County set to buy Southside Speedway; Jeff Davis Hwy to be renamed

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On June 23, the Chesterfield County supervisors authorized the county’s purchase of the 47-acre Southside Speedway.

The motion was for authorization to spend up to $5 million for the three parcels, but Economic Development Director Garrett Hart said the actual price is $4.5 million plus $270,000 for a 6 percent real estate commission. 

The purchase will enable the county to decide what goes on the properties near 12800 Genito Road, Hart said. 

The county will begin putting together a plan of development, he said, noting that the public will be part of the process.

“There is nothing in this purchase that prevents us from preserving it,” Supervisor Leslie Haley (R-Midlothian) said. 

Supervisor Jim Ingle (R-Bermuda) said the property could be used as a concert venue, for example. 

Ingle asked County Attorney Jeffrey Mincks several questions, including one about a lack of public comment on the pending purchase. “This item doesn’t require that at this point,” Mincks said. 

Ingle said the property’s assessed value is $1.7 million, but noted that “an old contract” for the site was for $6.3 million for 42 acres. 

Hart said the contract the county has for the land closes at the end of June with a $100,000 deposit at stake. 

“This gives the community the opportunity to continue to have input,” Supervisor Kevin Carroll (R-Matoaca) said. “If we don’t do this, then all those people who are standing out there with those signs could be really disappointed.”

Carroll added that properties at Meadowville Landing “are flying off the shelf and being used for warehouses.”

“This is prudent for us….to not [let]this slip away,” he said. 

EDA member reappointed

The supervisors reappointed real estate and land use attorney John V. Cogbill III to the county’s Economic Development Authority board. His new term will run from July 1, 2021 to June 30, 2025. There were eight applicants for the position, but the supervisors chose to reappoint Cogbill, who is the EDA’s current chairman. 

New highway name

As part of the consent agenda, the supervisors approved a resolution to request that the Virginia Transportation Board rename 13 miles of Jefferson Davis Highway in the county as “Route 1.” 

A document prepared by county Transportation Director Brent Epps noted that the General Assembly approved a bill earlier this year to rename all of Jefferson Davis Highway in the state “Emancipation Highway” on Jan, 1, 2022 unless local entities rename it something else prior to that date. The bill was signed into law by Gov. Ralph Northam (D). 

Hughes criticized 

During public comment, Doris Kennett criticized the county’s Commissioner of Revenue Jenefer Hughes for requiring that all of her department’s employees be vaccinated for COVID-19 or face losing their jobs. 

“My concern is that the commissioner of revenue does not have an issue with medical apartheid,” Kennett said. 

According to several local TV stations, Hughes requires staff to get vaccinated or apply for an exemption based on medical, religious or Americans with Disabilities Act reasons. As of June 24, 84 percent of her department’s staff had been vaccinated or approved for an exemption, according to reports. 

Kennett also cited the Great Barrington Declaration, which 45 doctors, including 10 from the U.S., signed on Oct. 4, 2020. 

The document states, in part, “As infectious disease epidemiologists and public health scientists, we have grave concerns about the damaging physical and mental health impacts of the prevailing COVID-19 policies, and recommend an approach we call Focused Protection.” 

Riverside Jail update

During his remarks at the beginning of the meeting, County Administrator Joe Casey presented an update on the situation with jail inmates. 

Casey said that the state has taken 68 state-responsible inmates after the county wrote Northam in mid-May requesting that the state take all of the state-responsible inmates (those sentenced to the Department of Corrections) from Chesterfield or Riverside jails. On June 23, there were still 125 state-responsible inmates in Chesterfield or Riverside. 

Also Casey noted that the number of Chesterfield inmates at Riverside Regional Jail was down from 560 on May 1 to 477 on June 23.

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