Thoughts on Crozet, the CCAC and Business in Crozet

From a reader:

Several Days ago you inquired what type of business I thought should be in Crozet. I can share with you that over the last 3 years there have been serious inquiries from such businesses as a small surgical instrument manufacturer (10-12 employees with average salary of $40,000+, a dentist office, a doctors office, a bakery, lawyers office and an architectural firm. All with 10-12 employees with hours of operation 8 – 5 most with Monday – Friday schedules. They have located in other areas at this time.

The CCAC controls what they want in Crozet and where they want it in Crozet. They even restricted neighborhood density to the north of Crozet by including language in the Revised Crozet Master Plan that prohibits neighborhood density to include retail/commercial infill except to the west and the east of Crozet. The language in the Revised Master Plan reads as follows: ” Neighborhood serving retail/commercial areas and office uses of less than 5,000 square feet may be allowed by exception only in Neighborhood Density Residential areas located within half a block of Downtown along Blue Ridge Avenue and east of Firehouse Lane.”

There is no provision for any “infill” of this to the North of Crozet!!!!?The Chairman of the CCAC, owns property to the west of the Crozet Downtown District with an assessed value of $2.397 MILLION dollars and a member of the Albemarle Planning Commission owns property on Blue Ridge Avenue assessed at $461,800.00, yet not once during review of the Crozet Master Plan and/or at any meeting did either one of these?persons disclosure their holding to the community. I ASK YOU CROZET IS THIS A CONFLICT OF INTEREST?????? Is this the way you want Crozet to Grow? I would love to hear comments from Crozet residents????

PS.. The Board of Supervisiors were made aware of this “Conflict of Interest” at their October 13, 2010 Public Hearing.

Editor’s note: if you have an opinion or an announcement about what’s going on in Crozet, you have an invitation to write at RealCrozetVA.com. I’d love to see some of the journalism students at WAHS tell us their thoughts about the block schedule, the impact of budget cuts on athletic programs … it’s year four of my asking. Maybe one day someone will take me up on the offer.

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36 Replies to “Thoughts on Crozet, the CCAC and Business in Crozet”

  1. In my opinion the CCAC is not valid. A self appointed, self interest group.
    I feel that the BOS uses them as an excuse to not have to deal with real
    people with other valid issues. Easier to let this group pretend to have some power than to actually face more people, more problems. A simple fact is that the damage to Crozet can be undone. It is not too late. Plans
    can and often do change. Get involved , express yourselves, there is community in Crozet and the CCAC is not the driving force of it. It might
    take another round of elections before the BOS will finally recognize all
    the citizens of Crozet. Down with the self appointed Kings of Crozet…

  2. From an offline commenter:

    I’m with you on the CCAC situation. The master plan states Crozet is to be a place to work and live – not a bedroom community to Charlottesville. As well all know, Tom Loach works at U.Va. I think it is the responsibility of the CCAC to help realize the vision of the master plan by seeking out businesses that will bring career jobs to Crozet and help them locate here, rather than just using the plan to keep out businesses they don’t like.

  3. With regard to the CCAC I can say as Planning Commissioner this group has been invaluable in giving me valuable feedback into planning issue within Crozet. I believe the most telling way to judge the positions taken by the CCAC is the fact they have been very consistent with the survey responses that was returned by over 700 residents in and around Crozet. It should also be mentioned that their responses have been consistent despite the fact there has been constant turn over within the committee due to term limitations set by the BOS. I’m not sure what valid issues Mr. Strauss is referring to or who the real people are who have these issues, but the CCAC meetings have always been open to debate . The members of committee, each appointed by the BOS, put in a significant number of hours tackling the issues that have come before it. Many serve not only on the CCAC, but volunteer numerous hours with other community organizations making Crozet a better place to live.

  4. I’m one of the “real people” who attend the community meetings occasionally. I’m also one of the people who strongly support and appreciate what the CCAC, and the Master Plan, as they/it are trying to protect us “real people” from those who would profit from foisting upon Crozet poorly considered and/or disastrous development of inappropriate parcels. Yes, I’m referring e.g. to the lots on the west side of Crozet Avenue just north of 240/Crozet intersection. The area is residential, with character, and the road is not appropriate for further traffic demands. Rezoning those lots would enable pretty much anything to go in there and not necessarily, or even likely, the types of “desirable” development noted by the letter writer. Furthermore there are many more parcels appropriate for such use. It is not my perception that the CCAC is trying to “keep out businesses they don’t like”, but to site businesses etc. appropriately.

