Big Updates on Crozet Elementary Plans

via email

Hello Everyone!

I hope that this email finds you well and that you and your families are enjoying the nice, warm weather that we’ve had this week! It has been awhile since I last provided you all with an update on the Crozet ES project, and I wanted to take this opportunity to do so, as well as make you aware of some work that will be happening early next week. I apologize in advance for the lengthy email, but I hope you find it helpful.

Also, please feel free to forward this to anyone else in the community that may be interested. I sent to everyone in the nearby area that I have an email for, but there are many that I do not. If there are individuals or neighbors that did not get my original email and would like to be included in future correspondence, please have them reach out to me and I will add them to the distribution list!

General Project Update

Since my last update the design team was able to complete the full design of the project, and has been finalizing the site review process. Some of you may have received notifications from the Community Development Department during that process. The team expects to receive approval on the site plan in the next few weeks, as many of the various permitting agencies have already signed off on the plans, including VDOT’s approval of the proposed entrances to the site.

Currently, the project is out for bidding, with contractors’ bids due on Thursday, March 18. We currently anticipate construction starting full-time in May. From a big-picture perspective, you can expect to see work in the following areas at the approximate times (Note: These are still subject to change prior to contracting with the low bidder):

  • 2021 Summer – Work will be focused on the east side of the parcel (behind the existing building), including construction of the new bus loop and expanded playground area. Construction will likely start on the new classroom addition to the south. Interior renovations to the school admin and library area.
  • 2021-22 School Year – Work will continue on the new classroom addition to the south and the new kitchen addition to the north. Some targeted interior renovations when the school schedule allows. No changes to car/bus traffic circulation for this school year.
  • 2022 Summer – Work will be focused on the west side of the parcel, including construction of the new front parking lot. Completion of the new classroom and kitchen additions. Interior HVAC renovations to existing classrooms and converting the existing kitchen to an expanded dining area.

To provide you with a brief update on the plans relative to the items that many of you have asked about in the past:

  • The project team removed the new classroom addition from the stream buffer in its entirety, but was unable to avoid eliminating the need for temporary access into the 50’ landward side of the buffer during construction. As we had previously indicated, the County stream buffer ordinance does authorize temporary access for construction purposes. In its final form, the project is making stormwater management enhancements that will improve the water quality compared to the site’s existing conditions.
  • I know that many of you asked about exterior lighting:
    • In the short term, some of you may have noticed that we were able to adjust the one exterior light outside the existing gym door that you had mentioned was a problem. That light has been adjusted to point down as far as the light fixture allows.
    • All spaces in the new addition will have motion sensors so that lights are turned off when they do not detect motion.
    • We are required by the building code to have egress lighting at all exits. There are 2 exits on the new addition – one on the western end of the addition and one on the eastern end.
    • The project has complied with the County’s lighting ordinances and review of those lighting requirements was part of the site plan review process.
  • There will be an expanded playground behind the school at the conclusion of the first summer. Hopefully your children and grandchildren will enjoy this expanded feature!

I think those were the major issues that we had heard about previously, but if I missed something specific that you’d like an update on, please do not hesitate to reach out. Moving forward, I will do my best to provide you with quarterly updates of our progress through the construction phase, and I will certainly communicate any special concerns ahead of time.

Geothermal Test Well Drilling Next Week

I wanted to also notify you all about some work that we will be doing next week. This project will be installing a new geothermal ground HVAC system to heat and cool the new additions, as well as large portions of the existing building. It will be the first geothermal HVAC system in a County facility!

If you are unfamiliar with these systems, there are lots of resources on the internet that explain the technology. However, the short version is that they utilize the earth’s temperature for heat exchanges (i.e. heating and cooling) since the earth’s inner temperature is always constant. A heat pump cycles water through long loops of underground pipes that then transfer heat from ambient air in the building to the ground and vice versa. Here is a great resource from the EPA’s website should you wish to learn more about these systems: https://www.epa.gov/rhc/geothermal-heating-and-cooling-technologies#Ground-Source-Heat-Pumps

The expected payback time for the system at Crozet ES is approximately 7-8 years. This represents a conservative estimate based on the data available to us at this time. Once the system is up and running, it is possible that we will see the payback period on this system reduced. You can see the long-term projected savings of this system compared to other more traditional systems that the design team considered here (the geothermal system is represented by the green line):

the geothermal system is represented by the green line):

The County is excited about this system, as it is a big step forward in achieving the County’s Climate Action Plan.  Let me know if you have any other questions about the system!

