This was an interesting “item not on the agenda” at the 12 June 2019 CCAC meeting. I asked the gentleman who read the letter from some of the St. George neighbors to share the letter. I have pasted it below.
The local church search committee has proposed the site of Anderson Funeral Home on St. George Avenue in Crozet as a potential site for the Diocese of Richmond to review to see if it’s suitable site. (from downtown Crozet, head towards Crozet Elementary, turn left on St. George, and it’s up there on the right)
Good evening, and thanks very much for allowing me to speak.
I’m here as a resident of St. George Ave, and I’m joined by several of my neighbors. As residents of St. George Avenue and the surrounding area, it has recently come to our attention that Anderson Funeral Home and several of the adjoining lots have been proposed to the Diocese of Richmond as a potential site for a future church. This proposal includes a cut-through road from Railroad Avenue to St. George Avenue. While we welcome the addition of a Catholic church to our community, St. George Avenue is located within the Crozet Historic District and is zoned as residential . This proposal, as we understand it, threatens several historical properties listed on the National Register of Historic Places as well as the Virginia Department of Historic Resources. This potential location would also increase traffic on a residential street and increase pedestrian risk on a section of road that has no sidewalks-St. George Avenue is a fairly narrow road, and we already see a fair bit of traffic due to Crozet Baptist Church and two afterschool programs. Additionally, the proposed site also has a significantly high water table and existing stormwater issues. I think all of us here could share some horror stories about how our basements and properties flood when it rains. This would be further impacted by creating an additional large paved parking lot and would require extensive stormwater mitigation.
But let’s look beyond the immediate challenges that this proposal would face, and think long term. The projected annual growth of Crozet and Western Albemarle and the subsequent increase in the church’s congregation means this church will need to be sizable with room to grow. Re-developing and infilling an existing historic residential neighborhood does not provide that room and is contrary to the Master Plan. The Master Plan’s First Guiding Principle is “Existing neighborhoods and the Downtown area will be preserved; new or infill development will be appropriate in scale and type to these existing growth patterns.” This proposal stands in stark contrast to that principle.
We understand that it’s been a long, frustrating search for the Catholic community here. We spoke with Mike Marshall, a member of the church search committee, at length regarding this proposal, and we sincerely thank him for taking the time to explain their desire for a location that allows their community to take root and blossom. I know we all look forward to them finding a home and finding their permanent place in our town, but we owe it to that same town to make sure it’s a location that has the support of their future neighbors and potential future parishioners. The St George Ave location simply does not provide that room to blossom-Crozet is a designated growth area and this site would be quickly outgrown, only after compromising the historic nature of our street.
We are united in our opposition to this proposal and believe firmly that the church should look elsewhere- perhaps as an anchor for downtown revitalization or elsewhere, rather than as new development which threatens one of Crozet’s most historic neighborhoods. As we all know too well, the heart of Crozet is constantly under pressure from development. Let’s encourage the church to help build the community in Crozet we all love by picking a different location, rather than being just another development which negatively impacts this historical neighborhood and community.
We have circulated a petition in the past week that has gathered more than 50 signatures and we continue to gain support. Let’s all find the right place for this church in Crozet, not simply the place that is being looked at right now.
There is now an online version of this petition available at the following URL for those who wish to sign.
P.S. I want to clarify-to the best of our understanding, the Crozet local church search committee has only proposed this as a potential site to the Diocese of Richmond as a future church. It’s possible the Diocese of Richmond could come back to the Crozet committee with the assessment they need a bigger site, or it’s possible they could decide to move forward. There has been no formal proposal to the county or application for permits. I know that the county representative last night made this clear, but I wanted to call it out since some people have expressed confusion. Regardless, as a community we wanted to make it clear that we feel the Crozet committee should look for other sites as they are at the front end of this process.