November 30 target date: citizen input needed for Ashland Comp Plan and County Strategic Plan

When both Ashland and Hanover County are currently in Comprehensive Plan updates, now is the time for residents to carefully consider all matters related to land use. If Town and County want good quality of life for their citizens, then joint engagement for a comprehensive view makes sense, especially on development at their boundaries. No tunnel vision allowed.

Questions of how, where and what type of growth raise many issues and require foresight and thoughtful consideration.

  • Is more residential needed? Where? How dense?
  • How can a locality grow, yet avoid environmental and aesthetic destruction?
  • Are there sufficient housing options for varied income levels?
  • How much commercial and industrial is warranted? 
  • How can adjacent zoning types be more compatible? 
  • Are there sufficient roads and other public works infrastructure to support growth? 
  • Is there a strong long term plan to preserve rural land? 
  • Can transitions between suburban and rural be aesthetically pleasing and environmentally sound?
  • How will growth mitigate or aggravate traffic volume and patterns?
  • Can better environmental site standards be required of developers?
  • Can green space be strategically retained, whether in commercial or residential development?

Important meeting:  Town of Ashland will hold an open house public input session on its Comp Plan Wednesday, November 30, 5-7 p.m. at the Patrick Henry YMCA. Plan to attend and give voice to your thoughts. Email your input: planning@ashlandva.gov

Deadline fast approaching: comment needed by November 30 for draft Strategic Plan . . .

Hanover County’s draft 5-year Strategic Plan is headed to the Board of Supervisors for its approval Wednesday, December 14 in its 2:00 p.m. session. With very little notice or time, citizens are now on a tight deadline to read and comment on the massive 87-page Strategic Plan.

Visit https://www.hanovercounty.gov/1221/Proposed-FY2022-FY2026-Strategic-Plan to read the draft Plan. 

Email comments to: strategicplan@hanovercounty.gov

The enormity of the document challenges the reader to absorb content and consider implications. Numerous goals, objectives and timelines freight the chapters on Economic Development, Engagement and Stewardship, Public Safety, Community, Human Services and Education. 

Questions arise. Will adoption of the Strategic Plan divert vital attention and activity from the County’s ongoing Comprehensive Land Use Plan update? Is the County encumbering itself and the citizens unduly?

Hanover County is loading its plate. Citizens have a lot to digest.

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Luck Farm Market, Summerlyn cases pose issues

Applications for Luck Farm Market, proposed for Ashland, and Summerlyn, age-restricted apartments in Hanover County, go to public hearings September 20 and 28, respectively. Read on . . .

Luck Farm Market: commercial concept poor fit with residential area

Applications to develop a farmers market-style grocery store and restaurant exceeding 2500 square feet will be the subject of an Ashland Town Council public hearing Tuesday, September 20, 7:00 p.m. in Town Hall.

This application wad (CPA2022-03, REZ22-0414, ORD 2022-04, CUP 22-0627A, CUP22-0627B) to shoehorn Luck Farm Market into 3.6 acres at the Town boundary would inappropriately site commercial development and poses serious issues:

  • commercial development out of synch with the surrounding single family residences;
  • compromised rural transition and character;
  • additional light, noise, traffic and trash;
  • loss of green space and addition of impervious surface.

Citizens repeatedly cite rural character as a vital component for good quality of life in Hanover. Retro-cramming a commercial node into this green residential area misses the mark.

Density calculations big issue in Summerlyn application

Applicant 7147 Mechanicsville Turnpike, LLC (REZ2022-00010) seeks to rezone 6.5 acres from B-1 Neighborhood Business to RM, Multi-Family Residential on the south side of Route 360 east of the Meadow Drive intersection.

The proposed zoning amendment for “Summerlyn” would permit construction of 144 age-restricted apartments. The development would provide “cross access” to Cambridge Square Apartments by sharing an internal road. 

In order to stay within RM density guidelines (8-15 dwelling units per acre), applicant is calculating based on the combination of the already completed, bond-released Cambridge Square Apartments and the Summerlyn application. The resulting gross density is 13.4 units per acre.

Got that? Cambridge Square is a completed apartment development. It cannot simply transfer density to a parcel it does not own. 

Furthermore, Cambridge complied with the Resource Protection Area (RPA) guideline by subtracting non-developable acreage from its density calculation. Even if both Cambridge and Summerlyn acreages are combined, the RPA is still in effect and results in 16.9 dwelling units/acre. Bad math. Out of compliance. Period.

Go here to read the position paper.

The case goes to a public hearing before the Supervisors at their Wednesday, September 28 meeting, 6:00 p.m., in the County Administration Boardroom.

Hickory Grove denied by Supervisors

Applications to usher in the massive 52-acre Hickory Grove high density residential and commercial development at the intersection of Rte 54 and Providence Church Road were both denied by Supervisors in a public hearing Wednesday, August 24.

Supervisors voted 6-1 to deny the comprehensive plan amendment (CPA2021-00001) for a land use change to Commercial, Suburban General and Suburban High. On a 7-0 vote, the rezoning request (REZ2021-00014) for the 203 townhomes and three speculative commercial sites, was denied.

The interstate-type commercial and high density residential posed incompatible uses adjacent to the existing single family homes along Jamestown Road, Burleigh Drive, Rte 54 and the Providence, Woodside and Wintercrest neighborhoods.

