Following five months of public forums on possible changes to the Crozet Master Plan, the Crozet Community Advisory Council finalized its recommendations at its March 18 meeting, mainly with the goal of reducing possible residential densities and discouraging commercial and industrial development on Rt. 250 and in Yancey Mills. The CCAC’s recommendations will go to the Albemarle County Planning Commission April 6 for a “workshop” review. A public hearing on the revisions will be held in June and the Supervisors are expected to get the document for action in July.
Responding to public concern about the incentives the Master Plan contained that could introduce commercial uses or high-density housing into established neighborhoods, the CCAC eliminated densities higher than six units per acre in the western and northern sections of town, extending in an arc from the Jarmans Gap Road area to the firehouse. If adopted, new residential density in that quadrant would range from three to six units per acre. Six units is the typical designation for townhouses. The Council saw future development in these areas as having an “in-fill” character that should stay compatible with existing housing types.
The intermittent creek just north of downtown was settled on as the boundary between commercial and residential uses, though the council agreed that one property just north of the creek that is now for sale is a possible candidate for commercial use and it encouraged the county to be flexible in evaluating potential uses for it.
Responding to development applications submitted after the plan was ratified in 2004 in which high density projects were proposed on the development area boundary—a contradiction of the original plan concept in which density intensified toward the center of town—the CCAC agreed with a proposal by county planning staffers to create a new designation for two units per acre. That density would be assigned to the western edge of the Growth Area (along Lanetown Road) and to the northern area along Buck Road and Laurel Hills. In line with that concept and to encourage investment in downtown, in 2006 the Supervisors created a new downtown zoning district in Crozet in which traditional town street fronts are encouraged and buildings up to four stories are allowed by right. The 56-acre district also has residential densities of 36 units per acre, imagined mainly to be apartments over stores.
The reduction of densities in residential areas means that the build-out population for Crozet possible in the plan will be in the range of 15,000 to 17,500. The 2004 document was developed for a climax population of 12,500, the sum of existing zoning designations in the Growth Area, but in subsequent rezoning applications county officials interpreted the plan as allowing a population of 24,000, larger than Waynesboro and half the size of Charlottesville. Crozet citizens felt their two-year effort to create the plan had been betrayed, and the CCAC was determined that the mandated review of the plan would scrub out language and map designations that contributed to the higher population interpretation.
In downtown, the existing plan was unaltered, except that should the 20-acre Barnes Lumber Co. sell and come up for rezoning from heavy industrial, the council said it should be zoned commercial and a portion along the railroad tracks, from 5 to 8 acres, could be zoned light industrial.
Residential densities in neighborhoods adjoining downtown, such as Tabor Street, Hilltop Street and Blue Ridge Avenue, were all reduced and mixed use disallowed. Only the west side of Carter Street, where several parcels are vacant, was left eligible for mixed use.
East of downtown, the residential strip between the firehouse and Starr Hill Brewery was undisturbed, though its viability for mixed use or commercial development was studied. Those uses were judged premature before downtown itself is more developed and the question was deferred for consideration again in five years when the next update is done. The council also approved of drawing the growth area boundary in that vicinity toward Three Notch’d Road in order to protect a stream that feeds Beaver Creek reservoir.
To enlarge the amount of light industrial zoning in the growth area, a parcel contiguous to existing light industrial zoning on the west side of Parkview Drive, near Crozet Veterinary Care Center, was proposed for light industrial use. It is currently zoned rural.
On the east side of Crozet, the council left in place a conjectural elementary school site near Claudius Crozet Park, though the need for it was uncertain. A location for so-called “eastern park,” south of Western Ridge, was also left in, though it is not clear how it could be developed.
The council called for an explicit description of “eastern avenue,” which will someday connect Cory Farm to Rt. 240 at the MusicToday complex, including that it have a median, bike lanes and no truck traffic.
The CCAC also recommended that a road connect Henley Middle School to Old Trail Drive.
The Council also reiterated its strong opposition to the creation of a 184-acre light industrial park at Yancey Mills and opposed a request to change the designation of a parcel at the northeast corner of the Rt. 250/Crozet Avenue intersection from residential to commercial. On the opposite corner, where Gateway Gas is, a substantial commercial development is already approved but not built.
The council heard a report form White Hall Supervisor Ann Mallek that the easements needed to proceed with the Crozet Avenue streetscape project are being signed and that the relocation of utility poles and lines will begin within 30 days of the last signature. Money for the project remains allocated in the county budget.
In annual spring organizational business, the departing members of the CCAC, whose terms have expired, include Barbara Westbrook, Terry Tereskerz, Mary Rice and Jo Anne Perkins. Original member Jim Stork passed away in the fall. Michael Marshall and Tim Tolson will remain for an additional year beyond their original terms in order to establish a replacement cycle in which one-third of the council make-up changes every year, rather than one-half.
Twelve citizens applied for the five vacant seats, including Megan Bailey, James Crosby, Cliff Fox, Mary Gallo, Lucy Goeke, Paul Grady, Matthew Guthrie, Chuck Johnston, Charles Mitchell, Danny Newton, Brenda Plantz, Sarah Spears, Mark Watson, Peter Welch and Meg West.
The Board of Supervisors is expected to make appointments April 7 and the new members will join the council for its April 15 meeting.