Hanover supervisors approve contested plan for multiuse village

After more than an hour of debate late Wednesday night, Hanover County supervisors approved a development along U.S. 301 to include retail space, offices, houses, town houses and apartments.

The rezoning case involved a project near New Ashcake Road to include a 300,000-square-foot anchor grocery store, 131 town houses, 286 apartments and 115 single-family homes on 103 acres. The project is called Caldwell Park.

The Hanover Planning Commission recommended approval of Caldwell Park at its June 18 meeting. The supervisors voted 5-2 to approve the development.

Board member Angela Kelly-Wiecek, in whose district the project will reside, said U.S. 301 is not considered rural in the county’s comprehensive plan. She voted for the project.

“We have to grow. We’re going to grow,” she said. “It’s our choice to grow willy-nilly … or we can designate that growth in areas that have the capacity to manage it. And the 301 service corridor is one of those areas.”

Board member Aubrey M. “Bucky” Stanley, whose Beaverdam District boundary is nearby, voted against the development along with Sean Davis of the Henry District.

“I have no problem with the quality of the development,” Stanley said. “I do have a problem with the traffic.”

Opponents contended the development will dramatically increase rush-hour traffic, ruin the rural character of the area and worsen overcrowding at Atlee High School.

“Hanover is known for restrained growth, and this doesn’t feel restrained,” said resident Kelly All, one of the seven opponents who spoke at the meeting.

Ten proponents praised the variety of residential options and emphasized that the walkable community and retail were along a major thoroughfare in the county, not a rural haven. Left-turn lanes were added to the proposal along U.S. 301 to accommodate added traffic.

“This still allows green space,” said resident Michele Faison. “I’m very excited about this project.”

Also, the supervisors voted 6-1 to approve the rezoning of a 118-acre property near Cedar Lane and U.S. 1 for light industrial and commercial uses, categorized M-2. Davis was the lone dissent vote.

The applicant, Linda Holland Allen, said she requested the zoning for her father’s land to increase job opportunities in the county and attract high-quality businesses.

“I’m not for a quick turnover or a quick dime,” she said.

Edwin Gaskin, the county’s director of economic development, spoke in favor of the business park during the meeting, citing prospective businesses that overlooked Hanover because of the lack of large available M-2 properties, which attract high-tech manufacturing.

“I prefer this site to win and M-2 will do it,” Gaskin said. “We want to play on our strengths.”

Nearby residents in Elmont Woods opposed the industrial use on the parcel that is not fronting U.S. 1 because it is close to the residential neighborhood and, they said, deviates from the county’s comprehensive plan.

“Just because it’s more than 100 acres, it seems you’re trying to fit a square peg in a round hole,” said Matthew Perry, who lives in an adjacent neighborhood.

The board approved the rezoning under its Strategic Zoning Initiative, which allows property owners to pursue rezoning without having their taxes raised until the property is put to use.

A 199-foot tower was also approved to provide mobile phone and Internet service in the western portion of the county. The tower will be along Dunn Road near its intersection with Mountain Road. The applicant, National Communication Towers Inc., has letters of intent from Verizon Wireless and Last Mile Broadband.

Supervisors also approved a 40-foot height increase for the Ashcake Road Landfill. The move doubles the allowed height and extends the expected capacity of the landfill 10 years from 2023 to 2033.

Copyright Richmond Times-Dispatch. Used by Permission.