Planning Commission recommends denial of Courthouse Road project
Although the developer of Courthouse Landing called the project “a phenomenal opportunity,” the Chesterfield County Planning Commission unanimously recommended Dec. 17 that the Board of Supervisors deny the project.
County Planning Department staff recommended the site plan be approved, but not the development’s transportation plan, which resulted in the commission’s denial recommendation.
“In 35 years, I’ve not been able to show something of that caliber to anybody,” Tampa, Fla.-based developer Jim Dunphy told the commission. He called it “a quality project the likes of which this county has not seen” and noted that the plan includes an investment of $261 million, including a traffic plan that would cost the developer $6.6 million.
The project would have five access points off Courthouse Road and one right-in turn lane from Route 10. It would include a hotel, storage units and 100,000 square feet of office space in Phase I; 100,000 square feet of office space in Phase II; 300 multi-family housing units (apartments) in Phase III; and 300 townhouse or condominium units in Phase IV.
The mixed-use development on 123.9 acres — which would include 59 acres of county land — could negatively affect airplane traffic because of water fowl attracted to drainage ponds that could be built on the property.
Commissioner Craig Stariha noted the Federal Aviation Administration recommended that ponds not be used near airports for safety reasons. Later in the meeting, he said there are 40 bird strikes a day by aircraft in the area. In addition to the waterfowl issue, Stariha noted concerns about airplane noise affecting tenants of the development’s residential units.
During public comment, Sherman Jackson said the developer was only guaranteeing that residential, a mini-storage facility and gas station/convenience store would be built.
In response, attorney Andrew Condlin said the developer would be building a minimum of 100,000 square feet of office space. At buildout, the project would generate $3.6 million a year in real estate taxes, he said.
Condlin added that the $6.6 million in traffic improvements would be complete before any buildings are constructed. In spite of that investment, he said, “The development cannot solve all of the region’s traffic problems at that intersection (Routes 10, 288 and Courthouse Road).”
Commissioner Gloria Freye suggested the developer agree to a deferral, but Condlin noted that the developer already accepted one deferral (on Oct. 15) and hosted another community meeting during that time. “I don’t see anything changing regarding plans and proffers,” he said.
Dunphy said the development team could handle more details during the site plan approval process. In regard to a corridor traffic study that some said they want, Dunphy said, “If you’re asking me to pay for that, the answer’s no.”
“I agree that a deferral is not going to substantially change this case,” said Commission Chairman Michael Jackson, whose district (Dale) includes the area in question. He mentioned concerns about the zoning application, traffic and how the residential units could affect a planned expansion of the county airport.
He noted that the project proposes medical and dental offices and that the area is a “medical desert.” However, he wondered how school buses from nearby schools — Gates Elementary, Bird High and the Chesterfield Technical Center — would traverse a proposed roundabout, or traffic circle.
Commissioner Gib Sloan said he was disappointed the developer didn’t agree to a deferral. Earlier in the meeting, Sloan asked Condlin if the developer would agree to phase in residential buildings with commercial buildings. Condlin said no.
“I cannot agree with putting thousands of people in a flight path,” Commissioner Peppy Jones said.
Even though the case was given a denial recommendation, it is scheduled to be considered by the Board of Supervisors Jan. 22.