Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Culture clash

A “community meeting” held at the Centerville Fire-Rescue Station on February 25, allegedly to discuss a potential rezoning for a few acres with frontage on the south side of Broad Street Road, turned out to be an exercise in futility.

To bolster citizen engagement in land use matters, the county added the community meeting to the zoning pre-application process a few years ago. The goal of these meetings is to identify and resolve issues between developers and neighbors before the application reaches the planning commission. If the county is going to require these meetings, it needs to invest in a portable sound system so everyone can hear what is going on.

The standing room only crowd included a good many residents of the Parke at Saddle Creek (PSC) who quickly commandeered the event to complain about the “smelly water” that plagues homes in the Tuckahoe Creek Service District.
While these folks are justifiably upset that about the water issue, that was not the purpose of the meeting.

Scott Gaeser represents the owner of the subject property. He lives on Manakin Road, is associated with Eagle Homes, and is a realtor in Goochland. Gaeser began his remarks by declaring that the rezoning in question had nothing to do with Eagle but just happens to be across Manakin Road from PSC.

The land owner, said Gaeser, would like to sell part of her property to Shannon Hill LLC, owner of the commercial enclave on the corner of Manakin and Broad and continue to in her home for the time being.

Gaeser explained that the site used to be known as “Deep Run Corner” and was home to Saddlery Trade, a tack shop run by the late Garland Toney. Now, it is occupied by offices, warehouses, and a dentist and chiropractor. Shannon Hill LLC, said Gaeser, has been interested in acquiring the subject property for many years.

He pointed out that Centerville Village has long been designated for growth and business use. Most of the property along Broad Street Road is zoned for business. “Growth belongs on Broad Street so we can leave the farm land alone,” Gaeser said.

The proposed use change would zone the portion of the subject property with Broad Street Road frontage for business use, with the “back” portion fronting on Manakin Road for residential office use. This would expand the office park already there down Manakin Road blocking site of the B-a property from PSC. Gaeser pointed out that PAS is located behind land zoned B-1 and across from property zoned B-1.

Gaeser said that while Tractor Supply, a retailer dealing in hardware, agricultural supplies and equipment, has expressed interest in the Centerville area, it has not executed a contract for any parcel in Centerville. At a meeting on the same subject held earlier in the year, Gaeser gave the impression that Tractor Supply would locate on the subject parcel.

Gaeser tried to discuss a plan to extend Saddle Creek Parkway across Manakin Road to connect with Broad Street Road and continues onto the land behind Satterwhite’s. He mentioned that Saddle Creek Parkway is the first leg of a connector road between Manakin and Hockett Roads that has been on the county’s comprehensive land use plan for years. This road is intended to be built by developers.

The road comments cranked the anger of the PSC folk into high gear. One woman said that no one told her about those roads. Another complained that she left Short Pump to escape congestion.

Do the fine folks who live in PSC really not understand that when they moved to a residential enclave of homes on slivers of land in a rural community that they brought Short Pump with them?

Ironically, when the area that is now PSC was rezoned about ten years ago, adjoining property owners opposed its rezoning because it would destroy the rural character; create noise and traffic; and possibly bring an undesirable element to the area.
Did the residents of PSC really believe that once their subdivision was built out that all area development would cease? Do they understand that the property between them and Broad Street Road is zoned commercial and anything permitted by right in that zoning category can be built without further approval?
Maybe the whole PSC anger thing is a manifestation of its residents uniting against a common enemy, Eagle, as it coalesces into a community. Hopefully, these good people will do their homework and replace arrogant ignorance with constructive comments.

However, it is troubling that new residents take the comments of order takers in a model home sales office as gospel. Their remarks seem to indicate that they did little due diligence about Goochland or Centerville before buying homes here. There is ample information about Goochland County online to help make an informed decision.

(GOMM visited the sales office at PSC last year. The Eagle representatives were very pleasant and knowledgeable about their product, new homes. One woman, who had been assigned to PSC from another office at the last minute, didn’t even seem to know that PSC was in Goochland.)

The county cannot require purveyors of new homes to supply information about Goochland but there must be some way to encourage it. New people bring novel viewpoints that strengthen our community.

No comments: