Matoaca Mega Site Rezoning

This site has been set up to share information about the Matoaca Mega Site rezoning case. Please continue to check for updates about future public meetings.

If you have questions, you can send an email message to:  matoaca.mega.site@gmail.com

You may also leave a message at (804) 426-3694.

Overview

The Chesterfield Economic Development Authority (EDA) is seeking to recruit a clean, environmentally friendly user to a 1,675 acre site near Brander’s Bridge road as part of a rezoning case. The user, who has not been determined, would be an advanced manufacturing, automotive assembly or aerospace company that generates up to 5,000 good-paying jobs on site and up to 10,000 total jobs (including supplier jobs). The County is currently graduating roughly 5,000 students a year, who will need jobs many years into the future. Too many of our county residents currently are working in other localities, which is not good for their quality of life. Locating additional industries in Chesterfield will help diversify the tax base and increase revenues to support our schools, first responders and help lower property taxes.

October 2017 Presentations

The slides presented at the October 2, 2017 and October 3, 2017 community meeting can be downloaded at the following link:
Matoaca Community Meeting Presentation 2017-10

ROAD PLANS HAVE BEEN POSTED

The Chesterfield County Transportation Department has posted detailed plans of the proposed East-West Freeway.

View the proposed road plans from links on this page: http://www.chesterfield.gov/Transportation.aspx?id=8590142095

