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.

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