Stormwater and attempted abductions: Charlottesville and Albemarle news briefs

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Dave Norris (foreground) and fellow city councilors look on as a Charlottesville resident argues against a new stormwater utility fee. Norris was the sole member of Council to vote against the fee last week. Photo by Graelyn Brashear. Dave Norris (foreground) and fellow city councilors look on as a Charlottesville resident argues against a new stormwater utility fee. Norris was the sole member of Council to vote against the fee last week. Photo by Graelyn Brashear.

Miss a day, miss a lot. Here’s our regular roundup of the latest Charlottesville and Albemarle news briefs, which hits print Tuesdays.

Council approves stormwater utility fee  

The Charlottesville City Council voted 4-1 last Tuesday to enact a utility fee on all property owners that will pay for a long-delayed overhaul of the city’s stormwater system.

Leaders of several local churches organized a last-minute campaign against the fee, saying that it’s unfair to non-taxable nonprofits like theirs. State law prohibits localities from taxing church real estate, but because the new stormwater measure institutes a fee and not a tax, it will apply to all property owners in the city—including churches.

Starting in January of 2014, property owners will be billed twice a year on a monthly charge of $1.20 per 500 square feet of impervious surface, and according to Charlottesville Tomorrow, the city will increase its stormwater funding from $945,000 a year to more than $2.5 million.

City Councilor Dave Norris voted against the fee, saying the increased cost to property owners amounted to a new tax, and that the stormwater update, while important, wasn’t worth the expense.

UVA moves to dismiss professor’s lawsuit

A UVA engineering professor under investigation for cheating the University out of $1 million via his personal consulting business is suing the school for $100,000, claiming UVA police illegally took items during a search of his home, but UVA wants the suit dismissed.

University police began investigating Paul E. Allaire in November after an internal probe raised concerns that he was using resources in a UVA industrial and machinery lab to benefit his own side business, according to The Daily Progress and NBC reports. But Allaire, who has not been charged with a crime, said a recent 10-hour search of his home resulted in the seizure of privileged information. In a three-page response, UVA called the civil suit frivolous and asked for it to be dismissed, and said that it’s not the proper defendant, as Allaire’s property is now in the hands of the Albemarle County Commonwealth’s Attorney.

The Daily Progress reported that while UVA put Allaire on administrative leave last May, he was still listed online last week as director of the Rotating Machinery and Controls Industrial Program, the lab police believe Allaire used for his own benefit.

Suspect in latest UVA assault attempt still at large  

A female UVA student reported an attempted abduction and assault on Grounds last week, the second such incident this academic year.

According to NBC29, police said the student was attempting to hail a cab along Rugby Road around 2:30am on Sunday, February 17, when a car pulled over and she got in. The car continued driving past her residence, and the driver locked the doors and tried to assault her. According to the report, the student kicked the driver and got out of the car.

Four days after the incident, The Hook reported new details about the suspect, describing him as a “tall and chubby” middle-aged Indian man who spoke broken English. The man was driving a dark four-door sedan that was not marked as a taxi, and UVA police are still searching for the individual.

In November, police arrested a 26-year-old man after he grabbed a 19-year-old student walking alone at night and attempted to drag her into his car.

TJPDC and city to hold public housing workshops

The Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission and the City of Charlottesville have scheduled several meetings in the coming months to discuss public housing and development in the city and surrounding counties. The public input will assist the creation of a consolidated plan that will help guide the use of dwindling federal funds over the next five years.

The first meeting will be held at 7pm Thursday, March 7 at the TJPDC’s offices at 407 E. Water St. A public workshop will follow at 3:30pm Wednesday, March 13 in the same location, followed by a public hearing before City Council at 7pm Monday, May 6 at City Hall.—Allie Cooper and C-VILLE writers

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