COVER- ANNUAL MANUAL: Our Town- Community low-down
Size: 10.26 square miles
Change since 2000: -10.5 percent
Density: 3,929 people per square mile
ALBEMARLE COUNTY (about 3/4 the size of Rhode Island)
Size: 722.61 square miles
Change since 2000: +13.9 percent
Density: 127 people per square mile
The only town in the County, Scottsville has the distinction of being so small that election to government offices (of which there are many) is hotly contested.
Size: 1.54 square miles
Density: 360.2 people per square mile
–source: U.S. Census 2006 estimate (except Scottsville, 2000 Census). It remains to be seen if Charlottesville has actually lost 5,000 people in six years or whether the Census is underestimating and about to create another 5,000-person miscount in the 2010 survey as they did in 2000.
What's this area like?
Well, according to demographic firm called ClaritasExpress, the 22901 and 22902 zip codes consist of the following human types: Boomtown Singles, Country Squires, Gray Power, Young Influentials, Bedrock America, Family Thrifts, Hometown Retired, Mobility Blues, Suburban Pioneers and Suburban Sprawl (as if we needed Claritas to tell us that!). According to the census, which is summarized by many folks, women constitute over 53 percent of the local population.
Virginia requires convicted rapists, pedophiles, and other violent sex offenders to register their whereabouts with the state police. You can search the database to see if there's one living near you. http://sex-offender.vsp.virginia.gov/sor/. Don't get too hung up, though; there's always 911 for emergencies.
CHARLOTTESVILLE- In residential areas of the city, the 10pm-6am noise limit is 55 decibels (or about the level of loud talking). Charlottesville police are the enforcers on this one and may be willing to come out and measure the racket with their special meters. 970-9041
ALBEMARLE- Any increase of 15 decibels above the ambient sound level– with a few officially sanctioned exceptions like school events, agriculture, church bells, and the "lawful discharge of a firearm"– is prohibited. The law is broader when it comes to TV and musical devices; it says any annoyance of anybody in a residence is right out. Albemarle police can be reached at 296-5807.
Remove the snow!
CHARLOTTESVILLE- Many people don't realize that a city ordinance requires all citizens to remove snow from the sidewalks along their property within 12 hours of the time the snowfall ceases. (During the blizzard of '96, an altercation broke out when someone dug out a spot for his car, and an interloper parked in it!)
CHARLOTTESVILLE- In the city, you're subject to a fine if you let them grow over 18 inches tall. Not long ago, the city created "no mow" zones near creeks and streams in five city parks, but as for houses, grass must still be mowed within 150 feet of a residence unless a citizen petitions the city to have a riparian buffer zone– and to date, no one has. Moreover, city residents are required to mow up to the street even if the grass in front of their house doesn't actually belong to them. Enforcer: zoning department. 970-3182
The Newcomers Club of Greater Charlottesville says it's open to all who have been residents of the area for less than three years. 980-2725, email@example.com.
Before you dig...
Since undergrounding utilities is all the rage, Virginia has one sweet phone number you should call first to avoid death and injury when you put that shovel in the ground. After you call "Miss Utility," honchos come out, free of charge, and spray-paint lines where underground utilities lurk. 800-552-7001
Currently you are served by only one company. Depending on where you live, it's probably one of the following:
Dominion Virginia Power- 888-667-3000
Allegheny Power- 800-255-3443
Central Virginia Electric Cooperative- 800-367-2832
Rappahannock Electric Cooperative- 800-552-3904
Choosing the juice
While you still don't have any choice over which company attaches its electric wires to your house, you can pick which company produces the energy that flows through them, thanks to a state-mandated competitive program called Virginia Energy Choice. When you sign up for electric service, most of the above utilities should be available. 877-YES-2004
If you're a Dominion customer, you can buy "green" electricity (generated entirely from renewable resources) or wind power from Arlington-based Pepco Energy Services (703-253-1800).
The phone book lists several local providers, but as far as we can tell, the only one that actually provides landlines for a price that doesn't require a second job is... Embarq. Embarq split off from its parent company when Sprint joined forces with Nextel. Embarq inherited Charlottesville's landline and high-speed Internet business and also offers separate wireless service. To establish service, dial 811 from an Embarq landline or 800-304-7628. Businesses can buy local service from Ntelos (877-468-3567) or Telcove (formerly Adelphia) (817-8170), in addition to Embarq's business unit (800-901-9675).
Efficient stuff for heating. Only available through the underground pipes of Charlottesville's City Public Service, which serves the City and nearby suburban areas. Charlottesville Gas even has a new natural gas safety mascot: Flicker the Flame. (Flicker snuffed suggestions "Jack Gas" and "The Flamer.") City Public Utilities is hungry for customers and provides three interesting services: $100 rebates for converting to gas water heaters and installing low-flow toilets, and
one free pilot-lighting of your furnace each year.
Pilot lighting: 970-3801
Propane and fuel oil
An alternative for folks who don't live on the natural gas pipeline. While fuel oil is generally just for heating, many Central Virginia households use propane for both cooking and hot water in addition to heat. Many local companies will fill your tank.
