Events on Plank Road at Wavertree Hill Farm?


From Sean Tubbs’ Charlottesville Community Engagement newsletter

(you can subscribe to Sean’s work here, and I highly recommend doing so)


The owners of a historic property on Plank Road near Batesville are seeking a special use permit to hold events, but under a different section of the zoning code than the one for wineries, cideries and breweries. 

“The Special Events ordinance was developed expressly for hosting events at historic properties for the public to share the enjoyment of the County’ s historic resources and rural viewsheds,” reads the narrative of the application from Hilmasco Operations, LLC. 

This requires a community meeting which will be held at 5:30 p.m. Several neighbors have already expressed opposition to the project, citing noise and traffic concerns. (meeting info)

The property was originally listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1991 as Wavertree Hill Farm, but has since been renamed to Bellevue. Under the proposal, weddings and other activities would take place in an existing indoor riding ring which will be remodeled.

“This structure is not a contributing historic structure, was built in the 1970′ s, and is visually inconsistent with the other structures on the Property,” reads the narrative. “Though the Applicant would prefer to raze this structure and to construct a more attractive building in the same location, Section 5. 1. 43( d)( 1) requires each structure used for a special event to have been in existence on the date of the adoption of the section.”

The Virginia Outdoors Foundation holds a conservation easement on the property which will not allow new commercial buildings to be constructed. Under the proposal, outdoor amplified music would end at ten p.m. and all events would be over by midnight. The applicant has requested a special exception that four events be allowed to have up to 350 guests. The others would be restricted to 150 or fewer. 

Source: Albemarle County

(Jim’s note: there was a discussion somewhere on Nextdoor about this, with people riled up in opposition, but I cannot find it anywhere)


*

The Crozet Community Advisory Committee meets at 7 p.m. for another meeting on the revision of the master plan. They will have a discussion of proposed changes to date, and then a discussion of possible resolutions the CAC may make. (meeting info

CCAC Meeting 30 November – Trying to Stop Growth?

via email:

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. 


Please join us! https://albemarle-org.zoom.us/j/98824274913


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)


CCAC Meeting Documents

Please read these.

There is even a petition

Nextdoor has been a hotbed of anti-growth commentary of late.

All this talk about wanting to shut things down and have some sort of autonomy from Albemarle County makes me think Crozet should discuss becoming a town.

Also, you know what makes housing more affordable? More houses. Supply & Demand matters.


I just put up a facebook (I hate facebook) post, in part:

I’m curious – we’re going to grow. What housing would people support?

From ProPublica’s Separated by Design: How Some of America’s Richest Towns Fight Affordable Housing

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.”

And from gzeromedia’s Urbanization Around the World

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.

Lickinghole Creek and Mechums are Impaired

I’m hoping this is the first of at least a two part series.

tl;dr: our waterways are damaged. If you can spare some time, you could serve on the committee to help fix them.

What follows are a few emails I’ve received from a reader

A link to a recording of the webinar on the DEQ  South Fork Rivanna River Study — presentation slides and recording — is below. 


Of particular interest to Crozet people:  Lickinghole Creek is one of the officially impaired creeks. Parts of the Mechums are too. And parts of the Rivanna.

There’s also a link to the first Technical Advisory Committee Meeting. Citizens can serve on this body.

In the light of all the construction (including the recent snafu with the violation of the stream protection guidelines in the county’s latest (?) cock-up, the development (near Crozet Park), vigilance regarding our streams is vital. 


From VA DEQ Valley Regional Office

I would like to thank you all for your interest in the South Fork Rivanna River Stream Health Study.  We had great attendance and participation at our kick off meeting on Wednesday evening, and I hope that we continue to have this level of engagement going forward.  As a reminder, our first Technical Advisory Committee Meeting will be held on December 9th at 2:00 p.m.  Anyone who is interested is welcome to attend.


Registration Link https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/2154435171464681487

For those of you who were unable to attend the meeting on Wednesday night, I have provided a link to a recording of the webinar below.  This recording includes the presentation and the question and answer session that followed.  Please feel free to reach out if you have any questions, and please do pass along any formal written comments during the 30-day public comment period currently underway.


Webinar Recording https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/recording/1274834665452620040

Very best, Nesha
Nesha McRae | TMDL Coordinator VA DEQ Valley Regional Office |


More Questions on Crozet Park’s Plans

Current secondary entrance to Crozet Park

Questions are good.

Background on Crozet Park’s big plans.

My offer stands to Crozetians: want to research and write about developments affecting you, your neighborhood, Crozet? Let me know.

New letter from one of Crozet Park’s neighbors to Albemarle County staff.

After the Crozet Park Special Use Permit zooming meeting on the 14th  I’ve taken some time to digest my impressions and wanted to share my thoughts about the process and the content. 

First,  I think it is a good thing to solicit neighborhood input although attending the meeting via zoom rather than in person was a bit confining.  I am not clear on  the Virtual Meeting  process for responding to public questions or comments submitted prior to the Meeting.      I do not know how others felt but it was odd to submit questions/comments prior to the meeting that may or may not be addressed by the people actually active in the Video/Zoom meeting. 

