Mural on English Meadows (Mountainside)

May 20 2021

I’d not seen the March story in the Crozet Gazette, so was happily surprised to the see the emergence of a mural on English Meadows (I prefer the alliteration of Mural on Mountainside, but oh well. It’s still very cool.


Continue reading “Mural on English Meadows (Mountainside)”

Making 810 a Byway?

An interesting nugget in this week’s Charlottesville Community Engagement “Week Ahead” email (a weekly must-read):

There’s a request to set a future public hearing to designate Route 240 and Route 810 in western Albemarle as a Virginia By-Way (staff report)

From Albemarle County’s letter, in part:

This route was recommended by DCR’s 2013 Virginia Outdoors Plan as a potential Virginia Byway. The interest is to collaborate with Greene County to designate Rt 240/Rt 810 as a Virginia Byway from Crozet to Stanardsville in Greene County. This designation would connect other Virginia Byways in Albemarle County: Rt 250 Rockfish Gap Turnpike and Rt 676 Garth Rd. The US Bike Route 76 also travels on Rt 810 White Hall Rd from Garth Rd south to Buck Rd in Crozet.

The proposed segment of Rt 240 (Crozet Ave) passes through the downtown Crozet Historic District, changes to Rt 810 (White Hall Rd) passing scenic farmlands, vineyards, and orchards while it becomes Brown’s Gap Turnpike passing bed and breakfasts, artisan studios and artisanal farms where it changes names once more at Dolye’s River bridge to become Blackwells Hollow Rd heading northwest along the mountain foothills into Greene County. The entire proposed corridor is approximately 30 miles between Rt 250 in Western Albemarle and Rt 33 in Greene County.

Sounds like a nice place to live. And ride a bicycle.

Spring 2021 Crozet Arts and Crafts Festival

This should be a great weekend; 68º – 78º.

The new logo is nice, too.

For goodness sake, please walk or ride a bicycle to the Festival.

CROZET, VA Over 115 Artists and Exhibitors are coming back to Crozet Park for the 41st Annual Crozet Arts and Crafts Festival! Recognized as one of the region’s leading fine arts and craft shows, the Crozet Arts & Craft Festival will be held rain or shine Saturday and Sunday, May 8th and 9th from 10 am to 5:30 pm on Saturday and 10 am to 5:00 pm on Sunday. 

Safety is a priority for this socially-distanced, outdoor event. The Festival will implement COVID safety protocols, such as social distancing markers and a mask requirement for all attending. The outdoor festival grounds and parking areas at Crozet Park allow for artists and patrons plenty of room for social distancing. 

Artists: Top artists from across the country vied to be a part of the 41st bi-annual Crozet Art & Craft Festival on Mother’s Day weekend. From a large pool of creative candidates, a panel of talented and professional artist jurors chose the best in each arts category. Many new artists will join the seasoned and returning favorites of the past.

This year’s exhibitors will bring to Crozet an array of stunning jewelry, trendsetting apparel and leather, magnificent artwork, photography and exceptionally crafted glass, ceramics, sculpture, and more. Festival guests will find something for almost every taste and pocketbook, ranging from affordable gift giving to heirloom investments.

Music: The festival’s fine arts and crafts will be complemented by a variety of types and styles of popular local musicians playing throughout the days. Jim Gagnon and Kai Crowe-Getty are performing on Saturday and The Sweet Potatoes and Koda and Marie from Chamomile and Whiskey are performing on Sunday.  

Food & Beer: An appetizing selection of Food Trucks will be complemented by beer from Starr-Hill Brewery and Three Roads Brewing Company and wine from Stinson Vineyards and Kings Family Vineyards.  

Kids’ Area:The children’s area includes beloved musical guests Kim and Jimbo Cary, The Creative Wagon, Ninos and Nature, and more!  

Raffle: Win amazing prizes from Cville Picnic, The Looking Glass, and many Artists who will be at the event.  #CrozetLOVE: A new LOVE sign has been installed at Crozet Park just in time for the festival. Designed by local artist Chicho Lorenzo. #CrozetLOVE is part of the LOVEworks campaign and is made possible by a grant from Virginia is for Lovers and the Virginia Tourism Corporation.

Crozet Park treats exhibitors and guests to a most relaxing, accessible setting. Located just off the Route 64 bypass, take exit #107 west of Charlottesville by 20 minutes, Crozet Park is a beautiful, community-owned non-profit park that is the beneficiary of these Art Festival Events.

Volunteering for Crozet Park Art & Craft Festival is easy and fun with sign ups (here):

 Tickets are $7 and children under 12 are free. Everyone is encouraged to purchase their ticket online this year ahead of time to help with Covid safety. Tickets are available (here).
Parking is free. 

For more information please visit

Ewa Harr is the current director of the event.

Petition to Create Bike Lane Through Albemarle County

This would be fantastic.

via email

Many of you know that I’ve been working towards a trail here in Albemarle that is similar to the Virginia Capital Trail. 