Coal and firewood
UVA, in addition to burning natural gas and fuel oil, also makes heat the old-fashioned way: with coal. But as far as we can tell, no one is selling coal retail in Charlottesville, and there are probably only a few dozen houses with a workable little coal-burning fireplace. As for firewood, every bubba and his brother seems to be selling the stuff come fall. Make sure you get what you pay for. A cord is 128 cubic feet, or 4 ft. x 4 ft. x 8 ft. (or 3 ft. x 6.5 ft. x 6.5 ft.). Prices typically range from $90 to $160 per cord.
In addition to the myriad national providers, residential customers have several firms with a Central Virginia presence to choose from:
Blue Ridge Internetworks - 817-0707
Broadband Network Services, Inc. - 817-7300
Ceva Net - 877-444-2382
Comcast - 888-266-2278
Embarq - 866-228-1362
Firstnet - 817-3131
Helix - 963-4900
Ivy Group - 979-2678
Localnet - 977-2962
Ntelos - 877-4NTELOS
Pure Internet - 866-517-0033
VA.net - 434-296-6055
Many years ago, when cable television was thought to be a natural monopoly, the city struck a deal making Adelphia the sole provider of cable television in the city. In 2006, Adelphia got divvied up between Time Warner and Comcast, the latter of which got dibs the local cable market. Technically, it's not the exclusive provider; it just works out that way. The company provides everything from local broadcast channels to all the premium goods including HBO and Cinemax. 888-266-2278
Dish Network satellite service starts at $19.99/month for 10 months. 800-333-3474 Circuit City offers DirecTV which provides 150 channels for about $41.99/month. 973-0601.
CHARLOTTESVILLE- Before they open the flow, they'll demand a letter of credit or ask you to pay a deposit. But that's not what scares some customers. Ever since the drought of 2002, rates have soared– with the summer water (May-September) price currently $45.57 per 1000 cubic feet and winter $35.05 per 1000c.f. The sewage rate is $35.20/1000c.f. There's an additional $4/month service charge for each utility. Charlottesville Public Service: 970-3211
ALBEMARLE- Albemarle has a scaled-fee system which is consistent all year. Up to 3000 gallons of water is $3.62 per 1000 gallons. From 3000-6000 is $5.43 per 1000g. Above 6000 gallons, your rate nearly doubles to $9.67 per 1000g. Nonresidential and multi-family rates are $5.33 per 1000. The sewer rate is $4.41/1,000 gallons– plus $5.11/month service charge. That's a hike of a couple of dollars across the board, and according to the Albemarle County Service Authority, that's due in part to the County replacing old pipes this year. (Note that Charlottesville and Albemarle calculate their rates differently. Charlottesville uses the cubic foot, which equals 7.48 gallons. Get out those calculators!) Albemarle County Service Authority: 977-4511
If you're not on the water grid...
Many communities in Albemarle County must use well water or trucked-in water because they're not hooked up to the water system by choice or because they're in rural areas. Many suburban houses buy their water from the Authority and then use an in-ground septic system to process wastewater. These things are regulated by the local Health Department at 1138 Rose Hill Drive, which can even show you a little sketch of where your property's septic field is located. 972-6259
Where's my water from?
If you're on either the city or county water system, your water is stored at one of these three reservoirs: the South Fork Rivanna, Ragged Mountain, or Sugar Hollow. The quasi-public body that chlorinates and sells the water to Charlottesville and Albemarle is the Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority. Confused? Yep, us too.
Ye olde droughte
Emergency water restrictions took effect during the infamous summer and fall of 2002. No washing of cars or sidewalks or watering of plants, etc. As a result, now all automatic irrigation systems on the public water supply must contain a rain sensor. If we get another such emergency and you want to report someone breaking the conservation rules, call 970-3040.
TRASH AND RECYCLING
CHARLOTTESVILLE- Curbside recycling is free: newspapers, magazines, catalogs, cardboard, aluminum cans, other metals, and brown, green, or clear glass bottles are picked up at curbside on the day your trash is collected. No plastic bottles, though. City guidelines are available from the City Public Service, 970-3830.
ALBEMARLE- To the eyes of many greenies, Albemarle County stepped back into the dark ages on July 1, 2003 when– aware that there's insufficient market for second-hand glass and plastic– it dropped those two categories as well as cans from its curbside program. Now the county demands that the private trash haulers (who actually do the work) pick up only newspapers and magazines. Find out more from the county Engineering Department, 296-5861.
