Village Gardens development faces further delay

By Heather Michon

The controversial Village Gardens housing development proposed for the intersection of Rt. 53 and Garden Lane faces further delay, as Southern Development asked the Planning Commission for another 30 days to address remaining questions about the plan before the commission votes on a crucial rezoning request.

The rezoning request was the only issue on the agenda on Tuesday night (Nov. 9).

To move forward with the project, the developer needs the county to rezone 122 acres from A-1 (Agricultural) to R-3 (Residential).

The original plan called for the construction of 260 single-family homes, 95 townhomes, and 9,000 square feet of retail space on the site, which sits roughly between The Village at Nahor and Garden Lane and would share a boundary with Lake Monticello.

Many residents around the 122-acre parcel have been vocal in their opposition to the development, arguing that it would put too much stress on Aqua Virginia’s aging water and sewer infrastructure, create more traffic and risk on Rt. 53, and continue the degradation of the county’s rural character.

At the Sept. 14 hearing, the rezoning request was poised for defeat when Southern Development asked for a 90-day continuation to come up with solutions for these concerns.

At Tuesday’s session, representatives for the company told the commissioners that they had come up with several potential modifications to their site plan, and had reached a tentative agreement with Aqua on a “loop” system that would provide adequate pressure for their water and wastewater.

However, they said the Virginia Department of Transportation had just provided results of a detailed traffic study the previous Thursday, and asked for another 30 days to analyze the report before coming up with a new set of proffers.

The motion to defer until the Dec. 7 meeting passed by a vote of 5-0.

As a procedural issue, both Tuesday’s meeting and the Dec. 7 meeting will be a continuation of the public hearing started on Sept. 14. Public hearings are designed to give county residents the opportunity to address their concerns directly to the commission.

County Attorney Fred Payne told the commission that public comments at the Dec. 7 meeting should be focused strictly on the “newly updated information,” as residents had already had the chance to speak on the larger issues surrounding the development plan.

Meanwhile, public pressure to kill the project shows no sign of letting up. The county has received dozens of letters against the plan, and multiple residents spoke out again during public comments on Tuesday night.

Among the speakers was Lake Monticello Owners Association Board president Larry Henson.

Henson said he didn’t think Southern Development had provided much of an update on the issues most pressing to Lake residents, including fire and safety issues and erosion and sedimentation controls.

“As a committee, we didn’t react to Village Oaks,” Henson said. “We didn’t react to Colonial Circle. We are reacting today.”


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