Size: 10.26 square miles
Population (2011 estimate): 43,511
Change since 2000: -3.4%
Density: 4,246 people per square mile
Size: 722.61 square miles (3/4 the size of Rhode Island)
Population (2011 estimate): 100,553
Change since 2000: +27%
Density: 137 people per square mile
Once a key river town, Scottsville has the distinction of being Albemarle's only incorporated town; and although smaller in population than Crozet, it actually has elected government officials.
Size: 1.54 square miles
Density: 368.8 people per square mile
–source: U.S. Census Bureau
Nearby county populations:
Fluvanna: 26,061- up 28.2%
Greene: 18,660- up 20.7%
Louisa: 33,395- up 29.4%
Nelson: 15,097- up 4%
Buckingham: 17,278- up 9.8%
Orange: 33,938- up 29.4%
Augusta: 73,549- up 12.4%
–source: U.S. Census Bureau (2011 estimates and growth b/w 2000-2010)
Bedroom-athon vexes Greene
What do the above figures mean? For starters, they mean that the outlying counties are bearing the brunt of the growth. That bums them out because while Albemarle and Charlottesville get gobs of college student housing complexes and shopping centers (read: tax revenue), neighboring counties get gobs of students to educate in their public schools (read: tax expenditures). Fact: In 2003, Greene County raised its real estate tax from 74 cents to 79 cents per $100 of value. However, the effect of the Charlottesville exodus may be leveling out, as in 2011, the Greene real estate tax rate dropped to 69 cents per $100.
–>>For local taxes, see our Government section
What's this area like?
Well, according to a demographic firm called Nielsen Claritas, 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 Nielsen to tell us that!). According to the census, women constitute about 53 percent of the Charlottesville-Albemarle 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/.
CHARLOTTESVILLE– In residential areas of the city, the 10pm-6am limit is 55 decibels (or about the level of loud talking), 65 decibels for 6am-10pm. In 2008, the city also created a 75-decibel limit after 10pm (now after 11pm) outside restaurants and anytime in its downtown business district, something that suddenly, controversially (and perhaps inadvertently) outlawed African drumming on the Downtown Mall. Charlottesville police are the enforcers and may be willing to come out and measure the racket with their special meters. 970-9041.
ALBEMARLE– Noise enforcement in the county depends. Mostly, if noise is audible 100 feet from the property line, police can tell you to pipe down. After neighbors started complaining about noise from a winery in 2011, the Board of Supervisors set a 60-decibel limit from 7am to 10pm and 55 decibels after 10pm in rural and residential areas that is enforced by the zoning administrator. And if you have the misfortune to live beside a barking dog in a non-rural area, you have to listen to it bark its head off for 30 minutes before going to the magistrate and getting a summons issued for the yapper's owner. Confused? Plan B: earplugs. 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 snowfall's cessation.
CHARLOTTESVILLE– You're subject to a fine if you let them grow over 18 inches tall, and although the city has "no mow" zones near creeks and streams in five city parks, it took one man's fight against City Hall to adjust the law somewhat. And city residents are still required to mow right up to the street– even if the grass 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
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," someone comes out, free of charge, and spray paints lines where underground utilities lie. 811 or 800-552-7001
Currently you are served by only one company. Depending on where you live, it's probably this one:
Dominion Virginia Power 888-667-3000
But it could also be one of these:
AEP-Virginia - 800-277-2177
Central Virginia Electric Cooperative - 800-367-2832
Rappahannock Electric Cooperative - 800-552-3904
Some solar/wind companies:
Cville Solar - 981-1076
Altenergy Incorporated - 293-3763
Old Mill Power Company - 979-9288
Skyline Turbine - 540-246-9463
The following company offers local service: CenturyLink (residential 888-723-8010; business 800-786-6272). Businesses can also buy local service from Level 3 Communications (877-253-8353).
AT&T - 1252 Emmett Street, 242-8900
nTelos - 220 Shoppers World, 882-7014, and 3479 Seminole Trail Suite 4, 882-4529
U.S. Cellular - 302 Pantops Ctr, 971-7691, Fashion Square Mall, 973-9674, and 632 Albemarle Square, 973-1674
Verizon - 874 Rio East Ct, 973-5022, and 100 Riverbend Dr, 293-3216
Efficient stuff for heating. Available only through the underground pipes of Charlottesville's Public Utilities, which serves the city limits and nearby suburbs. Public Utilities is so hungry for customers it provides several helpful services: one free pilot-lighting of your furnace each year as well as $100 rebates for converting to programmable thermostats, gas water heaters, and even low-flow toilets.
