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September 19, 2009

Population and growth area expansion top Crozet concerns

Reader comments (1) DailyProgress By Sean Tubbs
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Saturday, September 19, 2009

Albemarle County has begun its first five-year review of the Crozet Master Plan. At the Planning Commission meeting earlier this week, residents took the opportunity to share their concerns about Crozet’s future population growth and the proposal to add about 150 acres for a new business park. 

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Land-use-map-image
The mismatch between this map and the text of the plan caused concerns among Crozet residents. The full map can be downloaded as a .PDF from the County's website.
With the adoption of the plan in December 2004, community leaders believed they had a twenty-year plan that would cap Crozet’s population at a maximum of 12,000. Crozet is estimated to have a population of 5,336 people today.

However, Crozet residents began to ask questions after the approval of the Old Trail Village development (up to 2,200 homes).  In response to their concerns, in January 2006, County staff announced their new assessment of the ultimate build out population of Crozet after reinterpreting the land use map adopted as part of the plan. They found the plan depicts population densities that, when fully built out, could allow a population range between 15,816 and 24,758 people.

Mike Marshall, the chair of the Crozet Community Advisory Council (CCAC), said he thought the master plan would guide the maximum population towards around 12,000. He said the population issue is the main concern of the advisory group.

“The town felt sort of like they’d been betrayed, that the plan hadn’t been followed,” Marshall told the Commission. He said the community wants the map to reflect expectations that the total build-out of Crozet will be 12,000, no matter the year.

County Planner Elaine Echols said the land use map will be updated during the review, and it will reflect developments that have been built since 2004.

“Not all parcels develop at their full potential in terms of density,” Echols said. She also said the densities would likely be adjusted to match the expectations of the community. 

Commissioner Tom Loach (White Hall) was not satisfied with efforts by staff to explain the difference between the narrative of the plan and the infrastructure map. “I don’t 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,” Loach said.

Commissioner Bill Edgerton (Jack Jouett) defended the plan, and said he did not think County staff ever expected a build-out of 24,000 over 20 years.

“Both numbers are right,” Edgerton said. “Land use capacity in this area will go up to a higher number than 12,000.” But he said that the reality of development did not always match the maximum expectations.

David Benish, Chief of Planning for Albemarle County, said it was likely the review would see the densities reduced.

“What we are seeing is that we’ve got some intensities of development that are too high for Crozet regardless of what that minimum number was,” Benish said.

Another issue to be reviewed as part of the plan is whether to bring an about 150 additional acres owned by the Yancey family into the development area in order to create more land for light industrial uses. The Planning Commission recommended against even considering the idea last November, but the Board of Supervisors has directed them to take the matter up anyway.

Loach said he objected to the idea of that decision being made within the context of the Crozet Master Plan.

“It seems to me that these sorts of decisions should be [up to] the community,” Loach said.

The next opportunity for public input will be during a town meeting to be held on September 30, followed by an October 15 forum about the land use map. The Board of Supervisors wants the Commission to finish up its review by July 2010.

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