By Sean Tubbs
Wednesday, April 11, 2012
By Sean Tubbs
Wednesday, April 11, 2012
By Sean Tubbs
Wednesday, February 8, 2012
The Albemarle Board of Supervisors and Planning Commission were briefed at a joint meeting Wednesday on the preliminary results of a study to identify specific types of industry that should be persuaded to relocate or grow in the community.
“This will help us leverage our unique assets both as a region and as Albemarle County to make sure we are focusing on the kinds of industries and enterprises that are going to be the most successful here,” said Lee Catlin, the county’s community relations director.
The consultant who conducted the study on behalf of the Thomas Jefferson Partnership for Economic Development found that the top three industries to encourage are: bioscience and medical devices; business and financial services; and information technology and defense security.
However, Catlin stressed that the results are preliminary and need to be refined before they can fully inform the review of the comprehensive plan.
“The consultant has done a great data search and has brought forth things that make sense to them, but we really need to put the lens of what’s right for Albemarle County on it,” Catlin said.
By Kurt Walters
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
As part of Albemarle County’s comprehensive plan review, county staff members held a roundtable discussion Monday to gather stakeholder comments on industrial land needs.
Business owners, environmental and pro-business advocates and representatives from the city of Charlottesville and University of Virginia gave input on what amenities and zoning regulations would help facilitate operating a business in Albemarle.
County staff noted that the type of industry that they hope to attract is not the obtrusive, polluting factory kind, but “more modern” facilities, offering an image of an attractive molecular foundry in San Francisco as an example.
“When we talk about industrial land of 2011, we’re trying to get away from the concept of smokestacks,” said Elaine Echols, principal planner at the county. “This country isn’t doing much in the way of smokestacks anymore … what we’re looking at is the high tech industry.”
By Sean Tubbs
Monday, October 18, 2010
The Albemarle County Board of Supervisors has unanimously approved an update of the Crozet Master Plan. The amendments to the twenty-year plan lower the ultimate population potential and seek to focus the community’s growth into three distinct areas.
“The master plan continues to emphasize redevelopment of downtown,” said David Benish, Albemarle’s chief of planning at a public hearing last Wednesday. “Changes to the plan put greater emphasis on the three centers that have emerged, which is the Clover Lawn area, the Old Trail area and downtown.”
Listen using player above or download the podcast: Download 20101012-BOS-Crozet-Plan
Higher resolution images are available on Albemarle County's website
The plan’s first five-year update was adopted after two years of review from residents and the Crozet Community Advisory Council, a county-sanctioned body of citizens. The plan now envisions a Crozet population growing from 5,500 today to 12,000 by 2030, with an ultimate build-out of 18,000 at some time in the future. The previous plan was estimated to accommodate over 24,000 residents.
Three property owners along Crozet Avenue requested to have their land designated as mixed-use, rather than remain as transitional in nature. That would have allowed for the possibility of dense residential development or commercial buildings to be built adjacent to single-family homes.
“Over the past four years, I have received a total of 17 inquiries about the property I own to be used as some sort of business, but due to the present situation, not one of these offers could go forward,” said Tom Oakley, one of the property owners.
CCAC members said dense uses outside of the core downtown are not appropriate at this time.
“The discussion and arguments and input that we had about what happens with those three pieces of property were gut-wrenching,” said CCAC member William Schrader. “We felt like we needed to protect the homeowners of that area.”
However, the property owners’ request was championed by Supervisor Ken Boyd.
“I just have this very strong feeling for people’s personal property rights,” Boyd said. “People should be able to with their property what they want to do so long as it’s not… going to hurt a neighborhood.”
Before a motion was taken, Boyd asked supervisors if they would support changing the use to reflect the three property owners’ wishes. Supervisor Rodney Thomas said he was sympathetic to the landowners’ request, but Supervisor Ann Mallek disagreed.
“Is their right to do that more important than the rights of the landowners around them?” Mallek asked.
Supervisor Dennis Rooker pointed out to Boyd and Thomas that Crozet is within Mallek’s district.
“We ought to give some deference to the person whose district this master planning is taking place in, and who has attended all the meetings,” Rooker said. “I’m not prepared to second-guess that.”
