The 15 month public input portion of the $400k ʻRoute 5 Corridor Studyʼ is now closed. On October 21st, the last day that the Study was open for public input, the Richmond Times-Dispatch published an article that mentioned proffers accepted as the passage of the Plans of Development for Rocketts Landing and Tree Hill Farm: “Marion Hill residents worry about Route 5 proposals” The article did not point out that these proffers were never included in the public portion of the Study, or that Henrico County had requested that they be left out of public data. It turns out that Henrico County “requested that they separate the estimated value of the improvements required of developers from the estimated costs associated with each alternative.” and that the “preliminary estimate at this point is that approximately $10 million of the improvements in Concept 1 needs to be taken into consideration for Concept 1.” (source: Henrico County) This means that the Studyʼs final public Questionnaire released on September 29th, 2011 and due by October 21st, 2011 asked which of two Concepts (Concept 1 or Concept 2) the public preferred for the future path of Route 5 traffic, while including incorrect projected costs under Concept 1. The fact that the developers of Tree Hill Farm had already agreed to widen Route 5 from the fork at New Market Road and Old Osborne Turnpike, running west to the Richmond City Limits was never mentioned in the Studyʼs presented data or in the projected costs of Concept 1 in the Studyʼs final Questionnaire. This fact is not included in any of the Study data. Tree Hillʼs proffered Route 5 improvements are viewable from page 15 on, in the Henrico Supervisorʼs Meeting Regular Minutes from Dec. 11, 2007 (2MB pdf)
Study data and maps depicting the “limits” of the Corridor were clearly marked following the current path of Route 5, connecting with Main Street near Williamsburg Avenue. Instead, 23 days before the close of the 550 days open for public input, two final choices were presented: Concepts 1 and Concept 2. Concept 2 left that path and instead followed New Osborne Turnpike, cutting the neighborhood of Marion Hill in half with a 100ʼ four lane divided roadway. Concepts 1 & 2: Concept 1: would follow the current path of Route 5 west from South Laburnum into Richmond past the New-Urbanist development of Rocketts Landingʼs warehouses and newly built towers to connect with Main Street just downhill from its intersection with Williamsburg Avenue. At that point Concept 1 would have to either become two sets of two-lane roadway traveling underneath the train trestle there – OR– become an elevated four-lane roadway that travels over the trestle as a ʻfly-over.ʼ Concept 2: was presented as an alternate path for the traffic that now travels Route 5. Concept 2 would divert traffic from Route 5 by widening New Osborne Turnpike into a 100ʼ four-lane roadway, and funneling it through the established neighborhood of Marion Hill and over the CSX trestle north of Almond Creek on a 60ʼ fly-over to travel around the foot of Fulton Hill and follow Hatcher Street over to Williamsburg Avenue, already four lanes, to connect to Main Street just uphill of the trestle there. Concept 2 would bifurcate (cut in half) the 200 year old neighborhood of Marion Hill by widening New Osborne Turnpike from its current 24ʼ wide 35mph roadbed to become a 4 lane 100ʼ wide divided roadway, that would not only destroy that neighborhood, but also severely impact Fulton Hill, Powhatan Park and Fulton. The problem is, virtually no one in any of these residential areas even knows the Route 5 Corridor Study exists. Thousands of people in those three established residential neighborhoods (not included in Study background research) were still in the dark when the final deadline for public input passed. 1
The Study should now involve Marion Hill, Fulton Hill and Fulton in representing their communities, though to date it has not. Considering the complete lack of background material concerning Marion Hill, Fulton Hill and Fulton, a brief bit on Marion Hill follows:
• Marion Hill is never mentioned by name or labeled on any map or in the public data of the Route 5 Corridor Study other than as an incorrect and incomplete reference in the Route 5 Corridor Studyʼs Existing Conditions Report Chapter 3 - Data Collection and Inventory (8.78MB pdf) Section 3.6.4, titled “Bickerstaff Road to New Osborne Turnpike,” as : “a few small subdivisions exist along this section of the corridor; however, this section is also the future home of The Village of Tree Hill Farm.”
In historical fact, a large portion of the Tree Hill Farm property was carved from the lands held by The Marion Hill Company (headed by William Marshall, brother of Chief Justice John Marshall) as early as 1814. Marion Hill thus pre-dates the future development of Tree Hill Farm and Rocketts Landing as an actual “village” or “town” for as much as two hundred years. Some mansions and large farmhouses have disappeared only to be replaced by a grid of suburban streets interspersed with gardens, woods and farmland, yet examples of a variety of architectural styles ranging from the 19th to 21st centuries remain.
