The developer of the proposed Adelaide neighborhood on U.S. 250 in Crozet withdrew his rezoning proposal Wednesday after it became clear the Board of Supervisors would not support his requested housing density.
“After 18 months of detailed staff review, Planning Commission meetings, multiple rounds of plan revisions and positive recommendations from both authorities, I am still unsure as to what our leadership wants out of this site,” developer Kyle Redinger said in an interview Thursday.
The Planning Commission had recommended approval of the proposal in May on a 5-2 vote.
The property is within one of the county’s designated growth areas and is governed by the Crozet Master Plan. That document calls for the land to be developed at a higher residential density than allowed under the current zoning.
Redinger sought a rezoning from single-family residential to a classification that would have allowed up to six units per acre on the 20-acre site adjacent to the Cory Farm subdivision.
“The Crozet Master Plan does reflect a range of three to six units per acre and that becomes a judgment call as to what you decide is the most appropriate,” said Elaine Echols, a principal planner for Albemarle County.
Redinger’s original submission called for 98 units, but he lowered that amount to 80 after a work session with the Planning Commission. He also changed the unit types from all attached units to 40 single-family homes and 40 townhouses.
The density of the proposal before the Board of Supervisors was 5.5 units per acre.
Redinger said the higher density would allow him to offer homes at more affordable prices than he would have to charge for the 26 homes he believes he can build by-right.
“We live in a highly desirable place,” Redinger said. “But affordability is an increasing challenge. In Crozet, new home construction prices have soared to over $600,000.”
Redinger said he thinks he could sell the townhouses for around $300,000 and the single-family homes for around $500,000.
The majority of the 19 people who spoke during the public hearing were adamant that the board reject the rezoning.
Several Cory Farm residents argued against the plan as presented to the board.
“We don’t want this,” said Kirsi Ide “It’s not that we’re anti-development. It’s we’re pro the right development.”
Ide likened the Master Plan to a recipe and said it is important to get the ingredients right.
“Our Master Plan is there so we have a beautiful community that we’re proud of and so that we’re not tempted to make some cuts,” Ide said. “When you cut in recipes, it turns out lousy.”
Former Planning Commissioner Tom Loach said U.S. 250 is dangerous enough without adding a dense neighborhood.
“We asked the police for a study of accident data on that stretch of road and from Harris Teeter down to Western Albemarle [High School], and we’ve averaged one accident a month and two pedestrian deaths,” Loach said.
However, one woman reminded Cory Farm residents that where they live was once agricultural land. In 1995, the Board of Supervisors rezoned 82 acres there from single-family residential to four units per acre.
“Cory Farm was my great-grandparents’ farm,” said Chastity Morgan, of Afton. “I played in chicken coops and pig houses and dug potatoes and spent many Saturdays there on a porch swing.”
Morgan said her great-uncle was one of the pedestrians killed in recent years on the road. Carroll Herring died in 2013. Morgan urged supervisors to support the rezoning.
The board was evenly split between those who could support the higher density and those who could not.
Supervisor Ann H. Mallek said her interpretation of the Master Plan is that lower density is more appropriate on U.S. 250.
“People would love to support this at three units per acre,” Mallek said.
Other supervisors said they could support a higher density.
“I remember when Cory Farm was a farm,” said Supervisor Norman Dill. “I had friends that lived nearby and they were bitterly disappointed with Cory Farm.”
Dill said the land is within a designated growth area and there are ways to address congestion on U.S. 250, including public transit.
Supervisor Brad Sheffield said he thought the use of density ranges is part of the problem because developers will almost always seek the maximum density allowed.
“Our land-use plans are not matching up to our zoning expectations,” he said “I think that creates a lot of dysfunction in how we go about doing our planning. It sets poor expectations for what is to come.”
Sheffield said he would be in support of Crozet rewriting its Master Plan for lower density and proactively changing the zoning accordingly.
Another supervisor whose district contains large portions of U.S. 250 dealt the final blow to the evening’s review of the proposal.
“I think this project is a beautiful project,” said Liz Palmer. “I’m not worried about the schools. What I’m worried about is safety on that road. I can’t support a development with this kind of density in that spot.”
After that comment, Redinger appeared before the board to request a deferral, which eventually was granted.
Afterwards he said he would continue to work on the project.
“Given this sets a new precedent for a rezoning process, we await guidance from [Albemarle County’s] leadership on what they suggest is most appropriate during our deferral period,” he said.