Pilot lighting & gas emergency: 970-3800
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 those cute little coal-burning fireplaces anyway. As for firewood, every modern-day Paul Bunyan and his brother seems to be selling the stuff come fall.
Make sure you get what you pay for in firewood, as a cord is 128 cubic feet, e.g. 4 x 4 x 8 or 3 x 6.5 x 6.5. Prices typically range from $90-$160 per cord.
In addition to the myriad national providers, residential customers have several firms with a Central Virginia presence to choose from, including:
Blue Ridge Internetworks - 817-0707
Broadband Network Services, Inc. - 817-7300
Ceva Net - 877-444-2382
Pure Internet - 888-392-4804
Many years ago, when cable was thought to be a natural monopoly, the city struck a deal making Adelphia the sole provider. In 2006, Adelphia was divvied up between Time Warner and Comcast, the latter of which got dibs on 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 public access (which gives City Council and other civic meetings) to all the premium goods including HBO and Cinemax. 800-266-2278
CHARLOTTESVILLE- Before they open the taps, the city demands a letter of credit or a deposit. But that's not what scares some customers. Ever since the drought of 2002, rates have skyrocketed, essentially tripling since 1999 levels. And with the summer water (May-September) priced higher than "winter" water, there are incentives to save. Including your 10 percent utility tax, you should be looking at a monthly bill of $74 for using 5,000 gallons. Charlottesville Utility Billing Office. 970-3211
ALBEMARLE- Like Charlottesville, leaders want to encourage conservation, so in 2009, Albemarle implemented a system that drastically rewards thrift and punishes gluttony. Your total monthly bill for using 5,000 gallons (including that pesky 10 percent tax) should be a little over $65. See the nearby didja know. Albemarle County Service Authority. 977-4511
didja know? If you live in Albemarle and dwell in a single-family house, you can dramatically curtail your water bill by using less than 3,000 gallons a month because rates increase $3.32 per 1,000 for each 3,000 gallons you use per month– up to the 9,000-gallon-a-month level, which is where lawn-watering will get you!
If you're not on the sewer grid
Then you should save about half from your bill! Make sure to regularly get your in-ground septic system pumped– about every five years or so– because rebuilding a septic field can cost over $10,000. These things are regulated by the local Health Department at 1138 Rose Hill Drive, which can show you a little sketch of where your 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 five reservoirs: Beaver Creek if you live in Crozet, Ragged Mountain, at which a larger new dam is being built, South Fork Rivanna, Sugar Hollow, or Totier Creek if you live in Scottsville. The quasi-public body that chlorinates and sells the water to Charlottesville and Albemarle is the Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority. Current water controversy is the planned addition of chloramines to the local water supply.
Ye olde droughte
Emergency water restrictions took effect during the infamous summer and fall of 2002. No washing of cars, sidewalks, 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 rules, call 970-3040.
CHARLOTTESVILLE- Curbside recycling is free: newspapers, magazines, catalogs, cardboard, aluminum cans, other metals, even #1 and #2 plastic bottles and glass bottles are picked up at curbside on the day your trash is collected. The city also contracts with Van der Linde Recycling for household trash, which means that everything thrown in your trash can goes to the company's state-of-the-art recycling facility on Route 250 East. Private companies, such as Dixon Disposal, also offer trash and recycling services for individuals and businesses. Guidelines available from the City Public Service, 970-3830.
ALBEMARLE- If you live in the county you'll have to contract with a private hauler, as the county doesn't offer trash and recycling services. However, thanks to Van der Linde Recycling, nearly all major county haulers now offer single stream recycling. There's also the McIntire Road Recycling Center (906-0763) which is open to city and county residents, and accepts almost all major categories including cardboard, books, spray cans, #1 and #2 plastic, and colored glass. W-F 8:30am-5:20pm, Sat 9:30am-5:20pm, Sun 12:30-5:20pm. And if you have a lot of metal, you might get some real money down at Cycle Systems in the Woolen Mills neighborhood. 296-6465
ALBEMARLE- While some people haul their own trash to the Ivy Transfer station, bury it on their property, or take it to Van der Linde Recycling, most suburbanites hire one of the many private haulers who advertise their services in the Yellow Pages. Typically, they charge $20-25 a month.
