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August 16, 2011

Crozet gas station design approved

DailyProgressBy Tracie Cabler
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Albemarle County Architectural Review Board has given final approval to a controversial gas station and convenience store in Crozet.

Representatives of the Re-Store’N Station were pleased with Monday’s unanimous vote in favor of the project.

20110815-Higgins “We will proceed to construction plans, submit our building permit and then hopefully start construction within two months,” said the project’s developer, Jo Higgins.

“I’m fine with what I see,” said board member Charles Lebo. “I think they’ve addressed all the issues we talked about last time.”

The two-story building will be located on U.S. 250 West on a four-acre site 0.3 miles west of the entrance to Western Albemarle High School. Since 2008, county officials and residents of Freetown Lane have questioned the station’s appropriateness within the Crozet community. Issues such as water usage, the station’s size and its exterior appearance have all been scrutinized, including the final question of building material choices.

However, following the station’s positive review with the Architectural Review Board two weeks ago, the project seemed to finally be on track toward approval. That was followed by the Albemarle Planning Commission’s unanimous vote last Wednesday to approve its street entrance and location.

Some residents of Freetown Lane however, still remained unsatisfied with the review process.

“There’s a faithful few of us that always show up, and we always lose,” said resident Sandra Meyers last Wednesday following the commission’s decision. “I think the faithful few of us who keep coming have kept it down to a manageable state.”

Other residents are continuing a legal challenge. In early March, neighbors of Freetown Lane filed an appeal with the Board of Zoning Appeals challenging the determination by Deputy Zoning Administrator Ron Higgins that the site plan proposed in December 2010 was in general accord with county conditions. When the BZA upheld Higgins’ decision on May 3, residents then filed an appeal in Albemarle County Circuit Court.

Residents involved in the suit — Richard Brown, Bruce Kirtley, Chris and Ann Suh of Brownsville Market and Marcia Joseph — are being represented by the Zobrist Law Group. In the lawsuit, residents state that the station’s second-floor office is not in compliance with conditions set by the Albemarle supervisors.

However, when the Re-Store’N Station appeared before the Architectural Review Board in early August, the second floor had been reduced to 2,700 feet and the first to 1,900 feet.

At Monday’s meeting, one resident reminded the ARB that they should take their time reviewing the project.

“Ms. Higgins indicated at the last [ARB] meeting that they’ve been in this for a long time,” said resident Frank Calhoun. “I would like to say to you all and to her that this will be here after we are all gone.”

The ARB reviewed a revised landscape plan as well as component drawings of the proposed column piers, awnings, and second floor porch overhang on the station’s exterior. Details for the materials of the latter had been a topic of discussion at the ARB’s prior meeting.

“My only concern [now] is the columns,” said Board member Paul Wright. “I think the conditions that I was concerned about, being one of the two votes against it, I do believe have been addressed.”

Albemarle staff told the ARB that they were uncertain whether the columns would be wrapped in PVC plastic or some other material.  PVC does not meet county standards within the entrance corridor. Developer Jo Higgins assured the board that PVC was not under consideration.

“They’re not shiny and it is a composite material,” said Higgins. “They come in white so we thought they were a good application [and] they have a nice detail.”

Upon the condition that a material sample for the columns be provided to staff for approval, the ARB unanimously approved the station’s certificate of appropriateness.

No trial date has yet been set for the resident’s case against the station in circuit court. If the court rules in favor of the residents, any revised design for the Re-Store’N Station would have to be reviewed again by the ARB.

August 09, 2011

Jarmans Gap project comes under scrutiny

DailyProgressBy Frank Muraca
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Tuesday, August 9, 2011

A $13.5 million road project in Crozet is coming under increased scrutiny from neighbors just as the road’s closure has been pushed from summer to the fall.

20110804_jarmans_gap2 Virginia Department of Transportation officials met last week with about 20 residents from Old Trail Village to discuss plans for a stormwater runoff pond being built at the intersection of Old Trail Drive and Jarmans Gap Road.

“Our concerns are that this is one of two entrances to a beautiful community,” said John Rotherham, president of the Old Trail Community Association. “And before this meeting it appeared that one could conclude that VDOT was stonewalling us.”

VDOT is required by state law to build a retention pond while expanding Jarmans Gap Road. The road will be expanded from Route 240 to Old Trail Drive, and include 4-foot-wide bike lanes on either side of the road, as well as a 5-foot-wide sidewalk on the northern side of the road. Each car lane will be a total of 12 feet, and include some turn lanes.

