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: https://hanoversfuture.org/Contacts/

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

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