From the Editor: Thanks for the Pictures/How to Save the Bay


Thanks for the Pictures

An old adage says that a picture is worth a thousand words, and the truth of that has come home in the redevelopment of the Barnes Lumber Company property in downtown Crozet. The project will require a rezoning to proceed, and presumably that means a plan the public can get behind.

Project designers have been asking what it is Crozet citizens want to see there. For the last year and a half, through their representatives on the Crozet Community Advisory Committee and at mass town meetings, the people have tried to describe what their vision is. But so far the pictures that have responded to their words are met with, “No, that’s not it.”

One of Crozet’s special traits is its spirit of volunteerism and the readiness of Crozetians to stand up and work for the future they want. Retired architects Susan Nelson and Warren Byrd, who have the expertise needed and a unique background with the Crozet Master Plan, have realized the community’s vision in a plan they presented to the CCAC at its August meeting and which readers can study on pages 6-10.

Straightforward, simple in an elegant way, and seeming to emerge from the environment around it, their plan has the quality of appearing to be what was always meant to be there. It incorporates all the design goals of the town—a plan that addresses traffic in downtown, that offers a town square and maximizes available green space while not sacrificing the development potential that hopefully will bring jobs to town—and all the while putting people before cars. This is what our vision of downtown is and we can say yes to it.

The Gazette, presuming to speak on behalf of the town, offers its sincere thanks to Byrd and Nelson for their great generosity as citizens in offering us this picture and for lifting our hope that our historic town center will live on with a vibrant heartbeat.

How to Save the Bay?

Another special thanks goes to Dirk Nies, the Gazette’s science-explainer, for his investigation of the county’s mandated obligations to help reduce excess nutrient and sediment flow to the Chesapeake Bay, which is gradually being smothered. Like all problems where dozens of vectors are in play, the situation is not simple and the remedial costs appear huge.

Albemarle’s role in Bay pollution is negligible—roughly two to three percent of the problem starts with us—compared to what data shows about the sources of trouble in the upper Bay and in the densely urbanized areas that have grown up around Washington and particularly Baltimore.

County officials are on the verge of imposing noticeably higher property tax rates or introducing new fee structures to provide the money for stream protection projects.

They should pause now and reassess their plans. Current local efforts at stream improvement are showing progress and future projects should be targeted to produce truly meaningful results. Even if every drop of water flowing out of our county were rendered pure as it left, the Bay’s general health would be unchanged.

We love the Bay and we will do our share to protect it, but we should not be asked to squander money that we need for other valuable purposes too.


  1. Dear Crozet Gazette,

    I live in Ivy and am an avid reader of the Crozet Gazette. I am writing in response to the September 4th editorial “How To Save The Bay”.

    I am disturbed that you dismiss as “squandered money” the efforts by Albemarle County to “help reduce excess nutrient and sediment flow to the Chesapeake Bay.” The efforts by Albemarle County aren’t only designed to clean and protect the Chesapeake Bay; their plan will clean and protect OUR rivers and streams, too.

    You might ask is this necessary? Are our streams and rivers in danger? To answer that, please look at a recent report from the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality which declared that over 75 miles of streams in Albemarle County were impaired. That included local waterways such as the South Fork of the Rivanna, parts of the James River, Schenk’s Branch, Lickinghole Creek, Biscuit Run, Mechums River, Moores Creek, and Meadow Creek. The County’s plan will help restore these precious waterways. Even those who aren’t concerned about river and stream quality will appreciate the County’s efforts to restore wetlands that will help prevent flooding.


    Carolyn O’Neal
    [email protected]


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