Developers request additional 124 townhouse units
On November 10, the Louisa County Planning Commission recommended approval of a project that will continue to drive growth at Zion Crossroads.
Zion Town Center LLC, owned by Emerson Roper Companies of Richmond, has requested a rezoning of the current Zion Town Center development plan to upgrade housing options and add 124 townhouse units. Located on a 113-acre site on Camp Creek Parkway site east of and adjacent to the existing Zion Crossroads Walmart and Lowes shopping area near the intersection of I-64 and VA-15 James Madison Highway with 599 units, the project was approved in 2019. The request covered only the desired changes resulting in 723 total units. Nevertheless, the consideration taken up by the commission included not only the changes but the nature of the project as it would exist if the request was granted.
The proposed changes were detailed in a presentation by the developer’s representative, attorney Jeff Geiger, highlighting the improvements to housing options and the analyses done to ensure that the changes and increase in units would be compliant with legal and environmental requirements. The developer also agreed to the use of “Universal Design” concepts to accommodate older adult residents.
After the initial presentation, the public hearing included comments by a number of local residents for and against the request. Presenters including Bob Babyok and Mark Tubbs lauded the overall project and, along with other presenters, urged approval of the requested changes.
Some speakers offered negative evaluations of the request, some focused on the project’s impact on the surrounding area including traffic, water resources and parcels adjacent to the development. Still others including Green Springs resident Gerald Harlowe, questioned the ability of the area to support the increased density, citing impacts on fire/EMS support and schools. Harlowe stated that “599 is enough.” He also questioned the developer’s ability to keep young people in the development from entering surrounding parcels, suggesting that the “natural barrier” 25-foot grade at the development property line described by the developer would not suffice.
Water was a major component of several comments, with more than one, including local resident Steve Lucas, and commission chairman John Disosway during the later discussion period, suggesting that the delay in the pending James River water line could cause the increased development to hamper local farmers’ ability to irrigate their crops. Lucas opined that “you can limit residential permits based on water limitations, but what about the affected farmers?”
Speakers Vicki Hart and Steve Lucas questioned the developer’s statement that “affordable housing” is a major goal of the project, stating that Louisa County residents could not afford the projected prices for development residences. Lucas suggested that the project would actually be home to residents from the Charlottesville and Albemarle County areas The developer’s representative countered that the goal is an “attainable”, pleasant and safe community and that the proposed new multifamily price points, set in four levels starting at $250,000, $275,000, $290,000, and $310,000, would work out over time.
After the final comments, the commission members engaged in a brief discussion period before calling a vote on the proposed zoning. Chairman Disosway wondered if the statistical modeling conducted by the developer accurately represented the reality that would exist if such a project was implemented. After the discussion, the commission voted unanimously for a positive recommendation to the Board of Supervisors.
The commission then adjourned having generated some important food for thought and action by the Board of Supervisors.