    1. The conflict of interest is by itself enough to disband the CCAC. It
      brings up integrity issues that will cloud all future and past positions.
      If this group cannot understand this they are indeed invalid.
      Again, the BOS uses this group as a buffer, shielding it from any political fallout, blameless from what may come. The CCAC, not liable
      to anyone other than the BOS operates within it’s own interests, with
      nothing to lose. Not having to stand for election or any approval from
      the citizens. We are having a meeting y’all come if you can but, don’t
      worry, if you can’t we will figure it out for you… Some of the questions I hear: Why isn’t the old Crozet school used for the new library? Why
      are they building a new street if the County has a severe shortage of
      funds? Why is there no industry being actively sought after for Crozet?
      And, Who the hell are these people who have taken over Crozet???
      And, local Govt. by survey is a poor excuse. Most surveys benefit the
      people who produce and distribute it. Are you saying that most respondents to the survey wanted to maintain a bedroom community
      with tract housing, coffee shops, and a Govt. built out the box, planned
      cental area? With no jobs???

  5. Wait a minute. I’m one of the “Real people” who volunteered my time to work on a committee to help determine what to do with the Old Crozet school. The building is a wonderful historical structure that is held in high regard among many in Crozet, but it is not an appropriate structure for a public school or library. The building lacks sufficient parking space, and needs far too much structural repair to make economically feasible to use as either a school or a library. The county would spend more money getting it up to code for that use that we can afford. So the BOS made the decision to rent it the Field School and Old Crozet School Arts. This is a great re-use of a building.
    This is also an OLD issue that has been answered many times several years ago. Let’s move on to other things.

  6. Now this post actually has some good questions in it. I’m guessing you have emailed your supervisors and gone to the meetings and put that good bedside manner of yours to use. Local government is what it is … local. This website isn’t local government. It’s a dalliance.

    Although I don’t know why you hate coffee shops so much. Jobs are jobs and businesses are good for the County. Coffee is actually historic, unlike pizza … which isn’t (you made that clear once). I’d say even those that don’t live in tract housing drink coffee. Unscientific survey on my part, which may not be valid, but I’m gonna run with it anyway …

    1. I’ll let the dalliance remark go. For today. 🙂

      And I love our coffee shops. For a place that lacks consistent “third places” I’d say that Mudhouse and Trailside have contributed an awful lot to our community.

  7. With regard to the library location, I believe this decision occurred before the CCAC was even set up, so I’m not sure you can blame them. If the question you have is about jobs, it should be noted that one of the reasons cited for placing the library downtown was due to the fact that data from other areas showed an positive economic impact on business where a library was close by. That is to say the library was placed downtown to help improve the business climate and in turn produce more jobs. With regard to downtown and producing jobs the CCAC did support the new downtown master plan which improved parking regulations to allow for more businesses. And let’s not forget that since the first master plan has been passed there have been not one, but three new commercial centers build in Crozet all bringing new jobs. This is not to mention the support of the CCAC for the conversion of J. Bruce Barnes lumber company to a mixed use commercial area, which in turn will mean additional jobs. As for no industry sought, Mr. Strauss must not drive by Music Today and Starr Hill and the jobs they’ve brought. Additionally the conversion of J. Bruce Barnes will include over 100,000 square feet of space zoned flex/Light Industrial, which will allow for manufacturing jobs.
    As for the improvements to the road structure in Crozet this has been coming for some time, is needed due to the increase in traffic and was funded before the current financial crisis, with a combination of both local and federal funding.
    In short, Mr. Strauss is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts. This is a growth area and the community be it either through the CCAC or the Crozet Community Association has done its best to have a positive impact on our community as we grow while at the same time respecting the property rights of those who own land here in Crozet.
    The question for Mr. Strauss is just what do you want? You complain about the status quo, but offer no alternatives except to say you don’t like it. Perhaps if you could put forth some alternative vision for the future of Crozet it might get traction, but just complaining does nothing but take up bandwidth.