Matoaca Mega Site – Frequently Asked Questions

REVISED November 6, 2017

General Economic Development Questions

  1. What is the Economic Development Authority’s (EDA) role and relationship to the County?
    Economic development authorities exist throughout Virginia to give local governments a way to create jobs and promote economic development in a more flexible manner. For example, EDA’s are able to buy and sell property and negotiate deals in a way more similar to private industry. This is done because these types of transactions are highly competitive and would put us at a disadvantage if done in other ways. The EDA is a part of Chesterfield County government, but with independence in certain areas to allow them to better perform their purpose.
  2. Why was the EDA created in Chesterfield?
    The Chesterfield EDA was created as the best way to create jobs and promote economic development in the County. The EDA’s goal is to generate a large number of jobs above the prevailing wage level in the region. This structure has proven extremely beneficial for Chesterfield because the EDA has overseen a large number of successful projects.
  3. What specific action is the EDA taking with regard to this site?
    The EDA is seeking to rezone 1,675 acres from residential (R-12) and mixed use (C-4) to industrial (I-3) use, which is heavy industrial.
  4. Why is the County seeking to rezone the property?
    Chesterfield County needs to provide economic opportunities for our citizens and diversify the tax base to ensure the lowest possible taxes for our residents. A project of this nature is expected to invest more than $1 billion and employ between 2,500 and 5,000 direct (on-site) jobs and up to 10,000 total jobs (counting off-site indirect jobs). Industrial businesses pay a large amount of taxes relative to costs to the County, which is why so many communities across the country want these types of businesses.
  5. Is the proposed use consistent with the Comprehensive Plan?
    The current Comprehensive Plan shows the intended property uses as either industrial, corporate or research & development and allows for I1 and I2 industrial uses. The modern manufacturing facilities the EDA wishes to attract to this site are not the heavy I-3 uses as defined in the past, but a new generation of clean, low emission, environmentally-friendly facilities much closer to current I-1 and I-2 zoning categories. The current zoning categories are largely based on uses rather than impacts or compatibility with a site. The automotive, aerospace assembly and advanced manufacturing uses the EDA is seeking would more accurately be described as light to medium industrial development that the comprehensive plan calls for on the site. The EDA is currently working with the planning staff to take out all the I-3 uses that are not allowed in I-1 and I-2 with the exception of automotive and aerospace assembly and advanced manufacturing. We are also going to take out additional uses that are allowed in I-2 that do not fit with the uses we proposed for the site. This will align the EDA’s re-zoning application with what we believe is the intent of the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors when they adopted changes to the comprehensive plan in 2012.
  6. What will the project be?
    The project will be used to attract a large manufacturing user to the property. The most common uses of these mega site projects are automotive assembly and parts, aerospace and advanced manufacturing. The term ‘mega site’ is used mostly for marketing purposes to describe a certain class of projects similar to the ones we are seeking.
  7. Do you already have a specific end user committed to the site?
    No
  8. Why go through all the trouble of a rezoning before you have an end user?
    The companies potentially locating on the site would all require zoning to be in place prior to even considering a site. This is the only way Chesterfield can compete for these very important projects.
  9. Why can’t this project be placed in an existing industrial park or at another location?
    The mega site projects we would pursue generally require a minimum of 1,500 acres of property, rail access, other utility access and proximity to an interstate highway. There are no other industrial properties in the County that meet these requirements.
  10. What makes Chesterfield County a good location for this type of use?
    Site selection experts have told us that being located near a population center with a large potential workforce is becoming a major factor in success or failure of being considered for one of these mega site projects. Along with other factors, this will strongly position Chesterfield to be successful with a mega site project.
  11. I’ve heard the end user could be a large chemical plant or something bad. Is this true? Can the county restrict uses as part of the rezoning?
    Certain uses will be specifically excluded from consideration as part of the rezoning. While I-3 zoning covers a large number of potential uses, certain uses would clearly be inappropriate for this site, including a chemical plant or a landfill. The modern advanced manufacturing facilities we are targeting are clean, have less noise and can more appropriately fit next to residential communities.
  12. Why did you pick the word ‘Matoaca’ for the name when the site is in the Bermuda District?
    The EDA and staff considered a number of different names. We were looking for something that was unique, while at the same time had relevance to the area. Our research and that of national experts confirms that having a more unique name is better than a general name for website searches and marketing purposes. We considered ‘Bermuda,’ but quickly ruled it out because of potential confusion with the island country. We think Matoaca Mega Site has a nice flow and is distinctive enough from a branding and marketing perspective to be a good name. It should also be pointed out that the Matoaca name is just a place holder that will likely be replaced with something different once an end-user comes to the site. 
  13. How many jobs will this likely produce?
    That depends on the final user, but the types of projects we are trying to attract often bring 2,500-5,000 well-paying direct jobs on site and up to 10,000 total jobs in the region, including quality jobs from suppliers. These types of projects generally have a positive impact on existing businesses of all sizes, because both the company and their employees spend money in the immediate area.
  14. How much of the project is the County paying for?
    The specifics of the final negotiation with the end user will determine the specific costs and benefits to the County. However, based on how these types of deals have worked in other locations, the County may pay for the land and other on-site infrastructure. State and federal governments may pay for the East-West Freeway and rail improvements. In any scenario, the County will only approve a project that is a clear winner. The County will also seek to control costs associated until an end-user has been found. 
  15. Is this a good deal for the County?
    Yes, initial projections indicate the project will be extremely profitable for the County. This is because the end user pays local taxes based on the investment value, which we anticipate to be $1 billion or more. An investment of $1-1.6 billion would generate $150-$200 million in taxes to the County over 20 years. Even after infrastructure costs are accounted for, the total net positive revenue to the County will make this a great deal. This does not include the benefits from 2,500 or more well-paying jobs. The EDA has an excellent track record of success in terms of recruiting profitable businesses to the County and being involved with property transactions such as Cloverleaf Mall that have generated strong returns to the County.
  16. Why is the County seeking more industrial projects?
    The County is seeking the right balance between residential, commercial and industrial projects. Industrial use has by far the highest rate of return from a tax perspective to the County so it is a key part of finding the optimal mix in helping to keep our taxes at the lowest possible levels.
  17. Since the County EDA is the entity seeking the rezoning, what checks and balances are in place to protect the County residents from monetary or physical impacts from the project?
    The Planning Commission will have the initial review of the application and work on the conditions and proffers to be attached to the rezoning. These proffers are binding development conditions applied to the site and any end user on the property. The Board of Supervisors will have the ultimate say on the rezoning application. In many ways, having the EDA being the applicant offers MORE protections than a private developer, whose ultimate goal is generally financial profitability. The goal of the EDA and all of the County Departments is to act in the best long-term interests of the County and its citizens.

