What I Don’t Find Acceptable…

Letter to the Editors of the Herald-Progress and The Mechanicsville-Local from our chair, Pattie Bland:

The recent vote by the board of supervisors to accept a two-year grant for a mental health crisis site is commendable. It innovatively addresses the serious problem of gaps in mental health services, gaps that open the way for tragedies such as that attending the family of State Sen. Creigh Deeds. Good work by the Community Services Board!

The remarks by Supervisor Wayne Hazzard, though, regarding sustainability of the program put a damper on the good news. Terming the grant “another government handout” just shows how cynical and parsimonious we have become in this harsh economy. Certainly, long-term survival of the program should be a concern; Ms. Sager addressed the issue ably.

Around any program, the discussion of funding, or the lack of it, can be a drag, but citizens accept it as necessary. What I don’t find acceptable or necessary is how Hanover can restructure the Winding Brook debt, find $44 million for a new courts building and amend cash proffers to the tune of $16.25 million as of December 2013, then wring its hands over a $451,777 grant.

Pattie P. Bland

Land Use To Change…$44M New Courts Building…Comp Plan Adjustments..Mixed Use Ordinance….

Once again, as the holidays approach, it’s time for meetings freighted with important issues; meetings which will see less citizen attendance because, well, the holidays are approaching. It’s time to wrap up all those yes votes with a pretty bow and put them under the developers’ tree.

Board of Supervisors Meeting – Tuesday, Nov. 26 – 6 p.m.
Pubic Hearings begin at 7 p.m.

What’s on the docket? 

An ordinance to amend the Hanover County tax code regarding land use assessment comes up for a Public Hearing at the November 26 Board of Supervisors meeting, one already top heavy with Comp Plan amendments.

What is the land use ordinance now? 

Hanover County’s tax code provides for assessing and taxing property (often termed “land use”, for short) depending upon the intensity of the use, i.e. commercial parcels are taxed at a higher rate than agricultural parcels.  Taxes are rolled back for less intensive uses until the property is rezoned, triggering payment of five years of rolled back taxes.

What is the change? 

Ordinance 13-14 proposes that when a parcel is rezoned for a more intensive use, the property can remain eligible for assessment and taxation at the previous lower rate and that the roll-back taxes are not due until the that property changes to a non-qualifying use.

What are the concerns?

Equity:  Could an agricultural property owner  rezone, then sit on the property forever without paying the increased taxes, even though no developer is waiting in the wings? An agricultural property owner who rezones to commercial/industrial/business will pay lower taxes at the “land-use” rate than a non-agricultural property owner who rezones to commercial/industrial/business. Is this unequal taxation?
Monitoring:  Are enforcement departments for zoning AND taxation going to work together to ensure that property is accurately taxed by USE once rezoned?

Case studies:  What other localities have implemented such a program? How has this provision worked elsewhere? Is there a precedent?
Revenue: The Virginia Department of Taxation believes localities may experience decreased revenue if they choose not to tax rezoned parcels according to their new designation. The loss of proffers resonates.
What else is on the docket?

Supervisors will be deciding to spend $44M on a new courts building. This isn’t a new project – it was shelved several years ago due to cost. As succinctly described in the Herald Progress, we just had an election. The county could have followed its 2005 precedent by widely explaining the need to spend $44M on a new courts building, and allowing the public to vote on the matter. Not this time; it’s going to go right to Public Hearing.

And to conclude the docket?

The Supervisors will conduct a Public Hearing on the amended revisions to the Comp Plan. And in conclusion, the Public Hearing will give the public a final opportunity to comment on the Mixed Use Ordinance amendment(s).

Comp Plan Adjustments Up for Study – Vote on Oct. 17th

A Planning Commission work session, set for 4 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 17th, will be followed by a Public Hearing at 7 p.m. As part of the Public Hearing, each item of the Comp Plan adjustments will be considered separately, not as a group. The work session and PH agendas include the following.

