Iron Mill wants change to wetlands designation

Iron Mill, an under construction development just east of Chester proper, has applied for a tentative subdivision plan that could force Wilton Family Investments to work with about a quarter of the building space it now has.

According to county ordinance, a tentative subdivision plan does not require planning commission approval but goes directly to the Chesterfield Board of Supervisors. The public hearing was scheduled for February 22, but a community meeting had not been scheduled. Bermuda District Supervisor Dorothy Jaeckle deferred the case until this month. After the community meeting last week, the case will now go before the BOS on March 28.

“The case just sort of slipped by me,” Ms. Jaeckle said. “It’s like when I was talking with Kent Dodd about bike lanes on Route 10 and how we would have to repaint the stripes when it’s repaved. And I’m always afraid that the paving truck will go by and we will have missed it.”

About 40 area citizens attended the meeting whose primary focus was on an added number of lots (5) and a reduction in the size a number of the units from 1,700 to 1,500 square feet.
Wilton’s original tentative subdivision application was approved in 2007 with a Resource Protection Area (RPA) or wetlands regulation that required a less stringent RPA regulation than today. Only days after the zoning was approved the EPA expanded the RPA area. Iron Mill in its current state would be grandfathered in so as to use the old EPA regulations. Several sections, however, have been approved.

But when Wilton asked for some changes to lot size and square footage on some of its townhouse models, it pushed them into conforming to the new regulations, which would render their development useless. Chesterfield County’s environmental department helped Wilton come up with an alternative. The compromise had Wilton giving some other land over as RPA.

Wayne Virag, who lives in the Lakewood Farms subdivision, adjacent to Iron Mill to the west, speaking to Brian Mitchell who was representing Wilton Family Investments, said, “You have to do what is best for your project, we have to do what is best for us.”

Mitchell said he thought the new tentative subdivision plan was a “win-win” for the community.

“In 2007, we showed up to a meeting like this, and it was passed anyway,” said Judy Stoneman, another Lakewood Farms resident. “All I’m hearing is that it’s more profitable for the developers. I’m not sure that we should come in and pick up for you when you say it’s not working out for us.”

According to the revised tentative plan, the additional RPA, as a result of the request, will be approximately 29.8 acres of which 12.2 acres of forested and wetland RPA will remain in a natural condition. The area of the encroachment requested for this proposal may impact approximately 14.0 acres of RPA buffer. Of this, approximately 5 acres contains existing cleared areas with the remaining 9 acres existing as undisturbed.

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