Thursday, February 25, 2010


Home of the Cars?

Before the American city could be physically reconstructed to accommodate automobiles, its streets had to be socially reconstructed as places where cars belong. Until then, streets were regarded as public spaces, where practices that endangered or obstructed others (including pedestrians) were disreputable. Motorists' claim to street space was therefore fragile, subject to restrictions that threatened to negate the advantages of car ownership. Epithets--especially joy rider--reflected and reinforced the prevailing social construction of the street. Automotive interest groups (motordom) recognized this obstacle and organized in the teens and 1920s to overcome it. One tool in this effort was jaywalker. Motordom discovered this obscure colloquialism in the teens, reinvented it, and introduced it to the millions. It ridiculed once-respectable street uses and cast doubt on pedestrians' legitimacy in most of the street. Though many pedestrians resented and resisted the term and its connotations, motordom's campaign was a substantial success.
--Peter Norton (More about Peter Norton)

The Charlottesville Police Department has a new statistical tool available for public use on the Internet. A query for all crimes in Charlottesville for the last seven days yields this report:

Had a close call walking Sophie earlier this morning. Almost struck by a car.
It is dangerous walking in our city.

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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

duck test and the USGS

If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck.

There is a stream in my neighborhood that I've crossed weekly for 22 years, I've never seen it run dry. When reorienting a public facility near the creek our City took care to avoid environmental damage to this body of water (the creek flows into the Rivanna-James-Chesapeake Bay). The curious thing. USGS doesn't recognize the existence of Meade Creek. It is an unrecognized perennial stream. USGS recognized it back in 1935. Any USGS employees out there? Please explain.


Wednesday, May 27, 2009

mayor on the mountain


Thursday, April 16, 2009

broken connection

between the electors and the elected. Palmyra, Virginia. Thousands of Fluvanna County voters petition their government. They petitioned twice, to no avail.

B. McKenzie has the story at the Daily Progress


Saturday, January 31, 2009


January 20, 2009

Govern the state as one cooks a small fish-- Lao Tzu


Wednesday, January 14, 2009


This city has a light pollution ordinance.


Thursday, November 20, 2008

what would Gallatin do?

burning the midnight oil at Treasury


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

the good, the bad, the ugly

I don't know how you feel about politics, It's a bizarre bidness. Why would anyone want to be involved?
McCain, Obama--certifiable?
What a web we weave.
But I will say, I am mighty proud of my local government. The City of Charlottesville has posted their Council minutes on the Internet.
It is all on view, from 1953 to the present.
A resource for historians.

Doing business in the sunshine.


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Friday, July 04, 2008


route 20 south in the embrace of security perimeter

President Bush was at Monticello this morning welcoming 72 people from 30 countries into the brotherhood of legal citizenry.
It was a bitter-sweet event. The closest I got to seeing the President was when Marine One flew over the Woolen Mills.
Normally I attend the celebration at Monticello, but not this year.
Security was intense. In the photo above, WVAW reporter Mark Tenia shoots video of the Presidential motorcade route from a half mile away.
The Secret Service/State Police, felt the need to close miles of surface road and push out a wide security perimeter- Route 53 and Mill Creek Drive were shut down, even to pedestrians. There was a "national defense airspace," a no-fly zone, in effect for a few hours. Law enforcement personnel in abundance, hidden and in view.
President Bush started out, he said "To my fellow citizens to be, we believe in free speech in the United States of America."
This sentence delivered over shouted protest from someone who was able to attend the ceremony.

I biked up Route 53 yesterday (July 3). This bridge and flag the 21st century idea of what the entry to Monticello should look like. Disneyfication.

I wonder if the no-fly zone is post 9/11 policy?


Friday, April 25, 2008

bag of beans

The Lancaster County real estate tax system and land-use policy are structured to move the majority of Northern Neck natives off the water. Forcing people from their homes was not the primary design goal, but it will be the effect.
It's an old story. Similar displacement of population occurred on Hilton Head Island. As thorough as dropping a neutron bomb, the land will remain, but the people will be removed.
Fabulous multi-million dollar vacation homes will succeed the residences of local people.
Of course, the benefit to the county is tax revenue. The vacation dream homes offer a more robust source of funds for local schools than the modest residences they replace.
And the children of the County, thus educated, can move away from their heritage.
Go live somewhere else.
Have their birth-right sold for a bag of beans, a bowl of soup. Taxed out of their homes.

Some people rob you with a six-gun, some with a fountain pen.- 1958, Pretty Boy Floyd, Woodie Guthrie


Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Order and Law

It is tempting to conjure a clever "cut-line" for this photo.
It is advisable to resist temptation.


Friday, November 09, 2007

tax time

The total of funds stolen by two ladies from D.C. taxpayers has risen from 16 million to 20 million. Enterprising ladies! Washington Post has the story.
One of the alleged perpetrators has been ordered by the judge to wear a "monitoring device" and she is to refrain from making purchases larger than $5,000, but otherwise she is free to roll in her loot.
If I went out today and stole a half dozen wide screen TV's would I be free to watch them this evening?
The strange ways of justice...


Wednesday, November 07, 2007


Blogger Rick Sincere lists the write-in candidates for Central Virginia races. While people sacrifice for our liberty, their sacrifice also allows for the continued exercise of a sense of humor. M. Mouse and R. Schilling remain perennial write-in favorites.


