GOOCHLAND COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — After a lengthy discourse with the public, the Goochland Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday night to move forward with plans to allow a 250,000-square-foot e-commerce center to be built at a site along Ashland Road, near Rockville’s Truck Supply Co.
Codenamed “Project Rocky”, the proposal was discussed for hours Tuesday night, when members of the community took to the stand to voice their concerns to the Goochland County Board of Supervisors.
In a 5-0 vote, the board ultimately decided to rezone the land and continue with the project, despite public opposition.
Among issues addressed, many residents worried the existence of a large-scale fulfillment center would strip the county of its rural identity.
Neil Spoonhower — the chairman of the board — discussed the role that industrial expansion could play in helping to maintain the county’s rural reputation. He noted that by building up industrial zones, the community can maintain enough revenue to leave residential zones with minimal impact. The chairperson added that the center would bring about 1,000 jobs to Goochland.
“To keep the county rural, a great strategy is growing the commercial in targeted areas,” Spoonhower said. “Such as our industrial areas.”
Many community members fear the e-commerce center could increase traffic on roads that are already busy. Spoonhower, though, said part of the project is amending infrastructure — and expanding those roads.
“We have gotten commitments from the Governor’s Office, the Secretary of Transportation, Secretary of Commerce that they are in support and will be helping us find the funding to make the ideal solution become a reality,” Spoonhower said. “We will need our state and federal representatives to help us in the time frame we need.”
The topic of accessibility to public safety resources represented a common concern as well. One woman at the meeting said she’s scared increased traffic in the area would prevent first responders from answering calls in a timely manner. The board says it plans to expand emergency services in the area in question, in part to combat this very problem.
Spoonhower emphasized the importance of collaboration between the community and representatives on the board. He said adjustments can be made to better serve the majority of Goochland.
“Nothing is certain these days until shovels go in the ground,” Spoonhower said. “But, we are cautiously optimistic that this is moving forward.”
The plot of land that the proposal concerns stretches about 100 acres, but the building itself will cover 650,000 square feet. The chairman said this would be the largest-scale development the community has seen since Motorola years ago.
Spoonhower said a company approached the county about putting a fulfillment center in, as it is a prime location for moving goods. It is close to Interstates 64 and 95.
“It’s not costing the county anything,” Spoonhower said, adding, “It’s projected to be about a $500 million project.”
The building will be a “middle-mile center”, meaning goods will be brought from different ports near the area before being repackaged and delivered to people’s houses.
Citizens in attendance at Tuesday night’s meeting voiced additional concerns over the center’s potential noise and disruption. Spoonhower said the noise will only be about 55 decibels. He said, however, the environmental impact is decided by the state based on environmental regulations.
Even though many Goochland County residents are opposed to this project, Spoonhower told 8News he is happy to see the community engaging in these conversations.