Work on the Shannon Hill Regional Business Park is moving ahead, thanks to a $600,850 grant awarded to Louisa County on June 24.
The grant from GO Virginia, a business-led economic development group backed by state funding, will pay for the second phase of due diligence work at the roughly 700-acre property. Timmons Group, a Richmond-based consultant that conducted the initial site analysis in 2018, will lead the study.
“With programs like GO Virginia, we are helping localities in every corner of the Commonwealth advance the regional priorities that are unique to their own communities,” Governor Ralph Northam said as he announced the Louisa grant.
This was the second time the county applied for a large GO Virginia grant. The first application was stopped in its tracks last November when the Louisa County Board of Supervisors voted to cancel the park project. But later, the board reversed course, and voted in January to buy the 683 acres.
The grant was approved at the state board meeting in Richmond. It was previously backed by the Region 9 board, based in Charlottesville, and by a workgroup within the Department of Housing and Community Development, which staffs the state board. The park also has support from the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, which says Louisa’s site is a priority for state officials as they work to attract companies from other parts of the country and abroad.
Among the consultants’ tasks will be to conduct a traffic impact analysis. That’s become a priority for some business park critics, who worry that workers drawn to future jobs at the site will contribute to a traffic nightmare and crashes on Shannon Hill Road (Rt. 605).
The Louisa County Board of Supervisors agreed at its June 3 meeting to prepare a traffic study to include some key intersections on Shannon Hill Road, including Jefferson Highway (Rt. 33) and Old Mountain Road (Rt. 640). The analysis will include traffic impacts at each phase of development, when the park is fully occupied and at six years after completion.
The board also gave its verbal support to forming a working group of citizens to help develop the traffic study. William Hale, an area resident, said he went ahead and formed the Route 605 Corridor Committee to address the issue, rather than wait for the supervisors to take action. In an advertisement in The Central Virginian, he said the committee is urgently needed because “the proposed industrial/business park is going to make Route 605 dangerous.”
“Route 605, a secondary road, will be the most direct access route from most of Louisa County and points north,” Hale wrote. The committee is scheduled to meet on June 30 at 4 p.m. at Yanceyville Christian Church on Yanceyville Road.
Another key element of the consultants’ work will be to prepare a master plan that clarifies where roads, buildings and other infrastructure should be located within the business park. Timmons will also work on a preliminary engineering report, including details of planned water, sewer, gas and electric lines.
Wade and other county leaders are working to solidify regional support for the business park, one of the criteria for GO Virginia funding. Several county governments, including Fluvanna County, committed a small amount of funding toward Louisa’s grant application. But the county is hoping for more help from neighbors once the second phase of due diligence is completed.
Goochland County, which is in a different GO Virginia region but which is likely to see some impacts from the nearby business park, has not yet offered any financial support.
The cost to complete the park’s development has been estimated at $35 to $40 million.