Planning Commission sends CPA forward on a 6-1 vote

Is anyone in County government listening to the citizens?

It is hard to think so after the Planning Commission’s June 16 public hearing on two applications for the revived Hickory Grove proposal. 

Hickory Hill, II LLC is asking for a comprehensive plan amendment to change land use to Commercial, Suburban General and Suburban High to make way for its proposed 52-acre development at the intersection of Rte 54 and Providence Church Road. The companion rezoning features 203 townhomes on 43 acres and three speculative commercial pad sites on 9 acres fronting on Rte 54.

Eleven citizens offered credible opposition to the mammoth Hickory Grove development. Two spoke in favor. Opposition centered on higher traffic volume, loss of rural character, housing density and leapfrogging commercial development from the interstate corridor.

The comprehensive plan amendment was approved on a 6-1 vote, Ashland District Commissioner Alan Abbott dissenting.

This Hickory Grove proposal, in short, is the wrong development in the wrong place. Citizens have said they favor growth management, gentler suburban-rural transitions, better development design standards, green/open space and rural character. 

Nothing offered by the applicant in this Hickory Grove public hearing captured any of these characteristics.

It is disconcerting that the County is considering these applications before the Comp Plan update is complete. A thoughtful, comprehensive planning process engaging all stakeholders should be the priority.

The optics are grim. The County seems to be serving a narrow interest to the detriment of the broader good.


Updates from County and Town: Hickory Grove, Ashcake Road Landfill, Luck Farm Market

Gnarly issues characterize three applications coming up for Hanover Planning Commission public hearings Thursday, June 16, 6:00 p.m. 

Hickory Hill, LLC will present two cases (CPA2021-00001 and REZ2021-00014) as it seeks to move forward with a bulked up Hickory Grove project on 52 acres at the intersection of Rte 54 and Providence Church Road. 

The Comprehensive Plan Amendment requests a land use change to Commercial, Suburban General and Suburban High residential (the latter allows 3-7 dwelling units/acre). A rezoning proposes townhomes and three speculative commercial pad sites.

This project featuring dense residential and interstate commercial is completely out of sync with the current semi-rural character east of Ashland.

Ashcake Road Landfill, Inc. (CUP2021-00001) for years has been permitted uses for a construction debris dump and a borrow pit on 232 acres. The applicant now seeks an amendment to close the landfill and convert the borrow pit to a new landfill. 

The historic, African-American Brown Grove community is set up for the perfect storm of a mishandled traffic study, environmental degradation and encroachment on its historic features.

Documents for both cases may be seen at this link.

Deferred by Ashland Planning Commission after June 8 hearing . . .

The Luck Farm Market project (CPA2022-03 and REZ22-0414) will be further considered at the Commission’s July 13 meeting. The Commission has 120 days from its May meeting to act.

Stay in touch with County and Town officials:

The future is being planned now. Give voice to your vision.

Citizens: stronger aesthetic and environmental standards wanted

Envision Hanover on June 8 released results of its Visual Preference Survey which offered citizens the opportunity to comment regarding development design standards. 

High on the list for respondents were pedestrian and bicycle friendly thoroughfares, more neighborhood street trees, generous vegetated buffers, accessible open spaces for both active and passive use and scaled, people-friendly architectural design.

Citizens have expressed their preferences for years on development standards. It is time for the County to require a better product from developers.

A memo summarizing the feedback received can be found HERE. The full list of open-ended responses received is available online HERE.

Sign up to receive regular updates from Envision Hanover at

Hanover Comp Plan: Community Participation Team meetings commence June 8

Envision Hanover just announced the inaugural meeting of the Community Participation Team (CPT), an advisory group composed of Planning Commissioners and citizen appointees. The group will discuss planning concepts and provide input to the Comp Plan project team.

The meeting is Wednesday, June 8, 6:00 p.m. at the Mechanicsville Library. The agenda and meeting materials are posted at CPT June 8th Meeting Agenda Packet

The future is being planned now. 

Communicate with your Supervisors, Planning Commissioners and County officials: 

The citizen voice matters. Thank you for your voice.


Is Ashland in a development vise?

The short answer: yes. On the eastern and western sides of Ashland at its borders with Hanover County, an ugly prospect is unfolding.

Two development proposals, both involving a Comprehensive Plan Amendment and companion rezoning, bode ill for the rural viewshed, will exacerbate pinch points on an overburdened Rte 54 and add more light and noise pollution — all diminishing the appeal of Hanover quality of life.

To the west side of Ashland, within its town limits, is a proposal for Luck Farm Market, which would feature a farmers’ market and restaurant operating seven days a week, probably with music some of those days. With the filing of CPA2022-03, the developer requests a land use change from Open Space to Neighborhood Commercial. REZ22-0414 then seeks to rezone 3.6 acres from RR-1, Residential Rural, to B-1, Central Business.

The loss of open green space is lamentable, no matter how small the acreage.

The Ashland Planning Commission will hold the first public hearing on the proposal Wednesday, June 8, 6:00 p.m. at Ashland Town Hall. The Commission has 120 days to review the request.

To the east of Ashland at the intersection of Rte 54 and Providence Church Road, Hickory Hill II, LLC returns with a proposal for high density residential and business sites on 52 acres. The developer has requested a Comprehensive Plan Amendment (CPA2021-00001) to change the land use to Commercial, Suburban General and Suburban High residential (the latter allows 3-7 dwelling units/acre). The rezoning request (REZ2021-00014) proposes townhomes and three speculative commercial pad sites.

“High density” and “speculative” are scary concepts.

The applications are slated for a public hearing at the Hanover Planning Commission meeting Thursday, June 16 at 6:00 p.m. in the County Administration Boardroom.

Compounding this density nightmare is Tradeport 95, a proposal (with some differences) which is the resurrected East Ashland development of 2010. It comes with these issues and more: traffic, noise, interstate-type commercial, compromised viewshed — all indicative of “Anywhere, USA” development.

Ashland and Hanover County residents need to be in touch with their Supervisors, Planning Commissioners and County officials early and often:

The future is being planned now. Add your ideas to the discussion.