Pulled From the Comments – Thoughs on the Crozet Master Plan and Reporting the News

In this comment, Craig covers a lot of ground – reporting of the news and the necessary relationships for said reporting, growth in Crozet and Albemarle, local economics – it is this sort of comment that helps to make writing this blog worthwhile.

Each morning, a young, green reporter at Daily Progress appears to field a call from county officials on what the “local news” should read for that day. Only a child-like mind would read the DP’s local coverage as news – or ridiculously self-interested preening for the “master plan” from Crozet Gazette’s editor, for that matter.

Right now, the local news – according to our county officials – reads that they are short the money needed to pay for the wonderful growth infrastructure contained in wildly popular urban plans. The DP – and county officials – are prepping residents for “tough decisions”, decisions the board passed on when the passed trendy development plans and hungrily consumed 30 percent increases in assessments.

I would look at recent election results, rather than the Daily Progress, for a more accurate sense of where the community stands. We just had two elections in which residents made their feelings on the rezonings in a “master plan” known. Sadly, after these elections, both Democrat and Republican supervisors for Crozet immediately passed two of the largest rezonings in the county, claiming the master plan is a popular rezoning guide.

Sure, you can find a few local residents who are wetting their pants with excitement for the high density development in the master plan or claiming they are proud of their role in it. But the vast majority of residents don’t want to pay for it (tax increase are probably coming), shift students, or commute 12 miles to densities that are 3 times as dense as the 3/acre densities of the Biscuit Run development in Charlottesville. The “master plan” is detested.

The School Board is reacting to policies that they did not create. If supervisors of both parties want to send thousands of people into Western Albemarle (both parties are passionate about it), then the school board will need to shift students from Crozet, almost annually. Students have to be placed somewhere.

Residents should expect students shifts from here on out. The Board could add on to existing schools, but I would rather keep our schools small. Smaller schools, which may no longer be possible in Crozet, are more effective socially and academically. The student shifts are not the school board’s doing, but it has become their problem.

The Board of Supervisors will also have to raise revenues to pay for the infrastructure to feed future growth caused by urbanization programs. However, they created this problem, and the excuses can be read as “local news” in the Daily Progress (concurrent calls for lower taxes and more spending on growth infrastructure can be in the Crozet Gazette).

I believe the increase of news on the internet – blogs like this one – has a function. Even though I don’t always agree with Jim, he does a great job of letting a wider array of opinions see the light.

What do you mean, you don’t always agree with me? 🙂 In all sincerity, thank you Craig for reading and posting such a thoughtful comment.

Update 22 October 2008: I thought it warranted putting my own comment here in the main story –

In defense of Mike Marshall who is the Crozet Gazette – He has done a remarkable thing for Crozet – not just by publishing the one and only monthly newspaper, but he’s involved – in far more things than most people could possibly find the time to do.

Not to put words in his mouth, but I sincerely believe that he supports the Master Plan for at least two reasons (and likely more) – 1) He’s invested in the plan 2) He’s invested in and cares for Crozet.

Shoot, how many people would start a newspaper – in this day and age – from scratch – if they didn’t care for the community?

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6 Replies to “Pulled From the Comments – Thoughs on the Crozet Master Plan and Reporting the News”

  1. Brownsville’s addition has already happened, and will have an increased capacity of 716 when it opens next fall. That includes room form some 300 more students over the next several years. That means the school board already decided to go with bigger, rather than additional schools. I am not sure why you think that is not their “doing,” but I agree that that ship has sailed.

    Jim, since this was a comment on another story, can you link to its original source? Thanks!

  2. Good point about the “larger schools” ship already having sailed at Brownsville, Allie. Perhaps there should have been more debate on the smaller vs larger schools.

    The master plan was originally sold as a plan for existing development rights only, so it is understandable many residents may have felt that Crozet’s schools were more secure. That said, it is not too late to discuss the high school and middle schools. There should be no doubt about where local officials want to take Western Albemarle now.

    We may be headed for service deficits in Crozet. Suburban Biscuit Run is almost 1/4 of the densities of Old Trail. Biscuit Run has 10 times the parkland of Old Trail, and much of this parkland is not simply undevelopable floodplain. Old Trail’s road, pool, and 35 acre park, designed for the original pre-urbanization 600 homes, must support 2300 tightly configured homes (possibly 6000 plus people). In summation, Biscuit Run did not emphasize a master plan. Those poor “plan-less” residents get a suburban 3 homes per acre, hundreds of acres of parkland, and commercial conveniences near homes on-site.

    Another example — more future-oriented–, is an open plot of land across from Grayrock South. When this land is eventually developed, it has the potential to be rezoned — under the Crozet’s urbanization plan– for 18 homes per acre plus a possible density bonus. Before the Crozet Master Plan, this plot (perhaps about 25 acres) was 1 home per acre.

    Finally, parts of the new downtown rezoning have areas of potential for 32 homes per acre — 4 story high buildings in Crozet with waiver possibility for 6 stories. This follows an unpopular urban plan, a Crozet election in which growth was the main concern, large revenue shortfalls looming, and difficulties with placing students in areas schools. How is this rational?

    Local officials are going to be complaining about revenues soon. But they are doing a solid job of creating infrastructure shortfalls with their decisions now.

    One final note. Growth area policies are not consistent. One growth area, an area with no master plan –Biscuit Run near Charlottesville — receives old world suburban life — for principled environmental reasons, of course. Crozet, with its master plan, is rezoned for dense urban development — for principled environmental reasons, of course. And given Crozet’s distance from Charlottesville — potential to create commuters –, this paradox makes no environmental sense at all. Jeff Werner may have flown to North Carolina with Craig Development, but for most of Western Albemarle’s residents, he may as well have flown to the moon.

    I know I tend to be exclusively green and conservation-minded (run for office, Marlene Condon 😉 ) , but even if someone is enthusiastically sold on development plans in Western Albemarle, how is what is occurring environmentally principled or commercially competitive? I am not sure what the best resolution is for the schools, but the high school and middle school deficits should be discussed.

    Jim, I do appreciate your blog, and I read the comments here often. I know time is limited for you, and you give more than I do, that is for sure. You do a great job.

  3. In defense of Mike Marshall who is the Crozet Gazette – He has done a remarkable thing for Crozet – not just by publishing the one and only monthly newspaper, but he’s involved – in far more things than most people could possibly find the time to do.

    Not to put words in his mouth, but I sincerely believe that he supports the Master Plan for at least two reasons (and likely more) – 1) He’s invested in the plan 2) He’s invested in and cares for Crozet.

    Shoot, how many people would start a newspaper – in this day and age – from scratch – if they didn’t care for the community?

    That said, Craig, thank you sincerely for the comments and for the conversation. It’s what keeps this blog rolling.

  4. Blogs (and speaking of this one specifically right now) share genuine news AND genuine opinions. Craig’s notes are his opinion and all do not agree. I am one of those who do not. Kudos to Mr. Marshall for speaking out-loud for MANY of us who cannot speak loud enough to be heard by our county’s leaders.

  5. John-N –

    I agree 100% – right after I posted it, I regretted posting the parts about Mike, and apologize greatly for that. If I could make my apology louder, I would.

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