With mixed-use-style developments becoming more common, Hanover’s recently updated comprehensive plan now dictates where these combined residential and commercial communities can be located in the county.
“It allows these developments to fit better in the fabric of the community,” said David Maloney, planning director.
In the recent update, the county limited “mixed-use” to the area of Hanover equipped with infrastructure, also known as the “Suburban Service Area.” The ordinance for this land designation also requires at least 35 percent of developments, zoned as “mixed-use,” be developed for commercial or industrial use. It also limits maximum density.
Maloney said the new changes to the Comp Plan provide guidance and direction for developers so that they know where and what can be built.
Current “mixed-use” communities in Hanover include Rutland, Bell Creek and King’s Charter where there’s a combination of commercial, industrial, residential and business developments in one area.
“It’s not a trend we’ve seen a whole lot over the years, but the ones we’ve seen seem to be popular projects,” Maloney said, adding that developments like Rutland have to be looked at closely before they are approved.
He also pointed out that although the communities are popular with some residents, others still have concern with how these developments are impacting Hanover.
Patti Bland, chair of the Coalition for Hanover’s Future, said the issue is not exactly with the need for growth but with the integration of these developments into the county.
“The new places need to blend with the existing [houses and neighborhoods] as much as possible,” Bland said.
She added that communities should utilize the open green spaces that already exist and add bike paths and walkways to connect the neighborhoods so they are not isolated from the rest of Hanover.
“What is there now has not really respected what was there before,” Bland said.
In recent weeks, HHHunt won an award from the Urban Land Institute’s Richmond Chapter for their Rutland development for the best mixed-use community in the Richmond Region. HHHunt specializes in these types of neighborhoods.
Maloney said although the county did not receive the award, staff felt “a sense of pride” because the county helped with Rutland. County staff helped with some of the design and also suggested the community have pedestrian accessibility.
“It was a team effort,” he said.
George Moore, vice president of development at HHHunt communities, said the incorporation of office, retail and residential amongst other developments “create a full balanced community.”
He also emphasized how the community blends residential and commercial uses with local history. The Rutland House was the home of the Timberlake family, built between 1790 and 1820, and now serves as the development’s community center.
Moore said he thinks the county changed the “mixed-use” land designation for a reason.
“I think they did that to promote these types of communities,” Moore said.
He said that before the changes, developers like his company had to get several different zonings to construct a “mixed-use” community.
“It would be like a patchwork for a quilt,” Moore said.
He added that communities like Rutland help “take the burden off the infrastructure.”
Maloney also said this was one of the benefits for counties like Hanover that have mixed-use communities.
Another benefit, Maloney said, is that the retail component of mixed-use communities adds to the tax base and bring a variety of convenient opportunities to their residents.
“It just gives people a different option,” he said.