Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Back to the drawing board?

Twin Hickory Lake Drive is what a connector road should look like

A community meeting to gauge community reaction to a pending rezoning application for parcels of land with frontage on both Manakin and Rockville Road filled the fellowship hall of Goochland Baptist Church on Monday, October 19.

The Planning Commission deferred action, at the request of the developer, on the application, originally scheduled for October 1 for 30 days. It is currently scheduled to be heard at the November 5 Planning Commission meeting.

Before we get any further into the weeds of this subject, a couple of things must be said. Any land owner has the right to apply for rezoning or other land use changes. That does not mean the change will happen. The Planning Commission is an appointed advisory body that has only the power to recommend land use action. The final say rests with the Board of Supervisors.

A citizen contended that any action on the pending application should be deferred until the vacant District 4 seat on the Planning Commission is filled to ensure that those who live in District 4 are represented.

That is a valid point. However, it would not be the first time that District 4 had no Planning Commission representation on an important zoning matter.

Several years ago, during the previous regime, the Planning Commission held a public hearing, and voted, on rezoning applications for several parcels of land around the Interstate 64/Oilville Road interchange, also in District 4. One of the two District 4 commissioners—Goochland had a 10 member Planning Commission then-- was unable to attend the meeting, and the other, a realtor representing some of the land in question, had to recuse himself from consideration of the matter.

As District 4 will be ground zero for many near term land use changes, it needs a planning commissioner immediately if not sooner.
Back to the meeting.

Developers did not seem to expect a standing room only crowd for the discussion. Their remarks seemed tailored for the planning commission rather than for the neighbors.

The condensed version is that the developer hopes to build no more than 191 homes on 97 acres. The subdivision will be configured in two “wings,” one with a main access to Manakin Road the other off of Rockville Road. Separating the wings is a creek that will be crossed via a bridge that the developer plans to build.

As planned, the proposed subdivision will be nicely done, well landscaped, and have walking trails and a gazebo! It was a little hard to digest the protestations that the houses will not be of the “cookie cutter” variety when renderings showed homes that look very similar as to mass, height, and color pallet.

There was a lot of discussion about the cost of the bridge, but the neighbors, who have gotten along just fine without a bridge over that creek all these years, were not impressed.

During the presentation, the county’s recently revised comprehensive land use plan was cited. Comp plans tend to be documents that can be used to support or refute any argument. In this case, the Centerville Arterial Management Plan (AMP) was referenced.

The AMP is the result of a year-long study of actual and anticipated traffic in and around the Centerville area. One of its elements is a connector road between Manakin and Rockville Roads well north of Broad Street Road. The intention of this connector road is to move traffic from the Manakin Road corridor to Ashland Road and I64 without going through Centerville.

As presented in the rezoning application, the “connector” road would be essentially a neighborhood street with driveways every 75 feet or so. Given the small lots, expect cars parked in the street. This road was touted as necessary to reduce response times between the Centerville Company 3 fire-rescue station and Rockville Road. A Company 3 volunteer pointed out that St. Matthew’s Lane, an existing road, already provides fast access to Rockville Road.

Although the AMP shows the connector road between Manakin and Rockville Roads as a “cut through,” the developers insist it will be just a neighborhood road. At some point, the intersection of Rockville and Ashland Roads would be signalized to ease movement of traffic northbound to I64.

The developer’s engineer did say that they planned to mitigate as many of the site distance issues as they could on land they control. This includes shaving hills and humps near the entrances on both Rockville and Manakin Roads.

Another speaker on the developer’s team addressed the benefit to the Tuckahoe Creek Service District, even though he kept referring to the eastern Goochland public utility as the Tuckahoe Service Creek. Citizens in the room, who probably have well and septic at home and have been assured by the supervisors that the TCSD debt is under control, do not give one hoot about helping out the TCSD by putting more traffic on roads they travel daily. They also do not care how many houses need to be built to make building the bridge economically feasible.

GOMM did not stay for the entire meeting, but it was pretty clear that the developer needs to rethink some portions of the proposal. If the connector road will not be used as a “cut through” why bother with the bridge?

Why not just build two separate smaller subdivisions and leave the creek and wetlands alone? The developer seems to suggest that it should be granted higher density development in return for building the connector “road” and cash proffers in the application are reduced accordingly.

If indeed, the developer builds a true connector road, higher density credit should be considered. As presented, this proposal does not fit the bill.

No comments: