Albemarle County Planning Commission

September 15, 2009

 

The Albemarle County Planning Commission held a meeting, work session and public hearing on Tuesday, September 15, 2009, at 6:00 p.m., at the County Office Building, Lane Auditorium, Second Floor, 401 McIntire Road, Charlottesville, Virginia.

 

Members attending were Thomas Loach, Vice Chairman; Calvin Morris, Don Franco, Bill Edgerton, Eric Strucko, Chair and Julia Monteith, AICP, non-voting representative for the University of Virginia were present.  Marcia Joseph was absent.

 

Other officials present were Lori Allshouse, Manager of Strategic Planning and Performance; Judy Wiegand, Senior Planner; Lee Catlin, Community Relations Manager; Ron Lilley, Project Manager of Department of Office of Facilities Development; Elaine Echols, Principal Planner; David Benish, Chief of Planning; Wayne Cilimberg, Director of Planning and Greg Kamptner, Deputy County Attorney. 

 

Call to Order and Establish Quorum:

 

Mr. Strucko called the regular meeting to order at 6:00 p.m. and established a quorum.

 

            Work Sessions:

 

CCP-2008-00002Crozet Master Plan Five Year Update

Review of focus areas for revision to the Master Plan and public process (Rebecca Ragsdale)

 

In Ms. Ragsdale absence, Ms. Echols and Mr. Benish presented the information.

 

Ms. Echols presented a PowerPoint presentation on CCP-2008-00002 Crozet Master Plan Five Year Update and distributed copies of the tentative schedule. 

 

         The Crozet Master Plan (CMP) was the first master plan to be completed in the County and was adopted by the Board of Supervisors on December 1, 2004, for the Community of Crozet. The Master Plan process included an extensive public participation process and resulted in a comprehensive plan amendment that updated the land use designations for Crozet.

         The five-year update was initiated by the Board of Supervisors in January of this year.  The Planning Commission and Board both endorsed the public participation plan presented by Lee Catlin, Community Relations Director.  The expectation was that staff and the Crozet Community Advisory Council (CCAC) would bring the list of Focus Areas to the Commission and Board for endorsement, prior to beginning work on the revision.

         Over the last several months, staff and the CCAC have put together the recommended list of Focus Areas. The proposed list was developed after two public meetings, completion of a community questionnaire, staff input, and discussion at several CCAC meetings.  This staff report details the list of Focus Areas and plan to be followed for preparing the recommended revisions to the plan.

         Staff recommends that the Commission review and affirm the Focus Areas for revision and update of the Crozet Master Plan and endorse the general public process for developing strategies to address the Focus Areas.

 

Tonight staff is looking for the Planning Commissionís endorsement of the plan.  This item will then go to the Board of Supervisors in about three weeks for the Board to accept the list and the proposed process or modify it. Staff hopes on October 15, which is a CCAC date, to have the first of a series of forums, which is the process they want to use to gain input to get the revision done.  From September, 2009 to July, 2010 they are working to develop the recommendations that would then go to the Planning Commission for a recommendation to be forwarded to the Board of Supervisors.

 

To develop the focus area staff has gone through several different venues.  The Board of Supervisors has given a directive on which focus areas they are interested in having everyone look at.  The Planning Commission has also had some endorsements of particular areas.  They have had some applications from property owners.  The CCAC has had a list of focus areas that they are interested in.  Staff has worked with the CCAC and jointly come up with this list.  The CCAC has gotten a lot of input from the public.  They had an extensive questionnaire.  The questionnaire results have been provided in the Commissionís packet.  The meetings and open houses have been held to gain input to make sure that it is the right list.  It is about an update to the Master Plan and not about a rewrite.  There is an opportunity to go really far into this if they want to, but what staff is hearing from the Crozet community is that the plan is not in bad shape.  The plan just needs a few changes, some updates and clarifications. 

 

There are three critical areas that staff is interested in seeing some clarifications or potential changes:

         Addressing the population issue including the density of the fringe;

         The Downtown; and

         Businesses and Industries particularly on Route 250 including the Yancey Mills area. Staff is looking at how the community can improve its prospects for economic self sufficiency.

 

With regards to the population estimate and projection the Master Plan text refers to a population of 12,000 and in some places 12,500.  However, the land use designation shown on the current Master Plan allow for a greater potential ultimate population of up to 24,758.  The plan with the colors relate to the table, which has the list of uses and the densities.  When the land use map is updated it will represent the new development that has taken place. 

