2026 plan preserves rural areas in Henrico - NBC12 - WWBT - Richmond, VA News On Your Side

2026 plan preserves rural areas in Henrico

By Andy Jenks - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

HENRICO, VA (WWBT) - Neighbors in eastern Henrico County call it a relief. The county board voted in favor of a long-term plan that would keep their end of the county from resembling the Short Pump area.

The board's decision was widely supported by those who live in rural Varina. But we wanted to know if the county was giving up too much by foregoing development?

It's just before lunch on this Wednesday morning and the quiet, is just the way Nicole Anderson Ellis likes it.

"We were hopeful, and last night was just a thrill and just really reaffirmed by faith in democracy," said Nicole.

Nicole lives in rural Varina. Tuesday night the county board approved a long term plan that keeps all the nearby farmland, largely intact foregoing untold millions in future sales and property tax revenue.

"I've heard very little concern through the businesses and members of the association," said Mark Romers.

Mark runs the Eastern Henrico Business Association. No new homes in Varina - would appear to mean, no new customers - but he barely heard a complaint.

"There is plenty of room to have high density growth in eastern Henrico much closer to the city, in the Laburnum corridor, Sandston, Highland Springs," Mark said.

That's in line with others who say new construction is more appropriate where development currently exists

 "We are for development in the right places. And leapfrog, and sprawl, is not good for communities. It costs more, costly infrastructure to build all of those roads further and further out," said Sheila Sheppard, Partnership For Smarter Growth.

Some private farm owners, and other business people would contend otherwise, of course - saying the county is missing-out, on an opportunity to cash in. Instead, with Varina's rural appeal safe for now, neighbors like Nicole suggest development of a more farm-friendly nature.

"The equestrian industry is a multi-billion dollar industry, and Varina already has stables and trails it's a great opportunity for us," Nicole said.

Supporters of the plan, like Nicole, now say they'd like to work with landowners on new ways to help them preserve or profit from their land.

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