From the Editor: Let’s Do It Ourselves

3
1954

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 chart was created in June by county planner Elaine Echols at the request of the CCAC, in an attempt to calculate how close Crozet is to its maximum build out (as defined in the Master Plan) including already approved and/or proposed but not-yet-built homes. The chart does not include by-right projects or other vacant parcels within the growth area.
This chart was created in June by county planner Elaine Echols at the request of the CCAC, in an attempt to calculate how close Crozet is to its maximum build out (as defined in the Master Plan) including already approved and/or proposed but not-yet-built homes. The chart does not include by-right projects or other vacant parcels within the growth area.

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.

3 COMMENTS

  1. Old Trail Village received official rezoning down from 2200 units to 1000-1100. I don’t know why that info in not reflected in the chart. We residents of Old Trail Village like the village being created around us. I cannot speak for the residents of the other new developments in Crozet, but presumably, if someone buys a home in a new development, they like that that development exists. Crozet is going to continue to grow indefinitely, and no Master Plan is going to stop that. The smart thing to do is to plan to fund the necessary infrastructure to handle Crozet 2050 and beyond and start the long-term bond and tax policy that will accommodate the growth that will come.

    • As a defender of property rights (I write about it – and other things – for a living) I agree that some development should occur. This is natural. However when the rules of development are changed midstream, only known to insiders, and not aired openly for the residents of a community to discuss this reflects a broken system.This appears to be where we are.

      We should have an open town hall to discuss development in Crozet. It should be streamed and recorded for all to see. It should include local pols, developers, and most importantly residents.

      As for Old Trail the last thing this community needs is another mini mcmansion with no yard with no one in it. It just doesn’t look good.

      As for infrastructure that means more taxes and we certainly don’t need any more of those. Time to get real about this. Crozet is our home. The developers will come and go. (They do with every recession – and we’re overdue for one.)

    • Mr. Wollam writes that Crozet will continue to grow indefinitely, and that might be true if all thing were equal. That said, in Albemarle County all things are not equal. County policy is to preserve the rural areas and in order to do that the county is divided into development areas and rural areas each with different zoning. Crozet is surrounded by land zoned rural, not to mention much of that land is also in the county’s water protection area, which means no development here folks. In short, Crozet was never meant to develop indefinitely. Some time ago the county brought in consultants to devise a plan for how growth should occur in our development areas, resulting in what is now know as the “Neighborhood Model”. This model was built around the concepts of a form of development known as “new urbanism”. Perhaps the best model of this form is Old trail, with its mix of housing types and the associated commercial development internal to support the community. One of the products of the consultants work was to arrive an ideal population for Crozet, which if memory serves me right was a build out population of slightly over 12, 000. The Crozet Master plan was built around this population, but some time later, with the help of the then White Hall supervisor David Wyantt, the county decided the population should be 24,000, roughly one half the city of Charlottesville, which would also make development in Crozet more dense then the city of Charlottesville. Fortunately for Crozet and with the help of the new supervisor Ann Malleck, this build out population was lowered to a potential population of about 17, 000. The question now is when will Crozet hit that population and what is the best way to develop the remaining land to reach build out. The way to achieve this is to update Crozet Master Planning, which according the county should have been done in 2015. Put another way we have to decide what Crozet will look like when it’s all grown up.

      As for Mr. Sorrentino’s statement that we should have a town hall meeting to discuss development in Crozet, he should know we have been doing this in Crozet since 1993 when the first Crozet Community Plan was done. This was followed several years later by the Crozet Master Plan. Both of these efforts included multiple “town hall” meetings with county officials and later consultants and always with citizens in attendance. . This community dialog has continued to this day with the Crozet Community Advisory Council (CCAC). All CCAC meeting are open to the public and minutes are posted on the county’s web site. This is not to mention the good job Jim Duncan does in his blog to follow the happenings. In short, Crozet has been at this development business for over 20 years and looking both back and to the future I think the community has done quite well.

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