POWHATAN – The Powhatan County Board of Supervisors last week denied a rezoning request related to bringing a proposed age-restricted neighborhood to the eastern part of the county.
During its meeting on Monday, Aug. 24, the board voted 4-1 in favor of denying a request by Markel Eagle Partners LLC to rezone several properties on 43.15 acres off of Route 60 to create the proposed Donnelly Creek subdivision.
Chairman David Williams, who represents District 1, Larry Nordvig, District 2, Mike Byerly, District 3, and Bill Cox, District 4, voted to deny the project. Karin Carmack, District 5, voted against denying it.
The rezoning case took a solid two hours out of the board’s three-hour meeting with a good portion of that time focused on the potential transportation impacts of the project and access management.
The properties are located north of the intersection of U.S. Route 60/Holly Hills Road and south of the intersection of Page Road/Old Powhatan Estates. In its proposal, Markel Eagle Partners asked to rezone 38.09 acres into Village Residential Planned Development (VR-PD) to accommodate an age-restricted subdivision with up to 79 single-family detached homes within two distinct districts, said Nathalie Croft, director of land planning for Eagle Construction of VA. The subdivision would also have two separate neighborhood parks.
The remaining 5.06 acres the company asked to be rezoned to Commerce Center (CC) with proffered conditions, to accommodate a commercial development, Croft said. While this part of the project was mentioned briefly, it was not elaborated on because it would remain with the property owner, Sprouses Corner LLC, and it is not currently known what type of businesses would be located there.
It was pointed out during the discussion that the Powhatan Planning Commission voted against the project 5-0.
However, staff recommended it.
The majority of the home buyers in this type of age-restricted community are empty nesters and the company intentional in designing homes and communities to fit their lifestyles, Croft said in her presentation. The homes feature open concept floor plans with first floor master suites and one-level living.
Croft stressed how much the project fits with and was influenced by the county’s current comprehensive plan as well as feedback from the community and staff in the early stages of planning. The plan notes the limited options available for low-maintenance housing on smaller lots, she said.
“The county’s population is changing and will change over the next 20 years. Powhatan residents wanting to downsize their homes or properties and the maintenance burden they require, but really wanting to remain in Powhatan is who we have designed this for,” she said.
Donnelly Creek would evoke a traditional neighborhood character with a variety of home and lot sizes, decorative street signs, light fixtures, and street furniture to create a cohesive theme and sense of place, Croft said. Other features she outlined included a village district with a Village Green; large pockets of open space, and a large retention pond with a fountain and surrounded by a walking trail. Three stub road connections were included in plans to allow for cohesive development in the future.
The residential project included proffers for a 125-foot natural buffer along Page Road and a basic buffer wherever the neighborhood abuts existing residential lots; an age-restriction requiring that at least 80 percent of the homes have at least one resident who is 55 or older; lengthening the turn lanes into the site from Route 60, and making the primary construction entrance on Route 60.
Proffers related to the commercial parcel cover exterior materials and parking lot surfacing proffers that provided stricter requirements than the requested zoning district and access to adjacent parcels to ensure future connectivity.
“While specific users have not yet been identified for this parcel, we believe that by improving access with a full median crossover and a concentration of homes, the demand and opportunity for high-quality commercial establishments will be greatly increased,” Croft said.
Based on the county’s adopted five-year Capital Improvement Program (CIP), Eagle calculated a cash proffer of $2,753 per home, which would be more than $217,000 in total, Croft said. The company calculated that the neighborhood would have a positive fiscal impact of $28,914 per year and about $1.53 million in one-time revenues made up of water connection fees, sewer connection fees, and building permit fees.
Five people spoke during the public hearing, and their comments covered a variety of topics.
Lummie Jones talked about the positive impact of having an age-restricted community somewhere in the county besides the Village. Benefits she saw in having the community included it not putting a large burden on schools or transportation, the neighborhood would sit back off of Route 60, it would have two parks, the subdivision could be hooked up to county water to reduce the amount that is flushed every day, and providing an option for older people wanting to leave large properties but stay in Powhatan.
The other four speakers either spoke against the project or asked questions about issues that concerned them. Mike and Elaine Hall both raised issues with another project trying to be placed on Page Road, which already is under a strain from heavy traffic. He refuted the notion that it fits the description of Village Residential, noting it is surrounded by rural residential properties. She said that while an age-restricted community might not be a strain on schools, older citizens could require more help from fire and rescue and the sheriff’s office.
Deborah Weir was against using county water for a residential development since the county only has a finite amount it can buy from Chesterfield. She also questioned that construction traffic would not impact Page Road and disagreed with the request for a spacing standards waiver.
A large part of the meeting was spent on the issue of transportation as the board questioned Croft and Erich Strohhacker, traffic engineer and president of Green Light Solutions Inc., about the potential impact of Donnelly Creek on Powhatan traffic. In particular, they talked about how adding a new subdivision would impact not only the homes around the planned subdivision but Holly Hills subdivision on the other side of Route 60.
One of the proffers Eagle made regarding improvements to the intersection of Route 60 and the primary entrance to the property was to extend the existing eastbound left turn lane from its existing 100-foot storage length to 325 feet and the westbound right turn lane from its existing 175-foot storage length to 450 feet.
However, the applicant also requested a waiver of intersection spacing standards for the proposed entrance. The standard is for there to be at least 625 feet in distance from roads classified as major arterials, but the existing entrance is 245 feet east of the existing median crossover.
At one point in the discussion, Carmack suggested deferring the case for 30 days to see if the developer would agree to also proffer a right turn lane into Holly Hills while heading east on Route 60 as well as an acceleration lane when you take the right out of the entrance in the north of the proposed development. After more discussion about how much good this could do and if it was right to ask the developer for these changes, the board voted down the motion 3-2 with only Byerly and Carmack supporting it.
Immediately after that vote, Williams made a motion to deny the developer’s application, which ultimately failed 4-1.
Cox said he had concerns about the project: creating more congestion; relying on piecemeal development; not conforming to the county’s access management standards, and adding more residential instead of commercial real estate to the county, furthering the imbalance of the current tax burden on residents.
Carmack, the only one to support the development, said that since 2010, the county has advertised this area as a growth area. The goal of having this area as Village Residential was to create a phasing of density the further one moves away from Route 60, which is supposed to be commercial.
She pointed out that the area is in the water and sewer district, “which, due to the lack of hook ups, is costing each of our citizens 7 cents on the real estate tax rate. You want lower taxes, we need water and sewer hookups.” Carmack said this development also fits the bill supporting limited targeted residential growth in appropriate areas.
She also reiterated it is age-restricted, not all of its residents would necessarily be going to work at peak hours, and it would provide older people a way to downsize in terms of property while remaining in Powhatan.
Like Cox, Nordvig had several concerns regarding the project: the planning commission unanimously recommended denial; county water hookups are intended for commercial, not residential, use; not having a large burden on the schools because of the age restriction would be balanced out by the fire and rescue component providing help to an aging population; the additional burden on congestion around the Holly Hills neighborhood; having another cut through road that will increase traffic on Page Road; the real estate tax imbalance of commercial versus residential; saying many people in the 55 to 67 age range could still be working, and it stresses a comprehensive plan that the current board has already agreed they want to change.
Williams, who made the motion to deny the project, said access management standards are sacrosanct to him because how people get in and out of the county is paramount.
Laura McFarland may be reached at Lmcfarland@powhatantoday.com.