In order to better inform the contractors bidding on the project and to also adjust the design details if needed, we will be drilling two test wells next week starting on Monday and concluding on Wednesday. The wells will be 550’ deep. These wells are no different from a water well – the water from them is simply used for a purpose other than drinking water. As I am sure you are aware, drilling wells can sometimes be a noisy operation so we will stick to the following schedule for next week:

  • Monday: Midday (approximately noon) – Nightfall (approximately 6-6:30)
  • Tuesday: 7:30 AM – Nightfall (approximately 6-6:30)
  • Wednesday: 8:00 AM – Finish

As always should you have any questions about the work taking place next week or any of the items above, please do not hesitate to reach out to me. I hope you all have a great weekend!

Matt Wertman

Senior Project Manager – Facilities Planning & Construction

Albemarle County

[email protected]

Crozet Park Planning Commission Hearing – 23 March 2021

via email:

As you have previously expressed interest in the special use permit application SP2020-00016 Claudius Crozet Park (for additions to the facilities at Crozet Park), I wanted to let you know that it has been confirmed for a public hearing with the Albemarle County Planning Commission, scheduled for Tuesday, March 23, 2021, at 6:00pm. This meeting will be held virtually via Zoom. The link to the Zoom webinar can be found on the County calendar, accessed here: https://www.albemarle.org/Home/Components/Calendar/Event/1130/16.

The meeting agenda and the staff report for this project will be available on the County website at the link provided above approximately one week prior to the public hearing.

During the public hearing, there will be a portion of the meeting dedicated to allowing members of the public to speak about this project. Each speaker is limited to three (3) minutes. You are also welcome to email comments, visuals, reports, etc., to the Planning Commission in advance of the meeting. The email address for the Planning Commission is [email protected]. Emails sent to this address will go to all seven Planning Commissioners.


The RealCrozetVA Twitter Feed

The blog is evolving. It’s never going away, but for now, I’m shifting some focus to the RealCrozetVA twitter feed. I’m going to leave this post here for a bit. I’m not going away, and the blog never will.

Load More...

There is so much context (some good, some horrible, all of it lamentably behind a walled garden) on the Crozet Nextdoor, and Crozet Gazette has actual paid journalists. RealCrozetVA offers archives of Crozet for the past 15 years – CCAC meetings, news, Old Trail’s approval, and so many more stories and milestones.

I’m struggling with whether to reactive the RealCrozetVA Facebook page, as I think Facebook itself is detrimental to a functioning society.

I would happily pay someone to tweet the CCAC meetings. Please text me – 434-242-7140- if you’re interested.


Solar Farm in Batesville?

From the Charlottesville Community Engagement newsletter

Solar facility planned near Batesville

The Albemarle Board of Supervisors amended its zoning ordinance in 2017 to allow property owners to petition for permission to install solar panels on fields in order to generate a large scale amount of electricity for consumer use. So far, none have been installed under the changes. 

Now, Sun Tribe Solar has filed a special use permit request for an 8 megawatt facility on a 136 acres property on Craigs Store Road owned by the Central Virginia Electric Cooperative. The project would also include a 4 megawatt battery storage unit. The site is currently undeveloped woodlands. More than half of the property would remain forested.  The Timmons Group has produced several environmental studies of the property. One found no “recognized environmental conditions” that would halt the project. 

The application from SunTribe states the project would be built on about 60 acres of the land and is proposed to last for 20 years, with the option for three more 5-year periods. There is also a decommissioning plan that lays out how the project would be deconstructed when it is no longer being used. (project narrative)

“The land disturbance required for construction of a solar facility is far less than most other types of development, such as residential development,” reads the application. “This carbon-free, renewable energy will power 2,600 Central Virginia Electric Cooperative households in Albemarle County.”

The application states the existing property has only generated $500 a year in local taxes due to the land use taxation program. Now that the property has had its agricultural and forest district designation removed, the new landowner will have to pay the full taxes on the property for the past five years. Other new sources of revenue to the county will also be available in the form of personal property taxes on the solar infrastructure. In all, the application states the project would bring in nearly $1 million in property tax revenue over the next forty years. 

