So Many Albemarle County Meetings the Week of 4 December 2023

Moon over crozet during a bike ride

If you’re not subscribing to Sean Tubbs’ Charlottesville Community Engagement, you’re not as informed as you could be. 🙂 If you’re not paying for a subscription, please consider doing so. Please, spend a few minutes reading and supporting his work — this stuff matters.

There is so much happening during the week of 4 December 2023 in Albemarle County governance.

I’ll pay for the subscription for the first person to email me asking for one. Just ask.

From Sean’s Week Ahead email, a few snippets:

It’s Time to Take the Signs Down, 2023 Edition

Cold Beaver Creek on a frosty November morning.

Or … 2023’s election season in Albemarle County is finally over.

As the dust settles, we are still a great place to live. Close to UVA, Blue Ridge Parkway, Skyline Drive, good schools (with many of the challenges faced around the country), and genuinely a great place to live.

This was the most divisive, and certainly most expensive, local election I remember.

I was talking to a new-to-Crozet friend this week, and he asked for my seasoned perspective on the Crozet elections. Here we go.

That the school board races cost about $300,000

is offensive, shameful, disgusting. Give each candidate $25K, and put the rest to the Food Bank or some other worthy charity that helps people.

For Board of Supervisors between Brad Rykal and Ann Mallek

I’m glad Brad ran; contested elections are better for everyone, and I hope he continues to be involved beyond the election.

It looks like Brad’s strategy of focusing almost exclusively on growth area matters that directly affect the “urban” area of Crozet almost worked.

Crozet residents are more than the “town” of Crozet.

If “Crozet” wants to have autonomy, Crozet needs to become a town. Simple. (related stories from 2021 in January, and August; there are a lot more if you want to search the blog). Crozet is part of the White Hall district, and further, a part of Albemarle County.

We need more infrastructure (more to come after I watch the video of CCAC November), and we need more housing.

If we want more businesses and services, we need more people (have you seen the complaints on godforaken-Nextdoor about the lack of restaurants and other stuff?)

I find it instructive and interesting that the “urban” areas went so heavily for Brad; I see that as a meaningful indication that Crozet’s townification deserves a serious consideration.

Crozet has gotten a lot of money over the years – Library, Streetscape, Jarmans, Old Trail playground, and we need more — there is no argument here. I’d argue we need protected bike lanes and sidewalks. Build it and they will use it.

One request to fellow Crozetians — go to meetings other than CCAC. CCAC is interesting, yet the meetings that matter are the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors — those votes count.

Another is to support local media like Charlottesville Community Engagement, Crozet Gazette, and Daily Progress.

And go consistently, not just when you see that thing coming that will affect your backyard — go now. And next month, and then next. Be consistent in your attendance and involvement. Being a citizen takes effort and sacrifice.

Short of Crozet getting a benevolent dictator, we’re going to have to work together to continue to build a great Crozet, and we need to look beyond our backyards and look at these changes as generational changes.

I thought I was making up the word “townify” — I was wrong; it was first used in 1798!

town·?i·?fy ?tau?n??f?
: to cause to become urban
a pleasant little village rapidly being townified
: to stamp with the characteristics of the town or city or of urban life
the long townified dress she’d put on—
Christopher Isherwood

Disclosures, for what it’s worth — I gave money to no candidates, had coffee with Brad several times, and genuinely like him, and have known Ann for many years.

It’s going to take more than a sign to make things happen; and what’s wrong with that intersection?

Deadline to Request Absentee Ballot – 27 October 2023

I voted sticker

A meaningful election is upon us in Albemarle County.

Voting is key.

From Albemarle County’s site:

“For the November 7, 2023 General Election:

Early Voting: Friday, September 22, 2023 – Saturday, November 4, 2023

Voter Registration Deadline: Monday, October 16, 2023

Same Day Registration: Tuesday, October 17, 2023 – Tuesday, November 7, 2023

Last day to request a ballot by-mail: Close of business on Friday, October 27, 2023″

(bolding by me)

Figure out where to vote here.

Each election, I have to figure out where to vote, as I voted in the same place for so many years.

I always find voting histories fascinating — here is the Mechums River Voting District history.

