about Crozet

A blog about what's happening in Crozet

For a while it seemed like old times at last night’s CCAC meeting. The room was full of interested residents ready to tackle the issues of Crozet. The main event tonight would be the proposal for Oak Bluff, a potential new development in Crozet. However, right from the start of the County staff report, you begin to see the cracks in the system. The staff report really told us very little since the two most important aspects of their report 1.Staff comments to the developer and 2. What is going to be the recommendation of staff that it will take to the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors which are both not part of their presentation. In staff’s defense, I’m sure they would say they’re waiting to hear from the public to see if there are any issues they need to look into further. Next was the presentation from the developer, where they tell Crozet just how great their development is and why we should be glad to have it. Once their presentation is complete they do their best to dodge questions such as will the affordable housing units actually be sold at the $263,000 county suggested affordable price? Following the developer comes comments from the community, but for the developer, they’re pretty much done, having met the county requirement for a public hearing, which is the only reason their at the meeting. Here I must compliment the residents of Westhall. Bill O’Malley presented a very compelling presentation of the issues surrounding the proposed development, which was followed up with another excellent presentation on the potential environmental issues involved with the site design. Finally, there were questions from those attending which, except for one resident who supported the development’s higher density, because she wanted more “stuff” in town, was not supported. Upon the finish of the presentation by the residents, there was a request for the CCAC to respond with a resolution on the issue, but by that time it was 8:30 and time to pack up and leave, so nothing was forthcoming from the CCAC members.

Embedded in the nights discussion was a theme not unfamiliar to the residents of Crozet when a new development is proposed and the residents adjacent to the new development were never informed about the development potential of the land or if they were told about the potential land use the end result did not match what was being built next to them. I can certainly relate to this experience having done my due diligence and investigating the land next the home I was considering buying showed an approved development of 54 homes. There are now just over 140 homes on that spot. I’m not sure what will happen with this proposal, but the development process has to change. The biggest issue with the current way a development is handled by the county means the residents directly impacted will not hear about the development until they see a sign posted or receive a letter from the county about the new development and by that time the development design is often too far advanced for the developer to consider making any significant changes. Only if, and it’s a big if, a strong enough reason for the development proposal to face a losing vote by the Planning Commission will the developer consider a deferral to make the appropriate changes requested by the Planning Commission or the Board of Supervisors.

I would suggest several changes, the first and most important is for the members of the CCAC to get some spine and listen to residents of Crozet. They at least owe the residents a response to their concerns and arrive with a position to either support or oppose any issue before them. Just as important is the need to add a new county position “Growth Area Advocate”, who resides in the Community Development Division, but reports directly to the Board of Supervisors and the Chairs of each of the County Community Advisory Committees. This person would have early access to any newly considered development proposals and be able to give feedback based on discussions with the appropriate Community Advisory Committee. This early access can not be overstated since it is at this stage of a proposed development a community would have the most influence for change. To be sure the system now in place has not and is not working for any of our growth areas and needs to be changed.

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