Goodwill Industries wants to build a big new facility in eastern Goochland County in the general area where we need and want business. The plan includes a large thrift store and an employment center to help people find jobs.
Goodwill stores are generally staffed by people with serious criminal histories trying to put their lives back together, a noble purpose. However, such jobsites should not be located anywhere near residential areas
The problem is that the proposed location is on the corner of Belleview Gardens, a new and fairly upscale residential community, located just east of Tuckahoe Creek on the north side of Broad Street Road.
There had been a few houses in there for many years, but it was not until after the Tuckahoe Creek Service District utilities came online that an enterprising developer had the vacant land rezoned in 2004 for smaller lots, which would use water and sewer.
Given the expected pressure for commercial growth in the Broad Street Road corridor, remember, this rezoning occurred about a year after Short Pump Town Center opened, this seemed an odd place to locate upscale single family homes. A townhouse or apartment community might have been more appropriate, but of course, Goochland has no such zoning options.
Although the rezoning was approved, little thought seems to have been given to the expectations of the people who would live in those homes or how plunking several upscale homes in an area generally considered destined for commercial development would change the big picture. Right now it seems like the county is pretending that the existence of Belleview Gardens has no impact on development plans.
Why would anyone in their right mind believe that it makes sense to establish a large Goodwill complex at the edge of a residential community? This is a stupid idea as is the portion of the county’s proposed thoroughfare plan that would connect Mills Road, which is now a residential street, with Ashland Road to move northbound traffic from Broad Street Road.
Why on earth would Goodwill want to locate this facility on that parcel of land? Where are their expected clients and employees going to come from and how are they going to get there?
According to November 2010 news reports, Goodwill Industries plans to finance the facility with bonds. Why is an organization like Goodwill taking on debt? Aren’t its thrift stores usually located in areas of low-income housing? Is that eastern Goochland or adjacent Short Pump?
Those who live near the proposed Goodwill facility are up in arms and rightly so. If that sort of facility is appropriate for the Centerville area, shouldn’t it be located closer to existing businesses or perhaps along Ashland Road in an industrial area?
As Short Pump bloomed some Goochlanders feared that its growth would overrun our county. Would that it had. Instead, we sit wistfully on our side of the county line and watch as our residents take their sales tax dollars to Henrico County because there are few places to buy things here.
Just how desperate is Goochland for new business? On the surface, it seems like the supervisors are very desperate for business, but are they really?
Rumors abound that the property in question is being offered to Goodwill at a very attractive price. No doubt because the current owner is disgusted with Goochland County land use policy and wants to get rid of the land and run to a place where they have a reasonable expectation of being able to do business.
Last year the supervisors rejected a proposal to facilitate development at the Interstate 64/Oilville Road interchange. Detractors of that proposal spread false information that a truck stop was to be built there. Businesses then looking hard at Oilville would have brought revenue, jobs and no truck stops.
Now, nothing will be built there for at least a generation, except for perhaps yet another gas station/convenience store.
The Oilville interchange is a good place to encourage development. There are no homes in the immediate vicinity. Would the folks who continually derail businesses they contend are not “right” for Goochland please publish a list of what sort of businesses are acceptable? Coffee shops and art galleries are not going to fund even a minimal level of county services.
While all of this is percolating, Goochland County continues to hound (pun intended) the Paws Inn on Plaza Drive. For at least the last decade Goochland County has spent lots of tax dollars in legal and other fees to close a functioning business. The county decided, after issuing all sorts of permits to Paws Inn when it first opened, that it was in the wrong place and must move.
We will probably never know the real reasons for the vendetta against Paws Inn, but noise generated by barking dogs is not at the top of the list. However, at least three supervisors must consider the matter important enough to continue the legal battle. With all of the other stuff on the table, it is past time for the county to drop legal action against Paws Inn and stop wasting tax dollars on legal fees.
The Goodwill rezoning is currently scheduled for a public hearing before the planning commission at its March 17 meeting. If the planners vote on the application, regardless of their recommendation, it will move onto the supervisors for a final vote, perhaps in May.
In recent years, the county has made community meetings between developers and neighbors of land under consideration for development by the county a prerequisite for zoning applications. This provides the opportunity for citizens to air concerns and obtain information “from the horse’s mouth” rather than the rumor mill.
The supervisors must approve the rezoning application for the Goodwill proposal to happen. Although the county can discourage landowners from filing rezoning applications, every landowner has the right to make a case before the governing board. Not all rezoning applications are approved.
Belleview Gardens is to be applauded for its proactive stance in protecting the neighborhood from this bizarre intrusion.
However, it is somewhat naïve to assume that there will be no business development in the Broad Street Road corridor.
Perhaps a small daycare or modest assisted living facility built on a neighborhood scale would be more compatible with Belleview Gardens. This conversation must continue and expand.