I’m choosing to stop looking at Mechums River, as otherwise I’ll be in the voting history rabbit hole for too long, and then I might spend a lot more time looking at who’s giving how much to whom. And marvel at how absolutely insane it is that a local school board race is going to cost about a quarter of a million dollars.

Here’s an idea: each candidate gets $25K to spend on election stuff, and the remaining $200K goes to the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank, or Meals on Wheels, or PACHEM.

Live Where you Can Walk or Ride to School (and other things)

For a period of time, she rode the bus.

Then we walked to school, and I walked back. That took too long for my work life.

So we walked, and I walked my bike and I rode home.

Then she’d ride on the downtube, and that made more time to hang out together at Crozet Mudhouse.

Then we rode to school, and rode home. Stopping at the Mudhouse at least one direction.

Those mornings and afternoons are some of our best memories together. Sure, when I drove her to school later, that was great, but we still talk about riding to school together.

Riding back from my morning ride this week, I was happily surprised to see so many kids and families riding bikes and walking to Crozet Elementary. (turns out it was national walk to school day — without little kids, I’m out of that loop)

The kids I saw were smiling, and laughing. I’d argue that the ones on bikes were demonstrably happier than those walking, and that might be my particular bias. As I rode through the Square, the slew of bikes caught my eye, so I rode around and took a picture, and wondered, “You’d think you’d see more businesses advocating for bike/ped infrastructure, providing bike racks, and encouraging such things.” (bike infrastructure can increase sales by 49% & “one parking space costs businesses $15,000 – $25,000; a bike rack costs about $150 – $500”)

For those who walked or rode to school for the second or third time — I’d ask that you make that a habit, one that allows for more time, more conversation, more being together, in a way that is better for the community, the earth, fitness, and all the things.


If nothing else, convince your kids to start the movement. Block traffic. Do what it takes. 🙂

Walking the dog on our usual route at our usual time today in the midst of all the walk to school hub bub on St. George Ave., I overheard a young boy riding by on a bike say to his mom who was ahead of him and may not have heard “This is the best moment of my life so far.”

From the FB post

I was reminded of a story I wrote on RealCentralVA in 2015

Why do you live (or want to live) where you do?

That’s a question I ask my seller clients – to help me better describe and market their homes – and one I ask my buyer clients – to help them define and understand their triangles.

A friend commented a few weeks ago that he was a bit surprised that we have chosen to stay in the same place for so long. My reasoning is simple – living where we live allows for walk- and bike- ability to almost everywhere in Crozet that we need or want to go.

More importantly, living in a walkable/bikeable location allows for this, which is important (to me):

We rode to elementary school many days out of the school year – quiet time together, teaching her independence, confidence, and that cars aren’t always the answer.

As I noted in 2011:

I ride my bike with my younger daughter frequently. In two days, she will be a second grader.

This morning we recommenced our morning ritual of riding our bikes to the Crozet Mudhouse, a pit stop on the path to Crozet Elementary.

Upon our return home, we stopped for a bit of exploration and she seized the opportunity to cut me to the quick:

“I wish I could stay 7 forever, and you could stay 35. Because today is just perfect.”

With that, she got on her bike and started by herself, a skill she mastered two days ago. And she said,

Come on Daddy!

And I followed.

Lesson of the day:

Live life every day. You don’t stay young forever. And these moments must be appreciated.

School Board & BoS Candidate Forum – 11 September 2023

Crozet Town Hall Forum

This will hopefully be interesting and informative. As ever, follow the money (at VPAP).

Crozet Town Hall Forum
Monday, September 11th, at 7:00 pm
Field School Gymnasium – 1408 Crozet Ave

  • Moderated by Dori Zook, award-winning journalist and anchor/reporter for news radio WINA
  • Q&A with County Board of Supervisors – White Hall
    District candidates:
  • Q&A with Albemarle County School Board candidates:
  • Event is open to all, but space at The Field School is limited. Overflow parking will be available across the street in the Crozet Elementary School parking lot.
  • The Forum will be filmed and recorded by the Crozet Gazette.
  • Sponsored by the Crozet Leadership Team

Continue reading “School Board & BoS Candidate Forum – 11 September 2023”

Building Infrastructure in Crozet?

Jarmans Gap in 2011

Jim’s comment: please comment with questions/thoughts/corrections/clarifications. We’re in this together.