  8. What I want is simple. This community evolved without any of us into the
    desirable place that it is today. Why you think that you can enhance it by
    making it into something taken from somewhere else is beyond me. I love
    this area but want to change it does not work for me. If the library has a large parking lot that will have a positive impact on business. You would really have to stretch your facts to say that the Northside library has a
    positive impact on Albemarle Square besides that space it’s in not being vacant. As far as jobs, which retail and laborer jobs actually pay enough for a person to live in Crozet? Your creating numbers and words, not jobs. We no longer accept appointed School Boards. The CCAC should
    not be allowed to continue in its present form. Care to comment on the conflict of interest brought up by another person in this thread???
    Your helping cement our future as a bedroom community. You do deserve credit for that. And, just to keep things correct, JBB is already
    a commercial/industrial property so continuing to use it as such is something that you cannot claim credit for. The Crozet school is still being used as well. Not usable say some. Highly usable say others.
    The infrastructure/ natural resource problems was caused by local Govt.
    desire to allow tract housing to be built. Put an end to this and those problems diminish greatly. You can have growth, just not massive, beyond the scale of the place growth. Is building a new community to
    accomodate growth worth it? No. Can all this be stopped? Yes.

  9. Mr. Strauss,
    I ask you to articulate your own vision for Crozet and I get, as usual, nothing of substance. Your only comment of any value regarding the issue at hand is a statement that building a new community to accommodate growth is “not worth it and that it can be stopped”. Now the question for you is how would you go about limiting growth and this time try and be specific? Unfortunately for the rest we have to deal with something called property rights and state law, which defines how much authority local government has over development.
    Alas the remainder of your response is mostly rambling. I point out that 1. the CCAC did not make the decision to place the location of the library downtown, which you implied it did and 2. one of the reasons the library was placed downtown was the fact there was some data showing library placement can have a positive impact on economic viability. You respond with a statement about the impact of the location of the Northside library, a statement that truthfully you have no idea of its validity, unless you can produce data that it had no impact. This is also not to mention your talking about a library in a shopping mall rather then in a downtown commercial area, so you’re essentially comparing apples to oranges.
    I point out that Crozet has been producing jobs under the master plan and you respond by saying you accuse me of “creating numbers and words not jobs” . The fact is some of the jobs produced will in fact support a family in Crozet. These would include the physicians, nurses and technicians employed in the two new health centers, one from UVA, one from Augusta. I assume that a fair number of the trades people employed in building the new home here in Crozet (one of the few places real estate is doing well) also make a living wage. I’m sure there are managers at Music Today and Harris Teeter who make a good salary. Others jobs created will serve as a second incomes for families so they can afford to live in Crozet. The fact remains that new businesses and new jobs have been coming to Crozet.
    Finally, I’m not taking credit for anything that has happened in Crozet. I have had the privilege of working with a good number of Crozet citizens, who have rolled up their sleeves and given a huge effort to make this a better place to live. I await your answer to what you would do to make Crozet the place you want us all to live in.

    1. Sorry, I have been scrooling up and down and missed this.

      “I await your answer to what you would do to make Crozet the place you want us all to live in.”

      The fact is that Crozet is the place we want to live in. That is why we are here and chose to stay here. It already exists. The fact that it attracts new people in its present state is proof of it. You just won’t know what you had until it’s gone…

  10. Edward – Last chance. What is your vision of Crozet?

    Tom – Thank you for contributing to this discussion. I don’t always agree with the CCAC/CCA/BoS/Planning Commission, but I sincerely appreciate your taking the time to articulate your thoughts.

  11. Still lookin for Uptown Crozet….Crozet needs a Mayor!…..Communication between CCAC & Bos is questionable, take a look at first 2 pages of Sept. mins………..What really is wrong with Acme?….Can we get a trash can at the car wash?……Carrer Jobs in Crozet sounds good….miss the 4th of July carnival….

