Brownsville & Crozet Redistricting Process Begins (2021)

I’ve started adding the year to some of these stories because we’ve had these discussions before.

I said in 2019

If you don’t have kids, please get involved, as school quality and perceived school quality affects property values. If you do have kids, get aware and involved. Even if your kids are little now, they’re going to grow up. I’m happy to talk our schools’ perceived quality about property values offline.


via the excellent Katherine Knott at the Daily Progress

(read the whole thing, and the bolding below is mine)

The Albemarle County school division will start figuring out this week how to move hundreds of students from Brownsville to Crozet Elementary.

A 10-person community advisory committee will lead the first phase of that redistricting effort, which will include two public meetings in November. The school division is aiming for the School Board to make a final decision about the two schools’ boundaries in January, so it can start working with the affected families.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, nearby Brownsville Elementary had nearly 900 students while the building’s capacity was 764. At Crozet, enrollment was up to 360 students, 30 more than the building’s capacity.

The committee will hold its first virtual work session Tuesday from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Additional work sessions are scheduled for Oct. 12, Oct. 26 and Nov. 16, all starting at 6 p.m. Meetings can be viewed at streaming.k12albemarle.org/ACPS/publicmeeting.html.

Virtual public meetings to hear community input will be from 6 to 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 4 and Nov. 9.

Crozet Master Plan Slowly Moving Forward

From Alison Wrabel with the Daily Progress. (read the whole thing). Interesting times in Crozet as we try to balance growth, affordable housing, infrastructure …. basically all the stuff that affects us every day. I wonder how many of us attended the Planning Commission meeting Tuesday night?

The draft of the updated Crozet Master Plan took another step forward Tuesday night.

The Albemarle County Planning Commission voted to recommend approval of the updated Crozet Master Plan with one change — land near downtown that had previously had its possible density increased in the future land use map was recommended to be reduced.

The Crozet community and Albemarle County began updating the Crozet Master Plan in 2019, which helps to guide decisions about land use, transportation and parks in the area, and the draft will now move forward to the Board of Supervisors. The board is scheduled to hold its public hearing virtually at 6 p.m. Oct. 20.

When adopted, the Master Plan will be part of Albemarle’s Comprehensive Plan, which guides the county’s long-term vision for land use and resource protection. County staff and supervisors look to the Comprehensive Plan as part of the rezoning process, but it is not law.

The process has been contentious, especially around population growth and infrastructure issues around roads, schools and sidewalks in Crozet, which has seen its population increase from about 5,565 in 2010 to approximately 9,224 in 2020, according to census data.

Crozet Master Plan Public Hearing – 14 September 2021

This thing is going to come to fruition sooner rather than later.

From Sean Tubbs’ outstanding week ahead email (read the whole thing, and subscribe if you can). Heck, ask me, and I’ll buy you one. It’s $50/year and if you’re interested in learning more and supporting local news, I’d welcome that opportunity.

Crozet Master Plan public hearing

The Albemarle County Planning Commission meets virtually at 6 p.m. There are two public hearings. (meeting info)

In the first, the Field School is requesting an amendment to a special use permit that requires them to begin construction of their new facility on Barracks Road. The Board of Supervisors approved a permit in March 2017 for a new school to be constructed on land in the rural area. The terms of the approval state the new building has to be under construction by the end of February 2022. 

“Construction plans to establish the new Field School Campus on the property were put on hold as the global pandemic created a great deal of uncertainty for future funding opportunities and general construction feasibility,” reads the narrative by Shimp Engineering. “Field School of Charlottesville looks forward to continue working towards creating its new campus on the property and in light of some funding setbacks and the global COVID-19 pandemic; respectfully requests more time to bring this long-anticipated and worked-for vision to fruition.” 

Conceptual layout for the new Field School (Credit: Shimp Engineering)

The Field School currently operates out of the old Crozet High School, which is addressed in the draft version of the Crozet Master Plan.

