Hickory Grove traffic analysis gets a failing grade

The September 17 Planning Commission’s public hearing for the Hickory Grove MX/B-2 application ended in a 7-0 vote for a 30-day deferral. Numerous thorny issues are attached to this application, two of the largest being lack of an accurate traffic impact analysis (TIA) and the other, residents’ resistance to a commercial node.

Ten citizens spoke in opposition to the application, many citing existing heavy traffic on Rte 54 and the sprawl associated with a commercial component.

An accurate and rigorous TIA is necessary to calculate traffic numbers and road cash proffers. East Ashland, approved in 2010, has yet to be built, but would add a huge daily traffic number to the already under capacity Rte 54. Where is the planning foresight?

In a PowerPoint presentation, Bob Nelson presented his analysis in the public hearing. Download from here.

Hickory Grove traffic analysis severely flawed

One of the numerous problems with the Hickory Grove MX/B-2 rezoning application is the flawed traffic analysis. The totality of commercial and residential traffic, the likely future building of East Ashland (approved in 2010) and road cash proffer calculations have not received the rigorous scrutiny needed for what, if built, will certainly be a bottleneck on Rte 54 east of Ashland.

Bob Nelson has reviewed the TIA and offers these observations in a position paper:

* The Traffic Impact Analysis (TIA) is fatally flawed, and the Hickory Grove mixed use application should be rejected.

* If the development is not rejected based on the flawed TIA, a residential transportation cash proffer of $930,501 and a commercial/office transportation cash proffer of $8,778,176 are justified under the circumstances and should be approved for Hickory Grove.

* No credits or offsets against the recommended transportation cash proffers are warranted for Hickory Grove road improvements.

Mr. Nelson’s full analysis may be accessed here.

Update: action on Wegmans permit delayed 3 months

Update per Protect Hanover:
“According to the information published online, the proposed Wegmans wetland permit is not on the State Water Control Board agenda for September.
The public comments and follow up letter from DEQ to Wegmans requesting additional information was substantial enough to – at a minimum – delay the permit approval by a minimum of 3 months. The earliest the proposed permit will be heard by the SWCB (assuming nothing out of the ordinary occurs) is the currently proposed meeting date of December 9th.”

Flaw in Wegmans wetlands permit: citizens say wetlands acreage undercalculated

Wegmans Site Wetlands…
Stormwater Permit Hearing held July 20
Because there are wetlands on the site Wegmans has chosen for its distribution center, the grocery giant must submit a plan under DEQ’s Virginia Water Protection (VWP) permit program in order to demonstrate how it will mitigate wetlands impacts.
From the DEQ website: “VWP compliance strives to protect wet- lands, streams, and other state waters from being filled, excavated, drained, or dredged without a VWP permit. Compliance monitoring ensures that VWP permit conditions are followed, and serves as an essential link to DEQ’s enforcement program when serious violations occur.”

The Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) held a virtual public hearing the evening of July 20 for the Wegmans draft Virginia Water Protection (VWP) permit. For solid reasons, the permit should be denied.

If the format alone were not sufficiently exasperating, the stubborn adherence of Wegmans to its faulty wetlands data pushed citizens’ ire to the stratosphere.

Speakers advocated for environmental and racial justice for the Brown Grove community; residents spoke to existing stormwater flooding in heavy rains; and wetlands and soils professionals pointed to errors in the wetlands determination that resulted in under calculation of the wetlands acreage. All solid points, credibly made.

Residents have asked for an independent wetlands determination to be performed. Will it happen? For the sake of an honest process, it should.

Removing vegetation, moving soil around and installing stormwater detention structures contribute to environmental degradation. Wetlands are ecosystems that support wildlife, water quality improvement and flood control, among other benefits.

The State Water Control Board and DEQ should not be pestered and bullied with a flawed argument by Wegmans. A decision based on solid data must be made for the good of the public and the environment.

A decision will be rendered in August by the State Water Control Board.

Hickory Grove: schlocky suburban design slammed into rural land

Simply, Categorically…
the wrong site for this type of zoning
The public hearing for the rezoning request from Hickory Hill II, LLC was deferred in June and July upon request by applicant until the August meeting of the Planning Commission. The 51-acre parcel, located at the intersection of Rte 54 and Providence Church Road, is categorically the wrong site for an MX/B-2 zoning.
The developer plans 42.33 acres of commercial and 100 townhome units and 9.17 acres for mixed commercial that may include a convenience store and fast-food restaurant with drive-through.
The application presents numerous problems, one of the most troublesome being added traffic on the under-capacity Rte 54. The Hickory Grove applicant did not consider the approved East Ashland average daily traffic numbers (ADTs) in the Traffic Impact Analysis. This is a major oversight. However, when it came to computing the road cash proffer, East Ashland was considered, which reduced the cash proffer of the applicant.
This inconsistent factoring for East Ashland benefits the applicant but shortchanges the citizens who will suffer the traffic congestion caused by inadequate road infrastructure.
In addition to the funny math of the traffic count, other problems abound:
  • the development would abut agricultural land and create a “hard edge” with no transition between suburban and rural;
  • site prep = scraping, timbering, slashing that add more impervious surface and create water quality issues;
  • 79,417 sq.ft. of commercial and retail space is incompatible with adjacent land uses;
  • a proposed realignment of historic Providence Church Road to “improve” traffic safety on an already stressed Rte 54 would strangulate that thoroughfare should East Ashland (approved 2010) be built;
  • the commercial/retail component encourages urban crawl to the east side of I-95 and in Ashland vacated, blighted properties result;
  • this leapfrogging development to the east of I-95 will bloat the interchange like many in Northern Virginia;
  • a gas station/convenience store and fast-food drive-through would compound traffic, light pollution, trash, noise . . .
  • there are already 10 places to get gas and snacks on Rte 54 from the Ashland town center to east of I-95;
  • Rte 54 is a gateway corridor linking historic Ashland and Hanover Courthouse districts through rural countryside.
We implore citizens to speak out in the strongest possible terms to County officials and the developer. Hanover County does not need another poorly planned and sited development foisted off on its citizens.