East-West Freeway & Transportation

  1. How will the project impact the roads around the site? Will you do a formal traffic study?
    The EDA is in the process of conducting a formal Traffic Impact Analysis (TIA) for the project. The EDA is very sensitive to the road network in the area around the site and will be submitting the study to the Chesterfield Department of Transportation, who will independently review the analysis and make specific recommendations with regard to specific improvements in the area.
  2. Is the East-West Freeway part of this rezoning case?
    No. the East-West Freeway will go through a separate approval process, although the rezoning case is expediting plans for the Freeway. The Freeway has been part of the County’s Transportation Plan for more than 25 years. However, the proposed end user on the site will require the East-West Freeway to meet the vehicular needs on the new site.
  3. What about the other East-West Freeway Options?
    There are a total of six options under consideration. The Chesterfield Department of Transportation is currently reaching out for public comment on the various options before a final decision is made. There is a preferred option which has been determined by an extensive process to have the least amount of impact on existing homes. 
  4. How was the Preferred Route Selected for the East-West Freeway?
    The Chesterfield DOT uses an extensive process to come up with the least impactful route using a number of criteria.
  5. What is the timeline for purchasing right-of-way if the East West Freeway is constructed?
    The county anticipates beginning right-of-way acquisition for the East-West Freeway as early as Spring 2018. The County anticipates in the future to purchase impacted property in a more timely manner for other projects so owners aren’t stuck in the position of owning land subject to potential impacts.
  6. How does this plan compare with what is allowed under the current zoning?
    The current zoning allows up 4,988 residential home units to be constructed as proposed by the Branner Station development. Preliminary calculations indicate the proposed industrial use will generate fewer traffic trips than if the site developed within current zoning. We will make the study results available when they are complete and have been reviewed by the Chesterfield Department of Transportation.
  7. How much additional truck traffic will be on the secondary roads?
    This information will be part of the Traffic Impact Analysis.
  8. Is the project dependent on the new East-West Connector to Route 1?
    Yes, the project is dependent on a direct connection to Route 1. As mentioned above, the East-West Freeway will go through a separate approval process.
  9. Would Treely Road be Re-Routed as part of the preferred route of the East-West Freeway?
    The preliminary draft plans, which are available for viewing at chesterfield.gov/roadprojects/east-west, show a potential realignment of Treely Road due to its proximity to a future interchange at Harrowgate Road. This is a detail of the design that has yet to be finalized and the work may or may not be included in construction of the East-West Freeway.
  10. A number of people have posed questions about impacts with specific secondary roads near the project site – Lewis Road, Branders Bridge Road, Bradley Bridge Road, the status of the old rail right of way from Chester etc.  What improvements can we expect on these secondary roads or rights of way as part of the project?
    The EDA is currently conducting a Traffic Impact Analysis in coordination with the Chesterfield Department of Transportation. We will be guided by the improvements recommended in the study and the DOT.

Harrowgate Elementary School

  1. What is the status of Harrowgate Elementary School?
    The preferred route for the East-West Freeway would require Harrowgate Elementary to be moved. Fortunately, there is property close by at Harrowgate Park that would serve as an ideal location for the new school. Harrowgate was already scheduled for a major renovation, so building a new school seems to be an ideal solution. In fact, recent experiences with other school renovations has found that completely rebuilding aging schools is a more cost-effective option than major renovations.
  2. How would the difference in the costs be funded?
    Through the normal county budget process.
  3. What will happen to the sports teams that practice at Harrowgate Park?
    The County Department of Parks and Recreation is confident the teams can be accommodated at alternate facilities in the same area and will work cooperatively with the teams as the process moves forward.

Other Infrastructure

  1. Will there be other infrastructure improvements in the area?
    Yes, upgrades of rail infrastructure and utilities will be part of the project. Rail use is beneficial to the overall transportation network around the site because it will reduce the amount of truck traffic.
  2. Who will pay for the infrastructure?
    The County will pay for the land and other on-site infrastructure. State and federal funds will be used to pay for road improvements including the East-West Freeway and rail. We do not plan to build the infrastructure until an identified project has committed to the site. Part of the EDA’s due diligence was to determine a return on the investment for the project. We can say with confidence that a project with a minimum of $1 billion in investment will create a substantial return to the County. The additional benefit of creating jobs paying good wages in the County also cannot be overstated.
  3. Will the site have rail access?
    In all likelihood, the site will require rail access. Fortunately, there is a CSX rail line not far from the site allowing for a track to be constructed into the property along the same route as the East-West Freeway. Details of how the rail line would cross existing roadways is still being determined, but there would need to be grade separation in any scenario (grade separation means the rail lines would not intersect with any roads).
  4. Will there be loud train horns blowing at the railroad crossings?
    Because the rail line would be grade separated, the train horns would not need to sound.

