145 More Homes Coming Behind Western Ridge and Westhall?

Propoosed new neighborhood - Westlake Hills

Update: The Newsplex did a nice story on proposed new development One clarification: the new development could help or hurt the Crozet community. My greatest personal concern is that the new development seems to have its sole access via Park Road. Go to the end of this post for an excerpt from a relevant discussion in 2006.

The question is … will the Eastern Avenue be part of this process? (I think it should be)

145 more homes could be coming to the area between Western Ridge and Foxchase and Westhall. This sort of development has wide-ranging ramifications and potential impacts:

– school populations and balancing
– loss of natural landscape (which all new neighborhoods tend to do)
– infrastructure – will there be any improvements? i.e. – roads, bicycle paths, connectivity?
– more housing inventory which could be a good thing, depending on what houses will be built (remember, I’m a Realtor)
– more traffic on 240

See the location of the proposed Westlake neighborhood on Bing.

Update: Laurie Shannon has an excellent comment on RealCrozetVA’s Facebook page: (bolding mine)

Seems a bit of a squeeze. I cannot imagine that many more houses coming out through existing neighborhoods would be a good, safe, or appealing reality. If the entire landmass that is Crozet becomes residential homes then the things that attract people to Crozet – keeping land/home prices so stable – will be gone and people will no longer desire – and pay – to live here. The view of the mountains, the expanses of open land – already depleted – and the country – not full on suburb – are very fragile and once gone cannot be brought back.

If you’re interested, go to Albemarle’s GIS site and search for these Parcel IDs – 05600-00-00-095A0 and 05600-00-00-095A0 and 05600-00-00-095a0

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Westlake Hills Subdivision in Crozet – Plat

Oddly, there are no results for Westlake on the County’s site.

Westlake Subdivision Subdivision Letter

This is from 2006thank you Charlottesville Tomorrow.:

Dennis Rooker (Jack Jouett) indicated he would no longer vote in favor of any rezonings that did not adequately contribute to transportation and other infrastructure needs.  He cited what he saw as two problems with Westhall: 1) the number of units being approved in Crozet now already exceeds what the Master Plan intended for the first twenty years; and 2) that County does not have funding for transportation infrastructure (e.g. Jarmans Gap Road) because of the inadequacy of state funding.  He also suggested a new approach on future proffers which might be based on the number of vehicle trips per day anticipated to come to and from the development.  He suggested a $1,000 per vehicle trip generated per day proffer.  For Westhall at about 8,000 vehicle trips per day that would be $8,000 per unit in one-time voluntary proffers from the developer that could be applied to transportation projects.

Some Supervisors, including David Slutzky (Rio) and Lindsay Dorrier (Scottsville) expressed their discomfort discussing changing overall proffer expectations at the time of a vote on a specific rezoning request. Sally Thomas (Samuel Miller) shared her view that an up or down vote on this rezoning request was not a black and white issue with respect to the County’s proffer policies.  Ms. Thomas shared her concern that increased monetary proffers in the designated growth areas might push development to the rural areas and might result in by-right development in Crozet that won’t be in accord with the community’s goals in the master plan.

David Wyant (White Hall) indicated he could not vote for approval of Westhall until there was a clear commitment from an adjoining property owner to fund the construction of Eastern Avenue, a connector road described in the Crozet Master Plan that would interconnect this neighborhood to Routes 240 and 250.  He indicated to his colleagues that he is attempting to broker such a deal and expects a decision from the developer any day.  Eastern Avenue is currently estimated to be an $8 million road project including a bridge over Lickinghole Creek.
Ken Boyd (Rio) indicated he shared the concerns expressed by Mr. Rooker and Mr. Wyant and that he could not support the project.  He said this went against what he normally believes with respect to controlling development, but that he said the issue had to be settled somewhere along the line, and that while he felt bad about doing it here, a “line in the sand” had to be drawn and a new message sent to the development community.

