Wilton withdraws Goochland project

A well-known local developer’s latest project has been stopped short after being met with opposition.

Hank Wilton, former head of the Wilton Cos., has withdrawn his proposal . The development, called The Glenn at Centerville, was presented last fall but faced public opposition in the months since.

At a planning commission meeting in November, two dozen residents spoke against the project in a hearing that lasted about two hours. Speakers voiced concerns about impacts to roads and project density, and commission members shared those concerns, voting unanimously to recommend denial to county supervisors.

That board was tentatively scheduled to consider the proposal the following month, but the case never made it that far. A notice posted on the county’s website on March 23 announced that the case had been withdrawn, and that a hearing scheduled for April 18 was cancelled.

Reached Thursday, Wilton said he decided to withdraw the case due to the public opposition and the project’s economics, which he said depended on a density of two units per acre.

“I talked to all the supervisors, and the people just didn’t want the density out there, nor did the comprehensive plan allow for more than around one unit to the acre,” Wilton said. “The staff made that determination, even though that’s an area within the sewer district. My only complaint is that you don’t have sewer available and then have density of only one per acre.”

The development would have been split in two, with a creek separating the two pieces. Image courtesy of Darvin Satterwhite

The development would have been split in two, with a creek separating the two pieces. Image courtesy of Darvin Satterwhite

The project, which required rezoning from the county, would have combined five parcels between Rockville and Manakin roads – an area between Interstate 64 and Broad Street Road just northeast of Sycamore Creek Golf Course.

The development called for 191 lots split into two sections that would straddle a creek bisecting the property. The proposal included a primary road and bridge that would have crossed the creek and provided a connection between Manakin and Rockville roads.

But concerns about traffic and other impacts caused the rezoning request to be deferred one month due to “significant public interest,” according to a staff report. An additional community meeting was held in October, drawing about 150 residents who raised concerns about open space and inconsistency with the county’s recently adopted comprehensive plan, which recommends an average lot size of 1 acre for that area. The requested density for the project was two units per acre.

Wilton said the project’s economics depended on that density, which he considers appropriate in that area of the county. He said costs to extend sewer and water would contribute to driving up the retail price of a 1-acre lot to $140,000, whereas he said two units per acre would have put the per-lot price closer to $110,000.

“With the cost of the land out there and the cost to bring the sewer and the water and the road through the property, the only way it would become reasonable to develop that property is to have two units to the acre, which is not an unusual request,” he said.

“But the staff interpreted the comprehensive plan to allow only 1.2 units per acre, and it just couldn’t be developed economically for that. So I had to go ahead and withdraw the case, given that they weren’t going to allow the density of two units per acre.”

The project was the latest for Wilton as he gets back into the development business after declaring bankruptcy in 2010 and stepping down as chairman of the Wilton Cos. in late 2012. Since starting Wilton Acquisition, the developer has also proposed a townhouse development along Wistar Road in Henrico County.

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