Four land use designation changes in South Anna Magisterial District:

  • vicinity Mountain Rd / Greenwood Rd east of Ashland Rd and west of Winns Church Rd – from 1-4 dwelling units/acre to Planned Business
  • vicinity northwest quadrant intersection Cedar Lane / Washington Hwy – from Limited Industrial to Planned Business
  • vicinity south of Cedar Lane / west of Washington Hwy – from Office/Service to Planned Business
  • vicinity Lakeridge Pkwy / south of Lickinghole Creek – from Office/Service to Planned Business

One land use designation change in the Mechanicsville Magisterial District:

  • vicinity west of Bell Creek / south of Pole Green – from Planned Business to Suburban High (4-8 DU/acre)

One public utility plan change:

  • adding a proposed wastewater pump station vicinity I-95 and CSX rail line south of South Anna River

And finally, a proposed Ordinance change that reflects concerns raised by CHF. The ordinance is not part of the Comp Plan but a question arose as to the distinction between Mixed Use (MX Ordinance) and the new designation of Multi-Use now included in the Comp Plan. The proposal suggests area size and density changes that provide:

  • The MX District is available to properties located within the Suburban Service Area and designated for use as Planned Business Park, Commercial, Suburban High, Multi-Family, Mixed-Use, and Multi-Use;
  • No less than 35% of the net developable area in a MX District will be used for Commercial or Industrial development;
  • The maximum permissible density for properties designated as Suburban High and Multi-Family on the General Land Use Plan shall be 8 dwelling units per acre and 15 dwelling units per acre, respectively;
  • The permissible density in an MX District shall be 15 dwelling units per acre in areas designated as Planned Business or Commercial on the General Land Use Plan; and,
  • The existing provisions allowing MX Districts to be served by private water and wastewater systems shall be repealed and that all MX Districts shall be served by public utilities.

The timetable for the meetings addressing the above is:
Planning Commission Work Session
Thursday, October 17th – 4 p.m.

Planning Commission Public Hearing
Thursday, October 17th – 7 p.m.

Hanover County Administration Building – Board Room
7516 County Complex Road – Hanover, VA 23069

Why Are County Officials Pushing “Multi-Use”? What’s The Rationale?

The Comp Plan update is nearly finished and we have some concerns.

Is the push for “Multi-Use” another gift for developers?

Why Are County Officials Pushing “Multi-Use”?

What’s The Rationale?
A new land use type termed Multi-Use is being proposed within the current update of the Comprehensive Land Use Plan. The big question is why?

A similar land use called a Mixed Use Ordinance has been on the books since October, 2006. It was pushed through six months before the 2007 Comprehensive Land Use Plan was approved. At the time, county officials insisted that a Mixed Use District was needed “right away.” At the time, county officials couldn’t wait for it to be part of the Comprehensive Plan. Guess how many mixed use developments exist in Hanover County today? ZERO! Now, county officials are trying to sell citizens a new land use designation as part of the 2013 Comprehensive Plan update and it’s called “Multi-Use.”

Why are county officials pushing this new land use designation? There are no clear answers.

Applications for Multi-Use are worrisome because they are so “loosey-goosey.” We don’t really know what the county will allow and not allow. We do know that Multi-Use will allow developers to build just about anything they want — they will be able to build “old school” style developments. For example, a strip mall toward the front of a property with dense residential toward the back.

Is This Your Vision for Hanover County?

So, the question remains: “Why establish a new land use if there already exists a tool that allows the same thing?” If county officials want to lower density within what Mixed Use allows, they can do that — no new ordinance is required. From our perspective, Multi-Use could allow developers to build a jumble of houses, businesses, strip malls and industrial buildings.

The current Mixed Use Ordinance and the proposed Multi-Use land use are very similar in many respects:

  • Each use requires a master plan;
  • Each use allows a wide range of housing types – attached and detached single family dwellings, multiple-family dwellings, and multiple use structures (this is often what is referred to as live/work-retail/commercial on the bottom with apartments or condos above);
  • Each use allows business and industrial development;
  • Each use claims to achieve better coordination between these different types of uses.