Boyd and Thomas eventually agreed, and the landowners’ requests were not granted in this revision of the plan.
Two requests to expand the Crozet growth area were considered as part of the revision, but the plan now states that expansion is not desired at this time.
“All new buildings for office, retail, and industrial uses should be located within the existing Community of Crozet,” reads the plan. “This Master Plan update recommends that the Rural Areas outside of the Community of Crozet remain rural, including the stretch of Route 250 West between the Development Area boundary and the interstate interchange.”
Boyd said this language was prejudicial against a comprehensive plan amendment filed by the Yancey family to bring 184 acres into the development area. The Yancey’s plan to build an industrial park between U.S. 250 and I-64 did not get an up or down vote as part of the plan’s revision.
“I don’t want to put anything into the record that says we’re not going to do this or that we’re discouraging anything that I personally want to look at later,” Boyd said. “Some members of this board want to look at [Yancey Mills] as a possibility and I’ve said all along that I don’t think that Crozet can dictate policy for the entire county.”
The other expansion request came from Celeste Ploumis, who sought a reclassification of her property at the intersection of U.S. 250 and Route 240 to allow for a garden center. Members of the CCAC were opposed to both requests because of the potential for adding to traffic congestion on the highway.
“If you look at Crozet and you want to avoid sprawl mistakes, you realize that Route 250 functions as a bypass around where the intended density will go, which is in downtown,” said Mike Marshall, chairman of the CCAC. “The master plan envisions a traditional downtown and gets around the problem we had in Albemarle in the 80’s and 90’s of not having a bypass around 29 by keeping 250 undeveloped.”
The plan also envisions a larger core downtown, with the site of the Barnes Lumber Yard reclassified as mixed use. That site may pave the way for a pedestrian mall in Crozet.
TIMELINE FOR PODCAST:
|This article is an extended version of what appears in the
The Yancey Mills Business Park
What: A proposal to create a light industrial business park for offices and equipment storage yard(s) on 148 acres of rural land adjacent to the Crozet designated growth area in Albemarle County
Where: Behind the Yancey Lumber Company sawmill near the interchange of Interstate 64 and U.S. Route 250 West--The business park would cover a total of 184 acres and include 36 acres of heavy industrial land used today for the sawmill's operations
1) The business park would be on land designated for rural uses in the watershed of the South Fork Rivanna Reservoir. As such, the property is not in the jurisdictional area for public water and sewer. Albemarle's comprehensive plan directs that new residential and industrial development should occur within the existing designated growth areas.
2) The Albemarle County Board of Supervisors has expressed interest in increasing the amount of land zoned for light industrial uses and in revisiting the uses of land at the Shadwell and Yancey Mills interchanges of I-64.
3) Downtown Crozet has existing industrial property that can be redeveloped. Doing so has the potential to add truck traffic onto roads servicing a growing residential community. The proposed business park, on the other hand, would be accessed by a four-lane section of Route 250 West at the interstate interchange. Supporters say this would keep trucks away from Crozet.
4) Supporters of the project say it would bring jobs closer to the growing residential community in Crozet. The developer has said he would proffer some land for use by Western Albemarle High School for use as athletic fields.
5) The Planning Commission, the Crozet Community Advisory Council, and majority of members of the public that participated in the 2009-2010 update of the Crozet Master Plan have expressed opposition to the business park proposal.
PC = Albemarle County Planning Commission
Tuesday evening, Will Yancey appeared before the Albemarle County Planning Commission and asked for an “independent look” at his family’s 2008 request to add 184 acres to the county’s growth area to create a business park around the site of the Yancey Lumber Co. sawmill.
“Even though we attended every single [Crozet Master Plan community] meeting … it was rigged from the start,” Yancey said. “We think it is incumbent upon this commission, as well as the Board of Supervisors, to take this out of the rubric of the revision of the Master Plan and give it a hard, independent look on its own.”
Yancey said the Crozet Community Advisory Council had not reviewed his plan with an open mind. County staff, however, have advised the commission that there is “little community support” for Yancey’s proposal.
