Letter from Rich Pleasants

via email: (on Nextdoor, too)

It has come time for me to speak my mind; on some of the happenings in our wonderful community.  Most Crozet area citizens have little knowledge of the dark side of what is going on in Crozet, right under our noses.  Let’s me start by saying, that when I moved my family here in August 2014, I had high hopes of retiring here. I still feel that way.  However, I can’t sit idly by and watch what is going on around us and not exercise my right to free speech.

We have about 3 or 4 major landlords in our community that I would personally consider as vulture capitalists.  Many in this community have no idea who they are or what ties they have to our community. Unfortunately (or fortunately), I have been studying and investigating them for years… What I have found is quite disappointing, to say the least.  We have what I would call “Evil Tom Sawyers” controlling some prime real estate and cheating many small and medium sized business owners out of their hard earned profits.

Many of these “landlords” (a throwback term from the plantation days), are demanding that tenants sign a “TripleNet (NNN) Lease” with rent rates that I have only seen in major cities across this country.  My understanding from a number of Virginia attorneys is that “TripleNet Leases” are not equally enforceable in the Commonwealth of VA, in situations where the landlord is blatantly negligent in misrepresenting the condition of the property prior to and up to the lease signing date.

One such landlord owns an adjacent personal residence that is causing damage to the commercial property that they are renting with a very questionable “NNN” Lease.  The damage is related to a drainage pipe running underground from the residence right into the cinder block wall on the back of a Hair and Nail Salon. Both this business and the other business on this commercial property have flooded multiple times due to runoff from the landlord’s residence.    This landlord should be subject to county ordinances just like all the other residents and businesses in Albemarle County. Another landlord company is benefiting from a $800k “refacing” of a large multi-story building in downtown Crozet. The landlord is also renting space on the roof for multiple antennas.  I have contacted the FCC about these antennas, requesting a copy of the permits, general specs, weights, and contracts terms.

There are a number of well documented situations with Crozet area commercial building tenants (small business owners) that are constantly being  heavily pressured to sign NNN Leases on buildings that are completely misrepresented by landlords or their LLCs, verbally and in writing prior to lease signing.  Crozet needs it’s family owned small businesses to thrive; let’s all step up and support these businesses, in any way we can. Otherwise, one day… Walmart and/or a McDonalds will invade our beautiful community.  As far as I am concerned, we all could use a lot less of these vulture capitalists bleeding many of these small businesses dry.

I am also very disappointed that our local county supervisor, Ann Malek, is turning a blind eye to these type of small business issues in our community.  These issues have been going on for quite a number of years. If she wanted these solved, so that these small business owners would get a fair shake, she would have addressed the issues head on, as any duly elected local official who focuses on being a public servant should.  Vineyards, breweries and distilleries are not the only kind of businesses we collective need to thrive in the Crozet area. I believe the county should aggressively investigate these landlord issues; related to water drainage requirements between residence locations and commercial property locations.  I am sure there are county ordinances that protect business owners, just as they protect county residents. Otherwise, apathy and complacency will erode our wonderful community, right under our noses.

– Rich L.C. Pleasants

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