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. You have to buy stickers, which you affix to your trash can or bag– weekly– by buying 32-gallon stickers for $2.10 each or 13-gallon stickers for $1.05. Or spring for the annual trash decal (32-gallon:$94.50/50-gallon: $147.50/64-gallon: $189.00/96-gallon: $283.50) and paste it on the side of your trash can. These can be purchased at City Hall or at any number of local grocery and convenience stores. For more information, call 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. To schedule, call 970-3830.
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. They'll also take your Christmas tree and debris after a storm. 970-3830
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: Howard Lagomarsino. Albemarle Department of Fire & Rescue: 296-5833
CHARLOTTESVILLE– No outdoor burning in the city without the Fire Marshal's approval. Certain grills and artificial pits for cookouts are fine, but check first to be sure yours has the okay. Fire Marshal: Gary Whiting. 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 but does accept your junk for around $66/ton (and then ships it far away). Hours: 7:30am-4pm Mon-Sat. Effective July 2010, the facility stopped collecting batteries, paint, and fluorescent light tubes on a regular basis. You can, however, dispose of many of these items at Van der Linde Recycling, which some locals call our "landfill of the future," on a regular basis. The Ivy facility is also the site of the Encore Shop, which lets people claim "trash" as treasures. 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 citizens to report suspected pollution incidents during business hours by calling Jennifer Welcher at 540-574-7854 at DEQ's regional office (main number 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. Jurors are reimbursed $30 for each day.
This town contains not only an old-fashioned rural co-op (Southern States), 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'x30' 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 Emmet Street 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 during Historic Garden Week. See "Annual Events" in our Outings section for more. 804-644-7776
For years, watching schools close and grocery store shelves cleaned out over an inch of snow (or less) held a certain entertainment value, but no one was laughing during the winter 2009-10 when two massive storms–- Snowpocalypse and Snowmageddon–- dropped nearly two feet of snow each. In all, nearly 60 inches fell– more than double the annual average of 24 inches. The storms ended the debate over whether the 20.7 inches that fell on March 6, 1962, or what seemed like at least two feet of snow that began falling on January 6, the "Blizzard of 1996," was the record.
Nationally, the trend continued in 2010-2011, with blizzards hitting most of the county. At one point in mid-January, 69.4 percent of the lower 48 states was covered in snow, and 49 states, including Hawaii, had some snow. The only state spared the fluffy white stuff was Florida. Remarkably, while many areas of the Southeast were hit with blizzards, Central Virginia was largely spared.
The 2012 heat wave
The Newsplex says that the late June/early July scorching that culminated July 8 with 105-degree temps (when many of us still were without power) was the hottest temperature here since August of 1999 and that the last time it was hotter than 105 was in September of 1954. Not only that, the first half of 2012 was the warmest first six months on record. Normally Charlotesville averages highs in the mid-80s during the summers, and with average relative humidity hanging around 70 percent, the average heat index makes it feel like the low 90s.
In May 2008, we got a good scare when tornadoes touched down to the southeast of us in Suffolk, and tornado warnings led local TV news to preempt primetime programming in favor of wall-to-wall coverage of falling rain. But no funnel clouds touched down in this immediate area. Although many speculated a series of microbursts that hit Charlottesville in early June 2010 and knocked power out for days might have been tornadic, in fact, the last time our part of the state saw serious tornado damage was September 30, 1959, when a twister killed 10 in Ivy. Of course, that's nothing compared to the devastating tornado activity in Mississippi, Alabama, Missouri, and Oklahoma in 2011, which claimed 546 lives, compared to 564 dead in the last 10 years combined. And June 29, we added a new weather experience to our disaster list: derecho, which swept through with winds averaging 75mph, knocked out power for 70 percent of Albemarle, and killed two people with falling trees.
Sources: University of Virginia Climatology Office as well as the National Weather Service with stations in Blacksburg, Sterling, and Wakefield that compile data on this area.
When power goes out, the worst areas to be are rural, of course, but especially hard hit are fancy areas like Ivy and neighborhoods like Bellair, and way south of town in Esmont, which held the record for most days without electricity following the June 29 derecho.