From the Editor: Will the Master Plan Mean Anything?

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Will the Master Plan Mean Anything?

The nearly yearlong process of updating the Crozet Master Plan began last June when the Crozet Community Advisory Council developed a survey about growth issues that 700 people responded to. Results showed a high degree of community agreement about what Crozetians want the future of the town to be. Essentially, the goal can be summed up as preserving Crozet’s small town characteristics. As for how to do that, roughly three-quarters said that the master plan’s original population goal should be honored by county planners and decisionmakers, that downtown Crozet should remain the core of the town’s future and that development on Rt. 250 and Yancey Mills should be discouraged—all the primary principles of the plan as adopted in 2004.

Since then the CCAC and the county have sponsored community forums on growth issues over the last five months, all well attended, especially the fourth one dealing with light industrial needs, at which, as Supervisor Duane Snow noted, 90 percent of the crowd opposed a new light industrial park at Yancey Mills. At its meetings, the 15-member CCAC—selected by supervisors to ensure a  cross-section of community opinion—has scrutinized details of the plan and hashed out preferred alternatives. In other words, the Crozet public and its representatives have made a diligent effort to study issues and arrive at consensus solutions.

Now the process goes back into the hands of county leaders and we will see if this time the wishes of the people who are affected will have any more standing. The main issue in implementation choices since the plan has existed is does it represent a contract between the county government and the citizens of western Albemarle, whose future quality of life is tied up in the fate of Crozet, or is it merely a protracted and tedious public relations exercise designed to put a fig leaf over choices the government will make in defiance of the clearly stated will of the people. Given their experience, many in Crozet already think they know the answer. But now we shall see.

The General Rule of Budget Cutting

Citizens have been distressed to see that when the county government looks for necessary economies, they do not first consider how or who actually delivers the service the government is trying to provide. So, for example, when the school budget needs to be cut, a threat is made to layoff teachers, the people who are actually face to face with students and delivering instruction, rather than looking at more-behind-the-lines support or the high-paid levels of administration. We saw the same thing when VDOT cut the men who are actually maintaining roads, clearing ditches and plowing snow, but left office workers in Richmond unaffected. The public will support the direct cost of services—the teacher in the classroom, the policeman in his patrol car, the man who mows the parks—more readily than the upper levels of management, who in the exercise of their authority can become detached from the practical realities of their mission. As a general rule, those who are directly providing a service to the public should be considered the most essential.