Sunday, October 12, 2008

Park & Ride: A Future in Bon Air?

Many of you may be unaware of an amended zoning case that may result in a Park & Ride being established in the Bon Air Village area of the Midlothian District, Chesterfield County.

The case is 08SN0278 GRTC Transit Systems

We have seen a continued bombardment of the Village feel throughout much of Chesterfield, whether it be the excessive planned communities surrounding the Village of Midothian or the new residential developments near Chester Village that jeapordize the long-term integrity and charm of these historic areas.

Bon Air is facing the establishment of a Park & Ride, approved with conditions, to be constructed along Forest Hill Avenue, Buford Road and Choctaw Road near the Village. The Comprehensive Plan may approve such amendment or Conditional Use of the area in question in a R-15 area, but that certainly does not mean that the citizenry supports such a lot.

I dare say that but a few residents are even aware of the potential for a Park & Ride being established in Bon Air.

If you live in the Midlothian District, please express your concerns for such a Park & Ride to:

Supervisor, Daniel Gecker
Vice- Chair Board of Supervisors

35 comments:

Anonymous said...

Alter, are you talking about near the corner of Buford and Forest Hill beyond the Bon Air Baptist Church along Forest Hill towards the City line?

Gail said...

Has this measure or proposal come up before the Planning Commission or the Board already or have they already preliminarily approved the conditional use?

Why would they not use the excessive space in the lots down near Chippenham at Forest Hill where Walmart and Lowes are if they simply need a parking lot for those who wish to use the GRTC?

Anonymous said...

Is this part of a plan with the City in an effort to save the GRTC through a more regionalistic approach?

How many cars are we talking about in this lot?

Was the City involved in the approval process?

Were residents of Bon Air consulted?

Too many questions about this that need answers.

Anonymous said...

Would not a lot on Midlothian Tnpk at Buford be more suitable given the zoning classification of that end of Buford? I would support that area to help with the GRTC but not anything near Bon Air Village. I would think that such an idea would take away from the value of what has been accomplished with VDOT in the upgrades it recently completed to the Buford and Forest Hill junction.

Anonymous said...

Where can we go to find out the status or which Supervisors or Commissioners support this Park & Ride? I do not recall ever seeing anything relating to this in the paper at all to notify us Bon Air residents of the potential of such a lot near the Village. Thank you for your guidance.

GRTC Transit System said...

On June 06, 2008, GRTC Transit System staff submitted an application to Chesterfield County requesting a conditional use to permit the Bon Air Baptist Church park and ride lot to continue to operate. GRTC has been providing this valuable service to Chesterfield County 3.5 years and County approval was needed to bring this particular use of the property into conformance with the county’s zoning code.
Currently, bus patrons park in the Bon Air Baptist Church parking lot and board and deboard GRTC express route buses at two bus stops located on Forest Hill Avenue in close proximity to the church’s Forest Hill Avenue entrance. On a typical day anywhere from 40-60 people use the lot to commute from Chesterfield County to downtown Richmond for work. That’s 40-60 vehicles taken off the road in the community.

This past spring, GRTC was notified by the county that the park and ride lot was not a permitted use under the current zoning for the Bon Air Baptist Church. Accordingly, GRTC was requested to submit a conditional use application to permit the operation to continue.
As a part of the conditional use application process, a public meeting to discuss the matter was advertised to those property owners living directly adjacent to the Bon Air Baptist Church. That meeting was held at the Bon Air Baptist Church on July 17, 2008. After the public meeting, the Chesterfield County Planning Commission heard the case on August 19th and then the Chesterfield County Board of Supervisors heard the case on September 24th. Both the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to approve the conditional use provided that the following two conditions are met:
1. Park and ride lot users need to board and exit the buses from bus stops located on Choctaw Road directly adjacent to the church property. There shall be no boarding or exiting buses from the Forest Hill Avenue location.
2. No parking by park and ride lot users will be allowed in any of parking isles in close proximity to the residential development found immediately adjacent to the church.
GRTC, Bon Air Baptist Church, and several community members located in close proximity to the church supported both of these conditions. As a result, the park and ride lot will continue to operate with the new bus stops along Choctaw Road. The old bus stops along Forest Hill Avenue near the entrance to the church will be removed from service. Please contact me if you have any additional questions about this. My name is Larry Hagin and I am the Planning Director for GRTC Transit System. I can be reached at 474-9345.