 

Staff is looking to see whether or not there are any capacity changes that take place just because of the new development shown on the plan.  Not all parcels develop at their full potential in terms of density.  So there will be places where there will be less density that actually develops than what is shown on the plan.  Staff wants to get that updated so they know where the starting point is. Staff expects that in this table that there are probably going to be some adjustments to the densities to make sure that they really fit in with what the expectations for Crozet are.  Both staff and the CCAC have worked very hard on developing a list of focus areas.

 

The map in the packet shows the two other critical areas.  The first has to do with Downtown.  One of the goals of the Crozet Master Plan is to enhance the vitality of Downtown.  There have been some requests to expand the Downtown further north and some other ideas about expanding the Downtown further east perhaps to create a relationship between the ConAgra/Music Today area and the Downtown.  So they want to look at those two areas to see whether or not any recommendations for adjustments to where the Downtown boundaries are warranted. 

 

The plan needs to consider how the historic district would relate to the Downtown properties.  The Crozet Downtown district is promoting redevelopment of properties in the Downtown area.  Some of these properties are contributing structures to a potential historic district.  So knowing what it is they want to retain of those properties for the historic district in the Downtown area is fairly important. 

 

The third area is to look at the business and industry aspects of Crozet.  Currently there is an employment area at the lumber yard and at the Music Today/Acme area.  Those are the expected employment district areas.  There was another expected in the Old Trail area.  The Board and Commission have been looking at the Light Industry inventory.  There needs to be a determination made fairly soon as to whether or not the County believes that Crozet should have more Light Industrial designated land, Light Industrial zoned land or both.  The Commission remembers the Yancey CPA, which was outside the development area boundaries.  The Commission reviewed the Yancey CPA and did not recommend including the land in the development area or with the applicant proceeding with that proposal.  The Board of Supervisors asked that the Commission relook at that issue as part of this Master Plan process.

 

There are several other CPA requests including one at the corner of Route 250 and Crozet Avenue.  The Commission said that this particular issue should be reviewed with the Master Plan.  There have been requests to remove roads from the Master Plan, which will be revisited at the requests of some applicants. 

 

Other areas for review are not as critical and are more about strategies.   One of the most often heard statements in the questionnaire was the importance of preserving Crozet as a small town.  Public safety and crime prevention were very important.  They will be relooking at the strategies to see if they need to be enhanced. The transportation update will need to address expectations for functionality and appearance of Crozet Avenue, Three Notched Road and a review of Eastern Avenue.  There is also a desire to look at the Entrance Corridor Guidelines to see whether or not they need to be made specific to Crozet.  There is some interest to request the Board to remove the Entrance Corridor Guidelines for this particular area.  The plan did not address a couple of the main roads that they need to be looking at.  It did address Eastern Avenue, but that needs to be reviewed to see if that should be the plan. 

 

Strategies will also be looked at for transportation improvements in ensuring adequacy of infrastructure for new development, including new roads. Strategies will be looked at for providing sidewalks, bike paths, trails and greenway paths in Crozet along with bus and rail service.  Our existing strategies should be updated as necessary.  Strategies for preservation of streams of wooded areas and looking at loss of open space will be reviewed as well as protecting the water supply and building parks and greenways.  On the last few master plans staff has been talking about priority areas for public investment.  This plan does not have those kinds of priority areas establishment with the exception of the Downtown.  Staff will want to bring this plan into line with the other plans in how they are recommending priority areas.  Other topics to be looked at include:  recycling school facility needs and potential redistricting; the need for community schools and the relationship of water supply and sewer capacity in new development.  These things are about relooking at what has already been done to make sure that the strategies are appropriate or to enhance them.  The Guiding Principles of the Master Plan that were adopted in 2004 are still planned to guide this particular update. 

 

The public participation plan has been put together to try to get public input from the community mostly through forums on those particular focus area topics.  Staff talked to the CCAC about potentially using their meeting dates and times for holding those forums.  There have been some discussions about that as well as using the time of the CCA.  There is a CCAC meeting on Thursday night.

 

A tentative schedule was prepared by staff and the CCAC, which was provided in the staff report.  The Board of Supervisors at the request of Ann Mallek made a directive to the Planning Commission that instead of having the Commission begin looking at the update in August that the Commission would have a recommendation in July.  Staff reviewed the schedule to see if there was any way to shorten that time period.  The tentative schedule was distributed tonight that shortened the time period at the end.  The schedule may need to be modified to deal with the Light Industrial discussion.  The Planning Commission will change in January after the election.  The new Planning Commission and Board may have some thoughts that might be different.  Staff wants to give those two groups the opportunity to have some weigh in since they will be the ones that will ultimately looking at the Master Plan.  There may be some shifting around on some of the topics particularly on the new Light Industrial land after the new members are in place.  The revised schedule will be reviewed at the CCAC meeting on Thursday. 

