The planned facility would include a man-made lake for water activities, a boardwalk with restaurants and retail, apartments, up to 300 town homes and an amphitheater.
Richmond, VA. – The Chesterfield County Planning Commission on Tuesday for a second time deferred a public hearing on a proposed water sports park in the western part of the county.
“The applicant is preparing additional information that is needed to continue to work on the issue,” board member Gloria L. Freye of the Clover Hill District, where the park would be, said before the meeting.
The Planning Commission unanimously approved a 60-day deferral, but the developers do not expect it to delay the facility’s opening planned for spring of 2018.
The commission was to hear comments from county residents on the zoning permits for the $35 million Waterford Park, a 105-acre outdoor water sports facility off Genito Road near the Powhite Parkway and state Route 288.
The hearing will be moved to the Planning Commission meeting on Aug. 16. A hearing on the same issue, set for Wednesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting, will be deferred as well.
The project is being pushed by Richmond developer Brett Burkhart and business partner Derek Cha, founder of the Sweet Frog frozen yogurt chain. They say the park — which would include a man-made lake for water activities, a boardwalk with restaurants and retail, apartments, up to 300 town homes and an amphitheater — would create jobs and spur the local economy.
Charlie Davis, president of the Brandermill Community Association Board of Directors, said that two weeks ago, his group had asked for Tuesday’s hearing to be rescheduled to allow for the proposed water park rezoning to be better vetted.
“Brandermill has not opposed the project, because we know that that parcel of land will be developed by somebody. We just want to get it in the best shape for the community,” Davis said.
At several community meetings, area residents, especially from Brandermill, had expressed concerns about congestion and noise. But Burkhart and Cha have vowed to keep the sound levels below 65 decibels and improve three intersections — and much of the road system in the area — to minimize the impact of increasing traffic.
At the most recent community meeting Monday night, the developers were able to further address and ease many of the residents’ concerns, Davis said.
“They did a good job last night,” he said. “After we had asked for the deferral, they began to nibble on that.”
Burkhart said the meeting’s attendees “seemed satisfied” after hearing the developers’ updates.
“We offered to do a noise study, kind of like a heat map. We have zero concerns that this is going to remain an issue,” Burkhart said.
Cha, who purchased the 105-acre property off Genito Road in 2013, teamed up with Burkhart last year to develop a water sports park modeled after the U.S. National Whitewater Center that opened 10 years ago in Charlotte, N.C.
The Chesterfield site was part of a lot initially selected by the developer of SportsQuest for a $250 million athletic complex — until three years ago increasing debts and doubts about the facility’s future forced SportsQuest’s owner to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy liquidation.
What’s left of the SportsQuest project are lighted athletic fields and concession and bathroom facilities that had been built east of Route 288 on what is now known as River City SportsPlex, owned by a creditor of SportsQuest.
Burkhart said Tuesday that he and his partner were not discouraged by the deferral of their zoning hearing.
“It was a little bit of a setback, but everything is going to be better off. The last 30 days have brought a lot of awareness to the project, and we feel more confident now than before about its viability and feasibility,” Burkhart said.
“We will continue to go ahead and do our site plan work as planned. Hopefully, we can stay on schedule for our opening goal.”