Hickory Grove Mixed Use community: wrong site, same old schlocky design

     Do you suppose the County is depending on your inattention during this unusual time? While you’re attending to your own and your families’ wellbeing, be assured others are working to have the PC and BOS push through the planning process for their particular, varied requests. Yes, during a time when citizen participation is so limited. And attention diverted. A planning process that was overheard to be described by various others, at present, like “slicing through butter.”

Citizens Are Kept at Arm’s Length…
as County Speedily Conducts the People’s Business!
In this COVID-19 pandemic, the Coalition for Hanover’s Future vigorously objects to the format and light speed with which the County sees fit to conduct the business of the people.
The burdensome proscriptions and protocols imposed upon citizens really crimp their engagement with their School Board, Planning Commissioners and Supervisors. On some very important issues.
Weeks ago, with Wegmans calling the hurry-up offense, Hanover County government proceeded with reckless disregard for the Governor’s executive orders. The County’s action was ill-considered then and remains so now.

So What’s Especially of Note… 
…as We Work on Hanover’s LQ (Liveability Quotient)? 
There is a particularly odious rezoning request on the
Planning Commission’s docket 
for Thursday, June 18, 7:00 p.m.
Hickory Hill II, LLC is requesting MX and B-2(c) rezoning for its proposed Hickory Grove mixed-use community, a 51.5-acre parcel east of I-95 at the intersection of Rte 54 and Providence Church Road. In short, the application looks like this:
  • 42.33 acres targeted for an MX zoning to allow for a mix of commercial uses (59,017 sq. ft. of retail, office, restaurant) and residential uses (100 age-qualified townhomes) and
  • 9.17 acres zoned B-2(c) for a commercial mix (20,400 sq. ft.) that may include a convenience store and a fast food restaurant with drive-through.
The commercial element promises the same, tired “Anywhere, USA” businesses marring the viewshed. To read complete details of the application, click here.
Mixed use zoning of this parcel is problematic and inappropriate for so many reasons:
  • 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;
  • the traffic study for the already heavily traveled Rte 54 does not take into account the approved East Ashland development’s traffic numbers; and
  • Rte 54 is a gateway corridor linking historic Ashland and Hanover Courthouse districts through rural countryside.

Proposed Restrictions on Truck Traffic… 

…Welcome, But Not a Remedy for Poor Planning

On the Supervisors’ docket for Wednesday, June 24, 7:00 p.m.
Public hearings are slated for proposed through truck restrictions on four heavily traveled, under-capacity Hanover County roads. The roads and proposed restricted portions include:
  • New Ashcake Road between Sliding Hill Road and Rte 301
  • Atlee Station Road between Sliding Hill Road and Rte 301
  • Ashcake Road between Sliding Hill Road and Lewistown Road
  • Peaks Road between Sliding Hill Road and Rte 301
With dense residential development patterns of the past 10-20 years, these Hanover County roads have now become cut-throughs for an unbearable traffic volume, including many trucks.
These restrictions are welcomed and will surely help, but they will not remedy the shortsighted planning and roads funding that got us here.

Good planning is intrinsic to quality of life.
Well planned growth is essential to having livable communities and viable economic development opportunities. Trophy homes and distribution centers are just window dressing if quality of life is eroded in the process.
Land use planning is about the long view. Shortsighted planning will chip away that good quality of life Hanover residents want.
Let your concerns be heard. 
The citizen voice matters.

How to Submit Comments 
During COVID Restrictions
(from County Website: Planning)

“Notice on Comments for Planning Commission’s June 18 Meeting; Citizens Strongly Encouraged to Participate via Email or Phone

The Planning Commission will meet at 7 p.m. on Thursday, June 18. A Citizens’ Time of up to 20 minutes will be offered before the public hearings begin. Given the current health crisis, the county strongly encourages those who wish to make their opinions known during Citizens’ Time or during the public hearings to provide their comments online or by phone. You can leave your comments by calling 365-3384. Each caller may have up to three minutes, consistent with the Commission’s meeting rules. You may also email your citizens time comments or your public hearing comments.”
Citizens Time comments:
Public Hearing Comments:

Don’t Understand the “Language”?
…Check Out the Comprehensive Plan 
Familiarity with the Comprehensive Plan will help the reader to gain understanding of development language such as land use, zoning designations, proffers, roads planning, rural conservation, and so forth. Visit the County website to begin exploring the “Comp Plan”.
 Questions? Let us hear from you!  

Stay in the Loop!
     Hanover County Board of Supervisors, Planning Commission and Economic Development information can be accessed at


     Town of Ashland Town Council, Planning Commission and Economic Development information can be accessed at http://www.town.ashland.va.us.

Where Are Regular Meetings Held?  
      Hanover County Board of Supervisors and Planning Commission meetings are held in the Board Room at 7516 County Complex Rd., Hanover.
      Ashland Town Council and Planning Commission meetings are held in the Council Chambers, Ashland Town Hall, 101 Thompson St., Ashland.
Our Advocacy Depends on You…
…And Your Support
The Coalition (CHF) is dedicated to protecting and preserving the land, history and environment of Hanover County. Our advocacy comes to you through these e-mail alerts and website. Your generosity makes these possible. Common sense growth helps ensure a sustainable, energy efficient and competitive future. CHF is one of the most efficient and effective non-profits in the Richmond area. You can be confident your dollars are used wisely.
Please donate today. Select the “Make a Donation” button in the left column, or mail to
Coalition for Hanover’s Future
P.O. Box 12 – Hanover, VA 23069
 CHF is a 501(c)(3) organization.
Your contribution is fully deductible for federal income tax purposes.

The Board of Directors
Coalition for Hanover’s Future

Coalition for Hanover’s Future, P.O. Box 12, Hanover, VA 23069