 

Staff invited questions from the Commission.  She asked if the focus areas that have been identified appropriate.  Is the process scheduling and sequencing of events appropriate?  Once the Commission has their discussion and heard from the public staff would like the Commission to make a recommendation to the Board of Supervisors either with this particular set of focus areas and public participation plan or one that they wish to recommend with modifications.

 

Mr. Strucko invited questions for staff.

 

Mr. Loach noted that the population issue is very important to the community. There still seems to be some vagueness in what the original intent of the Master Plan was.  The first question is from the implementation handout that went to the public.  Is not the Crozet Master Plan based on a total population of 12,000 with 4,500 households?  He asked if that was the original intent of the Master Plan.

 

Mr. Benish replied that the focus of the Master Plan when it was drafted was under the assumption of the Board of Supervisors that they were looking at a planning horizon at that time.  What staff realized when the questions came up about that capacity was they had a capacity that far exceeded what they expected over that 20 year period that was entirely inconsistent with that type of target.

 

Mr. Loach pointed out that he did not know how that could be.  In as much as what they had from the Master Plan from the consultants was a table that showed neighborhoods and within each neighborhood it showed what the residential population would be or number of houses per say and the amount of commercial space.  What they had at some point was an inconsistency between the colors on the map and what that table was.  He noted that he understands that.  The question was is that they were not off by a factor of a couple of percentage points to stand a deviation or two.  They were off by 100 percent.  It seemed when they were off by a 100 percent he did not understand how the decision was made not to take the colors on the map and make them equivalent to the table which the community had been told was the population build out.  He would be glad to quote Mr. Strucko, Mr. Rooker and a number of other people who were before all of the Planning Commissions and Board of Supervisors who consistently said that this population was going to be between 12,000 and 12,500.  He pointed out that this number was not picked by the Crozet Community Association or by the community.  It was a number that was given as a result of the first DISC study by the consultant who said that the ideal maximum population for Crozet was 12,198.  What he was saying is that if population is an issue and when he reads in the report that says that population potentials of upward of 16,000 and above he thought that they have to start in their discussions to get more towards what the original goal and intent of the Crozet Master Plan was.  He noted that he asked Ken Swartz, who was the consultant, what his plan was built on and he said it was 12,000.  In regards to population he thought that they now need to make sure that the colors now match the actual plan that was done by the community.

 

Mr. Benish said that in terms of the focus areas that was certainly one of the focused areas they want to concentrate on.  They need to get the total population and the land use designations right.

 

Mr. Loach said that his second point was in regards to the paragraph on the third page of the Crozet questionnaire.  His view of the questionnaire was that what it did was to validate the work of the Crozet Advisory Committee.  Essentially on a number of these points the Crozet Advisory Committee has already taken a position. What this survey has done is to validate the positions they had taken with over 700 people out of a population of 5,000.  He felt that was fairly strategically significant. Again, it does substantiate the work that has already been done by the community.  To that end it says the open ended qualitative responses will be used in developing the next phases of community input and eventual strategies for addressing the focus area.  He asked someone to explain what an open ended qualitative response is and how they feel this would be more strategic significant than the survey in addressing the focus areas.  He felt that a lot of these points have been taken up by the committee and that the survey validates what the committee has done.

 

Ms. Catlin clarified that the questionnaire had some questions that were on a scale of 1 to 10 and rate these kinds of things.  Some were open ended questions that said if one believes this then why or tell us other comments.  Those are the open ended questions that staff is referring to.  The open ended questions were the ones staff was not able to put together how many people answered this or that.  It was more subjective in terms of people giving opinions. That is the information they will be delving into more that they will be giving out to the subcommittees and that the CCAC will be examining as they are looking to put together strategies over the next couple of months.  It is all information that is from the questionnaire.

 

Ms. Porterfield asked which is the chicken and eggs the 12,000 or 24,000 number.

 

Ms. Echols replied that in terms of the staffís approach it is working with the community on getting at what would be the ideal work out. 

