Public Hearing on Lumberyard Project Set for June 17

Barnes Conception Plan, May 2014.

The Albemarle County Planning Commission will hold a public hearing on a plan by developer Frank Stoner of Milestone Partners to develop the 20-acre former Barnes Lumber Company property in downtown Crozet on June 17 beginning at 6 p.m. in Lane Auditorium in the McIntire Office Building in Charlottesville.

The Crozet Community Advisory Council, a group of 15 citizens appointed by the Board of Supervisors to advise them on implementation of the Crozet Master Plan, will meet the night before at 7 p.m. at The Meadows community hall to craft a consensus position to declare to the Planning Commission. The CCAC has set another meeting with county senior planner Claudette Grant for June 8 at 2 p.m. to go over her report on the project.

Grant met with the CCAC on the subject in April as well.

“The county and you [the people of Crozet] are looking for, primarily, employment there and commercial opportunity and some residential, but not heavy residential. We have asked the developer for clarification of residential use,” Grant said then.

Her report found seven “big issues”: the builder’s commitment to employment; the location of a community “green” or plaza; transportation, referring, she said, to a lack of connectivity in the road plan; phasing of development; stormwater concerns; proffers that need revision; and a water and sewer capacity concern raised by the Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority.

“Housing would develop first,” said Grant. “We don’t want to end up with a residential development. We want an employment base.”

Stoner’s plan is referred to as a “conceptual plan” by both Stoner and county planners. He responded to Grant’s first report May 5.

“For this particular area the Crozet Master Plan is clear about the expectation of a mixed-use downtown,” Grant said May 30. “There is a difference between a “mix of uses” on a site and mixed-use, which is multiple uses on different levels of a building. In a district like the downtown ordinance there’s lots of flexibility and optional uses.”

Stoner’s plan calls for a mix of uses in the western commercial sectors of the plan and residential units, including single-family houses, in the east.

“We’ve had a lot of back and forth over the civic space,” said Grant. “He describes it as an intersection. How’s that?”

Stoner’s plan says 15 percent the property will be given over to green space, two thirds of that, two acres, will be in the storm water detention system in the parcel’s east corner, leaving roughly an acre to be used in the commercial sectors.

On the transportation side, Stoner added a “mini roundabout” at the end of The Square as a traffic management solution.

Grant said county planners had asked Stoner to take out some of the detail about interior roads in his plans, so that the staff would not be reviewing details that may change before a plan would be finalized.

Oak Street, which connects The Square to Library Avenue, a 40-foot right of way, is extinct in Stoner’s plan, which Grant called a “negotiating point” in the final decision about road design. “Most times there’s room for variation.”

Stoner’s road timetable calls for a short section of road to spur off Parkside and give access to residential lots. Next would come a connection from Library Avenue to High Street, then from High Street to The Square. The last phase would be to connect the west and east stubs through the center of the property. Stoner will turn over the road to the public.

Grant said planners had called Stoner’s attention to the road design section of the ordinance, which shows a street with a tree-size planting median in the center, dividing one travel lane, bike lane and on-street parking on each side.

Stoner said he did not “believe a median was appropriate in a downtown retail district.”

Stoner wants to address the thorny issue of parking after he’s been given the rezoning, Grant said. Space requirements will depend on the square footage of the buildings proposed.

Grant said Stoner has permission from CSX to add their triangular, two-acre parcel along the tracks (opposite the U.S. Joiner building) to the planning process. Stoner shows the area as “mixed-use residential.”

“We give the Planning Commission guidance in respect to the facts and point at issues to consider,” she said. Her report is expected by June 9. She avoided the matter of its likely contents, deferring that to publication day.

“The Crozet Master Plan is really focused on employment and light industrial and research uses,” she noted.

Grant said she got periodic inquiries about the lumberyard until Stoner submitted his plan.

Approval by the Planning Commission would set up the plan for a Supervisors’ vote, usually making their agenda about 60 days later, Grant said.

She expects the developer to pressure the pace. “[Stoner]’s trying to meet his own deadline,” she said. “He’s been clear about that.”