I. Crozet Community Guide

A. The Crozet Master Plan

Albemarle County has committed itself to preserving the scenic beauty, agricultural heritage and socio-economic health of its rural and urban areas.  For more than 30 years, land use policy decisions have sustained that effort at critical moments.  The identification of Rural Areas and areas designated as repositories for growth preceded the adoption of the Neighborhood Model in 2001, an amendment to the 1996 Comprehensive Plan.  The Neighborhood Model emerged from the work of the Development Areas Initiatives Steering Committee (DISC) over a period of four years. The DISC report acknowledged that existing growth patterns were endangering the county’s natural resources and under-utilizing its developable land.  It also recognized that a more efficient utilization of the Development Areas could only be achieved through a new, more “urban” form of development.  By formally adopting the Neighborhood Model as part of the Comprehensive Plan, the County made a strong commitment to creating more livable urban neighborhoods which will attract residents through a combination of pedestrian-friendly streets and inter-connections, appropriate infrastructure and public amenities, and convenient, supporting neighborhood scale commercial development.  This new form has identifiable centers and edges, and promotes walkability in its scale and organization.  The adopted Neighborhood Model describes the new form in its Twelve Principles, and it further outlines a master plan process which defines and guides future development in all of the designated development areas.

 

Crozet was selected for the first Master Plan by the Board of Supervisors in October 2001, based on the community’s strong interest and high level of development activity.  Since the commencement of the planning process in March 2002, residents have joined county planning staff and project consultants in nearly a dozen public events and several dozen Small Task Group working sessions.  The development community has also participated in the public events, and worked cooperatively with the consultants on design issues.  Early in the process, community input coalesced into a series of Guiding Principles which reflect, to a large degree, the Twelve Principles of the Neighborhood Model.  These principles served as a consistent reference for the consulting team, county staff, developers, and residents during the ebbs and flows of what became an intensive, very public year-long process. 

 

The tangible result of this public process is the Crozet Master Plan, adopted as part of the Albemarle County Comprehensive Plan and intended as a general guide for future development and systematic change in the Community of Crozet.  The Comprehensive Plan is advisory in nature and, with its accompanying maps, charts and other supplementary information, it sets forth the County’s long-range recommendations for the development of land within its jurisdiction.   The Comprehensive Plan also serves as a guide for the development and implementation of the Zoning Ordinance.  Development guidelines contained in the maps, charts and other supplementary materials in the Comprehensive Plan are intended as targets rather than specific requirements, consistent with the advisory nature of the document.

 

The Crozet Master Plan is illustrated graphically by two maps supported by a series of tables, drawings, and guidelines.   The maps are: 

 

Place Type and Site Development Guidelines Map -   This is the land use map, showing recommended designations in the form of transect types ranging from the Urban Core to the Development Area Preserve, organized around a hierarchy of Downtown, Neighborhood and Hamlet.  A corresponding set of Site Development Guidelines further describes the land use designations.  It also illustrates proposed infrastructure such as roads (by type), trails and community facilities.  The Place Type Map is found on page ___ .

 

Green Infrastructure Map – This map depicts the open space and preservation area system throughout the community, showing streams and lakes, floodplains, slopes, and proposed improvements such as parks and natural areas, neighborhoods and centers, roads and community facilities.  A corresponding set of guidelines further describes green infrastructure recommendations.  The Green Infrastructure Map is found on pages __ and __; the map on page__ further describes parks and open space types and functions.

 

The tables and drawings provide additional detail on design elements such as thoroughfares (roads), open space, block and lot type and examples of Hamlets, Neighborhoods and Downtown development and redevelopment. 

 

This document accompanies and complements the Master Plan maps and drawings referenced above.  It describes the process used to formulate the Master Plan’s implementation strategies, identifies key steps that the partners in Crozet’s development as a community must take, and includes the graphic and technical products required to achieve the desired physical characteristics of Crozet twenty years out.  Sections I, II, and III are intended to replace the current Community of Crozet Profile in the Comprehensive Plan, Land Use Plan.  Section I sets the context and summarizes the Plan’s major findings, recommendations and implementation strategies. Section II, Strategies for Development, further articulates the fiscal and regulatory policies by which this vision for Crozet can be realized.  Section III, Process and Form of Development, provides planning and process tools required to physically apply this vision to Crozet.  Although this condensed version of all three sections has been adopted as part of the Comprehensive Plan, Land Use Plan, it is envisioned that the Master Plan in its entirety will serve as a reference and source of additional guidance for the Community’s on-going development.

B. Master Plan vs. By-Right Development: Why a Master Plan

Through its implementation strategies, the Master Plan provides opportunities for the community to support and realize a quality of life envisioned by the “Guiding Principles” developed early in this planning process.  Conversely, “by-right development” of the growth area under existing zoning could yield significantly negative and disconnected patterns of development, affording virtually none of the benefits envisioned by the County’s Neighborhood Model.  Additionally, by-right development in certain critical locations throughout the Community may make it impossible to fully implement the Master Plan.  Compact, pedestrian-oriented, mixed-use development that is environmentally sensitive is central to the Neighborhood Model approach as are the corresponding benefits of rural area preservation afforded by the concentration of growth within designated Development Areas, including Crozet.

 

C. Public Process

Public involvement in the creation of the Master Plan was a central organizing element.  Plan activities targeted resident stakeholders, county agencies and departments, the development community, and elected/appointed officials.  From the beginning of the planning process, the county maintained an ongoing Crozet Master Plan e-news group with over 300 active subscribers.  The e-news group was used on a regular basis (average of three emails monthly) to communicate meeting information and general information about the progress of the plan, including links to relevant website materials.  The Master Plan website was used for regular information posting and updating, and during 2002 and 2003 registered approximately 20,000 hits annually.

 

The planning process included a two-part Planning Academy (January ’02), Master Plan kick-off session (March ’02), Developers Open House (October ’02), six community meetings (May ‘02 through April ’03), Board of Supervisors/Planning Commission work sessions (December ’02; January and April, 03), and a final presentation to the Board of Supervisors/Planning Commission in July ’03.  Attendance for the community meetings ranged from 200 people at the Master Plan kick-off to approximately 15 at the individual Small Task Group meetings.  There were seven Small Task Groups, which met approximately six times each.  To publicize community meetings, flyers were distributed, e-news was sent, information was placed in the local media outlets (including paid advertisements in the newspaper), a banner was hung in Crozet, and publicity items were distributed to schools and neighborhood associations.  Critical materials generated during the process were posted online and displayed at the Crozet Library, the Post Office, and the County Office Building among other locations. 

 

 Participation was extensive and influential throughout the development of the Master Plan. Goals were to:

 

·         Maximize participation and consensus opportunities.  It was important that all stakeholders were represented in the process. Diverse opinions were presented and heard.

·         Link well with the deliverables of the Technical Consultant.  Public participation was tied into the planning process and products.

 

In maximizing participation, various processes were employed based upon the targeted outcome, time available for the participation, and number of people involved.  The complete Community Process Documentation can be found in the appendix to the July 9, 2003 final report.

D. Preliminary Findings and Recommendations

History

The community of Crozet began as whistle stop on the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad in 1876 that was established at the request of the Miller Manual Labor School (the Miller School), which had been founded a year earlier.   It was named for Colonel B. Claudius Crozet (1789-1864), a French born civil engineer and artillery officer under Napoleon who is best remembered as the chief engineer for the seventeen mile long railroad tunnel through the Blue Ridge Mountains.  Since its inception, it has functioned as a distinct settlement with a unique history of agriculture, small business enterprises, and a dynamic civic spirit.  Crozet in particular was known for its fruit industry, and in the 1930’s it lead the state in the production of Albemarle Pippin and Winesap apples.  It also was known as the Peach Capital of Virginia.  With the arrival of Acme Visible Records and Morton Foods (ConAgra) in the 1950’s, year-round employment was available to balance the area’s seasonal economy.  The Master Plan draws on these unique traits in the creation of a place that is distinctly ‘Crozet’:

 

·         The east/west organization of downtown Crozet exists in conjunction with the early railroad alignment and the position of Route 240 along a ridge line.  The emergence of Route 250 adds to the east/west arrangement, and the two major routes frame the Lickinghole Creek watershed and the Crozet Development Area.

·         The role of the landscape has always been important within the community, first as a working agrarian setting and more recently in the community’s concern for the beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains and various view sheds.

·         The downtown area has been a vital part of the community since its inception.

·         Residential growth has begun to sprawl out from the downtown center following the patterns produced under by-right zoning.

·         Traffic concerns have emerged with the growth that has already taken place, and the existing topographic and land-holding configuration represent important challenges that the Master Plan has addressed.

Basic Assumptions

Implementation strategies for the Master Plan are based on several assumptions.  These assumptions emerge from the pattern of development in the Master Plan itself and the County’s Neighborhood Model. “Service Planning” standards form the analytical basis for evaluating needs within the community.  In most cases, this analysis ties directly to population, which is projected to reach 11,200 – 12,000 in a twenty year build-out.  This build-out number compares with the current population of 3,000 within the Crozet Development Area, and to a by-right population build-out under current zoning of 12,500.

Guiding Principles

Guiding Principles were developed by the community early in the planning process, and they were consistently referenced throughout the building of the Plan.  These principles represent the fundamental aspirations of residents for their own community.  They serve as the basis for both the physical and policy aspects of the plan.  The principles follow:

 

 1.    The physical design of Crozet is built upon distinct neighborhoods, a historic downtown area and other smaller centers, which are appropriate in scale and type to the community’s planned growth patterns.

 2.    Linking us both within the community and to our neighbors, Crozet values multiple transportation options and infrastructure to support ease of access throughout the community.  Of particular note, the community promotes pedestrian and bicycle options for alternative transportation choices.

 3.    Offering diversity, affordability, and choice in its housing stock, Crozet attracts people from many social and economic experiences.

 4.    Crozet values the contributions of locally grown business in providing both jobs and enhanced quality of life for residents.

 5.    Through a variety of cultivation, recreation, and conservation efforts, Crozet values its natural resource assets.

 6.    Our families and our individual and shared histories provide the foundation for our identity.  Crozet is a place that encourages a sense of community in its diverse activities, institutions, and interests.

 7.    Crozet actively supports its many community facilities and the role they play in the lives of its citizens and believes that these facilities must accommodate the changing needs of the community as it grows over time.

Major Findings and Recommendations

The following list highlights the findings and recommendations for Crozet.  Additional detail can be found for all of these recommendations elsewhere in this report.

 

 1.    Roads: Two major north/south connector roads will be required as baseline infrastructure development.  A new Main Street is needed south of the CSX tracks to provide an additional interconnection throughout the community and to downtown.  Main Street is intended to provide an east/west orientation.

 2.    Greenways: A greenways-trails network should serve as an armature for both the preservation of natural riparian resources and pedestrian movement within the Crozet Development Area.

 3.    Centers: Individual centers within the Crozet Development Area will serve as the foundation for walkable neighborhoods supporting both residential uses and local economic activity.

 4.    Downtown: The largest and most important of these centers will be the Downtown area. 

 5.    Development Phasing: Development in the immediate future should focus on the redevelopment and invigoration of the downtown area.

 6.    Design Guidelines: Design guidelines outlined in the Neighborhood Model are “calibrated” to fit the specific conditions of Crozet, and they provide the tools that will guide the form of development.

 7.    Place Making: The creation of a strong place identity within the Crozet area requires attention, initiative, coordination and collaboration between local government, the business/development community and residents.

 8.    Development Review Process: New strategies for implementing the Master Plan (based on the Neighborhood Model) may be needed to counter the option of doing strictly by-right development. These strategies, if adopted, should identify both short and long term solutions.

 9.    Local Businesses and Community Economic Development: County staff and officials must engage in public/private partnerships with local businesses to realize the development of Crozet as more than a ‘bedroom community’ to the City of Charlottesville.  Jobs that keep residents of Crozet working in Crozet will be key to revitalizing downtown and mitigating a deteriorating traffic condition on Routes 240 and 250.

 10.  Affordable Housing: County staff and officials should support the development of a comprehensive Affordable Housing Ordinance to support a broad demographic mixture within the Development Areas.

 11.  Adjacent Rural Areas: A strong Rural Areas policy should be put in place to assist in focusing growth within the Development Areas and to help in mitigating cumulative impacts of additional traffic on Routes 240 and 250.  This policy will also be important to maintaining a clear boundary between Development and Rural Areas.

 

E. Context

This Profile, based upon the July 9,2003 Master Plan report, is intended to build upon the Crozet community’s identity, which embodies a collection of unique places that vary in character and intensity of development across a spectrum ranging from small, almost rural hamlets to more urban neighborhoods and downtown. 

 

The three sections of this Community Profile describe the physical, social, economic, and political conditions necessary for these places to exist and thrive, as well as the actions and strategies that will be required for design and implementation of the Plan’s recommendations.

Three Geographic Sectors: Recommendations

For purposes of the Master Plan, the Community of Crozet is considered as three geographic sectors in which future development and redevelopment projects are focused.  They are the downtown area, the area west of Crozet Avenue and the area east of Crozet Avenue.  Each area holds unique characteristics and challenges.  This section of the Guide identifies the priority implementation strategies for each area and outlines specific tasks required to carry out those strategies.  Chart A, Crozet Priorities (p. ___), organizes these strategies in visual form by geographic location and level of urgency, and includes additional actions that while also desirable rank lower in priority.

Downtown

Initial development in the Downtown area should emphasize the completion of the sidewalk system (per the recommendations of the Crozet Downtown Sidewalk and Parking Study of 2001), placement of the new library on Crozet Avenue, and creation of the first two blocks of Main Street.  Specific recommendations and tasks identified in the Master Plan for downtown include the following:

 

1.              Adjust development boundary to encompass existing downtown area north of Route 240, and to allow mixed-use, infill development in support of downtown.

2.              Implement sidewalk plan (per Downtown Sidewalk and Parking Study).

3.              Construct the new library on the west side of Crozet Avenue near Mountainside.

4.              Convert current library (depot) to civic center function, perhaps as a museum.

5.              Construct Main Street by building the first segment from Crozet Avenue to the Barnes Lumber property.  (This will take trucks off “the Square.”)