         Staff wants it to be an iterated process where first they start by looking at the map and what has developed and what has not developed.  If there are areas that have been developed or at least platted showing a lot less density then what they were intended to have that is going to start to reduce the capacity number.  The other thing is to start looking at the colors on the map.  There are some areas circled on the map.  The dark colors have the highest intensity.  In Old Trail it does not show the plan for the density or the intensity that is expected in that area.  The Westhall rezoning was a R-6 development with proffered plan.  It was shown in a CT-4 area, which had a tremendous amount of potential for both development and mixture of uses with some fairly high intensity uses.  The first thing they would be looking at is where they have these properties they would look at the centers.  There is another area that has been platted, which does not look like what is shown on the map.

         The second thing has to do with looking at the fringes.  What the table has are numbers that perhaps are in excess of what the expectation for this area should be. 

         In terms of what the table says it talks about the net residential density of 4.5 acres in the center of a hamlet but mostly the neighborhood villages 12 dwelling units per acre and up to 18 dwelling units per acre in the center of a neighborhood village.  Once they look at these centers and decide whether that really was suppose to be a center and does it really make sense, that designation may go down and where the centers are they expect these numbers to be revisited and potentially reduced.  That is the first step towards looking at the density picture.  They need to look at these areas where there are some residential development shown that is actually zoned Light Industrial.  That is where input is needed from the Board of Supervisors and Planning Commission on whether those areas should be designated for Light Industrial.  That may take out some of the capacity or designate it for employment uses.  Also in the Downtown area if there needs to be more area designated for employment that has residential in it now it will go down.  The first step is to look at the map, look at what has been platted, look at what has been developed and then relook at the designations to see if it right.  That number would be added up to see what the map says in terms of capacity and then look at that with the idea of what is the sewer capacity, what are the road capacity issues and work with the community to come to what ought to be the ideal build out of Crozet.

 

Ms. Porterfield reiterated that the map and colors are going to be the starting point, which means the starting point is up to the 24,700 population.

 

Mr. Benish noted that the eye is always on the target of getting the population down to what the expectation was.  They would like to take the planning approach to determine what the best type of mix of uses is and reflect what has happened over time and go through that planning process to get down to what the real capacity is right now and then look at that capacity against that 12,000 target.  They want to take the planning assessment approach to see where today that high number is because it is probably not at 24,000.

 

Ms. Porterfield noted a problem in trying to determine the beginning point since it appears that the text refers to one thing and the maps refer to something else.  She felt that it would be helpful for the discussion for everyone to know how they got something that is so disparate in the original Master Plan.

 

Mr. Edgerton agreed that it was a good question.  In defense on the 12,000 if they look at the planning perimeter of 20 years, which is what a Comprehensive Plan and Master Plan does, he did not know the 24,000 number that everybody has been so worried about was ever anticipated within a 20 year period.  He thought that both numbers are right.  The land use capacity in this area will go above the 12,000.  But if the community grows as anticipated over the next 20 years of course they have some variables as in the last year since economically things have slowed way down.  What Ms. Echols and Mr. Benish are saying is obviously the right approach in this 5-year review.  This is exactly why they need a 5-year review.  The right approach is to look at what has happened in the 5 years since the plan was developed as far as density.  A lot of the areas on the map and schedules have not developed that way at all.  In recalling the rezoning in the last 5 years in Crozet he could not remember a single rezoning that has accomplished what the schedule said they should as far as density.  He questioned if staff has tracked that information.  He remembered that they were not able to reach the target of growth in the development area due to market demands. 

 

Mr. Loach noted that with the exception of Foothill Crossing all of the other developments including Old Trail, Liberty Hall, Westfall, have fallen within the higher brackets of the development density.  Again, he pointed out that the original Master Plan for the 20 year is what they were told they estimated it to build out.  In other words they would be at their borders. But they did move some of the borders around to accommodate that.

 

Mr. Benish said that what staff is seeing is that they have some intensities of development that are too high for Crozet regardless of what that minimum number was.  It is a form and character that is probably not right for Crozet right now.  They would rather put an eye to where they are right now, how close are they to that 12,000 target, what the land uses they want are and the form that they really want now looking at this 5 years from now and measuring that.  It is with that eye that they are trying to achieve a much lower target here.  It is something that was the intent of the original plan.

 

Mr. Loach noted that there also were some other decisions that were made that sort of nullify the plan.  In other words if they look at the area between ConAgra and 250 where those higher densities are located there was supposed to be a school site in there.  The sites were so they would be a walkable neighbor to the school.  In the interim they decided that they would increase Brownsville and Hensley. It kind of negates the need for that.  If that was the idea of making these compact walkable neighborhoods that by making those other decisions they have kind of gotten away from that.

