Posts Tagged ‘growth area’

Expanding the growth area

Sunday, January 31st, 2010

In my opinion we are NOT in need of new growth area at this time. There is a huge inventory of approved projects which have not been built because of the economic slowdown . There has also been a dilution of demand because so much was approved in a short period of time. There are not enough customers to go around.

A market analyst told me that in a thirty mile radius of Charlottesville there are only 175,000 people, not enough for unlimited stores and housing developments to succeed.

Urban planners from other areas say that our growth area is too large for effective service provision, that it does not grow from the center out in an organized way, but development hop scotch jumps all over the place whenever a landowner wants to do something. This leaves the service authority chasing its tail to provide sewer and water services.

First should be growth in the area already designated, as highway improvements are made.

In the comprehensive plan the main reason to make change is when change is NEEDED for the community. At a time when there are more than 3 million square feet of already approved commercial space and thousands of houses for sale (with more thousands already approved), we do not NEED to add more empty houses and stores.

The light industrial land inventory will be presented to the Board of Supervisors on February 3. The existing LI zoned properties will be shown and evaluated for usefulness. There will certainly be a debate about the addition of more LI land.

An essential part of that discussion will be the multitude of uses allowed in our current LI zone, including office space. Standalone office buildings bring a higher return than warehouses and more typical light industrial uses. Many of the recent rezonings have taken LI land off the map, turning it into residential and commercial.

There is no point in increasing the area of LI without fixing the definitions which create the problem. For example, the Yancey property which had been proposed for light industrial property, contractor storage, and warehouse uses is now being called a Business Park and could contain more than one million square feet of office space.

How would that affect the revitalization of downtown Crozet which has been a target of county infrastructure investment with more than 4000 dwelling units approved there since 2000? What would be the effect to the road capacity of Route 250 west?

master plan and Crozet Streetscape update

Friday, January 29th, 2010

Crozet is a living example of the “neighborhood model” adopted by the County as desirable in the growth areas. It has residential areas within easy walking distance to the downtown employment and shopping along Crozet Avenue and Three Notched Road. In the master plan review,  two business centers which Crozetians want to retain are Old Trail, where the business component has been steadily increasing, and Clover Lawn, where old commercial space was expanded within the last ten years. In both of these centers, a heavy residential component also exists.

The 2004 master plan had suggested many other centers sprinkled throughout the growth area, each with some commercial, such as cleaners and shops, and surrounded by higher density housing. This year residents firmly agreed with the staff proposal that those sprinkled commercial centers and high density residential should be removed. Residential density which is mostly single family, with occasional multifamily or apartments is desired throughout the growth area.

The desired location of proposed high density residential development is in the downtown area, which is described by a new zoning overlay adopted in 2009. This zoning encourages zero setback urban buildings, at least two stories tall, with business and residential combinations, or standalone business permitted by right. Shared parking and standalone parking are also included by right. No standalone residential is encouraged by right, as the emphasis is on employment and residential in the downtown.

Long in planning, the Crozet streetscape phase 2 is the current public investment in Crozet infrastructure. Improving the walkability of Crozet Avenue by relocation of utilities and repair or construction of sidewalks and crosswalks will improve the appearance of the business district. First to be accomplished is the completion of easement donation from adjoining landowners. As soon as this is accomplished, utility work will commence within thirty days.

After utilities are moved, the streetscape construction phase will begin. The first section of the new Main Street will be constructed as far as the intersection of Oak Street (a right of way through the JB Barnes woodyard which completes the “Square”) opposite the entrance to the new Crozet library. Though the library construction is currently on hold until funds are found, the grading of the library site can be done this year and a rough parking lot constructed to assist downtown businesses and shoppers during construction.

All of these improvements will help to raise confidence in downtown “Destination Crozet.”