The builder of the planned Pleasant Green development near downtown Crozet is proposing to relocate the neighborhood’s entrance/exit road connector in an effort to reduce damage to Powell’s Creek critical slopes. Jeremy Swink of Stanley Martin Homes described the plan at the Crozet Community Advisory Committee’s April 10 meeting, explaining where the new road would be constructed and why Stanley Martin sees it as an improvement.
A special use permit already allows for access points to the proposed 264-unit community from the west at Cling Lane and the east at Blue Ridge Avenue, as well as a stream crossing connector over Powell’s Creek on the west side of the development south to Orchard Drive. Stanley Martin is requesting a permit amendment to move the planned stream crossing to a location that allows for a much shorter connector.
“If we relocate the Orchard Drive connector, it’s a shorter stretch with much less impact on the stream,” said Swink. “The move would reduce its impact from 76,000 square feet of stream buffer and preserved slope impacts to 38,000 square feet of impacts, with less severe grades and no critical slope impacts. It would also help divert traffic. We see a lot of merit in this change.”
However, residents of all three streets on the Pleasant Green access routes questioned Swink about why three points of entrance/exit were necessary, so Swink provided some historical context.
“The original West Glen property was for over fifty houses off of Cling Lane, and it needed a second entrance, so the stream crossing was allowed in the 2016 special use permit,” he said. “In 2018, Stanley Martin acquired West Glen plus the Pleasant Green property for a total of 42 acres, which included the Blue Ridge Avenue access point. We then acquired the 3-acre property at the corner of Jarmans Gap and Orchard Drive so we could move the stream crossing.”
Cling Lane resident Penny Chang spoke against the need for a Cling Lane access at all. “My understanding is that by law you only need two entrances, not three,” said Chang, “so you don’t need to build the one on Cling Lane. What I’m hearing you saying is that one of these doesn’t need to be built.”
Swink explained that the Cling Lane access has already been approved in the 2016 West Glen Plan, and Scott Collins of Collins Engineering followed up by addressing the number of access points. “Yes, by law you only need two for fire and rescue, but there is a formula through VDOT that requires more connections based on housing density,” said Collins. “The size of West Glen alone was about half the size of the development now with the addition of these other properties.”
Both Collins and Swink described the Cling Lane access as a potential benefit to those residents. “We see the Cling Lane connection as allowing those people to have easy access to downtown,” said Collins. “We don’t see people from our development going out that way,” when they can more easily reach Jarmans Gap via the southern connector.
Other residents suggested eliminating the Orchard Drive access to minimize stream impacts, to which the Stanley Martin representatives replied that the Orchard Drive connector will be a much better road, able to handle more traffic than Blue Ridge Avenue alone. To sum up, CCAC member Shawn Bird asked for residents’ response to the original question of whether the old or new connector across Powell’s Creek was preferable, and the consensus was that the new connector was a better idea because of the reduced stream impacts.
Swink also talked about Stanley Martin’s plans to build a small park and walking trails on the property at the corner of Jarmans Gap and Orchard Drive. “There’s a lot of foot traffic there, so we plan to turn it into a park and open space,” said Swink. “We’ll create a trail and dedicated greenway along Powell’s Creek,” running through the connector and all the way to the west side of the property. “I work closely with the parks people at the county, and I am really excited about the greenway in this plan.”