At least 150 people attended a community meeting, last week, at Southside Baptist Church, to discuss a proposal to rezone a number of parcels at the southwest corner of Iron Bridge and Jessup roads. Once the appropriate zoning is acquired, a developer is expected to build a gas/convenience store, a fast food restaurant, a bank and possibly a strip center and hotel.
The development is proposed to service the Collegiate School Aquatics Center and soccer fields on Ridgeway Parkway.
Many of those who attended were interested in venting their frustration with traffic issues that they said are already a problem.
Judy Cuneo, spokesperson for the Braxton [subdivision] said, “All our concerns about our community is our interest in Iron Bridge Road not becoming another Midlothian Turnpike. Traffic has increased dramatically since the Wawa was built,” She continued. “A 24-hour store brings a lot of traffic and we haven’t considered pedestrian traffic.”
Dale District Supervisor, Jim Holland, as well as Planning Commissioner Bill Brown, also attended the meeting and brought along with them several planning staff members to answer questions.
“I want to thank you for paying your taxes,” Holland said. “I don’t think many of us thank you for doing that. I would also like to thank all the veterans in the group. How proud we are of you for what you’ve done for our country.”
Upon completing his speech, Holland conceded the floor to Planning Commissioner Bill Brown. Brown explained that industrial and commercial business provides more in taxes than do home owners. Undaunted, Braxton and other area residents continued to ask questions during the third community meeting conducted either by the group or the county planning department.
Brown answered each question with a reason why Chesterfield or VDOT would allow what Braxton homeowners considered an extreme amount of traffic. He said the developer would be required to add an extra lane and turning lanes. That’s the way the county does it; each developer adds a lane and eventually you end up with six lanes that can handle the traffic, he said.
“A 24-hour location will draw traffic from other places; we’re looking at 7,600 trips a day,” said Preston Cuneo who lives east of the proposed project across Iron Bridge Road. “How many 24-hour gas stations do we need around here,” referring to WaWa, a former East Coast and two 24-hour gas/convenience stores at Irongate Shopping Center.
“I have the feeling this project has already been approved,” added another resident.
Commission Brown explained that the process was not over yet and that the group had two more opportunities to address the case. He said they would need three out of five votes at the planning commission level and three out of five votes at the Board of Supervisors to deny the case.
“This group came here to discuss the ramifications of this development and you seem to argue against every comment, Mr. Brown,” said Rev. Dennis Tucker, Pastor of Southside Baptist. “This is their meeting.”
Brown didn’t cede the floor and continued to field questions and statements from the assembly. “I don’t want to sound like I’m not democratic here,” he said. “But people who own property have property rights, too.”
“I could see small shops along here; doctor’s offices, dentists, beauty parlors,” Phil Lohr, an area resident said. “This is the entrance to Chesterfield from Chippenham Parkway and this development is not first class. This is not what the Comprehensive Plan says it wants here.” He also compiled a list of crimes perpetrated at WaWa, the closest 24-hour gas/convenience store to the development. His research indicated a total of 76 various crimes were committed in the last two years at the WaWa at 6001 Iron Bridge Rd.