There is a lot here. Take the time to read and digest.
Crozet Park is planning to move forward with a Special Use Permit application for their massive plans.
As a neighbor, it would have been neat if they’d told us. Below is a very detailed letter from a neighbor immediately adjacent. I’d encourage you to take the time to read it all, and then
attend the public hearing on 23 October. * And the CCAC will be discussing this at 7pm on the 14th.
This is the sort of work and oversight citizens need to do.
Without my neighbor bringing this to my attention, I’d have had no idea, and I try to stay aware of things. Lots jumped out in his letter, including “This application proposes to take the total impervious (paved area) to something over 7 of the park’s 22 acres.“
A few relevant links to the project
- Claudius Crozet Park Public Info site
- Claudius Crozet Park Special Use Application
- Claudius Crozet Park Project Narrative & Conditions (read this)
- Link to Albemarle County Code Section 18-5.1.4, Supplementary Regulations for Community center
- Link to Albemarle County Code Section 18-5.1.16, Supplementary Regulations for swimming, golf, tennis clubs
Background on the Park’s Plans
Letter from a neighbor
We live in the Parkside Village development in Crozet. We received a letter from your office (undated) on October 6, 2020 regarding SP2020-16 Claudius Crozet Park Community Meeting. (Jim’s note: here’s the letter)
We have read the application for the Special Use Permit and have a number of questions that we would like to have addressed publicly but more generally the letter is a bit confusing about what the purpose of the October 14 meeting versus the October 23 questions and comments deadline which are both noted in your letter. It would be helpful to understand the difference between these time frames. Is one an info session while the other is an official public comment deadline?
We’d like to start by saying that we raised our family next to Crozet Park and for nearly 20 years we benefited from it in countless ways. I was also personally involved in improving the existing athletic facility and installation of the dome when it was first managed by the YMCA. We have found that the park has remained focused on being a great asset for everybody in the area and being a good neighbor.
Unfortunately we have also watched firsthand the development of Foothill Crossing in our backyard. That project has been poorly communicated, implemented without consideration for the neighbors it is impacting and, frankly, includes aspects that were not fully divulged and understood. We can only blame ourselves that we were not more involved during the review processes for that project.
We include the above explanation because we understand that we are in a development area and expect that Crozet will continue to grow and become more populated and we also expect, as long time contributors to the park and the area, to be treated like neighbors, a valuable asset, when changes are implemented. So receiving an undated letter about a meeting in eight days was a bit of a surprise.
Specific comments/questions about the Special Use Permit Application
- Special Use Permit Application PDF is hard to read because it is very blurry. The drawings attached to it are pretty much impossible to read. Since that is the source for public access to the information it would be helpful if that was improved (the other non-pdf six page drawing set is easy to read).
- The Project Proposal does not indicate who is going to manage the new facility or whether any public funding will be included in the project. These questions are being asked in the spirit of being transparent relative to what type of facility this will be and how we can expect it to operate.
- The project contemplates adding traffic from the expanded facility and the enlarged parking onto Hilltop Street. This is pretty significant when the additional development at Foothill Crossing and other developments have been and continue to be added to the volume. Has a complete traffic study been done to justify an assumption that additional traffic can be added to local roadways without any master plan road infrastructure improvements in place? My request for a complete Traffic Study was raised at a Planning Commission meeting on another housing development project in Crozet years ago. It seems to us as though Traffic Studies in Crozet are being avoided by the Developers during the initial Project Approval Process when these projects are phased or broken up into smaller sized developments. This is a very important issue and, we would propose, are grounds for not approving the Special Use Permit.
- Did the Comprehensive Plan contemplate the new connection to Hilltop Street before other road improvements were installed? This is a corollary to question #3 specific to whether the new connection to Hilltop was ever contemplated and if it was when was it sequenced to happen.
- Development Impacts on the Public Facilities & Public Infrastructure does not address the power to the site. Will the power be upgraded as part of the project? If it is how will it be implemented. This was a deferred issue when the pool dome project was put in place.