6.              Develop guidelines for renovating historic structures and for new buildings (scale, materials, setbacks), and initiate establishment of a Historic District.

7.              Encourage development in blocks adjacent to downtown core.

8.              Create bike lanes to and in downtown.

9.              Create downtown community green at “the Square.”

10.           Develop signage for greenway trails.

11.           Create a pedestrian railroad crossing in downtown core (below or above grade).

12.           Explore alternatives to current underpass at Crozet Avenue.

13.           Explore opportunities for redevelopment of Con Agra and Acme as an extension of downtown.

14.           Reuse Historic Crozet Elementary School.  The former school could eventually serve as an Albemarle County satellite facility for county services, public meetings and other community uses.  If north downtown is included in an adjusted definition of the Development Area, it could be adaptively reused with some public and private residential functions in relation to the surrounding residential neighborhood.

15.           Continue construction of Main Street east from Crozet Avenue, including pocket parks in block development.

16.           As opportunities arise for redevelopment of the lumber yard, focus on a mixed-use form that emphasizes employment.

 

Crozet - West

Development in the area west of Crozet Avenue should emphasize neighborhood related road creation and other improvements.  Specific recommendations and tasks for Crozet-West include the following:

 

1.                    Encourage mixed use development in the center of the western area.

2.                    Protect Route 250 from further commercial development.

3.                    Implement improvements to Jarman’s Gap Road

4.                    Construct Western Avenue.

5.           Discourage improvements intended to increase capacity of Half Mile Branch Road in an effort to encourage use of Western Avenue.  (This does not apply to site distance and safety improvements.)

6.                    Encourage development of western area starting from the south up (from Route 250).

7.           Propose East-West Drive (with bridge across Slabtown Branch), and safety improvements to Meadows intersection with Route 240.

8.                    Establish Western Park with public/private collaboration.

10.     Upgrade playing fields at Henley Middle School.

11.     Create frontage road for school (avoiding existing fields and working in conjunction with current improvements).

 

Crozet - East

Development for the area east of Crozet Avenue should focus on the construction of public amenities such as the school and parks in addition to the creation of roads and bridges.  Specific recommendations and tasks for Crozet-East include the following:

 

1.             Construct Eastern Avenue, Main Street, and primary neighborhood streets within the two or three major properties available for new development.

2.             Construct Lickinghole Bridge on a time-line appropriate to demand.

3.             Construct crossing of CSX tracks between Acme and Con Agra buildings (below or above grade options).

4.             Establish greenway trail (for pedestrians and bikes) from Lickinghole Creek Basin to Crozet Park and downtown.

5.             Construct new neighborhood elementary school on time-line appropriate to demand, in general location shown on plan.

6.             Explore and develop potential access points to Lickinghole Creek Basin.

7.             Establish Eastern Park with public/private collaboration.

 

 

Partners in Crafting the Master Plan

The Master Plan engaged three primary partners who will also be key to its implementation:  community residents, local government, and the business community.  Throughout the year-long process, all three groups dedicated substantial time, effort and good will, contributions that are reflected in the Plan’s comprehensive recommendations.  The Crozet Community Process Summary Map (p.14) serves as a record of these evolving conversations.  Outlined below are discrete actions associated with each of the three groups; these actions might parallel a capital project (new road or public facility) or occur on an on-going yearly basis (community gardening program).  Some of these initiatives may take years to accomplish, while others are relatively simple.  Considered together, they are intended to start building the mosaic of public and private actions that are critical to creating a healthy urban community. 

Community Residents: Recommendations

Community residents hold the distinct capacity to invigorate a place with a sense of unique identity.  This has already been accomplished by the deep level of civic engagement that both pre-existed and carried through the master planning process.  In particular, the Small Task Groups identified many opportunities, large and small, that are best suited for community leadership.  The following recommendations focus on the role of community residents:

 

1.        Library

a.        Set up a ‘Library Action Group’ of local residents to help focus efforts on the development of a new library.

 

2.        History

a.        Set up a Historic Preservation Committee to work with County staff toward the creation of defined districts for the National Register of Historic Places for the downtown and Yancey's Mill area.

b.       Investigate the idea of creating a ‘Crozet Museum’ within the new library or at another location in the community.

 

3.        Gardens and Nurseries

a.        Create an area for community gardens and/or a tree nursery to enhance the agricultural identity and existing ecological networks of the Development Area.

b.       Establish an Urban Forestry group to work with County staff in tree preservation, reforestation, and streetscape programs in the community.

 

4.        Local Governance

a.        Partner with County staff through (staff proposed) Community Teams and a Board appointed Community Council in the review and adoption of the Master Plan, implementation activities, and updates and revisions to it.

b.       Join County staff and the private sector in studying local taxing and funding options for downtown business and revitalization efforts.

c.        Investigate the creation of a Community Development Authority to help create funding opportunities for local projects.

d.       Publicize fairs, festivals and local celebrations.

 

5.        Diversity and Identity

a.        Create links between community festivals and school activities.

b.       Create history days in schools for storytelling by local residents.

 

6.        Small Businesses

a.        Encourage dialogue within the Community Association regarding small business development and marketability of the area.

b.       Organize a merchants’ association to promote downtown and represent community businesses.

 

7.        Greenways

a.        Establish a not-for-profit Crozet Trails Foundation (like the Rivanna Trails Foundation) for design, construction, and maintenance.

b.       Create an Adopt-a-Trails program.

c.        Gather and distribute information on tax incentives for landowners to donate easements for

Greenways (floodplains).

d.       Organize the gathering of GPS data for mapping these routes: these could be collected by groups such as students, Boy Scouts and other volunteers.

 

8.        Water

a.        Work with current citizen groups to protect streams.

Local Government: Recommendations

Local government works to balance community desires, market forces, and equity throughout all of the neighborhoods and areas in Albemarle County, while maintaining a long term vision.  This involves the creation of a strong network of infrastructure and services that evolve concurrently with development forces.

 

One of the primary responsibilities of local government is the creation of public facilities such as schools, libraries and parks.  The development of the Master Plan recognizes these community elements as more than buildings or areas that house a service or amenity.  They are in fact centers of community life and their development needs to reflect the identity and pride of the community. 

 

Just as facilities can be thought of as an infrastructure for community identity, public services are the supporting network for the ebbs and flows of everyday life. Fire and rescue, police, and social services create the essential framework of a community.  The Master Plan outlines this framework of support, how it will be influenced by future development, and how it can be best supported by local government.

 

Perhaps because it developed as a transportation hub and agricultural center, the Crozet community is particularly concerned about creating vital networks for both transportation and the environment.  In Crozet this has been done though the careful study and planning for both major road improvements and streets that connect existing and new neighborhood, supplemented by a greenway trail system along the riparian corridors.  These networks are essential to the success of the Crozet community as it grows over the next twenty years.  Support and guidance from both local government and private developers will be required throughout the growth process to maintain a level of concurrency with the population as it develops.

 

The most tangible role of local government will be found in the capital projects identified during the master planning process, listed by priority on pages ______, and also described in Section II of this Profile.  Similarly, the funding and programming of services generally is the responsibility of local government, although there is a need for community initiative in the face of strong competition for revenues.   

Business Community: Recommendations

The Master Plan anticipates that the private sector will build many of the features outlined within the Master Plan as a part of new development in Crozet.  Two aspects of desired community development identified by the residents rely on the business community in particular: local economic diversification and neighborhood development.  Successful implementation of the Master Plan will depend on the support of local business and on a collaborative relationship between county staff and the private sector.

 

Perhaps most central to the Master Plan will be the overall development of new neighborhoods and the redevelopment of existing areas such as downtown.  Working with the Neighborhood Model as a framework, the Crozet Master Plan establishes both a cohesive built environment that honors the area’s history and a green-infrastructure that recognizes the strength and vitality of existing natural systems.  It is hoped that the development community will carry out the vision and goals of the Master Plan in the projects undertaken in Crozet, and make choices in land use, form, and density that create distinct, livable neighborhoods.  To move proposed development scenarios forward, site development guidelines and suggestions for a more streamlined development review process are included in Sections II and III.


 

 

Future Actions

 

Any long range plan must be revisited, and the Crozet Master Plan will be updated at regular intervals.    The following essential principles will guide any such adjustments within Crozet:

 

 •      Reinforce focal points for development and redevelopment

 •      Provide multi-modal transportation linkages (pedestrian, bike, cars, buses)

 •      Create opportunities for creating a range of housing types and affordability

 •      Support and create opportunities for locally-owned businesses and jobs

 •      Preserve historic and natural landscape features

 •      Provide public facilities which foster a sense of community and civic pride

 

Site issues and market forces will also influence development decisions. For example, while certain key roads are indicated in very specific locations (Eastern Avenue, Western Avenue and Main Street), the precise location of these and other streets within individual development may have to adjust based on timing, road engineering requirements, and other constraints and circumstances.

 

Fundamental to the success of development or redevelopment projects within the Community of Crozet is a strong system of roads, sidewalks, bicycle facilities and public transit. Detailed transportation modeling has shown that the master planning process and the Neighborhood Model form of development can anticipate and help to mitigate the negative impacts of by-right development patterns on transportation.  Public and private implementation of the transportation component of the Master Plan will help to achieve a higher level of concurrency between transportation needs and residential development. 

F. Summary Recommendations for the Crozet                  Development Area

 

As stated earlier, the creation of a strong sense of place, predicated on Crozet’s Guiding Principles, will require the concerted effort of local government, the business community, and local residents.  Sustaining that effort will entail literally building and rebuilding places, delivering services to people, and establishing connections between people and places.  To emphasize the multi-faceted nature of the effort required to enable the Master Plan, these recommendations have been organized according to these three categories: Services, Facilities, Programs, Utilities, and Connections.

Services

Fire and Rescue Service for Crozet

In the years 2004-2005, a combined fire and rescue station is planned for the Ivy area which will help assist the Crozet Fire Department and augment services provided by these two volunteer groups.  Although an additional station in Crozet will not be required, maintenance and improvement of the existing downtown fire station will be needed or the relocation of the current building should be sought. The possibility of an additional fire/rescue/police station is under consideration for the area in 2012.

Police

Current policy of police services recommends an average response time of 10 minutes for all Development Areas.  To this end, police satellite offices are recommended within a service sector to help achieve these desired response times to all police emergency calls. Currently the department is undergoing a Long Range Facilities Study which will be completed at the end of May, 2003.  Once long range goals have been established within the department, they could be integrated into the Master Plan.

Social Services

Various social services perform important functions within the community. Currently services are provided in several ways through the elder population settings of Mountainside and the Meadows and through the county schools. As growth occurs, the county will need to consider augmenting these services and perhaps creating a central location within the Development Area where these services can be accessed.

Affordable Housing

County staff and officials should support the development of a comprehensive Affordable Housing Ordinance in order to support a broad demographic mixture within the Development Areas.

Local Governance

The Master Plan reflects current direction of Albemarle County Government that new mechanisms for local governance will be needed within each of the Development Areas once a Master Plan has been adopted.  One of strongest aspects of the plan development process has been the intense level of public involvement.  This civic participation should be structured and encouraged in the future by assigning a Neighborhood Planner to serve as a liaison with the Community and a steward of the Master Plan’s implementation.  A Board-appointed Community Council will work with the Neighborhood Planner and other County staff in the many activities associated with implementation.  

Local Businesses and Community Economic Development

County staff and officials must encourage public/private collaboration in order to support the development of Crozet as something more than a “bedroom community” to the City of Charlottesville.  In particular, the expansion of existing and development of new small businesses in Crozet is essential to increase the vitality of the downtown, provide employment opportunities, meet residents’ needs for goods and services, and reduce increasing  traffic impacts to Routes 240 and 250.   A local business/economic development and redevelopment program is recommended for Crozet, supported by a ‘point-person’ in County government who can respond to inquiries from existing and prospective businesses.  The establishment of this point-person position will also be critical to coordinating redevelopment activities through the public/private partnerships and other mechanisms that will be an integral part of Master Plan implementation.

Fairs, festivals and local celebrations

County staff should serve as a resource for local organizations engaged the planning and funding of local celebrations, festivals and community-oriented events that support the local market and tourist activities in the Crozet area.  Assignment of a Neighborhood Planner will assist community members by directing them to the appropriate departments or programs within local government, and helping them identify other resources that can support their efforts.

Facilities

Schools

The primary Master Plan recommendation is for a new elementary school to be developed in the eastern portion of Crozet.  County long term planning has identified construction of this facility to be completed in 2011 with a budget of $12.4 million. In the approved 2003/04 to 2012/13 Capital Improvement Program (CIP), a Henley addition is scheduled for completion in 2005 and additional High School capacity will be added to the existing High Schools between 2008 and 2013.  The School Board is aware that as development occurs in Crozet it may need to move students that are currently in the feeder pattern for the Western Albemarle High School.  The redistricting of students to either the Monticello or Albemarle High School feeder pattern may be necessary as new schools and additions are completed in those areas to help accommodate the growth of Crozet.  The Master Plan also recommends that the Henley expansion to 900 students should occur in the near future. This expansion will help to accommodate immediate growth needs within the area. 

Libraries

The enlargement of the Crozet library is a central concern of many within the community.  The Master Plan recommends that a new library facility be built within the heart of downtown, on Crozet Avenue.  The County CIP currently has $5.4 million in funding starting in 2005.  The Master Plan concurs with this timing, if possible, as a way to catalyze redevelopment of the downtown area.

