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Crozet plan update continues to be contentious
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Crozet plan update continues to be contentious

Crozet CAC meeting

Crozet Community Advisory Committee member Tom Loach said at the panel’s meeting this week: “This is no longer the Crozet Master Plan; this is now the Planning Commission and staff master plan, because we voted against the middle density, and here we are back with it again.”

Some community members in Crozet continue to be upset with Albemarle County’s process to update the area’s planning document.

During a Crozet Community Advisory Committee meeting this week, a handful of community members spoke out against proposals in the draft of an update to the Crozet Master Plan.

CAC member Tom Loach wanted to go through the draft plan and look at each section individually, to discuss what the community wants and doesn’t want.

“This is no longer the Crozet Master Plan; this is now the Planning Commission and staff master plan, because we voted against the middle density, and here we are back with it again,” he said.

Rachel Falkenstein, a county planning manager, said the feedback from the Crozet community inspired the county to create a new land use designation called Middle Density Residential.

The plan includes land use categories assigned to properties, which serves as a marker to community members and developers about which kinds of potential projects the community wants to see on a site. Ultimately, a developer would most likely need approval from the Board of Supervisors to change the zoning of the property to allow for the use, or the property is already zoned for that use.

“The community really doesn’t want to see some of the housing types that are recommended in urban density residential or don’t feel that those are in keeping with the scale of a lot of the existing neighborhoods within Crozet, specifically apartment buildings, but there was support for some of the small, smaller housing types,” Falkenstein said.

In a resolution in November, Crozet CAC members voted against a proposal in the land use map for Middle Density Residential, which was originally proposed as 6 to 24 units per acre.

In the draft presented to the committee Wednesday, Middle Density Residential was reduced to 6 to 12 units per acre, with up to 18 units per acre to accommodate additional affordable housing.

“I’m not sure what you don’t understand or what you misunderstood about the vote, because to me, and I think to the rest of the CAC, it was very clear what we were voting for,” Loach said. “And if you’re going to overstep your bounds, and the Planning Commission is going to overstep its bounds, then I just don’t know what the hell we’re doing here.”

The community and county began updating the Crozet Master Plan, which helps to guide decisions about land use, transportation and parks in the area, in 2019.

It ultimately will be part of the county’s Comprehensive Plan, which guides the county’s long-term vision for land use and resource protection. County staff and the Board of Supervisors look to the Comprehensive Plan as part of the rezoning process.

Building types in the middle density areas would include small multiplexes, live/work units, bungalow courts, accessory dwellings, single-family cottages and other similarly scaled residential development, according to the draft.

CAC member Joe Fore noted that the reduction had been made, and said he appreciated staff’s change and the building form and scale recommendations.

“To the point of, ‘whose plan is it?’ I do think a lot of this in terms of the form guidance — tiny houses, accessory units, cottages, bungalow courts — that’s the stuff that kept coming up with these meetings where we had people putting stickers on things and saying what they liked and what they wanted to see more of,” he said.

Fore said he was disappointed that it was in such limited places on the future land use map, and that he’s afraid there will not be many applications for those types of projects.

“It’s not really applied to places where there are likely to be cottages and bungalow courts; it’s in places that are probably already destined to basically be townhouses,” he said.

CAC member Brian Day said he really liked the bungalow courts and the accessory dwellings, but he said he wanted to see the land use designation closer to downtown.

“It totally undoes the primary principle of the master plan of trying to drive development toward downtown, and we’re talking about pretty serious density here,” he said.

Falkenstein said the draft will be put on the county’s website for the public to provide additional feedback on each page of the draft land use plan.

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