 

Mr. Benish noted that staffís intent today was to make sure that they have caught the focus areas and not to delve into too much detail in the substance of those.  He asked if they are capturing the right ones or are there other areas that are not covered

 

Mr. Loach said that this has been discussed at the Crozet Advisory Committee in depth.  So he thought that the areas have been covered well.  He had a concern when they said that the County should decide whether Crozet needs more LI.  It seems that when a growth area comes up with a master plan that is consistent with the Comp Plan and what that growth area wants it seems that these sorts of decisions should be within the context of the community that is going to have to adjust to them.  Most of the people in Crozet felt that essentially the master plan was a contract with the County and they did their part.  If they go back to the advisory committee and would tell them that all of the time and effort that they are putting in is just suggestions and that may or may not be taken into consideration it will have an entirely different impact.  He thought that they were going to see that with Places29 as well.

 

Mr. Strucko clarified the three critical focus areas were the land use that delves into the population question, the Downtown area is the central business region and businesses along Route 250 with the question of light industrial as a possibility.

 

Ms. Echols referred to attachment F that has a list of the focus areas that have been identified.  They are critical areas of addressing the population, density at the fringe of the development areas, the Downtown business and industry on Route 250 including the proposal at I-64/Route 250 in the Yancey Mills area outside of the growth area, and Crozetís prospects for greater economic self sufficiency.   The other focus areas are the ones that deal more with strategies and updating information on what they have now in making sure they know where they want to go with them.  Those are preserving Crozet as a small plan and transportation, environment and community facilities.

 

Mr. Strucko noted that staff wanted the Commission to confirm the tentative schedule passed out and attachment F.

 

Ms. Echols pointed out that staff was most interested in the sequencing and making the Commission aware that the Board wants the Commission to take an action in July of next year.

 

Mr. Strucko asked if any Commissioner had questions about Attachment F, the focus areas, and the actual tentative schedule of events.  He noted that several of the Commissioners would not be here past September.  So he would have to weigh in whether it is appropriate for him to make a decision on critical areas or should they build in a time sometime after December for a new Commission to revisit it to give them an opportunity to make any adjustments they see necessary.

 

Mr. Morris asked if the CCAC is in agreement with Attachment F, and Mr. Loach replied yes that it was consistent with the past meetings with staff. 

 

Mr. Franco noted that the evaluation of the changes that have occurred since the plan was adopted will occur in October.  He questioned if the land use density ought to be in November as the next issue or talk about Downtown.

 

Mr. Loach felt that it was fine the way it was.  He thought that the CCAC can handle any of the changes that they see will be necessary.  He would defer to the CCAC since they act as his advisory group when it comes to make these decisions. There have been decisions made. In order to shorten this process the CCAC could reconfirm that the decisions they have made are valid.   He thought that the schedule is fine.

 

Mr. Strucko opened for public comment and invited the first speaker to come forward.

 

Mike Marshall, Chairman of the Crozet Advisory Council, noted that they make a plan and then there is what happens.  He made the following comments.

         The CCAC has looked at these focus areas extensively and agree basically with what has been presented to the Commission.  They see the population issue as the main thing that the community wants addressed.   He asked to make a brief statement to address the reason this is foremost in the communityís mind.  As Mr. Loach said at the time the master plan was drawn Crozet was a town of 2,500 people.  In 1980 a Comprehensive Plan for Crozet was created which assigned zoning in all the parcels.  The total density in that zoning comes to about 12,000.  In 2001-2002 over a course of about 8 to 10 months several large farms in the development area were sold to developers.  The citizens realized that these developers were likely to operate independently and not necessarily coordinate their plans.  The town asked to be master planned so that all of these projects could be rationalized.  They thought that they were going to rationale them within the ultimate population that already existed.  They were going to take these plans and make sure that the 12,000 made sense with the new subdivisions that were coming and so forth.  That is why the master plan was what it was in their mind in that way. In 2004 the plan was adopted. 

         The first thing that happened was the Old Trail rezoning.  The Old Trail rezoning basically assigned all of the slack in the growth area to Old Trail.  The town felt that they had been betrayed and that the plan had not been followed.  It immediately raised this whole population question in the town. That has persisted to this day.   In response they heard from the county that it was a 20 year plan and it was not going to happen or they actually had more capacity.  Neither of those responses actually has satisfied the community in Crozet.  As Mr. Loach said they entered into it willingly and they agreed to be 400 percent than they were and they wanted to be good citizens about preserving the rural areas, etc.  But they felt a little taken advantage of when the implementation decisions came around. 

