via email (bolding mine) … I’m wondering if this will actually be a shorter-than-normal meeting. #CCAC1021
The October meeting of the Crozet CAC will be … Wednesday, October 13 at 7 p.m. on Zoom. We will take this opportunity to share and discuss ideas and suggestions for the next several months of CCAC meeting topics. I’m calling it “agenda planning and reflection,” as I received emails back with many good agenda ideas from committee members, and would like to open this to the group to discuss, as well as give staff and other experts more notice to prepare for future meeting invitations. It should be a shorter meeting than usual. Agenda and meeting details are posted here.
Please also mark your calendar for the Board of Supervisors meeting on Wednesday, October 20, which will include the public hearing for the final draft of the Crozet Master Plan. Instructions for participating and other details for that are here.
In conversation with a client last night, I was asked, “how do you know all of this about what’s happening in Charlottesville and Crozet?” My first answer was that I read – a lot, and one of the best places to do so is Sean’s Charlottesville Community Engagement weekly roundup, daily email, and podcast. It’s why I pay to subscribe. Part of my job is to try to know more than my clients. Sean helps with that.
And frankly, it’s our job as citizens to try to know more, and be more involved in our community.
Today’s show focuses on Crozet in western Albemarle County. Crozet is not a town, but it is a designated growth area under the county’s growth management policy.
But it is a place with traditions. Here’s an announcement made at the June 9, 2021 meeting of the Crozet Community Advisory Committee about an event coming up on Saturday, July 3.
“I’m Tim Tolson, president of the Crozet Community Association, and along with other civic groups in Crozet we’re hosting the annual Crozet Independence Day celebration parade at 5:00 p.m. as part of the Crozet Volunteer Fire Department that ends at the Crozet Park where the celebration will take part, take place. We’ll have fireworks around 9:30 or quarter to 10 when it gets dark.”
The Albemarle Planning Commission will take up the Crozet Master Plan at a work session on Tuesday, June 22. At the June 9 CAC meeting, committee members and participating residents got a presentation on the implementation of projects intended to bolster Crozet’s urban character. They also had the chance to comment on the plan update to date.
But first, the implementation projects. The master plan is a large overview of the entire area, and further studies are suggested. The draft implementation chapter shows a list of ten potential topics ranging from a Downtown Neighborhood Architectural and Cultural Study to a stream health study for Parrot Branch, a local waterway. Initial feedback has already been submitted and planner Tori Kanellopoulos gave the rundown for how planning projects scored.
“The top ranked projects were the Crozet Avenue Shared-Use Path feasibility study, the Three Notch’d Trail feasibility study, and the Route 250 West design guidelines,” Kanellopoulos said. “And then the policy projects were also ranked and the top priority was updating residential zoning designations to allow for more preservation of natural resources.”
Potential capital projects were also ranked. Kanellopoulos said the highest ranking projects are the completion of Eastern Avenue, downtown Crozet intersection improvements, and sidewalk connections.
Let’s hear more about that Three Notch’d Trail.
“Lately there’s been a lot more focus and attention on the potential Three Notch’d Trail which would ideally connect from the Blue Ridge Tunnel along Crozet and over to Charlottesville,” Kanellopoulos said. “A feasibility study would look at this alignment and there are opportunities to partner with [the Virginia Department of Transportation] and the Planning District Commission and trails groups to look at the feasibility study for the alignment.”
Supervisor Ann Mallek said later in the meeting that VDOT planning may not have staff to conduct that feasibility study this year, but community work can be done now to prepare for that work possibly in 2022.
“And the other blessing that goes along with that is 2022 is when [Virginia] is going to take over the rail access right of way from CSX and therefore that increases greatly the possibility that we will be able to have a trail beside the rail,” Mallek said.
Another “catalyst” project now in the implementation chapter is Western Park, which has long been called for in the plan and for which the county received 36 acres in 2010 as part of the Old Trail rezoning. A master plan for that project was created in 2018 that identified three phases. The first is recommended for funding, a decision which would be made by the entire Board of Supervisors during the budget process.
“This phase one would include the access road with parking, a playground, and additional support of infrastructure and utilities,” Kanellopoulos said.
Committee member Sandy Hausman noted the rankings were based on responses from fewer than a hundred people.