Parks and Recreation

The strategy for the design of Parks and Public Space in the Crozet Development Area is to create a network of public parks and greenways that will work on a number of levels:

 

1.        To protect sensitive natural systems (centered on the Lickinghole Creek drainage system)

2.        To reserve public areas of topographical, historical, or cultural interest that characterize Crozet

3.        To create areas for structured and unstructured recreation

4.        To link neighborhoods to downtown, schools, parks, squares, greens and the larger region.

 

This network forms the centrally positioned spine of the development area, structured around the Lickinghole Creek watershed.  It maximizes the community benefit from unbuildable land.  Due to the rolling terrain and dendritic stream patterns of Crozet, a large portion (35% flood plain and steep slopes) of the development area can be preserved in this system as potential recreational space. In addition to its stream valleys, the region is also characterized by high points and views of the nearby Blue Ridge Mountains.  Rather than developing all of these high points, the Master Plan reserves a few key areas so that these features can be appreciated by the entire community, in the form of the proposed Eastern and Western Parks. This aspect of the Master Plan strives to meet the goal expressed by the community to “preserve the rural character” while balancing the needs of private development of properties.   It is anticipated that the dedication of these parks to public use will occur in the course of the review and approval of a unified development plan for the property around them.  Individual park plans will be needed to guide the development of both Eastern and Western Park.

Programs

Local Job Creation

Fostering private, locally owned businesses will be an essential step in the building of Crozet within the framework of the Neighborhood Model.  The ability to work in close proximity to home will both mitigate traffic impacts and create healthier neighborhoods.  Local business development of various types and forms, including small restaurants, local retail stores and offices, will need to be actively supported and developed.  Development of larger enterprises within the Development Area at sites such as Con Agra and in the downtown area will also be vitally important to realizing the Master Plan.  The County’s economic development point-person, the Neighborhood Planner, the downtown merchants group, and the community itself will all play a significant role in achieving this goal.

Neighborhood Development

In addition to local business development and job creation, private developers and local government staff should coordinate efforts to implement the Neighborhood Model as applied to Crozet.  Acknowledging and complementing existing centers, new centers are identified as potential focal points for future walkable place-types, namely downtown and its surrounding neighborhoods and hamlets.  All of these place-types support residential uses and economic activity, in varying degrees.  Site Development Guidelines, first outlined in the Neighborhood Model (as Design Guidelines), have been applied to fit the specific conditions of Crozet.  They are the tools that guide the form of development.  Successful implementation of the Neighborhood Model in Crozet is predicated on two factors:

 

1.    New strategies which counter the option of strictly by-right development, and

2.    A strong rural area policy which channels growth into the development areas, thereby mitigating traffic  

       impacts on Routes 240 and 250.  This a critical corollary to the development area policy embodied in  

       the Neighborhood Model.

Historic District Designation (Downtown, Yancey’s Mill)

In order to preserve the historic fabric of the Crozet Development Area, the Master Plan recommends that community residents, in collaboration with county staff  and the Historic Preservation Committee, begin the process of registering the Downtown and Yancey’s Mill areas with the National Register for Historic Places.  Though mostly honorary in nature, listed status on the National Register will allow planning staff to make future development decisions based upon the knowledge that the historic nature of many of Crozet’s built structures must be considered when change is proposed.  The establishment of a downtown district can play a significant role in the revitalization effort.

Downtown Redevelopment

One of the primary mechanisms available for local business owners to fund desired improvements is through a self-directed taxing and funding option, such as a Community Development Authority (CDA).  A CDA can complement and augment funds allocated within the county’s capital budget.  It is voluntarily imposed and the revenues it raises must be expended within its identified boundaries.  Downtown is the largest and most important place-type in Crozet, and activity in the immediate future should focus on the redevelopment of this area.

Utilities

Solid Waste

The growth of the Crozet area is not expected to significantly change the overall needs for solid waste and recycling with the County.  The largest anticipated change would occur if an industrial user comes to the current Con Agra site.  However, even with that change, no additional land area would be required within the Crozet Development Area to handle the added need.

Recycling

Despite budget constraints the county maintains a strong interest in the recycling process.  As such three new “drop-off centers” are proposed within the county’s current CIP plan.  The exact nature and location of these drop-off centers will need to be determined but  the Crozet Master Plan recommends that one of these facilities be located within this development area and incorporated into the rehabilitation or relocation of the area’s fire and rescue station.

Water

The Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority (RWSA) and the Albemarle County Service Authority (ACSA) have already begun planning for the necessary expansions to serve expected growth in Crozet.  Treatment plant equipment has been upgraded and preliminary design work has been done to accommodate an expansion to 1.3 million gallons per day.  When demand reaches 80% of capacity the process will begin for final design and construction of the expansion to this level.  The estimated cost of the expansion will be $1,145,000. Funding and strategizing for water capacity (including wastewater) within the Crozet Development Area is the domain of the RWSA and the ACSA.

Wastewater

The Crozet interceptor is currently able to handle 2400 gallons per minute (gpm).  Capacity needs to be expanded to 3600 gpm in order to handle the projected build out population of 12,000.  This will be accomplished through a planned replacement of the pump stations by RWSA.

Connections

Transportation

1. Roads: The Master Plan’s recommendations for increased employment opportunities and a more connected road system will reduce the congestion that would result from a build-out population of 12,000 under the current development trend.  Moderate congestion levels are anticipated only on Route 240 east of downtown and Route 250 east of the growth area boundary.  If development occurs under current zoning and no additional roadway improvements are made in the area except the Route 240/250 connector (east of Crozet Avenue), significant congestion is expected on Routes 240 and 250 and also on Crozet Avenue.

 

Future volumes on US 250 will be near or slightly exceed the roadway’s capacity, putting pressure on the Virginia Department of Transportation to widen it to four lanes.  To maximize capacity, the county must limit the amount of development on properties adjacent to the Route 250 from I-64 to Route 240 as called for in the Master Plan.  This strategy will keep the number of entrances to a minimum and reduce pressure for traffic signals (and slowdowns) beyond those recommended for the intersections of Route 250 with Route 240, Eastern Avenue, Crozet Avenue and Western Avenue.

 

The primary road recommendations include the following:

 

a.     Build Western Avenue as part of the Old Trail private sector development (this includes stream crossings of Slabtown Creek and Lickinghole Creek).  This improvement will serve to connect numerous neighborhoods and hamlets west of Crozet Avenue.  Ideally, construction phasing should begin from the south (Route 250), and the entire length of Western Avenue should be constructed by the developer.  In other words, “dead ends” off Jarman’s Gap Road or Route 250 should not be permitted.  Aside from construction itself, truck traffic should not be allowed on this road.

 

 b.   Build the long anticipated north/south road east of Crozet Avenue (called Eastern Avenue in the Master Plan, formerly referred to as the 240/250 Connector).  This baseline infrastructure improvement will involve a bridge over Lickinghole Creek, a bridge or underpass to cross the CSX tracks to the north, and numerous connections to neighborhood streets.  Construction phasing should begin from the south (Route 250).  Aside from construction itself, truck traffic should not be allowed on this road.  The private sector should be responsible for funding and building Eastern Avenue with the exception of Lickinghole Creek bridge.

 

 c.    Plan and initiate the first stages of a new “Main Street” parallel to and south of the CSX tracks running from Crozet Avenue eastward.  This will ensure critical linkages between downtown and new development to the south and east. Construction phasing should begin from the west (Crozet Avenue).  Barnes Lumber is the primary beneficiary in the creation of this new road segment connecting their property with Crozet Avenue and should therefore participate substantially in its funding.

 

 d.    Other road improvements are key to the short, medium, and long-range success of the Master Plan including Jarman’s Gap Road sidewalk/bike lane improvements, downtown sidewalks, and other Crozet Avenue issues, including safety improvements and possibly a modified entrance at the Meadows.

 

 e.    Streets within residential/mixed-use areas should be pedestrian-friendly, developed according to site development guidelines of this Master Plan, funded and constructed as a part of private development.  The gridded neighborhood street pattern indicated on the Place-Type Map is intended to emphasize the expectation that inter-connections will be a part of future neighborhood block and street design, and should not be considered a plan for specific street locations or interconnections.

 

2. Bus Transit: Two types of transit improvements were considered for the Crozet area – a circulator system that serves trips beginning and ending in Crozet and a connector for trips between Crozet and Charlottesville.  Express bus service, most likely in the form of Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), on Interstate 64 appears to be the most economically viable service given the ridership potential.  The route could begin in downtown Crozet, travel south and west along Crozet Avenue and Route 250, then use I-64 and the US 29 Bypass to reach the University of Virginia and downtown Charlottesville.  The local circulator service could include two routes that converge in downtown.  The first route could travel east/west along Route 240 and Main Street into downtown.  The second route could travel north/south from the employment center along Western Avenue to downtown.  Each route could require two buses to attain a 15 minute headway (time between buses). 

 

3. Bicycle/Pedestrian Paths and Sidewalks: Each community or new center recommended in the Master Plan is specifically designed to provide destinations within a quarter mile of residential areas, a comfortable walking distance for most people.  All roads within the communities should have sidewalks to further encourage and facilitate walking, and may include marked bike lanes as well.  Bicycle and walking paths should follow the proposed greenways, which purposely connect the community centers, providing convenient pedestrian and bicycle access throughout the Crozet growth area.  Bike lanes will also be established on major roads, as identified in adopted regional plans.

Greenways

In order to protect the prominent natural features and functioning ecological systems of the Crozet area, almost 50% of the Development Area is dedicated to natural lands, public parks, and school grounds.   The greenway system, a linear network of open space, will serve to preserve and protect these sensitive areas while fostering connections between the people of Crozet and their natural, recreational, commercial, and cultural resources.   This system will interconnect neighborhoods, hamlets, and downtown while linking the Development Area to the larger region.  It is recommended that the development of this greenway system be done through joint efforts of both local citizens and county staff, and that existing funds be increased to accelerate the completion of this vital green infrastructure within the community.

 

 


 

II. Strategies for IMPLEMENTATION

A. Costs and Strategies for Funding Improvements

Implementation of the recommendations of the Master Plan will take place in several different forms: through county capital expenditures, land use decisions, private sector investment, community initiatives, and programs and services provided by the county.  Existing and recommended capital expenditures, additional programs, financing tools, and land use options are described below.

 

As outlined in the charts that follow, some of the needed infrastructure and facilities improvements within the Crozet Development Area can be funded from county sources.  Several of the future expenses have already been included in the Capital Improvement Program (CIP) as indicated below.  It is also important to emphasize that many other sources of funding for community infrastructure and facilities exist. In particular, the Master Plan begins to define the role that private developers and the local citizens need to take in gathering and directing funds towards the creation of dynamic neighborhoods.

 

It is important to note that several of the items already identified in the CIP may take more time to accomplish than originally projected in the current CIP.  As one example, locating the library on the Mountainside block downtown may well result in a longer development process, because of the need to coordinate with other uses and property owners on the block.  A more realistic time-frame for completion of that project is around 2008-10 given the public/private collaboration that will be involved.  The following list refers to current CIP dates, since new timelines have not yet been established.

 

Current CIP funded items, recommended by the Master Plan:

 

·         New library: $5,378,000 (2005-2007 CIP)

·         Henley Middle School renovation: $4,433,000 (2003-2005 CIP)

·         Additional High School capacity: $7,500,000 (2007-2008 CIP, all high schools)

·         New Crozet Elementary School: $12,388,000 (2008-2011 CIP)

·         St. George’s Avenue sidewalk: $124,000 (2004-2005 CIP)

·         Downtown sidewalk/streetscape: $300,000 (2004-2005 CIP)

·         Railroad Avenue sidewalk: $67,000 (2006-2007 CIP)

·         Design of road projects related to various Neighborhood Master Plans: ($200,000 each year for all areas, CIP)

·         Street lamp Program: exact amount to be determined

·         Road Construction Revenue Sharing for traffic calming measures: exact amount to be determined

             

Items not yet funded but recommended by the Master Plan for inclusion in future CIP budgets:    

 

·         Eastern Avenue design and engineering: $500,000 (2004-2005)

·         Eastern Avenue bridge: $4,000,000 (2008-2009)

·         Recycling Center: $250,000 (2007).  [Currently three recycling centers are recommended for              county as a whole but specific locations have not been selected.  Given the anticipated growth in the area, it is recommended that one of the centers be located in Crozet.]

·         Greenway development: as much funding should be allocated per year as may be available to meet the objectives of the Master Plan.  [Currently $25,000 is allocated per year for the county as a whole.  Citizen volunteer effort will be critical to building greenway trails.]

 

 

Items recommended for private sector funding: or public/private collaboration:

 

·         Western Park: estimated $2,000,000 (2005-2006, private development)

·         Eastern Park: estimated $2,000,000 (2005-2006, private development)

·         Downtown Park (Main Street): estimated $400,000 (public-spirited development)

·         Neighborhood Parks: estimated $200,000 each (private development)

·         Greenway development: estimated $30,000 per year – see note above (land is dedicated through private development)

·         Western Avenue: $4 million (2004-2005, private development)

·         Main Street at Crozet Avenue: $500,000 (2005-2006, private development or public/private partnership; this should be a cost sharing arrangement with the lumber business, since they are the principal beneficiary of the initial block(s) of Main Street, east of Crozet Avenue)

·         Eastern Avenue: $4 million (2004-2007, private development)

·         Eastern Avenue underpass: $1 million (2005-2006, private development)

·         Main Street extensions: $2,500,000 (2006 - ?, depending upon the pace of private development)

·         Bike/pedestrian improvements in developing  neighborhoods: $TBD (2007-2011, private development)

Tables

The following tables identify in graphic form various projects in the Crozet Development Area.  Some of these are underway or scheduled as a part of the County’s Capital Improvement Program or through VDOT.  Some are recommended for the future.  In the latter case, preliminary cost estimates are provided.  In the case of CIP and VDOT projects, currently allocated amounts are included.

 

B. Strategy for Business and Community Development

One of the twelve principles of the Neighborhood Model is the incorporation of mixed use development into the fabric of neighborhood centers.  At the neighborhood level, this development can take the form of small businesses which provide goods and services within walking distance of nearby residential areas.   Similarly, employment opportunities can be located within neighborhoods in these mixed use centers and also in adjacent districts of more concentrated business activity.   The Place-Type Map and Design Guidelines, the land use components of the Crozet Master Plan, illustrate the relationships between these mixed use centers and districts, and the proposed hamlets, neighborhoods, and Downtown..  However, an organized economic development program that clearly spells out priorities, funding expectations and relationships between public and private activities is needed to make the vision of the Master Plan a reality.