Saturday, September 22, 2007


east market street
The deadline to apply for a seat on the Charlottesville Planning Commission has been extended to Monday, October 1st. Apply online! Applicants must be residents of Charlottesville.

NOTE TO INTERESTED CANDIDATES: Application via the City of Charlottesville's award winning website is not 100% reliable. If you have tossed your hat into the ring via this method, call Jeanne Cox (970-3113) and make sure she has received the application!


Thursday, May 17, 2007

we, the people

How dreadful knowledge of the truth can be when there's no help in the truth--Sophocles

Thursday, May 17, 4 p.m.-- the taking by typo saga will re-commence in the basement conference room of City Hall.
What does the future hold for the Woolen Mills? Will the legislative action taken by Council in 1993 prevail? Will the fate of a historic property be dictated by a typographic error committed by an anonymous author in 2003?
Invest in the future of this community with an hour of your presence. A watchful and concerned public makes the difference. The Board of Zoning Appeals will be at the top of their game before a room full of people-- and the Woolen Mills needs their very best.

I would urge you to think both about fairness to the parties here and what the most minimum due process requires, which is notice and an opportunity to be heard. And then also to think about the precedent and the way in which this kind of taking by typo would really threaten and jeopardize all of our ability to trust the stability of the records.--Anne Coughlin 4/19/07

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Monday, May 07, 2007

Through a glass, darkly, transcription, dissection, analysis

1 Corinthians 13-6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth

In photography compression algorithms are used to reduce image file sizes. The JPEG is the most popular example of this mathematic wizardry.
In government, a similar process is used, known as "the minutes". A record, a snap-shot of the governmental meeting, is taken by the on-site stenographer, and this written, compressed distillation is made available to the public.
The JPEG is known as a lossy compression method. Some of the image data present in the original photograph goes by the wayside when the the file is reduced in size.
Images are strong, they bear up to high compression ratios with much of their original impact intact.

The same can not be said for thoughts and words. I can not offer an average ratio for the compression imposed to the minutes of our legislative and judicial bodies. But I did the math on one speaker before City Council in March and found a compression ratio of 28:1.

Woolen Mills neighbors are currently appealing the "accidental" removal of protective zoning from a seven acre historic site in their neighborhood. The removal of this historic designation took only the figurative "slip of a pen" by the City, a mistake was made.
In contrast, the appeal process is rigorous and exhausting for everyone involved.
The appeal process is reflected to the public at large via print media, radio, and the "minutes" that will ultimately emerge.
Thank God and Mr. Jefferson for the free press.
But many of the ideas expressed, many of the statements and misstatements made, will be lost in compression.
For those who have an interest in the unfiltered process, a transcription of the public hearing on the "taking by typo" and BZA discussion is available here.

What is the remedy for institutional mistakes?


Saturday, April 21, 2007

taking by typo

The map above, received from Charlottesville Neighborhood Development Services January 5, 2007, shows the Timberlake-Branham property at 1512 East Market as being protected by a "minor design control district". This property was conferred "Individually Protected Property" (IPP) status by vote of City Council, October 18, 1993.

I apologize to black and white photography readers for introducing this color subject. I wouldn't do so if it wasn't important to national historic preservation efforts in general and to the Place, the Woolen Mills Village, in particular.

Since January when we received this map, the Charlottesville (Virginia) Zoning Administrator has issued a determination claiming that the size of the Timberlake-Branham IPP (on the left above) was reduced by approximately 75% in 2003 as the result of a clerical error.

Friends of the neighborhood locally and from across the country are passionately opposed to the Zoning Administrator's directive. The delisting is destructive: destructive to the local quality of life and environment, destructive to the possibility of a National Historic Register District nomination for this venerable village.

When local government moves to strip one of the few existing "design control districts" from our neighborhood we turn from sheep to "the Fightin' Sheep." This transformation is absolutely necessary if we hope to survive as a unique residential neighborhood. Since the dark days of the 50s and 60s, erosion of the neighborhood's historic assets has occurred secondary to inappropriate zoning applied by the mid 20th Century "urban renewal" City Council. We won't be slaughtered again.

The Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) heard an appeal of this "taking by typo" Thursday afternoon 4/17/07. It was confusing stuff. There were multiple lawyers in the room.

Additionally the BZA heard from members of the public, friends of the neighborhood, and from one real estate developer who feels the historic designation is inappropriate.

Why does this matter? I will paste in one of the statements from the public hearing.

I can?t speak to the technical threshold questions and, in fact I don?t want to. I heard some of the lawyers mentioning that you?ve already been given voluminous memos about these questions.

I guess my position would be to urge you to try to see through them and to think hard about the very basic questions that you are presented with today.
One of them is the right to property, which is protected by state law and also by the Federal Constitution.

Of course we are speaking about the rights of individual property owners but also the rights of adjoining land-owners and the entire community in protection of the historical-district. The very basic notion being that you have got to give the people due-process, you?ve got to give people notice and an appropriate hearing, you?ve got to give them some forum within which their interests can be heard.

I really think it would be frightening and an unspeakable precedent for you to allow taking of property interest by typo, or by some sort of administrative oversight, it is really a very frightening thing and it doesn?t do fairness to the individual parties in this case, here the adjoining landowners.

Taking by typo? That is just absolutely wrong.

The other thing that I really urge you to think about is the precedents that you are setting for the future., and the ability of the community as a whole to rely on the records.

We have to be able to rely on the accuracy of the records and to rely on the fairness of the procedure in changing those records.

If Mr. Emory hadn't sort of randomly been looking through the records and discovered this error we might not have known about it. Thank heavens he did.

But you can't put that burden on individual property owners to constantly be checking and to be sure that an administrator hasn't introduced an error.

Again, this is not to cast any aspersions on administrators, they are busy and mistakes get made.

Again, I would urge you to think both about fairness to the parties here and what the most minimum due process requires, which is notice and an opportunity to be heard. And then also to think about the precedent and the way in which this kind of taking by typo would really threaten and jeopardize all of our ability to trust the stability of the records.--Anne Coughlin

Thomas Jefferson, for all his faults, was a surveyor "with a difference". The Woolen Mills village, for all its faults, was a residential mill village with a difference. It is a cultural and physical landscape unique to Charlottesville.

The 1922 Davison's Textile Blue Book lists 20 cotton mills, 16 knitting mills, 14 silk mills and 14 woolen mills in the state of Virginia. By 1935, 22 percent of the industrial workers in the Virginia labored in textile mills, many lived in textile mill villages. Yet despite the central place of the textile mill-village in Virginia's history little research has been done on the folkways of mill-villages in our state. To our knowledge there isn't a National Register textile mill residential historic district in Virginia. We'd like to address that lack. We'd like the care and recognition long withheld from this deserving area to be applied.

Woolen Mills Road, a 501(c)3 formed in 2006, exists to serve:
(i) to promote for the general public the preservation and improvement of the natural and historic resources of the Woolen Mills neighborhood located in the City of Charlottesville and the County of Albemarle, Virginia;
(ii) to promote and engage in study of and education regarding the Woolen Mills neighborhood

If you'd like to become a Woolie, the life-time membership fee is $1.00. Please contact Victoria Dunham:

dunham at historicwoolenmills dot org

If you'd like to contribute funds to help battle the Goliath republican lawyer team your dollars will be spent on slingshots and rocks. If you do not believe in pugilism, so indicate, and your gift will be used for research, education and the historic district nomination.

(Audio of the entire meeting is available at the Charlottesville-Tomorrow website,
print and broadcast media links here

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Tuesday, March 06, 2007

the law abiding

"It became apparent with bikes, walkers, and dogs off leash that we need to provide people with some direction to stay to the right," explains Svetz, citing several incidents in which loose dogs toppled bikers." Mike Svetz

Sophie, not a scofflaw, heeds the words of Mike Svetz, walking on the right in skunk park.


Monday, March 05, 2007

the law

There is a spirit of volunteerism crucial to a City. Neighbors show consideration to one another. Underlying the voluntary effort and cooperation are a web of laws. A safety net. Occasionally the laws are enforced, when there is a violation too large to ignore.
Law is like art. Thousands of hours are spent creating the letter of the law, the code, the ordinances. And then, the body of law, the finished work, is ignored.


Monday, February 19, 2007


Feldman also found that liars tend to be more popular than honest people.-WaPo


Tuesday, November 07, 2006

dog people

Charlottesville City Council held a public hearing last night on proposed changes to City Code regarding dogs.
All the changes are directed towards preventing dog attacks. Dogs v dogs and dogs v people.
The interesting thing, some people spoke against the proposed changes! Dog people!
So here it is. For over a year CHO citizens work on improvements to the animal control ordinance. The day of the meeting people who don't live in Charlottesville come in and speak against proposed changes.

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Wednesday, November 01, 2006

trick or treat

Halloween. Paid the real estate tax for my simple frame home. The real estate tax bite is huge. Yearly I spend more on real estate tax than I do for food.


Monday, October 02, 2006

the small print

Tonight Charlottesville City Council votes on the Woolen Mills. The question is whether to put the convenience of cut through traffic above the needs of a residential neighborhood.

In May, Council agreed to open 4th Street across the downtown pedestrian mall and further, they made the street one-way. These actions were taken in response to the requests of the downtown business people. Council can respond quickly.

After a one year "study-period" Council will decide whether to make the 4th Street changes permanent.

Please, City Council, please let us have our neighborhood back for a year, make Franklin Street one way south between Market and Carlton Avenue and restrict trucks and cut through traffic.

Note: For those of you interested in analyzing aerial imagery. The photo above was taken July 11, 1957. It appears that Carlton Mobile Home Park and Sunrise Mobile Home Park are still hay fields. The Carlton Avenue industrial corridor is fully developed from Franklin Street to Carlton Road. Woolen Mills park, the Mill's recreational area south of the railroad tracks, still exists, hasn't yet been converted into an industrial park.
No sewage sludge smell- the RWSA facility has not yet been built.
North of the tracks it would appear that the only industrial encroachment into the residential neighborhood is one lot of junked cars on Harry Wright's property.
The following year, "urban-removal" experts, Harland-Bartholomew and Associates will craft a plan:

January 6, 1958
Mr A.C.Coleman, R.M.Davis, Thomas.J. Michie, Louie.L. Scribner and Sol.B. Weinberg present. Mr David J Wood addressed council, presented ?the Workable Program for Urban Renewal? as prepared by Harland Bartholomew and Associates.
An ordinance entitled ?An ordinance amending and re-enacting the code of the City of Charlottesville of 1945 by the addition thereto of a new chapter numbered 35 and entitled ?Regulations governing the subdivision of land within the corporate limits and within three miles of the City of Charlottesville?and replacing section 1 through 5, inclusive of the subdivision regulations, which are part of chapter 33, Code of the City of Charlottesville 1945 entitled ?Zoning?? was offered by Mr.Scribner, seconded by Mr. Weinberg, and carried over to the next meeting for consideration.
This plan lays the groundwork for the destruction of the Vinegar Hill neighborhood and the introduction of "Industrial zoning" and multi-family zoning north of the railroad tracks in parts of the Woolen Mills neighborhood that will not be annexed until 1963!

