A large multi-use development along Bell Creek Road is becoming a reality.
The board of supervisors approved a plan last week to allow 48 single-family homes and 73 townhomes on roughly 25.45 acres near the intersection of Bell Creek and Pole Green roads.
Developer Hanover Land Investors LLC., owned by Henry Shields, also hopes to build a commercial component, but has not solidified what exactly that might be.
Shields wanted to rezone the property from agriculture to “RM and B-1,” zoning that allows multi-family and business developments. Originally the developer requested a change to B-3, but changed it because of staff recommendations and citizen concerns.
About 44 residents attended the June 25 public hearing. The development has received opposition from citizens even before the plans hit the planning commission.
Two people spoke against the project.
Mark Beasley, a resident in nearby subdivision Hanover Grove, expressed concerns about four lots that would back up against his home and others in his neighborhood. Beasley is worried runoff will flow into a “dry basin” between the back of his home and the proposed developments, causing flooding into Hanover Grove homes’ yards.
Beasley is worried the lots will be too close to the spillway of the dam.
“Water will flow through there,” he said.
Mechanicsville District Supervisor W. Canova Peterson said he went out to the area Beasley spoke about and talked with residents. Peterson said that residents told him when there’s a major storm the properties by it do get some overflow.
A vegetation buffer and fence will go in at the end of the proposed development that backs up to Hanover Grove.
Scott Courtney, an engineer with Resource International, said that as per stormwater regulations, the development cannot increase adjacent properties’ stormwater management. Courtney added that if a 100-year storm like Hurricane Isabel were to come through, the water flow would not increase in elevation because of it.
Cold Harbor resident Rick Ryan, who has previously expressed opposition to the project, said he is still unnerved about there not being secured commercial developments in that part of the proposed plan.
“If you go ahead and approve it without making any conditions on [the commercial aspect] at all, your bargaining power is gone,” Ryan said.
Attorney Andrew Condlin, representing Shields, estimates that the property and surrounding areas could handle the traffic of a possible pharmacy and retail center.
Condlin told supervisors and the 44-person audience that there is a pharmacy interested in developing that area.
“They can’t commit at this point,” Condlin said.
The potential commercial developer is waiting for the property to be rezoned before any agreements are made, he added.
In response to a number of citizen concerns related to environmental impacts, traffic and density, the developer has made numerous improvements.
The developer and attorney held two community meetings, where many residents aired their concerns. Condlin stressed at the public hearing that the proposed plans are consistent with Hanover’s Comprehensive Plan for residential density.
“The county has to grow. Where is it going to grow? Not in the rural areas,” Condlin said.
Peterson commended the developer for listening to all stakeholders’ concerns and working with citizens, county staff and officials to improve the proposal.
“Even though I’m like everybody else, I sort of like to keep Mechanicsville the way it is, I also have to realize everybody has property rights [and the developer] has complied with ordinances and with everything on the Comp Plan,” Peterson said. “ I don’t feel there’s anything I can do but recommend [it] for approval.”