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.“
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
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.
If you have other links, tools, tips about how to get involved or research, please share!
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.
Bev emailed me asking if I’d do a story about this Master Gardener event series, “In this time of COVID, many have turned to gardening as one of the ways to enjoy the outdoors, reduce stress and reap concrete rewards for the work.”
She obliged my request for her to write one I could publish. 🙂
by Bev Thierwechter
Every year, the Piedmont Master Gardeners Association, in partnership with Virginia Cooperative Extension, train a new group of people interested in learning how to become an Extension Master Gardener volunteer educator.
Avid gardeners who wish to enhance their skills and share their knowledge as community educators are invited to attend one of three online orientation sessions on how to become an Extension Master Gardener volunteer. The virtual sessions will be on Thursday evenings from 6 to 7 p.m. on October 8, October 15 and October 22. To register and receive a Zoom link to one of the sessions, contact [email protected] or call 540-727-3435. More information is available here.
The three sessions will be hosted by Rapidan River Extension for residents of Charlottesville and Albemarle, Greene, Madison, Orange, Culpeper and Fluvanna Counties. They will provide an orientation for next year’s Extension Master Gardener Training Class for these localities, to be held online on Thursday evenings from January 21 to April 29, 2021, as well as outdoors on four Saturday mornings, February 20, March 6, April 17 and May 8.
Applications for the 2021 Training Class are being accepted through November 1. More information and application forms are available here.
Part of Virginia Cooperative Extension (VCE), the Extension Master Gardener program comprises volunteer educators who help their communities adopt science-based and environmentally sound horticultural practices. In the Charlottesville-Albemarle area, the Piedmont Master Gardeners provide some 12,000 hours of volunteer service each year and are engaged in more than 20 ongoing outreach projects.
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.
(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:
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.
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.
Vote Early In-Person Starting this Friday, September 18
Beginning this Friday, September 18th through Saturday, October 31st, registered voters can vote early in-person in Conference Room A at the 5th Street County Office Building on 1600 5th Street.
Voting early in-person is a nearly identical experience to voting at your polling place on Election Day – you’re just opting to cast your vote early! Dates and times for early in-person voting are as follows: Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 8:30 am to 5 pm Tuesdays from 7 am to 5 pm Thursdays from 8:30 am to 7 pm Saturday, October 24 from 9 am to 5 pm Saturday, October 31 from 9 am to 5 pm
Think ahead and #makeaplan to vote in the upcoming 2020 November General Election.
The deadline to register to vote/update your voter registration information is Tuesday,October 13, 2020.
To register online, you must: Have a valid Virginia DMV driver’s license or state ID card Be a citizen of the United States Be a resident of Virginia Be 18 years old on or before the next general election (if you are 17, you can still register and vote in elections if you will be 18 on or before the next general election) Not be convicted of a felony or judged mentally incapacitated, unless right to vote has been restored
Ways to Vote There are three options to cast your vote in the upcoming November 2020 General Election.
Applications must be submitted by October 23, 2020. Mail-in ballots must be mailed in to the Voter Registration Office or personally delivered to the Voter Registration Office by November 3. However, we recommend sending them in as soon as possible.
Early In-Person Starting Friday, September 18 through Saturday, October 31, registered voters can vote early in-person in Conference Room A at the 5th Street County Office Building at 1600 5th St. Voters will present acceptable ID, get checked in on the electronic pollbooks, be handed a ballot, and directed to a ballot marking booth; the voter will mark the ballot, and then insert it into a DS200 ballot scanning machine. Curbside voting will also be available. Hours for early in-person voting are: Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 8:30 am to 5 pm Tuesdays from 7 am to 5 pm Thursdays from 8:30 am to 7 pm Saturday, October 24 from 9 am to 5 pm Saturday, October 31 from 9 am to 5 pm
At your Polling Place on Election Day All 30 Albemarle County voting precinct polling places will be open on election day, November 3, 2020, from 6 am to 7 pm. Enhanced cleaning and distancing protocols will be in effect to keep voters safe. To find your polling place, visit https://www.elections.virginia.gov/citizen-portal/
Important Deadlines Register to Vote: Tuesday, October 13, 2020 Request Mail-In Ballot: Tuesday, October 23, 2020 Return Mail-In Ballot: Tuesday, November 3, 2020 at 7 pm
Voter Registration Office Information
Early In-Person Voting Conference Room A County Office Building at 1600 5th Street Charlottesville, VA 22902 (1/2 mile south of I-64 on 5th Street Extended) Dates and Times: September 18 – October 31 Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 8:30 am to 5 pm Tuesdays from 7 am to 5 pm Thursdays from 8:30 am to 7 pm Saturday, October 24 from 9 am to 5 pm Saturday, October 31 from 9 am to 5 pm
Send Ballot by Mail Use pre-addressed envelope sent with your mail-in ballot -OR- Elections 435 Merchant Walk Square, Suite 300 PMB 160 Charlottesville, VA 22902
Mail Ballot Drop-Off Drop Box at the parking circle of the 5th Street County Office Building, 1600 5th St., Charlottesville, VA 2290
The Albemarle County Electoral Board encourages citizens to vote early in person or via mail so as to avoid long lines.
Highly encourage voters to wear mask; state says they can’t force people to, but will do everything they can to encourage people to wear them. Me: Wear a damn mask.
Jennie – if someone requested a mail in ballot, could someone still vote in person early, or once you make the request, is that the way you should vote?
A: Fill it out, bring it to the County Office Building
Or if you want to put it into the machine yourself, you can do that
Dropboxes: we have never before had a legal way to do this. Last week, State passed a law allowing drop off stations, but we decided that’s not a good idea. They will have dropbox outside County Office buidling on 5th Street. May have drop off centers in the two weeks prior to election
Q: when will the mail in ballots be mailed?
A: by September 18, and hopefully Kanye West doesn’t win his appeal so we have to re-print the ballots. Me: #headdesk
Heilman: we don’t think there will be a problem with the mail. But don’t wait until the last day to mail.
Any ballot postmarked November 3, and received by 6 November will be counted.
Two ways to track your ballot. Ballot Scout will track your ballot.
Reminder that they’ve added a precinct, the Mechums River District.
Five locations to vote: Crozet, Brownsville, Western Albemarle High School, Broadus Wood, Free Union Country Day School
This material is made possible by supporters of Charlottesville Community Engagement, a service of Sean Tubbs and his new media venture. Thanks to subscribers, Sean was able to spend some time putting together this summary. It will also available on the CCE website along with a podcast version.
All across the country, advocates of affordable housing have been combing through zoning codes to find ways to increase the number of homes in urban areas.
One idea is to increase the number of duplexes, town-homes, triplexes and other types of housing that allow for more people to live in an area. Many zoning codes across America prohibit these so-called “missing middle” homes.
“They’re called missing because these aren’t being built very often right now,” said Rachel Falkenstein, a senior planner with the county. “Often times we see both ends of the spectrum but you don’t see the middle housing types being built, primarily because these are prohibited by a lot of local zoning ordinances.”
The conversation about middle-missing housing has come to Albemarle as review of the Crozet Master Plan continues. On September 1, 2020, the Albemarle Planning Commission held a work session on the Future Land Use Map for Crozet, one of the county’s seven designated growth areas. (staff report for the meeting)
County staff are recommending new land use categories to the future land use map for Crozet, including the downtown area.
“We first want to check in about two new land use tools we’re exploring with this master plan that we have not used before so we wanted to get the Commission’s buy-in first,” said principal planner Andrew Knuppel.