“In comparison to the current tax base for this parcel, which would be expected to result in approximately $20,000 over the next 40 years, this project represents an approximately 48 times increase in current tax revenue,” reads the application. 

However, special use permits give adjacent property owners and others the right to make a public comment for the Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors. The first step in the community engagement process is the community meeting that will be held virtually beginning at 5:30 p.m. (meeting info)


Thoughts on Pending Crozet Neighborhood Traffic Changes

Thanks to Phil Kirby again for sharing this insight and knowledge.


Over the past few months, once my eyes were opened by the approach to development in my own backyard, I have started to watch more closely the planned development for Crozet.

I do not understand the details of how these things get approved but I have attended Crozet community meetings and I have been to a few Planning Commission meetings to watch how the commissioners react to recommendations from their staff and comments from the people who live here.

The Crozet Community Advisory Council, CCAC, has advocated for greater control of development – stressing that it should more closely resemble the accepted Master Plan and for the infrastructure that was expected to support the development be put in place. I think they are doing very good work to present the point of view of the people who live in Crozet these regards.

More importantly, during my involvement in these meetings I have become aware of three traffic issues that will directly affect our local neighborhoods. These are all documented in public domains – they are not my opinions – although I have not seen them addressed as an integrated issue.

  1. As part of the current Foothill Crossing development (happening now adjacent to Parkside) an “emergency” access road, connecting to the next phase of Foothill Development, has been cut through the stream buffer and a crossing over the stream has been installed. A hundred feet of trees on either side of the stream were cut down and a culvert installed to accommodate this.

Right now the road is dirt. It has been used to haul excess soil from current Foothill Crossing site construction to the next phase of development on the other side of the stream. 

The finished road will be 24 feet wide and paved with standard VDOT asphalt paving according to the plans. The drawings say it will be removed when the connector to downtown Crozet is complete.

The county engineers office confirmed that this road could be used as a construction access road in the future. 

This cut through the steam buffer is done, it is there now, and no limitations to its usage are identified. It is highlighted in red on the sketch below.

  1. Crozet Park has proposed to build an expanded Community Center and is requesting a Special Use Permit which will be presented to the Planning Commission soon. I have not been told when this will happen but Planning staff has made their comments and it could happen at any upcoming meeting.

The plans contemplate a new 32’ high, two story building with a 36,000 square foot footprint (see purple area on sketch below), with over two hundred new, paved parking spaces (counts by area shown on sketch below). 

Crozet Park is also asking, as part of the permit, that the existing access road onto Hilltop, which currently used during special events, be expanded to become a two lane, permanent entrance/exit although their drawings do not show a VDOT approved configuration. The drawings say that configuration will presented later. (shown on the sketch below highlighted in red).

The CCAC has been shown these plans at a meeting that I attended. I am not aware that CACC raised any major issues with Crozet Park’s Request for a Special Use Permit.

  1. At a recent CCAC Meeting a traffic study was presented by the county that analyzed the future impacts at the Old Trail/250 intersection, the Crozet Avenue/250 intersection and the Tabor/Crozet Avenue intersection. 

The study indicated that Tabor/Crozet Avenue intersection would have unacceptable wait times when all the development planned in Crozet is complete (the study found the intersection is not a problem now) AND, even after all of the proposed infrastructure roads are complete (Eastern Avenue Connector to 250 and the connector to downtown), the intersection would not work properly because of conflicts of turns from Tabor with queuing to turn onto Jarman’s Gap. 

The proposed solution was to eliminate left turns from Crozet Ave onto Jarman’s Gap, instead cars would turn left onto a loop road, that would be built around the Methodist church, and connect to Carter Street from which a right onto Jarman’s Gap could be made. This conceptual road is shown in red on the sketch below.

It should be noted that the study and proposed solutions were presented as preliminary findings of the study group. However, at the conclusion of the meeting they indicated that they planned to move forward studying the “loop road” solution.

I attended the CCAC meeting where this was presented, and I am not aware that CCAC has raised any major with this proposal. 

I overlayed the plans submitted for the Special Use Permit for the Crozet Park, highlighted the proposed access road in red. New Building is purple, existing buildings dotted, new parking counts indicated.

I overlayed the Foothill Crossing plan to shown where the “emergency” road cuts through the steam buffer. I am not aware of limitations to usage of that roadway.

