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:

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.

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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)

Crozet’s Transportation Future – 2021 Edition

And the planning continues.

Lots of comments at the public info site.

All I’ll say is this:

Via email

Review Crozet Master Plan 

Draft Transportation Recommendations

Since September 2019, Albemarle County has been exploring alongside the Crozet community how to best reflect the community’s vision for future development in the latest update to the Crozet Master Plan. This month, we’ve focused on sharing the draft transportation recommendations that have been developed based on feedback gathered over the past 15 months.

The draft guiding principle for the Transportation chapter is to “create a multimodal transportation network that is safe and accessible for all community members, regardless of age, race, income and ability.” 

We invite you to share your feedback with our project team. Community feedback will be shared with the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors as part of the review process. The Board of Supervisors will provide final direction and approval on the Crozet Master Plan.

Click the buttons below to read the draft or share feedback. 

The questionnaire will be open from February 2nd – February 19th, 2021.

You may also submit your comments directly to Rachel Falkenstein, Planning Manager [email protected]
View a Presentation on the RecommendationsShare Your Feedback
Join Us For Our Next Topic: Parks & Trails

Crozet Community Advisory Committee Virtual Meeting – Wednesday, February 10th
Continue reading “Crozet’s Transportation Future – 2021 Edition”

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.

Cell Tower in Greenwood?

There’s a meeting today.

And if you’re not subscribing to Sean’s content, you really should be. *

We need cell and internet infrastructure. Simple.

There are two meetings in Albemarle County today where a special use permit for a cell phone tower in Greenwood will be discussed. The Historic Preservation Committee will get a briefing on Verizon’s application for a 94-foot-tall monopole to be built near 7418 Greenwood Station Road.

“Verizon has determined that the area surrounding this proposed site needs expanded coverage to better service the nearby residences, businesses, and traffic along the I-64 Interstate,” reads the staff report for the permit application, which carries the name Scruby Property Verizon Wireless. “Therefore, this site is intended to provide infill coverage while also adding additional network capacity by offloading traffic from the company’s nearest existing sites in all directions.”

The application requires a special use permit because of the height. The property is within an entrance corridor which requires review by the Architectural Review Board. The Historic Preservation Committee is receiving the information because the land is within the Greenwood-Afton Rural Historic District. For nearly twenty years, Albemarle has had a policy that discourages towers. 

“The most important principle for siting personal wireless service facilities in Albemarle County is visibility,” reads a December 2000 report from Kreines and Kreines Inc. that helped shape the county’s ordinance. “Albemarle County should require that sufficient information be submitted with the application to enable the County to measure the visibility of a facility.”

With the pandemic shutting down in-person schools, some have argued the county needs to update its rules. This application has attracted a lot of attention and community members will be able to learn more at the community meeting required as part of the application process. That begins at 6:30 p.m. (meeting info)

In October, staff wrote to the applicant and said they could not recommend approval following a test where a balloon is raised at the site to simulate the tower’s presence.

“The visibility presented at the balloon test is not consistent with the Comprehensive Plan, the County’s Wireless Policy, or the Zoning Ordinance,” wrote Christoper Perez in an October 16 letter to the applicant’s representatives. The applicants disagree. 

“Objective 10 of the Community Facilities Chapter 12 of the Comprehensive Plan is to support the provision of private utilities, including wireless service when its provision is in keeping with other aspects of the Comprehensive Plan,” reads the current narrative

If you want to help me with RealCrozetVA, whether writing or redesigning, I’ll gladly gift you a year subscription to Sean’s newsletter.

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.

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?

  • 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?

@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”