Crozet is Going to Grow – And We Can’t Stop It

Nor should we. But we can and should manage how we grow.

The Master Plan is under review

As Albemarle County looks for ways to increase its industrial land, some Crozet residents are concerned their community has paid a high price for development in the past several years.

“When we asked the community about the update and what the focus areas should be, the guiding principle [was] that Crozet should remain Crozet,” said County Planner Rebecca Ragsdale during a work session held Tuesday by the Albemarle County Planning Commission. 

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12 Replies to “Crozet is Going to Grow – And We Can’t Stop It”

  1. There are limits to growth. After all, there are a limited number of development rights. One concern I have is that it really seems that at the rate things were going that the entire growth area will be built out in the not so distant future. There are already some clamoring for expansions of the growth areas, like the Yancey example. Jim do you know if anyone has looked at our growth rate and tried to extrapolate when the build out of the growth areas might occur?

    So, in terms of how we grow, I wonder if anyone in planning has given serious thought to how the areas we are developing now can be easily retrofitted to become even higher density later without compromising greenspace? (i.e. adding more retail and multistory buildings). I think the only way the growth areas can be a lasting solution for preservation is if there is a plan for what happens when they are built out, and if the growth comes with practical measures to protect rural areas and greenspace, which are going to increase in demand for by right development over time.

  2. Of course you we can stop it growth, or at least reduce it to a rate where it’s a rounding error. We might choose not to, but growth can absolutely be stopped by a whole bunch of mechanisms.

    For instance, no new permits could be awarded for drilling a well. Or no new power meters could be provided, as one Oregon town did. Building permits could be restricted to property owners who are residents of Albemarle County. Certificates of occupancy could be provided based on the capacity of police, fire, and rescue to handle those additional residents.

    I’m not saying that such changes are desirable, would be popular, or are a good idea, just that these and other changes would likely pass legal muster, and are eminently possible.

  3. Stopping growth or slowing growth will net high prices for a community, if the area is desirable as it appears to be. I’m sure some residents may desire this, but if you’re planning on calling Crozet home, then for the long haul I think Smart growth is the target to success. When building require parks, sidewalks, libraries and not the “build it and those will come” attitude. Less dense development, but not spread out in disjointed neighborhoods. Ivy/owensville is an example of what builds up the area, but takes away from a community feeling.

  4. Growth is one thing, SCALE is another. On Route 250 West near Exit 64, we need to closely watch what is proposed by Mr. Yancey — or we’ll end up with the next Short Pump in our back yards. We also need to watch the Applicant who wants to put a Sheets-like gas + diesel station truck-stop between Western Albemarle High School and Exit 107 in Yancey Mills.

  5. Yeah, I view that building commercial first is the “build it and they will come” model. I would hope that commercial is scaled to be built only as needed to fulfill the area. Obviously, i think the existing gas stations seem adequate. I don’t think i can recall a time waiting in line to get gas.

  6. This whole issue has been going on for years now. Since we have become a bedroom community If we only build what is needed to fulfill our area
    we are finished. How many coffee and trinket shops do we need?? How do
    we get decent paying jobs to return to the area? Jobs that will pay enough
    for people to actually be able to live here. Reading through these posts it
    appears that quite a few of you want to live in an urban area with everything provided. Hopefully that will never come. Oh, Yancey Lumber
    Company has been a source for jobs for this community for over 50 years.
    I would rather go with his project than with more tract housing…

  7. Yes, growth is here and will continue to come to Crozet. But key are the guidelines that are in place to direct and limit the growth so that it occurs in a sensible way and in a way that the community wants. That’s the purpose of the Master Plan.
    Regarding the two proposed projects on 250, I agree with Nicholas Duke Sr that we need to watch these very, very closely. Do you want the second largest gas station / diesel station / truck stop in the county just a stone’s throw from our schools? I don’t. And that’s what’s being proposed.
    The Yancy project would add land that is currently zoned rural – tract housing cannot be placed there. If Yancy gets his way, we’ll have an ~180 acre industrial park with the potential of being 2-3 times the size of Fashion Square Mall also right near our schools and across the street from residential neighborhoods. What would actually go into the park would be anyone’s guess at this point. One use Mr. Yancy has specifically discussed is an Equipment Storage Yard, an overnight parking lot for excavators, loaders, trucks, and other heavy machinery. With the size of the project there would surely be much more than that. The land runs all the way from the current entrance at the lumber yard, behind Freetown, Brownsville Market, the cemetary, and Western Albemarle High School. It adjoins the high school.
    Personally, I am very concerned about the increased diesel truck and other traffic these two projects will bring, especially so close to the schools. They would completely change the character of the area.
    And the kicker is, there is not a need for more land zoned industrial in Crozet – there is an ample inventory already in downtown Crozet.
    If you share these concerns, the best thing to do is to get involved and make sure that the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors hear what you have to say. Otherwise, we may all get a whole lot more than we bargained for.

  8. The original impetus for a business park at in Yancey Mills catering to light industrial businesses was the county’s acknowledged deficiency of this type of zoning. See the 2007 Light Industrial Demand Analysis here: http://albemarle.org/upload/images/Forms_Center/Departments/Board_of_Supervisors/Forms/Agenda/2007Files/20071010/WillowGlenAttachA.htm. Later came yet another study in 2010 dubbed THE ASSESSMENT OF THE AVAILABILITY AND DEMAND FOR INDUSTRIAL ZONED PROPERTY IN ALBEMARLE COUNTY available here, http://www.albemarle.org/upload/images/forms_center/departments/community_development/forms/other/Industrial_Land_Survey_2010.pdf. Both these studies confirmed what anyone who watched the Faulconer Construction debacle unfold on Morgantown Road early in the decade already knew – Albemarle has a lack of space for industrial businesses.

