Please note: The December Crozet Community Advisory Committee (CCAC) meeting included the approval of a change in the organization’s monthly meeting date, prompted by a change in the Board of Supervisors’ meeting schedule to the first and third Wednesdays of each month. To avoid conflict with that schedule and to allow White Hall District representative Ann Mallek to attend CCAC meetings, the CCAC meeting date was changed to the second Wednesday of each month, beginning with the February meeting.
The main agenda item for December was a discussion and Q&A about a rezoning request for a proposed third phase of the Chesterfield Landing development, to be built adjacent to the existing two phases on the east side of Crozet Avenue just north of Rt. 250. Eighteen current Chesterfield Landing residents attended the meeting to hear Shimp Engineering representatives Kelsey Schlein and Justin Shimp describe the planned construction and to express their concerns about its potential impact on their neighborhood.
Albemarle County Planner Megan Nedostup told attendees that the meeting and presentation were a first step for the applicant, whose plans would be reviewed by VDOT, the county’s Service Authority, and zoning and planning officials, and compared against the Comprehensive Plan and county policies and ordinances during the approval process. “After all of that, the Board of Supervisors is the ultimate decider,” she said.
Schlein began by explaining that the rezoning request would increase the allowable density of the parcel from R1 (one house per acre) to R4 (four houses per acre), for a total of 23 planned houses on 5.4 buildable acres. As the parcel lies in the designated growth area of Crozet, the density request is not unusual but does require county approval to rezone.
“Crozet is charming and convenient” read one of Schlein’s slides, in which she described Chesterfield Landing as being “within the ideal walking radius to schools, and perfect for connectivity to a multiuse path, which is a priority in the Master Plan of Crozet.” She pointed out a planned 100-foot stream buffer next to Lickinghole Creek, which borders the parcel to the north, and said that the forested areas along the creek would not be disturbed by construction.
During the Q&A session that followed, Chesterfield Landing residents in phases one and two said that they were not aware of the potential for additional phases. “We were a buyer there,” said one resident, “and the builder [Stanley Martin] never disclosed to us that this was a future build site.” The northern border of phase one ends in a cul-de-sac, and a row of mailboxes sits where a new road would be extended to serve the proposed development.
“I looked at the Master Plan and conferred with the seller and was told that there was a protected creek, so there was no reason to build back there,” said another resident. “That’s why I bought my house where it is [on the northern edge of phase one]. We view back into that area.” A third resident told of asking about development possibilities with the builder. “We looked at GIS lay-downs and other documents with Stanley Martin and there was never anything that showed a road going through; there was always a cul-de-sac there.”
“It’s the density. That’s the problem,” summed up a fourth resident. “The reason we moved from Philadelphia and not into Charlottesville but instead into Crozet, was to live in a certain environment—certain safety and schools for our children—and it seems that the proposal here is to go to a much denser area. That’s not why a lot of people live in Crozet.”
Ann Mallek also recalled that a third phase was never part of the original presentation given by Jess Achenbach, owner of Red Dirt Development, the company that developed the first two phases and is now proposing the third. “I remember that CCAC members asked about the connection [northward from the cul-de-sac] and Achenbach said that the land there is all too steep and runs into the creek,” she said.
Mallek directly addressed the Shimp presenters representing Red Dirt Development. “This is challenging and really concerning because [Lickinghole Creek] is one of three creeks in the county with really good water,” she said, “so be prepared to come back with topographic maps on this. A hundred-foot buffer doesn’t really cut it.”
The Shimp engineering designs indicated that most traffic from the new homes would funnel out through the existing neighborhood on Oxbow Street, and residents expressed concerns about the increased flow. “There are a lot of young children who run around in here,” said one resident, “and I’m wondering how to control the traffic flow.” Another pointed to overcrowding at Brownsville Elementary School.
“We already have three to four children to a bus seat, and 830 children at a school whose capacity is 715,” said the resident. Another parent noted that it takes a full hour for children to get from school to Chesterfield Landing, a distance of only 0.6 miles, even now. A third person questioned the idea of a quarter-mile “easily walkable” route to school from the subdivision, pointing out that the distance to Henley Middle School is closer to a mile through the woods.
Residents also voiced concerns about diminished property values in light of the smaller phase three lot sizes, planned at only 6,000-8,000 square feet each, whereas current lots are half-acre and above.
“Differences in lot size can be nice within a neighborhood,” said Justin Shimp. “It can be a nice aesthetic.”
The meeting concluded with a request that an email list be updated and given to county staff so that residents can be apprised of the project’s progress and can receive documents such as traffic studies that pertain to the application.
Video of this and previous CCAC meetings is available at crozetgazette.com/#video.