via email, in response to the Snob Zoning story:*
I am a business owner in Crozet. I am not regularly active in Crozet affairs, and so am not as knowledgeable about the Crozet Master Plan as the folks, like Tom, who have put many, many hours into its development.
From where I sit, the biggest omission in the CMP (Crozet Master Plan) (and perhaps the County’s planning) is the dearth of space allocated for businesses like mine – a trade business that needs affordable space to park vehicles, store supplies, and maintain an office. Further, those same trade businesses need suppliers in the area – a B2B arrangement that helps them do their work without traversing the county for materials and services.
Crozet’s current economy is largely driven by construction, and will be for years to come. Yet, there are few contractors located in Crozet. It makes sense to me that if we have contractors framing, roofing, wiring, plumbing, and landscaping the new and existing houses here, then we should have a place for those businesses to house themselves here in Crozet.
Contractors and related trade businesses will buy supplies, fuel, parts, repair services, groceries, medical care, bookkeeping services, insurance, etc. – which will further boost the economy. It seems to me we are missing an easy source of tax revenue by not accommodating trade businesses and their suppliers. If they are going to build here, why not set up shop here, hire here, buy here, and pay their taxes here?
A retail oriented downtown will not provide the tax base or job opportunities that supports the town. Retail pays low wages. Trade businesses (for the most part) do pay not professional level wages, but they pay better than retail. And they buy a lot more local goods and services than your average retail store.
Our economy is increasingly becoming service-oriented. Service businesses will want to locate here if the market is strong and they can find a place to live. If they can buy plumbing supplies, stone, electrical supplies, and the like here – even better. More business activity, more tax revenue.
The LI (Light Industrial) sections of 240 are prohibitively expensive for small business of this nature. And the idea of additional commercial truck traffic on 240 seems both undesirable and dangerous. The proposal for an industrial park behind Yancey Lumber made sense on a lot of levels. Perhaps that is not the place for it, but I think the revised master plan needs to reckon with whether and how it is making Crozet available and attractive to trade and service businesses.
There is a potential downside of failing to accommodate service businesses: increased prices. As businesses have to travel farther for supplies and to reach their customers, prices will rise to reflect the increased costs. This has happened to locales in Northern Virginia, where housing was given a preference over business, and business was pushed out as a result. This could well happen here in Albemarle.
Albemarle makes it very tough for service businesses to make their home here (e.g. Faulconer Construction, and my own personal experience). Crozet has the opportunity to provide a more inclusive facet to its plan, and buck the current trend of business-unfriendly zoning.
Thank you for the opportunity to offer my opinion.
*Jim’s note: only edits made were for clarification and line breaks; edits identified in italics
** I offered the RealCrozetVA forum for rebuttals, and I’m thankful for the two responses to the Snob Zoning story, and the time folks take to keep Crozet a wonderful place to live. We have something special here, and we need to work to grow well, and maintain what we have.