“I wonder if anybody feels like this there needs to be a bit more outreach, like a mass mailing to everyone who lives in Crozet,” Hausman said. “It just feels to me that this is a relatively small group of people who tend to be paying attention to this stuff and everybody else will be unpleasantly surprised in a year or two when things start happening.”
Committee member Joe Fore said he wanted to see all three phases of Western Park listed as catalyst projects, meaning they would be prioritized first.
“I think just given the fact that it’s been in the works for so long, that the phases of at least getting started, the land is already there,” Fore said. “I understand it’s expensive but it’s not an Eastern Avenue or Lickinghole Creek bridge expensive.”
Fore also said he would support the creation of a special taxation district to help pay for new infrastructure. The Albemarle Board of Supervisors has previously been briefed on how service districts or a “business improvement district” could be levied in certain areas to fund amenities.
“I looked through currently, and this may be a comment for the full draft, there’s only one mention of service districts in the entire draft and that’s in reference to funding ongoing activities and services at the plaza and downtown,” Fore said. “But I would like to see maybe a little bit more and maybe a full suggestion saying maybe this is something we should explore in Crozet to fund some of these capital projects so we’re not constantly having these be projects are ten years out.”
The Board of Supervisors last had a formal presentation on service districts at their meeting on December 7, 2016. (presentation) (story)
“It’s a pretty broad statute as I read it,” Fore said. “Things like sidewalks, roads, programming, cultural events, economic development, beautification and landscaping. It’s a very broad statute. It seems to me you could raise money for most of the kinds of projects that we’re looking at. When we look at the list of priorities and say, yikes! Where are we going to get all the money for this? Well, rather than say let’s raise taxes on everybody in the county, you might be able to say let’s raise funds specifically from Crozet that would stay in Crozet for some of these projects we want to see in Crozet.”
CAC member David Mitchell is skeptical of the idea and said it would lead to Crozet receiving fewer direct funds from the county.
“Over time we will start to be looked at by the other Supervisors as ‘they have their own money, they can do their own thing’ and you’re going to slowly over time lose your share of the general fund,” Mitchell said.
Supervisor Mallek agreed.
“I would really discourage our citizenry from burdening themselves because I think David is right,” Mallek said. “We need to go to toe to toe, to say, this is a need that’s been on the books.”
Mallek singled out the Eastern Avenue connector road that will provide north-south travel. A major obstacle is the cost of a bridge required to cross Lickinghole Creek.
“We have made all of these zoning changes prior to 2007 that were counting on that bridge and we absolutely have a moral obligation to build it,” Mallek said.
Eastern Avenue is ranked #8 on the county’s transportation priority list and there was an update in May. There’s not yet a full cost estimate on what it will cost, but engineering work is underway.
“This project is currently being evaluated through an alignment study and conceptual design which is funded through the Transportation Leveraging Fund in the [Capital Improvement Program],” reads the update. “The alignment report was presented to the Board in January and the preferred alignment was selected. This project is being considered for a Revenue Sharing Grant application.”
Allie Pesch, the chair of the CAC, said she wanted Eastern Avenue to be the top implementation priority.
“I like seeing Eastern Avenue at the top of that list,” Pesch said. “That is a priority for everyone in our area and just so overdue.”
After this discussion of implementation, county planner Rachel Falkenstein turned the conversation to the working draft of the master plan. The draft that will be reviewed by the Planning Commission at their work session on Tuesday incorporates feedback from the June 9 CAC meeting. (download the draft)
“We still have a couple of steps to go before we get to our public hearings and we’ll continue to accept feedback and make revisions to the chapters and to the content,” Falkenstein said.
You’re reading Charlottesville Community Engagement. On June 22 at 7 p.m., the Jefferson Madison Regional Library and the Albemarle Charlottesville Historical Society gives a glimpse into the cemeteries at Pen Park in Charlottesville. Tucked behind the Meadowcreek clubhouse are three, enclosed, family cemeteries, with the oldest dating back to the Colonial era.
Outside the enclosures of the family plots, the city has confirmed the presence of 40 or more unmarked graves, all likely those of people enslaved at Pen Park. Join us as a panel of three professionals discuss what led to the examination of this site, the process of the investigation, and the efforts to identify and commemorate those buried there. Register on the JMRL website.
