About that Snob Zoning Story

A couple days ago, I posted a story on the RealCrozetVA facebook page linking to a story written by Neil Williamson with the Free Enterprise Forum titled, ‘Snob Zoning’ Crozet Master Plan in the Works?

Read. What are your thoughts on a volunteer group re-writing the Crozet Master Plan?

“Perhaps the question should be “After millions of dollars of planning and infrastructure spending, should Crozet residents be allowed to stifle population and economic growth by hijacking the master planning process?”

We’ve recently learned such a plan is in the works. And it is a bad idea. Please let me explain.”

An interesting discussion ensued, and I offered (as I have for 10 years) this page to anyone who wanted to write a rebuttal. So far, only Tom Loach has taken the time to do so. Thanks, Tom.

One thing that I’ll set forth (again, and I shouldn’t have to as most of you are reasonable adults). If you want to discuss this, do so thoughtfully. Agree/disagree – fine. Emotionally – fine.  Nasty – not fine. From here on out, I’ll be more liberal with my block/delete powers both here and on the Facebook page. 🙂 We’re neighbors. Most of us are nice.**

The floor is Tom’s* –

Since Mr. Duncan has welcomed responses to Neil Williamson’s article and since I’m the person Mr. Williamson seems to have the most problem with I thought I should respond, first to Mr. Williamson and then to some of the responses on the Facebook page.

To start with Mr. Williamson is incorrect when he states the community is re-writing the Master Plan.  What we’re going to do is to update the Master Plan. The reason for the update is

  1.  The Master Plan was scheduled to be updated in 2015, but the county told us they don’t have the money to do it.  We’re now told it may be 2018 before the county gets around to it.  
  2.  Obviously with some of the more recent development issues there is clear evidence that the plan needs to be updated as soon as possible to insure a number of clarifications are made so there is no ambiguity in the language.

As for Mr. Williamson’s quote from me  “he could not ever see a circumstance where he would vote in favor of a project that the CCAC did not support”, italics and bolding courtesy of Mr. Williamson, I can only respond by saying “YES”, I said it and the reason I said it is because I have explicit trust in my neighbors who have volunteered their time and talents to Crozet to make the right decisions.  

Mr. Williamson then goes on to state “I cannot recall a single Crozet development project that he supported during his years on the Planning Commission.” (No italics and bolding this time).  I have to admit Mr. Williamson is correct that to the best of my knowledge I didn’t vote for a single development in Crozet.

Of course the reason for that is they didn’t need to be voted on since they were compliant with the Crozet Master Plan and were not called up before the planning commission.  This includes Clover Lawn, Liberty Hall, Wickham Pond I and II, Wayland’s Grant, Bargamin Park, Waylands Grant, Foot Hill Crossing just to name a few.   

I won’t go into the Adelaide application except to say that I if I was still on the planning commission I would have voted against it and at the board had it gone to a vote it would have been defeated and I’m sure most of you in Crozet know why.

Mr. Williamson states “The reality is the CCAC is opposed to density in the development area that is critical to achieve the philosophical goals of the Comprehensive Plan.”  The fact is the community of Crozet accepted a change in population from 2,500 to slightly over 12,000 and has done so by approving some of highest density developments in the County.  I’m willing to bet good money that mile for mile Crozet has more developments that meet the criteria for the Neighborhood Model than any other development area in the county.

Finally, Mr. Williamson wrote “The question then becomes if Crozet wants to preserve its small town charm and restrict population growth – when (and how) will they pay Albemarle County back for the $29 million taxpayer dollars expended over the last six years to make it a desirable development area?”.  Only problem here is the fact that Crozet is not trying to restrict growth, rather actually find out what the build out population of Crozet is. In the original work done by consultants hired by the county, they came out with the “Ideal Maximum Population” for Crozet to be 12,198.  

Several years later, without explanation, the county told us the build out population was 24,000 only to be told later the population number is somewhere between 15,000 and 18,000.   It seems reasonable that if we’re going to update the Master Plan we need to know just what the number is and how that number was arrived at.

What Mr. Williamson really fears is not just the community of Crozet’s Community Advisory Council (CCAC), but the potential of the all of the county’s other Community Advisory Councils to work in concert.  

As for responses from the public to the Facebook posting by Mr. Duncan with regard to infrastructure spending, I think someone will have to do some digging to get the real figures.  

Then you have to find out how much of the spending came from federal and state grants vs. that from county taxpayers.  This is not to mention that when it comes to sewer and water spending, all of us in Crozet pay for both each month.  

