HANOVER, Va. (WWBT) - There was barely any room to sit or stand at the Hanover Planning Commission Meeting Thursday evening. Concerns about a proposed Wegman’s Distribution Center drew out hundreds of neighbors who wanted to voice their disapproval of the 1.3 million square foot facility. The meeting was held to further discuss the impact on the land the project would bring.
Earlier this month, residents voiced their concerns and worries about the added traffic the facility would bring.
For nearly an hour county commissioners received public comment from more than twenty individuals the vast majority letting the county know that they did not support the project.
Neighbors discussed everything from concerns of increased traffic from heavy vehicles, to how this project might affect property value for those who live close to the site.
“There will be truck traffic associated with Wegmans using those two-lane roads including Atlee Station Road, New Ashcake Road, and Peaks Road that really have significant site distance, alignment issues, flooding issues," Jeff Etser said. There’s a lot of safety issues with those roads that these trucks are going to be using.”
“This is going to be an eyesore to those of us who came out here looking for some peace and quiet in the country and it’s really going to change the look and feel of that area,” Rose Pittman said.
“I think we need to readdress what’s good for residents of Hanover County instead of Wegmans,” Mary Crowder said.
Residents also expressed their concern over the lack of information regarding environmental impacts this site would bring. Others requested that the county defer the project until further traffic study analysis can be conducted.
But representatives with Wegmans say that that the zoning codes they are proposing Wegmans be built under would be better for both the company and county residents.
According to sources, the planned building site for the center will be along Sliding Hill and Ashcake Roads in Ashland, using zone ordinances from 1995.
In 1995 the property along Sliding Hill and Ashcake Roads was zoned as M-2 (c), Light Industrial District.
“This exact facility could go on this property today by right without having to change any proffers,” Wegman’s Legal Counsel Andy Condlin, said. “However, it is appropriate to consider an adjustment of the proffers if we can make the site function better and more efficiently so it can be better for the applicant of at the same time we can have additional protections to make it better for the county and for the surrounding residents.”
Hanover County’s Planning Director says, “New proposed zoning ordinances would have less of an impact on the area."
Under the 1995 zoning ordinance, it allowed about 19,110 average daily trips coming in and out of the facility in addition to the traffic from nearby neighborhoods within a 24-hour period. However, Wegmans’ proposes far fewer trips. At Thursday’s meeting, the following numbers were presented:
- 3,165 vehicles traveling in and out of the facility daily
- 275 trips per hour during the morning peak hours.
- 285 trips per hour during the evening peak hours.
Condlin responded to criticisms over the increased traffic from Wegman’s trucks saying that 80 percent of the trucks coming to the site will be Wegmans truck and that each company truck will be equipped with a GPS so Wegmans can see where they are and give them a specific route.
"The Wegman’s trucks will not be going through neighborhood roads, Condlin said. " Wegmans can’t control some of the local vendors that are going to be coming to this site delivering food, but they can dictate to them where they would suggest they go which would be to avoid the neighborhood roads.
Condlin says vendors would also be given appointments for when they can deliver or pick up food from the distribution center, so they can potentially go off peak-hours so as not to disrupt the morning and evening rush hours.
The proposal also includes plans to construct a grocery distribution center, consisting of warehouses, offices, truck parking and employee parking. The first three phases are planned for a maximum of 1,300,213 sq.ft. of office and warehouse with the potential for an additional 400,000 sq.ft. located elsewhere on the property.
Just a couple of people in attendance expressed their satisfaction over the proposed zoning ordinances and welcome the Wegmans Distribution Center.
“I think the site plan is good I think the zoning is proper. I think Wegmans has proven itself to be a good corporate citizen,” Richard Snyder said. “I know it’s an unpopular opinion, but if they don’t build Wegmans here and something else comes you may not like it as much as this project.”
“We can go a couple of miles and go shopping in Henrico County you apparently don’t need our dollars since you’re getting Wegmans,” one commenter said.
“I support this project in Hanover County, but not in this location. This is the wrong project in the wrong location,” another commenter said.
The Board of Supervisors will make the final decision whether to approve or deny the rezoning amendment application, following a public hearing on the matter.
Wegmans has set forth in the performance agreement their objective of breaking ground in the Spring of 2020 and being fully operational by early 2022.
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