A draft resolution reaffirming the guiding principles in the Crozet Master Plan encountered some resistance at the Crozet Community Advisory Committee (CCAC) meeting in May. CCAC Vice-Chair and survey expert Shawn Bird presented the results of the 2017 Crozet Community Survey pertaining to citizens’ views on growth in the downtown and Route 250 areas as background for the resolution.
The key principles of the 2010 Crozet Master Plan articulate the community’s priorities for growth, particularly encouraging commercial development in the historic downtown area and limiting new development on Route 250 West. Bird presented survey results confirming that Crozet residents still agree with the Master Plan principles, which led the CCAC to draft a set of resolutions earlier this year reaffirming those principles, intended to serve as an addendum to the existing Master Plan. (See below for the draft resolutions.)
One resolution, however, came up for debate among Committee members. The survey question “Do you favor or oppose commercial or industrial development near the Route 250 and I-64 interchange?” resulted in a response of 55 percent strongly or somewhat in favor, and 45 percent strongly or somewhat opposed. This split seemed to conflict with #5 of the stated resolutions: “Reject development of the I-64 and Route 250 interchange area.”
“The resolution language is strong, but the data is not as strong,” said Josh Rector. “My opinion is that we should use a word like ‘discourage’ instead of ‘reject.”
Tom Loach explained the reasoning. “If you support development of the I-64/250 interchange area then you are supporting a de facto expansion of the Growth Area, which is in conflict with the Master Plan,” he said. “[The survey] is basically a split opinion, and we felt that to protect the downtown area as it matured, we should reject interchange development.”
Jennie More, county Planning Commission member, cautioned against introducing changes to the Master Plan language at this point. “The survey data is important, and we’ll use this data to inform a formal review of potential changes to the Master Plan,” she said. “But for now we don’t need to get that specific.”
Valerie Long interjected that the very act of putting out an addendum to the Master Plan in the form of these resolutions sends a conflicting message to the citizenry. “I feel like we are subverting the public process [to be followed when altering the Master Plan] with this,” she said. “If we are just supporting the existing Master Plan, then why do we need these resolutions? On the other hand, if we are using the survey data to make an addendum, then we seem to be making changes.”
Jennie More responded, “I honestly don’t think we’ll have an updated Master Plan until 2020, so our existing plan is [and will continue to be] out of date. From a policy perspective, it’s sort of shameful that it’s so outdated. I think it’s important to emphasize and reaffirm these principles, using this new data, while we wait.”
CCAC Chair Allie Pesch agreed. “We are issuing these resolutions as part of the process of getting things moving to update our Master Plan. We want to be the squeaky wheel, to remind the Board of Supervisors that our Master Plan is outdated, and these resolutions help get that process going at the county level.”
“The survey data is about 9 months old now, and over time will start to de-value,” added Bird. “We want to take this opportunity to confirm that the survey data supports the Master Plan, and to issue a resolution using the data while it’s fresh because it’s important to include as many voices as we can from the community, not just the [CCAC] members.”
Following the discussion, the draft resolution was put up for a vote and passed 9 to 4, with Rector, Long, David Mitchell, and Joe Fore voting against. All four dissenting members joined the CCAC in April.
The next step will be to present the resolutions to the Planning Commission for approval, likely in July, and then to the Board of Supervisors in September.