 

As noted previously, the Master Plan recommends that the County establish a small business development ‘point-person’ position to coordinate and respond to business inquiries, and assess options and incentives.  This position is critical to achieving the desired Neighborhood Model form of development, particularly the viability of neighborhood centers and the mixture of uses they are intended to attract.  The development community has been cautious historically about building the non-residential uses recommended by the Neighborhood Model and the Master Plan, since the concept is new and represents a departure from a typical segregated zoning approach. The point-person should assist with the coordination of this element of new development, and her/his role eventually may evolve into a more proactive stance where specific types of local business development are targeted and sought.  Opportunities for adaptive reuse of the Con Agra and Acme properties are likely to involve public-private partnerships, another area where the small business point-person’s role will be critical to success.  This position is uniquely linked to understanding and achieving the implementation of the Master Plan.

 

One key economic development possibility exists with respect to the Barnes Lumber property.  If this property owner decides to sell, or if relocation can be viably considered, the central location would afford a tremendous and positive opportunity for high density, pedestrian-oriented, mixed-use development reinforcing the “urban core” of the Crozet downtown area.  Retail, commercial offices, and residences could be combined within mixed-use buildings and blocks in this area, reinforcing the central role of downtown.  Local government needs to anticipate this eventuality and be ready to assist with the conversion process for this property if and when it occurs.

 

C. Strategy for Affordable Housing

To encourage and maintain a diverse population within the Crozet Development Area, one of the Guiding Principles identified early in the Master Plan process, affordable housing options must exist.  Affordable housing is defined as housing that does not exceed 30% of a household’s income.  Current Albemarle County affordable housing policy targets rental housing representing  0-80% of the current median household income, and ‘for purchase’ housing at 50-80% of the current median family income.  Affordable housing options targeting these income ranges would continue the tradition of ‘starter’ homes that characterizes many of Crozet’s neighborhoods today. 

 

Market based housing developed within the Master Plan Site Development Guidelines has the potential to provide up to 800 units of affordable housing through “accessory units”.  These “granny flats” would take a number of forms, and they would provide access to housing for those who could not afford a full single family home in a relatively expensive area like Crozet.  These units might be located above garages in the back of properties or as stand alone units associated with larger homes.  Within the context of the county’s current zoning ordinance, they would have to be rental units.  In addition to the housing diversity already provided by the Meadows and Mountainside Senior Living properties, and the diversity inherent in the Master Plan’s call for increased residential density and product options within existing and new centers (through both infill and greenfield development of townhouses, multiplexes, apartment buildings, mixed-use residential buildings, live-work units, etc.), these accessory units may be another opportunity for the private sector to support a community of diverse ages and income levels.

 

In addition to having affordable units available on the market, it is also important that the units themselves be dispersed throughout the development.  Dispersing units (as opposed to collecting units within one area of Crozet or within one area of a development) would reflect the Guiding Principle of community diversity on both a large and small scale within Crozet. 

 

The County’s affordable housing policy, adopted by the Board of Supervisors in February 2004, can be found on page ___ of the Comprehensive Plan.

D. Strategies for Financing Improvements

The following list identifies several sources of funding; with a large project, one or more sources might be combined to provide an adequate budget.  The Master Plan affords the opportunity to leverage private sector and community support in addition to current funding sources through Albemarle County itself.

Local Government

1.        Current revenue sources (property taxes, sales taxes, business taxes, water/sewer revenues)

 

2.        Increased revenues resulting from new development within the community (property taxes, sales taxes, etc.)

 

3.        Bonds

 

4.        Tax Increment Financing (TIF)

·         This option involves issuing bonds to fund improvements within an identified geographic district.  Increased tax revenues resulting from rising property values (triggered by the funded improvements) go to repay the bond expense.  TIF requires a general referendum just like other bonds, and uses the general interest bond which tends to have lower interest rates. 

 

5.        Community Development Authority (CDA):

·          The CDA is another mechanism for funding improvements within a designated area.  A CDA is established by local government for a specific public or community purpose, and requires a vote by a majority of property owners within the defined area.  In Crozet, establishment of a CDA is recommended to more quickly upgrade infrastructure downtown.  Limited public funding for improvements such as sidewalks, streetscaping, redevelopment of the Square and other pedestrian-oriented items would be supplemented by revenues generated by the CDA. A CDA would operate in the following manner:

·         Issue bonds to finance improvements within the CDA

·         Provide infrastructure necessary to meet the increased demands placed upon the locality as a result of the development within the CDA district.

·         Generate monies to pay for improvements through special ad valorem taxes or assessments on property within the CDA district.

 

6.        Public/Private Transportation Act – Public/Private Education Act

·         Opportunities available under this legislation may be appropriate for projects in which constructing a public project depends on the participation of one or more private landowners.  When this situation occurs, a public/private partnership  could coordinate different aspects of design and construction.  Creation of a partnership may be preferable to holding a bond referendum.

 

7.        VDOT Six Year Plan

 

8.        State and federal grants

•       TCSP (Transportation and Community and System Preservation Pilot Program)

•       TEA-21 Enhancement Grants

       

Businesses

1.   New development: proffers associated with legislative actions (special permits, rezonings)

·         Maintaining, not improving service standards

·         Improvements directly benefiting development (nexus test)

Local Community

1.        Grants

2.        Community sweat equity

3.        Fund-raising campaigns

 

E. Strategy for Land Use

The adoption of the Neighborhood Model as a part of the Albemarle County Comprehensive Plan represents a new approach towards community development, one which encourages the creation of distinct neighborhoods with identifiable centers and edges, using design to achieve a more convenient, livable form.  The Master Plan reflects the principles of the Neighborhood Model, applied to a specific place – the Community of Crozet.  Changes to the development review process will be necessary to achieve the vision set forth by the Master Plan.  This section addresses possible ways in which Albemarle County can modify its current land use practices to accommodate the inevitable growth in Crozet consistent with the community’s vision for itself.  Several of these regulatory tools would necessitate fundamental changes that would take time to achieve; others are modifications to processes that are already in place.  Still others may require statutory changes at the State level which would involve political action on the part of Albemarle County.  Because the Crozet Master Plan is the first of the master plans for the Development Areas to be completed, it can provide a preliminary template for preparation and implementation of future master plans.  Therefore, it may be beneficial to investigate new approaches to development review that may not be easily achieved within the County’s current regulations, in the interest of broadening the discussion and identifying innovations that are appropriate for Albemarle County.

 

Parameters for evaluating and recommending changes to the existing development review process include:

·         Consideration of provision of incentives for good design and reduce complex and lengthy procedures whenever possible. 

·         Provision of greater predictability in the outcome of the development process, a key factor in attracting appropriate development. 

·         Revising of the regulations addressing “by-right,” development to incorporate Neighborhood Model principles, a process that is already underway. 

 

It should be remembered that statutory limitations on the County’s regulatory authority will make implementation of the Master Plan more difficult, particularly in the area of regulating design and achieving concurrency between infrastructure and development. Staffing requirements and other costs associated with implementing regulatory changes should be considered.  Finally, it is important to respect existing development entitlements while providing incentives for developments that are consistent with the master plan.

By-Right Development

The term “by-right” means that development can occur under the property’s approved zoning designation without the need to seek a zoning change or a special use permit. There are ways in which by-right development will help implement the Crozet Master Plan.  First, determining compliance with the Crozet Master Plan for larger projects should occur through the administrative development review process, including review of subdivision requests and site plan review.  Staff should review by-right proposals emphasizing conformity with the Master Plan, and encourage voluntary compliance.  Amendments to the zoning and subdivision regulations (the Albemarle County Code) are underway to allow implementation of the Neighborhood Model.  These amendments include requirements for curbing, sidewalk, and street trees.  They also include reduced setback requirements and added commercial uses in some residential districts.  Adoption of the amendments will also facilitate implementation of the Crozet Master Plan.

 

By-right development creates certainty for the developer and the community by specifying the kinds of uses, density and form of development that may occur on a particular property.  For the developer, this provides an incentive by reducing both risk and time involved in undertaking project; for the community, it removes the need to closely track individual development proposals and repeatedly attend hearings to debate rezoning requests for individual properties.

 

The primary risk and the disincentive to creating entitlements through zoning relates to local government’s diminished ability to achieve concurrency between available infrastructure and growth.  In reviewing a rezoning request, the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors consider the adequacy of services for the proposed development, and there is an opportunity for the developer to proffer (commit to) to provide appropriate infrastructure improvements in support of his proposed development.  These voluntary contributions, or proffers, must address impacts generated by the rezoning, but they give local government a much-needed avenue for including private dollars in the funding of public capital projects. 

 

By-right development review is an administrative process, since the use was approved when the zoning was originally established.  With no legislative action required, there is no opportunity for local government to tie impacts to contributions.  The Crozet Master Plan includes advanced infrastructure planning that would make the need for review of individual projects and their impacts on the larger community less necessary, provided that the identified capital improvements are funded and built.

Modified Rezoning Process

For legislative actions (projects that ultimately require approval by the Board of Supervisors), a two-step or tiered review process is offered that provides developers with guidance and feedback from the Planning Commission earlier in the process.  In the initial review step of this process, an overall finding of consistency (or inconsistency) with the Crozet Master Plan would be made before detailed development plans were prepared.  The consistency finding would consider the land use program, densities and intensities, as well as general site layout.  The second tier of review, the detailed zoning review, would focus on more specific site design criteria.  This two-tiered process has recently been initiated, and may undergo further refinement as it is put into regular use.

 

Developer Initiated Rezoning

 

For many years, Albemarle County has implemented its Land Use Plan through developer initiated rezonings.  If this practice continues on a site-by-site basis, properties would be rezoned consistent with the Master Plan, with the increased opportunities for density and design flexibility offered by the Neighborhood Model serving as the incentive.  The requested zoning district could be Planned Development, Neighborhood Model District, or a conventional district with a proffered Plan.  An entirely new zoning district developed for implementation of the Crozet Master Plan could also be made available. 

·        Neighborhood Model Planned Development

Albemarle County amended its zoning regulations in March 2003 to create the Neighborhood Model - Planned Development district (NMD) (Chapter 18, Section 20A).  The district establishes the standards for development to occur consistent with the Neighborhood Model.  An applicant seeking rezoning to NMD is required to submit, among other requirements, a general development plan and a code of development.  These submittals establish the types and allocation of land uses and green space and the design guidelines and regulations for the district.  Approval of a NMD for a particular property must be consistent with the Comprehensive Plan, Land Use Plan and Master Plan for the Development Area, and the Neighborhood.  The NMD is not equivalent to by-right development consistent with the Master Plan, because a rezoning is still required. 

 

The use of this tool is significant.  The NMD provides for the most flexibility of all zoning districts and does not rely on new zoning or subdivision text amendments before Neighborhood Model type development can take place.  This rezoning is applicant initiated, and thus preserves the County’s ability to address concurrency at the time of rezoning.  Because it requires a public hearing, a rezoning request also involves the community in the review of the development proposal.  It allows the County to work closely with a developer to ensure that the proposed development achieves consistency with the Neighborhood Model, which may be particularly important for the first projects that occur.

·        Planned Development District or Conventional District with proffered Plan

Planned development districts have been used for a number of years to provide developer flexibility with setbacks and open space as well as to achieve the goals of the County for land use in a particular area.  Rezonings to the planned districts, such as PRD (Planned Residential Development) and PD-MC (Planned Development --  Mixed Commercial) can implement the Crozet Master Plan as can rezoning to a conventional district with a proffered plan.  Rezonings to these districts will likely occur on smaller parcels than rezonings to a NMD.

 

County Initiated Rezoning

 

If the Crozet Master Plan is implemented solely through developer initiated rezonings, an “either or” situation arises.  Either a developer initiates a rezoning and goes through what can be a lengthy process involving proffers or the by-right development occurs.  In exercising their by-right zoning, landowners could choose to by-pass the master plan requirements.  Also of concern is the issue of development or redevelopment of smaller properties, for which the planned district rezoning might be perceived as too cumbersome.  The Planned Development process is generally more suitable for larger, vacant parcels where an overall plan of development is required prior to subdivision into multiple parcels.  An area of particular concern to the community is lack of unified control of development for downtown Crozet.  Because so many small developed parcels already exist, an overall rezoning of the downtown by a developer would be unlikely.  Therefore, other zoning tools must also be examined to ensure comprehensive implementation of the Crozet Master Plan.

 

·        Crozet Zoning Overlay

 One option would be for the County to create a zoning overlay district for all or a portion of Crozet.  An overlay would establish development standards that would apply to all by-right development   These new requirements would apply in addition to those associated with the underlying zoning district.  This tool could work in concert with the NMD wherein smaller properties could develop under their by-right zoning, while larger properties would be encouraged to rezone to NMD consistent with the Master Plan.

 

This strategy would require development and adoption of a comprehensive set of regulations for the Crozet Development Area.  The extent to which a zoning overlay could implement all aspects of the Master Plan may be limited by the County’s police powers.  Generally, the Virginia Code allows the County to regulate the use of land, buildings, and structures; the physical characteristics of structures such as size, height, area, bulk, location, construction, removal and alternation; and the areas and dimensions of use and open space.  While these powers clearly allow implementation of many of the design aspects of the Neighborhood Model, the degree to which architectural controls and streetscape requirements can be implemented must be further explored. 

 

The limitation of this approach is that it focuses on the physical development of the area, but does not comprehensively address the issues of land use types, the land use mixture, and the density and intensity of development.

·         New Zoning Districts for portions of Crozet

Another option would be for the County to create new zoning districts for portions of Crozet to help implement the Crozet Master Plan.  For example, the County could create a specific district for downtown Crozet to establish separate uses, setbacks and parking standards than for any other zoning district in the County.  A different possibility might be to create a specific district in an area ripe for redevelopment to open opportunities for mixed use.  It should be recognized, however, that any County initiated rezoning for a specific zoning district likely would need substantial support by owners of the property to be rezoned.

·        Crozet Zoning Code

Establishment of a Crozet zoning code represents the most comprehensive approach towards implementation of the Master Plan.  The zoning code would identify different districts corresponding to the Plan’s recommended land uses and place types, with each district accompanied by standards appropriate for implementation.  The districts would also establish the required types and mixture of uses.  Similar to the zoning overlay district, the extent to which architectural design controls can be adopted merits further investigation.  Nonetheless, real benefits would accrue from the control of land use and employment of form-related  standards. 