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Sunday, September 17, 2006


?verb (used with object), -cat?ed, -cat?ing.
1. to confuse, bewilder, or stupefy.
2. to make obscure or unclear: to obfuscate a problem with extraneous information.
3. to darken.

I am surprised to find myself advocating that the City of Charlottesville hire more employees, but here it is. The City desperately needs to establish a new position in Neighborhood Development Services. Call the new position:

1) Neighborhood Advocate (?)
2) Fact Finder (?)
3) BS detector (?)

Currently available on the Internet is the background information which City Council is receiving regarding Franklin Street. This "background information" is a case in point for the utility of the new staff position.

The upshot of the "background material" is that there is no problem in the Woolen Mills regarding cut-through traffic. Indeed, in the entire report, the phrase "cut-through traffic" is never mentioned.

The "study" being delivered to Council is as relevant to the Woolen Mills cut-through issue as a study examining what music the drivers listen to when thundering through the Woolen Mills. The study is sleight of hand.

The report places the Councilors in the unenviable "garbage in, garbage out" position. They are receiving information from staff that does not help them make an intelligent decision.

I am reminded of the RWSA approach.
RWSA personnel visit the Woolen Mills, meet with the neighbors and tell us that the neighborhood doesn't smell. That we are responding "subjectively". In the same way, the traffic study carefully examines the wrong issue (speed) and concludes that the danger to pedestrians on Market Street and the erosion of our quality of life are imaginary. Hey- we only live here.

The BS detector employee wouldn't put council in this position.

Obfuscate. adumbrate, becloud, bedim, befog, belie, blear, blind, block, block out, blur, camouflage, cloak, cloud, con, conceal, confuse, cover, cover up, darken, diddle, dim, disguise, double-talk*, eclipse, equivocate, falsify, fuzz, gloom, gray, haze, mask, misrepresent, mist, muddy, murk, obfuscate, overcast, overcloud, overshadow, pettifog*, screen, shade, shadow, shroud, stonewall*, veil, wrap

What they should have studied

Background info
New urbanism
First Priority of the City
66,000 pounds, 48 times per day
WINA Interview
Camel's nose

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Saturday, September 02, 2006

downtown maul

One of the tenets of the "new urbanists" is:

Streets and squares should be safe, comfortable, and interesting to the pedestrian.

We have asked our City to lift the burden of the commercial cut-through traffic abusing our residential neighborhood. The City has responded by instituting a study, They are looking at the speed and volume of traffic.
Speed and volume can be quantified with cables across the road, speed and volume can be measured inexpensively.
I suggest, rather than speed and volume that the City study the origin and destination of the traffic and the tonnage of the traffic. (see excerpts from the City manual)
How might this be done? Alas, it requires human-beings on site, stationed at the entry and exit points of the neighborhood and armed with radios and note-pads.
Perhaps, in lieu of a formal study, someone at the City could send a family member with a baby stroller to walk the 3/10ths of a mile on Woolen Mills Road between with Franklin Street and Meade Avenue? Or, in the alternative, send children on bicycles.

Origin-Destination (O-D) Studies: O-D studies will be conducted when the basic traffic problem relates to excessive cut-through traffic on a particular residential street, or when the problem relates to truck movements through the area. ..It is necessary to use a sufficient number of surveyors to observe all gateways to the neighborhood simultaneously, if a full understanding and documentation of the through traffic problem is to be gained.
(PG 9, City of Charlottesville Traffic Calming device Implementation Guidebook)

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Monday, August 28, 2006


South of the CSX tracks, near the intersection of Carlton Avenue and Carlton Road. Industrial for a century. What was known locally as the "bark mill" was located here. Also known as the extract plant. There was something in ailanthus bark that had a commercial use. Beats me. Special new-age scent? Tree of Heaven musk aroma? Think of the Olfactory cocktail that would be rendered by joining Tree of heaven and bio-solid aromas!
P.S.- RWSA odor hotline people. Who cut the cheese? I've have failed to call you and share that the ammoniac cloud has visited the Woolen Mills on a very regular basis. In portions of the neighborhood everyday. The bouquet is more complex than usual. In addition to the stench of the compost we are getting a healthy dose of the settling ponds "raw sewage smell". Is everything ok down there?

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Wednesday, August 23, 2006

private Katrina

18 wheeler negotiates way through Franklin-Woolen Mills Road intersection, 8/21/06, 1:30PM

Its been a month since Mary's house was hit by a truck and rendered unlivable. At the time she asked her City and her insurance Company to step up and help. She has been paying taxes to the City for 42 years, she has mailed in insurances premiums monthly.
The City's response? No official response, no expression of condolence. A Meeting, as yet unscheduled, will be held at some point, sometime. Can we expect it to be as non-productive as the last meeting we had on this subject May 17, 2005?
The Insurance Company has offered a payment that doesn't begin to cover the cost of making the house livable again.

