A colossal proposed development in Hanover County could lead to the county school division building at least one new school.
School Board members were briefed Tuesday night on the educational impact of a planned 323-acre development that’s expected to cost more than $750 million and take up to 20 years to complete. The development, called The Lake District at Glen Allen, would lead to an estimated influx of 1,512 students — a more than 8 percent increase to the school district’s current enrollment.
Half of the estimated impact would be felt at the elementary level, where the addition of 756 students to an Ashland elementary school sparked concern from School Board members that the school system would need to build a new elementary school.
“At a minimum it appears that additional elementary capacity would be required to address the impact of this development,” said Terry Stone, the division’s assistant superintendent of business and operations, in her presentation to the board.
The project, by Boyd Homes of Virginia Beach, would require rezoning a large swath of land near the Hanover-Henrico county line off U.S. Route 33 and include 2,820 apartments, town houses and single-family homes and 313,140 square feet of office and retail space, according to a description of the proposal given to the School Board.
With the new housing, school district officials are expecting a stream of more than 1,500 students to enter the area’s highest-achieving division. The number of students is calculated through a formula — 0.536 students for every housing unit — based on 2010 census data.
The development, in the county’s South Anna district, is located in the Elmont Elementary, Liberty Middle and Patrick Henry High schools attendance zones. Based on the division’s calculations, Elmont Elementary in Ashland would nearly triple in size — going from its current 411-student enrollment to 1,167 students with half of the students housed in the development being in elementary school.
The school has the capacity to hold 467 students.
Liberty Middle School would reach 131 percent of its capacity in 2027, while Patrick Henry High School would be over capacity in the same time frame but by only 19 students, the division estimated.
While the district is estimating the surge in enrollment over the next 5 to 10 years, plans for the development indicate that the entirety of the community wouldn’t be finished for 15 to 20 years.
“These impacts certainly aren’t going to be felt immediately,” said David P. Maloney, the county’s planning director.
But School Board members still worry that the development could lead to overcrowding, which the district defines as 120 percent of capacity for three straight years.
“Either we do a redistricting or we build a new school,” said School Board member John F. Axselle III of the Beaverdam District.
Because the development is so close to the Henrico line, the board has limited rezoning options, the administration said.
“In terms of proximity to other schools, there are not as many choices,” Stone said.
Stone added that she would report the potential impact to the county planning department.
“This needs to be on our radar and as we look at projections going forward, should this be approved, then we need to start planning for this very significant development,” said Stone.
In order for the development to come to fruition, the 323 acres must be rezoned to a mixed-use designation, which would require approval by the Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors’ consent. The School Board has no say in if the development is approved.
A public hearing on the development is scheduled during the Hanover County Planning Commission meeting at 6:30 p.m. Thursday night in the board room of the Hanover County Administration Building, 7516 County Complex Road.