Either way, since it was the county’s consultants who gave Crozet the build out population of 12,198 I would assume that the money spent was that which was needed to support that population.  As for schools, another good reason to update the master plan to determine the status of our school population and make predictions for the future based on growth factors.  Speaking of long term planning, some have suggested that we need a 50 year or longer plan.  I’m not sure if that’s true due to the fact that Crozet sits in the County’s watershed protection area and there has been a principle of the board not to allow additional development or consider growth area expansion.  

(bolding by Jim) Again, the real question is, what is the appropriate build out population for Crozet is and when is it predicted, based on growth data that we will arrive at that number.  Only when we have that number can we make the appropriate changes to the Master Plan to accommodate the expected growth.

Finally, to Randy Robert and Jayson Johnson I would just say you haven’t been around this community long enough to really know its people.  I sincerely believe that families self select to live in Crozet, not just because they like the look of a home, but because they want to be part of small town in the country.  

This is a community that has now fought for over 20 years to maintain that feeling and I don’t see us throwing in the towel any time soon.  

*I edited the above to correct a couple misspellings, and to add line breaks where I thought appropriate. I shared with Tom for his approval before publishing.

**(even those of you in 22901 and not 22932) 🙂 I kid. Lighten up. 

 

Update 3 October 2016: Rebuttal/response #2 to the Snob Zoning story, this one from the small business perspective.

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15 Replies to “About that Snob Zoning Story”

  1. I read the above with interest. I’m one of the newcomers and could have built a similar home in various places. I must admit that I am retired and being near my son’s family and grandkid’s was a goal but I still had many choices and chose to live in Crozet. I love the friendliness and small town feel of Crozet but don’t feel that I have the right to say “I’m here now and nobody else can come.” With increasing population, it seems like the master plan should be updated. There will be commercial development along with residential development and the planning for that is important and should be updated as realities become clear and optimal planning options change.

  2. The idea that someone ‘hasn’t been around long enough’ to know the people of a community troubles me. What is the magic years-in-residence number: 5, 10, 15, 20? We moved to Old Trail because we liked what we saw OTV becoming; and because this side of AC is beautiful AND close to UVA and Cville. We have made friends of wonderful neighbors in OTV, and a few we’ve met from other parts of Crozet. Some of these neighbors grew up elsewhere in AC, moved away, and came back…to Old Trail, not to Old Crozet. Some, like us, are from far and wide. This survey we keep hearing of…make sure it captures where folks came from, how long ago, what previous connection (if any) they have to Crozet, and what they want in the next 5, 10, and 20 years.

  3. Mr. Wollam,
    You obviously didn’t understand the meaning of what I wrote. My reference was to those who posted and determined they would not take the chance and move to Crozet and what I was trying to say is, if they spent more time in Crozet and got to know the Crozetians they would find we’re a community that knows how to fight for Crozet. Thus the next sentence about not throwing in the towel. It had nothing to with the length of residence in Crozet. Hope that clears up my message.

    Ms. Bowers,
    One of the benefits of having a master plan with a known population ceiling is the fact it doesn’t matter if you were the first person to move to Crozet or the last under the population cap so don’t worry because it also means no one can accuse you of saying “now that I’m here stop the growth. My advice, enjoy Crozet and be involved.

  4. Mr. Loach. I just re-read your paragraph which prompted my comment. You’re right. I did not devine your meaning. Recommend that you make your argument without reference to others’ comments; or, quote the passages you are responding to. Anyway, I intended most of my comment to indicate that many newcomers, such as I, are not primarily interested in preserving some version of small town Crozet.

  5. Adelaide fit in the recommended density range for its growth plan and would have provided a much more affordable opportunity for my family to make e out there. In relocating to Cville next year, we were very disappointed to not be afforded the same opportunity as others whom purchased their new home years ago at an affordable price. Frustrated.

  6. Interesting tact to use a Facebook post to stimulate conversation here. The way I see it the people that are now here, regardless of where they came from and when, do not have a voice. A self appointed board that claims to represent has a Developer as its Chairman. That conflict of interest should not be tolerated. Surveys are designed to give the outcome that the people who wrote the survey want. Surveys are not the same as elections.We need to get the BOS interested in the people of Crozet again. I suggest that all
    concerns be sent to BOS@albemarle.org. They actually read email and you just might get surprised. As far as affordable housing goes, when you look into tract housing in a growth area there is no such thing. There is also no guarantee that
    your surroundings will not change in the years to come. I’m
    sorry that no one was honest with you about this before you moved in. And, what about Crozetians??? Are they the ones who lock their cars doors before they walk the few feet to the
    Post Office or Bank? Or are the ones sitting on the bench by the RR bridge?? Or? And, who are these people who claim to represent them??? Community feeling?? Who gauges that?
    and by what means? I have never thought that I represented anyone other than myself…
    The growth area can be cut back, Jobs can be attracted, The beauty of the area can be preserved. There is another way…
    BOS@albemarle.org

    1. One point of clarification – Dave Stoner is the head of the CCAC. Frank Stoner is the developer of the Barnes Lumberyard; they aren’t related.

  7. I like the idea of sending comments to the BOS. I have added their email address to my contact list. Jim, can you add them to your blog? Which ‘board’ is chaired by a developer…the DCI? That is the only group I can think of. Frank Stoner chairs the DCI. Its purpose is clear… development of Barnes Lumber. I thought it was the CCAC pushing for a new survey.

    1. The CCAC CCA are pushing the survey, at the nudging of a few Crozetians.

      Frank Stoner (developer) and Dave Stoner (CCAC head) aren’t related.

      I can certainly ask the BOS to read the blog … they are the ones who vote.

  8. Jim,
    The CCAC is not pushing the survey. The survey is being done by the Crozet Community Association who also did the original survey.

  9. Point of clarification: Frank Stoner does not chair the DCI. Mary Beth Bowen is chair at the moment. It’s been rotating. The DCI is a committee of the Crozet Community Association, a 30+ year old grassroots organization. It was created at the town hall meetings in May & June 2015 to provide a forum for discussion and input to Milestone Partners & Crozet New Town Associates regarding the development of the Barnes Lumber property. The meetings are open to all and usually held in the community room of the Crozet Library. The next DCI meeting is this Wednesday, 10/5 from noon to 2P at the Crozet Library. (Website: downtowncrozetinitiative.com)

    From my perspective of living in Crozet for nearly 30 years, it isn’t now, and never has been, about stopping growth or preventing new development. It’s about making sure the development and the growth happens in places and ways the complement and enhance the community, encourage neighborliness, and build a sense of connectedness. Making sure it continues to be a place that most think is a great place to live and work. That takes planning, idea sharing, give-and-take, and lots of time and energy from many people.

    Frankly, I don’t want to live in a place where all I’m suppose to do is email my elected official. I want to live in a community where we meet and discuss the possibilities and come to a shared understanding. That’s how the first master plan was done – hundreds of people and nearly a hundred meetings. And the revision in 2010 was similar, the CCAC and CCA worked with the county to refine and improve the master plan based on 5 years worth of experience in implementing it. This next revision process will be much the same. Led by the CCA, to revise and improve the master plan where we’ve seen issues and had differences of interpretation about what was meant. As Tom Loach said, it was suppose to be revised in 2015, but the county said it didn’t have the staff resources and money. And the soonest they thought they could schedule it is 2018. We knew there were areas of the master plan that needed refining, and we knew we did a lot of leg work on the previous versions of the master plan, so we think it’s better to getting going on it now, rather than wait 2 more years. A lot will happen in those 2 years, whether the master plan is revised or not. It will be better for all involved if we can work from a plan that is up-to-date.

    Full Disclosure: I’m current president of the Crozet Community Association (CCA) and a member of the DCI.

    1. A citizens committee still should be bound by some sort of ethics as far as conflict of interest. Emailing the BOS makes sense since they are the only elected government Albemarle County has and since any money requests come from the County they should be the key factor not a bunch of ad-hoc “citizen” committees. The “Plan” keeps you in business but it is not as important as you feel it is. Land has already been deeded and zoned. The plan cannot change that. In my opinion all that has happened in all these years has been an expansion of the bedroom community along with the addition of a lot of concrete. While most communities are looking to retain their
      natural assets more tract housing keeps being welcomed here.
      We need committees for that??? I feel that we need a ballot
      issue on the Crozet Committee experiment…

  10. Jim–thanks for inspiring the discussion. It shows that we desperately need an updated Crozet Master Plan that incorporates inputs such as the ones made on this thread.

    Good job,
    Steve Walsworth

  11. The Crozet Community Assoc is un-elected and should be ignored.

    Tom Loach represents 0.013% of Crozet. He has been singing the same anti-change tune since I moved here late in the previous century. Thank goodness the town has evolved, mostly for the better, against the tide of his rants.

    Albemarle County is a foreign power like Great Britain to the colonies. Crozet should have a revolution and secede. Or at least pull a BREXIT.

    If we are a town, we can elect a mayor and council and generate our own tax revenue and make our own decisions.

    Right now, we have just one county vote and an un-elected group of busybodies trying to make policy for us. That’s a pathetic form of government and will not serve us well.

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