Thursday, March 5, 2015

Tacos to go coming to Centerville

At its March 3, 2015 meeting, after a lengthy deferral, the Goochland Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a conditional use permit that will allow construction of a Taco Bell restaurant on Broad Street Road in Centerville just west of McDonald’s.

The CUP was required for the drive though aspect of the fast food outlet.
Although the county planning commission recommended approval of the CUP last fall, the supervisors declined to hear the proposal until it had received a certificate of approval from the county’s Design Review Committee. The COA indicates compliance with all of the Centerville overlay district standards, which include acceptable building materials, setbacks, lighting, and landscaping.

The final submission approved by the supervisors represents a significant improvement over the initial proposal. Accepted plans include more stone and less metal on the building exterior and additional landscaping.

The restaurant is expected to create between 25 and 30 new jobs. It will be allowed to be open around the clock. However, at least at the outset, it seems unlikely that there will be sufficient business to justify the expense of twenty four hour staffing.

Access to the Taco Bell parking lot will be from LaBlayre Way. One free standing sign, expected to be similar in design to that of McDonald’s, will be part of the construction.

Only one person commented during the public hearing. A resident of the Parke at Saddle Creek, which is located on the east side of Manakin Road south of Broad Street Road in the Centerville Village, who said she spoke on behalf of her subdivision, opposed the application.
She raised the usual objections of traffic, crime, noise, and attracting interstate travelers. Claiming that she and her neighbors love the beauty and small town “vibe” of Centerville—essentially an aging cinderblock strip mall between Ashland and Manakin Roads—and rural lifestyle they found there. (Rural, on a fraction of an acre with municipal water, sewer, and high speed internet?)

They do not want Broad Street Road to become a fast food alley, or attract business from Interstate 64. One of the reasons that businesses locate in Centerville is to take advantage of the interchange. Indeed, it seems quite possible that one of their reasons that people buy homes in the Centerville Village is its easy access to I64.

The problem is, as Bob Minnick pointed out in his fall town meeting, it’s not like the county had a choice between a Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse and Taco Bell. Development is market driven and funded by private dollars. If the residents of the Parke at Saddle Creek would like to invest their money in an “upscale” business of their liking, landowners and the county would be happy to work with them.

Interestingly, home owners in The Parke at Centerville, a subdivision much closer to the site of the proposed Taco Bell—the McDonald’s must be clearly visible to some of the homes there-raised no objections.

Had the new residents bothered to do their homework, they would have learned that at least two of the out parcels on the Broad View Shopping Center were designated for fast food use years ago. It’s hard to understand why people who spend hours on the internet researching cars before making a purchase seem to be buying homes based on impulse. They accept claims made by realtors, who may not live in Goochland, without question, and whine when they discover that reality does not match the sales pitch.

It’s too bad that the representative of the Parke at Saddle Creek stormed out in an embarrassingly adolescent manner after the Taco Bell vote. She missed the presentation on the arterial access management plan, which could have a significant impact on traffic in the Centerville Village.

Attracting substantial investment to the Centerville Village has been challenging for years. A well-crafted mixed use zoning ordinance, which the Planning Commission is expected to discuss at a workshop in April, could help this area lure the kind of distinctive development that everyone wants.

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