Last week, Rotherham wrote transportation Commissioner Gregory Whirley a letter on behalf of the community association, explaining why residents are opposed to the current pond designs.

“Our strong concerns center on how this pond, with minimal landscaping and a chain link fence, will create an eyesore in place of the current welcoming appearance at this entrance to our community,” Rotherham wrote.

The pond is currently designed to hold water running down from the construction site on Jarmans Gap, as well as from a housing development on the opposite side of the road. After heavy rainfall, the water will be held in the pond for about a day, before traveling through a pipe into Old Trail’s stormwater retention system. The deepest part of the pond is planned to be 10 feet.

At the meeting, Albemarle Supervisor Ann H. Mallek suggested that VDOT redesign the pond to act as a bio-filter, similar to one that is built off McIntire Road. A bio-filter would include mostly vegetation to absorb the water, but would still be linked to Old Trail’s existing infrastructure.

  “You’re not building something monstrous,” Mallek said, “and you’re not building something that would stop construction of the roadway.”

“I’m not sure we will be able to redesign the pond,” explained Karen Kilby, program management director for VDOT in the Culpeper District.

20110804_jarmans_gapKilby said that a redesign could take time and would have to go through another approval process. Likewise, Kilby explained that VDOT may have to purchase additional right-of-way, depending on the details of the plan.

In his letter to Whirley, Rotherham explained that the cost of a bio-filter would be around $50,000, according to Collins Engineering Company, the planning contractor for Old Trail Village.

Rotherham wrote that they have “been seeking a more environmentally sound and aesthetically pleasing substitute — a bio-filter with landscaping compatible with our community’s standards.”

Kilby told Charlottesville Tomorrow that she was not prepared to discuss costs or designs.

“VDOT will be working with a group of homeowners in order to provide the best design that meets Virginia stormwater regulations, VDOT’s design criteria, the homeowners’ expectations, as well as make the best use of public funds,” Kilby wrote in an email.

Costs for the retention pond are included in the total cost for expansion of Jarmans Gap. Currently, the cost of construction is estimated to be $13,555,319.

Kilby said that VDOT would be willing to work with community members to re-assess the landscaping plan that will surround the pond. The details for a landscaping plan have not been finalized, but currently include a chain-link fence, along with various plants surrounding the pond.

“We don’t have to have a chain-link fence,” Kilby said.

Rotherham, along with other residents, indicated that the community association would elect a committee at a scheduled meeting to collaborate with VDOT going forward.

“Ideally, we would like the retention pond option to be rejected, and to substitute this new concept that Ann Mallek was describing,” Rotherham said. “That’s the idea. And we obviously want adequate landscaping, We found it reassuring that the VDOT spokesperson seems willing to work with us on that.”

On Wednesday, Kilby notified the Board of Supervisors that Jarmans Gap would be closed from Aug. 15 to Oct. 15 to install a box culvert over Powell’s Creek. The board had previously authorized the road to be closed from June to August. But Kilby explained that plans were delayed due to “unforeseen circumstances.”

August 03, 2011

Split Architectural Review Board sends Crozet gas station to another work session

DailyProgressBy Tracie Cabler
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Wednesday, August 3, 2011

After years of setbacks and reviews, a controversial gas station in Crozet is potentially one work session away from approval by Albemarle County’s Architectural Review Board.

Following the Re-Store’N Station’s latest review on Monday, some members said they were pleased with the project’s design progress.

“This is not an eyesore,” board member Charles Lebo said. “I think they’ve come a long way, they’ve done a lot of work [and] it’s starting to fit in somewhat with the character of the neighborhood.”

Crozet resident Frank Calhoun

However, while there was a general consensus with regard to the overall appropriateness of the station, the board remained split over whether to move forward and approve the project. Board member Bruce Wardell expressed reservations about granting approval before viewing more design and structural details.

“I feel like we’re reviewing a moving target,” Wardell said. “It’s not that I disapprove of it, it’s that I don’t really know what I’m in fact being asked to approve.”

“I don’t know the railing details, I don’t know the cornice details … all of those things have to do with the texture of a building, and that’s one of the primary vehicles that we have in the entrance corridor to make a contemporary building have a sense of appropriateness,” Wardell added.