 

         He said that there is a plan and then there is what happens.  In the five years since the plan was adopted four locations have actually materialized as Mr. Loach said.  It happened in Downtown, Old Trail, Clover Lawn and the ConAgra area.  It is obvious that densities will continue to develop in those four locations.  They wonder why other areas are still in the plan for which there is not plausible density to come.  They see from the county some understanding of that point of view that it is possible to negotiate out some of these densities.  The other thing that was revealed to the citizen that was unexpected was that on these charts one could have a piece of property zoned R-6, but the plan might say that this might be eligible for a rezoning to R-10.  It is plausible that it might be R-10.  Or it is plausible that one could actually get to 18 on these properties.  This information would be thrown back to the public when they objected to the densities that the developers were proposing. They would ask how this is possible because they were busting the population.  They would point to the plan and these numbers.  So what the public wants is for these numbers to be drawn down closer to what they think is realistic.  There might be some locations in which higher densities make sense.  That is why they do go back and revisit the plan.  The fact of the matter is that the horse is out of the barn.  Old Trail is much bigger than what the thought it should be.  It may not be possible to achieve a population of 12,000.  It just may not be possible.

         None the less, the town wants the plan to as Mr. Benish was saying to reflect what its expectations were really in the first place.  The other thing to remember is that when the plan was adopted they did not have what he would call suitable zoning for Downtown Crozet.  Even though it was supposed to be the densest place in fact it had a suburban style zoning, which nobody could get into.  One had to proof that they had parking places that they could not proof that they had, etc.  So they have rezoned Downtown Crozet.  This rezoning makes the density Downtown a lot more plausible to achieve.  So this is a success since then.

         Because of that another reaction in the community has been to put townhouses right on the edge. The citizens have a pyramidal concept of density.  The idea is that as one gets farther from the middle the densities ought to be lower.  That is another thing that the plan does not explicitly lay that out.  That is the second objection.

         The third thing, of course, is that some property owners on 250 have come forward and wanted to be considered for rezoning.  The way they have been handled so far is that they have been punted down the line and put into this process.  The CCAC are brave about their opinions and they talk them up.  He complimented the County for responding for the most part.  They still have an agenda that is not completely in agreement with the citizenís agenda.  But they do hear us pretty well. 

         In the second category of focus areas he thought that it was understood.  But the newer residents donít understand some of these questions such as do they have enough water or what about these roads and so forth.  They are going to go back and look at that to make sure that the plan is still coherent.  Their understanding is that the plan as ratified in 2004 is still basically sound in these areas.  But they are going to go back and look.  They donít think they will require many changes.

         One other comment on the survey is that he noticed in the staff report that there is a line on page 3 that says the survey is not scientific and not strategically valid and not a source about making decisions about the master plan.  The CCAC was fortunate to have a PHD whose job is to do strategically analysis.  He is the person who led the subcommittee who devised the survey.  He works for UVA ITC in analysis of things like this.  They were advised by the County that it was not scientific if they could not prevent a person from filling out more than one survey and they could not.  That is why it is called a questionnaire and not a survey.  He noted that 700 was a good number of people out of 3,000 if the children are taken out.  They did their best to provide statistics valid from the community.  He encouraged the Commission to go ahead and ratify this.  The community is well represented by the opinions and personalities on the Advisory Council.  He was pleased that the County proposed that they have the forum meetings coincide with the Advisory Council meetings. He felt that this was going to make this much more efficient and help attract the public to the meetings.  So far so good and it has their endorsement.

 

Mr. Strucko noted that he granted extra time to Mr. Marshall because he is the Chair of the CCAC.  He invited other public comment.

 

Gardy Bloemers was present as a member of the Scenic 250 Steering Committee and made the following comments. 

         Scenic 250 is a grass roots organization of like minded Albemarle County residents who have been actively involved in a wide range of land use issues in the county for well over ten years.  She noted that she was also a resident of Crozet.  Route 250 west from Charlottesville to the western boundary of Albemarle has rural, scenic and historic characteristics which makes 250 West a valuable asset to the greater Albemarle County -Charlottesville community.  They believe the 250 Corridor is not appropriate for large scale commercial development.  She was present tonight to let the Planning Commission and the citizens of the Crozet area know that they are closely following the findings and activities surrounding the Crozet Master Plan Five Year Update. The Scenic 250 Steering Committee shares a majority opinion of the respondents to the CCAC questionnaire as it relates to commercial development in the Corridor. 

         Specifically, she was referring to the following: 

1.       Sixty-eight percent of the respondents agreed with the main principle of the 2004 Master Plan that Downtown Crozet should get first priority in commercial and residential development and development along Route 250 should be discouraged. 

