Monday, April 6, 2015

Spring planting

Goochland’s Planning Commissioners got back in the saddle after a one month hiatus for their regular monthly meeting on April 2.
During a brief workshop on the proposed mixed use ordinance, some interesting points were raised. It was good to see some citizens attend this workshop and ask questions.

The draft ordinance, which will be the subject of a public hearing before the Planning Commission in May, will permit and require different uses, i.e. residential, business, and commercial, on the same parcel of land. Right now, the only place where mixed use is contemplated is the core of the Centerville Village, both sides of Broad Street Road between Ashland and Manakin Roads.

All land for mixed use must be rezoned and will require a conditional use permit. This means that the supervisors will be able to exert maximum control of the process.

While the residential uses contemplated for mixed use could include apartments, the proposed ordinance does not mean that Goochland County will be blanketed with apartments because they will only be permitted in areas served by adequate roads and municipal water and sewer.

An impact statement to help gauge the increased demand that any new housing will place on county services, especially schools, fire-rescue, and law enforcement, will be a requirement in the new ordinance.

Principal Planner Jo Ann Hunter said that county agencies would then review the impact statements to see if they concur. Developers must propose measures to prevent these services from being overwhelmed by new users. She used the example of the Retreat apartments in West Creek, which were not required to pay cash proffers when rezoned for multifamily housing in 2012. Instead, the developer proffered a site for a future fire-rescue station when the county determines a need for the facility.

Commissioner Tom Rockecharlie, District 5, said that he had gotten calls from citizens worried that the school system would be deluged with new students if apartments were approved.

Developer Scott Gaeser said that, while there is a need for “affordable housing” in Goochland, high land prices in the eastern end, especially Centerville, ensure that all residential construction there will be of the upscale variety. He said that the median income in the Centerville Village is $120,000. “There will be no Section 8 (low income) housing in eastern Goochland,” said Gaeser. The price of entry, which he estimated at about $30 million, is just too high.
Hunter observed that efforts to require “affordable” housing do not translate well to rural areas without mass transit. She said that, at the end of the life cycle of the buildings, many years in the future, these homes could become low income housing.
Hunter also contended that the commercial component of the proposed mixed use zoning district requires developers with deep pockets who have no interest in slapping up buildings.
Unlike Henrico, whose extensive water and sewer lines have rendered most parts of that county suitable for high density development, Goochland has few areas served by these amenities. The utility master plan, recently accepted by Goochland’s supervisors, indicates that there is little likelihood of expansion in the next decade, if ever.

At the regular commission meeting, Matt Brewer, District 2, was elected commission chair for the ensuing year with Derek Murray, District 3, serving as vice chair.

The commissioners unanimously recommended approval of the renewal of a CUP for Glenn Nuckols on Ashland Road and a rezoning in the Windy Hill subdivision to divide a 14 acre lot into two smaller residential parcels.

A rezoning application filed by Earl Thompson to rezone 127.939 acres on the south side of Fairground Road (note, no “s” on the road name)in Maidens from A-2 to RP (rural preservation) zoning was also unanimously recommended for approval.

The proposed subdivision, Lane’s End, will consist of no more than 29 single family homes on approximately two acre lots. The balance of the parcel will be used for roads and passive recreation. Bridle trails are contemplated for some of the open space, but not behind lots 1 and 29, which adjoin residential parcels in another subdivision. Additional tress will be planted along part of the southern boundary to enhance vegetative buffers between existing homes in Parker’s Hill and Lane’s End. Left and right turn lanes off of Fairground Road are among the proffers, which also include the full cash proffer, currently $14,250 per residential lot.

Some residents of Parker’s Hill, which adjoins the proposed Lane’s End on the south, raised concerns about the square footage of the proposed homes, impact on nearby wells, and schools.

When Parker’s Hill was rezoned, residents of the Two Turtles community, which lies to its south, raised many of the same objections. They too were concerned that smaller, less expensive homes built on adjoining land would have a negative impact on their property values. The gracious homes that were subsequently built in Parker’s Hill have enhanced the area.

Steve Thompson, who worked with his family’s firm to develop Breeze Hill, which adjoins and will connect to Lane’s End, said that a water study prepared when Breeze Hill was rezoned about eight years ago, found that there was sufficient underground water to ensure that new homes would not have a negative impact on area wells, and would supply water at an average of 17 gallons per minute, more than the Virginia Department of Health’s minimum requirement of 3 to 5 gallons per minute.

The application estimates that at build out, Lane’s End could add approximately 15 students to Goochland schools
It was also pointed out that there are no plans to widen or otherwise improve Fairground Road contemplated. Requiring developers to build turn lanes is about the best the county can do improve this road.

The supervisors will vote on these matters at a future meeting after they hold public hearings on the applications.

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