Todd Rogers

Hometown Realty will be moving into Oaklawn, located off Studley Road in Mechanicsville. Todd Rogers, co-owner, addressed the Hanover County Board of Supervisors about his company’s plans.

HANOVER -- An iconic residence in Hanover County is getting a second life thanks to the approval of rezoning and Conditional Use Permit applications approved last month by the Hanover County Board of Supervisors.

Hometown Realty applied for the adjustments to transform a residence commonly known as Oaklawn, the Patrick Family homestead located off Shady Grove Road, to the local company’s Hanover headquarters.

The applicants had hoped the approval also would permit the company to operate an event venue on the 13-acre site, but residents from neighboring Garrison Manor expressed concerns regarding the event venue portion of the application.

The applicants planned to offer the property for special events like weddings and community events at night and on weekends, hosting up to 250 guests with live music in the rear portion of the property

Todd Rogers, co-owner of Hometown Realty, said he heard the collective objections from those neighbors and asked board members to approve only the portions of the application that would permit the operation of an office for the second largest realty company in Central Virginia.

“The thought we had was taking the existing structure and modifying it slightly so we could use it as an office space,” Rogers told the board during a public hearing last month. “We’ve had several conversations with neighbors and it seems like we’re butting our heads a lot with the venue space.”

Residents of the neighboring community expressed a number of concerns at a November community meeting, citing excessive noise, operating hours, light spillage, use of alcohol, and number of events.

Following that meeting, the applicant offered proffers addressing those issues that included limiting the number of events and hours operation and banning amplified music after 8 p.m. during the week.

Even with the concessions, adjoining neighbors said the event venue would have a drastic effect on the lives of their families with many of their bedrooms adjacent to the Oaklawn rear yard.

Emily Davis, a mother of two and Garrison Manor resident, said she had no issue with the office use.

“Our issue with the CUP is the event space,” Davis said. “The events that are being applied for are at the core of this. We are just concerned parents who are trying to protect the well-being of our children.”

She expressed her appreciation for Hometown’s desire to preserve the property, but added, “There are other options for this property that would not be so intrusive for our family and children.”

The Planning Commission recommended approval of the CUP and rezoning requests regarding office use, but denied the venue application.

“Moving forward, we’d certainly like to get the office space going,” Rogers said after several neighbors expressed concerns regarding the venue space. “We’re thinking about the venue space now, because we’re trying to be a good neighbor and good business partner.”

Rogers said Hometown is willing to take another look at the venue proposal and offer more conditions followed by a second review by the Planning Commission “if we decide to pursue that.”

“Our intent is to try and do something unique with this property — not to tear down the house and build who knows how many houses there,” Rogers said. “We’ve been a community partner for 31 years and Hanover County is our home base and we want to make that our headquarters.”

While he said he’s committed to the possibility of making further adjustments in order to make the event venue more palatable, Rogers conceded there seem to be challenges that can’t be resolved.

“With what I’ve heard in the community meetings and what I’ve heard from Garrison Manor residents, I think -- no matter where we put it -- it’s not going to be a satisfactory situation,” Rogers said. “We’ve thought about it a lot over the past 60 days and I just don’t know -- other than not doing it at all -- what’s going to make a satisfactory neighbor there as far as the venue space goes.”

When asked by Ashland District supervisor Faye Prichard if a deferral would accommodate further negotiations regarding the space being used for weddings and social gatherings, Rogers said he would be frank in his answer.

“At this point, if we don’t get the venue space (approved) with very reasonable conditions, then we’re just going to let it go,” Rogers said.

The board approved both applications regarding the rezoning and office use, but re-referred the venue space portion of the request.

Chickahominy District supervisor Angela Kelly-Wiecek encouraged continued negotiations with Garrison Manor residents regarding the event venue, and suggested the panel defer action on the matter until the Planning Commission can consider a revamped plan.

County attorney Dennis Walter said the board could approve the rezoning request and approve the office use portion of the CUP, while re-referring the event venue request back to the Planning Commission.

The board approved that amended motion.

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