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Property owners object to possible Master Plan changes in Crozet

Two property owners near downtown Crozet are objecting to a possible change in the area’s Master Plan that could allow more housing to be built on their land in the future.

After a proposal to the Crozet Community Advisory Committee earlier this month, Henry Chiles and Alan and Marlowe Howard have sent letters to Albemarle County officials expressing opposition to increasing the potential allowable future density of their properties.

Both families say they had no idea about the proposed change and have no plans to sell or develop their properties.

“We had no knowledge this recommendation was in the works, nor do we support this land use change in any way,” Chiles wrote in his letter. “We want the county, our neighbors and the residents of Crozet to be aware that we have no interest in developing this beautiful block of Crozet.”

Earlier this month, as part of the Crozet Master Plan update process, county staff proposed changing seven parcels bordered by Crozet Avenue, Tabor Street, High Street and Dunvegan Lane in the draft future land use map from Neighborhood Density Residential to Middle Density Residential. The change could permit more housing to be built on the land in the future if the property owners request a rezoning.

The Neighborhood Density Residential designation in the draft recommends three to six units per acre, while the Middle Density Residential designation recommends six to 12 units per acre or up to 18 for additional affordable units.

The change proposed by staff is not a rezoning. Land use categories are assigned to properties to serve as a marker to community members and developers about which kinds of potential projects could be supported on a site in the future. Ultimately, a developer would need approval from the Board of Supervisors to change the zoning of the property to allow for the use.

The properties, currently zoned for two units per acre, total almost 16 acres and have seven existing dwellings on them. About 14 acres of the land are owned by the Chiles family.

The change was recommended after some supervisors said they wanted more opportunities for affordable housing within Crozet and some Crozet CAC members said they wanted to see higher densities to be concentrated within the center of the village.

In the letter, Chiles said his family members currently live in four of the five houses on the property and they recently repurchased the fifth house to “return it to its origins” and keep it in their family.

“I speak for all three current generations of the Chiles family when saying that we are far more interested in maintaining this land in its existing open and green form than we will ever be in developing it with dozens more houses,” he said. “We value our large oak trees, mature boxwoods, and plenty of space for our gardens and our walks through the grassy fields.”

The Howards, in their letter, said they also do not plan to sell their property, and were concerned that the proposal would “dramatically increase our tax rates.”

“We are absolutely astounded and dismayed that our government can propose major changes to the value and use of our property without contacting the land owners that would be involved and specifically request[ing] their input prior to considering these dramatic changes that would affect our lifestyle and property values in a dramatically adverse manner,” the Howards said.

It’s unclear if a change in the land use of a property affects its value.

When the proposal was recommended, some Crozet CAC members were supportive, calling it a good compromise and a “very happy medium.”

County staffers are currently soliciting feedback on priorities for the implementation of the plan at publicinput.com/ImagineCrozet.

Source: www.dailyprogress.com

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