 

While the Crozet Zoning Code might guide the review and approval of individual rezoning requests as development occurs over time, the most effective means of implementing the Crozet district would be to undertake a comprehensive rezoning of the area.  This would support the by-right development potential envisioned in the development of Neighborhood Model and its product, the Crozet Master Plan.  The potential controversy associated with a comprehensive rezoning is a factor in considering this option, but that controversy may be mitigated by the extensive community involvement in developing the Master Plan.  It is certainly possible that a few properties would be assigned less density under the Master Plan-directed rezoning than they currently possess, amounting to a downzoning.  However, a downzoning is considered to be valid if it meets certain conditions, including the requirement that it result from a detailed study, such as the Crozet Master Plan.

 

The Crozet Master Plan provides a detailed land use plan which could easily be translated into a specific, tiered district.  However, for larger properties that will undergo additional master planning, the NMD would still be an option.  Additionally, the Crozet district could offer development flexibility within larger properties by allowing transfer of densities and uses within the property.

 

Before undertaking a comprehensive rezoning for Crozet, decisions would need to be made regarding the type of zoning code that is appropriate. Options include a transect-based code, a modification of the existing County Code, or another type of code.  At present, a transect-based code for Crozet is not envisioned as appropriate.  Therefore, any new code would need to be developed in a way that allows staff to effectively and efficiently enforce specific zoning rules for Crozet as well as for the rest of the County.

Entrance Corridors

Albemarle County adopted the Entrance Corridor Overlay District ordinance (Article 18, Section 30.6) in order to preserve and protect certain roadway corridors considered to be significant entryways for tourist and for historic resources.  Entrance Corridor (EC) Overlay districts are established on parcels of land contiguous to the EC streets identified in Section 30.6.2.c of the Zoning Ordinance, from the edge of the right-of-way to the greater of either: 1) the full depth of the parcel, as the parcel existed on the original adoption date of Section 30.6; or 2) a depth of 500 feet. Within the study area, SR 240 and US Highway 250 are designated Entrance Corridors.  Within the designated corridors, a certificate of appropriateness must be obtained, based on the review of development proposals for consistency with the site development guidelines established for that corridor.  The site development guidelines may address both the appearance of structures and landscaping elements.

 

The Entrance Corridor ordinance is significant because it is an existing tool that can assist in implementing the types of design regulations set forth in the Crozet Master Plan.  For the existing corridors, the Entrance Corridor site development guidelines should be implemented in compliance with the Crozet Master Plan.  The County should also review other roadways for designation as entrance corridors, particularly Jarman’s Gap Road, and the proposed Main Street, and Eastern and Western Avenues. 

Architectural Design Guidelines

Voluntary architectural design guidelines provide another potential tool to encourage development consistent with the Master Plan, particularly with regard to building design.  For NMD projects, guidelines will be incorporated into the code of development required as part of the NMD approval process.  Such voluntary guidelines could also provide invaluable assistance to smaller properties whose owners may wish to develop consistent with the Master Plan but who lack financial resources to develop guidelines for individual properties.  The County could mandate review of projects consistent with these guidelines, but allow for voluntary compliance except in the case of Entrance Corridor and NMD projects.  The design guidelines would also be available to developers for incorporation into deed restrictions for enforcement through private property owner associations.

Establishment of Historic Districts

Crozet is rich in historic resources that help define its unique character.  Through adoption of a historic preservation ordinance, the County can locally designate such resources.  Virginia Code allows for adoption of ordinances creating a historic district as well as protection of those resources.  A local preservation ordinance is a type of zoning regulation referred to as “historic district zoning;” it is an overlay district, which means that the adopted ordinance will not affect the underlying zoning classifications.  Property owners in the historic overlay district would be subject to an additional set of restrictions that relate directly to the preservation of historic resources. Although the County has not yet enacted an historical preservation ordinance, if and when this regulation is adopted, it could provide a valuable tool for protection of resources within the Community of Crozet.

Conservation Easements

The Crozet Master plan includes a network of public parks and greenways structured around the Lickinghole Creek watershed.  Portions of the open space system within the Lickinghole Creek floodplain are already owned by the County; others will be acquired or donated for community parks.  Some portions of the greenway system that are integrated into development projects may remain in private ownership.  These areas could be designated voluntarily as conservation easements.  Outside of the Development Areas, landowners may apply to participate in the County’s Acquisition of Conservation Easement (ACE) program.  The ACE program allows the County to purchase easements for protection of open space, and natural or historical resources may also be privately obtained through the Virginia Conservation Easement Act by charitable organizations.  Within the designated Development Areas, one tool to allow property owners to participate in this preservation of open space is a Conservation Investment District.  This would enable property owners to invest in conservation of open space within the boundaries of the district by raising local funds that can be matched with funds from other sources, such as individuals, foundations, and existing federal, state and county conservation programs.  These funds may be spent by the district solely to preserve open space

Recommended Strategy

The implementation of the Crozet Master Plan will occur through a combination of short-term and long-term strategies.  In the short term, large development parcels should pursue the NMD Planned Development option.  This will assist developers who are ready to obtain the necessary rezoning, while proffering necessary infrastructure improvements in anticipation of the longer-term capital improvements for the area.  Importantly, rezoning to this district will also provide an opportunity for demonstrating to the community that the Neighborhood Model can produce positive development outcomes.  Development of a successful project will prove the value of the New Urbanist concepts, and may create support over the longer term for considering a comprehensive rezoning to a distinct Crozet zoning district.

 

A zoning district specific to the downtown and other areas for which specific regulations are desired should be created to ensure that development and redevelopment occurring on smaller properties conform to the Master Plan goals.  In order to create the type of compact, interconnected community envisioned by the Neighborhood Model, development patterns must be uniform, and not random and inconsistent. 

 

In the long term, the Master Plan calls for the programming of infrastructure and development of programs necessary to support the development that will occur.  Once these tools are in place, the Master Plan might be most thoroughly implemented through a Crozet Zoning Code and a comprehensive rezoning.  This approach would create the certainty needed by developers and by the community and ensure the uniform, successful development of Crozet as a true model neighborhood.

 

F. Indicators: Measures of Success

Indicators for the success of Crozet’s long term development will be important for all of the participants in Master Plan implementation.   It is recommended that a Master Plan Assessment Program be created to set forth detailed methods for evaluating the following services and infrastructure:

Local Government

1.        Water quality and availability

2.        School ratings

3.        Quality of parks and roads

4.        Traffic/Transportation measures

5.        Level of services - meeting or missing service standards

Businesses

1.        Profitability

2.        Evolving markets

3.        Diversity

Local Community

1.        Quality of Life

2.        Walkability

3.        Affordability

4.        Location and diversity of employment

 

 


 

III. Process and Form of Development

A. Framework for Creating Distinctive Places within Crozet

Relationship of the Master Plan to the Comprehensive Plan

The Master Plan is an adopted part of the Albemarle County Comprehensive Plan, Land Use Plan, and replaces the current Crozet Community Profile (both narrative and map). In the future the same process will occur in all of the Designated Development Areas as individual master plans are completed.

Relationship of the Neighborhood Model to the Master Plan

The Neighborhood Model provides the policy foundation for the Crozet Master Plan.  With the adoption of the Neighborhood Model, Albemarle County set forth the guiding goals and objectives for the form of future development.  The Crozet Master Plan will serve as the first example of how the Neighborhood Model can unfold within a designated area and how it can be tailored to reflect a distinctive place.

 

Central elements of the Neighborhood Model:

 

1.        The Neighborhood Model (NM) organizes development not by land use designations but by neighborhood

2.        The neighborhood is not organized by land use type, but by a type of distinctive  “place” that is oriented toward the pedestrian

3.        Neighborhood is the building block for development

4.        Pedestrian-oriented place-making involves focal points and boundaries in the landscape where the ideal distance from focal point to boundary approximates a 1/4 mile radius (i.e. the 5 minute walk)

5.        Focal points and boundaries organize land uses in meaningful ways

6.        A discernible place with amenities does many things, including:

 

•       Orients people

•       Provides convenience

•       Ensures intentionally designed open space

•       Encourages pedestrian activity (which has proven health benefits) 

•       Allows for the possibility of diminished vehicle trips

 

Distinctive Place Types

In applying the Neighborhood Model to Crozet, further gradations of “place” have been discovered. Not every place is a neighborhood, but each place shares the characteristics of being linked together through a roadway or greenway network.  Additionally, the different places in Crozet can vary in size, scale and intensity of development (i.e. the degree of land use mix, density and activity.)  Places are grouped in the following categories, ranging from low intensity to high intensity development:

 

Hamlet: small settlements which fit the NM’s prescription for a center and edge.  Due to topography and the proximity of other mixed used places, Hamlets are less intensely developed.  Half the land area is open space and most of the land use is residential.

 

Neighborhood/Village: settlement which most closely fits the NM’s ideal in terms of intensity and amount of area developed.  Due to the riparian network and topography of Crozet, the neighborhood’s shape is not a perfect circle and distances from the focal point to the boundary may range from 1/4 to 1/2 mile.

 

Downtown: historically Crozet’s “district-wide” focal point for cultural and commercial activities. It is the largest place-type in Crozet (approximately equal in area to three neighborhoods).  Its core, where the neighborhood centers coalesce, exhibits the greatest degree of mixing, density, and intensity of development in Crozet.

 

Each place-type retains its own distinctive center, with radiating middle and edge “bands”.  The center is the most intensely developed, while the middle and edge bands become progressively more residential, less mixed use and less dense.  This pattern reflects the concept of the “transect” outlined in the Neighborhood Model.  Places are organized along a continuum of lesser to greater intensity of development, thus creating focal points and boundaries and a variety of dwelling types and lifestyle options (from natural landscape to urban downtown). 

Fringe Areas

Most of the periphery of the Crozet Development Area is recommended for the lowest density of development, consistent with the Rural Area designation in the Comprehensive Plan.  The importance of Route 250 as a scenic by-way has been reinforced throughout the public process of developing the Master Plan.  This recommendation supports the preservation of the rural setting along much of Route 250 West as well as the eastern portion of Route 240.  Commercial and mixed-use functions were considered for the segment of Route 250 west of the Development Area. However, the sensitivity of historic Yancey Mills, the value of the Route 250 viewshed itself, and the central role of downtown Crozet as the commercial focus for the area support the fringe area recommendation, that of  maintaining the lowest possible density for future development.

Downtown

Downtown Crozet is unique.  Until the action by the Board of Supervisors to amend the development area boundary, half of the developed “downtown” was located in the designated rural area on the Land Use Plan.  The Master Plan recommended including the developed area north of the boundary in the Development Area through a boundary amendment.  Infill and mixed-use development of the downtown commercial district on Route 240 along with other economic development possibilities north of ConAgra demonstrate the importance of integrating this area with existing development south of Route 240 and the CSX tracks.  Limited residential development between Firehouse Lane and ConAgra will be possible and appropriate when stormwater management facilities are constructed at one or more strategic locations on Beaver Creek, between the reservoir and downtown.  This public/private investment will also manage and improve runoff water quality for the existing downtown commercial and residential areas that currently lie outside the Lickinghole Creek drainage basin.  The inclusion of “north downtown” in the Crozet Development Area adds approximately 700 residents; however, this number is significantly fewer than the foregone development potential originally recommended for the southeast quadrant of the Development Area (a net reduction of approximately 800 residents when the two actions are considered together).

 

Other issues related to downtown include the possibility of an historic overlay or design control district along with infrastructure improvement strategies including the establishment of a Community Development Association (CDA) for downtown businesses and property owners.  This would afford a dedicated funding stream to support the self-identified priorities of those within the CDA downtown area.  A CDA would be established by Albemarle County, with the majority support of businesses and property owners within the designated and defined CDA area.

 

B.  Services

(All figures cited are current estimates that are anticipated to change over time.)

Local Governance

Recommendation

One of the central characteristics of the Crozet Master Plan has been the depth of public involvement and the positive interaction among and between residents, County staff, developers and other agencies that developed as a result of that process.  To fully benefit from the civic involvement inspired by the planning process, it is recommended that a mechanism be established to foster and sustain a working partnership between local government and Crozet residents in the implementation of the Plan.   The Board of Supervisors has approved a strategic plan for addressing local governance issues; however, some of the action items described below still require review and authorization by the Board of Supervisors:

 

1.   Appoint a Neighborhood Planner. A position in the County’s Department of Planning will be                     

      established/designated to work with the community and implement the Master Plan.

2.   Appoint a Crozet Community Council.  This entity will include Board-appointed  representatives to work with the Neighborhood Planner in implementing the Master Plan. The goal is to gather input from diverse interests and to work collaboratively with County staff, businesses, and developers.

3.   Establish Community Teams with to work on specific master plan issues such as

      housing, safety, park development etc. These would include residents and appropriate County staff.

Fire and Rescue

Recommendation

At a full population build out an additional fire and rescue station will not be needed within the Crozet Development Area.  The primary reason for this is that a combined fire and rescue station is planned for the Ivy area in the years 2007-2008, which will also serve Crozet.  CIP funds of approximately $4,500,000 are  allocated for this project.  Although an additional station in Crozet will not be required, maintenance and improvement of the existing downtown fire station will be needed.  Another alternative would be to relocate the current building. Other possible changes include the addition of rescue services and the possible integration of a police satellite office.  With the creation of a new fire station in the Ivy area, a full build out population of 12,000 will still only necessitate a volunteer force in Crozet, along with the possibility of an additional fire/rescue/police station in 2012. 

Existing Conditions

The County is in the process of updating its Fire and EMS Service Standards.  When updated, standards governing response time within the Development Areas will be established and the recommendations that follow should reflect those new standards.