“The County should solicit community input to help determine an appropriate use of the school building and adjacent grounds,” reads page LU-25 of the plan. “Consideration should be given to uses that support the County’s goals for Affordable Housing, school needs, and uses that provide historic and cultural programming.”

However, I suspect that is not the kind of input the Planning Commission will hear at the public hearing on the plan. Comprehensive Planning can tend to bring forward strong opinions about the future of communities as we’ve seen with the Cville Plans Together initiative and during the Crozet plan’s review. 

Crozet is one of several designated growth areas in Albemarle and the first master plan was adopted in December 2004 as a subsection of the county’s Comprehensive Plan. 

The Board of Supervisors approved an update in October 2010. The idea is to review these plans every five years, but an update was delayed as work continued on other master plans such as one for Pantops and the Rio-29 Small Area Plan. In recent years, Albemarle has conducted this planning work in-house. 

This update finally got underway with a community visioning process followed by many input sessions with the Crozet Community Advisory Committee. The Board of Supervisors reviewed a nearly complete draft in early August. 

“The Board of Supervisors reviewed the draft Master Plan and agreed with the majority of the Planning Commission’s implementation recommendations,” reads the staff report

To achieve the land use goal of creating more units that qualify under county guidelines as affordable housing, staff has created the land use category of “middle density residential” to have a range of between six to 12 units per acre, with up to 18 if below-market affordable housing is guaranteed. Some stories about what’s been going on: 

“The Board discussed the application of the Middle Density Residential land use category both throughout Crozet and specifically to the block bounded by Tabor Street, Crozet Avenue, Dunvegan Lane, and High Street,” the staff report continues. “They directed staff to leave the future land use plan as is for the public hearing process to allow for additional community and Planning Commission feedback on the proposed change to the Tabor Street block.”

This will be an interesting story to write. 

Current Future Land Use Map for the Crozet Land Use Map (Credit: Albemarle County)

Beaver Creek Public Meeting – 6 October 2021

Beaver Creek Reservoir

via email

A virtual meeting is being conducted on Wednesday, October 6, 2021 at 6:00 PM EST to discuss the Beaver Creek Watershed Structure No. 1 Planning Study.  The project team will update the public on the status of the project, present the evaluated spillway upgrade alternatives and describe the sponsors preferred alternative. The project is located in Albemarle County approximately one-half mile north-northwest of the intersection of Browns Gap Turnpike/VA-680 and Three Notched Road/VA-240 and involves the rehabilitation of Beaver Creek Dam No. 1 to meet State and Federal requirements for high-hazard dams.  The multi-purpose Beaver Creek Reservoir No. 1, operated by the Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority (RWSA), serves as the sole municipal water supply for the Crozet Area in Albemarle County.

This meeting will be held virtually using the Zoom platform. A link to the meeting location will be posted to RWSA’s website at https://www.rivanna.org/rwsa-projects-map/beaver-creek-improvements/. Residents and interested parties will have the opportunity to ask questions and express any concerns about the project to the team. Following the meeting, the presentation will be posted to RWSA’s website for anyone who is unable to attend live. Questions and comments will be received until October 20, 2021. Additional details for accessing the recorded meeting and submitting feedback will be provided during the live presentation and posted to RWSA’s website.

The previous meeting was in December 2020.


Great recent story from Crozet Gazette about Crozet’s future water supply.

click through to read the whole thing.

The Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority (RWSA) presented an update on our drinking water supply and production, wastewater treatment, and local projects in progress for the Crozet area. RWSA Executive Director Bill Mawyer described $41.5 million in projects, ranging from those just completed (such as improvements to the water treatment plant and filtration system) to those on the horizon such as a new Beaver Creek Reservoir pump station and improvements to the Beaver Creek Dam scheduled for 2024-2026. These projects are paid for by all customers of the Albemarle County Service Authority via their water bills.

The Beaver Creek dam, pump station, and piping modification needs are driven by upgrades required by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation’s dam safety standards. The project will replace the major infrastructure elements that carry water to Crozet’s water treatment plant and will install a new labyrinth spillway in the dam at a total cost of $27 million.