    We thought that our property – located south of the sawmill and north of I-64 would be a simple yet elegant solution to this thorny problem. Proximity to the interstate guarantees negligible traffic increases on already overburdened local roads such as Rt 250 and Rt. 240. In addition the relatively few numbers of neighbors ensures they can be buffered, mitigating the effects of any development.

    Far from seeing proximity to WAHS as a problem, we view it as a positive since this growing high school needs additional land to expand its athletic fields. Our land borders the rear of the high school for approximately 1100′. I’m certain an accomodation could be reached.

    There are other advantages our property enjoys over alternative sites, but I won’t belabor the point. We firmly believe that providing jobs and tax revenue at an ideal location adjacent to more-than-adequate road infrastructure as well as massively benefiting the local high school is worth an adjustment to a single component of the Crozet Master Plan.

  9. A major concern voiced by the community regarding the proposed industrial park is the broad range of uses that would be allowed with the requested zoning change to Planned Development – Industrial Park. (I’m not sure if my hyperlinks are working – if not, just paste the links below into your browser. ) For a description of uses that are allowed in the PD-IP zoning designation see:
    http://www.albemarle.org/upload/images/forms_center/departments/county_attorney/forms/Albemarle_County_Code_Ch18_Zoning29_Industrial_Park.pdf

    Since PD-IP allows all uses allowed in light industrial (LI) zoning, also see:
    http://www.albemarle.org/upload/images/forms_center/departments/county_attorney/forms/Albemarle_County_Code_Ch18_Zoning27_Light_Industry.pdf

    And since Category II PD-IP zoning allows, by right, heavy industrial zoning uses, also see:
    http://www.albemarle.org/upload/images/forms_center/departments/county_attorney/forms/Albemarle_County_Code_Ch18_Zoning28_Heavy_Industry.pdf

    If you take a look at these documents, it’s easy to see the concern of the people who live and go to school in this area. By right or with a special use permit, everything from an office park to dwellings to dry cleaning plants to manufacture and recycling of tires to hotels/motels to even airports/heliports could be allowed. That’s the worry – we just don’t know what would eventually go there. Something not so bad, or something really, really bad. And once the zoning change is granted, there is nothing that the community can do about it. I’m sure Mr. Yancey will try to assure us that he has no intention of proposing any of the more frightening uses, but regardless of what is said, there would be nothing to stop him or a future owner of the property from doing whatever they want with the property within the guidelines in those documents.

    The Planning Commission rejected this proposal once already. For documentation of the reasons for rejecting the proposal see:

    http://www.albemarle.org/upload/images/forms_center/departments/community_development/forms/reports/Crozet_Master_Attachment_G%28a%29.pdf

    In the proposed Master Plan revisions, the community and county staff are on record as being opposed to the project. One reason worth noting is that the land is located within the water supply watershed. Please correct me if I am wrong, but does the “massive benefit” to the high school consist of the possible use of land in the existing flood plain for athletic fields? This, of course, in return for access to county water and sewer through the high school, which is what was presented in the Yancey proposal.

  10. A big concern about the proposed industrial park is the broad range of uses that would be allowed with a zoning change to Planned Development – Industrial Park. According to county documents, PD-IP zoning also allows all light industrial (LI) uses and Category II PD-IP allows, by right, heavy industrial zoning uses. See Sections 27-29 in the Albemarle County zoning code:
    http://www.albemarle.org/department.asp?department=ctyatty&relpage=2784#zoning

    If you read these, it’s easy to see why people are concerned. By right or with a special use permit, everything from office park, dwellings, dry cleaning plants, manufacture and recycling of tires, motels, even airports/heliports could be allowed. That’s the worry – we just don’t know what would eventually go there. It could be something not so bad, or something really, really bad. And once a zoning change is granted, there’s nothing the community can do. I’m sure Mr. Yancey will assure us that there are no plans for the more frightening uses, but regardless of what is said, there would be nothing to stop him or a future owner of the property from doing whatever they want with the property within the guidelines of the zoning code.

    The Planning Commission rejected this proposal once already; see:
    http://www.albemarle.org/upload/images/forms_center/departments/community_development/forms/reports/Crozet_Master_Attachment_G%28a%29.pdf

    In the proposed Master Plan update, the community and county staff are on record as being opposed to the project. One notable reason is that the land is located in the water supply watershed. Correct me if I’m wrong, but does the “massive benefit” to the high school consist of the possible use of land in the existing flood plain for athletic fields? This in return for access to county water & sewer through the high school.

  11. Even though I’d prefer an office park over light industrial, anything that provides additional land for athletic fields at WAHS is ok in my book.

  12. There is not a better place in Western Albemarle better located for this use….Direct access to Rt64, Water & Sewer in a hole so most of it can be screened from view.

    BTW the “it’s in a watershed” argument is getting old. Every place in the county is in someone’s watershed. Also the counties WPO requirements as well as the DEQ requirements protect existing water ways and in most cases improve the quality of runoff post development.

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