Land Use & Neighborhood

  1. How big is the site and how much will be used for the end user?
    The site is 1,675 acres; however, the end user will use only a portion of this – likely around 750 acres – for their manufacturing facility. A large portion of the land will be designed to create a buffer between the project and the surrounding communities.
  2. How can a large manufacturing facility coexist next to residential communities?
    Many types of manufacturing facilities would not be a good fit on this property. The types of uses we would pursue are clean, advanced manufacturing facilities that have successfully been sited in suburban and urban areas in recent years. They emit much lower levels of emissions, generate less noise, don’t include smokestacks, and can coexist in more suburban settings.
  3. How big will the buffer be around the property?
    The goal of the EDA’s rezoning plan is to minimize the impact of the site on surrounding neighborhoods and residents. By ordinance, the buffer must be at least 100 feet, but we will certainly exceed that. In any scenario, large portions of the land will remain wooded. Details of the buffer will be forthcoming soon. The EDA is also taking into consideration comments heard from neighbors and others at the community meetings and through other communications.
  4. What will be done to keep noise levels down near the site?
    The advanced manufacturing facilities we are trying to attract typically have very limited amounts of noise. There will also be a distance separating the adjacent homes from the industrial operations, which should insulate local residents from most of the noise.
  5. Will the lighting from the facility impact my home?
    The modern advanced manufacturing facilities we would be pursuing use downward directional lighting to limit the impact on adjoining properties.
  6. Are there height restrictions for the end user?
    Yes, 150 feet. One exception to this will likely be a water tower that will require a variance. Water towers are constructed at this height around the county on a regular basis and offer other benefits to the residents including fire protection and redundancy for the existing water services. Based on examples of other mega site manufacturing projects, the heights of those structures are typically 50 feet or less.
  7. Will there be a bad smell coming from the new facility?
    No, the types of facilities we would try to attract are a newer generation of advanced manufacturing, such as auto assembly that generally do not emit odors.
  8. What will happen to housing values in the area?
    The Authority is researching this issue and will post information as it becomes available. However, we hope home values will increase around the site because some workers will try to locate near their place of employment. Some of the advanced manufacturing jobs will pay $100,000 in management or high skills areas.
  9. What will the County/elected officials do to ensure community concerns are addressed?
    The Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors meetings are for the purpose of addressing the concerns of the residents, imposing conditions and ultimately deciding whether the rezoning should be approved.

Environmental & Cultural

  1. What kinds of pollution will come from the facility? Will it run off into the Chesapeake Bay tributaries?
    The environmental implications will depend on the final end user. However, all targeted industrial users will be required to adhere to all legal requirements of, and obtain any needed permits from, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality.
  2. Will the wetlands on the property be protected?
    The qualifying wetlands will be subject to the existing state and federal environmental protections and procedures.

Matoaca Mega Site Project Description

Located in the southeast part of Chesterfield County, the proposed Matoaca Mega Site includes 1,675 acres currently zoned for residential use. The site was rezoned residential in 2007 as part of the Branner Station Project. When the economy suffered the large downturn, the residential project was no longer viable and has sat vacant since that time. The Comprehensive Land Use Plan now shows the parcel is intended to be used as Regional Mixed Use/Corporate Office/Research & Development/Industrial. The Chesterfield County Economic Development Authority currently holds an option on the parcels and is applying to conditionally rezone the entire property to I-3 as part of a strategy to attract a major employer to the region.

The major employers currently targeted by the Economic Development Authority require a site within a convenient drive of a well-educated and prepared workforce, higher education facilities, and an international airport, and that is served by highway and a major north American railroad. They also require a minimum of 1,500 acres to assure that their facility is properly buffered from existing or proposed residential communities. The subject site meets these and other site criteria typically used to evaluate the potential for landing a major employer of the quality targeted by the Economic Development Authority. The plan proposed by Chesterfield County and the Economic Development Authority has been vetted by the Virginia Economic Development Partnership and creates a very unique opportunity for the future.

The property, as currently zoned, would allow for thousands of single family homes to be constructed before significant upgrades to the County utility and road infrastructure were required. Preliminary calculations suggest the proposed use will generate less traffic than if the site were developed within the current zoning designation. The Chesterfield County Economic Development Authority intends to construct necessary sewer, water, and road infrastructure, consistent with County Thoroughfare Plan and Overall Utility Master Plan, commensurate with the schedule of the major employer. Not only will this infrastructure allow for the creation of thousands of jobs, the existing citizens of Chesterfield County will benefit from the upgraded infrastructure.