 

The current fire services capital improvement program extends through the year 2010.  There are no plans to expand facilities in the Crozet area during that period.  However, in the year 2008-09, a combined fire/rescue station is planned for Ivy, which would serve as a backup for the Crozet area.  Additionally, the new “County Office Building South” on Fifth Street south of Charlottesville will support the coordination and expansion of fire, police, and emergency services through the Charlottesville-Albemarle region, although it will not have a direct impact on Crozet. 

 

Currently the Western Albemarle Rescue Squad occupies a different building than the fire station.  Although the 2800 square foot rescue squad building is ADA compliant, the bays do not meet current OSHA requirements and there is no room for expansion.  In light of the County’s commitment to co-locating fire and rescue services, it would be desirable to combine the rescue squad operations with fire stations. 

 

With the creation of the new Ivy facility, the downtown Crozet stations will continue to serve as backup or supplemental stations.  Both the Ivy and the Crozet stations would have a fire engine and one or more ambulances.  This arrangement supports optimal fire and rescue response time within the Crozet Development Area as well as the surrounding rural area. 

 

In addition to buildings, the CIP calls for the replacement of existing rolling stock (fire engines, ambulances, etc) as it ages. A need for additional rolling stock is anticipated to occur at full build-out in Crozet.  Another major impact of population growth will be an increase to volume and frequency of calls, so staffing will become an additional focus.  The County expects to continue supporting the volunteer system in Crozet in order to meet the increasing demands of a growing population.   A model for this arrangement is the Seminole volunteer fire department, which serves approximately 30,000 people using a combination of professional and/volunteer staff.  In the future, the Ivy station will probably require professional staff to supplement its volunteer team.  With Ivy playing a major role in the western part of the County, staffing for the fire and rescue squads currently serving Crozet can remain volunteer.

Police

Recommendation

As the population grows, it is recommended that a police satellite office be created for the Crozet service sector to maintain desired response times to all police emergency calls.  The department has recently conducted a Workload Allocation Study.  Once long range goals are established, exact response times and personnel service standards will be computed for the Development Areas.

Existing Conditions

Crozet is served by the Albemarle County Police Department, which has one central office in Charlottesville.  The Virginia State Police patrol Interstate 64, accessing Crozet at the Yancey’s Mill exit. The current County standard calls for three police officers to serve the area; these officers are assigned to the sector that includes Crozet, but they also cover the broad territory of Western Albemarle County.  This arrangement may change when the Police Department long range study is completed. There is currently no official police satellite office in Crozet; officers use a small room in the Meadows Community Center to write reports.  At build-out, Crozet would benefit from a police satellite office out of which officers can operate during their shift.  This satellite office could be located within the fire or rescue stations, or all three could be successfully combined if a renovation of the existing buildings is deemed necessary. 

C.  Programs

Fairs, festivals and local celebrations

Recommendation

County staff should work with local organizations to help procure supplemental funding for local celebrations and festivals.   The establishment of a tradition of events unique to Crozet will encourage both the local market and tourism in the area.

Existing Conditions

One of the primary venues for creating a sense of unique community identity is the creation of local fairs, festivals and celebrations.  Crozet residents are currently very active in these efforts, with a series of community events including but not limited to the following: 4th of July Parade; 4th of July Carnival at Claudius Crozet Park; Christmas Tree Lighting; Mountainside Fall Festival; Community Clean-up Days; Crozet Arts and Crafts fairs; Crozet Lions Variety Show; Mint Springs Trout Fishing Day for kids; Crozet Farmer’s Market; and Make a Difference Day (schools).

 

As the population grows and development occurs these events might grow to include activities related to greenway trails development or festivals that highlight the specific history of the area.  There are also opportunities to work with Nelson County in promoting the Claudius Crozet tunnel through the Blue Ridge Mountains as a tourist destination.

Social Services

R

ecommendation

Various social services providers and programs are important to the community. Currently, services oriented to seniors are provided in several ways through Mountainside Senior Living and the Meadows, as well as through the county schools.  As growth occurs, the county will have to consider augmenting these services and perhaps creating a central location within the Development Area where these and other services can be accessed.

Existing Conditions

One of the primary recommendations of the Community Diversity Task Group was to acknowledge the already diverse demographics that exist within Crozet. Task Group members were concerned that the current population of lower to middle income families not be pressured out of the area through market forces.  The Task Group recommended that the county take a strong role in protecting and helping these populations.  It was also recognized that beyond the provision of services, active support for a diverse area would mandate physical changes as well such as the installation of sidewalks, additional parks, and well-sited public facilities which would encourage people of different backgrounds to meet informally throughout the day.

 

Crozet, like the rest of Albemarle County, has become home to a growing population of seniors with a variety of living arrangements ranging from assisted living to “empty-nester” townhouses.  A number of low/moderate income residential opportunities also exist in Crozet.  Future development of units of this type should include funding for associated, necessary services.

 

 

D.  Utilities

Solid Waste and Recycling

Recommendation

Solid Waste: The growth of the Crozet area is not expected to significantly change the overall needs for solid waste and recycling with the County.  The largest anticipated change would occur if an industrial user comes in at the current ConAgra site.  However, even with that change, no additional land area would be required within the Crozet Development Area to handle the added need.

 

Recycling: Despite County budget constraints, residents maintain a strong interest in the recycling process.  Three new “drop-off centers” are proposed within the County’s current CIP.  The exact nature and location of these drop-off centers has yet to be determined but it is the recommendation of the Crozet Master Plan that one of these facilities be located within the Development Area and incorporated into the rehabilitation or relocation of the area’s fire and rescue station.

Existing Conditions

Waste: Albemarle County handles the processing of solid waste through the Rivanna Solid Waste Authority.  Trash and recycling materials are collected by about 26 private haulers, who pay tipping fees to the RWSA.  The Ivy facility, once a County landfill, is now a transfer center at which trash is collected (except for construction debris) and loaded onto trucks that take the waste to landfills operated by a private firm (BFI).   This arrangement is expected to continue for at least the next 20 years, assuming these landfills have adequate space.   

 

Recycling: One issue that will require attention within the next few years is the need for alternative mechanisms for collecting recyclable materials.  Albemarle’s private trash haulers currently collect glass, plastic, and newspaper for recycling.  County residents can also take these items plus mixed paper and cardboard to the McIntire recycling center in Charlottesville and various smaller drop sites located throughout the County.  The County currently contracts with the RWSA and a local private vendor to process recyclables.  However, the future of the recycling programs is uncertain.   The recycling center only breaks even selling the fiber (paper) products it collects, and the market for glass and plastic is currently inconsistent.  These items must often be thrown in landfills because there is no processing facility within a reasonable distance to buy them. If this trend continues, the funding for recycling will drop to the point where private haulers will likely discontinue collecting recyclables from County residents.  The County’s ‘Blue Bag’ program which helps with the recycling of plastic, glass and metal was stopped on July 1, 2003 due to funding shortfalls and poor cost effectiveness. 

 

Another alternative to the issue of recycling materials economically would be to encourage manufacturers who recycle glass and plastics to locate within a marketable distance of Albemarle County.   The ConAgra site, or a portion of it, might be one location for such a facility.  The County is working with RWSA to launch a new long-range plan for county-wide solid waste and recycling programs (due for completion in July of 2004) that would revisit the existing plan that was developed prior to the closure of the Ivy landfill and the sharp drop in the market for recyclables. 

 

The growth in Crozet is not expected to significantly change the overall needs for solid waste and recycling within the County.  However, as Crozet’s economy grows, a concentrated effort to bring in businesses that buy recyclable materials, especially glass and plastic, could help solve the region’s recycling crisis as well as provide a sustainable source of employment. 


 

Water and Sewer

[All figures cited are current estimates and are expected to change over time.]

 

Recommendation

Water: The Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority (RWSA) and the Albemarle County Service Authority (ACSA) have already begun planning for the necessary expansions to serve expected growth in Crozet.  Treatment plant equipment has been upgraded and preliminary design work has been done to accommodate an expansion to 1.3 million gallons per day (current capacity is 1 million gpd).  When demand reaches 80% of capacity (800,000 gpd), the final design and construction process will begin for this expansion.  Currently, the estimated cost of the expansion is $1,145,000. Planning, financing and engineering to meet water capacity needs within the Crozet Development Area, including wastewater, is the responsibility of the RWSA and ACSA.

 

Wastewater: The Crozet interceptor will have to expand its capacity to 3600 gallons per minute in order to handle the projected build-out population of 12,000, from its current capacity of 2400 gpm.  This will be done through a planned replacement of the pump stations.

Existing Conditions

Water: Beaver Creek reservoir, the source of Crozet’s public water supply, currently has a raw yield of 2 million gallons per day. This water supply is designated solely for Crozet at the present time.  As a result of the recent drought, the ACSA is examining all water supplies for possible benefit to the entire County and City service area.  The Crozet system is being considered for its potential contributions to the urban area’s  water supply,  but no change will  be considered which would decrease the availability of water for Crozet’s own current and future  needs.

 

As noted, the current treatment plant capacity for the Crozet public water supply is 1 million gallons per day (gpd).  During the recent drought, the town’s water use was about 257,000 gpd. Under normal conditions, the Crozet area averages 370,000 gallons per day for household, commercial, and public service uses.  This translates to 124 gallons per day per person; included in that figure is related use by fire services, schools, business, etc.  At this rate, at build-out the community’s 12,000 people will be using an average of 1,488,000 gpd.

 

When it was active as a frozen food plant, ConAgra used approximately 500,000 gpd in addition to the average town use at the time of about 300,000 gpd.  A new use for the plant has not yet been established, but any new facility would have to upgrade the water efficiency of the building significantly prior to approval.

 

Wastewater:  The Crozet interceptor was constructed in the early 1980’s to handle two thirds of the expected build-out of Crozet within 50 years.  The intent of the original design was to limit the nutrient loading to the water supply and to preclude the need for a water treatment plant in Crozet. The interceptor handles 2,400 gallons per minute (gpm) now and will need to be expanded to 3,600 gpm in order to handle build-out as originally planned.  This can be accomplished through a planned replacement of the pump stations, which is currently estimated to cost $1.5 million. 

 

Funding: Funding and strategizing for water capacity within the Crozet Development Area is the domain of the Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority and the Albemarle County Service Authority.  Funding is developed through revenue bonds issued by the RWSA which are repaid through ACSA and City water user fees.  A cost-sharing agreement between ACSA and the City to repay the bond is brokered before a new project is undertaken.  Connection fees include components for System Development and Rivanna Capacity Charges.  In this way new development brings equity into the system to offset a portion of the user fees.  Cost sharing on projects in the Urban Areas is negotiated.  The debt service on Crozet improvements is the Service Authority’s responsibility.

     Stormwater

A storm water management strategy has been fundamental in determining the limits of the Crozet Development Area from its inception. The construction of a large sediment control facility – Lickinghole Basin - has created a protected watershed for development in which sediment from new construction is detained before making its way further downstream into the Mechums River and ultimately the South Fork Rivanna Reservoir. In addition to its functional role, this protective environmental measure is also a remarkable public amenity for the community in the form of Lickinghole Basin.

 

The community should seek opportunities to protect the Basin through the use of innovative storm water management that, like the Basin, facilitates infiltration, allows sediment to settle, and provides for cleaning of the water by wetland vegetation.  Stormwater management should be emphasized in areas adjacent to impervious surfaces such as roofs, parking lots and paved roads. Permeable paving, porous asphalt and modular pavers allow increased water infiltration and should be considered for any impervious surface. Retention ponds and swales planted with native grasses, shrubs and trees provide excellent holding areas for water quality improvement while creating diverse wildlife habitats. These elements are sized and designed for the areas that drain into them. In many cases, they can be small, linear plantings that add to the aesthetic qualities of the neighborhoods.

 E. Connections

     Greenway Trails: citizen organized, citizen driven

Recommendation

In order to protect the prominent natural features and functioning ecological systems of the Crozet area, roughly one third of the Development Area is designated as natural lands, public parks, and school grounds.   The greenway system, a linear network of open space and trails, will serve to preserve and protect these sensitive areas while fostering connections between the people of Crozet and their natural, recreational, commercial, and cultural resources.   This system will interconnect neighborhoods, hamlets, and downtown while linking the Development Area to the larger region.   Trails have been constructed at Western Ridge, along portions of Lickinghole Creek, behind the Meadows and Brownsville and Henley schools, and in Mint Springs Park.

 

Implementing and maintaining a greenway system will require a public/private partnership involving many different people and groups.  Currently 20 percent of the proposed 22-mile greenway system crosses or includes small, private, individually-owned properties.  Access and use for these areas will have to be negotiated over time.  It is expected that large sections of the greenway system will be built, as opportunities arise, by civic groups and/or members of the development community.  An advisory committee made up of appointed citizens or a new Crozet Trails Foundation could facilitate communication between the various groups.  Albemarle County’s Parks and Recreation Department could be primarily responsible for maintenance of the system. However, to minimize cost, portions of the system could be adopted by volunteer groups, under an Adopt-A-Trail program.

 

The greenways in the Development Area are primarily located along the stream corridors (Powells Creek, Lickinghole Creek, Slabtown Branch, and Parrot Branch).  They protect the stream vegetation, wildlife habitat, and water quality, while providing areas for stormwater filtration and runoff, aquifer recharge, and flood control.  These contiguous forest areas not only protect corridors for wildlife migration but also create an alternative transportation route for Crozet residents, reducing reliance on the automobile and hence reducing traffic congestion.  After construction, pedestrian trails will link neighborhoods, commercial areas, schools, and natural areas and provide access to recreational opportunities such as hiking, canoeing, and picnicking.  In areas that are less environmentally sensitive, primitive trails can eventually be upgraded to create bike paths that could link Lickinghole Basin Preserve to Mint Springs Recreational Area.  Segments of urban greenway will extend from the riparian corridors into downtown along tree-lined streets and sidewalks.

Existing Conditions

Community and neighborhood accessible portions of the greenway trail system currently exist in the vicinity of Western Ridge and behind the Meadows and Brownsville and Henley schools.  

