Commission recommends denial of Village Green rezoning

For the third time in two years, the Planning Commission has recommended denial of a rezoning request that would allow up to 65 apartments to be added to Chester Village Green.

Emerson-Roper Companies LLC has asked that 5 acres on the north line of Chester Village Drive be rezoned with conditional use to permit apartments and conditional use planned development to permit exceptions to ordinance requirements. The development would be an extension of the Chester Village Green Apartments.

The commission has twice recommended denial of the request, and the Board of Supervisors has twice remanded the case to the commission. According to its report on the issue, the planning staff continues to recommend denial of the request because the “proffered conditions do not mitigate project impacts on capital facilities,” such as schools, roads and parks.

Carrie Coyner, an attorney representing the applicants, said the case was initiated in 2008. At that time, the applicants offered the maximum cash proffer – nearly $15,000 – on each of the proposed apartments with more than one bedroom, she said. For each one-bedroom unit, the applicant deleted the school portion of the proffer, bringing the proffered amount to about $10,000.

Since then, the maximum proffer amount has gone up, she said. The applicants didn’t increase the proffer because they were told the county would consider changing the cash proffer policy, Coyner said.

“So, in the time that has lapsed, it has really been to see if there would be changes in the cash proffer policy,” she said.

The actual impact of the 65 apartments will be much less than what is described in the staff report, she said. In the 300 existing apartments, there are fewer than 30 children, she said, so it’s unlikely that there would be 32 children in the 65 new apartments, as the staff report expects.

“No credit is given for the road improvements that were put in place there,” Coyner added.

Chesterfield needs “more of a multi-family residential component,” she said. The current proffer and utility hook-up policies make it impossible to get the mix of residential properties that the county needs, Coyner said.

“The policy is outdated,” she said. “The numbers do not work.”

George Emerson, of Emerson-Roper Companies LLC, said he’d been in business for 33 years, and he’d seen the commission vote with and against its policies.

“Think about what makes sense and what’s logical,” he said.

Matoaca Commissioner F. Wayne Bass said he voted against the request twice before, but, “sitting here and listening to Mr. Emerson, he made sense.”

Clover Hill Commissioner Russell J. Gulley said he thought the proposed use was “excellent.” Although the commission deviates from policy from time to time, it was admonished by the previous Board of Supervisors for doing so, he said.

“There has been no indication from the board that they want us to tinker with cash proffer policy,” he said.

Midlothian Commissioner Reuben J. Waller, Jr. said there was a larger issue than the proposal in question. If the village concept is important, he asked, does the county need to have a policy to promote growth in those five designated villages? Now that the supervisors have some breathing room, it seems to be an ideal time to address the issue, he said.

“This case is an example of why we can’t kick the cash proffer issue down the road,” Waller said. The supervisors need to step up to the plate and deal with it, he said.

The commission voted 3-1, with Chairman William “Bill” Brown absent and Bass in dissent, to recommend denial of the request.

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