- Development Impacts on the Public Facilities & Public Infrastructure states that per VDOT manual there will 985 vehicles per day using the new facility but avoids stating the current number of vehicles per day. It also talks about the “recently completed section of Eastern Avenue” and other “dispersed” access. Is there a study to support the comprehensive traffic impact that is alluded to?
- Sheet 1 – The point at which the proposed new permanent road ties into Hilltop is certainly an awkward intersection. Did an engineer look at how all the traffic will come together at that point (this is also shown as a designated bike path which presumably would connect to Indigo Lane)? This does not seem to be a safe intersection for cars or kids on bikes. Further, you seem to be proposing that once the Crozet downtown connector is in place folks from the eastern developments would enter the park through Parkside Village or, potentially, cut through the park to go downtown.
- Sheet 1 – Is there a limit to how much of the park can become impervious area? This application proposes to take the total impervious (paved area) to something over 7 of the park’s 22 acres. This question is about how much more building/parking could happen down the road.
- Sheets 2 and 4 – Many of the large trees that provide buffer from the activities at the pool to the neighborhood are proposed to be cut down to build a parking area behind the existing mini-tennis court. The back of the new building will be thrust visibly into the neighborhood. This raises a number of questions.
- Has the special use permit considered adjacent neighbors when this was put together? There is no section in it that addresses the neighborhood in the narrative.
- Were other options considered to accommodate the 30 or so permanent parking spaces? In effect what this proposes to do is make new basketball courts closer to Indigo Road and add parking.
- Did you consider putting basketball courts indoors? If the need for basketball courts truly exists,outdoor courts seem to be a poor accommodation – they aren’t used that often because they are outside. Possibly your meeting room could double as an indoor basketball court.
- The back of the new building will be thrust visibly into the neighborhood after trees are cutdown and parking lot installed. It is very difficult to comment on this at this stage of the drawings but what function occurs there and what it looks like would certainly be a concern.
- Similar to Foothill Crossing, it does not appear as though any buffer to the neighbors is being contemplated. This is a very important issue and, we would propose, are grounds for not approving the Special Use Permit.
- Sheet 5 -The area behind the existing pool and slopes off pretty quickly. It appears that only two of the existing large trees are planned to remain. It appears that under these trees new planting and water quality features are going to be installed which seems tricky. Could the approach to storm water management in this area be better explained?
- Sheet 6 – Proposed road over the stream at Foothill Crossing was shown on the Foothill Crossing drawings as being in place only until the road extension to downtown is done. Which drawing is correct – the Foothill Crossing E&S Plan or this drawing?
- Sheet 6 – This drawing demonstrates that the roadway and bike paths don’t go anywhere because the roads they connect to are not being built.
- Unshown – the Foothill Crossing development next door to Crozet Park has elevated our concern about how the work will be implemented relative to:
- What should the neighborhood expect relative to construction duration?
- What should the neighborhood expect relative to construction entrance?
- What should the neighborhood expect relative to staging area (porto-potties, dumpsters, etc.) ? Will they be planned to set up as close to the neighborhood as possible or will they be placed well within the site away from the neighborhood?
- Can we help in procurement of a dark green or black silt fence (instead of neon orange)?
Clearly our concerns include disappointments over what we have seen implemented in the recent work at Foothill Crossing and we are hopeful that those issues can be addressed before the Special Use Permit for this project is presented for approval.
Finally, this is the opinion of just one household at Parkside Village and without consultation with any of our neighbors due to the time constraints imposed by the short notice.
We look forward to the virtual meeting next week.
*As a neighbor, I’m not necessarily for or against the plans, but I do think that the developers (Crozet Park!) should at least attempt to reach out to neighbors about the Park’s plans. And my opinion is that it kind of sucks that a community partner like the Park now positions itself as just another developer moving forward with plans via bureaucratic anonymity.