Second, I had a chance to look at the additional Crozet Park Expansion project information that was attached to the previous Meeting Minutes which included staff and agency comments from the Applicant’s August Submittal. I see that some of the questions raised in my previous letter were also commented by staff and other agencies, however,  I did not see where the impact of construction on the adjacent neighborhoods is addressed in the attachments to the previous meeting minutes.   

Based on comments at the meeting it was clear to me the Applicant has no intention of  disturbing its own Park operations during construction nor did they seem concerned about how  construction work will impact adjacent neighborhoods. Incorporating neighborhood concerns should be equally aggressive and intentional. This is a serious issue for those of us experiencing the Foothill construction operation. 

From my own observations, and mentioned by a resident at the meeting, based on the progress of the Foothill Crossing construction project next door to Crozet Park, it seems that it is considered acceptable by County Staff, the Applicant and its Designer to stage dump trucks and turn them around on neighborhood roads.   It appears it is also acceptable to put  Porto-johns in front of neighbor homes and Site Debris Management areas close to neighboring homes.   The Foothill Crossing construction project plans include no requirement to stage construction vehicles within the Construction Site verses outside of the Construction site which makes the work more disruptive than it should be and is, frankly, inconsiderate.   

Staff and agency comments did not address this at all – maybe it is beyond their purviews. The construction impact of these Projects/Developments can be mitigated,  but planning for it has be intentional and should be seriously considered during early reviews. The manner in which the current Foothills Crossing construction work has been handled did not consider how it is disturbing  neighbors  in Parkside Village and along Hilltop Road. Construction impacts for this Project can be mitigated very cost effectively but they have to be planned just as intentionally as the applicant has –  and some agency has to advocate for that

Lastly, it was unclear at the community meeting what information Staff reviewed relative to the use of the Emergency Access Road entrance to Hilltop Road in the future. The Designer said it would only be used for large events while the Applicant indicated they would not accept any limitations on how they might use it.   The VDOT Comments are also unclear on whether they reviewed the improvements as an Emergency Access road or a two way Entrance to the Park.    This is a very serious issue for a lot of reasons – the Hilltop Road entrance sight distances, bus stops, traffic build up, sequence with the development of neighborhood infrastructure (future roads)  to Downtown Crozet – and how all of this impacts the adjacent neighborhoods. I am looking forward to additional project information and a chance to review the Applicants response and comments.  

Staying Aware of Crozet Park’s Massive Plans

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

Background on the Park’s Plans

Letter from a neighbor

Mr. Collins,

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

Continue reading “Staying Aware of Crozet Park’s Massive Plans”

More on the Gone Trees

You may remember this story from a few weeks ago about the tree clearing for another new development near Crozet Park.

I thought about titling this story, “Trees Gone, Why Were We Surprised?” But that felt click-baity.

From a neighbor and guest author*:

When the clearing for Foothill Crossing began along Parkside Village and Crozet Park a few weeks ago, we watched close-up as the woods began to disappear in such a grinding, brutal fashion. But the fact was we knew that it was going to happen one day as progress and development continues in Crozet and Albemarle.

We were, however, surprised by the number of trees that were cleared right down to the Stream. We had always understood that a 100 ft buffer was to be maintained on both sides of this Creek.

We contacted Frank Pohl with the county engineer’s office about the clearing and he responded quickly and directly, sending an inspector out to the site. He confirmed that too many trees had in fact been cut down and that Erosion and Tree protection had not been installed. The contractor was notified of the violations and the required remediation.

This brought our attention to the plans/drawings that the County makes available on their website. After spending more time reviewing those plans supplemented with the approved Erosion and Sediment Control drawings, we realized that a 20 FT. wide, 82,000 lb. rated Access Road over a simple 36’ concrete pipe culvert is planned to cross the Creek.

According to the plans, this same Road is alternately labeled and identified in a number of ways:

1. Paved Emergency Access . . .,

2. Access Road to be extended to Park Ridge drive until roadway infrastructure for Foothills Phase II is complete,

3. Proposed 20’ Asphalt Emergency Access and Bicycle /Pedestrian Access. , and 4. Detailed in an equally broad “Asphalt Paving – Emergency Access Road & Pedestrian/Bicycle Pathway & TOT Lot/SWM Access Pathway. Mr. Pohl also clarified that while the road was not currently approved as a Construction Access road for Foothill Phase II, he did not see why that could change in the future.

We have expressed our disappointment with the fact that the Stream Buffer had been compromised so easily for such an unclear purpose. The drawings also appear to go out of their way to downplay the Installation of this Road.

Certainly there is an emotional reaction when development occurs “nextdoor” – just like it did for local residents with the development and construction of our house.

It has raised these questions for us –

  • Did we pay enough attention when the plans were first proposed?
  • Is the County and Planning commission in tune with the impacts of these aggressive Developments on its neighbors?
  • Does the contractor/developer think about people when they stage/setup the most disruptive of their work alongside our neighbors when they have acres of options?

I’ve said it before, that being a citizen is hard. Knowing what is happening next door to you is important. Knowing what is happening in your community is important too. You may live near Chiles Orchard or Old Trail, or down Miller School Road, but these trees and developments affect you, too.