BUT, under close examination, there are several key differences:

  • The Mixed Use Ordinance can only apply in the Suburban Service Area and this is stated clearly in the ordinance. Not so in the Multi-Use description.
  • Mixed Use requires a 25% minimum of open space; Multi-use has no such requirement.
  • Mixed Use requires developers to buffer impacts on existing residential areas; Multi-Use has no such requirements.
  • Mixed Use allows a maximum residential density of 30 units per acre. The proposed Multi-Use land use designation states that maximum residential density will be 15 units per acre. This difference in density is not a good reason for a new land use zoning type. Why not revise the Mixed Use Ordinance to lower density?
  • Please tell your supervisor to review the existing Mixed Use Ordinance and tweak if needed. We don’t need more ordinances that are very loosely written and don’t give citizens the protections they need to keep their neighborhoods free of incompatible, poorly designed projects.

The Coalition for Hanover’s Future says NO to this new zoning type called “Multi-Use” land use.

Other concerns we have with regard to the County’s proposed Comprehensive Land Use Update includes allowing higher residential density along the Cedar Lane corridor; abolishing the Elmont Small Area Plan; and, the unknown impacts of land use changes along U.S. Route 33 in South Anna.

Please contact your supervisor and attend the two remaining Comprehensive Plan Update meetings (listed below) to voice your concerns.

August 28, 2013 – 7:00 p.m.
Comprehensive Plan Update
Board of Supervisors Public Hearing

September 4, 2013 – 7:00 p.m.
Comprehensive Plan Update
Board of Supervisors Workshop

Hanover County Administration Building – Board Room
7516 County Complex Road – Hanover, VA 23069

Why are County Officials Pushing Multi-Use? What’s the Rationale?

The Comp Plan update is nearly finished, but we have concerns. Is the push for “Multi-Use” another gift for developers?

A new land use type termed Multi-Use is being proposed within the current update of the Comprehensive Land Use Plan.  The big question is why?

A similar land use called a Mixed Use Ordinance has been on the books since October, 2006. It was pushed through six months before the 2007 Comprehensive Land Use Plan was approved. At the time, county officials insisted that a Mixed Use District was needed “right away.” At the time, county officials couldn’t wait for it to be part of the Comprehensive Plan. Guess how many mixed use developments exist in Hanover County today? ZERO! Now, county officials are trying to sell citizens a new land use designation as part of the 2013 Comprehensive Plan update and it’s called “Multi-Use.”  Why are county officials pushing this new land use designation? There are no clear answers.

Applications for Multi-Use are worrisome because they are so “loosey-goosey.”  We don’t really know what the county will allow and not allow. We do know that Multi-Use will allow developers to build just about anything they want — they will be able to build “old school” style developments. For example, a strip mall toward the front of a property with dense residential toward the back.

So, the question remains:  “Why establish a new land use if there already exists a tool that allows the same thing?”  If county officials want to lower density within what Mixed Use allows, they can do that — no new ordinance is required. From our perspective, Multi-Use could allow developers to build a jumble of houses, businesses, strip malls and industrial buildings.

The current Mixed Use Ordinance and the proposed Multi-Use land use are very similar in many respects:

  • Each use requires a master plan;
  • Each use allows a wide range of housing types – attached and detached single family dwellings, multiple-family dwellings, and multiple use structures (this is often what is referred to as live/work-retail/commercial on the bottom with apartments or condos above);
  • Each use allows business and industrial development;
  • Each use claims to achieve better coordination between these different types of uses.

BUT, under close examination, there are several key differences:

  • The Mixed Use Ordinance can only apply in the Suburban Service Area and this is stated clearly in the ordinance. Not so in the Multi-Use description.
  • Mixed Use requires a 25% minimum of open space; Multi-use has no such requirement.
  • Mixed Use requires developers to buffer impacts on existing residential areas; Multi-Use has no such requirements.
  • Mixed Use allows a maximum residential density of 30 units per acre. The proposed Multi-Use land use designation states that maximum residential density will be 15 units per acre. This difference in density is not a good reason for a new land use zoning type.  Why not revise the Mixed Use Ordinance to lower density?