During the discussion, Supervisors Boyd, Thomas, and Dorrier all seemed to change their minds on the project and they joined Rooker and Wyant in voting in favor of a deferral so the applicant can have the opportunity to come back with revised proffers and to allow the Board to receive additional information on the County’s ability to pay for new infrastructure.

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18 Replies to “145 More Homes Coming Behind Western Ridge and Westhall?”

  1. No new homes until the developers build a connector road and provide other infrastructure upgrades.

  2. There is a meeting with the county Site Review Committee “to discuss issues and share information” on Thursday morning at 10 am in room 241 at the county office building on McIntire Rd. Go to voice your concerns or just to listen, if you can. Notice that the proposal includes a request for a “bonus density increase” and “disturbance of critical slopes.” Notice also on the plat that the only way in and out is through the small neighborhood streets around West Hall and Claudius Crozet Park.

  3. The access to this new neighborhood will be via Tabor to Park Road, by the Park entrance and then through two small streets in Westhall. Traffic here is already an issue, especially with school bus stops, and with the improvements at the park the traffic will only get worse – add an additional 145-300 cars in this new neighborhood and you have bumper to bumper in the mornings and evenings! The connector road on the master plan needs to be built before they add any additional homes in this area!

  4. The Site Review Committee meeting this morning was an eye-opener. Westlake Hills subdivision is a by-right development. According to the county planners at the meeting, as long as the minimum criteria for the existing zoning are met, the county is compelled to approve the project. The only issue in question is whether they will allow the critical slopes disturbance. According to the county staffers, the county has no ability to require changes or deny the project based on safety concerns, traffic issues or infrastructure needs. This is amazing to me. Also, not to be too glib, but it appears that the Crozet Master Plan is like the Pirates’ Code (from Pirates of the Caribbean). The CMP is “more like guidelines.” Next step – send a letter by April 30 requesting review by the Planning Commission – otherwise Westlake Hills will be approved without ever going before the Planning Commission or being discussed by the Board of Supervisors.

    1. Thanks, Western Ridge Walker. I (and I assume the readers) really really appreciate your taking the time to attend the meeting and let us know how it went.

    2. If the developers can come up with the money this will be built. The
      County did not build a new street and a municipal building just to sit there by itself. Once you open up an area to development you can not
      pick and choose what you get, especially since there are no elected
      choosers. Attend the meeting or not, if the money is there it is a done deal.

  5. Here is some more information from the meeting 4/19  for those who could not attend but are interested:

    The plan is being revised by the developer (based on feedback from the county & the public), and changes will be posted on  http://countyviewweb.albemarle.org/ ; click on “view selected planning application” button on the right, and type in “sub201200038”. Some information which I had understood was to be posted currently was not available. The resubmittal date is April 30th.

    The developer does not have to follow the Crozet Master Plan as it is a guiding document and this is a “by right” (not requiring re-zoning) development.

    Any trails that cross into the private lots will likely not remain public.

    40% of the site will be preserved, which enables them to increase the density on the remaining acres.  Keep in mind that some of the 40% being preserved is not buildable anyway.

    There are many lots that enter the stream buffer zone, or Riparian buffer . (These zones are important natural biofilters, protecting aquatic environments from excessive sedimentation, polluted surface runoff and erosion. They supply shelter and food for many aquatic animals and shade that is an important part of stream temperature regulation…..)

    Once these lots are private there is little or no enforcement of laws requiring people not disturb the Riparian buffer.

    The main focus of concern for the Planning Committee seemed to be the disturbance of critical slopes. Impact on existing infrastructure: schools, roads, is something that would apparently need to be dealt with after the project is completed. 

    Because of “the nature of the project”, or its being built in phases (each phase contingent on what the market will bear), there is no action being taken to study the impact of the increased traffic, or increased enrollment in schools.

    The Westlake subdivision will have one exit out through Westhall, which then must exit out through Brookwood neighborhood & finally out Tabor Rd. If Foothills Crossing completes all of its phases, and if Westlake completes all of its phases, then there may be a connection through Park Ridge Rd.  The other connector through Western Ridge (reportedly supported by VDOT) was stated as least likely to happen due to topographic issues. The fire department has expressed concerns about this area only having one exit.

