According to an article in this month’s Crozet Gazette, Albemarle County has denied an appeal brought by the potential developers of the “Montclair” subdivision adjacent to Rt 240 regarding the status of a stream winding through the property. The stream in question was determined to be intermittent, which, means it will require a buffer area on each side of the stream. This ruling backs up the same findings by the Corps of Engineers and consultants hired by the County. You would think that would be the end of it, but the fact is the developers have the right to once again appeal the decision.
I believe had we continued to hold true to the original Crozet Master plan this situation probably would not be an issue. That plan called for this property to be developed at a lower density, as were all properties along the edge of the growth area. This is exactly why Adelaide, now Sparrow Hill was only approved by the Board of Supervisors to be developed at a lower density. Of course that was until county planning staff stormed in and put in place their own Master Plan, which allowed for much higher density. This situation would be bad enough, but according to a statement from the group “Crozet United”, which has worked diligently on this issue, defined an even larger issue, that being the ability to explain how our Water Protection Ordinance is being exploited by developers across Albemarle County. So where do we go from here?
Recently I spoke before the Crozet Community Advisory Committee on the subject of the effectiveness, or better stated, the lack of effectiveness, of any or all of the County Community Advisory Committees. As long as we have two different classes of citizens in Albemarle County, one rural, one development area, then we’re going to require two different approaches to development issues. I believe there is strength in numbers and to achieve this our Community Advisory Committees must act in concert if change is to occur. Presently, separate advisory committees means each member of the Board of Supervisors is responsible to one committee. It’s a simple divide and conquer by the County. We’ve all heard members of the board chastise our own advisory committee when it dared to vote on issues. In order to deal with this imbalance in power what needs to happen is to establish a separate committee comprised of the chairs of all the advisory committees. This committee can then hear from each of our growth areas, define issues common to all and develop an action plan for correction of these issues. Another benefit of such a committee is the fact it can operate outside many of the constraints currently in place for how each individual advisory committee operates. Once complete, the new action plan can be taken to both the Board of Supervisors and the County Executive knowing our County leadership is now not just facing an individual growth area, but the combined interests of all our growth areas, not to mention a group/s that represents the interests of the majority of the residents/voters of Albemarle County.
It was Thomas Paine who said “lead, follow or get out of the way”. Obviously, we no longer have the luxury of being a community of followers, so that leaves us with lead or get out of the way. It’s time for the Crozet Community Advisory Committee to choose.