    Roads

The demand for and feasibility of roads, sidewalks, bicycle facilities, and public transit varies with the density, design, mix, and location of land use.  Traffic modeling has been conducted for the Crozet Growth Area and its immediate environs, and the results and analysis are included below.  Although useful as a general forecast, traffic modeling remains somewhat theoretical and thus open to interpretation depending upon specific development patterns and events.  However, the modeling clearly demonstrates that if employment opportunities are improved within Crozet, development in accordance with a Master Plan can mitigate negative impacts of “by right” development patterns on transportation.   The interdependency between the creation of additional jobs in the community and acceptable levels of congestion is one of the most important findings of the planning process in Crozet.

Recommendation

The increased employment opportunities and the added roadway network of the Master Plan can combine to minimize congestion in and around the Crozet Growth Area.  With these two changes, moderate congestion levels are anticipated only on Route 240 east of downtown Crozet and Route 250 east of the growth area.  If development occurs as envisioned by current zoning and no additional roadway improvements are made in the area except the Route 240/250 connector (east of Crozet Avenue), significant congestion is expected on Routes 240 and 250 and on Crozet Avenue.

 

Future volumes on US 250 West will approach or slightly exceed the roadway’s calculated capacity, putting pressure on the Virginia Department of Transportation to widen it to four lanes.  To maximize capacity, the county must limit the amount of development on properties adjacent to the Route 250 from I-64 to Route 240.  As called for in the Master Plan, the recommendation to remove the southeastern quadrant of the current Development Area resulted in part from the need to reduce pressure on this section of the highway.  This strategy would keep the number of driveways to a minimum and eliminate the need for traffic signals beyond those recommended for the intersections of Route 250 with Route 240, Eastern Avenue, Crozet Avenue and Western Avenue.

 

Major road recommendations include the following:

 

1.        Build the north/south road west of Crozet Avenue (called Western Avenue in the Master Plan) as part of the Old Trail private sector development (this includes stream crossings of Slabtown Creek and Lickinghole Creek), as well as numerous connections to neighborhood streets. Ideally, construction phasing should begin from the south (Route 250). Aside from construction itself, truck traffic should not be allowed on this road.

2.        Construct Main Street parallel to and south of the CSX tracks running from Crozet Avenue eastward by building the first segment from Crozet Avenue to the Barnes Lumber property.  (This will take trucks off “the Square.”)  This could be funded by the private sector, or through some form of public/private partnership.  The primary beneficiary of the first leg of Main Street (off Route 240) is the Lumber Yard.

3.        Construct Eastern Avenue, Main Street, and primary neighborhood streets within the two or three major properties available for new development in the area east of Crozet Avenue.

4.        Construct Lickinghole Bridge on a time-line appropriate to demand.

5.        Other road improvements are key to the short, medium, and long-range success of the Master Plan, including Jarman’s Gap Road sidewalk/bike lane improvements, downtown sidewalks, and Crozet Avenue issues (i.e., safety improvements such as the intersection with the entrance to the Meadows).

6.        Streets within residential/mixed-use areas should be pedestrian-friendly, developed according to design              guidelines of this Master Plan, constructed and paid by private sector developers as part of their developments.

 

Methodology and Modeling

The TRANPLAN travel demand model used for the Eastern Planning Initiative (EPI) was used to forecast traffic in the Crozet Growth Area. Forecasts were generated for two scenarios:

 

1.        Trend - reflects build out of the Crozet Growth Area as allowed by existing zoning

2.        Master Plan - reflects the Framework Plan as endorsed by the Albemarle Board of County           commissioners

 

(The Jefferson Area Eastern Planning Initiative (EPI) was a regional land use/transportation study by the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission (TJPDC), with funding from the Federal Highway Administration Transportation and Community and System Preservation (FHWA TCSP) program.  Under the premise that community design affects important factors such as daily travel and human interactions, the project team inventoried 20 urban, suburban and rural community types or "elements" throughout the region, and created ideal future designs based on citizen feedback.  The elements then became building blocks to create alternative 50-year land use and transportation scenarios for evaluation by residents, using a software model created for the project called CorPlan. The consensus was the region should avoid a dispersed, low-density pattern and plan for clustered enhanced communities along major corridors and key crossroads.  Citizens noted the dispersed scenario resulted in no feasible alternatives to highway expansion, whereas the clustered patterns provided for pedestrian-friendly, transit-oriented communities and set the stage for a future rail or bus rapid transit system. )

 

The EPI’s CorPlan land use model was used to develop land use and socioeconomic inputs for both scenarios.  Regional land use information from the Nodal 2025 development scenario of the EPI was modified in the Crozet growth area to reflect the development patterns of the two scenarios.  Total population within the Crozet growth area for both was roughly 12,000, while total employment potential was around 3,000 for the Trend scenario and 6,000 for the Master Plan scenario.

 

The Charlottesville Area Regional Transportation Study (CHARTS) network, reflecting the Metropolitan Planning Organization’s Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP), was the base network for both scenarios.  The Crozet area was detailed in the network by adding roadways and splitting traffic analysis zones.  Route 250 from Charlottesville to I-64 west of Crozet is in the LRTP as a four lane facility, but given Albemarle County’s rejection of a corridor study recommending four lanes along this section of Route 250, the network was modified to assume only two lanes. 

 

The Route 240/250 connector programmed for 2006 was the only major roadway improvement added to the base network to create the Trend scenario network.  Major roads from the Framework Plan were added to the base network for the Master Plan scenario.

 

Future congestion levels on roadways were estimated by dividing the forecast volumes by capacities.  Congestion is assumed significant if the volume to capacity ratio exceeds 1.2 and moderate if the ratio ranges from 0.9 to 1.2.

Forecasts Results

Figure 1 presents the traffic forecasts for the Trend scenario and Figure 2 presents traffic forecasts for the Master Plan scenario.  Table 1 compares the volume forecasts for both scenarios against existing volumes.

Future congestion levels shown in Table 2 were estimated by dividing the forecast volumes by capacities developed by the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT).  Congestion is assumed significant if the volume to capacity ratio exceeds 1.1 and moderate if the ratio ranges from 1.0 to 1.1.

 

The capacities listed in Table 1 differ because they assume differing roadway operational characteristics – primarily differences in the number of signalized intersections and cross streets per mile.  Signal densities and cross streets are lowest on Route 250, resulting in the highest capacities, while capacities are lowest on non-state roadways, where cross streets are more frequent.

 

It should be noted that the capacity of Jarman’s Gap Road is currently not 12,000 because of the substandard lane widths and difficult geometry along the roadway.  The higher capacity assumes the road will be reconstructed at some time during the planning horizon.  Operational improvements may also be needed along Crozet Avenue to improve its capacity.

 

According to the transportation forecasts, congestion levels are significant only on Route 250 east of Route 240 and west of Crozet Avenue in the Trend scenario.  Congestion levels are moderate on the same sections of Route 250 in the Master Plan scenario because of lower volumes.  According to the transportation forecasts, congestion is not a problem on Crozet Avenue and Route 240 near downtown in either scenario. 

        Table 1 – Daily Volumes on Key Roadways (see attached table at end of document)

 

 

 

 

 

        Table 2 – Congestion Levels on Key Roadways (see attached table at end of document)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Figure 1 – Trend Scenario Traffic Forecasts (see attached table at end of document)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Figure 2 – Master Plan Scenario Traffic Forecasts (see attached table at end of document)

Transit Services

Two types of transit improvements were considered for the Crozet area – a circulator system that serves trips beginning and ending in Crozet and a connector for trips between Crozet and Charlottesville.  A sketch planning method was used to estimate potential ridership for both improvements.  To estimate potential ridership, one to five percent of the 88,000 total daily person trips forecast by TranPlan model are assumed to shift to transit, resulting in between 880 to 4,400 transit trips per day.  Typically, less than one percent of all person trips use transit so the range is comparatively high yet not unrealistic because the Master Plan is purposely designed to promote walking and transit trips.  The lower end of the range reflects moderate service levels (buses pass stops once every 30 minutes) while the high end reflects high service levels (buses pass stops once every 10 minutes). 

 

Around 20 percent of the future traffic generated in Crozet is destined for Charlottesville, which is a reasonable proportion to assume for transit trips.  Thus from 200 to 900 of the total Crozet transit trips are estimated to use the connector routes and the remaining 700 to 3,500 transit trips will use the circulator system. 

 

The high estimate of ridership on the connector service (900 daily trips) is not enough to make light rail or commuter rail transit economically feasible options.  Recent “New Starts” applications for light rail approved by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) have daily ridership estimates of 10,000 or more.  While it is possible to reduce construction costs by using the freight rail tracks from Crozet to Charlottesville, it has proven extremely difficult to reach agreements with private railroad companies for the use of their tracks because of safety and other concerns.  Furthermore, operating costs, born mostly by the state and local government are high in relation to the anticipated ridership.

 

Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) service on I-64 appears to be the most economically viable service given the ridership potential.  A route could begin in downtown Crozet, travel south and west along Crozet Avenue and Route 250, then use I-64 and the US 29 Bypass to reach the University of Virginia and downtown Charlottesville.

 

A local circulator service could include two routes that converge in downtown.  The first route would travel east/west along Route 240 and Main Street into downtown.  The second route would travel north/south from the employment center along Western Avenue to downtown.  Each route would require two buses to attain 15 minute headway (time between buses). 

Existing Conditions

JAUNT on-demand transit service is currently available in the Crozet area. 

 

    Bicycle Routes and Sidewalks

Each community in the Master Plan is specifically designed to provide destinations within a quarter mile of surrounding homes, a comfortable walking distance for most.  All roads within the communities will have sidewalks to further encourage walking.  Bicycle and walking paths are recommended along each of the proposed greenways, which purposely connect the community centers, providing convenient walk/bicycle access throughout the Crozet growth area.

Existing Conditions

Sidewalks and pedestrian pathways exist in various neighborhoods in Crozet, among them St. George Avenue, Three-Notch’d Road from ConAgra to Downtown, Downtown to Charlottesville Waldorf/Crozet Elementary School, Western Ridge, Grayrock Orchards, Waylands Grant, and Parkside Village.  There are currently no designated bicycle routes in Crozet. 

 

F.   Distinctive Places

    Historic Districts

Recommendation

During the Master Plan process both Crozet and Yancey’s Mill residents expressed interest in preserving their historic resources in the face of increasing development.  To preserve the historic fabric of the Crozet Development Area, the Master Plan recommends that community residents begin the process of applying for historic landmark status for downtown by listing it with the National Register for Historic Places.  In the future Yancey’s Mill residents may also wish to pursue National Register listing.  Though mostly honorary in nature, the status of being listed on the National Register will encourage and/or require local, state and federal government staff to consider the historic nature of many of Crozet’s built structures when weighing options for publicly-funded improvements.

 

Existing Conditions

Registration for both the Downtown area and Yancey’s Mill areas is a task that in many ways has already begun with the adoption of Albemarle County’s Historic Preservation Plan into the Comprehensive Plan in September of 2000.  The extensive historical research behind this report highlights the many valuable structures located in the Crozet area.  Of particular note to future development in Crozet is the Preservation Plan’s recommendation that both downtown and the Yancey Mills possess have the necessary resources for registration on the National Register of Historic Places. The next step, completing the registration process, is one that can and should be taken up by local residents.

    Schools

Recommendation

The primary Master Plan recommendation is for a new elementary school to be developed in the eastern portion of Crozet.  County long term planning has identified construction of this facility to be completed in 2011 with a budget of $12.4 million.  In the approved 2003/04 to 2012/13 Capital Improvement Program (CIP), a Henley addition is scheduled for completion in 2005 and increased capacity will be added to Western Albemarle High School between 2008 and 2013.  The School Board is aware that as development occurs in Crozet it may need to move students who are currently in the feeder pattern for the Western Albemarle High School.  The redistricting of students to either the Monticello or Albemarle High School feeder pattern may be necessary as new schools and additions are completed in those areas, to help accommodate the growth of Crozet.  The Master Plan also recommends that the Henley expansion to 900 students occur in the near future. This expansion will help to accommodate immediate growth needs within the area.

Existing Conditions

Methods used by School Facilities Planning to estimate school population growth are complex formulas that take into account live birth and enrollment data for the school district.  In addition, specific capacity formulas are used to compute the available classroom space for elementary, middle and high schools.  Given the complexity of this task, it is difficult to make detailed assumptions about school populations for more than a five year period.  However, on a larger scale, master planning process some basic assumptions about school enrollments can be made based on an increase of population from approximately 3,000 to 12,000 people. 

 

Based on conversations with School Board staff, a new elementary school will definitely be needed within the area.  The timing of this planning decision combined with the schedule for private development proposals creates an opportunity to implement the vision of the Neighborhood Model, in which schools are integrated into the physical fabric of a community from its inception.

 

Growth in the Crozet area will also require decisions regarding the development of additional capacity at both middle and high schools.  Although the Neighborhood Model calls for schools to be placed within the neighborhoods they serve, the consulting team recognizes that the issue of school growth and school siting as it pertains to the Neighborhood Model is still one in which new development patterns must conform to internal School Board policy considerations and existing school locations.

    Libraries

Recommendation

The enlargement of the Crozet library is a central concern of many in the community.  The Master Plan recommends that a new library facility be built within the heart of downtown, on Crozet Avenue.  The County CIP currently has $5.4 million in funding starting in 2005. The Master Plan concurs with this timeframe as a way to catalyze the redevelopment of the downtown area.   At build-out, Crozet will require 22,567square feet of library space with 42 parking spaces plus bike racks.  The community consensus is that expanding the current library space is not advisable given the site and building constraints.

 

The estimated cost and committed funding for the new building with associated parking is $5,400,000.   The agency responsible for planning and funding new libraries is the Jefferson Madison Regional Library System, a public service unit operated jointly by Albemarle County, the City of Charlottesville, and Nelson, Louisa, Fluvanna, and Greene counties. 

 

Existing Conditions

Crozet currently has one branch library of 1,864 square feet. Many within the community believe that the facility is already inadequate for their needs. 

