Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Roseland's Future Before the Board April 23rd

Most of us who have been following the stages of development for Chesterfield County over the last five years or so will recall the countless times the Roseland project has been brought up in converstaion at work, school meetings or cocktail parties over the holidays since the first proposal was brought forth to develop the mixed-use community that will be located between the Hallsley development on its western side and Centerpoint Office Park to its east and Charter Colony, Grove and Walton Park to its northeast along Woolridge Road.

The proposed project offers many of the things that will satisfy even the most die hard smart growther. The developers are proposing in lieu of the traditional cash proffer of 15,600 per home which is stated to be around 5,140 homes developed over the next 15 to 20 years, to provide for the design and constrcution of an elementary school, extend Woolridge Road and Powhite Parkway, provide the construction of a public library, and emergency fire and rescue station and also create a forty acre green space for park-like setting within the development. The developers have also reconfigured some the original height proposals for buildings at the bequest of the Charter Colony residents who strongly opposed any building over eight stories which was a major concern should hotels or office buildings be constructed within the mixed use development. In all the developers are proposing to accomodate the concerns of the County with regard to schools given the estimate is just under 3,000 students will eventually reside in the development and provide solutions to the roads and infrastructure concerns given its proposal would offset over 100 to 125 million dollars in estimated costs that the county would have to provide to accomodate such a development should the current cash proffer system be employed.

There can be no doubt that Roseland is a forward thinking proposal that addresses most if not all of the concerns and criticisms that have been employed by those seeking greater control of growth both within the local government and the greater community at large. That said, however, I wonder just how some members of the Board are going to rationalize this proposal in relation to some of the campaign rhetoric offered up during the last election cycle regarding developers. Citizens got a full dose in some of the hotly contested districts last Fall regarding such issues as roads, infrastructre, and large scale developments coupled with the impacts on the Upper Swift Creek plan. Developers have attempted to remedy such concerns by providing substantial green space and buffer areas that should help offset some of the issues relative to the environment that were raised in 2007 but eventhough the developers appear to have made every effort to make the proposal fit the County planning guidelines one cannot help but wonder if the development might just suffer from ill timing.

I have no doubt that such a proposal would have been approved by the last Board, but a majority of the current Board sitting for the first time after winning victory last Fall could suffer political fallout should the proposal gain endorsement. It is simply the minefield of politics to be sure, but the timing of such a proposal comes when Midlothian has already experienced explosive growth resulting in continued impacts that to many have remained unaddressed. Roseland just outside the Village of Midlothian and the proposed Cloverleaf Project in addition to Watkins seem to be creating the potential for increased commercial and residential sprawl and not less. The biggest concern for Roseland is not the proposal which appears appropriate but the impacts such a development would have on the greater community of the district and though many feel that Roseland has not been confronted with very much opposition it is important for the Board to consider exactly what such a proposal would not only do to the quality of life to residents of Roseland but to the remainder of the district of Midlothian and the county as well.

In my view the Roseland proposal demonstrates what may be the best developer proposal brought forth since Brandermill given all the particulars and the tide of development appears to be something that even this Board will have a hard time to curb given the County's needs but with Roseland , Magnolia and Watkins on the horizon Midlothian is certainly becoming a very different place than it was just a short few years ago. The Board seems content with Midlothian and Matoaca sharing the burdens of growth, be it residential or commercial, given the fact most of the County's growth is being undertaken in these two areas respectively the impacts upon the charm of the Village of Midothian will be substantial.

While a Roseland endorsement seems likely much attention will be placed upon Supervisors Ms. Durfee and Mr. Gecker and the votes cast regarding the Roseland proposal. Both elected last Fall to the Board for the first time and campaigned heavily with campaign literature referencing Republican irresponsibility and lack of oversight with regard to growth now sit faced with a very difficult vote to cast. I wonder will their be enough political will for them to oppose just a measure that will impact the community for some twenty years or will the likelihood of being afforded the opportunity to get schools constructed upfront early in the developmental stage as well as road improvements and widenings completed before the project comes on line full swing be too much to vote down.

There is no doubt this one for some may be a complete no-brainer but I have come to understand recently that both Ms. Durfee and Mr. Gecker are certainly very complex politicians advocating what appears to be a new direction for comprehensive planning altogether. That said, many residents of Midothian and Matoaca voted for change in 2007 specifically because of the view that something had to be done to slow down the growth in these areas and give the School Board time to implement a new plan to alleviate our schools overcrowding issues that have been a direct result of such development proposals in the past.

In the final analysis the best case for Roseland is a 4-1 endorsement while the worst case for Roseland may be a 3-2 endorsement of the proposal. Though I know that the impacts of such a proposal will be further declining/frustrating quality of life issues for the greater community, the proposal seems poised to be endorsed by the Board of Supervisors.


