Current Crozet Population Estimated at 6,854

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New CCAC members James King, Mike Kunkel and Martin Violette.
New CCAC members James King, Mike Kunkel and Martin Violette.

The Crozet Community Advisory Committee was trying to find out how much population slack is left in the build-out of the Crozet Master Plan and heard from county planning officials at the CCAC’s April 20 meeting that they estimate the town’s current population at 6,854 people living in 2,753 dwellings. The figure is for the population living within the Growth Area boundary, which encloses about 4.5 square miles.

Crozet’s population in the 2000 U.S. Census was 2,500 and by the 2010 census it had doubled to 5,560.

The Crozet Master Plan projects a final build-out population of about 17,000. The original plan in 2004 was based on then-existing zoning densities and planned for a build-out population of 12,500. After the original plan was ratified, County planners  announced that Crozet was potentially capable of a population of 24,000, which would make it larger than Waynesboro. In the 2010 master plan update, Crozet citizens systematically tried to reduce potential density concentrations, leaving downtown as the most densely allowed zoning with up to 32 units (apartments) per acre.

Planner Elaine Echols said the county does not make population projections but relies on data produced by the University of Virginia’s Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service.

She said the estimate was based on the building permits issued and that that method predicts a town population of 12,065 to 16,300 in the year 2030. Planners use a multiplier of 2.4 residents per unit to calculate the projection.

“We’re trying to retain the aspects of Crozet that everybody loves while accommodating growth,” Echols said.

The county’s goal is to update its growth areas’ capacities every two years. The procedure involves removing “constrained land”—floodplain, stream buffers and unbuildable slopes—from the available land, she said, though current ordinance allows property owners to include those unbuildable areas in their density calculations for their actual buildable land.

The estimate struck some CCAC members as low. Former planning commissioner Tom Loach, suspecting that rezonings have already put more units in the pipeline for which permits are not yet issued, said, “We may be nearer our population goal now if you add that number in.”

Planning director David Benish said that the number of unbuilt units in the pipeline can be known, but the planners did not come prepared with that data. Echols said the county could answer that by offering a potential range for population in already-approved rezonings. The answer has important implications for future rezonings.

“What’s happened to date does not show us what might happen next in the next few years,” said CCAC member John McKeon.

Others wondered if the 2.4 multiplier was an accurate one as the local schools seem more crowded than a .4 allowance for children in a household would suggest.

CCAC chair David Stoner asked if county planners were using the argument that because some builders had chosen to go with existing zoning on their properties, called by-right, rather than apply for greater densities (which exposes them to cash proffer expectations) other properties should be rezoned to create higher densities in places where the master plan does not call for those densities. The issue has come up in county comments on the Adelaide rezoning request on Rt. 250 next to Cory Farm.

Adelaide-april-2016
The latest version of the plan for Adelaide, shared at the CCAC meeting

Benish answered, “We adhere to the density range in the master plans. To go higher would require a Comprehensive Plan amendment. We try to keep the supervisors aware of holding capacity in the growth areas. That’s the reason for that statement.”

CCAC member Leslie Burns asked, “Where is the line on the growth chart for when schools and traffic and infrastructure get addressed. Where do we see the projection for those?”

“In the county’s Capital Improvement Budget planning,” Benish said. “We can approve or disapprove rezonings, but there is enough by-right development possible now in Crozet to stretch our current [infrastructure] capacity.”

CCAC member Mary Gallo observed that changes in state law will mean $20,000 proffers from developers for each detached single-family house will drop to $5,000, so developers’ contribution to public infrastructure costs will shrink.

“We have not kept up with infrastructure needs here since 2000,” said Loach.

Benish said the county estimates it is $130 million behind in financing needed projects.

Stoner suggested that the CCAC take it upon itself to do more plan updating rather than wait on the county to be able to tackle it. The Crozet Master Plan was due to be updated in 2015, but current work plans call for the update to be done in 2019.

Adelaide developer Kyle Redinger made his third appearance before the CCAC, his first since a workshop session with the county’s Planning Commission. He has reduced the rezoning request on the 20 acres (15.5 developable) from 93 units to 80, he said.  Forty units are now single-family detached houses. The original plan had none of those.  Single-family houses are projected to cost $500,000 and townhouses $300,000, he said.

“We have a truly improved design,” he said, calling it “a mixed affordable community.”

Asked if Habitat for Humanity is still intending to be involved, he answered, “We’d love to have them.”

Neighbors from Cory Farm challenged the claim that the development adds to the Crozet trail system by noting that they lead nowhere but to the parcel’s boundaries.

They also objected to the statement made to the county’s Architectural Review Board that the project has “no formal opposition.” They asked to be recognized as formally opposed.

Loach pointed to Foxchase as an example of what could be done on the property by-right and that that route involved less infrastructure expense.

The Planning Commission’s public hearing on the rezoning request is set for May 10.

In other business, attorney Valerie Long, representing Riverbend developers, told the CCAC that the company is willing to put a culvert that will take the Crozet connector trail, which follows a creekbed, under the section of Eastern Avenue that is about to be built to connect Foothill Crossing with West Lake Hills and Westhall in eastern Crozet. The Crozet Trails Crew, represented this time by CCAC member Phil Best, is trying to prevent new roads from presenting crossing challenges for trail users.

The 15-member CCAC rotated on five new members at the meeting, including Western Albemarle Rescue Squad Chief Kostas Alibertis, Dean Eliason, James King (of King Family Vineyards), T. Michael Kunkel and Martin Violette.

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