2.       Fifty-eight percent of the respondents oppose no commercial or industrial development in the vicinity of Yancey Mills/Interstate 64 interchange. 

         CCAC has identified business and industry on Route 250 as one of the focus areas that should be considered by the Planning Commission.  They are currently aware of two specific requests which if approved would involve a substantial and significant increase to existing commercial development and rezoning of agricultural and residential land to commercial/industrially.  Specifically these include the change of zoning to commercial for the corner parcel along 240/250 as well as the proposed Yancey Mill Business Park.  This type of expansion clearly conflicts with the principles of the original Crozet Master Plan as well as the Comprehensive Plan.  The growth area for Crozet is defined by the Comprehensive Plan and was set and its boundaries created to foster development in a responsible manner.  They respectfully request the Planning Commission to take their comments into consideration.

 

Barbara Westbrook, resident of Crozet and member of the CCAC, spoke.

         The 12,500 figure is a very important issue.  As with most everybody in Crozet they were led to believe that was going to be the build out figure even though the colors on the map donít agree with that.  In the Master Plan that 12,000 figure was mentioned at least 10 to 12 times. It is not just a one time thing that somebody came up with.  It is really important to the Crozet residents.  At one time they had a petition signed by at least 1,000 people in favor of keeping the 12,000 figure.  She was not sure if it was submitted to the Board of Supervisors.  That is really important to the community. 

         The subcommittee worked hard and put a lot of time in on the questionnaire.  She worked with Tim Tolson who was in charge.  She felt that was an important thing for the Commission to consider when making any decisions on Crozet.  She personally handed out hundreds of flyers trying to people to come to Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors meetings.  One time she handed out 500 flyers regarding a subdivision that was very controversial to its neighbors and not a single person came to the Board meeting after that.  She was very discouraged.  She felt that the 700 people who answered the questionnaire would be insulted if they were not really listened to.  That questionnaire is very important. 

         The majority of the Crozet residents do not want to see more commercial development on Route 250.  She does not hear Jarmanís Gap Road mentioned very often, but that is one of the most important roads that need to be improved and has been pushed back and pushed back.  She had heard the figure 2012 tonight.  She hoped that Jarmanís Gap Road does not get pushed back any more because that is a really strong connection between the western part of Crozet and Downtown Crozet. 

 

Morgan Butler said that he directs the Charlottesville-Albemarle project of the Southern Environmental Law Center. 

         One of the major focus areas proposed is commercial and industrial activity along Route 250. That focus area references the Yancey Mills Business Park proposal.  They have spoken to the Commission about the Yancey proposal on two prior occasions acknowledging that there may conceivably be situations in which a Comprehensive Plan Amendment request like this might make some sense, but voiced some strong concerns that the drawbacks of this particular proposal would outweigh its potential benefits.  As staff pointed out the Board of Supervisors has determined that the potential benefits and drawbacks of the Yancey proposal could best be flushed out and evaluated in the context of the Crozet Master Plan revision.

         Tonight is not the appropriate time to argue the merits of the proposal.  However, they would like to suggest a few areas the review of the Yancey proposal should focus on so that the community receives all of the information necessary to make as informed a decision as possible. 

         First, although the proposal is being studied in the context of the Crozet Master Plan they believe that it is very important that staff analysis of the need for additional office space and industrial land consider the inventory of available land throughout the entire county as opposed to just the Crozet area.  Similarly if staff determines through that county wide evaluation that more such land is needed they believe that it is critical to consider potential locations throughout the entire county and not just in and near Crozet.  Based on the staff report it sounds like that is a path staff has taken.  But they did want to emphasize that a county wide analysis of both the need and location questions is critical.

         Second, the report suggests that a potential benefit of the proposal as it could create employment opportunities for Crozet residents hoping to keep Crozet from becoming a bedroom community for Charlottesville.  In order to judge this purported benefit they believe that the review of the proposal must include some analysis of the percentage of jobs from this proposal that would likely go to Crozet residents.

         Third, they believe that the study must explore how the designation of 150 acres for a business park just outside of Crozet would affect efforts and other goals in the master plan to encourage redevelopment and invigorate the Crozet Downtown area. 

         In closing, the SCIC looks forward to participating in the master plan review process in helping to ensure that any changes donít undermine the main principles of the master plan in the countyís key growth management strategies.

 

Neil Williamson, with the Free Enterprise Forum, said that this evening they were discussing including process scheduling and sequencing. 

