Old Trail Village & Crozet Master Plan; Crozet Master Plan Build-out



Comparison of ZMA 2004-024 Old Trail Village with Crozet Master Plan; Crozet Master Plan Build-out Findings



Ragsdale, Benish, Cilimberg, Graham, Foley, Tucker





January 4, 2006


ACTION:                              INFORMATION:   X



  ACTION:                           INFORMATION:   











The Crozet Master Plan was adopted by the Board of Supervisors on December 1, 2004. The first major rezoning approved under the guidance of the master plan was ZMA 2004-024 Old Trail Village, which was approved on September 14, 2005 as a Neighborhood Model District with the potential of up to 2,275 residential units.  The Crozet Community has raised a number of questions regarding the density/maximum number of dwelling units that were approved with Old Trail and questions its consistency with the Crozet Master Plan.  Following the approval of ZMA, and to better respond to continued concerns from the community, the Board of Supervisors requested that build out information provided by the Consultants as part of their Master Plan report be fully examined and explained. In addition, the Board has asked that Staff detail the comparative analysis performed of Old Trail Village to the Crozet Master Plan.



Goal: 3.3: Develop and implement policies that address the county’s growth and urbanization while continuing to enhance the factors that contribute to the quality of life in the county.




Community of Crozet Residential Build-out Information:

The Crozet Master Plan is based on several basic assumptions that are articulated on Page 4 of the Plan as follows:

“Service Planning standards form the analytical basis for evaluating needs within the community.  In most cases, this analysis ties directly to population, which is projected to reach 11,200 – 12,000 in a twenty-year build-out.  This build-out number compares with the current population of 3,000 within the Crozet Development Area, and a by-right population build-out under current zoning of 12,500.”


This assumption presumes a population figure of 12,000 by the Year 2024, which is the planning horizon for the Master Plan.  It does not presume that the population of Crozet will be established at the by-right population build-out figure of 12,552 (see Attachment A, from Appendix E of the July 9, 2003 Crozet Master Plan as provided to the county by the consultant) cited in the Plan as an absolute ceiling in perpetuity. 


This is an important point of clarity for the future implementation of the Master Plan.  Establishing the by-right population build-out of 12,552 as an absolute ceiling for Crozet’s maximum population in perpetuity is not consistent with possible densities recommended in the Land Use Plan for Crozet that was in the Comprehensive Plan prior to the adoption of the Master Plan, nor is it consistent with the Master Plan densities as they currently exist.  Establishing that ceiling would not permit any increase in density beyond what would be achieved by by-right development, although the form of the development would change to a more compact, urban-style pattern. 


As a reference, the 1996 Land Use Plan for Crozet which was in effect prior to the adoption of the Master Plan established an added population for Crozet of between 7,114 and 17,300.  (These figures are contained in Table II: Albemarle County Development Areas – Total Developable Acres in the Land Use Section of the Comprehensive Plan.)                          


As opposed to the 1996 Land Use Plan for Crozet, the Master Plan utilizes net density possibilities for each land use designation rather than gross density.   Therefore, in applying the net residential multipliers to determine development under the plan, the gross acreage in each land use category should not be used.  On average, about 80% of the gross acreage is developable after subtracting undevelopable land, open space, amenities, roads and infrastructure.  Also, there are several mixed use land use categories in the Crozet Master Plan.  In these areas, additional acreage being developed in non-residential uses should be subtracted before applying the net residential multipliers.  Applying these factors, the following ultimate build-out estimates are derived:


Dwelling Unit (DU)/Population Build Out Estimates (Undeveloped Areas of Crozet, Units in Developed Areas, and Old Trail Approvals)

Min DU’s

Min Pop.

Mid DU’s

Mid Pop.

Max DU’s’

Max Pop.

Crozet Master Plan Land Use - 80% Net Developable Area, 50% CT5, 25% CT6







Old Trail Area Land Use Application Approvals - 80% Net Developable Area,  50% CT5, Approved By-right







Existing Dwelling Units in Crozet (December, 2005)















As the table indicates, estimated population at the high end of the range does significantly exceed the 2024 planning horizon figure of 12,000.  It is important to note that these figures represent a complete build-out scenario, not what is expected to be achieved in the Master Plan’s 20 year horizon.


