City-county joint meeting

ALLISON WRABEL/THE DAILY PROGRESS

Members of the Charlottesville City Council and the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors meet Monday to discuss collaborative efforts between the two localities.

Charlottesville and Albemarle County officials discussed collaboration efforts in a joint meeting Monday.

The City Council and Board of Supervisors held a joint meeting to discuss transportation, affordable housing and state requirements under the two localities’ revenue-sharing agreement.

City and county staff members discussed spending for affordable housing in the current fiscal year, which is $12.7 million in Charlottesville and $7.3 million in the county.

The city has 2,196 units deemed affordable and Albemarle has 4,200, according to county housing coordinator Stacy Pethia.

“We have a lot in the pipeline,” Supervisor Diantha McKeel said.

Staff members presented several housing collaboration possibilities, including an expansion of the city’s Supplemental Rental Assistance Program to include county funding and recipients; a regional housing-choice voucher program; evaluation of nonprofit housing providers; and a joint property acquisition fund or joint affordable housing fund.

Another option was more developments like The Crossings II, a project similar to The Crossings at Fourth Street and Preston Avenue meant to assist homeless people.

Supervisor Ann H. Mallek asked for solutions that would not increase taxes for low-income rural residents in the county to support affordable housing.

“This is a laudable goal, but the burden is often carried by very, very low-income people,” she said.

Mayor Nikuyah Walker and Deputy City Manager Mike Murphy highlighted the Charlottesville Housing Affordability Program, which provides real estate tax relief based on income levels for owners of homes valued at $375,000 or less.

The income relief threshold is maxed at $55,000 and allows full relief for those making $25,000 or less.

County Attorney Greg Kamptner said the county may be unable to provide a similar program because Albemarle must operate under different guidelines required by state law.

Councilors and supervisors spent about 20 minutes talking about the city-county revenue-sharing agreement. The discussion dragged on, apparently, because supervisors missed a slide on a PowerPoint presentation showing how many dollars were entered into Charlottesville’s general fund and capital improvement program.

Supervisors were requesting more transparency and Walker said the county doesn’t influence how the money is spent.

City Attorney John Blair and Kamptner said the presentation met the requirements under state law to show how money was allocated under the agreement.

The presentation focused on several joint projects, such as transportation and parks.

About $6.8 million went to the city’s general fund and $7.4 million went to the CIP in the current fiscal year.

Councilor Mike Signer said the presentation was vague because the money is spread across several projects.

“What the presentation does is depict how broad the investments the city makes that serve county residents so frequently,” he said.

Officials also discussed a smaller project to improve traffic in the area of Hydraulic Road and U.S. 29.

The city created a small area plan for the intersection in 2013, which is at the border of Charlottesville and Albemarle. It focuses on an area bounded by Greenbrier Drive and Whitewood Road to the north, the U.S. 250 Bypass to the south, Meadow Creek to the east and North Berkshire Road to the west.

The Charlottesville-Albemarle Metropolitan Planning Organization submitted three U.S. 29-Hydraulic Road intersection improvement packages to the Virginia Department of Transportation’s Smart Scale program this year, along with interchange improvements at Fontaine Avenue and the U.S. 29 Bypass.

The projects were not recommended for funding.

Officials also have proposed a grade-separated intersection for U.S. 29 and Hydraulic, similar to the project built at the intersection of 29 and Rio Road. Hydraulic would pass under U.S. 29.

Construction has been estimated to cost between $63 million and $80 million, plus about $5.2 million for utility relocation.

Alex Ikefuna, director of the city’s Department of Neighborhood Development Services, said the localities should try instead for funding from VDOT’s revenue-sharing program.

“It does not score well in terms of Smart Scale,” he said of U.S. 29 improvements. “The only way that project is going to get funded is through [VDOT] revenue-sharing.”

The discussion focused on Zan Road in the Seminole Square shopping center. A previously proposed project would connect the road to a current parking lot area at the Shops at Stonefield and include a bike lane, sidewalk and vehicle access.

Ikefuna said it could require about $5 million each from the city and the county.

City officials also provided an update on a study for a pedestrian bridge over the Rivanna River near Woolen Mills to the Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital area.

VDOT is working with a consultant to study the area, which could take nine months

Construction is estimated to cost about $3 million, according to Chris Gensic, the city’s parks and trails planner.

Ikefuna discussed the city’s plans to synchronize traffic signals along U.S. 29 from the intersection of Ivy Road, which is U.S. 250 Business, to the 29-Hydraulic intersection.

Ikefuna said plans are being finalized and right-of-way acquisition will occur next year. Work is anticipated to start in 2021.

Other items discussed included the housing-choice voucher program, which serves about 800 households in the area; support for minority-owned businesses; measures to address climate change; and the Regional Transit Partnership.

City Manager Tarron Richardson and County Executive Jeff Richardson will submit a formal list of action items from the meeting to elected officials in the coming days.

Jeff Richardson said another meeting should be scheduled in early 2020 after each elected body undergoes elections.

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City hall reporter

Nolan Stout is a reporter for The Daily Progress. Contact him at (434) 978-7274, nstout@dailyprogress.com, or @nstoutDP on Twitter and Facebook.

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