  12. Jim,
    Thank you for your comments. I doubt very much if there’s a person in Crozet who would admit to agreeing with all of the decisions made by the CCA, CCAC, PC or BOS. That said, one has to look at the alternative to not having the CCAC. Without the CCAC should a development issue arise, a resident who wanted to express their opinion would have 3 minutes before the planning commission and 3 minutes before the BOS. Quite often, at least from my experience, the only people who show up to speak before the pc or bos were those directly involved even though the issue at hand may have community wide impact. Then once everybody got their 3 minutes of free speech, it would then be up to myself on the planning commission or Ann on the board as representatives of the White Hall District to render our respective decisions. Sometimes on larger issues you get a chance to have a work session and get additional feedback, but that is not always the case. Having the CCAC allows all of those who feel compelled, to have their say within the context of a full and fair discussion. Because of the scope of the membership the issue is viewed from a community perspective rather then an isolated incident of development. Indeed on some issues before the CCAC the committee has taken several sessions to fully explore all the ramification of the issue before having a vote. Again I would note that the CCAC has rendered votes consistent with the community survey and has done so despite the fact that the membership has turned over due to term limitations. At least to me it indicates the composition of the CCAC has been broad enough to adequately reflect the sentiment of the community. For me it’s much better then going it alone.

  13. Jerry,
    The 3 minutes refers to the amount of time you are allowed to speak before the planning commission and board of supervisors, so yes Really only 3 minutes to speak. Having been before the pc and bos on many occasion I know the problem of trying to make all the points you want within that time period, that is to say I know the time limitation under the rules means that not all of the information that may be of value gets into the record. I also know that at times there are issues before the pc and bos that will have community wide impact, yet only a few speakers show up to talk. The point I was trying to make is the CCAC allows an issue to get adequate time for discussion. As for being alone, you also missed the point I was trying to make, which is when I make a decision on the planning commission I want to have as much information as possible and the CCAC as a community forum along with the County Staff input and public comment provide me with the information to make the best decision possible, which is what I believe the people of the White Hall district deserve.

    1. I already put my vision in writing. You do not accept it, fine. The
      Community will evolve with or without either you or me. Back to the
      conflict of interest within the CCAC, can you give some words on that
      or is the number one rule of CCAC is that you do not talk about CCAC?
      How you can equate the hundreds of jobs lost with the closure of
      Mortons/Con Agra and Acme Visable with a few managers/doctors/
      nurses is priceless. Crozet has become a bedroom community. Just because you do not like to hear certain things or, do not agree does
      not make things either a fact or not. What is so, is the way to look at it.
      The local and federal funding to remake Crozet is not free money.
      Building a new library means you are building a new library. It makes
      no sense to me to borrow the money at this time. What I feel is one
      positive thing about all this is that other communities are looking for
      ways to keep the Crozet effect from happening. Locally. you have a
      Greenwood-Afton Rural Historic District being proposed for nominaton by the DHR in Richmond. If it makes it or not, who knows
      but, it is an interesting way go. As far as 3 minutes before the BOS. They do respond to e-mail and you can schedule time with them to talk alot longer than that. In fact, Since they are our elected officials they need to know your thoughts. You are entitled to your own voice, you do not have to have an unelected group speak for you.

      You ask, how do you limit growth?
      You beat it into the ground the way the Restore N Station was.
      You require one house, one or two acres zoning.
      You require low income housing to be built.
      You cap the size of tract housing developements to lower limits than we now have. And, actually consider the impact on existing water,
      roads, etc. Use Restore N Station standards.
      Are you saying that you have to allow the rate of growth that we now have? We have to remake Crozet? So, have at it. You want a response
      from me yet…

  14. I find it very interesting that Tom Loach, the Chairman, of the Albemarle Planning Commission continues to defend the decisions made by both the CCAC and the Albemarle Planning Commission. He also continues to stress what is being done in Crozet as being good. I wonder if he feels like he must justify the people who are members of what I have named, “The Western Albemarle County Board of Supervisors” and “The Western Albemarle County Planning Commission”.

    We do have three (3) centers in Crozet now. That is in part due to the fact that our cumbersome process of rezoning “wears” businesses down until they either locate outside Albemarle County or chose to go to an area that has been “designated” for business. One of those health centers mentioned targeted the corner of 240 and 250 for their site and the process took so long that the organization chose to locate elsewhere in order to be on the leading edge of the healthcare provider business in the Crozet area. As we discuss numbers with Mr. Loach, how many of those people are from the Crozet area? These are professional jobs, and they brought many of their employees from other locations to fill positions as nurses and doctors and office personnel.

    With regard to the library it will be very interesting to see what the library does for downtown Crozet. Given the fact that the current generation is quickly migrating to “e-book readers” like Kindle. College students today get their books on line rather than hardbacks. Most classics on e-books are free, one can preview a book prior to reading it and can buy the books and keep them without a storage problem. So I ask the questions, does it make sense to invest so many square feet in a library. Don’t get me wrong, I still find it comforting to curl up with a good book, but I anticipate that I will be able to do that with a Kindle in the very near future.