The number one priority of the City is addressing issues that have a direct impact to health and safety of residents.

Make Franklin Street one way south to its intersection with Broadway and close the street to commercial cut through traffic.

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Wednesday, July 26, 2006


just beyond the Freightliner's right fender, damage from Sunday's hit and run

The first business of a City is to protect the health and safety of its residents.

I wonder if the Locust Grove neighborhood would be willing to loan us their sign for awhile?

More on the subject of cut-through traffic...

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Thursday, July 20, 2006


view of Security Storage and Van Lines from across Moores Creek

This past Monday night Charlottesville City Council voted to deny a petition to upzone the backyard of Woolen Mills "Lot #1". The vote was unanimous and in agreement with the recommendation of the Charlottesville Planning Commission.

Woolen Mills Road background.

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Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Calderon or Obrador?

Could voting by the civic minded illegal expats make a difference?

For the first time, Mexico's presidential election was open to Mexican nationals and dual citizens living abroad... But only about 41,000, or 1 percent, of the estimated 4.2 million eligible Mexican voters living outside the country requested absentee ballots. Almost 88 percent of the 32,632 valid absentee ballots mailed to Mexico's Federal Electoral Institute were from the United States. -The Washington Post

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Friday, June 30, 2006

Stewards, teachers, workers

Messieurs Caravati and Higgins leave the helm of the SS Charlottesville today. No in depth biographies here, but suffice it to say, one man was on the advisory and political side, the other man on staff since before the beginning of time.
They have been exemplary public workers, the thinking side of the City, for fifty years.

The City is in a difficult passage at this time. I will miss these men at the helm. I will miss their reliable good natures, work ethic and wisdom.

Where are the life jackets?

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Tuesday, June 13, 2006

forty years

On a personal note, a friend from out of town called this morning and did an intervention with me on the phone. "Ya got to let this neighborhood stuff go."
I'd like to live in a neighborhood that didn't suffer these perennial advances by the developing class. I like these developers as people, but I disapprove of the process they are employing.

Ironies abound. After deciding the fate of the developers' petition to upzone an R1 lot to PUD the Charlottesville Planning Commission will consider the following:

ZT?06-3-9: An ordinance to amend and re-ordain the following sections of the Code of the City of Charlottesville, 1990, as amended (Zoning Ordinance):

a.) Section 34-158: Special Permits, Application Generally: This is to specify the items which are needed as part of any special permit application, including a preliminary site plan, applicant?s ownership status, Low Impact Development worksheet for certain residential development, massing and context graphics and affordable dwelling unit data.
b.) New Sections 34-165 & 34-166: Infill Development: This provides standards and requirements for residential infill development special permits on property not to exceed 2 acres in total land area. This would also include an infill area map and Low Impact Development checklist by reference.
c.) Section 34-492: Configuration (for PUDs): Adding the requirement that Planned Unit Developments consist of more than 2 acres of total land.

It is my fervent hope that we are in an endgame and that we can once again return to enjoying our quality of life rather than fighting for our quality of life.

Waking up battling the sequelae of zoning imposed on the neighborhood 40 years ago, it is no way to live.

Please, we need your help, 6:30 PM, City Council Chambers, stand with us.

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Monday, June 12, 2006

cultural landscape

Dear Friends of the Woolen Mills, June 12, 2006

Tuesday evening, 6:30PM, June 13, the Charlottesville Planning Commission meets in City Council chambers. Item #1, the consideration of an up zoning petition by developers for the backyard of the Warren S. Graves House, 1610 Woolen Mills Road.

Warren Graves worked for the Charlottesville Woolen Mills from 1880 to 1930. In 1930, he was 71 years old, supervisor of the carding department. He worked twelve hours a day, six days per week earning $7.00 per day.

Graves? house sits on ?Woolen Mills lot #1? so named when the western portion of the Mill Village was subdivided in 1885.

For more information regarding history of the western portion of the Mill Village visit:

The Mill Village extends 6/10ths of a mile along Woolen Mills Road (a.k.a. the Rivanna Turnpike, Three Notched Road or East Market Street) from the intersection of Moore?s Creek and the Rivanna River to 1504 Woolen Mills Road. When the Charlottesville Woolen Mills ceased operation in November of 1962 the neighborhood?s cultural landscape was largely intact.

December 31, 1962, two months after the Mill closed its doors, the City annexed the Mill Village. R2 zoning was imposed on the entire neighborhood (including the graveyard which is still zoned R2!). Additionally, manufacturing zoning was applied to the backyards of houses from 1504 to 1606 Woolen Mills Road.

Since 1982, the Woolen Mills Neighborhood Association has asked that the City switch the ignition off on this zoning bulldozer, to appropriately zone historic areas. Progress has been made, but as this rezoning petition before the Planning Commission highlights, the fabric of history remains under threat.

One of the Virginia Department of Historic Resources?s priorities cited on page 5 of their Guidelines book is:

Address areas where historic resources are threatened.Survey projects for areas or resources threatened by development or neglect are considered high priority.

The neighborhood is in process with the VADHR and the City regarding surveys but that fact hasn?t dissuaded developers from petitioning for a zoning change to allow the construction of seven dwelling units on an 8/10th acre lot in ?supervisor row? of the Mill Village.

Please consider attending the CPC meeting and signaling, with your presence, that you value the cultural and physical character, the built environment, of this historic village at the foot of Monticello.

