CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — A new townhome development near Otterdale Road in Chesterfield won a stamp of approval from the planning commission Tuesday night despite objections from nearby residents.
The development, known as Hampton Ridge, would bring 50 townhomes to a 9-acre plot bordering Hull Street Road.
Two residents of the nearby Hampton Park development turned out to oppose the proposal. Tom Woods was the first to speak and said opposition to the project was widespread.
“I would like to note that based on the residents I had conversations with in our community and our neighboring residents, the feedback I’m receiving is that most of them oppose this project,” he said.
He listed several common concerns over the project, including the lack of an entrance onto Hull Street Road, construction noise, the elimination of wetlands and potential impacts on already overcrowded schools.
“Cosby high school, which my daughter attends, is already adding trailers to it,” he said.
But only one other resident actually turned out to speak at the meeting, using her time to complain that the development would leave local wildlife nowhere to go.
In response, the developer said they had already held community meetings with local residents and incorporated their concerns into the plan of development whenever possible.
“We talked with community members at that time, and asked for a list of questions and issues,” he said. “I thought we had addressed them.”
He added that the Virginia Department of Transportation simply wouldn’t allow another entrance onto Hull Street Road, “There is no support for an entrance directly on Hull Street Road. There’s a variety of reasons, but they largely have to do with limiting the number of accesses on Hull Street Road.”
The issue of school crowding presented a trickier obstacle. The county’s own staff report indicated that all three local schools were at or above 100% capacity, although those worrying numbers didn’t necessarily paint a complete picture.
“The schools department is just projecting between 14 and 17 students for this development, which is a relatively very small number,” the developer said, adding that the homes wouldn’t be finished until 2024.
That would give the county time to finish several projects — already in the works — designed to ease the burden on the schools.
“This was put into place before the new Moseley Elementary school was opening up,” said Tommy Owens, chair of the planning commission. “So that’s gonna reduce this significantly.”
Another new middle school is scheduled to open in 2025, but no such ambitious construction is on the horizon for Cosby High School, which is expected to hit 149% capacity by 2026.
The school analysis ends by noting that “staff is evaluating alternative solutions and exploring strategies for addressing capacity, to include redistricting, program relocation or constructing a new facility.”
Still, the proposed townhomes will advance to the board of supervisors, who will ultimately decide whether the rezoning and permits are granted.