Joan of Grand Summit said...

While I appreciate Larry Hagin input in this matter, I can tell you that none of my neighbors nor I ever received notice of such a meeting in July.

This is yet another case of those that are in the know continue to know and those that do not are left in the dark.

I am confident that this meeting and public session was advertised, probably in the local Observer, but do not matters such as these deserve greater effort and contact of the community? I am sure the officials are following proper guidelines regarding advertising issues but does that matter in reality when people never seem to get the word. I guess that must be why this blog and others are gaining in visibility. There is a void of transparency.

As stated, the park and ride will "take 40 to 60" cars off the roads of the community, but just what community, Bon Air or the City of Richmond? Is not this line running from Bon Air into the City? The cars have to travel through Bon Air to get to the lot in order to catch the buses so am I missing something here?

Who carries the insurance rider reagrding this lot being used by GRTC patrons, the Bon Air Baptist Church or GRTC? Is the Church allowing this lot out of the kindest of their hearts or it the Church being subsized by GRTC for allowing the lot to be used for this purpose? In other words, is the Church benefiting financially from such a lot on Church property either from the City, County or GRTC Transit?

Was not part of the VDOT widening in Bon Air Village conducted on Choctaw Road which has allowed for the bus stops removal on Forest Hill? Was this not undertaken through public dollars and was the plan to move these stops on Cgoctoaw proposed before the monies wer spent to widen Choctaw? Again transparency. I am unaware of any mention when residents of Bon Air were informed about the project being undertaken in the Village to widen roads, upgrade intersecetion and upgrade sidewalks and curbs that an issue of bus stops was included.

While I appreciate Mr. Hagin's response here and he certainly did not have to take the time to do so, I fault my Supervisor for failing to adequetely keep citizenry informed as promised in his campaign.

With the potential for rising costs of fuel, there is no way to know exactly how many cras will be entering and exiting the area when it is all said and done. The number could easily double by next year and then what? Is there a number of users tied to the conditional use permit for the lot?

A call placed to the Church has required a call back as the adminstration was unaware of specifics relating to the lot.

Anonymous said...

Visit richmondregional.org which will demonstrate the planning behind the partnership with GRTC Transit System.

There is a plan underway as part of the overall goal of forming a more regional approach to issues. many of the Boards and Commissions under the radar of the media have been working on these things and once the political and public support gets on board these things will came out rather quickly.

Jim said...

It is true that the lot at Bon Air Baptist has been used for quite some time as a parking lot for those who would catch the bus heading downtown, but it seems to me that with this conditional use permit GRTCC has the ability to "advertise" such a Park & Ride lot there which will increase the number of cars in the early morning hours adding to the increased day school traffic at the Church.
I support GRTCC efforts by all means , but fear that such a lot will result in more traffic than that area can handle at the present time. Forest Hill coming from the city where it hits Buford is always a nightmare even with the new asthetic appeal. The road should be widened, but cannot be it seems due to business development on both sides. I agree that such a Park & Ride lot should have been moved to the Buford & Midlothian section.
The GRTCC while a non-profit will attempt to increase volume in its transit routes and will leverage this lot to attract more riders which could negatively impact the congestion that already exists between 0730-930 and 1730-1930 hours during the week. This may work out for the Church and that aspect is fine given the size of the lot there, but its impacts on the greater community need to be watched very carefully.

Steve said...

My name is Steve Law. I'm the Church Administrator for Bon Air Baptist Church. The church's number is 272-1475.

While I cannot speak on behalf of the church, I have been working with GRTC on this issue for several months.

Bon Air Baptist is pleased to offer its parking lot M-F to about 50 riders. We want to be a good "corporate/community citizen" by supporting our neighbors and community. Providing this lot helps keep traffic off Chesterfield and Richmond roads (decreasing both the volume of cars and their wear & tear on our infrastructure).