Two properties in Marion Hill are listed in the State and National Registers of Historic Places, with others eligible for inclusion. The Clarke-Palmore House, owned by Henrico County, is operated as a museum there. Existing Character Protection is included in Henricoʼs 2026 Comprehensive Land Use Plan in this area for a reason, it is historic communities like this that add value to Henricoʼs image.
The Corridor Studyʼs Chapter 3 “Data Collection and Inventory” data available at public meetings and online under the heading “Existing Conditions Report” highlights many specific “Areas of Interest,” but does not contain thorough information pertaining to “Areas of Interest” in Marion Hill. Within the Corridor “limits,” not only public parks and museums, but also many privately owned homes are highlighted. In Marion Hill, only the Henrico County owned Clarke-Palmore House is highlighted. Other structures listed on the State and National Registers of Historic Places are not highlighted on the maps of this area in the aforementioned pdf.
Study data available at public meetings and online under the heading “Existing Conditions Report” does not contain information pertaining to Sycamore Crest Drive, Greenview Drive, Pondview Lane, Sydnor Road, McCoull Street, or Bickerstaff Road – as they pertain to existing conditions along New Osborne Turnpike. These are all streets in Marion Hill- not listed in the pdf for Chapter 4 Existing Conditions. How could all of these streets be excluded? Itʼs because New Osborne Turnpike was never officially included as a part of the Route 5 Corridor “limits,” and was not represented visually or in the Study Corridorʼs described “limits.”
Marion Hill is listed as a “Special Strategy Area” for “Existing Character Protection Area” in Henricoʼs current 2026 Comprehensive Land-Use Plan. Homeowners worked very hard for three years to get Marion Hill included in the plan (adopted August 11, 2009) as one of only five “Special Strategy Areas.” Here is how Marion Hill is listed on page 87-88 of Chapter 7 of the Plan: or download the pdf: http://randolph.co.henrico.va.us/planning/2026plan/chap7.pdf (Marion Hill text is sho wn below:)
EXISTING CHARACTER PROTECTION AREAS There are five (5) Existing Character Protection Areas identified in this category. The established character and quality of the identified roadway and river corridors are important to the overall image of the county. The vie ws to and from the river and public rights-of-way are valued parts of this image. Some of the more significant scenic corridors in the county are included in these areas. Preservation of the scenic and/or historic qualities of these corridors is important for many reasons. For example, maintaining a rural vie w from New Market Road and Osborne Turnpike will help preserve the rural/semirural character in Varina while still allowing de ve lopment in the area. Each of the Existing Character Protection Areas is identified below.
Marion Hill The Marion Hill Area is generally bordered by Ne w Osborne Turnpike, Old Osborne Turnpike, Oakland Road, Almond Creek and the Almond Creek tributary to the east of New Osborne Turnpike. This area is characterized by detached single-family homes, most dating to the early and mid 20th Century. The ClarkePalmore House, which is listed as a Specialty Facility in Table RP-7, is located on the northern side of McCoul Street. A small commercial node is located at the southern end of the area at the intersection of New Osborne Turnpike and Old Osborne Turnpike.
The Vision The Marion Hill Area should be preserved primarily as a residential area with low-density, single-family residential, with the exception of the existing commercial node at the intersection of Old Osborne and New Osborne Turnpikes. Any future infill development should be of a consistent density with existing residential development in the area. Historic properties, such as the Clarke-Palmore House, should be preserved in a manner consistent with their historical significance. Action Recommendations A detailed study of the Marion Hill Area, including a visual inventory of features to be preserved, could be conducted. Current zoning regulations and districts could be evaluated for their ability to support the existing character in the area by requiring development design standards. If any potential study reveals the area’s special character cannot be preserved and enhanced under existing zoning regulations, a zoning overlay district could be considered. The overlay district could include standards to regulate the development quality of the area through building setbacks, lot dimensions, landscaping, design, use restrictions and architectural elements. Any study conducted should also pay special attention to potential historic sites within the area, including, but not limited to the Clarke-Palmore House, and should outline any additional steps which could help facilitate the preservation of such sites. ______________________________________________________________________________________ Adopted August 11, 2009
Henrico County Vision 2026 Comprehensive Plan
• Henrico County Planning representatives on both the Study Team and in the Study Group know these facts to be true because our residents have worked with them directly on the 2026 Comprehensive Plan, resulting in the retention of Marion Hillʼs current ʻLand Use Designationʼ and the “Special Strategy Area” for “Existing Character Protection Area.” How could these facts not be represented? 3
• New Osborne Turnpike is not defined as a part of the Route 5 Corridor Study “limits” map as shown on the main page of the Study’s website at http://www.route5corridor.com or associated description:
“This corridor study extends along Route 5 from 7th Street in downtown Richmond to S. Laburnum Avenue in eastern Henrico County. To view a larger map of the corridor study limits, please click here “
Study Corridor “limits” from web site’s main page How would residents of the area potentially impacted by Concept 2 understand that they live within the study limits by studying this map? They would not. Please address this question.
