The Albemarle School Board is shocked — shocked — to find that Crozet Elementary has become overcrowded in just the past few years, Matt Deegan reports in today’s Progress. They’re at 125% of what the school can fit (428 kids in all), a result of the rapid growth in Crozet since the designated growth area started getting built up at a remarkable clip in the past decade. The bus rides are longer than ever, the roads are overcrowded, and the kids are learning in trailers. The solution? Building a new school in…2017. The band-aid is to expand the school’s capacity to 513 kids, at a cost of $5.3M, which should be ready in…2013. Raise your hand if you think that the whole of Crozet won’t have another 85 kids in seven years. Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?
This is why our current approaching to dealing with growth is stupid. We let the market dictate how fast and how much we’re going to grow, ignoring that it takes years for our infrastructure to catch up. So by the time we expand the schools (or roads, or water supply, or whatever), we’re right back where we were, treading water.
29 thoughts on “Crozet Elementary Overcrowded”
I’ve never understood why the infrastructure cannot be “in place” before there is need. It seems that the BoS actually prefers the “bandaid” approach to infrastructure improvements. Which is to say I think they get less flack about the cost of the improvements (and less oversite) after it’s been an “emergency need” for x number of years alread.
Additionally this is clearly the type of situation that developer’s should be held responsible for by “requiring” proffers from them- instead of just allowing them to “volunteer” something.
This is simply an inversion of priorities. A host of private interests make out handsomely adding homes to new communities and leave the infrastructure as an exercise of the public to solve.
Two priorities, education and crime control, consistently rank highest among people when asked yet our well-heeled construction industry contributes nil to the solution. Seventy cents of every tax dollar in Albemarle County goes toward supporting public education. The financial burden should be distributed to the private sector and our public officials should explain why they have advanced a solution which only provides an education for 85 more students.
This may be my ignorance speaking, but don’t local officials approve plans for building new subdivisions? Can they not anticipate the need for more public amenities? Can they not require developers to contribute for schools, roads, police stations and fire houses?
Apparently Virginia has some sort of state law that does not allow localities to require developers to pay for the infrastructure upgrades that their developments necessitate- instead requiring that we the taxpayer pick up the tab for the developer and new home buyer via higher property taxes- in what amounts to a big GIVE-A-WAY for developers. And frankly in my opinion that’s just moronic.
I had to do the math on this — the addition will cost $30,994.15 per additional student. I don’t claim to know much about construction costs, but that seems like a lot.
Is that just Crozet housing developments for Crozet students? or all anticipated new developments in the county calculated into that figure?
Las Vegas has used special assessment bonds on some new developments to finance their infrastructure improvements. The cost of the bond is attached to the real estate and exists concurrently with any property taxes and HOA fees. The housing buyers pick up the cost averaged over 30 or so years. The L.V. developers know that that having that bond assessment is the cost of getting their development approved. It works there. It could work here.
That’s simply the cost of building the Crozet Elementary addition divided by the number of additional students that it’s designed to house.
Planning is why we in Crozet spent two years doing a master plan. The benefit to the community of Crozet was to be 1. the community would have significant input into the future of the community. and 2. We would get some handle on the cost of infrastructure and would set up “triggers” so money for infrastructure would be allocated to match the rate of growth. As most of you know the Crozet Master Plan has become a disaster for the community. First, the population limit of 12,000 that was set by the County based on recommendations from its own consultants was tossed out and the population limit doubled. Next we were told the infrastructure schedule set up by the consultants was just a suggestion and the County was under no obligation to respect it. When we asked about setting up the triggers to match growth with infrastructure we were ignored. Then came the election of Mr. Slutzsky to the board and add him to the axis of development, being Mr. Boyd, Mr. Wyant and Mr. Dorrier and we were really screwed. Wyant ran his campaign on telling people the Master Plan would bring too much growth to Crozet and would raise taxes. No sooner was he in office then he voted to double the size of the Plan. Slutzsky has stated he will vote for any development in the growth area that comes before the board because he feels if it doesn’t the growth will go to the rural area and he doesn’t care if there is adequate infrastructure.
It’s time growth area residents wise up and look for new direction on the board!
The growth tax at work. Again. We’ll have to build a new elementary school at a cost of tens of millions of dollars and it will take decades for the new Albemarle residents to pay enough taxes at the current rates to ever come close to paying for it. So the BoS will have to hike up property taxes. Can’t afford it? No problem. You’ll get pushed out so that someone from New Jersey making seven figures can buy your house while you have to move to Waynesboro.
As usual, you and I, the ordinary working people of Albemarle County, are forced to subsidize the business plans of a bunch of out-of-town developers who are getting rich by passing the bills on to us.
I am just so sick of the Board of Supervisors treating us all like a charity fund for Northern VA millionaires.
