Developers Propose Increased Housing Density in Foothill Crossings

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Civil engineer Scott Collins and Riverbend Development President Alan Taylor introduced the Crozet Community Advisory Council to the possibility of rezoning 15 acres on the west edge of Foothill Crossing from R-1, one house per acre, to three or four houses per acre at its meeting January 21. The site is in eastern Crozet at the future junction of Park Ridge Drive and “eastern avenue,” a planned artery for the area, part of which will be built as part of the West Lake Hills development, which recently broke ground on the east side of the Westhall neighborhood.

No formal request for the rezoning has been submitted yet.

“We’re trying to rezone to be transitional,” explained Taylor. The county’s Comprehensive Plan allows the site to be developed with three to six units per acre.

Taylor said the rezoning would result in 60 houses, rather than 15, being built.

Asked by CCAC member Leslie Burns what sort of houses they would be, Taylor said, “They’ll be very nice homes, but at a lower price point because the lots will be smaller.”

Collins said that Park Ridge Drive will be extended to connect to Parkside Village in the next 12 months, giving the Crozet Park neighborhoods  a new way to reach Rt. 240 and a second exit besides Tabor Street.

Taylor said the connection to Park Ridge Drive would happen before a connection southward to West Lake Hills. The company is proceeding with a by-right development of 67 townhouses and three single-family homes on 17.4 acres directly adjacent to Parkside Village that is to be known as The Villas at Foothill Crossing.

Taylor was not forthcoming about this project and CCAC members were alarmed two days after the meeting when they received a notification about the Villas from county planning staff informing them of a plan submission. CCAC members at first thought they had been misled by the presentation they had heard until they got a clarification about the second project.

Residents of the Crozet Park neighborhoods complained sharply about the heavy traffic on their inadequate roads and wondered how more units could be planned for a congested area.

This raised again the question of how eastern avenue could come into existence. Its completion requires either a bridge over Lickinghole Creek to connect to Cory Farm on Rt. 250, or a crossing of the railroad tracks in the vicinity of the former Acme Visible site on Rt. 240, which was recently cleared of its buildings as part of an environmental cleanup.

Residents of existing houses in Foothill Crossing complained that they chose their homes with the expectation that others similar would be built in their neighborhood, not others more crowded.

“We’re asking the CCAC to make a recommendation not to add density until new roads are in,” said Terri Kostiw.

“This community, and every growth area, has been asking for ‘concurrency of growth’,” said White Hall District Planning Commissioner Tom Loach, “meaning that infrastructure should keep up with housing construction.”

“This is the first look,” said White Hall Supervisor Ann Mallek. “There will be later versions of the plan.”

Milestone Partners president Frank Stoner told the CCAC that his firm has completed the purchase of the Barnes lumberyard and the CSX parcel adjoining it.

“We’ve started conversations with several people in this room,” he said, “and hopefully that will expand to the whole CCAC.” Stoner has been meeting with CCAC members privately, those who are willing, to try to persuade them to his view of the as-yet undescribed project.

The CCAC agreed to form a nominating committee composed of out-going chair Meg Holden, whose term cannot be extended, and John Savage to find candidates for CCAC vice chair. Jennie More was previously elected to succeed Holden as chair. CCAC member David Stoner nominated himself in a message to council members the next day. A vote will be held at the February 19 meeting.

The CCAC then turned to the matter of Crozet’s economic development, a matter that CCAC member Kim Connelly described as arising from Frank Stoner’s suggestion last summer that Crozet form a community development corporation, which typically is created to revive decaying urban areas, not small boom towns.

“What’s economically feasible for Crozet?” asked Connelly. “Is this part of the mandate of the CCAC, or we should take it on as a discussion? Should other groups like the Crozet Community Association or the Downtown Crozet Association take it up?”

David Stoner had prepared a six-point outline of a discussion and action agenda on economic development, which the CCAC turned to next, but without enthusiasm. Much of it struck them as issues—such as ‘What is the community’s vision?’—already investigated and addressed in the Crozet Master Plan.

“It is hugely important to know, but I don’t think we can take this on as the CCAC,” said John McKeon. “We don’t have time for this. I’d be much more comfortable if it came from other members of the community.”

Lee Catlin, an assistant to county executive Tom Foley, was at the meeting and agreed to review the outline to see what information that it asks for is already known to the county. She said she would have answers by the February meeting.

“We want to do organic growth and not hurt the community,” offered county economic development facilitator Susan Stimart.

“We want to know what we want and what we don’t want,” said Mallek.

“The CCAC is the guardian of the Master Plan,” said More. “But how much should we be proactive and how much reactive?”

“We should be proactive about certain locations, such as the Acme site,” suggested Loach.

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