A few days after the CAC meeting, the Downtown Crozet Initiative held a public meeting to talk about a 30,000 square foot plaza intended to be located at the former Barnes Lumberyard. The plaza would anchor a mixed-use building and a hotel through a public-private partnership. The idea involves construction of a connector road using revenue-sharing funds from VDOT. That process requires a local match.
Frank Stoner is a principal at Milestone Partners which seeks to redevelop the space. They’re putting up $2 million to serve as that match.
“This project started in 2014,” Stoner said. “We developed this road plan in 2016, 2017. Most of the design elements of the road have been resolved. We felt strongly and I think the community felt strongly and the county felt strongly that the streets had to be appropriate for the small town that is Crozet and not be a highway through the middle of downtown which is kind of where VDOT wanted to go with it.”
Albemarle County has contributed $1.6 million in cash to the project, and will provide another $1.6 million in rebates through a process known as tax increment financing. (read the June 2019 performance agreement)
Stoner said the idea is to build an urban plaza, not a park.
“And most importantly we wanted this plaza to be the heart not just of the neighborhood but the Crozet community,” Stoner said.
VDOT is contributing $2.5 million and the Downtown Crozet Initiative is seeking to raise over a million in private funds.
“Which will be used to fund essentially the furniture, fixtures and equipment, sculpture, artwork, seating, all of that kind of stuff that goes in the plaza,” Stoner said.
The designs aren’t close to final yet, but Stoner wanted to get feedback from the community. There are also no identified tenants for any of the spaces yet.
“We haven’t really been in the position to take commitments because there have been so many unknowns because of the VDOT plans and then we had some stormwater issues we had to work through and so it has just been one obstacle after another,” Stoner said.
Stoner said if all goes according to plan, construction could get underway next year. To Stoner, success means making sure it’s a place to expand what already makes Crozet Crozet.
“If we can’t create a place that’s affordable for local businesses, then we’re not going to succeed,” Stoner said.
In April 2020, the firm Downtown Strategies unveiled their report on a Downtown Strategic Vision for Crozet. Stoner suggested interested parties might take a look. (take a look)
Nearby there is a separate VDOT project to rebuild the existing Square to add sidewalks and address ongoing stormwater issues. (watch the June 14 presentation)
“This is no longer the Crozet Master Plan; this is now the Planning Commission and staff master plan, because we voted against the middle density, and here we are back with it again,” (Tom Loach) said.
These meetings are extremely important. I’ll pay someone to tweet this meeting. Please text me – 434-242-7140
The only thing of consequence on the agenda:
4. Master Plan Discussion: Land Use (60 minutes)
The Crozet Community Advisory Committee will meet this Wednesday, March 10, at 7 p.m. on Zoom to continue our discussion of the land use updates recommended by county staff for the current Crozet Master Plan revision. The agenda is attached. If you would like to read over the working draft of the land use chapter ahead of the meeting, it is available for download here.
Join the zoom at this link. Additional instructions for participating are included on the agenda.
I hope you can join us for this important discussion! Please let me know if you have any comments or questions.
Crozet Community Advisory Committee Wednesday, March 10, 2021 7:00 P.M. – 8:30 P.M. Virtual Meeting
This meeting is being held pursuant to and in compliance with Ordinance No. 20-A (16); An Ordinance to Ensure the Continuity of Government During the Covid-19 Disaster.
HOW TO PARTICIPATE IN THIS MEETING ONLINE:
Download Zoom. Use this link https://albemarle-org.zoom.us/j/94571782297 to join the webinar.
Dial (301) 715-8592. Type in the Webinar ID 945 7178 2297 followed by the pound (#) sign. If you have any questions, please email [email protected]
Call to Order & Agenda Review (3 minutes) Allie Pesch, CCAC Chair
I’m attaching the agenda for our special meeting Monday, November 30, at 7 p.m., when we will review the summary of changes that staff has proposed for the Crozet Master Plan and consider a few resolutions that committee members have proposed to send forward to the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors.
A short read on this (my opinion) is that infrastructure has not kept up with growth, CCAC want to slow growth until the infrastructure catches up, and they are looking to advocate for lower density (read: more expensive) housing in lieu of higher density. Why not just seek to stop all growth now that we are all here? (sarcasm intended)
Many zoning boards rely on their finely tuned regulations to keep housing segregation firmly in place. They point to frail public infrastructure, clogged streets, a lack of sidewalks and concerns of overcrowding that would damage what’s often referred to as “neighborhood character.”
