Neighbors voicing concerns over Northern Henrico housing development

Published: Mar. 14, 2023 at 6:16 PM EDT
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HENRICO, Va. (WWBT) - Henrico County neighbors say they are feeling left in the dark regarding a proposed housing development coming to the northern part of the county.

Last week, the Henrico Planning Commission approved the rezoning request of the Chamberlayne Road project despite the county report citing deferral.

The plan includes a multi-family community made up of 186 residential housing units, an office, clubhouse, amenities, as well as a field of solar panels just north of Chamberlayne Road and Brook Hill Circle.

The request states the housing supports the county’s 2026 Comprehensive Plan saying in part: “Increasing housing availability throughout the county also helps to address concerns related to housing affordability by adding to the housing supply.”

The documents use the phrase “affordable housing,” prompting neighbors like Shari Meyer and others to worry about what that means.

“I’m all for affordable housing,” Meyer said. “We’ve already got seven multi-unit, very large, multi-unit complexes within a stone’s throw of the proposed site. We’re already saturated. If we haven’t satisfied that by now, what’s going to be different about it, and how are we going to attract the people, residents, that the county wants to attract,” she said.

The 35-year resident handed out hundreds of flyers to inform residents about the plans.

Meyer says she also worries about increased traffic congestion and panhandler problems.

She also wants developers to clarify tenant requirements regarding the occupancy per unit policy.

“I’m all for positive change, but I need more information to be persuaded that this is [a] positive change,” Meyer said.

Meyer isn’t alone in her concerns.

The Northern Henrico Civic Association also feels there’s been a significant lack of transparency throughout the process.

The Association’s President Delta Bowers claims the county didn’t do enough to let residents know about last week’s public hearing.

She also feels like neighbors weren’t given enough time at the hearing to voice their concerns about such an impactful project.

“You’re allowing them to develop something that is going to have great impact on Northern Henrico County, without even getting the residents who are impacted by this,” Bowers said.

Bowers says the association is also disappointed the county approved the request of rezoning the property from commercial to residential use.

The Association’s Vice President Lisa Walker says she would have like to have seen an upscale restaurant or hotel instead, as Northern Henrico mainly consists of residential housing with very little space.

“It’s a mass issue of how many people, how many cars, what the needs are going to be in the community, and I just don’t think we’re prepared for that,” Walker said.

NBC12 did reach out to Henrico County for a statement.

A spokesperson with the Henrico Planning Commission said quote:

“he Ashley Terrace Realty LLC rezoning and provisional use permit requests were filed by a private developer and are in no way affiliated with Henrico County, outside of the normal development review process. This process includes a review of the requests by county agencies, publication of staff reports by the Planning Department, and advertised public hearings by both the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors. In addition, the applicant for these cases held a virtual community where they presented their requests and fielded questions from the public.

While the applicant has indicated an interest in providing affordable housing on the subject property, these cases have been and will continue to be reviewed by the county as a market rate project, independent of county involvement beyond the normal development review process. Details related to the pursuit of financing through VHDA that requires specified level of affordability have not been discussed with staff.

Per Virginia Code, the county is required to provide public notification for all rezoning and provisional use permit requests. Following this requirement, public notices for both cases were advertised in the Richmond Times-Dispatch on February 20, 2023, and February 27, 2023. Notification letters were sent to the neighborhood civic association and all adjacent properties, representing 668 units across 6 properties on a total of 62.8 acres. The Northern Henrico Civic Association was not notified, as their area of interest does not include the subject or adjacent properties per their community website.”

In addition to the required notices and advertisements, Henrico Planning placed signs on the site with contact information for those interested in obtaining additional details on the project. Project information was also provided on the Planning Department’s website.

The case will now go to the Henrico Board of Supervisors for the ultimate decision. The meeting is scheduled for April 11..

NBC12 also reached out to the developers Susan Smith with Ashley Terrace LLC and Spy Rock Real Estate Group for comment and have not received a response at this time.