I sketched in red where the “loop road” is proposed at Tabor/Crozet Avenue.

The dotted yellow and gold lines are my attempt to highlight new traffic patterns that could result once the new roads are in place. I am not aware of any studies of these traffic patterns nor studies of the intersection of the proposed, new Crozet Park entrance at Hilltop. 

I have my own opinions about these changes and plan to share them with the CCAC, the Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors. I also realize that at one time the development I live in impacted someone else’s backyard and that these changes impact us all differently.

A Thought on the “Towning” of Crozet

The following email comment in response to this week’s “Crozet Should become a Town” post and discussion warranted a post of its own.

I’ve been reading your website recently regarding the discussion of Crozet becoming a Town. I want to make some points regarding law enforcement services if this were to occur.


In the Town of Crozet’s charter, there should be a provision to allow the Town to have a police force. While a charter may permit creation of a force, it does not have to require it. The Town would still be a part of Albemarle County and as a taxpayer, we are entitled to those law enforcement services. What the County does not have to do is assign personnel solely to Crozet which they do not do now anyway. In most county/town arrangements, the town citizen pays county AND town taxes, but the County taxes are reduced from the normal amount when you are in a town.


The proposed Town would have these (and maybe more) options when it comes to policing:

  1. Allow law enforcement to remain as it is today with personnel assigned to the Blue Ridge District, which covers the communities of Afton, Whitehall, Crozet, Ivy, Batesville, Southwood, Monticello, Keene, Woodridge, Scottsville, and Howardsville. My experience has been that with the growing population of Crozet, our county police department does a fantastic job providing law enforcement services. As a volunteer firefighter, we routinely work with ACPD and they are quick to arrive on scene with competent and well-equipped officers.
  2. Enter into a contract with Albemarle County to assign an agreed-upon number of ACPD officers to be assigned to the Town corporate limits. They would have jurisdiction countywide, but their primary responsibilities would be answering calls for service and patrol responsibilities in the Town. They are still ACPD officers driving the same cars and wearing the same uniform, but assigned to the Town. This comes with a cost.
  3. The Town could create its own police force. While this option gives the Town government the most control, it does not come without a price. This is the most costly of the options. Several things to consider when starting a brand new police force include, but are not limited to:
  • Purchase/Lease a suitable facility
  • Purchase/Lease vehicle(s)
  • Equip vehicles and officers
  • Salary/benefits of personnel
  • Budget for operating expenses, training, capital improvements, etc.
  • Liability insurance
  • Civilian staff (recordkeeping, FOIA, other reporting duties)
  • Determine if 24 hour coverage, or coverage supplemented by ACPD.
  • Any annual training costs to belong to a regional academy
  • Any annual costs for use of the jail.
  • Any fines collected through traffic enforcement will go to the Town, by charter/Code/agreement.

Town items to consider:

  1. Water/Sewer not owned by Crozet. 
  2. Schools are county-owned. Would we have to kick in funds toward those?
  3. Fire/Rescue is provided by Crozet VFD/Western Albemarle Rescue Squad/Albemarle County Fire/Rescue.
  4. We could collect taxes.
  5. We could control building permits and fees.
  6. Street maintenance, snow plowing, signage. When you become a town, does VDOT still handle?

I think what is driving this conversation is the over-development of Crozet. While I am not skilled in land use, if Crozet incorporated, could we then control the development?  Would we have control over zoning/land use matters?
This is an important topic to discuss, but understand that incorporating does mean a town tax – just how much remains to be seen.
Thank you for allowing me to provide input.


Sincerely,
Gary M. Dillon

Crozet, VA

Digging in to BoS Agendas – Schools and Roads

  • $20+ Million for Crozet Elementary and Western Albemarle High Schools?
  • Eastern Avenue study?

From the PDF to the County:

Preferred Alignment Location

It is recommended to pursue the future extension of Eastern Avenue along the proposed Alignment B, as shown in Figure 3. This preferred alignment presents a balance of impacts to the identified constraints along with planned and unplanned developments. Alignment B matches the needs identified within the Downtown Crozet Master Plan with the lowest construction cost. Alignment B provides a crossing over Lickinghole Creek that lowers the risk of the bridge construction and future scour. The preferred alignment also minimizes impacts to utilities and private property by matching the alignment along Route 1260 (Cory Farm Road).

