The Richmond Hill Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously voted to approve the zoning for Lamar Smith’s 1,100-acre Richmond Reserve project near Daniel Siding Road which stretches from highway 17 to the railroad tracks. The zoning request will now be sent with a stamp of approval to be presented at the next City Council meeting for final approval.
Smith explained some of the details of his development project and said he will be widening and enhancing Daniel Siding Road and 30 percent of the land is dedicated to nature trails and green space.
Immediately before the vote, a public hearing was conducted in which several people voiced their concerns about the project. The one concern that seemed to resonate with most of the protestors was that of potential traffic.County Commissioner Rick Gardner, whose district this project falls in, was one of those who spoke in opposition to the project. He stated that simply widening Daniel Siding Road is not going
to be enough to support the additional traffic flow the project creates.
Gardner cited a regional impact study which lists "14,000 external movements" of vehicle traffic to be added by Richmond Reserve upon its completion. He recommends another road be built. He said the only roads accessing this project are Daniel Siding, Cartertown and Clarktown, and that is not enough to support a project of this size. He also brought up potential added congestion to these roads from future development.
Others who spoke had issues ranging from potential flooding into their nearby property to congested emergency access. Two neighboring residents requested the project be put on hold until further studies could be done regarding traffic. Six residents in all spoke at the public hearing. Smith also was given an opportunity to speak.
Smith said, despite the protests of some individual land owners, he has met and often exceeded the recommendations and guidelines and is confident this project is the best possible use for the land.
After giving their recommendation to approve the project, the planning and zoning crew reinforced to those in opposition that this ruling was strictly for zoning and any other issues with Richmond Reserve, such as drainage and sewage, must be presented at a future date.
Planning and Zoning Commission Chairman Amanda Pommerenck said that the next step for this development project will be a request to approve the master plan followed by approval of each step of the master plan.
"It’s an exhaustive process and every piece of the puzzle has to come before both the planning commission and the city council," she said.
If all steps are approved, Richmond Reserve will break ground in six months with homes going on sale in spring of 2008.
In other business:
- A request from Lloyd Murray and Associates for site plan approval for a proposed development next to Hobart, to be called 17 South Retail Center, was tabled. Board member Les Fussell made the motion after he had some questions about the project and observed that no one was present to represent the project.
- Final subdivision plat approval of a 124-lot phase of White Oak Village was approved for recommendation to council.
- It was announced that the next planning and zoning public hearing is for a proposal to erect an 18-foot extension to the existing Alltel Communications tower at 415 Timber Trail Road.