Later this year, local elected officials are expected to weigh the residents’ preference for growth to occur within Crozet’s current boundaries, as described by the Master Plan, against a desire by some leaders for increased economic development in new parts of Albemarle, specifically at the county’s interstate interchanges.
|This article is an extended version of what appears in today's
By Sean Tubbs
Thursday, April 8, 2010
As Albemarle County looks for ways to increase its industrial land, some Crozet residents are concerned their community has paid a high price for development in the past several years.
“There are many many people in Crozet who are suffering because of the changes that have come,” said Crozet resident Mary Gallo.
Listen using player above or download the podcast: Download 20100406-APC-Crozet-Plan
The Crozet Master Plan was originally adopted in 2004, and must be reviewed every five years. For the past few months, planners have been working with the Crozet Community Advisory Council (CCAC) to adjust the plan.
“When we asked the community about the update and what the focus areas should be, the guiding principle [was] that Crozet should remain Crozet,” said County Planner Rebecca Ragsdale during a work session held Tuesday by the Albemarle County Planning Commission.
Many Crozet residents were concerned that maps included with the plan showed a total potential population build-out of 24,760, even though the text of the plan capped that figure at 12,000.
The revision involves changes to the map and lowering densities in some areas to bring that number between 15,000 and 17,300.Commission Chair Tom Loach said he was glad for the lower population numbers, but pointed out they were still higher than the community expected.
“We’re 30% above what [was] originally recommended by the consultants,” Loach said.
The review of the plan also included consideration of two separate requests to change the land use in and around the boundaries of the Crozet plan, but neither request was endorsed by the CCAC or staff.
Celeste Ploumis is seeking an up-zoning of her land at the corner of U.S 250 and Route 240 to create a garden center. She said she’s lived on the property for twenty years, but growth has made her land unsuitable for residential use.“Planned growth has brought four traffic lights within a mile or so of my home, along with countless subdivisions, shopping centers, and a great increase in population,” Ploumis said.
However, neighbor Lucy Goeke told the Commission she felt granting the request would cause more congestion on Route 250.“If one more piece of property goes [commercial]… we’ll all be forced to switch,” Goeke said.
The review of the plan also includes consideration of a request from the Yancey family, owners of the R.A. Yancey Lumber Yard, to add 184 acres to the county’s growth area to create a light industrial business park.
However, neither staff nor the CCAC support the idea.
“The recommendation from the community was that if there is a need for more light industrial [land], that it be located in the Crozet development area, and that [Route] 250 continue to be protected from commercial development,” Ragsdale said.
The plan suggests that additional land be designated for industrial uses along Route 240.“There seems to be two competing visions for where to put an employment center in and around Crozet,” said Will Yancey, representing his family.
During his presentation, Yancey said he felt his land was a more appropriate location for industrial use, claiming trucks could easily access the park via I-64 and a four-lane section of Route 250. He said trucks trying to get to the suggested industrial center on Route 240 would need to travel further and past many residential neighborhoods.
“I think Crozet citizens have regained a lot of faith in the county,” Rice said. “I’d encourage you to keep that faith… and deny any industrial park.”Crozet resident Mary Gallo said she hoped the Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors would reject the Yancey proposal, citing the Board’s 2007 decision not to allow the Soccer-Organization of Charlottesville-Albemarle to build an indoor training facility off of Polo Grounds Road because it is not in the growth area.
“That was denied strictly because it was in the rural area,” Gallo said.
“It has been consistently been the policy of the county not to build in a watershed,” Loach said.Commissioner Don Franco said he had not made up his mind on the Yancey proposal, but wanted more information the CCAC’s opposition given the Board of Supervisors’ desire to increase the amount of land zoned for light industrial use.
“If the county decided that it made more sense to put [light industrial zoning on the Yancey property] and not to put it downtown because of some of the access points, what would make that bearable?”, Franco asked.
Planning Commissioner Ed Smith, who has only been on the body since January, said he can remember when Crozet was a very small place.
“A lot of people have moved in since then and everyone has their own opinion,” Smith said. “I haven’t made up my mind, and I’m glad I’m not the only one who has to take a vote on this.”
