The Upper Magnolia Green East and West rezoning cases will go to the Board of Supervisors for a public hearing in May after the Chesterfield County Planning Commission meeting last Tuesday evening, during which the commissioners heard 28 comments – all opposed – to current affairs.
The meeting, which lasted an hour after schedule until 10 p.m., ended with a vote by commissioners to unanimously approve the East deal – side for public use, and 3-2 to move forward the west-industrial side, following a motion to postpone the latter by Matoaca commissioner and president, Tom Owens, was defeated 3-2.
“You get a win and get out of there – a win is a win,” Economic Development Authority attorney Andy Condlin, who handled negotiations with the county, said in an update. to Authority members at last week’s EDA meeting. two days after the votes. “Twenty years from now no one will remember this – it’s just a win is a win.”
West’s vote followed an hour of public comments from 19 speakers opposing on grounds ranging from environmental, health and traffic impacts to development best practices and transparency, followed by a rebuttal by Condlin and a discussion between the Commissioners.
“If it was in your garden, I think you would have the same concerns,” resident Thao Carroll said at the public hearing.
Carroll went on to explain that the manufacture of plastics has moved from a primary use to an ancillary use, but it still poses problems near residents. It would only take one negligent violation or accident to destroy the Swift Creek Reservoir which accounts for 20% of the county’s drinking water, she said.
His comments captured the sentiment of many before and after, and followed the community submitting a 27-page document of revised proposals to county officials and staff.
To that end, Condlin and the planning staff introduced four changes to the bids to include the elimination of the words “excessive” with respect to security attenuation, “medium” with respect to decibel volume, and a restrictive covenant clause on the West case. In the case of the East, an additional bid, suggested by Owens, includes a traffic phasing plan for a connecting road before construction of a school or housing.
“Our signs aren’t going anywhere, and neither are we,” Carroll said, referring to the “No Magnolia Megasite” construction signs that dot the Moseley landscape and nodding to the 2,500 residents opposed to the project on the social networks. “When choosing a site, investors want to know that the community supports the project. … It would be up to you to listen to the community. Please don’t rush and work with us to support this project.
With that in mind, the postponement motion was moved by Owens to allow more time to make changes to the offers on the West case, which was seconded and voted in favor of Bermuda Commissioner Gib Sloan. When that motion was defeated, both voted against sending the matter to Council in May.
“Some of the standards suggested by citizens need to be considered and incorporated into the proposals and then into the covenants of the park itself,” Owens said in his remarks. “We have to do things right. It’s been going badly for 30 years,’ he said, meaning development in his district and along the area west of Hull Street.
Owens also nodded that he, like the county’s remaining fifth, gets his water from the reservoir. “This property is in the middle of that watershed,” he remarked. “I know there are wetland mitigations that can be put in place so you can build, but the impacts are impacts even if you use artificial wetlands elsewhere.”
The motion to approve the West case was moved by Midlothian District Commissioner Frank Petroski and seconded by Clover Hill Commissioner Gloria Freye. Commissioner Dale Lequan Hylton was the deciding vote on both the postponement and the final approval of the case, but he made no comment on his postponement vote and little discussion before voting in favor of the deal. progress of the case to the county board of supervisors.
Freye, a land-use attorney, said she doesn’t think many of the suggestions are necessarily enforceable by the county and fall outside the scope of zoning and the commission’s role; Petroski said he trusted the planning department and the professional expertise of county staff.
At the EDA meeting two days later, Authority member Steve Micas asked Condlin if he thought Owens’ postponement and “no” votes were indications that he might there was resistance from his district counterpart, Matoaca Supervisor Kevin Carroll.
“Potentially,” Condlin replied. “I know they work quite closely together, so I think that’s definitely something we’ll see if we can consolidate and take care of that.”
At this point, Economic Development Director Garrett Hart stepped in to tell authority members that Condlin would meet “to prepare the case with each of the board members” before the public hearing in May. At last Thursday’s EDA meeting, County Board Chairman Chris Winslow of Clover Hill District was present.
[Update: Winslow contacted the Observer after publication to note that his appearance at the EDA meeting last week “had nothing to do with Upper Mag.”]
However, the next steps are already underway on the east and west sides. Principal engineer Tim Davey of the Timmons Group, who has been contracted to engineer the site, told Authority members some of the ongoing work his group has been instructed to begin with staff.
On the industrial use side, he said variable-width buffers have already been surveyed and marked on the ground at the request of staff, along with sewer, water and road construction plans at the site. ‘East.
“You build the through roads, the general sewer and water master plan to serve the site,” Davey reminded Authority members, “and we will submit those plans here in the coming weeks, and then we will ultimately put these projects in place to bid to move these infrastructure construction projects forward.
The EDA’s role stops at the property line on the school campus, Davey said, noting that Chesterfield County Public Schools is responsible for all design work on that side. The latter was brought up by Shawn Smith, CCPS’s communications and community engagement manager, in a meeting the previous week.
At the Schools Liaison Committee’s monthly meeting with representatives from the School Board and Board of Supervisors, Smith updated members on the status of East Side College construction ahead of the planning commission’s public hearings.
“In agreement with the EDA, the CCPS will in fact fund the cost of the tertiary road,” he said. “Now that was a bit unplanned on top of the full sanitary lines that are needed.”
The building itself is already being designed and will look like Manchester Middle School, but “has been scaled up a bit” to accommodate 1,800 students, Smith said, adding that the hope is to tender the project in early autumn this year, to begin construction in the winter. of 2023 and opened in August 2025. Geotechnical work is already underway.
Smith also said that Moseley Architects has just signed a contract to prototype the new east side primary school. The high school campus, originally slated to be built with the other two schools, was moved to the I-2 side of the project after the community raised significant traffic concerns.
This decision was also briefly discussed at the EDA meeting after the committee voted to move the matter forward, as it further reduces the usable area for pad sites.
Hart told Authority members that the high school still occupied 85 acres on the west side of the property, “so we lost that transaction.”
“We are no longer able to use an additional 85 acres for industrial pad,” Hart said. “But high school isn’t scheduled for a while, so high school can move somewhere along Magnolia West – the proposal doesn’t require him to go there, just go somewhere in the ‘west.”
The question of how much land is actually buildable was another comment echoed by many intervenors during the public hearing.
Following a community meeting hosted by Owens the week before the commission’s vote, county staff said a “good estimate” would be around 500 acres due to the property’s environmental landscape and the many resource protection areas bisecting the topography – and the fact that there are no more credits available for wetlands.
Resident and retired civil engineer Wayne Carbiener told commissioners last week during his comments that due to the hilly and steep terrain, “the cost of construction will be extraordinary”.
“Even with $1 billion in road investment required for this project, service levels in the region will continue to fall short,” he said, alluding to the construction cost of the construction project of the expansion of Powhite Parkway. “This patch of swampy land stands in the way of profitable residential development,” Carbiener said, “No real estate developer is willing to spend the millions needed to extend utilities and roads through the swamp.” ¦