John said...

I think you will find that those promises put forth by candidates in the campaigns for the BOS last November were simply ploys set forth to provide citizens with what the challengers though constituents wanted to hear.
Upon arrival in office these new Supervisors have surely mended fences with the developer community given the fact that next to tax payer revenues the developers represent the bread and butter of generated revenues taken in to provide services for the County at large.
With the amount of potential rezomings and new zonings that will come before this Board before the next election cycle I think you will find some differences but not meaningful ones with regard to previous Boards. Midlothian and Mataoca and soon Clover Hill will become a large developer zone for both commercial and community. The County will be on track in these districts by 2020 of having some 80-100K residents per Supervisor if you take into account the build out that likely will continue to follow.
While I am sure that Daniel Gecker (I) from Midlothian will say that Donald Sowder (R) would have approved Roseland I think the difference is Gecker had led consituents to believe at least at the town hall meeting last October at Midlothian High that such developments would not get such easy approval. Should Gecker support the project, regardless of the merits, he will be laying the foundation for any challenger in the next cycle as in the short term traffic in Midlothian will get worse, pre-schools are already all wait listed and the middle and high schools are approaching maximum if not overcrowded levels as it stands now and no one elementary school will prevent that unless you believe that no home buyers with teenage children will be locating in Roseland.

Anonymous said...

These new developments are being zoned at a time when the new home inventory as well as the older home inventory are at extremely high levels. Eventhough Chesterfield has not been as yet hit hard in percentages with foreclosures brought about by the current mortgage crisis are we really saying that we need more larger scale communities when we are not really sure what the impact will be on property values once these developments come on line given the recent home sale price declines already being seen locally.
I am not convinced that developments like Magnolia and Roseland will benefit the overall community either. They may provide for a great community within the project and cover costs associated with that community but what is it other than future property taxes do these large scale developments offer on a macro level?
The plan to extend Powhite will certainly add potential tolls and the current situation with RMA is already raising costs of tolls on users and though extending Woolridge may help with Rt60 corridor in the Village of Midlothian the traffic counts listed by the County are already showing rising counts before these new projects begin. With no plans to revitalize Rt. 60 East towards the City other than at Chippenham (Cloverleaf)and new projects like Stonehenge adding more commercial right outside the Village and then more on the western side with Watkins Center and the new mixed use at the corner of Rt60 and Winterfield outside Salisbury the County will have no way of keeping up with this kind of growth in transportation funding to keep our roads up to date.
Alot of these smaller projects that will contribute to the issues incrementally are not being covered in the press at all but one thing is for sure should all these projects move forward support for Gecker and his so-called "independent" leadership will certainly come under fire and rightfully so not to mention the issues with the Courthouse Road corridor coming up as well.

Anonymous said...

It is a simple matter of finances. The County can ill afford to end the growth that was begun under the Republican reign. The budget requires either a serious audit not unlike what is happening in the Richmond City or spending must be overhauled. The County needs these infrastructures and needs the homes and the tax revenue they will bring to pay for what has already been built. Its a cycle of playing catch up and schools is the clearest example. Though school may be getting more revenues to work with they are still overcrowded and have had to resort to countless trailers. It most likely is the hope of the County that they can curb spending in time enough to cover pensions and an aging educational staff who will be retiring in the next ten plus years as well as face the roads issue with more funding from the state.
Roseland will be approved because it provided temporary solutions for long term problems and virtually pays for itself as far as the County is concerned. Wheter they accept the no proffer deal is up in the air though as the County may like to have oversight on public service infrastructure over allowing the developers to design and build out. Remember these infrastructures must been on line before the housing units are built out so that is a win for the County.

Anonymous said...

The bright side of some of this if you see as such will be that these Independents we be befronted with a firestorm in 2011. I doubt the Democrats will challenge Gecker as he is of course one of their own and is an Independent in name only but Marlene Durfee will certainly be challenged if she goes along with these projects by both parties. I look for Dorothy Jaeckle to be the bright light on the current Board and may surprise some people with her votes.

Anonymous said...

I don't think Roseland should be built atleast for the next 10 yrs! Chesterfield is so overdeveloped as it is. It seems like they just hate for a couple acres to be left undisturbed. There is construction everywhere that is not needed or necessary! We can't fix our overcrowding properly in the schools, our personal property taxes are ridiculous and real estate just isn't moving unless you sell your home below tax assessment which is way below what you paid for it in the first place! If the market wasn't so bad and we could actually sell our home without taking a huge loss- we would and we'd either move to Powhatan, Hanover, or just plain out of state! We have lived here in the county for 8yrs (myself) and almost 30 yrs for my husband and every year that passes we become more disappointed with chesterfield! I think the board really needs to put the halt on new housing developments for the next year or so, to try and get existing homes moving again!

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