Monthly Archive for January, 2011

City, County Assessments Released

A lot of us county residents headed to Albemarle’s GIS website on Sunday after Jim Duncan pointed that out assessments were available. (Mine didn’t change.) As Brandon Shulleeta points out in today’s Daily Progress, county property values are down only slightly this year, by 1.24%. The city released their assessments, too, and they saw a 0.63% increase. Both rates were buoyed slightly by commercial assessments, since residential assessments were somewhat lower. These changes are nothing like the enormous increases that we saw just a few years ago, during the real estate bubble, nor are they like the big drops we saw when it burst. Assuming that real estate tax rates don’t change much—not necessarily a fair assumption—then both localities are basically looking at flat funding, and we’re all looking at paying the same amount in real estate taxes that we paid last year.

City Hunting for Time Capsule

The city is getting closer to figuring out where they buried a time capsule 50 years ago, Ted Strong reports in today’s Daily Progress. On the occasion of the 200th anniversary of Charlottesville’s founding, a steel box was buried somewhere in the city, but the city neglected to keep a record of where. A group of children attended the burial in 1962, charged with reminding the city where it was buried come 2012; good idea, but it didn’t pan out. Luckily, some folks’ memories have been jogged, and it’s been narrowed down to an area next to the Charlottesville Circuit Court. But somebody seems to remember that it was moved for construction, and it’s not clear exactly where under the sidewalk it is, if it’s there at all. Anniversary celebrations don’t start until next year, so there’s still another year to track it down.

If we bury a new one, maybe this time GPS coordinates?

Council Chooses Dam Over Dredging

Last night City Council voted 3-2 in favor of increasing the height of the reservoir by thirty feet, Hawes Spencer writes in The Hook, rather than dredge the reservoir. (Dave Norris and Holly Edwards were the dissenting voters.) Now that the question is apparently settled, they’ve got to figure out if it’s an earthen or a concrete dam and figuring out how much each municipality is going to pay for it.

If you’re confused in recalling Council voting 5-0 in favor of dredging in September, and wondering what’s going on now, join the club. What was that vote last September? How is this one different? Will there be any more? This is like the Meadowcreek Parkway—every time a final vote is held, there’s another final vote.

Vineyard Neighbors Annoyed by Loud Music

Keswick Vineyard’s neighbors are no fan of their noisy events, Sean Tubbs writes for Charlottesville Tomorrow, but the winery wants county law amended to change the language of the noise ordinance. Like many wineries, Keswick Vineyards rents their place out for special events, frequently weddings—it’s something that state law actually encourages, as a means of wineries generating extra revenue. But since most vineyards are located in semi-rural areas, loud music can constitute a heck of a rude surprise for neighbors who may have been accustomed to hearing nothing more than barking dogs, braying donkeys, the odd tractor, and the sounds of nature. That’s just what happened in Keswick, leaving neighbors happy to see the county amend the noise ordinance last spring. The vineyard complains that the language of the law is too vague—it requires that amplified music not be audible inside any neighboring structures—and wants a decibel-based measurement, since that’s something that they can measure. Neighbors complain that Keswick is just trying to change the law to favor them.

The Planning Commission plans a public hearing, after which they’ll decide if further action is necessary.

Transit System Moving to Hybrids

Charlottesville Area Transit is starting to transition to hybrid buses, the city writes in a press release today. Functioning very much like hybrid cars, only with diesel engines, they seem ideally suited for the stop-and-go nature of bus travel. CAT (née CTS) has 35 buses in all—only 2 have been swapped out for hybrids, and it’ll take a decade for the remaining 33 to age out and be replaced. Although they’re not showing the whole balance sheet of added costs and savings, CAT points out that each bus will use $10,500 less fuel annually. Of course, the 25-30% reduction in fuel usage results in commensurate reductions in pollution. Noise pollution drops off more sharply, though—at 79 decibels, they’re only half as noisy as a standard bus.

Some may recall the city’s failed attempt to move to electric buses in the mid-nineties. As best as I can remember, it was a flop because the buses weren’t designed to handle hills, even the mild ones that we have in Charlottesville. They ran out of juice midway through the day, and the time that it took to charge the batteries took them out of service until the next day. More than a few people, recalling that old trolley system used a mule to haul the cars up Vinegar Hill, suggested that the arrangement could have been salvaged with the addition of some livestock.



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