Update: Judge Charles Maxfield ruled in Henrico County’s favor in its dispute with HHHunt over an abandoned connector road between Wyndham and a planned development next door in Hanover County. Read more about Maxfield’s ruling and reaction to the case in Monday’s edition of BizSense.
Arguments have ended in the Wyndham connector road dispute between Henrico County and one of its largest developers, with a judge’s ruling expected today.
At the close of the fourth day of what was scheduled to be a three-day trial, Judge Charles Maxfield said he would consider the case Friday morning and make his ruling at 1 p.m. at Henrico Circuit Court.
At issue is a disputed connector road between HHHunt’s Wyndham development and another planned adjacent to it in Hanover County.
HHHunt is contesting, through a pair of lawsuits, Henrico’s removal in late 2016 of the planned extension of Dominion Club Drive from its future roads plan, as well as the county’s abandonment of a completed portion of the road the following February.
The developer, represented by a legal team from Hirschler Fleischer, argues that the removal of the road will impede its ability to develop the Hanover project and violates its property rights.
County-approved plans dating back to 1989, when Wyndham was first zoned, reflect the planned road extension, but the county’s lawyers maintain the road would not be in county citizens’ public interest or improve traffic flow or connectivity for Wyndham.
In his closing remarks Thursday, Deputy County Attorney Tom Tokarz argued that HHHunt had approval to extend the road to as far as the county line but had yet to do so.
“Having sat on their rights for over 25 years, it’s our position they don’t have any vested rights claim,” Tokarz said.
In his closing argument, Hirschler Fleischer attorney John Walk maintained that the county used the wrong process to go about abandoning and removing the road from its plan. He questioned how the county could say the road is not in the public interest if it had been included for years in its transportation plan.
Much of the testimony presented over the past two days focused on the vehicular capacity of Dominion Club Drive and its physical capacity, or pavement carrying capacity, to take on additional vehicle trips per day.
On Wednesday, Deputy County Manager Tim Foster, who was a county traffic engineer in 1989 when Wyndham was being reviewed, said the development planned in Hanover – a 55-and-up age-restricted community on 366 acres including Hunting Hawk Golf Club – would generate more traffic on the road than a recent Timmons Group traffic study had projected.
Foster said that study projected as much as 3,300 additional vehicle trips per day on Dominion Club Drive, but he described the projection as inaccurate because the development would require only one resident per home be 55 or older. With people working longer and seniors pursuing more “active adult” lifestyles, Foster said more vehicle trips per day would be expected.
Foster was one of several dozen witnesses called over the course of the trial. Others included HHHunt President Dan Schmitt, local developer and Wyndham engineer Webb Tyler, Henrico planning director Joe Emerson, Hanover planning director David Maloney, Wyndham contractor James H. Martin Jr., and construction manager Justin Cornwell of engineering firm Draper Aden Associates.
HHHunt Communities President Kim Kacani has sat alongside the company’s legal team for the duration of the trial. In addition to Walk, the legal team includes Hirschler Fleischer attorneys Alexander Boyd and Andy Sherrod. Tokarz was joined by Assistant County Attorney John Gilbody.
More than a dozen people, many of them Wyndham residents, attended Thursday’s session. Dennis Berman, president of The Wyndham Foundation Board of Directors, said outside the courtroom that a grassroots effort by hundreds of residents concerned about impacts from the Hanover development prompted the foundation to reach out to county supervisors, who subsequently voted to remove and abandon the road.
Check back for updates to this story as they develop.