This is not the first time architectural and site details have challenged the Re-Store’N Station. Since the property was purchased by Jeff Sprouse in 2006, the proposed gas station at Freetown Lane on U.S. 250 West has faced a series of design dilemmas. Plans for the station have been reviewed and rejected by the board several times. At the previous review in May, the board again expressed concerns over the station’s size and outward appearance.

Neighboring residents of Freetown Lane have voiced continual opposition since the project’s inception. Some residents have taken issue with various design aspects of the station, including its size and appearance, in the context of the rural character of their Crozet neighborhood.

“[Jo Higgins] didn’t discuss the lighting of Freetown and how high this building’s going to be, because it’s changed from time to time,” said Freetown Lane resident Richard Brown. “Before the final say, let’s make sure we cover all bases; so far today I haven’t heard too much about Freetown.”

Residents also aired their dismay over the process by which Higgins, the project’s developer, has taken to achieve approval for this project. Some took issue with how Higgins showed the most recent illustrations only to the board members at the meeting.

“We’re at a disadvantage here,” said Crozet resident Frank Calhoun. “We don’t see the illustrations you see. I would still like this to look like a Greenwood Gourmet and not a Sheetz.”

While Wardell and fellow board member Paul Wright were in favor of postponing the vote, board member Bill Daggett expressed his belief that the devil in this case was not necessarily in the details.

“It seems to me that they’re working pretty hard here to try to mimic some of the vernacular forms,” Daggett said. “We’re 200 feet away from the entrance corridor and at 45 mph … I don’t think that the depth of detailing is going to be an overwhelming negative to the overall form of this.”

However, Wright said it remained important to verify specific details of the plan.

“To be honest, this is the first building I thought was approvable,” Wright said. “I think in this project we would do well to be very specific — that you’re getting what it is you think you’re getting.”

The ARB drafted a detailed list of conditions for the gas station’s approval. Despite this compilation, when a vote for approval was taken, a split 2-2 vote occurred, with Wright and Wardell remaining in opposition. Both desired to see the ARB’s conditions met before signing off on a certificate of appropriateness.

“Our goal is to not simply establish a kind of bottom level or kind of lowest bar possible,” Wardell said. “At 45 mph and seeing this building from one direction or another, I guarantee you that the details make a difference.”

The board agreed to postpone a final vote until after a work session can be held with the developers.

June 13, 2011

Talks continue for Claudius Place in downtown Crozet

DailyProgressBy Tracie Cabler & Brian Wheeler
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Monday, June 13, 2011

With the new Crozet Library stalled for lack of funding, it appears a new commercial building will be the cornerstone of a major expansion of downtown Crozet.

As the design for Claudius Place works its way through Albemarle County’s Architectural Review Board, the developers are learning that being first in line carries a hefty design responsibility.

Claudius Place Architect, Bob Anderson

Bob Anderson, lead architect for the project, views Claudius Place as a “transitional building” between old Crozet and a revitalized downtown. Located across from the library site, the two-story, 6,607-square-foot building would be the commercial anchor of the Barnes Lumber redevelopment project.

Anderson told the ARB last week that his office-and-restaurant design brought together Crozet’s industrial past with the traditional architecture of its historic storefronts.

“Through materials we want to tie into those [two sides], but at the same time we want it to have a contemporary feel to it so that it’s more representative of who we are today, as opposed to who we were 20 years ago or 50 years ago,” Anderson said.

However, some members of the board felt that certain elements of the design — in particular, the roof and two “languages” of the façade — were not appropriate within the existing fabric of Crozet.

“It concerns me a little bit if this is a main street building that doesn’t use the language of main street architecture,” said board member Bruce Wardell. “It’s sort of taken the warehouse language that’s along the railroad tracks and brought it over to main street.”

“We could mimic that [traditional architecture] but that was not our decision,” Anderson responded. “We decided, no, let’s think in terms of the warehouses that are up there, the things that are going to be torn down [at the lumber yard], and pull a little toward that direction.”

Wardell said the “argument didn’t really hold together” and he felt the design looked more like a “1950s school building” and needed to incorporate more of the existing, traditional main street context.


3D Rendering of Claudius Place project by Charlottesville Tomorrow. The model can also be downloaded and manipulated in Google Earth. Click here to access the model

Lauren Morris, a State Farm Insurance agent in Crozet, says she’s excited about the project. Morris, who was born and raised in Crozet, is set to be the building’s first commercial tenant and owner.