Now your best bet to offload that flotsam you feel so guilty tossing in the trash is the McIntire Road Recycling Center (906-0763) which accepts almost all major categories including cardboard, books, spray cans, #1 and #2 plastic, and colored glass. M-F 7:30am-5:20pm, Sat 8am-5:20pm, Sun 12:30-5:20pm. If you have a lot of metal– like old radiators or refrigerators– you might get some real money down at Coiner's Scrap Iron & Metal in the Woolen Mills neighborhood. 296-6465
CHARLOTTESVILLE- The city gets this done via a private firm that swings by your house once a week, but you have to pay (to cover landfill fees and encourage recycling) via the dreaded sticker system. Here's how it works. You have to buy stickers, which you affix to your trash can or bag. You can pay weekly by buying 32-gallon stickers for $2.10 each or 13-gallon stickers for $1.05 Or spring for the annual sticker ($94.50) and paste it on the side of your trash can. Details: 970-3146.
$25 large-item disposal- Until 2004, Charlottesville residents got a big bonus: up to two annual visits from a huge truck with a giant claw that would take away jumbo trash like refrigerators, tree limbs, and sofas. They still pick up, but now you have to pay– and you get only two pick-ups a year, even when you pay. To schedule, call 970-3321.
Free leaf pickup- Another bonus of living in the city. Free collection begins each November with pickup of bagged leaves (the city even provides free bags) and vacuuming of raked-to-the-curb leaves. 970-3830
ALBEMARLE- Many people haul their own trash to the landfill or bury it on their property, but most suburbanites hire one of the many private haulers who advertise their services in the Yellow Pages. Typically, they charge $10-20/month.
ALBEMARLE- You're allowed to burn stuff in the county! But there are some rules. Moreover, between February 15 and April 30, open burning may take place only between the hours of 4pm and midnight, unless you're burning a distance of 300 feet or more from woodlands or other material capable of spreading fire to woodlands. Other regulations also apply.
Fire Marshal: James Barber
Albemarle Department of Fire & Rescue: 296-5833
CHARLOTTESVILLE- No outdoor burning in the city.
Fire Marshal: Steve Walton
Charlottesville Fire Department: 970-3240
It operates under the goofy name Materials Utilization Center, but everyone still calls it "The Ivy Landfill." Located on Dick Woods Road (Route 637) in Ivy, it no longer actually puts trash in the ground. Instead, it accepts your garbage and documents that need shredding for $66/ton (less for vegetation) and ships it far away. Hours: 7:30am-4pm Mon-Sat. It accepts the following items for free: paint, motor oil, antifreeze, batteries (including household batteries). The landfill is also the site of the Encore Shop, which proves one man's trash is another man's treasure– for a price. 977-2976
Reporting dead animals
CHARLOTTESVILLE- Call City Public Service (970-3830) or police dispatch (977-9041) for pickup.
ALBEMARLE- Call VDOT (293-0011) or police dispatch (977-9041) for pickup.
Virginia's Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) urges you to report suspected pollution incidents during business hours by calling Amy Owens at DEQ's regional office at 540-574-7800– or the Department of Emergency Management at 800-468-8892 on nights, holidays, and weekends.
In Virginia, potential jurors are selected randomly by jury commissioners using lists designated by the court, such as the voter registration list and the driver's license list. You are reimbursed $30 for each day you serve. See our "Courts" section in Government & Economy for more.
This town contains not only an old-fashioned rural Co-Op, but also a major national catalog retailer in Plow & Hearth, and more garden centers than you can shake a watering can at. Plus, the City of Charlottesville offers 30' x 30' plots of land that can be rented for just $40 a year ($60 to non-residents) in Azalea Park and at the old Fairgrounds near the original Bodo's. Renewal registration starts the first Monday in February. New renters can sign up the third Tuesday in February. 970-3260
Every April, some of the most sumptuous gardens and grounds are open to the gawkers of Historic Garden Week. See "Annual Events" in our Outings section for more. 804-644-7776
Farmer wannabes should call the Virginia Cooperative Extension to find out what the extension agents think you can grow and how to do it. 872-4580
–>>See our "Books" section in Culture for libraries.
Charlottesville Police- Information: 970-3280. Chief: Timothy Longo
Albemarle Police- Information: 296-5807. Chief: John Miller
UVA Police- Information: 924-7166. Chief: Michael Gibson
All emergency calls- For all three jurisdictions: 911
All non-emergency dispatch calls- For all three jurisdictions: 977-9041
Consumer tips–>>See our Consumer section
The most fun time locally is the winter when everyone flips out when it snows. On average we get 24 inches per year, but it takes only a flake or two (or even the threat thereof) to close schools. Remember the February 2003 snow? The National Weather Service claims we had only seven inches, but the granular nature of what fell from the sky was so dense that most area schools were closed for two days after the bulk of the snow had fallen. (Monday, February 16, 2003, Presidents Day, was already a holiday.) That's still well short of the all-time record for Charlottesville, when 20.7 inches fell– on March 6, 1962.
It's not proven, but our state climatologist thinks this area has the makings of a minor tornado belt.
Hot hot heat
Charlottesville averages highs in the mid-80s during the summer, but it's not, as they say, a dry heat. With average relative humidity during the summer months hanging around 70 percent, the average heat index (a.k.a. "feels like") is in the low 90s.
Sources: Virginia State Climatology Office as well as the National Weather Service which has stations in Blacksburg, Sterling, and Wakefield that compile data on this area.