“I have concerns that this will open up something that we don’t want opened up,” said Tom Loach, who is also a member of the Crozet Community Advisory Committee.
In June, the Board of Supervisors agreed to study whether several parcels to the southwest of Exit 118 should be added to the county’s designated growth area. That would enable commercial development, and county economic development staff has said the site is ideal for light industrial uses.
The land is owned by an Atlanta-based limited liability corporation called Sweetspot of Albemarle.
A prospective business has also expressed interest in the site, but the county is withholding their identity at the suitor’s request.
“All I know is that we’re getting as much information as possible to see what the benefits are and see what we can get protected at the same time,” Supervisor Ann Mallek said at a meeting of the Crozet committee on Wednesday.
Mallek said she has not been told any details about the prospective business but supported the study of the growth area expansion.
Loach said he was concerned the decision to study the expansion of the growth area at Exit 118 would resurrect the discussion to study another one at the junction of U.S. 250 and I-64 at Exit 107.
In 2008, the owners of the R.A. Yancey Lumberyard property requested that supervisors expand the development area to create a light industrial park that could have up to 1.8 million square feet of space.
The idea was studied as part of the Crozet master plan update in 2010, and supervisors ultimately decided against included it for further consideration because of opposition from the Crozet community.
One difference between the Yancey property and the Sweetspot land is that the latter is already within the jurisdictional area of the Albemarle County Service Authority, which provides water and sewer services.
However, no pipes have been constructed to deliver water and sewer service to the Sweetspot land.
Loach wants to make sure the Yancey property stays that way.
“It was decided that [the Yancey land] would stay the way it is,” Loach said. “It’s zoned rural and if the applicant wanted to have a rural industry there, fine. But the understanding was that there was no sewer and no water and that was the way it would stay.”
Loach wanted the committee to reaffirm its previous resolution against the expansion at the Yancey property.
“This is a key place where I feel we can restate our stance on [Exit 107] and how that’s been protected in the past,” said Jennie More, chair of the committee. “We’re always going to have to be watchful.”
When supervisors first discussed the expansion near Exit 118 in May, Supervisor Kenneth C. Boyd had said he wanted to study all of the interchanges in Albemarle County.
Mallek pointed out that Boyd was only one supervisor who asked for consideration of the other interchanges.
“That is not on the table and will not be on the table,” Mallek said.
Loach said he would like all of the chairs of the county’s master planning committees to meet to discuss how to recommend changes to the economic development strategy.
“If we have a master plan, let’s send a message to the board that they passed them we consider [the plans] to be sacrosanct,” Loach said. He added he did not feel staff should tamper with the plans in the name of creating jobs.
The Crozet advisory committee plans to take up a resolution on the Yancey property at their meeting in August.
The Planning Commission is slated to hold a work session July 21 on the Sweetspot expansion area, followed by an Aug. 18 public hearing. Supervisors are expected to take up the expansion at their Sept. 1 and Sept. 9 meetings.