One can safely assume that all residents of Cory Farm know and knew about this road; it’s been planned forever, and it looks like the first resident of the neighborhood bought in 1997, per the GIS.

Read more. The Charlottesville/Crozet area lost the 804 area code June 1, 2001.

I’m struggling with reactivating the RealCrozetVA Facebook page; I recognize that it has thousands of people who used to visit it, but I’m also seeing that Facebook is dangerous. Thoughts welcomed.

Crozet Should Become a Town

Posing the title as a statement as a starting point for a debate.

It’s 2021, and we’re talking about whether Crozet should be a town. Read the whole thing at the Daily Progress (and subscribe, too!)

Now, some are calling for a moratorium on any density increases in the area until infrastructure needs catch up with the pace of development, while others are suggesting Crozet become an officially incorporated town to help achieve the community’s desire to protect older homes and complete road projects.

“I haven’t really jumped on board the, ‘OK, let’s incorporate,’ just because I feel like it creates some redundancies and additional tax burdens,” said Pesch. “If we can work together with county staff and the Planning Commission and the [Board of Supervisors] to all be happy and share our resources and share the burden of growing pains, then why should we become a town, at least at this point?”

Pesch said the master plan revision process has sparked more talk about Crozet potentially becoming a town — “way more frequently than I have ever heard it before” — though no formal effort has begun to her knowledge. The idea was broached at a Planning Commission meeting last week by Commissioner Rick Randolph.


For background*

2007 – Should Crozet become a town? (thanks, Cvillenews)

There are a couple of reasons that Crozet doesn’t incorporate, and three of those are that 

1) We’d have to pay separate taxes to the town
2) We’d have to hire our own police force with said taxes
3) Everybody wants everything but doesn’t want to pay for it.

2016 – If Crozet Became a Town – What Might its Budget Look Like?

EASY QUESTIONS ABOUT “IF CROZET BECAME A TOWN”?
  • Would you be willing to pay more in taxes to have more control over the future of Crozet?
  • Would yet another layer of bureaucracy be a good thing?
  • How is being a town working out for Scottsville?
A BIG QUESTION

@realcrozetva what additional services would you want for your town taxes?

A Budget from a friend

Here is a link to what a Crozet budget would look like if incorporated from a very well run Town that is comparable in community feel and size.

And 2016 discussion about Service Districts


And Back to 2021

Big discussion at Nextdoor, which is a private group with conversations that would best be held in public.


*This is why blogs matter – context, historical links, archiving information and discussions in an open format – all of these matter.

COVID-19 Vaccine Update

A reader asked me earlier today to provide an update on COVID-19 vaccines in Crozet; coincidentally and conveniently, this was sitting in my inbox, and I’m publishing with Dr. McLaughlin’s permission. I have also found the Charlottesville Community Engagement daily newsletter and podcast informative about the pandemic (and many other things).

From Blue Ridge Family practice:

Blue Ridge Family Practice January 2021

In this issue:
-COVID-19 vaccine
-Clinic COVID-19 protocols
-Flu vaccine
-A Pandemic of Kindness

Light at the end of the (Crozet) tunnel
Continue reading “COVID-19 Vaccine Update”

Checking in on Albemarle’s Stream Health

via email, from Tom Adajian

The county has a Stream Health Initiative. Phase II, which focuses on issues and strategies for improving stream health in the rural areas, is starting. (Phase 1, which is still ongoing, has focused on development-related issues and strategies for improving stream health in the county. Various proposals were developed, some of which have been implemented; work on others is ongoing.)

Given that, according to the DEQ, 56% of county streams studied are impaired, and given the correlation between stream impairment and development, this should be a vital concern to western Albemarle and Crozet citizens. (Note that the ‘streams’ include Mechums River, Lickinghole Creek, the Rivanna…..)

There’s a questionnaire here. Citizens should take it.

There are numerous ways that citizens can be involved in this process.

The county’s official blurb

The first stage of Phase II is Jan-March 2021. It is focused on building a shared understanding of the current condition of our waters and identifying challenges related to improving stream health in the Rural Areas. We will provide you with opportunities to share your expertise, knowledge, and experience. Input provided will be used to guide the focus of discussions and design recommendations for subsequent stages of the project.

The general website is here.

To subscribe to the Albemarle County News newsletter, the source of this info, go here.