“We don’t want to be another Midlothian Turnpike,” said Jane Winder of the Rock Springs Farms. This is often the cry of neighborhoods that access or are close to Jefferson Davis Highway. A new development at Iron Bridge and Jessup roads is not different. When the original request for rezoning was submitted to Chesterfield’s planning department, the plan featured a gas station/convenience store, a fast food restaurant, shopping strip and a hotel.
While these were suggestions, they were not completely ruled out. Although Balzer and Associates, the architectural group who planned the site for owner, Darrel Gilliam, it is not apparent that Mr. Gilliam will develop his property or sell it to another developer. The case goes to Chesterfield’s planning commission on January 21 after being deferred (continued) twice.
Two separate meetings were held by neighborhoods close to the proposed development. One meeting held at Southside Baptist Church was attended by as many as 200 people. The temperament of the crowd was not positive about the proposed use of the Gilliam property.
Since then, a meeting including representatives from local neighborhoods, Balzer and Associates, county planning member Darla Orr and Dale District Supervisor Jim Holland, the proffers have been slightly softened. The businesses that would be located on the property can be open only 18 hours a day and the proposed hotel has been dropped and the fuel station would have less pumps.
Phil Lohr of the Chester area has been involved with the Jessup Road issue from the start. He said residents have come a long way from just saying no development to considering the 18 hours a day proffer – much like the Walmart, on Iron Bridge Road agreement – and leaving out the hotel.
Kermit Spruill, president of the Braxton Homeowners Association said, “Many people in Braxton said that a nice restaurant would be appropriate for that corner.”
Mr. Spruill, added that no one wants a fast food restaurant either.
There are a number of issues that concern area residents, traffic, crime, ambiance and property values.
“This is the entrance to Chesterfield County and they want to put a gas station and Wendy’s as our entrance? said Ms. Winder. “What does this do to our property values? It can’t help.”
Winder is also concern about traffic. “There’s traffic light at the fire house that is only activated when the fire trucks have to cross the road. Why that signal can’t be activated I don’t know, but it would help with the traffic.”
Preston Cuneo, who grew up on Iron Bridge Road, said the transportation Capital Improvement Program did not have this listed just two years ago and now it is at the top of the list.”
Lohr wondered the same thing, why the developer did not take into account the traffic counts he received from the transportation department.
The transportation staff report indicates an increase in traffic at the Iron Bridge and Jessup roads intersection “[The] proposed, development of the property could generate approximately 11,000 average daily trips (ADT). This traffic will be distributed to Route 10 and Jessup Road, which had 2012 traffic counts of 37,689 and 5,947 vehicles per day, respectively.
Crime being another issue, Cuneo said, kids and grownups walk up and down Iron Bridge Road regularly. He said he does not know where they come from, but it is dangerous and alluded to a convenience store and gas station becoming a hang out.
Both Lohr and Cuneo suspected that the county is looking for commercial development where ever they can get it.