What does that mean for our local roads? Harrowgate and Route 10 are already extremely congested in the evenings, and they want to potentially add thousands more to it?” Pentecost said. “If all of these people are going to actually move to the area, where are the plans for the additional homes and schools? Our schools are overcrowded as it is. I really don’t think Chester can handle the amount of people [or] cars that would be a result of such a massive complex.”
All three BARD members plan on continuing their fight against the Matoaca Mega Site through social media and getting as many citizens involved in order to get the word out about the proposed plan.
“The best way to fight it is to get the word out, and we are definitely doing a good job at that. With Facebook, it is amazing how this type of message can spread like wildfire. Every day more and more people are being made aware of what’s going on right in their back yard,” Pentecost said. “The county has already pushed the original Planning Commission meeting to hear the rezoning case back from October 17 due to the public outcry, so we are doing something right.”
Though the BARD members have many fears about the Mega Site – loss of property, traffic issues, a decrease in property value – Ranson said what she fears the most is it being another vacant industrial park.
“I guess my biggest fear is that they are going to do all of this work and no one’s going to come, because the Richmond Times-Dispatch featured six of these sites around the state, and so I did some research, and of the six that they listed in their article, four of them are unoccupied,” Ranson said. “Even if they never get the Mega Site leased, they’re going to have opened all that land to more development, and so we’re gonna get hurt regardless because of the [East-West Freeway] being kind of a Trojan horse to extensive development.”
The Matoaca Mega Site controversy has led to the re-formation of a group known as Bermuda Advocates for Responsible Development (BARD), which was originally formed in opposition to the Branner Station development that would have led to 5,000 homes being built in Chester off Branders Bridge Road.
After the announcement of the mega site, Mike Uzel, the head organizer of BARD, started a Facebook page for the Matoaca Mega Site, and an official BARD website was recently created for citizens who are interested in fighting back against the Mega Site.
Julie Ranson, who built the BARD website, said she first heard about the mega site when Gov. Terry McAuliffe came to the county. Ranson attended the first info session, and despite arriving 15 minutes early, she said it was packed and a poor way for people to get information.
Ranson has lived in Chesterfield for 13 years and she said the Mega Site is going to affect many people (including herself), not just those who live in Bermuda District, and that they would lose property or see decline in property value.
Another BARD member who does not live in the general area of the site but said the entire county would be affected by the Mega Site is Freddy Boisseau. Like Ranson, Boisseau attended the first meeting and was not impressed by the format.
Ranson fears what the impact of the highway as does their fellow BARD member, Stephen Pentecost. Ranson said the Matoaca rezoning website uses vague words on their site to make the claim that property values will rise because people will want to live close to where they work, of which Pentecost is doubtful.
“There is no guarantee that the people who will work at this site would utilize the proposed east-west highway.