Town Hall Meeting Planned to Discuss Future of Downtown Crozet

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ALBEMARLE COUNTY, VA (NEWPSLEX) -- Community leaders in Crozet are trying to figure out what to do with an old lumber yard in the center of town, but some residents are worried that a new development will hurt the area's charm.

The Barnes Lumber Yard hasn't been used for years. Albemarle County leaders, and the Crozet Planning Commission have been developing plans to turn it into the economic center of downtown Crozet.

Countryside Pet Grooming owner Heather Dabney has lived in the area for ten years. She says there is no denying Crozet is growing, but there is one thing she does not want to see the lumber yard turned into.

"More houses. We don't want any more houses because we feel over populated already. The people who have been here for so many years feel like it's getting overcrowded," Dabney said.

Input like Dabney's is what the Crozet Community Association wants to hear from residents and business owners about what they would want to see developed on the lumber yard property, which many say is right in the heart of downtown Crozet.

Christine Gyovai is leading a town hall meeting at the end of the month to gather community that community insight. Gyovai says the planning commission hopes to generate realistic ideas to make the area more accessible, and economically viable.

"What kind of economic development do the folks what to see in Crozet in the future? What kind of businesses? Where will kids be able to hang out if there are in high school? Where do they want to be able to take their families to in five years or ten years. It's chance for people to come together and share those ideas," Gyovai said,

Several business owners say, like Dabney, they have concerns the lumber yard will become a either residential or massive commercial development, and the local small businesses would be priced out.

Tim Tolson, president of the Crozet Community Association, and co-sponsor of the town hall, says in accordance with the 2010 Master Plan for Crozet, there are no plans for the lumber yard to be used primarily as a residential property.

He did say any commercial properties built would "not be another Stonefield," referring to the shopping center on Route 29 and Hydraulic Road in Albemarle County.

Tolson said any development in the lumber yard would be gradual, over a five- to eight-year period.

"It really is going to depend on what the community says in terms of ideas that come forth for what it's going to look like, but it is currently has a mix of office, commercial, light industrial, and a variety of things. There is also the Downtown Crozet Code which specifies what it would look like." said Gyovai. "There would be a rezoning application that goes before the planning commission."

Business owners like Dabney say they don't want Crozet to lose it's charm and small-town feel, which is why Gyovai is encouraging all stake holders in the community to brainstorm together May 27.

"It's really a process of uncovering what's already in Crozet, not creating something new," Gyovai said. "What's here? How do we create something around the assets we have?"

The town hall meeting will be held May 27 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. in the Field School Auditorium. Community members are encouraged to RSVP, but walk-ins are welcome. There will also be a second meeting in June.

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