The County planning staff report on the proposed makeover of Crozet Park makes for a surprising read.
[A] Character of the Neighborhood. The proposed building would be two stories, 36 ‘ high, and 34,000 square feet (3/4 of an acre). The present one-story building is about 8,000. The new two-story building would be located 30 feet from Indigo/Hill Top St. This is contrary to the county code, so a “Special Exemption” is being requested; zoning change might be more accurate. No one has made available drawings that show the scale of the building in comparison with the neighborhood. So it’s difficult to evaluate, much less accept, the county’s assurance that, on the proposal, “character of the nearby area is unchanged.”
[B] Traffic. County staff write that the expansion would generate 985 daily trips. The Hill Top entrance would become permanent, despite concerns about safety, sight lines, etc., raised by community members in correspondence with the county. The county/applicant replies to these concerns by punting on the details about the Hill Top Street entrance. They are to be put off until the Site Review stage Kicking traffic problems down the road — so to speak — does not seem like a good strategy.
The county staff report summary says, in response to traffic concerns, that “the applicant is proposing additional pedestrian paths throughout the park to provide better connections with the surrounding neighborhood and promote walking to the park,” using “future sidewalks.” Is this a serious response?
[C] Greenspace? 1/3 of Crozet Park will be paved or covered by a building, on this proposal — a massive increase in impermeable surface area. Multiple large trees will be lost. But the uses identified for areas designated as Greenspace in the Master Plan (as the park is) are “public parks, open space, and environmental features.”
[D] Commercial Space. The YMCA, a non-profit community organization, used to run recreational programs at the park. ACAC, a for-profit, does now. Will that continue? The proposal seems to be at least as much for a big commercial development as it is for a park the full use of which can be afforded by all community members.
Citizens can provide written comments that go directly to all seven Planning Commissioners at [email protected]
The Planning Commission makes recommendations to the Board of Supervisors. The BOS considers the recommendations that the Planning Commission makes, but ultimately the BOS makes the final decision. When the Planning Commission makes recommendations for denial, the application will still head to the Board, unless the applicant requests a deferral.
Letter by Tom Adajian
Disclosure: I live next to Crozet Park, and I’d forgotten we’d sent the letter referenced below.
… there is a public hearing to amend an existing special use permit for Claudius Crozet Park to allow for expansion the community center to add a fitness center and an expansion of the pool.
The proposed new community center would be two stories and approximately 34,200 square feet, including spaces for an exercise facility and a meeting room,” reads the staff report. “The pool expansion would include an 8-lane pool located in an indoor space of approximately 12,600 square feet.”
The project also requires a special exception to a requirement that pools and pool buildings must be 75 feet away from the property line. The proposed structure would be 30 feet away from a boundary. As part of the work, a second entrance to the facility will be built onto Hilltop Street.
Staff recommends approval but does have the concern about additional traffic.
“The use will generate additional vehicular trips on the surrounding local street network,” reads the unfavorable factor. “However, the applicant is proposing additional pedestrian paths throughout the park to provide better connections with the surrounding neighborhood and promote other modes of transportation.”
The neighboring Parkside Village Homeowners Association wrote a letter raising concerns about the proposal. They don’t want construction traffic to use the entrance onto Hilltop Street. They want the entrance to remain used only for emergency access.
“The emergency access point resides on the aforementioned parcel that was donated to the Park,” reads their letter. “It’s conversion to a permanent park entrance that would send additional vehicular traffic into our neighborhood at the expense of our and our children’s safety was neither an anticipated nor intended use for our gift.”
Following that, Planning Director Charles Rapp will present the 2020 annual report of the Planning Commission.
“The County continues to experience significant population growth, resulting in an increased demand for additional housing with a limited number of undeveloped properties remaining inside the development areas,” reads the report.