Please help!

Bill Emory

P.S. If you are unable to attend please send an e-mail to the Planning Commissioners via Ron Higgins referencing ZM?06-3-4: A petition to rezone from R-1S Residential to Planned Unit Development (PUD), with proffers, the property at the east side of Franklin Street.

Mr. Higgins e-mail is


Saturday, June 10, 2006

Westport River

WHEREAS, the Purchasers hope their actions with the subject property will encourage the City of Charlottesville to engage in similar efforts to preserve urban green space, the current quality of life, and cultural tourism in the Woolen Mills Village

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Friday, June 09, 2006

grey lady

WHEREAS, furtherance of the aforementioned purposes, the Purchasers are willing to enter into agreements, easements, or other legally binding prohibitions of any further development of the subject property, and

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Thursday, June 08, 2006


firewatch takes on a new meaning

WHEREAS, the Purchasers wish to purchase the subject property to preserve the fabric of history of this area, formerly known as the Woolen Mills Village, to help preserve the natural habitat of the Woolen Mills Village, to help protect the riverine environment of the Woolen Mills Village, to preserve the viewshed of Monticello, and

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Tuesday, June 06, 2006

uncertain future

Dear Charlottesville Residents,
Please join me at the Planning Commission's June 13 meeting. Developers are petitioning the Commission to upzone the backyard of a historic home in the mill-village district. Currently the land in question is dense with flora and fauna. The developers envision the land dense with dwelling units, driveways, automobiles and rain-gardens.
The meeting is at 6:30P.M. City Council Chambers.
Help us preserve the fabric of history.

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Saturday, May 06, 2006

...and there is no health in us.

I've been reading old deeds. Fascinating to see the promises made, never kept. I suppose that successors in title fail to check the old records. Fail to study what they were to do or not to do.

We have left undone those things which we ought to have done;
And we have done those things which we ought not to
have done...
-BCP 1928

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Thursday, May 04, 2006


You can take the Procyon lotor and dress him up as a 'possum, dress him up as an aardvark, put him in a rabbit suit- hell, install him in the United Nations, doesn't matter.
Mr. Hound, he doesn't work from how a thing looks, he works from how it smells.

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Tuesday, May 02, 2006

civics 101

we have this principle called "separation of church and state".
See the writings of Senor Tomas

Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe

Seems that an explanation is in order. Blank stares from the blog readers. There was a dia sin immigrants rally in Charlottesville Virginia. I think the Catolico Church was the local organizer. The backstory- Albemarle County was the home of Th. Jefferson. The County takes that wall of separation biz pretty seriously. No big stones with the ten commandments loitering on our Courthouse grounds. No creche allowed on the County Office Building property in the month of December.
Ironies abound when words lose their meaning.

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Thursday, April 20, 2006

99 years

(Personal appeals to this City agency not to short-cut through our residential neighborhood go unheeded.
Nothing changes except quickening pace of the erosion of quality of life.)
Note: when concrete trucks accelerate at this corner, the decibels generated are 95db +/-. Very very noisy

This past weekend I had the pleasure of meeting one of our candidates for City Council. He was out walking the neighborhood, shaking hands, listening to citizens' concerns. Mr. Candidate's years of selfless public service mark him as a good man.
In fact, if you look at the resumes of the councilors we have had in the City of Charlottesville over the years, they are a worthy group.

As the Candidate proceeded westward on Woolen Mills Road, I knocked on a neighbor's door and said "here comes Mr. Candidate, would you like to meet him?" After a pause Mary said "No, no I don't think so..." and turned away.

Mary's family has lived in that house since 1906. It's a great house, lovingly cared for. For 100 years Mary's people have upheld their end of the social contract. They have sent children to school, worked in the community, paid taxes.
Mary is retired. Twice a year she holds a potluck and welcomes new people in the neighborhood. She is a citizen any one of us would be proud to count as a neighbor.

So why not meet the candidate? Why not say "hello". No harm in saying hello.

I am speculating here, but I suspect the last four decades have been laced with too many disappointments for Mary to greet a City representative.
Mary has lived in the 900 square foot house of her grandparents and watched as the quality of life in her neighborhood has been steadily eroded by urban planning (or lack thereof).

The neighborhood has engaged the City in a dialog. For close to thirty years, since the formation of neighborhood associations, we have begged, pleaded, chided, cajoled, implored.
It is a short litany, we ask for assistance:

Preserving the rural historic character of our neighborhood
Preventing Inappropriate dense zoning
Eliminating Sewage smell
Dramatically reducing cut through traffic on Franklin Street

How many years have we had a solid Democratic council, plenty. How many Democrats are there in the Woolen Mills, plenty.

We remain hopeful. We can't give up hope.

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Tuesday, March 28, 2006

waste water

RWSA outlet into Moores Creek, currently running at approximately nine million gallons per day

Missed posting yesterday, was busy assembling materials for the Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority board members. They received an excellent technical report from staff regarding the "Compost shed".
A contingent from the Woolen Mills neighborhood spoke before the Board relating the "quality of life effects" imposed by living near the steaming pile, an aspect the technical report didn't specifically address.

