Last month, the Economic Development Authority of Chesterfield announced its acquisition of 1,675 acres in south Chester (originally meant for residential use), which will be used to attract a large industrial manufacturing company that could bring 5,000 to 10,000 jobs and billions of dollars in investments to the county.
Local residents, however, have been bristling at the construction of the proposed development and making their voices heard online and at the first of four open houses held to discuss the mega site.
Robert Latino has been a resident of the Stoney Glen subdivision for 25 years and said the county is trying to hoodwink its citizens with the mega site and said he found out about in his neighborhood’s Facebook group.
“If the county was truly trying to serve the best interest of its residents, it would have taken a more concerted effort to get the input of those most affected by the project when it was initially proposed,” Latino said. “The overwhelming resistance they witnessed at the last town hall-type forum at Carver Middle shows the local residents deeply oppose the project and will continue to be very vocal about it … [by using] their voices, votes, and influence in the county.”
Like Latino, Laurie Johnson is a Stoney Glen resident who attended the meeting at Carver Middle School. Johnson referred to the meeting as a “science fair wander,” and she said there was conflicting information between Harrowgate Elementary School’s position on the school map and the one posted on the Village
News Facebook page.
Much contention has been made about the elementary school, as it will now be demolished and moved less than a mile away behind Carver Elementary School instead of a proposed renovation. The move is because it is in the path of a new road that will connect the mega site with Interstate 95 in Walthall.
Latino said the community went through something like this before when developers proposed a thruway from Harrowgate Road through Stoney Glen into the new Stoney Glen South subdivision, which would have provided a direct cut through from Harrowgate Road to Branders Bridge. The cut-through, which was along the main school bus routes, would have increased traffic in the neighborhood and brought down property values.
“The neighborhood HOA and concerned residents vehemently fought this action by the prominent developer. This was at a time when a ‘good ol’ boy’ network prevailed in the county, and there was a close relationship with this developer,” Latino said. “However, a couple of the incumbent supervisors at that time lost their seats and a window of opportunity arose … [and in] the end, the cut-through was denied and Stoney Glen residents were relieved to be able to maintain the peace and tranquility of their neighborhood.”
Johnson, who plans on attending the hearing for the zoning case, said that she is not against economic development in Chesterfield County but she is neither for or against a mega site because there has not been enough information for her to make an informed decision.
“I have concerns that have not been addressed. Why the jump from ‘Residential’ to ‘Heavy Industry?’ What are the occupancy rates of Chesterfield’s current ‘Industry’ areas? Since they already have the infrastructure in place, they should be the focus of new industry,” Johnson said. “People are concerned on how it will affect their way of life, and rightfully so. Residents do not want to be jerked around in a shell game. They do want – and deserve – accurate, straight-up information.
They want their opinions and positions to be documented. They want honest answers to their questions.”