What follows are a few emails I’ve received from a reader
A link to a recording of the webinar on the DEQ South Fork Rivanna River Study — presentation slides and recording — is below.
Of particular interest to Crozet people: Lickinghole Creek is one of the officially impaired creeks. Parts of the Mechums are too. And parts of the Rivanna.
There’s also a link to the first Technical Advisory Committee Meeting. Citizens can serve on this body.
In the light of all the construction (including the recent snafu with the violation of the stream protection guidelines in the county’s latest (?) cock-up, the development (near Crozet Park), vigilance regarding our streams is vital.
From VA DEQ Valley Regional Office
I would like to thank you all for your interest in the South Fork Rivanna River Stream Health Study. We had great attendance and participation at our kick off meeting on Wednesday evening, and I hope that we continue to have this level of engagement going forward. As a reminder, our first Technical Advisory Committee Meeting will be held on December 9th at 2:00 p.m. Anyone who is interested is welcome to attend.
For those of you who were unable to attend the meeting on Wednesday night, I have provided a link to a recording of the webinar below. This recording includes the presentation and the question and answer session that followed. Please feel free to reach out if you have any questions, and please do pass along any formal written comments during the 30-day public comment period currently underway.
Supervisor Ann Mallek of the White Hall District is hosting a virtual town hall on Thursday, November 19, beginning at 7pm. Supervisor Mallek will listen to your concerns, answer your questions, and share information about what’s going on in Albemarle County. Questions may be submitted in advance by email ([email protected]) or be asked during the live session, through Zoom or by phone.
The virtual town hall may be accessed in the following ways:
A staple of representative government in Albemarle County is the town hall. Albemarle has six supervisors, each of whom represent a different magisterial district. That is different from Charlottesville, which elects five people at-large. But because of COVID, Albemarle’s in-person town halls have not been possible this year.
The virtual town hall for the White Hall District being put on by Supervisor Ann Mallek beginning at 7 p.m. is the first of this era. You can ask questions in advance by sending an email to [email protected] or asking in the session. (meeting info)
My offer stands to Crozetians: want to research and write about developments affecting you, your neighborhood, Crozet? Let me know.
New letter from one of Crozet Park’s neighbors to Albemarle County staff.
After the Crozet Park Special Use Permit zooming meeting on the 14th I’ve taken some time to digest my impressions and wanted to share my thoughts about the process and the content.
First, I think it is a good thing to solicit neighborhood input although attending the meeting via zoom rather than in person was a bit confining. I am not clear on the Virtual Meeting process for responding to public questions or comments submitted prior to the Meeting. I do not know how others felt but it was odd to submit questions/comments prior to the meeting that may or may not be addressed by the people actually active in the Video/Zoom meeting.
Second, I had a chance to look at the additional Crozet Park Expansion project information that was attached to the previous Meeting Minutes which included staff and agency comments from the Applicant’s August Submittal. I see that some of the questions raised in my previous letter were also commented by staff and other agencies, however, I did not see where the impact of construction on the adjacent neighborhoods is addressed in the attachments to the previous meeting minutes.
Based on comments at the meeting it was clear to me the Applicant has no intention of disturbing its own Park operations during construction nor did they seem concerned about how construction work will impact adjacent neighborhoods. Incorporating neighborhood concerns should be equally aggressive and intentional. This is a serious issue for those of us experiencing the Foothill construction operation.
From my own observations, and mentioned by a resident at the meeting, based on the progress of the Foothill Crossing construction project next door to Crozet Park, it seems that it is considered acceptable by County Staff, the Applicant and its Designer to stage dump trucks and turn them around on neighborhood roads. It appears it is also acceptable to put Porto-johns in front of neighbor homes and Site Debris Management areas close to neighboring homes. The Foothill Crossing construction project plans include no requirement to stage construction vehicles within the Construction Site verses outside of the Construction site which makes the work more disruptive than it should be and is, frankly, inconsiderate.
Staff and agency comments did not address this at all – maybe it is beyond their purviews. The construction impact of these Projects/Developments can be mitigated, but planning for it has be intentional and should be seriously considered during early reviews. The manner in which the current Foothills Crossing construction work has been handled did not consider how it is disturbing neighbors in Parkside Village and along Hilltop Road. Construction impacts for this Project can be mitigated very cost effectively but they have to be planned just as intentionally as the applicant has – and some agency has to advocate for that.
