plans at relatively the same time, and the opportunity to receive this grant to assist us in that process is truly amazing and will allow us to do some things we haven’t been able to do in the past,’ said Missy Creasy, the city’s planning manager.
“The main benefit that we see for this project is that Charlottesville and Albemarle County are going to receive some really great resources and information into their comprehensive planning processes,” said Stephen Williams, the director of the TJPDC.
During the same time, the TJPDC will begin developing an update of its long-range transportation plan.
“This is going to be almost a complete re-write of the long-range transportation plan from beginning to end,” Williams said. “We have a great deal of data coming out of the census and another data set called the National Household Transportation Survey.”
He said it would take about three and a half years to complete the rewrite. The last one was adopted in May 2009.
Summer Frederick, TJPDC’s project manager for the grant, said it will help coordinate all three processes, which are independent of each other.
“Ultimately it’s up to each of the separate organizations to adopt the updates,” Frederick said. “It is by no means moving to one plan that will be shared by all.”
David Benish, Albemarle’s chief of planning, said the county’s comprehensive plan review will be informed by the Board of Supervisor’s desire to increase economic development. The county will spend $25,000 next fiscal year on a study to identify which businesses and industries that it should try to attract.
“That will be informing some of the land use decisions we need to make,” Benish said.
Albemarle Planning Commissioner Tom Loach asked whether staff could handle the additional workload. Wayne Cilimberg, the county’s director of planning, said the TJPDC grant would allow him to augment his staff to conduct the mandated review.
“This hasn’t made work for us,” Cilimberg said. “This is work we already anticipated.”
The University of Virginia says it will play an important role in the process.
“We view ourselves as collaborators in the sense that we’re technically either in the city or the county by boundary condition,” said David Neuman, the architect of the University of Virginia. “The fact is we have buildings and programs that are in both, like the law school.”
City Planning Commissioner Genevieve Keller said she wanted the joint review to address the edges between city, county and UVA.
“We [will be looking] at areas of pretty dramatic change over the next few months, most likely at Martha Jefferson as it moves up to Pantops,” Keller said. “I see those all of those edges as areas where we would want to focus some redevelopment.”
Albemarle Commissioner Cal Morris agreed.
“It’s a wonderful crossover, and we see that we have to start tearing down these artificial and real boundaries,” Morris said. “It just doesn’t work anymore.”
Charlottesville Planning Commission Chair Jason Pearson said he welcomed the opportunity to work with his counterparts in Albemarle.
“What [is] exciting to me is the idea… of erasing the line that is currently the boundary of the city of Charlottesville and seeing this process as an opportunity to see that combined land area as an area of intelligent planning activity,” Pearson said.
For instance, Pearson said he wanted the comprehensive plan review to provide the chance to have deep conversations about regional planning.
“The idea that the city is an appropriate place to concentrate intense density and development and the county is a place to protect natural resources is an idea that reoccurs,” Pearson said. “I hope that this process will allow the city and county to have a conversation about the impacts of that language.”
The next public meeting on the grant’s implementation will be on April 27, 2011. That is the official kick-off date for the review of the TJPDC’s long-range transportation as well as the city and county’s comprehensive plans.
TIMELINE FOR PODCAST:
- 01:00 - Charlottesville Planning Commission Chair Jason Pearson calls meeting to order
- 01:45 - Stephen Williams of the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission begins describing grant
- 02:00 - Introduction of all commissioners and staff
- 14:00 - Summer Frederick describes the April 27 kick-off event
- 18:30 - County planner David Benish describes county's comprehensive planning process
- 27:00 - City planner Missy Creasy describes city's comprehensive planning process
- 36:00 - Benish responds to a question about growth area expansion
- 46:00 - Kurt Keesecker asks what UVA's role will be in the grant implementation
- 01:21:00 - Public comment from Tom Olivier of the Piedmont Group of the Sierra Club