2008-05-28 / News

Bon Air Walk case is headed to circuit court

By Greg Pearson

Following rejection of a tentative subdivision plat approval, a five-acre case is headed to court. "We'll be seeing [Chesterfield County] in circuit court," said attorney Carrie Coyner as she left with her client.

The planning commission last week voted 4-1 to deny the plan to put six homes on the parcel at the intersection of Buford Road and Sunview Lane in Bon Air. Normally, a subdivision plat is approved administratively by county staff, but it was referred to the commission "because of community concerns." Of the neighbors, 180 signed a petition against the plat, which the planning department recommended for approval. The property is already zoned residential.

"Our community faces flood risk," said spokesperson Tony Gentry. "Chesterfield County and the developer are not at risk."

The ruling turned on whether the stream on the property is perennial or intermittent. Chesterfield's Environmental Engineering Department and the state's Department of Environmental Quality reported the stream to be intermittent as did a professional engineer and a wetlands scientist. The residents responded with their own wetlands delineator, who opined that the stream is perennial.

"No one has done anything wrong," commented Matt Overton for the residents. "We just have a difference of opinion."

"We will reduce the amount of water that drains to adjacent property," pledged Coyner. "We are not the cause of these folks' problems." She also asked the commission to ignore the emotions of the residents and focus on the scientific evidence.

The developer (2421 W.D. LLC) wants to tear down the two existing homes on the site and build a storm water pond to control water and pollutant runoff to the Powhite Creek.

Midlothian Commissioner Reuben Waller sided with the residents in his district while Clover Hill commissioner Russ Gulley was troubled by the mixed scientific reports. Matoaca commissioner Wayne Bass was the lone vote in favor of approval of the subdivision plat.

Route 288 homes

By a 3-2 vote, the commission recommended denial of another tentative subdivision plan that already is zoned residential with Route 288 on one side and the Queensmill community on the other. Commonwealth Foundation for Cancer Research owns the donated 77.5 acres and wants approval to build 125 single-family homes there, creating a new community called Queensgate.

The site is in both the Midlothian and Matoaca districts and their commissioners - Waller and Bass - favored the plan while Gulley, Bermuda commissioner Sam Hassen and Dale commissioner Bill Brown opposed it. Hassen indicated he might have changed his vote if there were fewer homes.

"This applicant has done what can be expected," said Waller in explaining his vote. The planning department recommended approval.

Much of the focus was on traffic counts of nearby roads. Queensgate would generate 1,275 average daily vehicle trips, putting Lady Ashley Road at 2,805 trips with a grandfathered maximum of 3,000. However, current standards by the Virginia Department of Transportation (changed in 1989) for that type of road are 1,500 trips.

Gulley wondered why Queensgate didn't have to meet the current standard. "If you can't meet the current building standard, you can't build [a home]," he reasoned.

Residents of the surrounding communities are decidedly against the subdivision plan. Richard Hale opposed it because of noise levels, traffic counts on roads and school overcrowding.

"We expect you to respect the HUD [federal standards] sound guidelines," Bob Lawrence told the commission.

Queensgate proposed to build a 15-foot berm to block the traffic noise from Route 288, which Marie Strack complained would "bounce the sound [over Queensgate] to the residents of Queensmill." The plan includes sound attenuation for those who build close to Route 288.

Sean Branin of Walton Lake noted that Queensgate is owned by a cancer research company. "The Hippocratic Oath says to do no harm," he protested, "but this development will do harm."

Brad Early of Walton Park complained that it would lead to more vehicles using his community as a cut-through.

Andrew Gibb of Commonwealth Commercial pointed out that the original Centerpointe development had already proffered land for a fire station and a middle school. His firm can resubmit another application or file suit in Chesterfield Circuit Court.

Part of Roseland

GBS Holding will go to the board of supervisors with a positive recommendation from the commission for a companion development to Roseland for 45 homes off Old Hundred Road next to Hallsley. The development includes a mix of homes on larger lots, courtyard homes that are age-targeted and five acres of open space.

"A mix of housing types creates a sustainable community," said developer Casey Sowers. There was no resident opposition.

"This group is doing what the county and the state isn't - improving roads," said Hugh Woodle, who is selling the 39-acre site to GBS. The firm has already begun improving Old Hundred Road near the development and agreed to pay $704,000 in proffers for roads, schools and other county services.

The planning staff opposed the rezoning because it wasn't compatible with nearby Hallsley, while the county transportation department preferred that the relatively small community not put traffic directly onto Old Hundred Road.

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