Lastly, it was unclear at the community meeting what information Staff reviewed relative to the use of the Emergency Access Road entrance to Hilltop Road in the future. The Designer said it would only be used for large events while the Applicant indicated they would not accept any limitations on how they might use it. The VDOT Comments are also unclear on whether they reviewed the improvements as an Emergency Access road or a two way Entrance to the Park. This is a very serious issue for a lot of reasons – the Hilltop Road entrance sight distances, bus stops, traffic build up, sequence with the development of neighborhood infrastructure (future roads) to Downtown Crozet – and how all of this impacts the adjacent neighborhoods. I am looking forward to additional project information and a chance to review the Applicants response and comments.
There is a lot here. Take the time to read and digest.
Crozet Park is planning to move forward with a Special Use Permit application for their massive plans.
As a neighbor, it would have been neat if they’d told us. Below is a very detailed letter from a neighbor immediately adjacent. I’d encourage you to take the time to read it all, and then attend the public hearing on 23 October. * And the CCAC will be discussing this at 7pm on the 14th.
This is the sort of work and oversight citizens need to do.
Without my neighbor bringing this to my attention, I’d have had no idea, and I try to stay aware of things. Lots jumped out in his letter, including “This application proposes to take the total impervious (paved area) to something over 7 of the park’s 22 acres.“
We live in the Parkside Village development in Crozet. We received a letter from your office (undated) on October 6, 2020 regarding SP2020-16 Claudius Crozet Park Community Meeting. (Jim’s note: here’s the letter)
We have read the application for the Special Use Permit and have a number of questions that we would like to have addressed publicly but more generally the letter is a bit confusing about what the purpose of the October 14 meeting versus the October 23 questions and comments deadline which are both noted in your letter. It would be helpful to understand the difference between these time frames. Is one an info session while the other is an official public comment deadline?
We’d like to start by saying that we raised our family next to Crozet Park and for nearly 20 years we benefited from it in countless ways. I was also personally involved in improving the existing athletic facility and installation of the dome when it was first managed by the YMCA. We have found that the park has remained focused on being a great asset for everybody in the area and being a good neighbor.
Unfortunately we have also watched firsthand the development of Foothill Crossing in our backyard. That project has been poorly communicated, implemented without consideration for the neighbors it is impacting and, frankly, includes aspects that were not fully divulged and understood. We can only blame ourselves that we were not more involved during the review processes for that project.
We include the above explanation because we understand that we are in a development area and expect that Crozet will continue to grow and become more populated and we also expect, as long time contributors to the park and the area, to be treated like neighbors, a valuable asset, when changes are implemented. So receiving an undated letter about a meeting in eight days was a bit of a surprise.
Specific comments/questions about the Special Use Permit Application
I thought about titling this story, “Trees Gone, Why Were We Surprised?” But that felt click-baity.
From a neighbor and guest author*:
When the clearing for Foothill Crossing began along Parkside Village and Crozet Park a few weeks ago, we watched close-up as the woods began to disappear in such a grinding, brutal fashion. But the fact was we knew that it was going to happen one day as progress and development continues in Crozet and Albemarle.
We were, however, surprised by the number of trees that were cleared right down to the Stream. We had always understood that a 100 ft buffer was to be maintained on both sides of this Creek.
We contacted Frank Pohl with the county engineer’s office about the clearing and he responded quickly and directly, sending an inspector out to the site. He confirmed that too many trees had in fact been cut down and that Erosion and Tree protection had not been installed. The contractor was notified of the violations and the required remediation.
This brought our attention to the plans/drawings that the County makes available on their website. After spending more time reviewing those plans supplemented with the approved Erosion and Sediment Control drawings, we realized that a 20 FT. wide, 82,000 lb. rated Access Road over a simple 36’ concrete pipe culvert is planned to cross the Creek.
According to the plans, this same Road is alternately labeled and identified in a number of ways:
1. Paved Emergency Access . . .,
2. Access Road to be extended to Park Ridge drive until roadway infrastructure for Foothills Phase II is complete,
3. Proposed 20’ Asphalt Emergency Access and Bicycle /Pedestrian Access. , and 4. Detailed in an equally broad “Asphalt Paving – Emergency Access Road & Pedestrian/Bicycle Pathway & TOT Lot/SWM Access Pathway. Mr. Pohl also clarified that while the road was not currently approved as a Construction Access road for Foothill Phase II, he did not see why that could change in the future.
We have expressed our disappointment with the fact that the Stream Buffer had been compromised so easily for such an unclear purpose. The drawings also appear to go out of their way to downplay the Installation of this Road.
Certainly there is an emotional reaction when development occurs “nextdoor” – just like it did for local residents with the development and construction of our house.
