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Thursday, May 23, 2024

James City County Planning Commission Approves Hazelwood Farms Enterprise Center

Stonehouse Elementary
In a 4-2 vote, the James City County Planning Commission approved Hazelwood Farms The Enterprise Center Wednesday. (WYDaily/Courtesy Olivia Doiron)

JAMES CITY COUNTY — The James City County (JCC) Planning Commission approved Hazelwood Farms’ rezoning and applications for a special use permit (SUP) to build a new mixed-use development during the Wednesday, Jan. 5 meeting.

In a 4-2 vote, the planning commission approved to recommend the proposed rezoning of approximately 328 acres in the County for a new development called The Enterprise Center.

The Enterprise Center is part of an ongoing effort by the Hazelwood Farms, LLC property owners to rezone their land to build new developments.

The Center will include up to more than three million square feet of warehouse and industrial use and up to 75,000 square feet of commercial use.

The new center will be located on Old Stage Road and on a portion of Barnes Road, which is south of I-64, and would include a fast food restaurant, extension of public water and sewer facilities, textile manufacturing structures, and a convenience store.

The initial proposal included up to 250 residential dwelling units and a truck terminal. However, in response to public comment received at the Oct. 6 planning commission meeting, the family revised the application proposal to no longer include residential units or a truck terminal.

Larry Hazelwood, one of three Hazelwood children who own the property, spoke about what led the family to bring the application forward.

“Our roots are in James City County,” he said. “Our great-grandfather actually secured and acquired this land back in 1886, and on that land our grandfather was born in 1895 and he lived his entire life on that farm. And my father was born there in 1925, and he lived his entire life on that farm.”

Hazelwood said that the family, who no longer reside in JCC but still do business there, said that they, like many of the residents, have concerns over the traffic impact that this development could create.

However, Hazelwood also said that they have a traffic engineer who has come up with a solution to essentially rebuild Old Stage Road and add more lanes.

He added that by listening to the concerns of citizens and removing the residential units from the proposal, the family believes that they have struck an adequate compromise.

“I want to stress to you that we, as the Hazelwood family, are striving and pushing to make this a good development,” he said. “Not only for the Hazelwood family and our legacy, but for the citizens of James City County and for James City County.”

During the public comments portion, many residents living in the residential areas surrounding the property spoke against the plan.

“It has been interesting to me to hear the Hazelwood family extol how many generations they have had in the area and I think that is certainly noteworthy, because I have lived in the Greater Williamsburg area for 50 years,” Toano resident Linda Rice said. “So, I would like to say, as nice as that is, I would also point out that we have had other folks who have lived in this area for quite a while who have paid their taxes, who also have a great deal of interest in preserving the rural lands that drew them initially to the upper county, myself included.” 

Rice and other speakers shared their concerns over traffic and noise impacts the development would bring, and how it would have a negative effect on the quiet, rural area.

Several speakers were in favor of the Center, saying that the development will have a positive economic impact on the County.

Among the commissioners who voted in favor of the proposal was Barbara Null, who represents the Stonehouse district.

“Since I represent the Stonehouse district, I’m going to make a lot of people, I guess, unhappy, but whatever. I’ve looked into this extensively. First of all, the property is not zoned rural,” Null said. “So, by right the Hazlewoods can do just about anything they want to do.”

“I think it’s a good thing for the community, and I’m going to vote yes,” she added.

Commissioner Rob Rose, who represents the Roberts district, was concerned about the open-endedness of the plan.

“It’s a real challenge to try to approve something that’s so unknown at this scale,” he said.

Other Commissioners supported the proposal, as they felt it is in keeping with the Comprehensive Plan.

The planning commission voted 4-2, with Tim O’Connor, Julia Leverenz, Frank Polster and Null voting yes, and Richard Krapf and Rose voting no.

Hazelwood Farms also applied for a special use permit (SUP) to build another development, The Village Center, on approximately 79 acres. The Village Center was approved by the JCC Board of Supervisors in December.

The Village Center would also be located on Old Stage Road and is envisioned as an entertainment, retail, office and business support complex.

The Enterprise Center will next go to the Board of Supervisors for approval.

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