Any extension of the Study “limits” outside of the described path advertised online as extending “along Route 5 from 7th Street in downtown Richmond to S. Laburnum Avenue in eastern Henrico County” should have been made patently clear by direct notification of residents of this area stating such via mail, television and newspaper coverage and full disclosure on the main page of the Study website. None of the above measures were taken.
New Osborne Turnpike is not defined in yellow as a part of the Route 5 Corridor Study “limits” in the Study Introduction pdf’s map, on page 4, figure 2-1:
New Osborne Turnpike is not defined in yellow as a part of the Route 5 Corridor Study “limits” in the Study Introduction pdf’s map, on pages 6, figures 2-3:
New Osborne Turnpike is not defined in yellow as a part of the Route 5 Corridor Study “limits” in the Study Introduction pdf’s map, on pages 7, figures 2-4:
Residents were completely unaware of the Study “limits” inclusion of New Osborne Turnpike, or that New Osborne Turnpike would be altered in the ways described below -which are not only outside of the Study Corridor “limits,” they were only introduced as one of two final possibilities released on September 29th, 428 days into the 450 day public portion of the Route 5 Corridor Study, at which time 94% of the time allowed for public input was complete.
The Studyʼs description of Concept 2, released as one of the two final options, only 22 days before the end of the public input portion, is as follows: • New Osborne Turnpike would be widened to four lanes and realigned to meet horizontal and vertical design standards. • An elevated bridge on New Osborne Turnpike would span the CSX railroad yard. The new bridge would provide required vertical clearance for the railroad and modern roadway cross section. • The elevation of New Osborne Turnpike above the railroad tracks would require substantial fill material and retaining walls, with fill heights exceeding 60ʼ. • Retaining walls would be used on New Osborne Turnpike to reduce the footprint of the roadway in high fill sections. • Approaches to the bridge would impact approximately 0.5 miles of roadway along New Osborne Turnpike. • Bickerstaff Road at New Osborne Turnpike would be rebuilt to tie into the higher elevation. • A new bridge or box culvert over Almond Creek would be required. Source: Public Workshop #3 Presentation
•The Studyʼs interactive Questionnaire is now closed, but a pdf is still available for download at: http://www.route5corridor.com/images/Rt5-final-mtg-questionnaire-F.pdf The most important question of all was asked first. This is where the costs of Concept 1 were erroneously presented by excluding the $10 million of developerʼs proffers detailed on page 1 above, in addition to stating that if one road was widened to four lanes, the other would remain two lanes and vice versa, when the proffers already accommodate the widening of Route 5ʼs current path:
☐ Concept 1 – Widen Route 5 to four lanes: this concept provides a four-lane roadway with no median on Route 5 from 7th Street in Downtown Richmond to Bickerstaff Road and a four-lane roadway with a median on Route 5 from Bickerstaff Road to Route 895 in eastern Henrico County. Under Concept 1,New Osborne Turnpike would remain a two-lane roadway. Estimated Total Cost: $51 million (would maintain the existing vehicle height restriction on Route 5 under the railroad bridge) or $70 million (would eliminate the vehicle height restriction by constructing a new bridge over the existing railroad tracks). ☐ Concept 2 – Widen New Osborne Turnpike to four lanes: this concept provides a four-lane roadway with no median on Route 5 from 7th Street in Downtown Richmond to Williamsburg Avenue, a four-lane roadway with a median on Williamsburg Avenue, a four-lane roadway with a median on New Osborne Turnpike from Williamsburg Avenue to Route 5, and a four-lane roadway with a median on Route 5 from New Osborne Turnpike to Route 895 in eastern Henrico County. Under Concept 2, Route 5 would remain a two-lane roadway from Williamsburg Avenue to New Osborne Turnpike. Estimated Total Cost: $65 million.