Please tell your supervisor to review the existing Mixed Use Ordinance and tweak if needed. We don’t need more ordinances that are very loosely written and don’t give citizens the protections they need to keep their neighborhoods free of incompatible, poorly designed projects.

The Coalition for Hanover’s Future says NO to this new zoning type called “Multi-Use” land use.  

Other concerns we have with regard to the County’s proposed Comprehensive Land Use Update includes allowing higher residential density along the Cedar Lane corridor; abolishing the Elmont Small Area Plan; and, the unknown impacts of land use changes along U.S. Route 33 in South Anna.

Please contact your supervisor and attend the two remaining Comprehensive Plan Update meetings (listed below) to voice your concerns.

Comprehensive Plan Update
Board of Supervisors Public Hearing

August 28, 2013 – 7:00 p.m.
September 4, 2013 – 7:00 p.m.

Hanover County Administration Building – Board Room
7516 County Complex Road – Hanover, VA 23069

Please share this information and come to the meetings to voice your concerns.

Upcoming Comp Plan Community Meetings

The Comp Plan review/update has moved on from the Planning Commission and the process is now in the hands of the Board of Supervisors.

Please make plans to attend the following meetings and give feedback to your Supervisor. Waiting until the final public hearing diminishes the impact of making your concerns known.

August 7, 2013
6:30 p.m.
Comprehensive Plan Update
Community Meeting
Lee-Davis High School
Commons/Cafeteria
7052 Mechanicsville Pike
Mechanicsville, VA  23111
August 12, 2013
6:30 p.m.
Comprehensive Plan Update
Town Hall Meeting with Wayne Hazzard
Elmont Elementary School
Commons/Cafeteria
12007 Cedar Lane
Ashland, VA  23005
August 13, 2013
6:30 p.m.
Comprehensive Plan Update
Community Meeting
Patrick Henry High School
Commons/Cafeteria
12449 West Patrick Henry Road
Ashland, VA  23005
August 28, 2013
7:00 p.m.
Comprehensive Plan Update
Board of Supervisors Public Hearing
Hanover County Administration Building
Board Room
7516 County Complex Road
Hanover, VA 23069
September 4, 2013
7:00 p.m.
Comprehensive Plan Update
Board of Supervisors Workshop
Hanover County Administration Building
Board Room
7516 County Complex Road
Hanover, VA 23069

Visit the county website to see proposed changes in text and maps for the 2012-2032 Comprehensive Plan.

Do the updates reflect the way you want Hanover to grow?

If not, talk to your Supervisor.

Your County. Your quality of life.

You and Your Elected Officials…Hold the Key to Quality of Life

The Comp Plan review/update has moved on from the Planning Commission. The process is now in the hands of the Board of Supervisors. Make plans to attend these workshops and meetings. Absorb the information. Give feedback to your Supervisor NOW. Waiting until the final public hearing diminishes the impact of making your concerns known.

You and Your Elected Officials…Hold the Key to Quality of Life

The brutal heat may have distracted many of us, but we want to remind citizens that the Comprehensive Plan review and update process has been rolling on nonetheless.

At its June 20 meeting the Planning Commission voted to send the updated Plan on to the Board of Supervisors for its action. State code mandates that the Board act within 90 days.

In their July 24 meeting the Supervisors will vote to adopt an agenda for meetings and workshops related to this final phase of the process, now in the home stretch. This agenda item is scheduled for presentation at 3:30 p.m.

Planning staff will propose the following:

  • workshops and meetings between 8-5-13 and 8-25-13
  • Public Hearing 8-28-13
  • adoption 9-11-13

Visit the county website to see proposed changes in text and maps for the 2012-2032 Comprehensive Plan.  Do the updates reflect the way you want Hanover to grow?
If not, talk to your Supervisor.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 216 other followers