I have two points to make but I am not an expert so I hope someone will correct me if I am wrong.
First, I believe that the county approves developments but does not control when developers choose to actually build and sell homes. This makes planning for school growth resemble fortune telling.
Second, the BOS depends on proferrs from developers because of a state law which does not allow localities to require infrastructure from developers. When annoyed by the BOS,it is often useful to consider how they are limited by state laws.
With regard to approvals and when development starts, the county does have a fairly good handle on the rate of development via the number of certificates of occupancy it issues, not to mention the ability to simply drive around the neighborhood and see what’s happening, which is just what those in the community did to get an idea as to the rate of growth.
The Board tells us they can count on somewhere between 70 percent and 100 percent of the approved housing to be built, so it would seem reasonable they should have some idea as to what infrastructure will be needed for schools based on the type of housing being build and using the multipliers they have for these calculations. In Crozet it would seem reasonable that since you approved over 3,000 new units you had better take a look at the school situation.
As for proffers, its clear the County can’t depend of proffers to fund the majority of infrastructure it needs, since they don’t ask anywhere the amount other localities do for fear it will drive the developers to the rural area. They would rather degrade the quality of life in the growth areas.
There has been nearly zero growth in the Albemarle school as a whole for the last five years. This is a matter of moving students around to schools that have too few students. yes, they exist. The reason is isn’t done is that parent will go nuts if you move the boarders.
Housing starts have had little correlation to increase in student population. I’m not saying that will be true forever but it has been for years. There is alot of tax money in this county and if you look how much we spend compared to nearby localities you would be shocked. The increase in tax revenue has far outstripped the growth in schools. It is dishonest to say otherwise.
Projects built “by right” under existing zoning do not go before the BOS for approval. Proffers are only made an approved by BOS in rezoning applications.
None of the development projects approved for rezoning since the Crozet Master Plan has been in effect have been built to occupancy. [These are Old Trail, Wickham Pond 1 & 2, Liberty Hall, part of West Hall]. All of these projects had proffers which included $$ contribution to the CIP.
That portion of Old Trail that has been built was “by right” under the existing zoning.
Be careful what you wish for, Crozet. If you keep protesting the rezonings under the master plan, you 1) increase the incentive to go by right thus avoiding cash proffers and affordable housing proffers, and 2) increase the incentive to build up the rural areas.
If this document is up to date, then the proffers aren’t anything to stand up and cheer about:
These proffers aren’t anywhere near what’s necessary to cover the public costs of these developments. Old Trail is offering a $1,000/home proffer for schools. Feh. That’ll cover nothing. The school construction alone, as we’ve seen, will run $30,994.15 per additional student, and that’s just elementary-aged kids. Then there’s the need for more teachers, more textbooks, more computers, more school buses, more support staff, and so on. And that’s just the immediate costs within the schools.
You’re right, developers could just develop by right. By that shouldn’t prevent us from seeking the right to get fair proffers and implementing them when possible, nor should it prevent us from getting the power from the state to regulate construction of developments throughout the county.
By that shouldn’t prevent us from seeking the right to get fair proffers
I agree Waldo but what is a fair proffer? No one’s real estate tax bill every year comes close to paying for education. What if I want to build a retirement community do I owe zero for education?
If retirement is exempted, is that fair to others? I don’t know the answer but is jacking the proffer up too high going to affect affordable housing, thereby makin Albemarle even more exclusive?
What the market will bear, I suspect.
Albemarle is strongly inclined to waive some or all of the proffer requirements in exchange for the inclusion of affordable housing.
Then that’s a total waste. I’ve read what albemarle considers “affordable housing.” And it’s not.
proffers come no where near what is needed to cover the cost of new development and the county has not had the courage to ask what other counties in Virginia are asking. I remembere the Wickham Pond rezoning showed the developer was proffering 3,000 per home. Only problem is when the County did the math the development would have an operational cost of almost 90,000 dollars per year. So not only did the proffer not help much toward the necessary infrastructure bill outlined in the Master Plan, but even if the proffer was applied to offset the cost of the housing it would start losing money after 3 years. Everyone talks about afforable housing, but no one seems to care about keeping housing affordable. No one seems to mind taxing people out of the county. The last average increase in assessment was 27 percent and I’m willing to bet we’ll see another double digit increase this year. At that rate of increase it doesn’t take too long to put the squeeze on the lower income homeowner. One of the big mistakes we made during the Crozet Master Plan was to not ask for an economic model to see what all the additonal growth was going to cost the current taxpayers and see if a change in the mix/number of houses and commerical could lower the impact on taxes.
