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Neighbors fight rezoning plan: We don’t need another Mechanicsville Turnpike

HANOVER COUNTY, Va. -- Hundreds of homeowners from one Mechanicsville subdivision voiced their concerns about a plan to rezone parts of their neighborhood at a county planning meeting Thursday evening.

From new homes to new roads, Mechanicsville has experienced major growth and what were once open lots are transforming.

That possible zoning change has hundreds of homeowners in the 420-home neighborhood off Route 360 worried.

By rezoning parts of Spring Meadows subdivision, it would be possible for single-family homes to be replaced by businesses, apartments and commercial real estate.

The view from a backyard in the Spring Meadows subdivision.

The view from a backyard in the Spring Meadows subdivision.

“Where Walmart is located now used to be a cornfield,” Tim Cox said. “We’ve been canvassing the neighborhood circling this petition."Tim Cox and his wife have lived in the neighborhood for 20 years.

Cox pointed out the portions of Spring Meadows he feared could potentially be on the chopping block.

“Any streets on the fringe of the neighborhood like this will be prime candidates for redevelopment,” Cox said. “Prime candidates for someone to buy up those houses, have their lots rezoned, tear down the houses and put up new business buildings.”

Hanover County Mechanicsville District Planning Commissioner Randy Whittaker, who originally proposed the rezoning changes, said the neighbors' feedback is welcome.

Whittaker said the planning commission was looking decades ahead while completing its comprehensive plan. He pointed out that if the changes passed, they would not necessarily be go into effect immediately.

“If you think about it, you’re looking 20 years down the road,” Whittaker said. “So you look at a lot of things to see what will and will not work and it was just something we came up with, it can be pulled just as easily as it was put down.”

Houses in the Spring Meadows subdivision.

Houses in the Spring Meadows subdivision.

Whittaker said the petition that Springs Meadows residents circulated carries a lot of weight and that their position may mean changes for the plan.

“We are expecting they are going got take that out tonight and we are going to go there to make sure that they do,” Cox said.

A neighbor told the planning commission that 269 people had signed the petition i. That neighbor said that 94-percent of the homeowners the group had talked to oppose rezoning.

“I do not need nor do I want a $500,000 house,” one man who moved into the neighborhood in 1979 said.

“The last thing we need in Hanover County is another Mechanicsville Turnpike,” he said. “And you can go up and down any shopping center [and see vacant storefronts]. You can’t even fill what you got. It doesn’t make a bit of sense.”

One woman who identified herself as a senior citizen with multiple health issues pleaded with the county commissioners.

“I thought it would be safe. I thought it would be quiet," she said. "Please keep it as it is. I beg you."

After the public comment period, Whittaker said the Spring Meadows zoning change would be removed from the county's new comprehensive plan.

“It’s been a very interesting couple of weeks," Whittaker said. "It’s over and done with tonight.”

Click here to watch the county planning meeting.