JCC Planning commission approves special-use permit for Williamsburg landscaping business

Hertzler and George Landscaping are planning to move to picture 8251 Richmond Road above.  (WYDaily / screenshot courtesy of Google Maps)Hertzler and George Landscaping are planning to move to picture 8251 Richmond Road above. (WYDaily / screenshot courtesy of Google Maps)

A local company has come one step closer to moving to Toano.

The James City County Planning Commission unanimously approved a special permit to convert a former church building into a contract office, create an outdoor storage area, and possibly build a repair shop.

“Personally, I think it’s a good transitional use,” said Tim O’Conner, who represents the entire district, adding the ownership transfers from the industrial part of Toano to Anderson’s Corner.

Ryan Stephenson of AES Consulting Engineers applied for special use permits on behalf of Hertzler and George Landscaping, Williamsburg, who intend to relocate their operations to 8251 Richmond Road.

“As the business has grown, we’re running out of space right now,” said Joe Hertzler, owner of Hertzler and George Landscaping. “What we’re doing right now is I am working on this SUP so we can get the property and move the business there.”

The 29.72 acre property is currently in Zone A-1, General Agriculture, and is owned by Jeff Bateman and a trustee. While part of the property is adjacent to residential areas and the CSX railroad, the permit application for a special permit only covers 4.97 acres of the property on Richmond Road.

The area is classified as “partially developed and mostly forested” with two structures including five parking spaces, according to the applicant’s statement of impact.

“The existing family home was converted into classrooms and offices for the Lifepointe Christian Church,” the document says. “The structures will be converted into a contractor’s office and the garage will remain for parking and storage.”

While the landscaping company is not planning any “exterior improvements” to the existing buildings, it plans to make improvements to the property.

Future plans envisage adding more parking spaces behind the existing garage, a “gravel storage area” and a 4,000 square meter building for a “repair shop and a material store behind the office”.

Hertzler informed the planning commission that he hoped to be able to convert the property back to industrial use later. However, it is currently planned to set up the company’s operations and “return” at some point.

One of the approval conditions also restricts use in retail, which Hertzler was not against.

“I can run my business with this special permit,” said Hertzler, noting that there is no reason to change anything. “Of course there is some land that we want to use that way.”

In fact, if the property stayed in Zone A-1, Hertzler said he would be “okay with it,” but he thinks it makes more sense to classify it as industrial for the county’s comprehensive plan.

“I think we will be a good addition to this part of the district,” said Hertzler. “I think this will be a great location for our company and I look forward to working with James City County in this way and deepening my commitment to the county.”

There are some conditions related to the project.

According to the personnel report, the applicant would need to develop a “water standards” plan that would need to be approved by the James City Service Authority as the property receives public water and sewage. In addition, the applicant must establish a bike path along Richmond Road to accommodate cyclists / pedestrians.

During the public hearing, only one person spoke before the commission voted.

Dorothy Prowant, a neighbor who lives next to the property, shared her concern, wondering how the landscaping business would affect the sewer system of the surrounding neighborhood, which relies on well water, as well as the business’s future plans, which include potential retail stores .

“It’s a house now, keep the house, will you tear the house down?” She said. “I’m only concerned as a neighbor.”

The application for a special permit goes to the meeting of the Supervisory Board on February 9 at 5 p.m.

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