“I am excited about it,” Morris said in an interview. “I am ready to have a better location, a new building and new signage. I don’t have any road frontage today, so my car is my only sign right now.”

“I like the old downtown feeling — this is the core of Crozet,” Morris said. “The opportunity to own my own building here is also very attractive.”

Board member Charles Lebo said it would be important to hear more testimony from Crozet residents about the design. After sitting through several reviews for the Crozet Library, Lebo said that its final product had the vocal support of the Crozet community.

“For me to state what’s appropriate for Crozet, without maybe some input from some of the community people that live there, is rather difficult to do,” Lebo said. “I’d like to hear what they have to say about this project.”

The Piedmont Development Group expects to close on the purchase of the property from Barnes Lumber later this month.

Katurah Roell, the project developer, is scheduled to meet with the Crozet Community Advisory Council on Thursday to discuss Claudius Place.

June 03, 2011

See the community in 3D: The Claudius Place project in Crozet, VA

Hyperlocal community news in 3D

Charlottesville Tomorrow is pleased to share 3D visualizations of the
proposed Claudius Place project in Crozet, VA.

Claudius Place is a two-story 6,067 sq. ft. commercial project in downtown Crozet currently under review by Albemarle County.

  • First floor is 1,967 sq. ft. featuring a State Farm Insurance office in one of the 2 suites
  • Second floor is 4,100 sq. ft. intended for retail and restaurant
  • Location is across the street from the site of the future Crozet Library
  • The Piedmont Development Group plans to acquire the property in June 2011 from Barnes Lumber.  Ground breaking is expected by the end of 2011 with project completion by Summer 2012.

Public input opportunities:

  •  Albemarle Co. Architectural Review Board - Mon., June 6, 2011, 1PM

Why model this building in 3D?

A goal of our Cville3D initiative is to help our readers and decision makers see the community and proposed development projects in a whole new way. Taking the publicly available drawings, we can render a project in a three-dimensional real-world environment. Presto! You get more information to make an informed decision.

Funding for the Cville3D initiative has been provided by generous support of the Virginia Environmental Endowment and the Oakwood Foundation. The models are created by Bob Pineo, an independent local architect working under contract for Charlottesville Tomorrow. The final product is our best approximation of what this project will look like based on the material submitted to local government.

This is a prototype. Please add your comments below and tell us what we should model next.

Starting with the siteplan...


and the elevations...


then using  Google Sketchup and Google Earth, we create the 3D perspective seen in this Flickr slideshow


The model can also be downloaded and manipulated in Google Earth. 

Click here to access the model for download in your own copy of Google Earth to

select your own views and perspectives with real terrain - What will it look like from my backyard?

May 03, 2011

Re-Store ‘N Station review to continue; Neighbors unsuccessful in appeal

DailyProgressBy Brian Wheeler
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Neighbors fighting to shrink the size of a gas station and convenience store proposed for U.S. 250 in Crozet were unsuccessful in an appeal heard Tuesday by Albemarle County’s Board of Zoning Appeals.

Free Town Lane resident Richard Brown appealed a February determination by the county’s deputy zoning administrator, Ron Higgins, that the Re-Store’N Station’s preliminary site plan was in “general accord” with a previous plan reviewed by the Albemarle Board of Supervisors.

“We are not against putting a building up there, we just want something we can agree with,” Brown said.

Developer Jo Higgins says renderings by Charlottesville Tomorrow (like above) show the Re-Store'N Station with a smaller footprint than the one neighbors reacted to in December. This revised plan will be reviewed by Albemarle County over the next 2 weeks

The two-story gas station and convenience store is proposed to be built on property 0.3 miles west of the entrance to Western Albemarle High School. The 4-acre parcel owned by Michelle and Jeff Sprouse was previously the location of a small-engine repair shop and is zoned for highway commercial use.

Brown’s appeal to the BZA argued that the updated site plan showed an office floor three times what had been originally proposed, one that might use more water resources than what was authorized. The Albemarle supervisors placed a cap on total daily water usage of 1,625 gallons.

“My determination was that it was in general accord,” Higgins said. “It’s a broad character comparison. Is it a [gas] station in about the same place with the relationship of all the main uses, gas pumps, paving, and building, the same?

Brown’s neighbor, Bruce Kirtley, told the BZA that the community had thought a “reasonable compromise” had been reached when a smaller gas station was authorized last November. However, Kirtley said the site plan submitted the next month came as a surprise.