Mawyer noted two bits of news that may alleviate the concerns of Beaver Creek area residents.

One issue is the construction-related closure of the road that runs across the dam, which would send traffic from Browns Gap Turnpike on a long detour via White Hall Road. “We’ve had some meetings and conversations with our consultants about closing that road and we are now thinking we can build a temporary road actually on the water side of the dam and maintain traffic during construction,” he said. “There was talk about building a detour road around the lower side of the dam that was going to be very difficult and expensive, but now we’re much more optimistic that we can build a road on the inside of the dam. We’ll keep you informed about that.”

Courtesy RWSA.

Mawyer also discussed potential sites for the new raw water pumping station that will have to be located just off shore in the reservoir just above the dam. “At one time we were looking at a site adjacent to the Clark family’s property but we’ve done more research into the property, the topography, and the cost and now we’re focusing on two other sites [that sit closer to the dam], so hopefully that will work out.” The Natural Resources Conservation Service will also weigh in on the new site locations as the RWSA is asking that agency to foot 65% of the bill for the dam project.

As for Crozet’s water supply, Beaver Creek Reservoir’s water pool is currently two feet below normal levels, and is 85% full with about 430 million gallons of water (usable supply). The community’s water demand is 0.5 to 1.1 million gallons per day, and Mawyer said the reservoir currently holds about seven months’ worth of storage with no additional inflow. 

Should Crozet Become a Town? (2021 version)

Alison Wrabel has a fantastic story about whether Crozet could become a town. Please read it the whole thing, and not just this snippet.

Some Crozet residents are still agitated by the final draft of a plan to help guide future growth in the area, and some want to seriously look at what it would take to become a town.

In 2019, the community and Albemarle County began updating the Crozet Master Plan, which helps to guide decisions about land use, transportation and parks in the area, and the draft will be the topic of a county Planning Commission hearing next month.

An online questionnaire is available until Sept. 14 for community members to view and provide feedback on the draft at publicinput.com/M8451. Comments also may be submitted directly to Albemarle Planning Manager Rachel Falkenstein at [email protected].

The Planning Commission will hold its public hearing virtually at 6 p.m. Sept. 14. The Board of Supervisors is scheduled to hold its public hearing virtually at 6 p.m. Oct. 20.

At a recent meeting of the Crozet Community Advisory Committee — a group appointed by the Board of Supervisors to provide assistance, feedback and input to county staff and the board on efforts around the area’s Master Plan — several members and area residents expressed dissatisfaction with the process and the final draft of the updated plan.

When adopted, the Master Plan will be part of Albemarle’s Comprehensive Plan, which guides the county’s long-term vision for land use and resource protection. County staff and supervisors look to the Comprehensive Plan as part of the rezoning process.

Some Crozet residents have expressed frustration with the area’s growing population and infrastructure issues around roads, schools and sidewalks.

Related stories


If you can, watch the most recent CCAC meeting where this was discussed.


An interesting and relevant thought on the “Middle Density” discussion:

Density can be better for the climate.

The key to this lower level of emissions is density. Concentrating people, businesses, and services makes public transportation more feasible, apartment buildings (which are generally more energy-efficient than single-family homes) more common, and ultimately preserves more land.

Crozet Master Plan Update – June 2021

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.

Did you know there’s a big Planning Commission meeting on 22 June about the Crozet Master Plan?

If you want a gift subscription to his newsletter, let me know, and I’ll get it for you.


Charlottesville Community Engagement – 21 June 2021

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 Crozet Community Association is seeking donations to cover the cost of the fireworks. Visit their website to learn more

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)

Fore has looked up the section of Virginia code that allows for the creation of such districts.

“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. 

A work session with the Board of Supervisors will take place in August. (Watch the CAC meeting on YouTube)


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. 

Credit: Downtown Crozet Initiative

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)

The Draft Crozet Master Plan is Almost Complete — Help Prioritize the Recommended Projects!

