Cottage Project Proposed for Crozet Avenue Site at April CCAC Meeting

The current struture at 1278 Crozet Avenue is considered a demolition project by contractors who have examined it.
The current struture at 1278 Crozet Avenue is considered a demolition project by contractors who have examined it.

A four-unit residential development proposed by developer Charles Schreck for a parcel three doors north of the Dairy Queen at 1278 Crozet Avenue was discussed by the Crozet Community Advisory Council at its April 18 meeting and met with a positive response.

The parcel, now zoned for two units, is eligible for up to six units according to the Crozet Master Plan. It is commonly referred to as “the Oakley property” and has an early 19th century house on it that was originally built south of the railroad tracks and has been moved twice in its history. Unoccupied for years, it has virtually no level or plumb surface in it and is considered a demolition project by contractors who have examined it. The property was the focus of an effort to have it included in the downtown commercial district, but that idea was opposed by neighbors who feared it would lead to creeping commercial zoning changes into the northern neighborhoods, and it also failed to win the agreement of the CCAC. The boundary between commercial and residential area was left at an intermittent stream, essentially a drainage ditch, that is the south edge of the property.

Schreck proposed to replace the house with another with a similar “vernacular architecture” style and to place three units along a driveway behind it, either cottages or townhouses.

“I’m not interested in commercial or high density,” said Schreck, who said he was reluctant to proceed with a decision on how to site the rear units before learning if the concept was suitable. He said the houses would be two-stories and in the 1,700- to 2,000-square-foot range.

“Architecturally, I’m very aware of the streetscape,” he said. “It will look like the side of Crozet Avenue north of the tracks—front porches, shutters.

“We have a water barrier problem on the property. We’re restricted by code in what we can do with the original home. I need to take it down. It’s a mess.”

Schreck said the county may reduce stream buffer requirement from 100 to 50 feet in this location, as it already has for a parcel on the opposite side of the ditch.

CCAC member John Savage said, “There are no red flags raised here,” and Bill Schrader agreed, conveying the CCAC’s general approval pending the development of more details about the housing types. Schreck said he would come back to the CCAC to discuss a more elaborated plan.

On other topics, county director of facilities management Trevor Henry told the  CCAC that the utility relocation project, which is undergrounding electric and telephone lines through downtown, is half complete. He said construction bids to build sidewalks and other improvements to Crozet Avenue, called the Streetscape project, should be back by August. Henry said the county intends to make special efforts to communicate with affected businesses throughout the construction process and to mitigate it effects on customer access to businesses as much as possible. The construction of Library Avenue means that a detour route through The Square will help keep traffic moving while one lane of Crozet Avenue is closed.

The fence separating the railroad tracks from The Square parking lot, a requirement in CSX’s agreement to transfer ownership of the lot to the county, will be installed this month, Henry said.

He also reported that the problem of wheelchair access to the lower level of the new library from its parking lot has been resolved through a new grade for the sidewalk.

The grand opening of the new library is set for September 28, said Schrader. Library staff will take over the building in August.

Lucie and Alice Taylor cross the finish line at the James Sun Memorial 5k in Old Trail April 28. Photo by Ryan Jones.

White Hall District Planning Commission representative Tom Loach told the CCAC that during the review of the county’s Comprehensive Plan its been established that enough housing units have already been approved in the county to meet expected demand through 2030 and that there is no need to consider expanding the boundaries of the Growth Areas.

Following the death of Carroll Herring, who was struck by a hit-and-run motorist while he was at his mailbox on Rt. 250 near Brownsville Road, the CCAC asked the county for stricter enforcement of the 45 mile-per-hour speed limit and placement of speed monitoring radar on that stretch of highway. Western Albemarle High School student James Sun was hit and killed by a car not far from that spot, too, and the 5K race established by his classmates in his memory was run in Old Trail April 28.