Emergency Services Radio Tower Needs Replacing

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Six new members joined the CCAC for two-year terms beginning April 2018. From left: Brian Day, Josh Rector, Kelly Templeman-Gobble, Joe Fore, Katya Spiccuza, David Mitchell, and Valerie Long. Photo: Mike Marshall.

The Crozet Community Advisory Committee listened to a report on the need to replace an emergency services communications tower on top of Bucks Elbow Mountain at their meeting April 18, and in the end voted their support for the plan.

The tower transmits two-way radios used by police and fire/rescue departments in the region as well as federal law enforcement, the Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority, and U.S. Cellular, the lone tenant of the tower. 

The current 120-foot tower, stabilized by guy wires, will be replaced with a 150-foot, self-supporting lattice tower. The existing tower—no records exist of its construction—will not support new equipment and its equipment is out of date.

Emergency Call Center system manager Gabe Elias gave the presentation, supported by planner Rebecca Ragsdale, known to Crozet from her work on the Crozet Master Plan. The whole matter was being brought to the public because the new tower needs a setback waiver because of the size of the lot the county owns for it. The waiver goes before the supervisors in June and the CCAC meeting counted as its public hearing.

“The old tower will come down once the antennas are transferred,” Elias said. 

In other business, the CCAC postponed action on a plan to present “guiding principles of growth” derived from the Crozet Community Survey results to the Supervisors. The idea is that they would be rules-of-thumb for evaluating development proposals that come before the Supervisors while the Crozet Master Plan awaits its turn for an overdue update.

A resolution had been drafted. The idea was to support each principle with citations to survey results and to passages in the current plan that also express the “prevailing vision,” it said, is to maintain Crozet’s “small town feel.” It set out five principles that had overwhelming public support in the survey results. First, “Do not alter or expand the Crozet Growth Area boundary.” Second, “Ensure downtown Crozet is the center of development and the priority area for public investment.” Third, “Limit development along Rt. 250 adjacent to the growth area.” Fourth, “Reject development of the Interstate 64/Rt.250 interchange.” Finally, “Expand transportation options in the Growth Area” and keep infrastructure improvements up to speed with growth.

New member David Mitchell, a builder, challenged the first principle—don’t expand the Growth Area. He thought it might be needed.

Valerie Long, a new member from Old Trail who introduced herself as a zoning lawyer, said, “I suggest we take a step back. I see this as proposing changes.”

New member Josh Rector, also a builder, said the solution is to go ahead with a master plan revision.

New member Brian Day offered a summary of the purpose. “The master plan is outdated. There’s ambiguity and misunderstanding now. The community has spoken [in the survey]. This is our view.” 

Planning Commissioner Jennie More said she did not want an applicant to ask for a growth area boundary adjustment. 

White Hall Supervisor Ann Mallek said the resolution is “a positively framed document,” and suggested wording designed to make it stronger.

A vote on the resolution was put off until May. The CCAC decided to ask survey experts Shawn Bird and Tom Guterbock to make another presentation then on the design and results of the survey for the sake of the new CCAC members. They will also be asked to make that presentation to the Supervisors.

The CCAC asked new chair Allie Pesch to look into a plan to get the chairs of the county’s seven advisory councils to a meeting to discuss a common agenda on development issues that are countywide.  

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