For about two months Bon Air Baptist had signs posted by the county along the public roads adjoining the church which referenced the county's impending actions. I called the posted number to hear the recorded message. GRTC and Bon Air Baptist have agreed to the requests of the the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors to move the park&ride lot away from Grand Summit's fenceline and over to Choctaw (which is 100% commercial with no residences between Forest Hill and Buford Road).

Bon Air Baptist does not receive any money whatsoever from GRTC. Instead, GRTC donates to Bon Air Baptist about 25 bus passes each year which the church uses in its ministries in urban Richmond. Again, please know the church is providing this to help our community and not for profit or gain.

"Joan of Grand Summit" - I would like to speak with you but my contacts on the Grand Summit neighborhood association were unable to find a Joan living in Grand Summit. Please feel free to call me. Thank you.

Alter of Freedom said...

Steve, Bon Air Baptist Church-

I appreciate your response in this thread regarding the issue of the Park & Ride. I also appreciate the Church being a "corporate/community" citizen. For the record, I must submit that my daughter attended pre-school at Bon Air Baptist and understand the school has a long record of community service.
I also want to acknowledge Larry Hagin for his input here as well providing the perspective of GRTC.

One issue that find that is coming up time and time again are those "blue signs" that was referenced. Honestly, there have been so many of these zoning proposal signs going up everywhere that many people hardly notice them anymore. The signs have become virtually a staple on our roadways and as such are less noticable. Many in the community that are cynical may feel that that is exactly what the officials want and thats for them to go unnoticed. YWe have to admit that one has to actually really want to get involved and cannot get the info in a passive situation. The "#" is often small and people have to make a dedicated effort to pull over and get the information.
That said, it remains to be seen whether the advertising was truly effective or not. I relate this to Roseland and Charter Colony in the beginning of that debate.
I challenge the notion that such a lot will in effect reduce the volume on "Chesterfield" roadways. Residents in Chesterfield must travel on County roadways to get to the Park & Ride in the first place. Once they park in the lot the GRTC takes them into the City Of Richmond.
Given the fluctuation in gas prices, I do not challenge the service GRTC provides or its committment to the community, but do not believe the arguement can effectively be made that 50 cars are being removed from County roadways by such a lot.
I would post a video of the intersection in the early morning hours that is in question here as a means of pointing to the congestion in the area as a guiding point.
I think also that this thread also points to the greater transparency issues that still exist regarding issues. Its not just the Grand Summit subdivision, though I would imagine they were more informed than most, as the issues such as these are certainly issues that impact the greater Bon Air community and Chesterfield.
While I understand Bon Air Baptist community service position, I do think that the point to positioning this lot since it is a commuter lot of sorts where people drive and park to ride the GRTC would be better served in the area expressed in the thread; Buford/Midlothian/Providence Road area.
But in the end, the lot is already there and it appears as though it is not costing the County nor the GRTC which is certainly a good combination in this environment.
The community should however be afforded the opportunity to observe the situation and have the opportunity to revisit the conditional use permit at some point in the future.
The other side of the issue is it is Church property and they should be afforded the right to use it as it determines and if it choses to allow GRTC to use 50 spaces that is well within the rights of the Church I would imagine.
Lest we also forgte that the bus stops on Forest Hill have been removed and that helps traffic flow on that roadway as well.

Anonymous said...

Finally a place where we can find rationale dialogue and not the bloviating rants of the ultra-political.

Was wondering if anyone knew if there were other P&R approved or zoned for GRTC in greater Chesterfield as well or any plans to extend the GRTC transit service to a wider area in Chesterfield that would also help reduce traffic counts. As many of you know the tolls have gone up again and word has it they will increase again in 2010.

D. Toole said...

There is a P&R at the Lowe's near Chesterfield Towne Center. All the Park & Rides are on the GRTC map (you'll need to enlarge the map to see them):

http://www.ridegrtc.com/images/systemmapAug2008.pdf

There are also express lines into the city. See them here:

http://www.ridegrtc.com/RideGRTC.aspx?pg=Express-Riders

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