 

    Parks and Recreation

Recommendation

The strategy for the design of Parks and Public Space in the Crozet Development Area is to create a network of public parks and greenways that will work on a number of levels:

 

1.        To protect sensitive natural systems (centered on the Lickinghole Creek drainage system)

2.        To reserve public areas of topographical, historical, or cultural interest that characterize Crozet

3.        To create areas for structured and unstructured recreation

4.        To link neighborhoods to downtown, schools, parks, and the larger region.

 

This network forms the centrally positioned spine of the development area, structured around the Lickinghole Creek watershed.  It maximizes the community benefit from unbuildable land.  Due to the rolling terrain and dendritic stream patterns of Crozet, a large portion (35% is in flood plain and steep slopes) of the development area can be preserved in this system as potential recreational space. In addition to its stream valleys, the region is also characterized by high points and views of the nearby Blue Ridge Mountains.  Rather than developing all of these high points, the Master Plan reserves a few key areas – most prominently, Eastern and Western Parks - so that these features can be appreciated by the entire community. This aspect of the Master Plan strives to meet the goal expressed by the community to “preserve the rural character” while balancing the needs of private developers.

Existing Conditions

According to the Albemarle County Community Facilities Plan, the development area currently has sufficient parks and recreation resources to handle the population growth.  With the projected population of 12,000, the facilities plan recommends that the Development Area have approximately 34 acres of community park space, 67 acres of district park space, and 112 acres of county park space. Neighborhood parks, defined in the Facilities Plan as private areas associated with developments, are also meant to relieve some of the pressure on the public parks.  These figures are already accounted for with 43 acres of community park (Crozet Park and Crozet Elementary), 125 acres of district park (WAHS complex), and 637 acres of county park (Beaver Creek and Mint Springs).   However, the strategy in the Master Plan is to preserve and nourish a system integral to the community rather than accounting for minimum standards for parks and associated facilities and developing all remaining land.  The proposed open space system can serve to mitigate stormwater runoff, nourish the plant and animal communities of Crozet, create new pedestrian and bike routes, and attract tourism.

Neighborhood Model Standards

The Master Plan follows the principle of the Neighborhood Model that every resident should be within a quarter mile of a focal point, whether that is a commercial center or a park.  According to the Master Plan, at no point in the development area is one more than a quarter of a mile from the open space network. In addition to integrating all of the riparian corridors and existing parks into this network, the plan proposes adding several new district, community, and neighborhood parks.   Lickinghole Creek Basin, entirely within the floodplain and currently owned by the county, is designated as a district recreational preserve.  In opening this area to the public for the first time, a commitment will be made to protect and enhance the beauty and ecological diversity of this area through minimal disturbance.   Two community parks, 20 acres each, are centrally located (at high points) on each side of the Development Area.  Each provide views to the Blue Ridge Mountains and downtown Crozet and each has multiple trail access points.  Both of these parks will be modeled in size and relationship to surrounding neighborhoods on the existing Crozet Park.  They will be located on high ground, and will have a mix of recreation uses (sports fields, trails, picnicking, and preserved areas). They are also positioned to be centrally located relative to developable area in the eastern and western portions of the Crozet Development Area. 

 

The addition of a new elementary school on the eastern side of the development area will bring an additional 8 acres of field space and an adjacent neighborhood green (3.5 acres) that might seek to preserve the form of the former industrial water filtration ponds as an artifact of the old ConAgra plant.  The potential construction of an additional middle school will bring additional public space and sports fields. A three- acre trailhead park, centrally located on Crozet Avenue, will provide parking and access to the greenway system.  Other small pocket parks and greens, averaging 1 acre in size, will serve new and old neighborhoods.  These neighborhood parks would be created through private funding or by developers fulfilling their open space requirements.

Urban Forestry

The Master Plan also encourages the maintenance of a 50% forest canopy through an urban forestry plan.  Urban forestry is recommended for a number of reasons.  Recent research on urban forestry recommends a minimum of 40% tree canopy to maintain a healthy environment.  This canopy mitigates air and water pollution, reduce glare, reduce energy costs, absorb noise, create microclimates, increase property values, create character, and attract new businesses.   This percentage can be achieved through preservation of open space, tightened regulations monitoring clearing in new developments, and additional planting on all new properties, existing properties, and along all streets.   Implementation of this urban forestry plan will require a public/private partnership that might include tax incentives for participants, led by community organizations and programs within the schools.  This plan encourages the establishment of a community tree nursery that could supply parks, neighborhoods, and streets with additional trees.

Community Nursery and Gardens

The creation of a tree nursery in Crozet would recall the community’s agricultural history, especially its orchards.  Similarly, community gardens would add another agricultural element to the urban environment, providing productive grounds for community members to grow food for themselves or others in a cooperative activity.   These gardens could occupy portions of the parks, school grounds, or spaces that might otherwise be considered residual.  The gardens would be created through a public/ private partnership with the majority of the design, construction, and management reserved for those who will use them. 

 

Facilities

The Crozet Development Area currently has 1 stadium, 9 multi-purpose fields (for soccer, football, lacrosse, and hockey), 5 baseball/softball fields, 1 outdoor swimming pool, and 6 tennis courts.  Recent National Parks and Recreation Association Standard Goals for Urban Areas suggest that the Development Area should have an additional 1 soccer/football field, 2.5 baseball fields, 1 tennis court, 8 playgrounds, 4.5 miles of nature trails, and 4.3 miles of bike trails. Additionally, the Virginia State standards recommend having 8,400 square feet of indoor recreational space for the growth area.

 

The relevance of current standards is under debate. Albemarle County is conducting a recreation facilities study to calculate more precisely the needs for these growing communities.  Until further data is available regarding facility needs, recommendations center on the improvement of existing facilities at Henley Middle School and Crozet Park, and the addition of a baseball diamond and soccer field in both Eastern and Western Park.  A new field would also be part of the new elementary school grounds.  Also recommended is the construction of an indoor recreational facility, including a swimming pool, to serve both competitive and recreational needs in the area.

G.  Form: Maps and Site Development Guidelines

Crozet is a collection of existing and potential places which vary in size, scale and intensity due to the dramatic topography carved out by a branching, riparian network.  It is and will continue to be home to a variety of businesses and households due to its agricultural past and proximity to Charlottesville and the University of Virginia.  Given the physical and social diversity of Crozet, a clear, flexible planning tool for organizing development is required. Therefore, as articulated in the Neighborhood Model, the “transect” concept is used whenever and wherever appropriate, with several benefits.  It identifies and organizes distinctive places according to the principles of the Neighborhood Model (NM).  These places are organized along a continuum of lesser to greater intensity of development, have discernible focal points and edges within a “pedestrian shed” (i.e. the distance from focal point to edge is within walking or biking distance), and accommodate a variety of dwelling types and lifestyle options.

Deviations from the Neighborhood Model

Unlike the Neighborhood Model which focused exclusively on the “neighborhood” as the fundamental unit for planning within the County’s designated Development Areas, other types of places have been identified in Crozet. In addition to neighborhoods there are hamlets and a downtown.  These new place-types take Crozet’s unique physical, economic and social forces into account.  One modification in particular results from the riparian network and topography of Crozet.  Typically the shape of a neighborhood or hamlet is a circle where distances from focal point to edge range from 3/16 to 3/8 mile.  Within Crozet, these shapes adjust to meet the current residential and topographic conditions.

 

    Site Development Guidelines

Through a year-long public participation process (consisting of six community meetings and numerous task group and developer meetings), existing places with discernible centers as well as potential sites for new development were identified in Crozet.  In addition to the built environment, distinctive natural features were identified as potential district-wide centers for neighborhoods and hamlets.  

The Built Environment: Place-Type

Once potential redevelopment (infill) and/or new development (Greenfield) areas were identified, their potential size, scale and district-wide function were explored.  The area determined to have the most redevelopment value from an economic and cultural standpoint is downtown Crozet. The physical extent of downtown is approximately equal in area to three neighborhoods.  After downtown, and second in size, scale and intensity of development are the neighborhoods.  Neighborhoods have relatively large developable areas (close to the 125 acre ideal neighborhood size) and lie within 1/4 mile to 2 miles of downtown. Third in size, scale and intensity are hamlets, with a small developable area (60 acres +/-) and a distance from downtown typically of a mile to two miles.  Districts are special areas defined by a single use, which do not take up more than 20% of the place-type.  In Crozet, districts are areas designated for employment (i.e. professional, commercial office or light industrial); they still exhibit the desired physical characteristics of the mixed use development.

The Built Environment: Transect Applied to Place-Type

Transect zones with associated site development guidelines were then applied to each place as a means of further defining its character, scale and function in the regional context.  Design guidelines outlined in the Neighborhood Model were developed and applied to fit the specific conditions of Crozet.  Like the zones associated with the Neighborhood Model continuum, each Crozet transect zone has its own distinctive set of site development guidelines.  These guidelines define the zones in general terms (such as function, area and land use) as well as specific physical terms (such as density, spatial enclosure, building siting and infrastructure.) Specific correlations are as follows:

 

·         Development Area Preserve: environmentally sensitive, protected

·         Development Area Reserve: very low density, i.e. either an active farm or a site with difficult terrain

·         Urban Edge: supports center with predominantly residential uses

·         Urban General: supports downtown or neighborhood core with variety of residential types and some mixed use

·         Urban Center: supports the downtown core with a mix of uses, residential types and amenities

·         Urban Core: commercial hub for several neighborhoods and/or villages

·         District: special single uses which are either incompatible with neighborhood land use or large enough to be shared by neighborhoods, villages, towns and cities

·         Corridor: linear settlement occurring along a major thoroughfare, with most intensive uses adjacent to the road

 

All of these place-types can be “built” by combining three or more of the six transect zones listed above. The distinctive scale and intensity of each place, (i.e. Hamlet, Neighborhood or Downtown,) is demonstrated along its own center to edge continuum. The combinations of transect zones (referred to as Crozet Transect or CT) for each place type are as follows:

 

Hamlet [insert description from p. 49]

Edge Zone: Development Area Reserve or Preserve (CT1 & CT2)

General: Urban Edge (CT3)

Center: Urban General (CT4)

 

Neighborhood [insert description from p. 49]

Edge Zone: Urban Edge (CT3)

General: Urban General (CT4)

Center: Urban Center (CT5)

Districts: Employment area designated

 

Downtown [insert description from p. 49]

Edge Zone: Urban General (CT4)

General: Urban Center (CT5)

Center: Urban Core (CT6)

District: Employment area designated

The Built Environment: Corridor-Type

Not all of the developable land in Crozet falls neatly within the definition of a place-type.  With corridors, existing settlement follows a linear pattern along an important thoroughfare and the continuum is inverted.  Instead of the least intense development occurring on the edge or fringe, adjacent to the thoroughfare, the most intense pattern has developed over time to take advantage of visibility and easy access from the road. Like place-types, however, these corridor-types can be “built” by combining three or more of the six transect zones listed above.  The “building” of the corridor-type incorporates what has already occurred along major thoroughfares and seeks to use it to create a distinct character for the place.

 

Corridor-Type

Edge Zone: Urban Center (CT5) or General (CT4)

General: Urban Edge (CT3)

Center: Development Area Reserve (CT2) or Preserve (CT1)

The Natural Environment: Open Space System and Rural Character

With the construction of the Lickinghole Basin, the Crozet Development Area boundaries began to be established as the watershed limits of the basin. This important first act revealed an intention on the part of Albemarle County to think of the Development Area as interconnected systems occupying the same watershed. The Public Space Network of Crozet seeks to reinforce and build upon this concept.  Natural areas, unstructured recreation areas, meadows, reserves and preserves are linked to the fullest extent possible through the dendritic pattern of streams and the 22 mile Greenway network. The Greenways follow the stream corridors within the 100’ wide stream buffer through both public and private land. In situations where the Greenways access urban areas, they connect with the urban infrastructure of sidewalks and bike lanes.  In more rural areas within the community, they may serve multiple users, including equestrians, hikers, and bikers.  These connections from the public open space into and through the urban areas reinforce the idea of natural systems woven into the fabric of Crozet. The character of the Greenway varies as it traverses different terrains throughout the development area.

 

Preservation of the rural character of Crozet is an issue that came from discussions between the community and the technical consultants. At the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Crozet offers significant views to the mountains and the surrounding forests and farms, and the community sent a clear message that it wanted to preserve both the aesthetic qualities and agricultural history and character in the face of significant growth. To honor this community request, several elevated parcels were identified and recommended for preservation as open space.  The intention is that they will be maintained as meadow and in some cases woodlands for passive recreation and be linked, via the Greenway, to the surrounding neighborhoods.  The preservation of areas and parcels of community significance identified in the planning process in something close to their original state is a unique reflection of Crozet, past and present, and a fundamental recommendation of the Master Plan.

 

Natural Environment: Stormwater

The environmental benefits of storm water retention are extensive; both at the scale of the Development Area and the individual parking lot or yard. The Master Plan seeks to address both of these situations through the Site Development Guidelines, as well as  design proposals like the Greenway and trail network leading to Lickinghole Basin.  The primary goals of storm water retention are the replenishment of aquifers through water absorption, and the improvement of water quality through sustained contact with plants and sediment removal. Paving materials should be selected for permeability and durability. Swales, rain gardens and small retention areas should be used to further facilitate groundwater recharge.

 

Natural Environment: Recreation

The Public Space Network of Crozet simultaneously provides a wide variety of recreation opportunities for the citizens while serving as the environmental spine of the Development Area. Public space amenities have been sited to profit from natural features, nearby institutions, and views in a way that underscores the many natural qualities of the upland Piedmont Virginia landscape.

 

Natural Environment: Dark Skies

During the year-long Master Plan process, the subject of the community’s viewshed as an irreplaceable resource was noted by residents on a number of occasions.  In addition to a stated desire to protect and preserve Crozet’s exceptional mountain views, there was concern that the unspoiled night sky of Western Albemarle County might be adversely affected by growth within the Community of Crozet, and the outdoor lighting that often accompanies residential and commercial development.  These concerns were articulated in the Small Task Group meetings as well as at Design Day.  The Master Plan recommends that street lighting, commercial and roadway lighting, and other exterior lighting be carefully monitored within Crozet.  Furthermore, outdoor lighting should be minimized in areas which are widely visible from other parts of the community, such as upland areas or flat expanses which do not have the benefit of a visual buffer created by topography, vegetation or existing structures.

 

 

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