Crozet and VDOT infrastructure thoughts, from NextDoor*

Post after post after post: Everyone blames the county for the lack of infrastructure. That is patently false. I’ve lived in Crozet for almost 20yrs, I have heard the same complaints. 20yrs later…the same complaints and misdirected ire continues.

Take a peek at the Culpeper district planning.

Do you see Crozet anywhere in that list? Just the 240/250 intersection. Other than that…nothing. Why?

1) Because the 500 people complaining on ND day in and day out are not making their voices heard by state officials.

2) Most people do not understand just how difficult it is to build out infrastructure. You want sidewalks on Park Rd? Tabor St? The state, not the county, will have to negotiate with every single landowner along those roads to obtain rights of way easements, or they will have to use eminent domain. THAT is not going to be popular among of the owners along those roads.

1) The infrastructure never comes before building. So that means the county will need to deny all building permits. That will be quickly litigated and overturned as plaintiffs will point to prior approved permits and rezoning as permissible for their particular application.

2) “We have and will continue to reach out to state officials.” I disagree that actually happens. What I see are 500 posts about county meetings, CCAC meetings etc.

Can you point me to single post along the lines of “Hey Good/Deeds is hosting a townhall, lets get 500 Crozet residents down there to discuss why VDOT won’t build proper infrastructure?”

Can you point me to a single post along the lines of “Hey VDOT is hosting a meeting lets get 500 crozet residents down there to discuss why VDOT won’t build proper infrastructure?”

I’m fairly certain you can’t. I on the other hand can point to no less than 100+ posts (on Nextdoor) about county meetings, despite the fact the county has little to no authority. This is by design, it is baked into the Virginia state constitution. Just google Dillon Rule.

As my grandfather loved to say: that dog is barking up the wrong tree.

FYI: If Crozet were to incorporate, the newly formed “City of Crozet” Would obtain that legal authority to truly regulate growth and build out infrastructure. But that would require new taxes and the City of Crozet would need to levy a hefty real estate tax and provide tax relief based on income thresholds, so the tax targets those mostly responsible for the uncontrolled growth: Those living in developments. (me: what if Crozet became a town?)

However that tax proposal would be vehemently opposed by the very same people that created the situation in first place. 😉

*Note from Jim – copy/pasted from Mark McCardell’s comments with permission, and only changes made by me were to add links, and to add a ‘ here and there.

More from me: If Crozetians really want to have an effect on growth, etc in Crozet, organize and go to Board of Supervisors meetings. CCAC is about as effective as NextDoor. Go to the BoS meetings, and go again, and again, and again, and again. And again.

Continue reading “Building Infrastructure in Crozet?”

Money, Money, Money — White Hall Supervisors Race – June 13 2023

Bicycle tracks through new construction red dirt; if only we would prioritize moving humans rather than cars

I’m always curious as to who’s giving what to whom. And we can thank VPAP for tracking the money for us (if you can, donate to VPAP if you can; I give a little bit every year).

No analysis to offer here, other than to check out the candidates, and be sure to vote.

Ann Mallek’s site is here.

Brad Rykal’s site is here.

It might be just me, but the 2023 White Hall Board of Supervisors election feels somewhat consequential; we’ll see.

White Hall School Board Race – Joann McDermid

Birds, sunrise over mountains in Crozet

Hawes Spencer at the Daily Progress has a great story this morning about the newest School Board Candidate, Joann McDermid. Make sure to read the whole thing.

There’s a new Albemarle County School Board candidate pushing for academic achievement. Joann McDermid burst onto the scene Wednesday morning with complaints about student performance in her White Hall District.

“I feel a real sense of urgency about this situation,” she said to the crowd of eight gathered at her campaign launch on the steps of the Albemarle County Office Building. “The objective data underscores widespread problems.”

McDermid announced that she would convene a pair of casual community meetings over complimentary coffee next Wednesday. One is slated for 10 a.m. at Piedmont Store in White Hall, and the other is set for 1 p.m. at Grit Coffee on Old Trail Drive in Crozet.

See who’s donating what and to whom at VPAP. Keep in mind that there are two candidates for the at-large school board seat as well. Good story from the Crozet Gazette on candidate Meg Bryce.

Local elections matter more than ever.

Keeping White Hall Supervisor Donations Local

Beaver Creek Reservoir in the morning during crew practice

I’ll post any press release from any candidate for the White Hall Supervisors race.

