A developer’s proposal to put a hotel, retail space and hundreds of housing units and offices across from Chesterfield County’s courthouse complex has received the thumbs-down from the county’s Planning Commission.
On Tuesday night, the panel unanimously voted to recommend that the Chesterfield Board of Supervisors reject Dunphy Development’s proposal for the mixed-use development at a 124-acre site just east of Courthouse Road’s intersection with state Route 10.
Planning Commission members cited concerns about the project’s traffic impact, as well as its proximity to flights coming into the nearby Chesterfield County Airport.
The commission’s action does not end the project because its votes are meant to advise the Board of Supervisors on whether a project should be built.
The proposal calls for building up to 600 housing units, split between 300 rental apartments and 300 units of town houses and condominiums that would be for sale, and up to 265,000 square feet of retail space. The plan also calls for building up to 150,000 square feet of medical or dental office space in an area that the developer has called a “medical desert.”
Andy Condlin, an attorney for the developer, told commissioners that the project’s annual real estate tax revenue alone would provide $3.6 million to the county. He said the developer would widen Courthouse Road in front of the property and put in a traffic signal and roundabout on the road.
All the Courthouse Road improvements would be completed prior to the project receiving any occupancy certificates, Condlin said.
“We are handling, in fact, our impacts of our development from a traffic standpoint,” he told commissioners.
But county transportation staff declined to support the proposal, saying that it hadn’t adequately addressed the issue of congestion. The project site is bounded by state Route 288 to the north, Courthouse Road to the south, Iron Bridge Road to the west and O.B. Gates Elementary School to the east.
Planning Commission Chairman Michael Jackson, who made the motion to recommend denying the project, said the lack of an endorsement from county transportation officials weighed on him.
“The area is at the crossroads of a number of major thoroughfares in the county — Iron Bridge Road, Courthouse Road and Route 288,” he said.
Jackson said he was also concerned about the site’s proximity to the county airport. Planning Commission member Peppy Jones also raised that issue.
The developer has said that the highest building on the site would be below the flight path of any airplanes.
“I cannot vote and feel good about putting thousands of people in a flight path,” Jones said. “I just can’t.”
At a public hearing before the commission’s vote, residents who were concerned about the plan urged that the proposal be scaled back and expressed worries about congestion.
“The impact of this particular project could be good for the county. It could be good for local residents,” said Linwood Hines, a resident of the Deerfield Estates neighborhood. “However, the way it’s designed now, and the way the road situation is, I personally do not feel that it would be good for us. I think that we’re going to have a lot more impact than you understand.”
Some supporters of the plan said at the hearing that they favored having the 120-room hotel and additional restaurants.
“It’s absolutely something this area needs,” Chesterfield resident Randy Powers told commissioners. “This piece of property has been sitting vacant, basically vacant, not used for many, many years.”
Condlin, the attorney for the developer, said after the hearing that the developer would take plans to the Board of Supervisors for its consideration. The board’s members have the final say on whether projects should be built.
“We’re still going to pursue it,” Condlin said.