    Lastly, I would encourage everyone to go to at least one meeting of the CCAC, one meeting of the Albemarle Planning Commission and one meeting of the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors to learn just how little control you have over the land and home that you and/or your parents worked all their life for, thinking it could and would be at least a part of your/their retirement. Observe it you will a “panel” sitting on a raised podium, where one is encouraged to sign up to speak, given 3 minutes to speak and wait for the verdict from the podium on your requests. It so reminds me of the days of the Roman Empire and the control the Romans had over the “commons”. If you attend just one of these meetings, you will observe people “pleading with the powers to be” to be able to utilize their land and their homes for various uses. I have lived in Planned Communities and in areas that have a Home Owners Association. If people want to control their surroundings… please chose to live in one of these communities and let America remain free to develop and to reward those who have worked to own houses and land and receive the fruits of their labor and make good or bad decisions and lets get back to working with and talking thru changes with friends and neighbors without engaging a government agency. Given the right to do so people generally make good decisions or they go out of business and/or their neighbors help them make the decision to find a friendlier place to live and work. Let us be vigilant about what we hand over to Government and what we retain as our own individual rights. Less government will be less costly, more user friendly and perserve the decision making and problem solving skills developed by Americans which made American great once and can do it again!!!!

    1. This writing displays libertarian-style views of the ideal society, but alas, in practice this never works out that way, surprise. I am a bit irritated when someone is downplaying the importance of a public library, as if everybody has enough disposable income to buy kindles ipads and what not, and all the online book purchases to boot. Clearly not: many people will keep relying on and preferring the real books (but cannot afford buying 100 a year), and feel that access to them in a public library greatly enhances the quality of living here. Some things are indeed “priceless”. It is such a fallacy of logic to label “Government” as something alien and untouchable. Not: we all determine the make-up and workings of that very institution. So if you feel such a lack of control (who knows this nation suffers from too many control-freaks), claim your stake and maybe enough voters like your opinions to actually vote for you.

      1. Mr. Martins views are valid and reflect the opinion of most long term residents of the area. Since you feel the need to label him to suit your needs what label would you attach to yourself? Library is not the magical word it once was. How much actual Library business is actually books vs Internet use and videos? Valid points seem to get drowned out by certain people instead of presenting valid facts and
        then discussing it. Since public money is involved it is even more important. There is only one center of Crozet. The shopping areas that
        are just outside of Crozet are just that. Calling people names, appointed
        boards that cannot admit to conflict of interest, and all the politicians
        and Bureaucrat’s cannot change that. If you want your life governed by endless committees fine. The BOS has already gone through one
        correction, I feel another one coming…

  15. Jim,
    Thanks for hosting this blog, where people of Crozet can speak their minds, air their concerns, ask their questions, and sing their praises. I think that is a big part of what community is all about. As a member of the CCAC, selected and appointed by the Albemarle BOS, I am excited to hear that the governing process of Crozet is such an important topic– one that people feel passionately about. Those individuals who have such strong opinions on and interest in how Crozet is (or isn’t) developed should really consider applying for the CCAC. We need a range of voices that represent the wide range of beliefs in the community. While some may feel that the CCAC is a self-appointed self interest group, we are in fact just a group of your neighbors who, like you, want to share our thoughts, get involved, and feel like we play a part in what happens to our town. We want to hear from all of you, even if what you want is different than what your neighbor wants. Having diverse ideas about community development is not a bad thing- it means we are all individuals with different backgrounds and different visions.

      1. Then you obviously have a birthright to do whatever you want in or to this county. It’s the American Way.

        Long time residents can only aspire to such good fortune.

        1. You are correct. Just think, you might of made a difference where
          ever you came from. It is normal to take pride in the area you live
          in and care about. Or, it can be one big joke…

          1. Don’t confuse sarcasm with jocundity, Edward.

            I come from America. And I know the outcome of this whole debate.

      1. Oh yes it will — we’re getting another gas station, across the street from a current gas station. More gas, more cigarettes, more lottery tickets for all the new people!

        I feel restored and refreshed already …

        1. ..locals do more smokes than the newbees.

          I plan on pumping gas at each of the 3 gas stations until my tank is full.

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