Hanover citizens have long favored retention of rural character by preserving a gradual transition between suburban and rural. With its commercial and high density residential components, this development was the antithesis of a gradual transition.

Traffic volume itself was a big issue. CHF calculated 4725 additional weekday daily traffic vehicle trips (vpd) would be generated under Suburban General, Suburban High and Commercial land use.

Go here to see the calculations for the proposal with the above land uses versus Suburban General only.

CHF and citizens consistently cited the negative effects of the Hickory Grove development: increased traffic on Rte 54 and cut-through traffic to adjacent roads and neighborhoods; destruction of rural viewshed; leapfrogging commercial from the I-95 corridor; more light, noise and litter pollution.

CHF continues to advocate for gradual transitions to rural areas and appropriate juxtaposition of land uses — both vital topics to consider under a comprehensive approach to land use planning. 

Hickory Grove public hearing is August 24; mammoth proposal has mammoth issues

Hickory Hill II, LLC (the applicant) needs both a comprehensive plan amendment (CPA2021-00001) and a rezoning (REZ2021-00014) for its proposed Hickory Grove development.

First, Comprehensive Plan Amendment CPA2021-00001 is needed by applicant to change land use to Commercial, Suburban High and Suburban General.

This Comprehensive Plan Amendment is an inappropriate land use change for this area:  

  • It hardens the transition between suburban and rural along Rte 54 
  • Encourages leapfrogging commercial sprawl from the I-95 corridor 
  • Suburban High residential and Commercial land uses are not compatible with the existing Suburban General (residential-single family homes) on Woodside Lane or the two nearby Rural Cluster developments

Second, the companion Rezoning REZ2021-00014 for Business and Residential is also an inappropriate land use change for this area

  • Traffic: This rezoning would add an estimated 4820 additional vehicle trips per day. I-95 is gridlocked on a daily basis and turns into a parking lot on weekends. Numerous cars, tractor trailers and other vehicles seek alternate routes on East Patrick Henry Road, Mt. Hermon Road and Goddins Hill Road. This is dangerous!
  • Residential: Suburban General and Suburban High will bring:
  • 203 residential units on 42 acres (72 townhomes on 24.24 acres, Suburban General; 131 townhomes on 18.73 acres, Suburban High) 
  • Average density of 4.72 dwelling units per acre
  • Commercial (9 acres) fronts on Rte 54 and is inappropriate for this area:
  • Three (3) speculative commercial parcels are proposed on 9 acres fronting on East Patrick Henry Road 
  • Overbuilding in the face of declining demand as well as existing commercial vacancies on west side of I-95
  • Business hours unknown
  • Traffic, traffic, traffic
  • Encourages sprawl into rural transition area
  • Incompatible with existing residential neighborhoods
  • Compromises the historic corridor from Ashland to the Courthouse

In short, the Hickory Grove development threatens:

  • destruction of the rural viewshed east of Ashland
  • increased traffic on overburdened Rte 54 and adjacent roads
  • cut-through traffic on Jamestown Road, Mt. Hermon Road, and Goddins Hill Road
  • leapfrog interstate commercial a mile from the I-95 corridor 
  • light and noise pollution, increased impervious surface 
  • environmental degradation, loss of rural character

The public hearing for CPA2021-00001 and REZ2021-00014 is

Wednesday, August 24, 6:00 p.m.

at the Board of Supervisors meeting in the County Administration Boardroom.

If you cannot attend and speak, please contact your Supervisors:

Faye O. Prichard (Ashland District), foprichard@hanovercounty.gov

R. Allen Davidson (Beaverdam District), radavidson@hanovercounty.gov

Angela Kelly-Wiecek (Chickahominy District), chair, ackelly@hanovercounty.gov

F. Michael Herzberg (Cold Harbor District), fmherzberg@hanovercounty.gov

Sean Davis (Henry District), vice chair, smdavis@hanovercounty.gov

W. Canova Peterson (Mechanicsville District), wcpeterson@hanovercounty.gov

Susan P. Dibble (South Anna District), spdibble@hanovercounty.gov

Go HERE to read the CHF Position Paper for CPA2021-0001, Hickory Hill II, LLC, comprehensive plan amendment

Don’t allow your future to be handed to you!

Let your voice be heard for a good quality of life in Hanover.

Luck Farm Market: wrong development, wrong site

Applications to pave the way for the proposed Luck Farm Market on the west side of Ashland are up for public hearings before the Ashland Planning Commission Wednesday, August 10, 6:00 p.m. in Town Hall.

This development is wrong for this area because it is now mostly semi-rural residential. The application batch includes planning gymnastics of comprehensive plan amendment, a rezoning request, an ordinance change and two conditional use permits (CPA2022-03, REZ22-0414 & ORD2022-04, CUP22-0627A & CUP22-0627B) in order to cram Luck Farm Market next to a rural conservation residential area, a pre-school and a care facility. The Market, if approved, would then occupy a 3.6 acre parcel of what is now open space buffer.

The loss of green space, the increase in traffic, additional noise and light pollution, increase in impervious surfaces, loss of a soft transition between suburban and rural — all of these are palpable environmental and aesthetic changes that do not advance a good quality of life. No amount of proffers would make this square peg fit into a round hole.

Moreover, the residents living in the rural conservation community of Luck Farm deserve better than this retrofitted commercial development. They bought into the community, among other things, on a concept of quiet, rural character.

Hardening of a current gentle transition between suburban and rural is unwelcome.