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The Mechanicsville Local Letters to the editor: week of 11/4/20

The Mechanicsville Local Letters to the editor: week of 11/4/20

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Hickory Grove rezoning impacts East Ashland

The proposed Hickory Grove mixed use rezoning on Route 54 east of the Town of Ashland features traffic manipulation and deception.

The developer’s traffic study falsely denies the existence of the massive, approved but undeveloped East Ashland project which would add over 33,000 vehicles across from Hickory Grove. East Ashland impacts traffic on Route 54 and the Interstate 95 Exit 92 interchange and has proffered road improvements along Route 54.

In 2016, the General Assembly passed legislation specifying that a proffered road improvement should be attributable to a development creating the need for it. If East Ashland’s traffic and road improvements had been included in the traffic study in compliance with express VDOT (Virginia Department of Transportation) guidelines, Hickory Grove’s development would create a need for major proffered road improvements to the Exit 92 interchange and likely Route 54.

By denying the existence of East Ashland, however, Hickory Grove falsely claims a temporary traffic signal on a wooden pole at the Exit 92 southbound off ramp as its only proffered road improvement. How convenient. Hickory Grove can claim compliance only because its traffic study ignores East Ashland, cumulative impacts, and VDOT guidelines.

There’s more. Although East Ashland’s traffic is ignored and it pays no cash proffers, county staff resurrects the 33,000 vehicle trips in calculating Hickory Grove’s cash proffers. Without support, traffic from far away developments near the U.S. 301/Rural Point Road intersection also is included. Because these vehicle trips show up in the denominator in cash proffer calculations, Hickory Grove’s cash proffers are sharply reduced to less than 1% of the estimated $33.2 million cost for permanent Route 54/Exit 92 road improvements.

East Ashland traffic is out, then East Ashland traffic is in. Contradictory and irreconcilable assumptions.

How can this be? What is the principle?

No principle. The developer and the county staff have acted arbitrarily and capriciously to produce minimal proffers.

The bottom line for Hickory Grove is a $302,200 cash payment and a temporary traffic signal on a wooden pole. Hanover taxpayers are crucified.

Hickory Grove is a mixed abuse project. Abusive development must be rejected by the Hanover County Board of Supervisors.

Bob Nelson


Resident: Keep pristine setting in Ashland area

Three years ago, my wife and I “escaped” our neighborhood north of Denver and moved to the Providence housing development adjacent to Providence Church Road and East Patrick Henry Road.

When we first moved to Colorado, our quiet neighborhood was adjacent to a two-lane road. Our county subsequently allowed a “small” zoning change to allow a “small” office building.

A few years later, the road was expanded to six lanes, supporting numerous retail centers and other commercial properties -- just like Short Pump.

And now, we see this same story may unfold here in Ashland. After several Hanover County Planning Commission meetings, we were encouraged to convince three of seven members to vote no at the Oct. 15 planning meeting to allow the Hickory Hill II rezoning.

At that meeting, there was a line of residents with two petitions signed by more than 50 people urging a “No” vote, but the commission wants more commercial business.

The residential aspect of this application doesn’t bother residents, but the commercial side can only bring “commercial” blight to our area on top of 7,120-vehicle visits per day of additional traffic.

Although what’s “in the mix” for what those commercial enterprises will be, at present it includes a 2,800 square feet fast-food restaurant, 5,600 square feet convenience store with 16 fueling station gas station, and two restaurants of 4,000 square feet and 7,000 square feet, respectively.

And not more than one mile away are numerous similar businesses across Interstate 95 with many vacant store or office spaces.

And the traffic impact is a minimum number and does not include the future “East Ashland” project.

As the director of planning said, this “mix-use” rule is a guide, it’s not a law. Let’s just go with residential alone and save our pristine rural setting on Route 54 between Ashland and Hanover.

John Denler


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