The Albemarle Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a request for rezoning and a special exception related to the proposed Old Dominion Village development on Rt. 240, clearing the way for the project to be built. The plan calls for a maximum of 110 residential units on just under 24 acres on property owned by retired veterinarian Martin Schulman. Dr. Schulman sold his Crozet Veterinary Care Center practice in 2020. The clinic, which now operates as Old Dominion Animal Hospital, will become the centerpiece of the development. Without the rezoning, the owners could have developed about 11 residences on the property by right.
The two adjoining parcels lie on the north side of Rt. 240, just east of Music Today and west of Park Ridge Drive. Along with the proposed Montclair development next to Wickham Pond, Old Dominion Village is one of several sections of Crozet where the new “middle density residential” land use category—strongly opposed by many community members—was nonetheless imposed by county planners and supervisors in the recent Crozet Master Plan update. Middle density allows 6-12 units per acre, and up to 18 units per acre if certain housing type requirements are met.
Over 50% of the acreage for Old Dominion Village is unbuildable due to flood plain buffers, critical slopes, and dedicated amenities, so the 110-unit projection results in a density of 8 to 9 units per acre for the planned townhomes and single-family dwellings. The county’s vehicle trip generation estimator forecasts about 795 additional trips per day in and out of Old Dominion Village due to the new development.
Albemarle County estimates that about 50 students would be added to the public school system across all grades (at Crozet Elementary, Henley Middle, and Western Albemarle High schools). To compensate for the development’s impact on schools and local roads, the proposal includes proffers of $3,000 for every single-family detached unit and $2,500 for each attached unit, which could total $283,000 if the development is built out as designed. The applicant also committed to providing 20 of the 110 residences as affordable units for sale or rental, and will proffer the amenity areas to the neighborhood’s HOA.
Schulman and his team requested a rezoning of the rural land to accommodate the increased density of the development, as well as a special exception to reduce the minimum required separation between animal confinements and residential lot lines from 200 feet to 50 feet. The special exception is necessary because the house lots will surround the existing veterinary office on three sides and will be substantially closer than 200 feet away.
The Planning Commission in February recommended approval of the rezoning but denial of the special exception, as several commissioners felt that the latter was an important homeowner protection. “We’re taking this [veterinary] facility and making it the centerpiece [of the neighborhood], and then reducing the buffer around it,” said commissioner Luis Carrazana, “and it’s truly incompatible with the idea of the center of a village, which is what we’re calling this.”
During their August 17 meeting, the Board of Supervisors heard the results of a sound study, presented by a consultant from Acentech, that found that barking noises from the vet’s kennel did not exceed the county ordinance limit of 55 decibels. Supervisors also asked about green space preservation, public versus private interior roads in the development, and whether the proffered funds were sufficient to address the project’s impact on local roads and schools.
After the presentation, Supervisor Ann Mallek double-checked that there would not be any disturbance of the designated greenways for digging sewers or any other reason. “I’m asking for clarification on this because the community in Crozet is very jumpy about the ‘oops’ factor of, ‘Oh my, the bulldozer just took down fifteen 20-inch diameter trees in the buffer where they weren’t even supposed to go,’” she said.
Mallek also asked specifically about protections for the Beaver Creek Reservoir. “It seems as though [the developers] have pulled back, in the plan, from [the critical] slopes and have given good protection to that area, because really the entire project is in the watershed of Beaver Creek, and it’s only a mile downstream,” she said. “And whatever gets in the water there will go straight into the reservoir, and so we want to avoid siltation at all costs.”
The applicant, Martin Schulman, spoke briefly about the project. “It’s very meaningful to me, having worked and lived at this site for 40 years, to be in a position to move forward priorities such as having a greenway trail that will hopefully eventually connect to the downtown area, and to have affordable housing [in the plan],” he said. “In fact, in the proffer that we signed and updated with Kevin, we are offering fully 20% or 22 units based on the development before you. I think that is a rare and diminishing resource in our modern world.”
The board, led by a motion from Mallek, approved the rezoning and special exception unanimously. The next step will be the preparation of a site plan to be approved by county officials.
Correction: The print version of this article incorrectly names Dr. Schulman as the owner of the veterinary clinic. He is no longer affiliated with the practice.