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
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
12007 Cedar Lane
Ashland, VA  23005
August 13, 2013
6:30 p.m.
Comprehensive Plan Update
Community Meeting
Patrick Henry High School
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.

Our place at the table


Photo by R.W. Dawson


One reason citizens formed the Coalition for Hanover’s Future was to advocate for the citizen voice in Hanover’s land use planning process. At the time, as Hanover County was embarking then upon a five-year review and update of its Comprehensive Land Use Plan, we encouraged residents to become informed about the issues and to get involved in decision making that would affect their lives.  Further, because residents must live with the consequences of both good and poor land use planning, we urged vigilance as changes came to pass.

As you may know, Hanover County is now in the midst of another Comprehensive Plan review and update.  The need for focus and involvement remains paramount. Six community meetings, several Planning Commission work sessions plus ad hoc citizen group meetings have revealed more than a little dissatisfaction, much of it involving the implications of high residential density.  Might this level of anger and distrust be mitigated if citizen input were solicited before the fact—before any map changes and language revisions were rolled out for public comment? As it stands, citizens almost always find themselves reacting.

Please try to attend the following comprehensive planning work sessions:


Photo by R.W. Dawson

May 9, 4 p.m. – this work session will focus on land use planning in South Anna, including mix use and high-density residential zoning.  The Elmont Village area is under tremendous development pressure.  Elmont is a rural community consisting of mostly farmland. It is located on the old Richmond, Fredericksburg and Potomac Railroad and was served in earlier times by the electric trolley car, which ran between Richmond and Ashland. Elmont is one of the original villages of Hanover County.

There is also a work session scheduled for May 16 at 4 p.m.  Both meetings take place in the Board Room of the Hanover County Government Building at Hanover Courthouse.

Our Email Alerts are a great way to stay informed about development issues and workshops.  Our blog includes postings dating back to 2006 and as an archive, provides valuable insight about citizen engagement and land use planning.

To subscribe to our Email Alerts, please email hanoversfuture@gmail.com and include your name, address, and district.

On May 11th at 10 a.m. (Ashland Coffee & Tea), I will be speaking at the Hanover Democratic Committee meeting about the 2012 Comprehensive Plan.  Please join me!

Pattie Bland – Chair, Coalition for Hanover’s Future


Upcoming Comp Plan Work Sessions….

Would you recognize a plan that may compromise or erode Hanover’s quality of life? What happens in your backyard or across the county is determined by the Comprehensive Plan. The Comp Plan community meetings concluded and it’s time to find out what the county gleaned from Hanover citizens.

Comp Plan Work Session…Thursday, April 11th, 4 p.m.

The county’s Comprehensive Plan is a 20 year plan and it’s tweaked every five years. The tweaks made to the Comp Plan can have huge implications for the future.

What’s happened so far?

For this round, proposed changes to the Old Telegraph Road/Lakeridge Parkway and Cedar Lane corridors flanking U.S. Rt.1 have been flashpoints for some citizens. Others question the implications of a proposed “rural village” designation as well as increases to residential density.

Where is the process now on the timeline? 

On the heels of six community meetings, the Planning Commission will hold a Comp Plan Work Session this Thursday, April 11th. Although it’s unlikely that the PC will solicit public comment, citizens need to focus on the nuances and minutiae coming out of the work session. 

Listen closely to the discussions taking place and please attend Thursday’s work session.

Comprehensive Plan Update: County Seeks Citizen Input

Hanover County is currently working on the Five Year Update of its Comprehensive Plan. The Comprehensive Plan is an analysis of past growth and land development trends and sets forth a statement of goals and objectives with a 20 year horizon for land use, transportation and community facilities.

A series of public workshops have been scheduled to solicit public input. The workshops will be held on the following dates and locations:

February 26, 2013, 7:00 p.m. – Hanover High School, 10307 Chamberlayne Road, Mechanicsville, VA  23116

February 28, 2013, 7:00 p.m. – Farrington Fire Station II, 14582 Mountain Road, Glen Allen, VA  23059

March 5, 2013, 7:00 p.m. – Brown Grove Baptist Church, 9328 Ashcake Road, Ashland, VA 23005

March 7, 2013, 7:00 p.m. – Elmont Elementary School, 12996 Cedar Lane, Ashland, VA 23005

March 12, 2013, 7:00 p.m. – Lee-Davis High School, 7052 Mechanicsville Turnpike, Mechanicsville, VA  2311

March 19, 2013, 7:00 p.m. – The Montpelier Center for Arts and Education, 17205 Mountain Road, Montpelier, VA  23192

Copies of the current Comprehensive Plan are available to review in the Hanover County Planning Office in the Government Building at Hanover Courthouse and at the Hanover County Website http://www.hanovercounty.gov.  Please contact the Planning Office between 8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, with  questions.

Friends of Hanover Schools Rally Tomorrow Night

Hanover Schools are facing a $5.4 million budget gap and Superintendent Jamelle Wilson had proposed making ends meet by cutting 24 teaching positions. More students would be packed in elementary school classes, and high school teachers would teach six of eight class periods, up from five of seven.

The proposed budget for next school year would also cut 12 elementary school teachers and increase the pupil-teacher ratio in elementary schools to an average of 22.1 pupils per teacher, up from 21.6.

Friends of Hanover’s Schools educates citizens of Hanover County about the budget process and the impact of both existing cuts as well as potential changes to the school system if the education budget continues to shrink.

Please attend the ASHLAND FHS RALLY tomorrow night, February 7th @ 7PM

  • Location: Ashland Firehouse Theater


  • Location: SCHOOL BOARD OFFICE 200 Berkley Street, Ashland, VA

More upcoming meetings:


  • Location: SCHOOL BOARD OFFICE 200 Berkley Street, Ashland, VA


  • Location: Hanover County Courthouse Complex


  • Location: SCHOOL BOARD OFFICE 200 Berkley Street, Ashland, VA


  • Location: SCHOOL BOARD OFFICE 200 Berkley Street, Ashland, VA


  • Location: Hanover County Courthouse Complex

Supervisors privilege special interests over taxpayers

Cash proffers on new development were eliminated by the Hanover County Board of Supervisors tonight in a 4-2 vote, with one member absent.

Supervisors also voted to advertise a public hearing January 9th on a proposal to implement a $10 per vehicle fee to raise approximately $1.3 million to replace current revenue from cash proffers.

Elsewhere, Chesapeake voted to keep but revise its proffer policy.

Virginia’s Annual Cash Proffer Survey for Fiscal Year 2010-11.

Virginia is the only state in the United States using cash proffers on such a large-scale as a growth management tool.  To learn more, download and read this dissertation entitled “Land use politics southern style : the case of cash proffers in Virginia.”


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