In a meeting laden with emotional fireworks, the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors voted Feb. 1 to reject a proposed rezoning of the Adelaide housing project, which would have allowed developer Kyle Redinger to build 80 units on Route 250 next to Cory Farms.
The decision came as the culmination of a year-plus long process which sought to transform the 20-acre parcel from R1 zoning—which will likely yield around 28 houses by-right—to R6, which would have allowed for the higher numbers.
The vote was the result of a request for deferral Redinger made at a meeting Sept. 7 so that he could alter plans for the development, but no changes were subsequently made.
As such, many Crozet residents were incensed by what they viewed as the developer’s disregard of community opinion.
In a statement issued via email to board members, Crozet Community Action Committee president Dave Stoner wrote: “In short, as before, the CCAC remains opposed this project as proposed… which [we] feel is contrary to the Crozet Master Plan.”
Around 18 Crozetians attended the meeting, with 12 taking to the podium to speak out against the rezoning. While each speaker addressed the board, his or her compatriots stood together in a show of communal support.
“When we were here last time we spoke of all the reasons this project should not go through,” said Ron Pantuck, who resides in Crozet and sits on the Cory Farms homeowners’ association board. “When it looked like the vote wasn’t going to go in his favor, the developer asked for a deferral, but in the ensuing five months no changes have been made to the request. We would thus find it unconscionable for the board to now vote to approve this rezoning.”
Of the concerns cited by Pantuck, two loomed large and were interrelated. The first had to do with traffic strain and the second with the project’s divergence from the Crozet Master Plan, which designates high-density growth should primarily take place downtown. For the board’s part, it was this latter density issue that took precedence.
“I think that within the Master Plan there’s a clear desire to keep density and development downtown, which is reflective of what we want to happen here,” said Cory Farms resident Gary Koenig. “The problem I and many people have had with this project from day one is the fact that it’s on the fringe of that area. Every trip in and out is going to require the use of 250, which, with the proposed density, is going to invariably cause traffic issues and safety concerns.”
White Hall District supervisor Ann Mallek supported Koenig’s claims, providing board members with a brief overview of the intentions of the Crozet Master Plan, as well as some context for how the zoning discrepancy arose in the first place. “There is a well adopted and supported Master Plan in Crozet, which is now in its third edition,” said Mallek. “Based on a 2010 review, the plan was to be reviewed again in 2013 and these map issues were meant to be clarified. During the review in 2010, while the colors were not changed on the map, the discussion surrounding this property was that it was to have the same density as Cory Farms… Crozet lives by the Master Plan, which says high density in the center, low density on the edge. And because of that, the CCAC did not approve this proposal.”
Other supervisors dissented. “This property falls within the proposed development area,” said Rivanna District supervisor Norman Dill. “And while I understand that people don’t like things to change, I’d advise residents to be aware that, if they’re within the development area, the land is going to be developed. We don’t have that many square miles of area to develop and what land we have we need to use to its best use.”
Also dissenting was Brad Sheffield, who represents the Rio District. “I see this as symptomatic of a larger issue,” he said. “We have this ambiguity between residents and developers that sets false expectations. I really wish we’d do a better job at articulating expectations for an area so that we don’t run into these issues… People like Kyle spend hundreds of thousands of dollars planning stuff like this, and beyond the money he’s wasted, it sucks the energy out of our staff when we could be working on advancing the community in ways we all agree on.”
In the end, the board’s vote was a tie, which struck down the rezoning. Voting against the rezoning were Mallek, Scottsville District supervisor Rick Randolph, and Samuel Miller District supervisor Liz Palmer.
As a result of the decision, Redinger will pursue plans for by-right development.
Video of the full Board of Supervisors meeting is available here. The public hearing for Adelaide starts at 3:58:04.