Over the past seven decades, dozens of countries have experienced rapid urbanization as people flock from rural areas to cities in search of more diverse economic opportunities. During that time, the global urban population has increased six-fold.
There was a big land use meeting the other day. Here’s the blog post with the agenda, and below are the attachments sent out after the meeting. These land use decisions affect everything. Housing, schools, roads, trails, jobs, parks, and virtually everything else.
Note that the County are having Office Hours on 2 October. Read on for details.
These quick thoughts are part of an email that I sent to someone asking for my thoughts after the meeting. I wasn’t going to write a story until I was asked, so here it is.
(bolding is mine; this is part of the email from the County Staff as a followup
Thank you for attending yesterday afternoon’s Crozet Community Advisory Committee meeting. This was by far the highest-Zoom meeting we have had since we were forced to move engagement to a virtual format, with the turnout surpassing some of our public input opportunities that were open for over three weeks at a time. If you were unable to attend, please take some time to provide input through our questionnaire at https://publicinput.com/O2561.
I’ve had a number of requests for the video from the meeting as well as the Q&A list, chat, and presentation and wanted to provide those here. The meeting video can be viewed here: https://youtu.be/gCUKw8b4Mb0.
The Q&A list, chat log, and presentation slides are attached. We also wanted to create some additional opportunities for community members to chat directly with staff to provide feedback and ask questions about the Master Plan. Next Friday, October 2 from 11AM-1PM we will be hosting (virtual) office hours. Please consider joining us to learn more about the draft future land use plan, ask questions, and share your feedback! You do not have to attend for the entire time and can join whenever is convenient for you. You can pre-register/access the meeting here:
Please find attached materials for our special meeting scheduled for () Wednesday, September 23 from 12:00 – 1:30. Zoom information for the general public is included in the agenda and below as well.
You all provided us with some feedback at last week’s meeting that you didn’t feel there was enough detail to provide informed feedback, yet too much information or detail was provided. In response, we’ve provided a summary list of land use changes as well as a simplified version of the land use table to help with your preparation. Please take some time to begin by reviewing the agenda and the discussion questions before jumping into the attachments:
(Jim’s note: attachments are at the bottom of this post)
Attachment 1 provides a comparison of the 2010 and draft 2020 land use plans
Attachment 2 provides the list of changes to accompany the map
Attachment 3 provides simplified descriptions of land uses
Attachment 4 is a list of draft recommendations that builds upon the guiding principle and goals you discussed in May.
Responding to concerns about community engagement and awareness of the draft land use map, we have also provided an opportunity for community input and review here: https://publicinput.com/O2561. Please share this information with your neighbors, HOAs, or other interested groups so we can hear their input. We will plan to leave this input opportunity open indefinitely.
Looking forward to a productive conversation! Have a great weekend.
The Albemarle County Electoral Board encourages citizens to vote early in person or via mail so as to avoid long lines.
Highly encourage voters to wear mask; state says they can’t force people to, but will do everything they can to encourage people to wear them. Me: Wear a damn mask.
Jennie – if someone requested a mail in ballot, could someone still vote in person early, or once you make the request, is that the way you should vote?
A: Fill it out, bring it to the County Office Building
Or if you want to put it into the machine yourself, you can do that
Dropboxes: we have never before had a legal way to do this. Last week, State passed a law allowing drop off stations, but we decided that’s not a good idea. They will have dropbox outside County Office buidling on 5th Street. May have drop off centers in the two weeks prior to election
Q: when will the mail in ballots be mailed?
A: by September 18, and hopefully Kanye West doesn’t win his appeal so we have to re-print the ballots. Me: #headdesk
Heilman: we don’t think there will be a problem with the mail. But don’t wait until the last day to mail.
Any ballot postmarked November 3, and received by 6 November will be counted.
Two ways to track your ballot. Ballot Scout will track your ballot.
Reminder that they’ve added a precinct, the Mechums River District.
Five locations to vote: Crozet, Brownsville, Western Albemarle High School, Broadus Wood, Free Union Country Day School