By Brian Wheeler
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Saturday, December 19, 2009

Albemarle County officials gathered more input on potential changes to the twenty-year Crozet Master Plan at a forum held Thursday evening.  The Crozet community continues to weigh in on modifications to the county’s first ever master plan, originally approved in 2004, which is now getting its first five-year review.

Mike Marshall , chair of the Crozet Community Advisory Council , welcomed an audience of about 40 residents to the third of five planned community forums on different aspects of the master plan.  Marshall said he didn’t think there would be much controversy about the matters on the evening’s agenda, however he foreshadowed concerns about the Yancey Mills Business Park proposal.

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Mike Marshall, Chair, Crozet Community Advisory Council

Marshall, an outspoken critic of the expansion of the growth area and business park, encouraged residents to each return with “15 or 20 friends” for the next forum being held January 21st.“The next forum is going to be about light industrial uses,” said Marshall. “This is a highly significant issue for Crozet and we need a good turnout and we need people to pay attention.  The Yancey’s have put in a comprehensive plan amendment which would create a 184-acre light industrial park at the southeast corner of the I-64 interchange.”

The Albemarle County Planning Commission will receive a highly anticipated report on issues related to light industrial zoning at their meeting January 19th.  Marshall said he wanted the advisory council to weigh in on that report, with feedback from Crozet residents, before the recommendations are considered by the Board of Supervisors in February.

Incoming Supervisor Rodney Thomas (Rio) said in a November interview that he was interested in finding new locations for light industrial businesses and that he was open to discussing the business park proposal in Crozet’s rural area.

A year ago, the supervisors overturned a 6-1 vote by the planning commission to table the business park and directed that the Yancey Mills project be considered as part of the master plan review.  At the time, Supervisor Ken Boyd (Rivanna) expressed concern about leaving a decision that he said could have benefits for the entire county “in the hands of a relatively small group of people” in Crozet.

At the first two forums on the master plan revisions, the community discussed downtown Crozet and land use patterns.  The topics at Thursday’s meeting included transportation facilities, parks and greenways, and community facilities like libraries and schools.

“I think that the planning process is a good one,” said participant Mac Lafferty in an interview.  “I like the way that the county has broken it down into several different meetings. I  was pretty pleased with the participation we had last night.”

Lafferty, an engineer that previously lived in Crozet, was appointed last week by Supervisor Dennis Rooker to the county planning commission’s Jack Jouett seat.  His term begins in January.  Supervisor Ann Mallek was another local official in attendance at the forum.

On transportation, residents said they wanted a reexamination of a frontage road proposed by staff to run parallel to Route 250 in front of Brownsville Elementary and Henley Middle School.  The County’s Community Relations Manager, Lee Catlin, said she also heard residents express a high priority for trails and pedestrian connections that would allow people living in Western Ridge, Highlands  to get into downtown Crozet.

Mike Marshall said a pedestrian connection was also needed between downtown Crozet and Old Trail Village.

“We now have two economic centers that really are within walking distance, that are trying to emerge and get stronger,” said Marshall.  “We need to make it plain to people that you can walk there.”

After the fifth community forum is held in February, a summary of recommendations from staff and the public will be provided to the planning commission in March.  The Board of Supervisors is scheduled to start its review of the Crozet Master Plan revisions in June.

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