“The citizens of Crozet expected a 3,000 square-foot, ground-level retail operation with a 1,000 square-foot family office space,” Kirtley said. “Instead, what was submitted appears to have a total of 5,750 total square feet.”

Higgins told the BZA that he had also determined that the footprint of the Re-Store’N Station in the December plan had in fact exceeded a 3,000 square-foot limit as conditioned in the county’s approval. He said that decision was not being appealed by the neighbors, was not before the BZA, and was being addressed by the developer with a new site plan submission.

Sample2-ReStoreN-Station Andrew H. Herrick, Albemarle’s senior assistant county attorney, instructed the BZA that the only matter before them related to whether the new site plan was in “general accord” with the previous version. Herrick said other issues raised by the neighbors — which included light pollution, public safety, and water usage — had already been decided.

David Bass, the BZA chairman, said he thought staff had reached the correct decision, particularly as the Board of Supervisors had focused its concerns on the footprint of the building and not the size of the second-story office.

“Absent a specific discussion of the second story, and with a control on the water usage, I am personally pretty persuaded that Mr. Higgins has reached the right decision here,” Bass said.

After the unanimous vote by the BZA to uphold the county staff’s determination, Kirtley said he was not surprised by the outcome.

“It all hinged on a legal interpretation,” Kirtley said. “I think a more reasonable decision would have been to send it back to the board for further review, but law and logic are often two different things.”

Jo Higgins, a former member of the Albemarle Planning Commission, has been representing the project for the more than two years while it’s been under review.

“I think it was a correct decision because all site plans do change between the preliminary and final plans,” Higgins said.

Now that this legal challenge has been addressed, the Re-Store’N Station’s updated site plan will be reviewed by the Planning Commission on Tuesday and the Architectural Review Board on May 16.

March 11, 2011

See the community in 3D: The Re-Store'N Station project in Crozet, VA

Hyperlocal community news in 3D

Charlottesville Tomorrow is pleased to share 3D visualizations of the
proposed Re-Store'N Station in Crozet, VA.

The Re-Store'N Station is a project currently under review by Albemarle County.  It is a convenience store with gas pumps and office space located on property zoned Highway Commercial on Route 250 West in Crozet.

Public input opportunities:

  • Albemarle Co. Planning Commission - Tues., March 15, 2011, 6PM [agenda]
  •  Albemarle Co. Architectural Review Board - Mon., March 21, 2011, 1PM


A goal of our Cville3D initiative is to help our readers and decision makers see the community and proposed development projects in a whole new way. Taking the publicly available drawings, we can render a project in a three-dimensional real-world environment. Presto! You get more information to make an informed decision.

Funding for the Cville3D initiative has been provided by generous support of the Virginia Environmental Endowment and the Oakwood Foundation. The models are created by Bob Pineo, an independent local architect working under contract for Charlottesville Tomorrow. The final product is our best approximation of what this project will look like based on the material submitted to local government.

This is a prototype. Please add your comments below and tell us what we should model next.

Starting with the siteplan...

00-Re-Store'N-Station - 20110315-siteplan

and the elevations...

00-Re-Store'N-Station - 20110315-elevation


then using  Google Sketchup and Google Earth, we create the 3D perspective seen in this Flickr slideshow


The model can also be downloaded and manipulated in Google Earth. 

Click here to access the model for download in your own copy of Google Earth to

  • See the model without landscaping - What will it look like before landscape is mature?
  • Select your own views and perspectives with real terrain - What will it look like from my backyard?

January 22, 2011

A growing village in western Albemarle, Old Trail sees record sales

DailyProgressBy Brian Wheeler
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Saturday, January 22, 2011

One real estate project in western Albemarle County is seeing significant residential sales growth. Old Trail Village reported this week that 70 homes were sold or placed under contract during 2010, a record number for the mixed-use development near Crozet.

“We had the best selling year that we have ever had,” said Andrea McNeill, director of marketing for Beights Corp. “I think in large part that’s due to the housing product that our builders are providing, and it’s obviously what consumers want.”

Old Trail’s success comes in the midst of a housing market that last year saw regional sales drop 1.5 percent below their 2009 levels, the fourth straight year of decline.

The 70 homes that sold in 2010 surpasses the total of 27 sold in 2009 and 21 in 2008. McNeill said 58 of the homes were new construction and 12 were re-sales.