    The discussed connector to route 240 has “environmental issues”.It would seem that concerns about schools or traffic issues would need to be addressed through other avenues. Is any one else out there as concerned as I am about the safety of ONE exit for all of that traffic, and all of those households? As it stands currently the roads through from Westhall to Tabor Rd are NOT safe for bikers, or walkers. If you walk those roads you have to be ready to jump into the ditch to avoid cars. If the cars are kind enough to give way to pedestrians then opposing traffic must come to a stop…. imagine this with even more traffic?!  Where is our common sense Crozet?

    1. THANK YOU for relaying this information to us.   Is there a plan to submit an objection/Request for Review on behalf of Crozet citizens?   Or should we all send one ourselves?  (If so, posting that address would be really helpful)  Thanks!

      1. Crozet Kris – 

        It’s a “by right” development, so my understanding is that if you don’t support it, there’s nothing you can do or say to change the path of this development. 

        That said, I think it’s always important to let the elected officials know the people’s opinions.

        1. Agreed!  I emailed Ellie Ray, one of the AC planners tasked w/ evaluating the critical slope in Westlake Hills, asking her to object to the crit. slope waiver.  She sent me a very informative response this morning that I  want to share:

          Thank you for taking the time to write and express your concerns regarding this application.  Your comments will certainly be taken into consideration.  

          Another member of our Planning staff did submit a recommendation to the applicant regarding the critical slope waiver request, which has been recorded in CountyView.  Planning Staff notified the applicant that we cannot support the critical slopes impacts along the northern and eastern boundaries of the property; they are currently working on a revised layout that we hope will remove the proposed impacts in those areas.  Once the revised layout is submitted and reviewed, we will make a recommendation to the Board of Supervisors and they will make the ultimate decision to approve or deny the waiver request.  The application (in general, not the waiver) is a by-right use of the property, so I have no opportunity to support or object to it; but I do plan to oppose critical slopes impacts in the areas mentioned above.  I believe the applicant plans to present the revised plans to the neighbors once the re-design work has been completed.

          The subject property is zoned R-1 and the current application (in terms of number of lots, density, lot size and so on) is in keeping with the R-1 provisions of the County Zoning Ordinance; which makes it a by-right application.  The County cannot prevent the property from being developed, nor compel the applicant to make off-site improvements; our job in a by-right scenario is to make sure the proposal meets the standards set forth in the Zoning and Subdivision Ordinances.  As I said above, we do have discretion in terms of the critical slopes waiver request and are hopeful that meaningful changes will be made to the layout.  If not, we will recommend denial of the waiver request to the Board of Supervisors.  It’s important to know, however, that even if the waiver is denied the property could still be developed using a different layout.

          Planning and Parks staff have requested that the applicant reserve area for greenway access as shown on the Crozet Master Plan.  Again, since this proposal is a by-right use of the property, we cannot compel them to provide the reservation, but we have received indication that they are willing to provide this area.  I have suggested that they meet with Parks to make sure the plan is coordinated with existing trails and access points.  I am hopeful that the revised plans will have the greenway area included.

          Thanks again for your input and feel free to contact me any time if you need additional information. 

          Ellie Carter Ray, PLA
          Senior PlannerAlbemarle County Community Development
          [email protected]
          ph: 434.296.5832 x. 3432

  6. Just received this email from Albemarle County Community Development Planning Division:

    “Iwanted to pass along that the Westlake Hills application has been deferred by the applicant.  All reviews are suspended until they submit revisions and the application is reinstated.  I have copied this email to all neighbors that have contacted me directly. If you have any questions, please let me know.

    Thank you,  Ellie Carter Ray, PLA
    Senior Planner Albemarle County Community Development Planning Division”

    1. Thank you Kris for sharing that. Thank you also for taking the time to have your voice heard.

Something to say?