The Chesterfield County Planning Commission gave a unanimous approval recommendation last week on a proposed Carvana auto storage and inspection facility that would be... Wheels turning for Carvana facility, Torch, Farrish

The Chesterfield County Planning Commission gave a unanimous approval recommendation last week on a proposed Carvana auto storage and inspection facility that would be built off Woods Edge Road east of Interstate 95. The matter now goes before the county Board of Supervisors on Sept. 25.

The rezoning and conditional use permit application for the online car seller was delayed on July 16 after commissioners deadlocked on three 2-2 with Midlothian commissioner Peppy Jones absent.

Matoaca commissioner Craig Stariha had said that he wanted to wait for an approval recommendation from the county transportation staff, which recommended approval at last month’s Board of Supervisors meeting. The supervisors approved a truck restriction for Woods Edge Road that is waiting approval from the Virginia Department of Transportation, county planning director Jesse Smith said Friday.

“I’m optimistic VDOT will be supportive of it,” Stariha said.

He noted that Bermuda commissioner Gib Sloan had originally asked for an earthen berm to be constructed between I-95 and the development, but last week Sloan’s motion for approval was broader, instead referring to sound attenuation that includes a berm but also a wall and other forms.

Sloan’s motion included a request that the county transportation department provide an estimate on how much it will cost the county to upgrade the eastern side of Woods Edge Road to make it similar to improvements on the western side (Carvana), conduct a survey to identify safety improvements on all of Woods Edge Road, and for county planning staff to work with Carvana’s engineers to ensure that sound at Woods Edge Road does not exceed 65 decibels, if possible.

Also part of Sloan’s motion was a request that the supervisors include a homeowners association representative in Carvana’s site plan review process, and that – should a north-south thoroughfare come back into play – a homeowners association representative and the Bermuda District Planning commissioner be included in the planning process for the road.

On the latter issue, the Carvana project would halt the north-south thoroughfare while Carvana is using the property. Sloan noted that, with a Superstreet Project planned for Route 10, adding the thoroughfare and a development (such as Amazon) under the existing zoning on the 184 acres could have a tremendous impact on Woods Edge Road.

“It’s the lesser of two evils from a traffic standpoint,” Sloan said of Carvana.
Up to 9,000 cars could be stored and inspected on the 184-acre site, with some 400 to 500 employees, mostly mechanics, working in a 180,000-square-foot building.

Carvana hopes to open the facility by the end of 2020.

Torch Clean Energy
The Planning Commission also unanimously recommended approval of the Torch Clean Energy rezoning application.

The Boulder, Colo., company asked to rezone the 1,677-acre property – 1,540 acres of which are owned by the Shoosmith Family (Thomas Co.) – that was formerly known as a “megasite.”

Torch wants to build a solar farm and entice a data center to build on the property.

Around 300,000 solar panels would be built on the site.

Local attorney Brennen Keene said Torch plans to have a groundbreaking in 2020 with the solar farm up and running in 2021. It will take 9 to 12 months to build, he said. That would follow a study and approval by PJM so Torch could connect to the power grid, and a construction, environmental and historical resource permits from the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality.

A walking trail would tentatively be built by the data center for use by its employees and the general public. A public parking lot is also planned, Stariha said. He said that an east-west freeway would not be built through the property as long as Torch remains operational, which is estimated at 30 years or so.

Old Lane Crossing
In addition, the commissioners unanimously recommended approval for rezoning 40 acres at 9621 Hopkins Road between Route 288 and Old Lane.
The owner – Farrish Properties LLC – plans a 98-lot cluster-style single family development that would be known as “Old Lane Crossing.”

If approved by the Board of Supervisors next month, the zoning would change from agricultural and light industrial to residential with a conditional use planned development.

The average lot size for 34 of the lots would be 10,116 square feet, with the remaining 60 lots at an average of 6,278 square feet.

It is estimated that the project would generate 1,030 average daily trips.

A wetland on the east side of the property near CSX Railroad would remain.

Sidewalks would be added along Hopkins Road and Old Lane.