to the Studyʼs insufficiently effective outreach, residents wrote in prior to the deadline, requesting that the period for public comment be extended, though remain unaddressed by the Study Team. Several flaws in the Study were noted in the ʻCommentsʼ section for Kristen Greenʼs October 21st, 2011 Richmond Times-Dispatch article, “Marion Hill residents worry about Route 5 proposals” Thirty-three minutes before 5pm on the day of the deadline for public Study input, a Mr. Charles E. Gates, Jr. responded to an aforementioned comment on the RT-D article. There, he unofficially and without any further supporting publicity, announced an extension to the study deadline of two additional days, thus further invalidating the Study's public data. This was done without stating his involvement in the Study. Mr. Gates is associated with the Richmond Regional Planning District Commission. Even beyond Mr. Gates' offer to extend the Study for two more days, the Study website did not and still does not announce that extension. The deadline remained listed on the Study website as Friday Oct 21st, though clicking through to the "Get Involved" page to find the online Questionnaire over that weekend brought up a banner stating: "This Survey is currently closed. Please contact the author of this survey for further assistance."
QUESTIONS YOU NEED TO ASK TOO: 1. Why did the Study honor the request of Henrico County to exclude the existence of proffers from the developers of Rocketts Landing and Tree Hill from public Study data, and allow their totals (estimated at $10 million) not to be publicly reflected in the Studyʼs final questionnaire, rendering the Study biased and incomplete? 2. Proffers already exist to widen Route 5ʼs current path, running directly adjacent to Rocketts Landing and Tree Hill, which will respectively contain over 1.25 and 1.16 million square feet of retail and commercial space, and the Questionnaireʼs first question states that if one roadway was widened to four lanes, the other would remain at two lanes. If Concept 2 were adopted, this would limit traffic flow in what will obviously become two busy commercial areas. Have the proffers been omitted to purposefully to render Concept 2 a viable option, or was the intention to widen both roads without stating as such? 3. Why is Concept 2, a four-lane roadway cutting through the existing neighborhoods of Marion Hill, Fulton Hill and Fulton, which are not shown in the Studyʼs Existing Conditions Report, even included? 4. If New Osborne Turnpike is actually a part of the Study “limits,” why was it never clearly marked on maps or included in the description of the Study “limits” as such? 5. Considering that Henrico County representatives on the Study Team and in the Study Group are aware of Marion Hillʼs historic resources, “Special Strategy Area” for “Existing Character Protection, and Henricoʼs 2026 Major Thoroughfare Planʼs suggestion for the future of New Osborne Turnpike as a “Minor Collector, 50-66ʼ wide,” how is it that none of this information was included in Study data, or on Study maps? 6. Kimley-Horn & Associates and Timmons Group are both companies that work for Rocketts Landing and Tree Hill. Timmons Group hosts the Study website, and Kimley-Horn received the public Questionnaire input. Is it not a conflict of interest to retain these two companies in these capacities? 7. Consider the prior undoing of Fulton in the name of “progress.” Fulton has now been rebuilt and is a viable existing neighborhood. Consider the range of current mature landscaping, gardens, farmland and naturally varied architecture represented in Marion Hill and Fulton Hill. The longstanding historic neighborhoods of Marion Hill and Fulton Hill have each evolved naturally, and are villages. Fulton is now rebuilt as a village itself. Background data and impact studies on these existing residential neighborhoods has been excluded from the Study, seemingly for the benefit of two new multi-million dollar developments. How can these neighborhoods have been all but completely excluded from the research upon which this Study is based? 8. Lee Yolton, the Route 5 Corridor Studyʼs Project Manager, made statements representing the developers of Rocketts Landing in a Study-related Richmond Times-Dispatch article published October 21st, as being in opposition to the widening of Route 5, “because their development is designed as a village and is not compatible with a four-lane road.”
FACT: Rocketts Landing is designed as a 25-block complex, densely built, and based on the architectural and planning platform called “New Urbanism.” ...No matter what you call it, thatʼs not a “village,” a small city perhaps, but not a village. How can the Project Manager of the Route 5 Corridor Study, in the same Richmond Times-Dispatch article, qualify the impact to property owners in the long-established neighborhood of Marion Hill as “not substantial,” when Rocketts Landing is already located in an industrial setting next to one of the two largest freight railway yards in Richmond? These and other questions relating to Government Transparency and The Route 5 Corridor Study can be emailed to email@example.com and requested for entry as public Study input and for consideration of the Study Group & Team, which will meet again in November 2011 to consider public input and the future of the Study.
This document addresses grave errors in the Route 5 Corridor Study. The Route 5 Corridor Study was undertaken in Richmond and Henrico Virgi...