A virtual community meeting was held for the residents of Western Ridge and Wickham Pond to hear about a proposed new development at the corner of Park Ridge Drive and Rt. 240 called White Gate Village. Architect Vito Cetta and representatives of Shimp Engineering presented details about the subdivision, which would feature up to 125 units in a mix of townhouses and villas on a wedge-shaped portion of the 12-acre parcel. The plan also includes a strip of “light retail” next to a stream buffer near the southern edge of the property, and that element would border the existing Bright Beginnings Preschool property on two sides.
The project’s scope is predicated on the approval of a new “Middle Density” zoning category currently advocated by county planners and being debated in a string of Crozet Community Advisory Committee (CCAC) meetings as part of the Crozet Master Plan update. Middle Density would allow 6 to 26 dwelling units per acre and is touted as providing the “missing middle” of housing types in Crozet. White Gate Village’s townhouses would stand three or four stories tall and sixteen feet wide and would sell for about $400,000, while its villas would list for up to $600,000.
The meeting was lightly attended—neither the CCAC nor county officials were invited—and only a few neighbors asked questions of the hosts. Mike, a Wickham Pond resident, wondered about the affordable housing requirement in the plan, and Cetta responded that 15% of the units are required to be affordable (defined by the county as 80% of median family income, or $245,000). Mike also asked about a traffic study for Rt. 240 given the proliferation of recent and projected development projects along that road. Justin Shimp (of Shimp Engineering) replied that although the White Gate Village plan did not trigger a full “traffic impact analysis” from the county, they are currently working on a smaller-scale traffic study in the area.
Meeting attendee Jessie asked why the property was being up-zoned from its current “green space” designation in an already-saturated Crozet housing market. Cetta explained that “the county needs to add between 600 and 700 dwelling units every year to absorb its population increase, and the county prefers density in its growth areas [like Crozet].” Jessie countered that “the county is one thing, but this community is another,” noting that the county could add housing elsewhere. “I cannot personally understand the need to add more development when the traffic capacity and infrastructure is not [sufficient] here. Enough is enough.”
Other residents asked whether sidewalks and bike paths will be included in the project, and the architect said that there would be a street connection with the existing Wickham Way (though that road does not currently extend to the edge of Wickham Pond property), and an asphalt path will run up the west side of the development to connect with Park Ridge Drive.
In response to a question about school overcrowding, Shimp project manager Kelsey Schlein noted that county algorithms project White Gate Village would generate an additional 35 school-age children. One resident said she was in favor of the light commercial area, where one might walk to get a haircut or go to a restaurant.
At the end of the meeting, one resident suggested the development’s name be changed in light of the current cultural climate and national events, and Cetta said they were open to any suggestions (email to [email protected]). White Gate Village was further discussed at a November 30 CCAC meeting in tandem with larger debates about the county’s new proposed housing density categories. The project’s representatives will be required to hold a public hearing and to go through the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors approval processes in order to change the property’s land use designation.