There are a number of factors that influence whether the projected figures will actually be achieved during the life of the Master Plan. These factors include the County’s rate of growth, market demand for various housing types, housing costs, and the adequacy of infrastructure to support the development.   Experience with other large scale developments has shown that growth often occurs differently than the original expectations.  For example, South Forest Lakes developed approximately 62.5% of its approved units – 1200 units were approved by ZMA 91-04, and 750 were developed.  That experience with lower density than planned has been repeated throughout the County’s Development Areas. Looking in Crozet, major developments such as Highlands and Western Ridge both developed at lower densities than possible.  If Old Trail follows these trends, we will see it develop more in the range of 1,400 to 1,600 units than the possible 2,200+ units.   By creating the flexibility for higher density, the possibility of reaching mid-range densities is improved and that is consistent with the County’s goals for its development areas. 


With respect to potential growth rates in Crozet, staff believes there are a couple of points to consider.   First, it will require an 8% annual population growth for Crozet to reach 12,000 people in 20 years. This would require about 160 new  dwelling units (DU’s) per year in Crozet.  Since 1995, the average number of DU’s per year has been 64 with a low of 35 in 1995 and a high of 127 in 2004.  Through the third quarter of this year, new DU’s in Crozet have totaled 195* - the quarterly totals were 77 in the 1st Quarter, 71 in the 2nd Quarter and 47 in the 3rd Quarter.  As the actual growth in Crozet is regularly reported to the Board in reports on development activity provided by Community Development, this can be easily monitored. The County Board can then consider the actual growth rates versus anticipated growth rates when it revisits the master plan and decide if adjustments are appropriate.   Second, to reach a 12,000 population by 2024 requires Crozet to have a density of approximately 2,600 people per square mile.  That density is closer to the density of Charlottesville (about 2/3 of Charlottesville’s density) than what has historically been seen in Albemarle County’s development areas.   While that reflects good land use planning, it will also require Crozet be viewed as more of a self-sustaining community than a suburban bedroom community.  In that regard, Old Trail pushes Crozet towards the goal of the master plan.        


Given these factors, staff believes that 12,000 population is a reasonable estimate for the 20 year planning horizon of Crozet as assumed in the methodology of the Master Plan, but should not be considered as the ultimate potential build-out.


The Board of Supervisors has a number of options at its disposal to keep population within the estimated range of 12,000 by  the Year 2024, if that is the desired approach to the Crozet Development Area.


* This figure has been corrected from an earlier version of this summary which listed the total as 47.



It is important to note that infrastructure and service levels need to keep pace with the actual population figures and development activity to ensure the adequacy of those items as opposed to being tied only to projected numbers. There is an important provision mentioned in the Plan to match infrastructure with what is actually occurring in Crozet over the life of the Master Plan.   As is noted in Section II – Strategies for Implementation (page 17):

 “The projected population and dollar figures associated with the recommended capital improvements set forth in this section are estimates prepared by the Renaissance Planning Group, the technical consultants for the Crozet Master Plan, and represent anticipated levels considered to be accurate at the time of the final report (July 9, 2003).  The County’s Capital Improvement Program (CIP), based on a two-year financial cycle, is the final authority for funding policy, including funding level, timing and sources associated with specific improvements.  The actual programming of projects in the CIP will be based on the real timing of population growth, actual development activity that occurs and availability of funding from the sources anticipated in this section.”



Comparison of ZMA 2004-024 Old Trail Village with Crozet Master Plan:


The Old Trail development did present land use tables by Master Plan land use type with densities for the rezoning that were analyzed by staff at the time of the rezoning in comparison to the Master Plan.  While staff’s analysis at that time indicated that the dwelling units resulting from the rezoning would be within the upper range of what the Master Plan calls for, the recent analysis by staff using digitized maps that were not available at the time of rezoning indicates the maximum number of units that could theoretically result in Old Trail are greater than the Master Plan maximum by approximately 10%.  It should be noted that the developer’s densities did not discount for undevelopable areas or for potential non-residential in mixed used settings.