A few tools to research growth and development

Update: here are some ideas!


You could try talking to your neighbors.

  • Maybe identify one per month to watch the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors, Planning Commission, CCAC meetings, and any other relevant ones, and then write something on a blog somewhere.
    • My opinion: Nextdoor & Facebook are not great for sharing information because those are walled gardens, closed sites, and are not searchable by search engines.
    • Heck, I’ll create a page or a section here on RealCrozetVA if anyone wants to take up this idea for your neighborhood. Then you can send the link to your neighborhood and it can be shared and searched for posterity. Let me know if you’re interested.

That should not have been a surprise to anyone who knows a) Crozet is a growth area and b) knows to look at the Crozet Master Plan. If you’re curious if those trees are going to stay, the answer is probably “no.” But get curious; investigate for yourself. And then talk to your neighbors.

*re: the “guest author”: I know them, they’re neighbors.

Continue reading “More on the Gone Trees”

Crozet Land Use Meeting Recap

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.

(here’s the accompanying FB post)

Quick thoughts

  • We need creative density, commensurate with infrastructure improvements
  • There are a lot of people who say they want affordable housing, but want it somewhere else
  • Seems like a lot of Crozetians don’t like the current growth patterns, and want to shut down development. At least the ones speaking out.
  • Some of the stuff that is being built around Crozet is certainly contributing to the changes in Crozet
  • We need affordable housing here. Not “over there.”
  • I agree with the commenters that this feels somewhat rushed, but we still need to do something soon
  • We need a developer to come and propose/put up something like this that is functional and creative.
  • Ceasing development is not a good or viable solution (I’m working on a follow up post on this, and would welcome citations in favor or against this argument)
  • Zoom meetings are fantastic in that they open the meetings in a way that make them much easier to access, jump in and out, and learn.
    • No driving or parking
    • Meetings are recorded and put on YouTube
    • Transcripts of the meetings!

Attachments


From a Nextdoor Thread

(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:

https://albemarle-org.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJwtduispjojHNKmukxCG-93SNoEQpybeAqp/.


Continue reading “Crozet Land Use Meeting Recap”

Crozet Land Use Meeting – 23 September at Noon

This looks like an important meeting. Land use affects everything.

Note: this is a great podcast episode that gets into land use in the last half; it’s worth listening.

via email:

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.

HOW TO PARTICIPATE IN THIS MEETING

ONLINE:
Download Zoom. Use this link https://albemarle-org.zoom.us/j/97118038548 to join the webinar.

BY PHONE/CALL-IN:
Dial (301) 715-8592. Type in the Webinar ID 971 1803 8548 followed by the pound (#) sign.

Andrew Knuppel

Senior Neighborhood Planner
Albemarle County
aknu…@albemarle.org

434-296-5832 ext. 3313

401 McIntire Road, North Wing, Charlottesville, VA 22902

Trees Go Fast; New Development next to Crozet Park

Walking by Crozet Park last week, we saw heavy equipment. I noted that the surrounding trees would likely be gone within a week, and was right.

Looks like this is a separate part of Glenbrook at Foothills. Phase V, to be specific, so not necessarily a “new neighborhood” as it’s an extension of Glenbrook, but it’s “new” in that it looks like a standalone neighborhood that is replacing trees.

Lots of comments on the Facebook thread.

Layout of the new neighborhood. Site plan is here.

Learn more at Albemarle’s site; it looks like they won’t have sidewalks, but are using Crozet Park’s paths instead.

(a lot of links are broken at the new Albemarle County site).

As I tell my clients

If you don’t own it, it’s going to change.


Location of Glenbrook at Foothills V
https://www.google.com/maps/@38.0649872,-78.6888014,17z
Continue reading “Trees Go Fast; New Development next to Crozet Park”

Crozet Land Use and the Planning Commission – 1 September

This stuff matters, folks. And the voices that speak up are the ones that are heard, and the ones that write the policies we live with.

6pm on 1 September. See here how to attend.

NB: the County Calendar is useful.

via email

The Board of Supervisors directed staff to begin work on the Crozet Master Plan update on September 4, 2019. The purpose of this work session is to provide the Planning Commission with an update about public feedback related to land use and to receive the Commission’s guidance on revised land use categories.(Andrew Knuppel)

And from the PDF

Discussion/Recommendation: Staff recommends that the Commission review the attached background information,feedback summaries,and draft land use information and provide direction to staff on the questions below.

Q1 Do you agree with staff’s recommendation to create a Middle Density Residential land use category to support the stated goals within Crozet?

Q2 Do you see applicability for this category in similar contexts in other areas of the County (to be considered with future Master Plan updates)?

Q3 Do you have any feedback on the recommended density, housing types, or form guidance within the land use table?

Q4 Do you agree with staff’s recommendation to create a Downtown Neighborhoods Overlay to support the stated goals within this area of Crozet?

Q5 Do you have any feedback on the recommended criteria for increased density, housing types, or form guidance within the land use table?

I’ve put the PDF here, so that it will be here the next time Albemarle changes their website and urls.