A reason to participate in these surveys is simple – if you don’t express your opinion, be assured that someone else has, and you might not agree with that which they want.

Me? I want more sidewalks, bike lanes, density, and walkability.

Someone else probably wants zero growth, and wider roads only for cars.

Might as well spend a few minutes putting forth one’s opinion.

(as I’ve said many times; yes, I’m a Realtor. Yes, I earn a living representing people who buy and sell real estate in Crozet. No, I don’t benefit, either as a real estate agent or a resident of Crozet if we implement poor growth and transportation policies.)

Via email

Since September 2019, Albemarle County has been exploring, alongside the Crozet community, how to best reflect the community’s vision for the future of Crozet in the latest update to the Crozet Master Plan. This month, we are focusing on content for the “Implementation” chapter of the Master Plan. 

This week, we will share information about recommended projects in the draft Crozet Master Plan at four pop-ups in Crozet, as well as a virtual information session that will be recorded and available online. 

Meet us at one of our pop-ups, attend the virtual information session, or participate anytime at PublicInput.com/ImagineCrozet

Online Questionnaire

Through Monday, June 7th 

Review the draft recommendations and share your priorities for the implementation of the plan via the online questionnaire.

Crozet Elementary Construction Starting Soon

Via email

Hello Everyone!

I wanted to provide you with a brief update regarding the Crozet ES project. Again, please forward to anyone else that you think might be interested. If there are any groups/individuals that are not receiving these updates, please let me know and I will add them to my distribution list.

Things have been moving fast! At the time of my last email update, we were still in the bidding phase. Since then, we have received favorable bids, and have contracted with the low bidder – Nielsen Builders, Inc. out of Harrisonburg, VA.

My previous communication indicated that we anticipated construction starting in mid-May. However, Nielsen Builders offered the County an additional cost savings credit if we were able to expedite the contracting process to get construction started sooner. We are happy to say that we were able to achieve this goal, which is of great benefit to you all as County taxpayers!

Thus, we wanted you to be aware, that construction will be starting on some areas of the project next Wednesday, April 28.

As can be expected from ongoing construction activities, some noise and dust should be expected throughout construction, but the project team will be taking every effort to minimize these where possible. The Contractor will also be bound by the County’s noise ordinances and all other County/state ordinances and building codes. Here’s what you can expect through the first summer of work:

  • The first week of work will primarily consist of putting up safety fencing, E&S controls, and mobilization/preparation efforts.
  • Beginning the week of May 3, the drilling of the additional geothermal wells will commence. We have an additional 53 wells to drill this spring/summer to accommodate the geothermal HVAC system that I have mentioned in previous correspondence.
  • Other early efforts will include installing temporary emergency egress stairs for building occupants, associated site work for a new kitchen addition on the north side of the school, and associated site work for the new classroom addition on the south side of the school. Footers and foundations on the two additions are expected to commence sometime in June.
  • Once school lets out in mid-June, work on the interior office renovations and the construction of a new, expanded playground will commence.
  • By the end of the summer, the general layout of what will become the new bus loop on the north side of the school should be complete.

Additionally, because the County also owns the property where the Field School is located, we have allowed the Contractor to utilize a small portion of that site for some limited contractor parking and storage of construction materials so please do not be alarmed if you see some construction-related activity there as well.

As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me. I will be working from the site at least 3 days a week, and I can always be reached by cell phone. Thanks and I hope you all have a great weekend!

Matt Wertman

Senior Project Manager – Facilities Planning & Construction

Albemarle County

Planning Commission Meeting on 23 March re: Crozet Park Plans

A letter from a Crozet Park neighbor. Background here. The Park’s plans are massive.

Commissioner,

In October I submitted written comments regarding the Special Use Permit Application by Crozet Park to build a commercial style recreation building  with a 32,000 square footprint (about ¾ of an acre) that is 36 feet high. Unfortunately those comments were never discussed at the CCAC meeting (which was when I understood there would be a question and answer session) nor were they discussed with me at any other time. In fact, until a few weeks ago when I thought the applicant was still making changes to the drawings but was informed by staff they were not. The comments I made in October are still very valid.