One of the best tools available for getting insight into local races – School Board, Board of Supervisors, and more, is The Virginia Public Access Project.

Looking forward to the VPAP Campaign Finance update.*

An interesting press release from Brad Rykal, candidate for White Hall Board of Supervisors:

CROZET, VA — Brad Rykal, a Crozet resident and independent candidate for White Hall Supervisor, has declared he will not accept campaign donations from developers or other special interest groups.

“A lot of money came in from developers and special interest groups in the last election. Let’s face it, politicians who accept money from outside interests often end up doing their bidding rather than representing the people who elected them,” Rykal said. “I’m not going to be anyone’s pawn. I’m here to serve White Hall, not the highest bidder.”

Rykal believes that special interests have an outsized influence on local politics, often deploying lobbyists and other covert influence tactics to steer policies in their favor. “I encourage public-private partnerships in local government, but we need to be mindful of whose interests we’re serving,” he said.

To increase transparency in local government, Rykal is calling on all candidates for local office to refuse donations from special interest groups. “Let’s put the ‘public’ back in ‘public service’,” he quipped.

Rykal also hopes that by refusing to accept special interest money, he can help amplify the voices of White Hall residents. “We’ve all had enough of the same old song and dance,” he said. “Let’s turn up the volume on what really matters: good governance and putting people first.”

Since announcing his candidacy, Rykal has been connecting with White Hall residents and small business owners. He’s been on a “listening tour” to understand their needs and find ways to improve County services. The campaign is now organizing casual front yard gatherings for small groups of neighbors to informally meet and chat. If you’re interested in hosting a gathering for your community, contact the campaign through their website at or call 1-866-BRAD4WH. Let’s work together to build a better White Hall!

Many years ago, I was the Chair of the local Realtors’ Realtor Political Action Committee (RPAC). (I have long since stopped participating and donating to them).

I was young and naive, and I questioned why we were giving money to both sides of a race. The answer from an older, wisened person was simple, “If they do, we have to.”

I hate that part of politics, and it’s refreshing to see this attempt at transparency and forgoing of money in politics.

Did you know that in 2023 donors in Albemarle County have given nearly $4 million political candidates? And donors in Charlottesville have given nearly $500K? Always interesting.

Continue reading “Keeping White Hall Supervisor Donations Local”

Transportation and the Albemarle Board meeting – 5 April 2023

pedestrian walk sign knocked down by truck

Thanks to Charlottesville Community Engagement for reminding me about this week’s Albemarle County Board of Supervisors meeting.

I haven’t done a deep dive into the agenda, which you can find here, but have gone through and pulled out relevant-to-Crozet items.

pedestrian walk sign being repaired
pedestrian walk sign being repaired

From the 5 April agenda

  • Looks like they are intending to pave some gravel roads.
  • From the April Transportation Planning Quarterly Report
    • #82 I-64/Exit 107 Crozet Park and Ride Lot: This project will construct a park and ride lot at the corner of Patterson Mill Lane and US 250 just south of the I-64 interchange. This lot could potentially be served by both the Crozet Connect and the proposed Afton Express transit lines.
    • VDOT will post a willingness to do a public hearing in Summer 2023, and construction is expected in summer 2025. (Smart)
    • In Design
      • N/A. Library Avenue Extension/Crozet Square/Barnes Lumber Redevelopment – These projects are expected to be complete in summer 2024. Facilities Planning & Construction will provide further updates in their April 2023 quarterly report. (RS)
    • In Construction
      • N/A. US 250 West Pedestrian Improvements: This project will construct segments of sidewalk along US 250 West in Crozet from Cory Farms Drive to Clover Lawn Lane and include a new pedestrian crosswalk and pedestrian crossing beacon near Clover Lawn Lane. This project was substantially complete as of late 2022. This project is being administered by Facilities Planning & Construction; please see their April 2023 quarterly report for project updates. (RS)
    • Reported Transportation Issues
      • Requests for crosswalks: Intersection of Old Trail and Bishop Gate, …
      • Speeding concerns: Park Road …
      • Safety concerns: Southern Parkway, intersection of 250/240/680, Monacan Trail
      • Updates to parking signage requested: … , Grayrock Orchard

A few more updates

The Tweet is here.