On Target: How will the supes vote?
A rezoning hearing may sound like a snooze fest, but that won't be the case when Hollymead Town Center appears before the Board of Supervisors on July 16.
At stake for its three developers is whether the neighborhood model precludes big boxes and profit, and whether a cash-strapped VDOT that can't afford to improve highways overrules the County's comprehensive plan designating Route 29 north a growth area.
Opponents call Hollymead Town Center a "dysfunctional project" that doesn't have the transportation infrastructure to support the regional traffic it will attract. They're planning a July 9 demonstration in front of the County Office Building.
But county shoppers just want their damn Target.
It's a matter of property rights to libertarian Emmett Boaz. He doesn't believe the area needs more retail. "But if somebody owns the land, I don't think it's anybody else's business," he says. "They can build the Great Pyramids of Giza."
That Hollymead Town Center is owned by three different developers pushed by the County into an arranged marriage only complicates the process. And the project comes to the Supes with mixed recommendations from the Planning Commission.
Section A - Owned by Wendell Wood's United Land Company, the application to rezone this big section of mostly houses has been indefinitely deferred.
Section B - Also owned by Wood, this commercial section would house the Target and Giant. The Planning Commission split 3-3 in a March vote to rezone this portion, which means it comes to the Board of Supervisors with no recommendation.
Section C - Owned by Virginia Land Company, this parcel is designed for smaller retail combined with residential and office units. "The staff was very pleased with it," says project developer Katurah Roell. But on June 24, the Planning Commission turned thumbs down.
County senior planner Michael Barnes calls the denial a matter of "semantics." He says the commission liked Virginia Land's plans for Section C, but recommended denial based on traffic.
"What they're supposed to be considering is the site plan, not the traffic," says Roell. "They want to feel they got their two cents in on dealing with traffic."
Section D - The Kessler Group, which developed Forest Lakes, earned approval for this primarily residential portion from the Planning Commission, along with a recommendation to work with the other developers on the traffic situation.
So, faced with that mixed bag, how will the supervisors vote? Certainly traffic is the major consideration. And while none of the supes would say how they plan to vote on Hollymead Town Center, the Hook asked what they'll be looking at when they cast their vote.
Chairman Lindsay Dorrier: "Finding the funds to implement major infrastructure– mainly for traffic– is the major task. I believe the County and developers can work together to solve these problems and overcome the objections. And I think these projects are a better use of the land than the by-right uses these owners have."
Vice-chairman Dennis Rooker: "The first inquiry is whether it reasonably meets the comprehensive plan. I'm looking for a package of proffers with improvements by developers that will deal with immediate traffic, as well as long-term with a CDA [community development authority]."
Sally Thomas: "Picture the intersection of 29 and Rio. That would be duplicated at Woodbrook, Hollymead, and Airport Road. One of my goals is not to have people say in 10 or 15 years, why did you let that happen?"
David Bowerman: "Traffic is one of the key factors. I'm hearing from special interest and environmental groups that are opposed. The public is looking for Target. Land use is not based on who's coming. I'm not making a decision based on that."
Walter Perkins: "VDOT has given them a list of things that should be part of the proffers. As long as the applicant does those, there's not much reason we can't approve. There probably is some anti-big box feeling here. From a tax standpoint, Target would be good for the county."
Charles Martin: "Hollymead Town Center is another way of focusing growth. A lot of people are concerned about big boxes, but being middle class, I'm not. I can't shop at boutiques. Most of the people I've talked to are in favor of it. I think it's going to be a close vote: 4-2, one way or another."