I hope the drawing below will help provide context for how the proposed project sits the existing neighborhood. I used the files that staff identified as the latest drawings to create it. Most pertinent to Crozet Park’s request for a Special Use Permit is the size of the new building (in purple) compared to the size of the existing buildings (dotted in blue which have gable roofs about 20’ high), the number of new parking spaces (which are annotated totaling over 200 new), and the configuration of the intersection at Hilltop Road which the Park requests to use as a fulltime entrance/exit (currently only used as an exit in special events). It also provides context for how much of the park will become essentially a commercial enterprise and no longer green space. Please see my comments below the drawing regarding these points.

  1. I feel like public comment has been stifled by the process. Perhaps it due to that the volume of development happening in the county that conflicting, inaccurate and incomplete information is often provided in public venues. Many of us are trying to understand unfamiliar processes and respond to processes, expecting that the public can question why decisions are made and how they can be impacted – I understand that this takes time but it is not happening now. The fact is that we have community meetings where comments are not allowed and Planning Commission meetings that we can not attend (replaced by zoom sessions with 3 minute comment periods that may or may not be sequenced so the public can respond to information presented at the meeting). I have yet to see a meaningful public question and answer session on any important topic.
  1. The Planning Commission, as part of the Master Plan review process, recently approved, in concept, a site next to Brownsville Elementary along Route 250  as an acceptable location for a Recreational Facility and all parties agreed that the location was a good idea [my language might not be right here but this was discussed at the Planning Commission when Staff’s Crozet Master Plan update was reviewed]. The proposed project is in essence a commercial establishment with 985 projected visitors per day. A facility of this size does not belong in a neighborhood park setting.
  1. That the findings of Staff misrepresent the scope and scale of the proposed building – YES IT WILL impact the character of the area. In a prime example of not listening to public comment the applicant has not provided drawings that show the scale of the proposed building within the neighborhoods nearby although drawings of this type were requested specifically. The unfortunate thing in this is that I have had a fantastic relationship with the park for years and now they are acting like an unchallenged developer maximizing land use, minimizing information – certainly not like a neighbor.
  1. That we are running out of Green Space in Crozet and we should preserve the limited amount that is left. If this development is completed 1/3 of the park’s area will be impervious – not greenspace. Further this development was not mentioned in the Planning Commission’s review of the updates on the Crozet masterplan. Staff’s recommendation says it is in keeping with the Master Plan. It is difficult for me to understand that logic and why it was not discussed during the Master Plan reviews.
  1. That the vague description of what happens at the proposed new permanent exit on to Hilltop should not be delayed until Site Plan review and, further, that the assertion that no traffic study is required on either Hilltop or Park Street should not be accepted. If the Hilltop exit becomes a “by right” condition for the applicant it means, as we have seen in other places, that the people impacted no longer have input into the outcome. I have been told in writing that my comments are important and spent hours reviewing drawings of “by right” applications finding issues and asking questions – none of my requests resulted in meaningful dialog with staff unless it was to tell me that the applicant had the right to move ahead prior to approval, or that engineering had approved it, or applicant was not required to provide information about a retaining wall abutting our properties. It is unfair to kick an issue like this the down the road in order for a developer or the park to have the power of “by right” on their side before it is even clear what they are doing. Further, this proposed development is not happening in isolation so traffic impacts to Park, Hilltop and other local streets should be studied in totality.

In closing I would like to remind the Planning Commission that many of us have been supportive neighbors of the park for years donating time and money to its development. This proposal is in itself OUT OF CHARACTER with the way the park has acted in the past. I won’t deny the project must have some redeeming qualities – access for a broader part of the community, expanded facilities certainly – but build it where it belongs – perhaps on the parcel you agreed was the right place for it on route 250.

Philip Kirby

Parkside Village Resident for eighteen years


Disclosure: I live next to Crozet Park.

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.