Virginia has not been seriously considered for any of the large-scale automotive, aerospace, or other advanced manufacturing companies projects in recent years because we lack a site with close proximity to a large labor force. The Matoaca Mega Site will be Virginia’s best opportunity to utilize the unique characteristics of this site to attract a major employer to central Virginia.

About the Chesterfield Economic Development Authority

The Chesterfield Economic Development Authority (CEDA) works in conjunction with the Department of Economic Development to help create new jobs, expand the tax base and diversify the economy of Chesterfield County. Created in 1968, the CEDA is chartered through a state law that allows cities and counties to create industrial or economic development authorities with wide-ranging powers, not available to local governments, in order to facilitate economic development opportunities within the community.

Among other things, the CEDA has the power to buy, sell and develop land for business parks or other economic development purposes.  It can also build facilities for sale or lease to private companies; issue taxable and tax-exempt Industrial Revenue Bonds either to finance CEDA projects or to provide financing for facilities and machinery by a private company; and provide incentives to attract new companies to Chesterfield County or to induce existing companies to expand.  Two of the CEDA’s most active economic development projects are oversight of development of Meadowville Technology Park and participation in the development of Stonebridge.

The CEDA is careful to spend public dollars wisely and recognizes, evaluates, and takes very seriously the implications of competing with the private sector to meet short and long-term economic development goals and objectives. When the CEDA takes on a developer’s role, it generally does so in order to stimulate opportunities that would, ordinarily, be slow to occur with private developers that may be unwilling or unable to commit financial resources and patiently wait for a return on investment.  Additionally, private developers are often reluctant to provide the incentives that are needed to promote economic development in today’s intensely competitive environment.

Industrial Revenue Bonds issued by the CEDA must be repaid by the company benefiting from the bond, either directly or through application of lease payments to the bonds issued by the CEDA.  Upon recommendation of the Economic Development staff, the CEDA can also provide financial incentives to new or expanding companies to enhance Chesterfield’s position in attracting qualified projects.  Chesterfield’s use of incentives in economic development deals is very judicious, and only offered after a thorough cost-benefit analysis has been done to ensure that increased tax revenue and jobs created by the company will meet or exceed the value of the incentives within a prescribed timeframe. This aggressive yet careful approach to economic development incentives has allowed Chesterfield County to compete globally and expand the business tax base.

The CEDA is made up of a seven member Board that is appointed by the Chesterfield County Board of Supervisors. Members are appointed for four-years, with staggered terms that allow for ongoing continuity on the CEDA Board. Members are often appointed from among the County’s business leaders, with special consideration given to those with a range of expertise including real estate, finance and law.

The CEDA Board elects a Chairman, Vice-Chairman and other officers annually. Much of the work of the CEDA is accomplished through a committee structure, generally comprised of one or two CEDA members, staff, and consultants (when appropriate).  Committees or sub-committees make recommendations to the CEDA Board, which sets policy and takes public action on those recommendations.

The Chesterfield County Board of Supervisors (BOS) has final control over most of the decisions of the CEDA, including those involving economic development incentives or sale/purchase of land. While most of the annual operating budget for the CEDA is funded by revenue generated from application fees and closings of Industrial Revenue Bonds that come before the Authority, the BOS may make special appropriations during the year to finance other CEDA activities.

Chesterfield Economic Development Authority Board Members

  • Terri Cofer Beirne, Secretary, board member since June 2007. Eastern Counsel for the Wine Institute.
  • Lloyd A. Lenhart, board member since December 2004. Community Relations Coordinator at Southside Electric Cooperative.
  • John Ruckart, Vice-Chair, board member since August 1995. Owner of Property Consultants, Inc. a real estate firm.
  • Harril Whitehurst, Treasurer, board member since July 2008. CFO of Village Bank.
  • John Cogbill, board member since 2017. Retired Attorney, McGuire Woods.
  • John W. Hughes, Assistant Secretary, board member since October 1997. Partner in Drake Hughes and Associates Insurance Company and Financial Consulting.
  • Art Heinz, Chair, board member since 2011. President, Heinz Insurance and Financial Services.
  • John O’Neill, Esquire, Bond Counsel.  Managing Partner, Richmond Office, Hunton and Williams Attorneys specializing in Public Finance.