In addition, the first phase of Old Trail’s mixed-use commercial town center is virtually all leased.

There are almost 300 occupied homes in Old Trail today and the development has been approved to build another 2,300, for about 2,600 homes in total.

Gaylon Beights, president of Beights Corp., attributed part of the recent success to the maturing of the neighborhood.

“I think Old Trail has matured, the amenities are present, and the architecture is established,” Beights said.

When Albemarle County approved the development in 2005, many area residents decried it as being too large, a threat to existing businesses in downtown Crozet, and a population bomb that would undermine the 2004 Crozet Master Plan. That plan has now been revised with a great deal of community input to adjust, in part, for the housing density that ended up in Old Trail.

Jim Duncan, a Realtor in Crozet at Nest Realty, said Beights had responded well to market demand.

“I think they are doing something right and that they have created something that people want,” Duncan said. “When I talk about it with clients I say, ‘It has stuff — a pool, shopping areas, things to walk to.’ People want to have an engaged community.”

“Success breeds success,” he added. “Old Trail has succeeded faster than other developments like Belvedere because they had the commercial areas ready to go. People view this as the beginning of a successful community.”

According to Beights, there are 39 apartments above the first floor commercial area in the existing town center, all of which were occupied throughout last year. Recently five apartments became available, but he said that was because those residents moved into other homes within Old Trail.

Melissa Riley lives in one of the apartments and works in the town center.

“This is a close-knit community and you feel safe,” Riley said in an interview at Face Value Studios. “I’m a single mom and I plan to start by renting a townhome and then move on up in the neighborhood. Who wouldn’t want to wake up every morning and see those mountains?”

Eating lunch at Anna’s Pizza in the town center, Jason and Adrienne Augustino said they had relocated from Baltimore and were initially attracted by the surrounding countryside.

“We just liked the area, the farmland,” Jason said. “It sounded like a nice area that would have restaurants and a walkable community. Everything that we like and want and need is here.”

McNeill said phase 9 of Old Trail is under construction across from the town center. The Village Commons will include another 126 homes.

“Also, the Lodge at Old Trail will have 126 beds in a new senior assisted living facility,” McNeill added. “It’s on the rental model and that has a range of care from basic assisted living up to end-of-life care.”

Both Riley and the Augustinos said they were excited about the next phase of development for Old Trail Village.

“From an investment perspective, it will really help,” Adrienne said. “We enjoy being able to walk to restaurants and we are excited about the neighborhood’s growth.”

The investment is paying off for Beights, too, who led his business through a difficult market.

“The biggest surprise was 2008-2009 when we faced a market like I have never could have imagined in 40 years of development,” Beights said. “Maneuvering a project this massive through the uncertainty of those years, I knew we’d be here, but I didn’t know if my bank was here for the long haul. It’s refreshing to be on this side of 2010 being able to say sales are continuing.”

July 14, 2010

County planners reject inclusion of industrial park in Crozet Master Plan

This article is an extended version of what appears in the
Daily Progress.
By Bridgett Lynn & Brian Wheeler
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Wednesday, July 14, 2010

While Albemarle County is seeking to increase its industrial and commercial land activity, proposals reviewed as part of the Crozet Master Plan to build a new business park and convert some residential homes to mixed use have been rejected by the Planning Commission.

Will Yancey appeared at the public hearing Tuesday to lobby for his family’s 2008 application to create a light-industrial business park just outside the Crozet development area near the intersection of Interstate 64 and U.S. 250.
Will Yancey

“We don’t have enough industrial land,” Yancey said. “In the last three years there have been two studies, one in 2007 and one that was just completed recently, that indicated Albemarle had a shortage of industrial land.”

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


Community Issues:

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
BOS = Albemarle County Board of Supervisors

According to county staff, the majority of Crozet residents and the Crozet Community Advisory Council (CCAC) do not support the proposed business park which would be on 184 acres around the site of the Yancey Lumber Co. sawmill.

“The public very adamantly said they were opposed to having a 1.1 [million] to 1.8 million square foot industrial park right outside of the master plan boundaries,” said Mary Rice, a former advisory council member.

“The proposal has serious flaws beyond generating sprawl in the rural area,” said Morgan Butler of the Southern Environmental Law Center. “The property is located in the water supply watershed. It drains to the South Fork Rivanna River and ultimately to the South Fork Reservoir. Major development activity on this land would almost certainly increase the amount of sediment and other pollutants entering that drinking water reservoir.”