Note! Brian Wheeler has posted RWSA audio on his website Charlottesville Tomorrow


In 2003, then Mayor of Charlottesville, Mr. Maurice Cox, challenged city leaders and the Woolen Mills Neighborhood, he said:

I think it is long overdue for the Woolen Mills that they have a clear signal of where their neighborhood is going, and (that it) not be done in this piecemeal fashion.
So I guess my hope would be that out of this process, given the talent that they have in their neighborhood, that they get together and decide that proactively:

'we are going to tell you what the future of our neighborhood is going to be,'

and it is not going to continue to be an erosion of the things that they have come to feel anchor their neighborhood, that?s the residential use and some of the mixed use strategies that they have."
-Maurice Cox April 2003

I personally long for the time when businessmen built their residences next to their places of business, when they were members of a neighborhood, sharing the positive and negative effects their endeavors had on the quality of life in the area they called home.

Such was the case 100 years ago when Henry Clay Marchant lived on hill at the intersection of Moores Creek and the Rivanna River. He was the directing force of the Charlottesville Woolen Mills and his house overlooked his place of business.

The neighborhood takes its name from Marchant?s enterprise and as the business was the seed around which a neighborhood coalesced, the Woolen Mills is often considered by people who don?t know better as an ?industrial? neighborhood.

The Woolen Mills is a residential neighborhood, a Mill Village whose residents historically walked to work. Marchant?s industrialism fit well with the arboreal garden at the base of Monticello Mountain.

The industrial park that lines Broadway Street between RWSA and the Woolen Mills neighborhood was, in the time of the Mill?s operation, a recreational park. My ninety-seven year old neighbor, Lola Knight, remembers watching baseball games there. Sixty-nine year old Jean Strauss remembers playing shuffleboard in the park in the mid 1940?s.

One questions the wisdom of the City and County zoning that has located some of the heaviest industry in this region at the foot of Monticello Mountain, in the view-shed of the crown jewel of Central Virginia tourism.

The Woolen Mills neighborhood shares its south-eastern boundary with Albemarle County. Living on an inter-jurisdictional border is a dangerous affair. RWSA?s county Supervisor is Mr. Lindsey Dorrier. Mr. Dorrier?s most distant constituents are the residents of the Marchant house. Does Mr. Dorrier feel and smell their pain?

Visitors to my house in the Woolen Mills neighborhood wonder why I don?t ask my City Councilor to address the smell issue. Indeed, we, as a neighborhood, have been asking the City Council for relief from the corrosive effects we bear from the industry to our South. We have been asking for relief from the cut-through traffic and smells at least since I moved to the neighborhood in 1987.

In 1918 the Woolen Mill bought its first internal combustion vehicle.

In May, of 2005, during a 24 hour period 14 septic-tank pumping trucks short-cut through the Woolen Mills neighborhood accessing the place where they dump their loads. In the same twenty four hour period thirty-two vehicles emblazoned with the RWSA logo made their way through our residential streets. I was busy counting the traffic that day, I failed to note whether the air smelled of ?composting bio-solids.?

In the summer of 1916 the City?s main sewer pipe, a straight pipe running from the City of Charlottesville to the Rivanna, broke...

"Foul odors wafted across the mill village from the leak. The stench ended only with the arrival of the coldest winter in twenty years."
-Andy Meyers ?The Charlottesville Woolen Mills:
Working Life, Wartime, and the Walkout of 1918?

The leak was referred to in the Woolen Mills Board Minutes taken during the summer of 1917 a year later. Apparently the City was in no hurry to repair the failed pipe.

In my opinion, the odor we currently deal with comes close to meeting the definition of a public nuisance, described in state law:

"as an act that is injurious to health, indecent or offensive to the senses and that interferes with the comfortable enjoyment of life or property."

In 1916-1917 the City responded slowly to complaints from the Woolen Mills neighborhood regarding odor. We hadn?t been annexed then. We were Woolies, Lintheads and Albemarle County Residents to boot.

Show us that times have changed. Give us action to address the smell issue in the current year. Fast track enclosing the compost shed. Transform this mother of all outhouses from a source of community pain to a source of regional pride.

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Friday, March 24, 2006

his master's voice

sound bites

March 13 the director of the local water and sewer authority met with people from east Charlottesville to find out what it is like living near the water treatment plant.

The event comes and goes, then the spinning begins.

The closest one can come to no spin regarding the March 13 meeting between odorantor and odorantees would be to visit the posting by Dan Daniels, a volunteer for the Charlottesville Podcasting Network. It is a recording of the entire meeting between east Charlottesville residents and Bob Wichser, director of Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority operations.

Yesterday, The Hook, local award winning news-weekly, weighed in with a story which covered much of the territory.

In the Hook article, Mr. Wichser notes that some people at the Woolen Mills meeting said they don't smell anything.

Naturally, I wish our political representatives and members of RWSA's board had been in attendance at the meeting.

In the alternative they could listen to the CPN podcast.

If they wanted a condensed, paragraph number one version of the meeting I provide sound bites.

Ackerman- like the rest of the neighbors, the smell is crushing...

Cocke- is it a particulate we are inhaling? Is there some science as to its unquestioned adverse effect on us?

Covert- everything tastes like the sewer, its pretty digusting

Dunham- find an appropriate solution

Emory- the mother of all Johnny Houses

Ewing- the smell is getting worse and worse.


Johns- I find no problem at all.

Jones-Schmidt- Noxious, choking, thick quality of the simply can't breathe

- What is the rationale for keeping the compost operation in its present location?

Unknown- I cannot start a pig sty because of the damage it does to abutting neighbors.

