The Crozet Community Advisory Council heard a description of a general plan to redevelop the J. Bruce Barnes Lumber Co. property into a pedestrian mall at its Aug. 19 meeting and voted to adjust its zoning recommendations to allow enough flexibility for the plan to proceed.
Developer Katurah Roell of Piedmont Development Group would have preferred to have the entire site incorporated into the downtown Crozet zoning district. The CCAC’s earlier recommendations for the land included a light industrial designation along the CSX tracks that is meant to entice businesses that might bring jobs to the downtown.
The CCAC had revised the text describing the parcel to allow flexibility about just where on the site the light industrial/flex zoning (a designation that tends to higher end research uses and office space) could be placed. But the map showing the light industrial zone could have been interpreted as conflicting with the text—a situation in the Crozet Master Plan that has caused problems in the past—so the CCAC voted to change the map to show a striped area on the parcel. The coloring is meant to designate that commercial and flex industrial uses could be shifted on the site. The CCAC was unwilling to remove the light industrial color because it wanted the point about employment downtown to be explicit in the plan.
The property will have to go through a formal rezoning process which would allow a detailed examination of a specific development plan.
At this point, developers are trying to gauge whether community sentiment is sufficiently favorable to proceed with such an investment.
Roell said the concept contains about 600,000 square feet of space, about 100,000 of which is for light industrial designation. The design is not meant to accommodate tractor trailers, only delivery trucks. About 215 apartments over stores are contemplated and the plan currently includes about 700 parking spaces. County planning staffers had reacted negatively to the concept’s original placement of a building on the property’s southeast corner. In the revised version shown to the CCAC that corner is designated as green space and presumably would be where walking trails to Claudius Crozet Park and eastern neighborhoods would connect to the pedestrian mall
Neighbors from Hilltop Street and Parkside Village asked about buffers along their property lines and were told that a 20-foot-wide strip of plantings would separate them from the rear parking area behind the buildings. Roell said the buildings themselves would be roughly 60 feet away from the property’s edges.
The design of Main Street through the parcel was discussed and the CCAC was told that the idea was to create a design that kept traffic speeds down. If a roughly two-acre triangular parcel owned by CSX can be acquired, a parallel street along the south side of the tracks could connect The Square with Parkside Village. Roell said the developers had contacted CSX about the possibility of buying the parcel, which CSX does not use now, and had been invited to make an offer.
Lumberyard owner Carroll Conley was at the meeting and was thanked by the CCAC for offering a plan which so well achieves the community’s vision of a walkable downtown with a mix of uses and offers a vibrant and attractive future to Crozet’s historic core.