Other concerns about the proposed business park were that it would undermine efforts to invigorate businesses in Downtown Crozet and would negatively impact traffic near the interstate.

“Our recommendation is that it’s bad for the master plan,” said Mike Marshall, chairman of the advisory council. “We don’t think it ought to be allowed.”
Mike Marshall, chair of the Crozet Community Advisory Board

The planning commission indicated last month that the Yancey Mills project should be independently reviewed by the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors. At Tuesday’s meeting, the commission formally voted to exclude the project from the master plan update and went a step further and also voted 4-3 to recommend the Board of Supervisors deny the business park request. Commissioners Don Franco, Linda Porterfield, and Edward Smith voted against that motion. 

Porterfield was the only commissioner who supported further study of the Yancey Mills project when the commission originally rejected it in November 2008 by a 6-1 vote. Franco and Smith joined the commission subsequent to that decision.

“We have not studied the Yancey proposal,” Porterfield said Tuesday. “We can’t vote it down if we don’t know anything about it.”

“There is no place else that I’m aware of in this county right now that there is one entity that controls that much land with good transportation,” Porterfield said. "If we don’t start thinking about that, we’re going to be supporting this entire county on residential taxes.”

The other topic getting considerable attention at the public hearing related to a proposal to mix commercial and residential uses in a small area north of downtown.  The commission voted unanimously to maintain the existing residential character of the neighborhood around Wayland Drive and St. George Avenue.

“We’ve had some interest for quite some time from property owners…wanting to have greater use of their property than just the single family residential use that they have right now,” said Elaine Echols, Albemarle County’s principal planner for the development areas.

“What we came up…with the community was a recommendation for mixed use in this particular area with a modification to the stream buffer to allow for redevelopment if there’s mitigation which helps to protect the water supply,” said Echols.

Jenny Martin spoke on behalf of the property owners that supported the staff’s recommendation. She said the proposal would create a transition between commercial and residential use.

“This designation of mixed use will create a buffer to the north of Crozet between commercial and residential which today does not currently exist and will preserve the look and feel of the village of Crozet,” Martin said.

However, other members of the community and representatives of the CCAC spoke against the proposal.

“The resolution that the advisory council passed was on where to maintain the boundary between commercial use…and residential,” said Marshall. “The motion…to maintain that natural [creek] boundary, which is the boundary today, as the future boundary…passed 10 to 2.”

“I cannot understand why just two houses in Wayland Park should be included in a transition zone for mixed use,” said Joyce Shifflett, a resident of St. George Avenue. “To consider just two houses in the subdivision for mixed use would be totally unfair to us and the other property owners in Wayland Park.”

In 2006, county staff prepared a report estimating that Crozet, which has a population of about 5,500 today, could reach a maximum population of about 24,000.  The revised plan now anticipates a long-term population capacity of approximately 18,000.

“I’m all for the community deciding that it wants a much lower total build out,” said Peter Loach of the Piedmont Housing Alliance. “I just want [the community] to be aware…as they lower density and make each house sit on a bigger piece of land, each house is going to cost more and become much less affordable.

Staff will incorporate changes recommended by the Planning Commission and bring the plan back for final approval at their meeting July 27.

June 10, 2010

Planning Commission opposes water permit for Crozet gas station proposal

By Bridgett Lynn
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Thursday, June 10, 2010

At their meeting on Tuesday, the Albemarle County Planning Commission recommended denial of a special use permit for a proposed gas station called the Re-Store’n Station, which is to be located on U.S. 250 West near the Crozet Moose Lodge.

The preliminary site plan proposes a 5,750 square foot two story commercial building on about 4 acres. The 4,750 sq. ft. first floor is proposed as a gas station and convenience store accompanied by a second floor office of 1,000 sq. ft. The plan also reserves space for expansion of the building showing a future footprint more than double the initial building size.

A special use permit is required for the site because the station intends to use slightly more than 400 gallons per acre per day. At 4.06 acres, the property is allowed to use 1,624 gallons of well water daily. Jo Higgins, the property owners’ representative, said that the station would not exceed 1,625 gallons of water use.  The property lost access to public water when the site’s previous structure was torn down by Higgins’ clients.
Jo Higgins, Re-Store'n Station owners' representative

“[The] most important concern is about groundwater as a resource,” said Higgins. “If that is the case and you want to protect wells…the [Board of Supervisors] has the power to allow a public water connection and meter it by the Albemarle County Service Authority, which would relieve staff totally of the burden to monitor this and the staff time that that entails.” 