We’re calling it the Three Notched Trail and it would be a 25 mile long, car-free path from Charlottesville to the Blue Ridge Tunnel.  


There is currently funding available from VDOT for a feasibility study and we need to convince the Board of Supervisors to accept this offer.  Please consider signing the petition to show your support. 


Petition link and more details are here.

Text of the petition is below.


Continue reading “Petition to Create Bike Lane Through Albemarle County”

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

A Clarifying Discussion on the CCAC’s Role

Thanks to Sean for his newsletter, as always, and for making and taking the time to put it and the podcast out every day.

For those paying attention to the Crozet Community Advisory Council, the most recent Albemarle County Board of Supervisors’ meeting was clarifying as to the role of the CCAC. Copy and pasting below, bolding is mine. Read the whole thing. The CCAC provides an invaluable role and service to the community, but their votes are not deciders; those are done by the Planning Commission and ultimately the Board of Supervisors.

One of the new aspects of the plan is the creation of a new category in the Comprehensive Plan of “middle density residential” which would allow for more units closer to downtown in duplexes, bungalow courts, and other places to live with smaller footprints. Rachel Falkenstein is a planning manager with the county.

“The community wanted smaller housing types and not large apartments and we thought that there could be a new land use category that could accommodate those smaller housing types and have the appropriate density applied,” Falkenstein said. 

Falkenstein noted that the Crozet Community Advisory Committee took non-binding votes in November 2020 on staff’s proposed changes. 

“They voted against the majority of the proposed changes,” Falkenstein said. 

That included the middle residential density category. The Planning Commission, however, supported the idea but asked for the density to be reduced. The current draft was released in early March. Tori Kanellopoulos is another Albemarle planner.  (read the draft

McKeel was also concerned that the Crozet CAC took votes. County regulations do allow them, but McKeel said she didn’t think they had been.

‘I have been operating under the understanding and telling my CAC that they are providing input, advisory in nature, and we really are not supposed to be voting on issues,” McKeel said.    

Supervisor Ned Gallaway of the Rio District said he was also concerned about the appearance that the CAC’s votes are binding. He was particularly concerned that the account of the March 10 CAC meeting states that one member said the middle density issue had been decided.

“That third bullet point says ‘comment that MDR concept is already voted on and decided,’” Gallaway said. “The ‘and decided’ is what.. What is that? I get that they’re going to take votes but it’s always advisory… Just because you vote a certain way doesn’t mean staff will be required to follow.

Gallaway said the conversation about affordable housing in Crozet is also happening in other development area where existing residents ask for moratoriums on any more new homes. 

“What do we do with growth? What do we with density? And what do we with the infrastructure that’s currently in place whether it supports it, or doesn’t support it?” Gallaway asked. “We’ve seen it play out 250 East with a recent application. It was the conversation around Parkway Place. It’s going to be the conversation about projects that come to us up 29 north.”

Cheers for Charity – Crozet Trails Crew + Starr Hill

The Crozet Trails Crew has been nominated again this year as The Starr Hill Cheers for Charity group for the month of April.  The Crew will receive a $1 for every pint of LOVE beer sold during that time.  Please come out and support the trails and enjoy some delicious LOVE beer.  A definite Win/Win for everyone!  Hope to see you on the Trails and at Starr Hill.  If you can’t make it to the taproom, you can also contribute to our fund through PayPal. 

Information is available on our website:  crozettrailscrew.org.

Petition to Build Western Park

via email:

WESTERN PARK AT OLD TRAIL

We, the undersigned, express our support for the construction of the Western Park located in Crozet, Virginia, and the action to be taken by the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors to authorize the release of Proffered Funds and leverage additional funds to launch the Western Park project.

Albemarle County Parks and Recreation Staff have recently recommended a multi-phased approach to the development of Western Park. An initial step, described as Phase 1-ASAP would provide playground equipment and landscape/site improvements. Additional work to further develop Park facilities would occur as funds are available.

My note: this is not an Old Trail park; this will be an Albemarle County park. And a reminder: Being a citizen takes time, effort, and sacrifice. These things take time.

Learn more and sign the petition here.


Background

Crozet Park Plans Deferred

Thanks to Alison Wrabel at the Daily Progress (read the whole thing).

An expansion proposed for Claudius Crozet Park has been paused.

On Tuesday, the Albemarle County Planning Commission accepted a deferral of the proposal, after expressing a number of concerns about an amendment of a special-use permit for the park that would’ve allowed for its expansion.

The plan would add a two-story, 34,200-square-foot recreation building, which would include exercise areas, sports courts, community meeting spaces and a pool expansion. A second phase of the project would include an indoor pool facility that would be connected to the fitness building and adjacent to the existing pool deck.

Commissioner Karen Firehock said she did not support adding a facility of the size and scale proposed to what is a neighborhood green space.

Featured image also courtesy of the DP

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.