Let’s Do It Ourselves
The spirit of Crozet has always been self-reliant because no one else will care to solve our problems for us. The citizens of Crozet have the expertise at hand to do an update review of the Crozet Master Plan for themselves. We should undertake it now through our civic organizations while crucial development outcomes are in flux and may yet be positively affected by clearer wording and maps.
The terms of the Master Plan call for it to be reviewed every five years and in the normal schedule a revision would have occurred in 2015. County planners are working on master plans for other areas, however, and the Crozet update has been put off until 2019. That’s partially a statement about how sound the plan is, but also a risk that features of it that are not explicitly clear will be continue to be wrongly interpreted. County planners recommended in favor of the Adelaide, Restore’N Station and West Glen developments, all of which were formally opposed in resolutions by the Crozet Community Advisory Committee, which cited the plan’s specific language in taking their positions. Lack of specificity and vague maps were cited by Planning Commissioners for dismissing the people’s considered opposition and approving Adelaide and West Glen anyway.
County planners are working for the developers, their clients, and not as the protectors of the public’s documented and ratified will. If the plan is not sufficiently clear, then let’s make it that way. The update should start with a new survey of Crozet opinion on town growth issues.
In response to a February request from the CCAC about how many housing units were approved and in “the pipeline” to be built, planners sent a report in June that tracks units created in rezonings. The figure is about 1,700 approved and near-approved units.
This accounting does not include by-right developments, such as Westlake Hills, which has 125 houses, Chesterfield Landing with 25, Foothill Crossings, downtown residential units in Barnes or other parcels, etc. We need an updated report that includes active developments that did not go through rezonings and properties whose potential, by-right, remains for the moment on the sidelines. That number is still unknown.
We are obviously very close to reaching the master plan build-out ceiling already, even with the 2.4 residents per unit multiplier the county applied to get to a guesstimate Crozet population of 6,800. My personal estimate of the town’s population is more like 7,500+. We were officially at 5,500 in the 2010 Census. To me, it’s much more noticeably crowded here since six years ago and we may easily have added 2,000 residents rather than 1,300. What if a more accurate multiplier is 2.7 or even 3 residents per dwelling?
As School Board member David Oberg’s comments to the CCAC in June confirm, we likely need a new elementary school in Crozet. Essential “eastern avenue” is not in prospect, as it will take county money for the bridge. As usual, the crowding comes before the infrastructure to handle it.
This is that much more reason to proceed with our own review of the Master Plan, rather than have county planners evaluate potential developments against obsolete information. Meanwhile we should cast a cold eye on new higher-density proposals.
The plan is about achieving a liveable, desirable town, not simply packing as many people in as possible and ending up with a town we don’t like. We agreed to grow roughly 5 times bigger, to 12,500. That’s plenty to digest.
The Master Plan is county government’s bargain with the Crozet-area residents who made the plan knowing we must live under it. We deserve to have the plan respected. First, we move to defend it.