You may remember this story from a few weeks ago about the tree clearing for another new development near Crozet Park.
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.
A few tools to research growth and development
- Albemarle’s County View – for researching what’s planned and permitted
- GIS – for finding who owns parcels
- Albemarle’s Board of Supervisors – their agendas are revealing if you pay attention
- CCAC meetings; lots of relevant information and discussions at these meetings. The most recent one about land use was very interesting.
- The page on the County site for looking up those zoning signs you see on the side of the road
- Look at the Albemarle County Calendar and look at the meetings; they’re zoomy now. You can go for at least a little bit.
- Pay attention to infrastructure improvements; let’s find ways to find solutions (like building infrastructure and developments that don’t focus on automobiles as the only way to get places!) This is a great podcast about e-bicycles and rural life.
- 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.