As for Crozet worrying about not getting proffers and knowing full well development won’t pay the freight I’ll take the lesser of two evils and take the lower by right population. As for sending development to the rural area, you must of missed the meeting on Phasing and Clustering where one rural resident after another came before the board to say they were banking on development to fund their retirement, childrens education etc. It’s their property rights and I support them, but I don’t want to hear anymore about rural protection.
I couldn’t agree more. The definition is damned near arbitrary. I’ve had people tell me with a straight face that “affordable housing” means “less than $200,000.” If it’s six digits, it ain’t affordable.
Affordable housing is housing that costs no more than 30% of the residents income. There’s plenty of affordable housing here… if you make enough money. There isn’t enough low and moderate income housing.
Because the government gets so much of it’s revenue from the real estate tax there is a strong incentive to limit the supply of affordable housing. Both Charlottesville and Albemarle try to limit the supply so that values go up and tax assessments increase. By keeping the values high they also hope to keep out low and moderate income people who send their kids to public schools but don’t pay a lot in taxes. Then they turn around and bemoan the lack of “affordable housing” and make a big deal out of a token subsidy to the Piedmont Housing Alliance.
My answer to that is No. It’s not going to be anymore exclusive than it already is and it wasn’t going to be less exclusive in the first place by lowballing the proffer. It is just giving the developer a greater margin of profit.
I’ve heard varations of that argument made before. It’s an erzat one. The houses going in aren’t going to be affordable in the first place. Not to the population city and county officials claim to care about. So in that respect I think it’s better to cut out the bullshit about “affordable housing,” and keep the proffer high to cover what you need. The really sad thing is that localities in Virginia should be able to “require” proffers from big developers to cover this sort of thing.
The developers behind the Annadale development in Orange County (a 55 plus age restricted community) offered a proffer to the Orange BoS of $25,000 per home for 290 units (that’s $7,250,000). So it can be done, if the BoS has backbone they can get what they need in proffers.
Ultimately it’s the home buyer who pays the proffer not the developer. The higher the proffer the higher the cost of the finished units. There are people who can just afford the most inexpensive homes on the market. Increasing the proffer does put some units out of reach of some people.
The theory behind proffers seems to me to assume that the costs of school should be paid by those who have children in them. If that is so why should someone without children have to pay for a proffer for schools?
If that’s the theory behind proffers, it’s news to me.
You’re right Waldo, covering the cost of education, that is, new schools, is just one part of what proffers are about. New development means a need for additonal infrastructure like roads, fire stations, and schools. Getting developers to pay up or even build some of the new infrastructure helps to cover the costs generated by the new residents. Ultimately it’s the people who buy the houses that pay the costs. Proffers can be seen as a user fee levied against those who generate the need for the infrastructure. They have cars that use the road, they need police and fire protection and they have kids (maybe) that will go (maybe) to the new schools that will have to be built.
I’ve heard that argument before, and “that old dog don’t hunt.”
People who can only afford the most inexpensive homes on the market are not buying “NEW” construction. They’re shopping resale homes and/or apartment to condo conversions. New construction is not “affordable housing” not in albemarle county.
At “Old Trail Village” there isn’t anything priced below the 295k. Most start at 300k to 350k and those are “Townhomes” – Shared walls. Single family homes starts much higher. In that price range these are not people shopping at the lowest end of the market. They can afford to pay a little bit more to live at the “newest” development and to help pay for the expanded county infrastructure which their new development will necessitate.
Why should my property taxes be raised to cover the additional costs their community is putting on county infrastructure? It should be perfectly okay to require a proffer of the developer even if it get’s passed on to the consumer. Consider it a “buy in” to living in the community.
The BoS has absolutely no good reason (in my opinion) not to be asking for proffers which will cover the cost of infrastructure the new development will need. It’s mismanagement for them not to require adequate proffers.
Henley is listed as “room for more”. This is due to two additions in the past 7 years. NO WHERE is it mentioned that bathrooms, water fountains, cafe space, and locker rooms were not expanded. Students are crowded at lunch and in the locker room. Gym classes number over 125 students in one class. Students are allowed to carry water bottles due to no close by water fountain. The 2:00 lunch has been stopped, but replaced by a very overcrowded 7th grade lunch room. NO new space in the library or computer labs. The developers need to add $$$ to the schools for more than such a few square feet of classroom space.
Regarding the lunch at Henley – when my daughter told me several weeks ago that she didn’t eat some days until 1:30, I was shocked. That’s just way too long to go between meals.
Up until two weeks ago, when the 7th grade lunches were combined into one huge mega lunch (extra long tables, chairs, etc) the last lunch did not start until 2:00!!!
Does your daughter mention the crowded locker rooms, gym classes, distance to bathrooms and water fountains? The classrooms are added but no infrastructure for the other pieces of life in middle schools!
The parking lot is insane at 4 p.m.
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