CCAC Opposes Changes to Restore’N Station Special Use Permit

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Jo Higgins presenting at the November CCAC meeting. Photo: Mike Marshall.

The Crozet Community Advisory Committee passed a resolution at its Nov. 15 meeting opposing changes to Restore’N Station’s 2010 Special Use Permit that would have allowed it to operate longer hours and add two fuel pumps. The gas and convenience store on Rt. 250 now operates under the name of Legacy Markets.

Development consultant Jo Higgins represented station owners Jeff and Michelle Sprouse. They aimed to extend their open hours from 16 to 20 and to add two diesel pumps under the canopy.

Higgins said the SUP was over water usage and that usage records show that the station uses less than half of its water allowance of 1,625 gallons per day. In fact the highest one-day use so far is 383 gallons, or 38 percent of the limit. A valve automatically cuts off the well pump if 1,625 gallons are used in 24 hours.

The station’s Freetown neighbors, facing the third petition to change the terms of the permit, none yet successful, showed well-earned skepticism.

“Next month is it more conditions you want changed?” asked CCAC member Sandra Mears, a Freetown resident. “How often are you going to try to amend?” In 2016 a plan to add commercial space was rejected by the County supervisors.

“We’ve proven what our usage is,” said Higgins. “We’re trying to comply with the rules. We’ve spent a great deal of money to comply. Conditions were imposed because of neighbors unhappy with the station. We have property owners who have never been satisfied.”

Freetowner Jason Crutchfield asked, “How many of the nine conditions have been violated?” Both Mears and Crutchfield contended that the required screening trees have not been planted.

“Have the pumps been on when they weren’t supposed to be?” Crutchfield went on. “I just want to be clear: the store has not been in compliance over lighting, tree buffer, hours, and overnight parking. You can’t be trusted. You use tricky language. I know there’s been overnight parking.”

“The primary variable is the number of customers,” observed CCAC member Tom Loach. “Why not say you are not attracting customers? What benefit does this [proposal] bring to the community?”

“When Old Trail builds out there will be more customers,” Higgins answered.

“You admitted that you provided misleading information so you could get the doors open,” said CCAC member Kostis Alibertis. “It’s very difficult to trust that.”

“We’ve always made clear that we were coming back,” Higgins said.

“There’s never been any mitigating, any compromise,” said Marilyn White of Freetown, summing up the neighbors’ experience.

County planner Bill Fritz said the staff had not yet taken a position on the proposal—it later recommended approval when the question was placed on the Planning Commission’s agenda for Dec. 5.

“This is an expansion of what we don’t want on 250,” said Loach.

“This applicant has acted in bad faith consistently,” said CCAC member John McKeon.

He made motion to affirm that the CCAC was “against any changes in the conditions of the station’s SUP because the changes are against the Crozet Master Plan.” It was seconded by Phil Best and carried unanimously.

In other business the CCAC passed a resolution supporting the Downtown Crozet Initiatives’ application for Virginia Main Street status, which would make it eligible for grants.

The Planning Commission voted 3 – 2 against a change of the SUP’s conditions at its December 5 meeting. The proposal next goes to the Board of Supervisors.

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