ZTA-2007-00005 Crozet Downtown

A fourth work session to continue review and discussion of the Crozet Downtown Zoning project, with a focus on regulations for a single Downtown Crozet Zoning District. This included a discussion of regulations the Commission recommended be modified in their last work session (10/30/07): requirement for mixed use, further reduction in parking requirements, and the requirement for an average residential maximum residential unit size. This work session will also focus on implementation of the zoning district and recommendations for boundaries, should the County comprehensively rezone portions of Downtown. (Rebecca Ragsdale)


In summary,

Staff presented a power point presentation including an overview of the suggested modifications to the Downtown district regulations and implementation recommendations for a County initiated comprehensive rezoning of a portion of Downtown to the proposed zoning district.  Staff made the following comments:


Regarding the revised table of zoning district regulations, the changes included:


Regarding implementation and proposed boundaries of a rezoning to the new zoning district:


        Staff noted that the Fiscal Impact Planner, Steven Allshouse, had just recently done a preliminary assessment of fiscal impacts using the Countyís CRIM mode on the modified boundaries recommended by staff. That preliminary assessment found that under the proposed new zoning district, there was not a negative fiscal impact over a 20 year period to the County. This assessment was based several assumptions about potential build-out under the new proposed zoning, including that about 25 percent of the total square footage in downtown would be residential uses and the assessment factored in potential proffers into that model. 


Commission Discussion & Recommendations

The Commission discussed the zoning district modifications and boundaries, made comments, and provided feedback and answered the questions posed by staff.  Public comment was taken.  No formal action was taken with the Planning Commission recommended the following:


Parking-The Planning Commission continued to recommend that the minimum number of parking spaces should be further reduced from the recommendations of the consultant. The Commission indicated that they needed more information behind the recommendation of 1 space/1,000 square feet of net floor area for non-residential uses.

The Commission agreed with staffís recommendation that they preferred to use the current Zoning Ordinance regulations of Section 4.12.8.e for parking trading agreements.


Requirement for Mixed Use- The Planning Commission asked staff to pursue other exemptions or incentives for mixed use, such as the tiered approach as suggested by staff but did not recommend that district regulations include requirements that buildings be mixed use, which is defined as two of three uses: office, retail/services, or residential.


Maximum average residential unit size-The Commission recommended that the regulation of a 1,000 sq ft maximum average for residential units not be included in the new zoning district regulations. The Commission requested that staff work on this issue to provide additional incentives/provisions to assure affordable housing in Downtown Crozet.   


Boundaries of Possible Rezoning- The Commission recommended that the Downtown Crozet area should be as large as possible to help ensure the economic viability of Downtown Crozet and indicated a preference for including the additional properties studied and shown on previous consultant and Downtown Crozet Association maps for rezoning.



Other discussion items:



The following public comment was taken:


        Ross Stevens, resident of White Hall, said that he had not had the opportunity to look at the packets that were available.  He made the following comments:

o       He was concerned with the boundaries since they were trying to create Downtown Crozet so that it could compete with other commercial areas.

o       Regarding the frontage on Carter Street, it is important to have commercial on both sides.   He did anticipate Downtown Crozet becoming smaller.  There needs to be more space to accomplish the flexibility of developing downtown in a larger space.

o       He did not see the need to change the boundaries of our Comprehensive Land Plan.  It appears to be a smaller area with the new recommendations of staff.  He did not agree on a transition zone, but a larger Downtown zone.  In order for Carter Street to provide for Downtown it is important to keep the Comprehensive Plan.  It is important to work with the setbacks, the water drainage, the landscaping and buffers, but not necessarily the boundaries. 

o       The Downtown Crozet Association comprises of 75 percent of property owners and business people in Downtown who live, breath and work Downtown and know it very well.  He asked that the Commission put more consideration into their recommendations.


        Sandy Wilcox, President of the Downtown Crozet Association (DCA), addressed the following concerns of his group:


        Mac Lackerty, a member of the Crozet Community Advisory Committee, said that he was upset with the process.  In every meeting he has gone to they have seen a different iteration of the plan.  It is imperative that they do something for Crozet.  They have already lost 2 businesses.  As a member of the Advisory Committee, he feels that whatever they do has been totally ignored.  If they endorse a plan he would expect to at least be given consideration as that plan was endorsed.  He felt that they have been blind sided and the process is wrong.  It is imperative that they do something now to sustain Downtown Crozet.  He is pushed with the desire to get something done to make it easier for people to start a business in Crozet.


        Mike Marshall, Chairman of the Crozet Advisory Council, said that he was surprised to see a new recommendation.  He echoed Mr. Lackertyís comments.  He did not accept the 1,000 square foot limit on the unit size.  The Downtown Crozet Association supported by the Advisory Council saw that there was no need to establish a unit size for downtown.  The rational for that limitation was to create affordable housing, which he did not think was the appropriate tool to use to create affordable housing. On the exclusion of the lumber, this is now the 26th meeting that he has attended on downtown zoning and this is the first time that he has heard that there is a conflict about including the lumber yard in the downtown.  The owner of the lumber yard has been at many of these meetings and so far that he knows he has never expressed the idea that he saw a conflict with this idea.  The recommendation to remove Carter Street taken with the exclusion of the lumber yard shows that what the County is doing is not putting the survivability of Downtown Crozet as the cultural and commercial center of town as the Master Plan envisions it.  That is not first.  What is first is maintaining the opportunity to extract proffers from future developers.  They are not going to get those proffers on the area that is currently zoned commercial.  So if they take the areas like west Carter Street and the lumber yard that are not zoned commercial  and pull them out, then that means in the future those properties would have to be rezoned and at that time they would be asked for a proffer.  So this is really about generating future income for the County.  The more obstacles created for Downtown Crozet the more businesses will be drawn to Route 250.  The rationale for mixed use was never explained by the consultant regarding the 7,500 square foot building. The Town wants a single district with a unified set of rules that are relatively simple.  They oppose pulling the 28 acre lumber yard site.  The County needs to provide an incentive for businesses to locate in Downtown Crozet.  It is all about proffers and not about what is good for Downtown Crozet.  They support mixed uses, but donít want every property owner to be required to have a mixed use. 


        Cliff Fox voiced concerns about the mixed use requirement. There are a lot easier and more general ways to handle the 1,000 square foot requirement.  They could put a percentage of affordable housing within the developed residential element of it.  If someone was developing 4 units, then 1 of them would be affordable. It needs to create flexibility and not strict regulations to allow the area to change organically and more simply.  They are getting a lot of little regulations that are going to impede a more flexible form of development.  They should try to relax the restrictions in a constructive way so that this is a viable thing that can occur over time.  There is a need to allow flexibility and not more restrictions.


        Mary Rice, a member of the Crozet Advisory Committee, encouraged everyone to go out and walk the boundaries of Crozet, particularly on Carter Street.  The points being made about Carterís Street are really valid.  It is really important that the County create a level playing field for Downtown Crozet.  When Old Trail was approved at 250,000 square feet of commercial it really knocked Crozet Downtown area back.  They need to do everything that they can to promote flexibility for business owners in Downtown Crozet and property owners.  She was not in favor of the mixed use requirement for all of the reasons the people have already indicated here.  She was not in favor of the 1,000 square foot minimum for residences.  They need a mix of incomes in Downtown Crozet.  It is important to create some diversity in Downtown Crozet.  If someone wants a 2,000 square foot apartment, she felt that they should have them.



Staff will follow up on how to approach the next steps.  Follow up work sessions at which further details will be further discussed will be scheduled in the future.  Ultimately, text language will be developed and a public hearing scheduled. 


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