         Unlike Mr. Butler the Free Enterprise Forum does not take positions on projects.  So any projects that might be referenced in this really are process oriented.  Sometime ago he had been most critical of a decision this group made with regard to Places29.  They deemed that area to be so important that this group is the Steering Committee for that body.  His question is how in this schedule are the concerns that Mr. Butler and Mr. Marshall raised with regard to punting some of the applications that have been put forth and how are the countyís concerns being addressed.  Are they placing staff in the position of saying what the Countyís position is? 

         He was mostly concerned when he looks at a very aggressive schedule which has been handed to the Commission from the Board of Supervisors and how the interested citizens have a context for their discussion.  An inventory of the Light Industrial that is appropriateness would be an excellent tool.  However, he wondered if the goals of the Board of Supervisors will be represented.  He noted that the boards will be changing shortly.  How will the Planning Commission weigh in?  He was not really clean on that with the schedule that was shown.  He was sensitive to staffís need to get this done.  He was also concerned that the Planning Commission, as the organization that will put a stamp on this, wonít have the opportunity to take a look at the overall county goals in how this particular Comp Plan revision meets those goals.  No development area is an island.  Each one serves a purpose.  Each one is important.  Every citizenís point of view is important. But it has to be taken in the full context and this is the body to do that. 

 

There being no further public comment, Mr. Strucko closed the public comment of this deliberation to bring the matter before the Planning Commission.  He asked that the Commission provide some directive to staff regarding focus areas and the schedule

 

Mr. Loach said that the Commission has heard from the Chairman of the committee saying that the focus areas and the process and schedules set up is consistent with the CCAC.  Therefore, he felt they should accept the schedule as proposed by staff and more forward.

 

Mr. Morris agreed to accept the schedule set forth by staff and move forward with the conditions.

 

Mr. Strucko said that the focus areas hit the key issues.  Everybody has a different stance on them, but they certainly are the key issues that Crozet has been wrestling with.  Some they have been wrestling with longer than others.  The population question has been around for at least four year.  The Downtown area as the business center has always been the theme in the master planning process and should continue to be one in the five-year review.  This is a more recent issue regarding business and industry along Route 250.  It has been around about the past year or so.  Mr. Marshall is right that the county kind of punted to the master planning process as the ideal venue to really weigh in and determine whether it is in the communityís and countyís interest to have that kind of expansion of the growth area for the purposes of business and industry.  He tends to agree with the focus areas. Two of the key focus areas, the critical ones, will be considered by this Commission and one in January, the land use density, will be considered by a new Commission.  There are potentially two or three Commissioners that wonít remain.  He asked if it is more appropriate to build in a date when the 2010 Commission can potentially reconsider Downtown and jobs housing balance in LI after December.

 

Ms. Echols noted that is not the way the schedule is intended to be read.  The October through February forums are for the community.  This would get to the Planning Commission in April for consideration. 

 

Ms. Porterfield noted that they have a lot of these on their plates right now.  They have two master plans in development and a master plan update.  She requested that staff keep in mind that when the new people come on the board that the reading to get up to speed is going to be really intense. The Board will need to acknowledge that the new Commissioners will need extra time to be able to make informed decisions.  It will depend on what happens with the other ones. 

 

Mr. Loach said as Ms. Echols explained in the beginning, thankfully a good deal of the plan does not need to be rewritten. To a great extent the plan itself has been a success.  Except for The Square, all of the other businesses are new. There are three new shopping centers.  The adult community part in Old Trail has been approved, which means there will be more jobs there.  To a great degree the land use planning that has been done and with the centers, the master plan and Downtown it has really done very well.  These are just things that have to be taken care of.  Outside of the population the things that have been brought up are outside of the master plan.

 

Mr. Strucko reiterated that he had heard no objection regarding the schedule except Ms. Porterfieldís comments regarding work load. The key issues are right where the Commission expected.  He asked if staff had received the necessary information.

 

Ms. Echols replied yes.  She reiterated that the Planning Commission had endorsed the focus areas and the schedule with a cautionary note about the need to allow time for the new Planning Commissioners to come up to speed.

 

Mr. Strucko agreed that was the consensus of the Planning Commission.

 

            In summary, the Planning Commission received a PowerPoint presentation, took public comment and endorsed the Focus Areas to be considered in the revision to the Master Plan and the tentative review schedule with a cautionary note about the need to allow time for the new Planning Commissioners to come up to speed in 2010.  The Planning Commissionís endorsement letter concerning the focus areas and schedule to be provided to Board of Supervisors and the Crozet Community Advisory Council.

 

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