Richards- I can't imagine what is in the air that is affecting us on our physical health level.

Roettger- It's become a joke with my family, that they come to the stinky neighborhood.

Schmidt- The point is, there is a bad smell that is alienating a number of citizens and it needs to be ended.

Wichser- I am director of water and waste water operations.

Wichser- As part of the treatment of the liquid side, solids are generated.

Wichser 02- the basis for why the facility was sited where it is

Wichser 03- I have been there when certain community stakeholders have been somewhat upset with odor issues.

Wichser 04- order of magnitude estimates on enclosing facility

Wichser 05- everyone smells a little bit differently

Wichser 06- the board needs to make the decision and tell us what to do.

Wichser 07- odor is classified more as a nuisance

Wichser 08- wastewater employees are some of the healthiest around

Wichser 09- inorganic organic

Wichser 10- the biosolids have increased

Wichser 11- we will be generating more solids

Wichser 12- additional solids

Wichser 13- growing load

Wichser 14- consider options

Wichser 15- fry an egg


1. Being an unspecified number or quantity: Some people came into the room. Would you like some sugar?
2. Being a portion or an unspecified number or quantity of a whole or group: He likes some modern scupture but not all.
3. Being a considerable number or quantity: She has been directing films for some years now.

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Wednesday, March 15, 2006


I?d like to start by thanking the RWSA for their commitment to composting, and for being open to hearing our comments this evening.

I live in the Marchant mansion. It was built in 1840 and predates the arrival of the sewage treatment plant by well over 100 years. The odors from the sewage treatment plant are something I?ve personally experienced for almost 14 years?other residents on the hilltop for much longer. While other odor-related issues have been dealt with in that time, the composting odors have continued to worsen noticeably over the past 8 years or so. The odors don?t just waft by on a breeze?more typically it?s a blast that hits the hilltop for a minimum of 15 minutes, and quite often lasts an hour or more. This is almost daily occurrence and typically several times a day.

The odors impact our lives on many different levels, only two of which I?ll address this evening. One is from a financial standpoint. We have had a tenant move out within 2 days of arrival due to the fetid compost odor that engulfed our property for a straight 24-hour period. Ethically, I had to break her lease?those are inhumane conditions to expect someone to live under. Prospective tenants tend to view apartments in the early evening, around dinnertime, which is when the fecal odor is usually at its worst. The odor has become so bad, there?s no way that it can explained to prospective tenants as an occasional thing. This is affecting our ability to earn rental income. I honestly don?t know if any of my current tenants can stick it out another year under these conditions, and who could blame them? As the population of the county increases, so will the amount of biosolids that will be composted. The resulting odors will render this hilltop uninhabitable.

On a personal, standard of living level, this situation is harmful and demoralizing. When the odors last for more than 10 minutes, they fill the inside of our house and cause headaches, burning eyes and nausea. It?s the first thing that greets us when we come home from work. We can?t have barbecues? we have a yard, yet it can?t be enjoyed.. We can?t keep our windows open for more than a brief period of time. We?ve frequently been awakened in the middle of the night by the smell.

While composting biosolids is a great idea from an environmental standpoint, the RWSA needs to be sensitive to the fact that they are composting fecal matter next to a residential neighborhood and find an appropriate solution?preferably enclosing the composting area and installing the proper filtration. Thank you.

Comments by Victoria Dunham delivered at Woolen Mills Neighborhood Association Meeting with Bob Wichser, Ph.D., P.E., DEE, Director of Water & Wastewater Operations at Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority. Mr Wichser came to hear neighbors' concerns over smells from the composting facility. Charlottesville Vice-Mayor Kevin Lynch and neighbors from the Belmont/Carlton neighborhood also attended.

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Tuesday, March 14, 2006

the mother of all outhouses

At the dawn of the 20th century there was no City water, gas and sewer in the Woolen Mills Village. People had wells, they heated with wood, coal or fuel oil and they had Johnny houses, out-houses, one and two holers located in their back yards.

At the dawn of the 20th Century, Forty years after the establishment of the Woolen Mills by Henry Clay Marchant, there was no Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority.

At that time The City of Charlottesville had a straight-pipe which ran to the Rivanna River, Presumably the effluent received little treatment. It was dumped into the Rivanna with comments like:

?flush hard, Richmond needs the drinking water.?

Today, following annexation into the City of Charlottesville we have most of the Modern Conveniences. We?ve got running water and indoor plumbing.

The City of Charlottesville and the County of Albemarle have a first class outfit, RWSA, which treats and releases waste water received from 5 pumping stations in the area.

In the Woolen Mills neighborhood one paradox has arisen with the arrival of the 21st century.

We have taken our Johnny Houses down. RWSA, our neighbor to the east and south has built the Mother of All Johnny Houses on a hill atop the south banks of the Rivanna River and Moore?s Creek, opposite the Woolen Mill Buildings.

It's an admirable proposition. Dewatered sewage sludge is mixed with wood chips and lime, then composted, via aerobic biological process until all the pathogens are dead.

One problem. This stinking process happens in an open building next to a populated area.

It is time to close the outhouse door. We support the composting program but we want the stench contained.

The odor can be contained with a capital expenditure supported by RWSA users.

This malodorous exploitation of a neighborhood would not stand in Fifeville or Farmington. Why is it ok in the historic Woolen Mills?

Close the Johnny House door, enclose the composting facility.

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