For the second time in three months, the
Albemarle County Planning Commission
has recommended denial of a rezoning to build a new single family subdivision near Crozet. Newly appointed Commissioner Tom Loach (White Hall) was the leading critic of the application.
Emile Bethanne and J. Daniel Patterson are seeking the rezoning of 3.5 acres so they can build a 12 home subdivision in the Crozet growth area. In the Crozet Master Plan, the majority of the property is designated as “CT3 Urban Edge in a Hamlet.”This allows for a density between 3.5 and 6.5 housing units per acre. The subdivision is being proposed to be built between Lanetown Road and Lanetown Way. Access to the new units would be via Lanetown Way. Developer Clifford Fox is the applicant on behalf of the Pattersons.
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The Commission first recommended denial of the rezoning at a meeting in October 2007. First, the Commission had heard complaints from the Grayrock North subdivision that the project would not fit well with their neighborhood. Second, the Commission felt that the project was too dense for the area. Third, many Commissioners felt the project did not address impacts on the infrastructure.
The item was supposed to go to the Board of Supervisors in December, but the applicant requested deferral back to the Planning Commission. Since then, Fox has reduced the number of units, proffered cash contributions, and has agreed to build sidewalks on both sides of the street to meet “urban street” standards. In addition, Fox had offered to give land to the County for a park, but the land was not designated for that usage so the offer was withdrawn. On affordable housing, Fox is proffering the County-standard 15 percent of units, but it is unclear if we will build 2 affordable units, or contribute a cash proffer instead. Staff recommended approval of the revised plan as consistent with the Crozet Master Plan.
“To summarize, the rezoning is now consistent with the guidelines for density in the Crozet Master Plan which is that it not exceed a net density for this property of 4.5 dwelling units per acre,” said County Planner Rebecca Ragsdale while introducing the item during the January 23 public hearing.
After her report, Tom Loach was the first to pose a question to Ragsdale. Before being appointed to the White Hall seat on the Commission by newly-elected Supervisor Ann Mallek, Loach was an outspoken critic of the implementation of the Crozet Master Plan.
Loach said he could not support the rezoning because in his view it is not consistent with the Crozet Master Plan.
“I look at the Master Plan, I was part of the [committee] that wrote this, I know what the intent of the Master Plan was, and I don’t think this meets the Master Plan as I know it,” Loach said.
Crozet Master Plan
, Albemarle County
Loach said because part of the Patterson property is located on the boundary of the Crozet Master Plan, it should instead be classified as either CT-1 or CT-2, which restricts growth. The summary for those place types reads: “Very Restricted. Development area open space preserve or reserve with very low residential density.”
Ragsdale said only a sliver of the property is marked CT1, prompting Loach to quote from the Crozet Master Plan: “Most of the periphery of the Crozet development area is recommended for the lowest density of development, consistent with the rural area designation in the comprehensive plan.”
Commissioner Jon Cannon (Rio) asked if the proposal was to build on the sliver of land marked as CT-2. Ragsdale said the applicant has depicted having a bio-filter on that section of property. Wayne Cilimberg, the County’s Director of Planning, said that other recent re-zonings in Crozet have also met this issue, and they have dealt with it by focusing all of the development in the areas marked CT-3.
Commissioner Marcia Joseph (At-Large) said it was hard to ignore that the property does contain areas marked CT-3, allowing for greater density. Loach said that the colors did not necessarily reflect the reality of what could be built in all areas.
Cannon asked Loach if anything could be developed on the property, and Loach responded that he thought only a by-right development would be appropriate. That would allow about five units. He also said he would prefer to see Lanetown Way stay rural in character.
Fox said he was clear about the interpretation of the property type on the Master Plan.
“This is the second meeting where there’s been confusion about it [from the Planning Commission]. From everything I can see, it’s CT-3 in a hamlet, as the staff has currently interpreted it.” Fox said he has worked on other re-zonings in the Crozet area that were colored similarly with no trouble from the board.
Commissioners had other concerns as well. Joseph asked Fox why he was not proffering the detailed information in a site plan. Fox said he did not want to be strictly held to a plan at this time. Linda Porterfield raised the issue of how Fox was going to handle parking, and Fox said he assumed it would be done the same way as it is done in Grayrock North, with a mixture of drive-ways, on-street parking and garages.
During the public hearing, Grayrock North resident Mike Beno said his homeowner’s association remains skeptical about the size of the development, and added that on-street parking is not allowed in his neighborhood. He said his neighbors were also concerned that the Patterson development would create too much traffic on Lanetown Way.
“In short we think R-6 is still too dense, and doesn’t comply with the Crozet Master Plan in this transitional area, transitioning from what may not be technically called an edge, but obviously when you look at the overall picture, it is on the edge of Crozet.” He said he could support the project if the applicant reduced the size and found a second way for vehicles to get in and out.
Fox said there was little he could do to address the request by the Grayrock North HOA to access Lanetown Road, because VDOT had indicated that would not be allowed.
Commissioner Joseph said she felt the applicant had undersized the lots, and that the bio-filter could be expanded to add more green space.
Fox said he would reduce the density to meet the lot size requirement, likely meaning the reduction of one or two lots. He also would try to position his site plan to not build in an area that’s green.
At the conclusion of the hearing, some members of the Commission suggested that the applicant be given a deferral, but Loach indicated that he wanted to recommend denial. The motion got a second, and the vote was 4 to 2 to recommend denial to the Board of Supervisors. Commissioners Porterfield and Joseph voted against the recommendation.
Chairman Cal Morris said he was bothered that staff and Commissioner Loach had two starkly different interpretations of the Crozet Master Plan.
“What I read from the Master Plan is what should be done,” Loach said. “It’s that simple. If you don’t want to have Master Plans that spell out what you should do, you should just throw it away.”
The project will now go to the
Board of Supervisors
on March 19, 2008.