Because the gas station would use slightly more well water than what is allowed by right, Albemarle County staff recommended approval of the special permit if the owners would agree to install a meter on the well to monitor water consumption and to not exceed 1,625 gallons of water per day.

“It’s certainly debatable whether granting this special use permit would be in harmony with the purpose and intent of the zoning ordinance,” said Morgan Butler, an attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center. “It’s even harder to assert that granting this permit to allow extra groundwater withdrawal for a gas station of this scale is consistent with the comprehensive plan.  The Crozet Master Plan…specifically calls for limiting the amount of development along this stretch of 250.”

Higgins, who served on the Albemarle County Planning Commission during 2004-2006, said the station’s on-site wastewater septic system was designed according to Virginia Department of Health standards and Albemarle County ordinances. It was also approved by the health department.

“This information that was submitted was approved according to Albemarle County standards, and if you’re asking for a different level of standard, then the rules need to be changed, but not applied indifferently to this application,” said Higgins

Members of the public were concerned that the station’s water usage would not be adequately monitored and that the staff recommendation did not take into account the number of vehicular stops per day.

Jeff Werner, Piedmont Environmental Council
“Consumption can be determined estimated by vehicular traffic, but no traffic study has been completed,” said Jeff Werner of the Piedmont Environmental Council. “Until a traffic study establishes estimated traffic, water use cannot be determined. Therefore the application does not provide sufficient information to make this determination.”

Property owners close to the proposed station worried that their adjacent properties to the proposed station would be at risk for well failure.

“[A Freetown Lane resident] brought up the fact that supposedly a well was dug on a property which substantially deteriorated the well on an adjacent property. That is data that bothers me,” said Commissioner Calvin Morris.

“We want to be assured that our wells are not hurt,” said Freetown resident Richard Brown. “When you start drilling and digging in the mud, you are going to blow our wells, we’re going to have a problem.”

“There’s no indication of the effect groundwater withdrawal may have on the adjacent properties,” responded Higgins.  “All we’ve said is that we don’t think anything will happen to the adjacent properties, but we don’t know that for sure.”

Commissioners Tom Loach and Russell Lafferty did not support the special use permit because the station’s water usage could possibly be a detriment to adjacent residents and the station poses public health and safety concerns.

“I have insufficient information to believe that they will not exceed the allowable usage of water and that the neighbors will be adversely affected,” said Lafferty.

Commissioner Linda Porterfield also voted against recommendation for the special use permit. In her comments she noted that there are already gas stations located near the Re-Store’n Station’s proposed site.

“There probably are other things that the people who live in that area need. At this point I don’t think they necessarily need another gas station,” said Porterfield.

By a 5-2 vote, the Planning Commission recommended denying the special use permit. Commissioners Don Franco and Edward Smith voted against that motion.
Albemarle County Planning Commission

“I understand everyone’s concern about exceeding the [water usage] number, but I think that what we’ve done is established a number that is just outside the by-right use in order to enable us to do the enforcement and the monitoring,” said Franco.

Following the denial of recommendation for the special use permit, a proposal for approval of the project’s preliminary site plan and a request to allow clearing of vegetation was heard by the commission.

Members of the public spoke against the size and scope of the project and the idea of having a another gas station close to their neighborhoods.

“After taking input from the [Architectural Review Board], neighbors, the chief of zoning, and other entrance corridor folks, we actually did a totally new concept and reduced the size of the store which was originally around 6,000 down to 4,750 [square feet],” said Higgins.

For Mike Marshall, the chairman of the Crozet Community Advisory Council, the reduction in square footage was not sufficient.

“I think you should deny [the site plan]. One, it doesn’t have the special use permit, second, they’re not showing you the whole plan, third, they don’t deal with [the public] in good faith,” charged Marshall,.

Higgins said she believes that the station would have a positive impact on the community. “Competition in the market is good for the community,” said Higgins.

However, after further discussion by the commission, Higgins agreed to defer the site plan request.

“We would like to defer your action on the site plan and ask respectfully for your input,” said Higgins.  In an interview after the meeting, Higgins said she and her client had not yet determined their next steps. The special use permit for water has not yet been scheduled for review by the Board of Supervisors.