The area represented as Old Trail Village during the rezoning process, including the rezoned area and those areas developing under by-right zoning, has been compared  with the Master Plan land use designations for that area. Using the County’s Geographic Information System (GIS), the gross acreage for each Crozet Transect (CT) type has been totaled for the Old Trail Village Area and then acreage totals have been multiplied by the net density ranges indicated in Table 1 of the Crozet Master Plan.  The maximum number of units in the Master Plan for the area represented as Old Trail, based on gross acreage, is 2317 du’s/acre.  ZMA 04-24 was approved for up to 2275 units in a mixed use setting.  In addition, the total of units for the by-right portion of the area represented as Old Trail during the rezoning process is 291 units, a total of 2566 units.  This is 249 units more than what the Crozet Master Plan indicated for the area.


As was explained earlier in this report, to get a realistic maximum of potential development in Crozet the net density multipliers should not be applied to the gross acreage. It is not expected that the maximum number of units approved with the Old Trail Village rezoning will be achieved. Some portions of Old Trail Village may develop without residential components and the mix of housing types that the developer chooses to build may lower densities.   The factors influencing what actually will get built have been explained in an earlier section of this report.  Given all of these considerations, staff believes that the residential units that will be created as part of the Old Trail development will fall within the guidelines of the Master Plan, more in the range of 1,400 to 1,600 units.


Gross Totals for Old Trail Residential Units– Master Plan vs. Approved




Old Trail Crozet Master Plan Residential Unit Totals - Gross Total




Old Trail Area Land Use Application Residential Unit Approvals - Gross Total








Totals for Old Trail Residential Units Adjusted for Mixed Use Areas and Undevelopable Areas – Master Plan Vs. Approved




Old Trail Crozet Master Plan Residential Unit Totals - 80% Net Developable Area, 50% CT5,




Old Trail Area Land Use Application Residential Unit Approvals - 80% Net Developable Area, 50% CT5, Approved By-right




This table includes the by-right units that were not part of the rezoning application.


Crozet Development Area Statistics:


As part of their July 2003 final report to the County, the consultants included the table entitled "Crozet Development Area Statistics, Existing and New Development Combined.” (See Attachment B from Appendix B of the July 9, 2003 Crozet Master Plan as provided to the County by the consultant).  The table is characterized by the consultants as their "best judgement" of a scenario of how the development area would fully develop. It is based primarily on the predictions, calculations and illustrations done for three prototypical sub-areas -- a neighborhood, a hamlet, and downtown.  One prototype was done for each sub-area, then, the estimates for commercial square footage, employment square footage, retail square footage, and residential units were duplicated (exactly) for each sub-area shown on the plan. Existing development was included to the extent that it was included in the prototype as the existing condition.  For instance, the existing residential development in Neighborhood 1 would have been duplicated as the existing development in Neighborhood 2, 3, 4, etc.  Furthermore, there are some areas shown with CT designations that do not appear to be accounted for in this table. That includes the CT3 area along Route 250 on either side of the north-south connector roads that became Old Trail Boulevard.  For these reasons, the table is one scenario for possible development, but should not be used as a "commitment" to a specific number of dwellings for Old Trail, which includes portions of Hamlets 2 and 3, Neighborhoods 5 and 6, and District 3 as labeled in the table.  This table, along with the rest of the consultant’s Appendices, was not included in the Comprehensive Plan amendment for the Crozet Master Plan as recommended by the Planning Commission and adopted by the Board of Supervisors.






There may be additional infrastructure needs for the Community of Crozet in the future, beyond those identified in the Master Plan, if the projected planning horizon figure of 12,000 is greatly exceeded.



Staff recommends that the Board affirm their understanding with regard to the 2024 population estimate of the Crozet Master Plan as the basis for meeting infrastructure and service needs and identify preferred options to monitor future compliance with that target.



A.      Crozet Development Area Statistics table, July 9, 2003

B.      Crozet Development Potential table, July 9, 2003

C.      Crozet Development Areas Master Plan Table 1, December 1, 2004

D.      Crozet Place Type and Built Infrastructure Map, December 1, 2004

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