County planning staff will now begin the process of writing up new text to go along with the revised maps. Both the Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors are expected to hold a public hearing this summer.
TIMELINE FOR PODCAST:
Listen using player above or download the podcast: Download 20100203-BOS-Yancey-MillsIn August 2008, Will Yancey submitted a request to Albemarle to amend the county’s Comprehensive Plan seeking the ability to create a light industrial business park on mostly rural land that borders Interstate 64 and Western Albemarle High School.
“Fundamentally, the lack of light industrial zoning is a county-wide issue that shouldn't exclude input from the broader community beyond Crozet,” Yancey said.
TIMELINE FOR PODCAST:
Listen using player above or download the podcast:
The Yancey Lumber Company sits on 36 acres along U.S. 250 that represents about 32 percent of all the heavy industrial zoned land in the county. The family also owns 148 surrounding rural acres, some of which has been in the family since 1878. It is this land, which borders Interstate 64 and Western Albemarle High School, on which Will Yancey is proposing a new light industrial business park.
A decision on the Yancey proposal will come later this year as the Crozet Master Plan is updated by the Board of Supervisors.
TIMELINE FOR PODCAST:
“The process is like crawling through forty miles of barbed wire because there are so many pieces to it,” Watkins said. He estimates he’s spent nearly half a million dollars to stay in Albemarle County.After much research, Watkins found property on Route 250 near Crozet that could be rezoned. In March 2008, the Board of Supervisors granted him the rezoning, but he is still working to meet the requirements detailed in his site plan.
Watkins’ story is one of many that has prompted some members of the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors to back an “action plan” of steps designed to make the county more business friendly. Among the proposals in the plan, adopted earlier this month, is the call for an expedited review of a report on the availability of light industrial land.That report, initiated well before last November’s elections, will be presented to the Albemarle County Planning Commission on Tuesday night. Susan Stimart, the county’s business development facilitator, analyzed real-estate records and conducted interviews with business owners to produce a “snapshot” of available industrial land.
“Staff concludes there is a shortage of high-quality, vacant industrial land compared with existing users’ stated demands, workforce projections and comparable supply in other jurisdictions,” Stimart writes in the report.
One of the conclusions is that there are currently less than 200 acres of available vacant land in Albemarle zoned for “light industrial” uses such as research and development, printing, and light manufacturing.
In general, the report recommends the county take several steps to increase the amount of land available for industrial use. Using employment statistics extrapolated from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Stimart estimates the county will need between 184 and 500 additional acres of land zoned for industrial uses by 2018 in order to meet future employment needs.Recommended steps include bringing zoning into conformance with the comprehensive plan, allowing for more uses (such as storage yards) on land zoned for light-industrial, and using the upcoming master planning process for the county’s southern development area to designate new areas for industrial use.
Mike Harvey, the executive director of the Thomas Jefferson Partnership for Economic Development, said whether the County has enough land or not, the issue is whether individual parcels are large enough to attract industrial development. He said many companies evaluate localities first through Internet-based research.
“I think the report clearly states what we’ve known anecdotally for some time,” Yancey said. “There is an inadequate amount of land zoned for industrial uses in the county.” He added that his land is close to I-64, has access to water and sewer, and contains at least 50 acres of developable land.Jeff Werner with the Piedmont Environmental Council said the county has squandered much of the land that had been zoned light industrial. During the residential and retail boom of the last decade, many properties that had been zoned for light industrial use were rezoned to make way for new developments such as Albemarle Place and Hollymead Town Center.
Werner specifically pointed to the March 2008 rezoning of 88 acres off of Fifth Street Extended to make way for a new shopping center.
“I don’t recall anyone from the development community raising any concerns about that,” Werner said
“Given that the county has been willing to rezone light industrial lands for retail, I see no need to expand the growth area.”Harvey said that, in Albemarle, the problem is often companies that grow here but can’t expand because land is either too expensive or unavailable. For his part, Watkins said he wanted to make sure he could stay in Albemarle because most of his clients are located here.
The Albemarle County Planning Commission will receive and discuss the report at their meeting Tuesday evening at 6:00 PM at the County Office Building.