It has raised these questions for us –
Did we pay enough attention when the plans were first proposed?
Is the County and Planning commission in tune with the impacts of these aggressive Developments on its neighbors?
Does the contractor/developer think about people when they stage/setup the most disruptive of their work alongside our neighbors when they have acres of options?
I’ve said it before, that being a citizen is hard. Knowing what is happening next door to you is important. Knowing what is happening in your community is important too. You may live near Chiles Orchard or Old Trail, or down Miller School Road, but these trees and developments affect you, too.
If you have other links, tools, tips about how to get involved or research, please share!
Update: here are some ideas!
You could try talking to your neighbors.
Maybe identify one per month to watch the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors, Planning Commission, CCAC meetings, and any other relevant ones, and then write something on a blog somewhere.
My opinion: Nextdoor & Facebook are not great for sharing information because those are walled gardens, closed sites, and are not searchable by search engines.
Heck, I’ll create a page or a section here on RealCrozetVA if anyone wants to take up this idea for your neighborhood. Then you can send the link to your neighborhood and it can be shared and searched for posterity. Let me know if you’re interested.
That should not have been a surprise to anyone who knows a) Crozet is a growth area and b) knows to look at the Crozet Master Plan. If you’re curious if those trees are going to stay, the answer is probably “no.” But get curious; investigate for yourself. And then talk to your neighbors.
*re: the “guest author”: I know them, they’re neighbors.
Bev emailed me asking if I’d do a story about this Master Gardener event series, “In this time of COVID, many have turned to gardening as one of the ways to enjoy the outdoors, reduce stress and reap concrete rewards for the work.”
She obliged my request for her to write one I could publish. 🙂
by Bev Thierwechter
Every year, the Piedmont Master Gardeners Association, in partnership with Virginia Cooperative Extension, train a new group of people interested in learning how to become an Extension Master Gardener volunteer educator.
Avid gardeners who wish to enhance their skills and share their knowledge as community educators are invited to attend one of three online orientation sessions on how to become an Extension Master Gardener volunteer. The virtual sessions will be on Thursday evenings from 6 to 7 p.m. on October 8, October 15 and October 22. To register and receive a Zoom link to one of the sessions, contact [email protected] or call 540-727-3435. More information is available here.
The three sessions will be hosted by Rapidan River Extension for residents of Charlottesville and Albemarle, Greene, Madison, Orange, Culpeper and Fluvanna Counties. They will provide an orientation for next year’s Extension Master Gardener Training Class for these localities, to be held online on Thursday evenings from January 21 to April 29, 2021, as well as outdoors on four Saturday mornings, February 20, March 6, April 17 and May 8.
Applications for the 2021 Training Class are being accepted through November 1. More information and application forms are available here.
Part of Virginia Cooperative Extension (VCE), the Extension Master Gardener program comprises volunteer educators who help their communities adopt science-based and environmentally sound horticultural practices. In the Charlottesville-Albemarle area, the Piedmont Master Gardeners provide some 12,000 hours of volunteer service each year and are engaged in more than 20 ongoing outreach projects.
There was a big land use meeting the other day. Here’s the blog post with the agenda, and below are the attachments sent out after the meeting. These land use decisions affect everything. Housing, schools, roads, trails, jobs, parks, and virtually everything else.
Note that the County are having Office Hours on 2 October. Read on for details.
These quick thoughts are part of an email that I sent to someone asking for my thoughts after the meeting. I wasn’t going to write a story until I was asked, so here it is.
(bolding is mine; this is part of the email from the County Staff as a followup
Thank you for attending yesterday afternoon’s Crozet Community Advisory Committee meeting. This was by far the highest-Zoom meeting we have had since we were forced to move engagement to a virtual format, with the turnout surpassing some of our public input opportunities that were open for over three weeks at a time. If you were unable to attend, please take some time to provide input through our questionnaire at https://publicinput.com/O2561.
I’ve had a number of requests for the video from the meeting as well as the Q&A list, chat, and presentation and wanted to provide those here. The meeting video can be viewed here: https://youtu.be/gCUKw8b4Mb0.
The Q&A list, chat log, and presentation slides are attached. We also wanted to create some additional opportunities for community members to chat directly with staff to provide feedback and ask questions about the Master Plan. Next Friday, October 2 from 11AM-1PM we will be hosting (virtual) office hours. Please consider joining us to learn more about the draft future land use plan, ask questions, and share your feedback! You do not have to attend for the entire time and can join whenever is convenient for you. You can pre-register/access the meeting here: