The Richmond Register

February 4, 2013

Too much top soil sends developer back to planners

By Bill Robinson
Register Editor

RICHMOND — An overabundance of topsoil had the developer of a privately owned student-housing complex at the corner of Lancaster Avenue and Barnes Mill Road before the Richmond Planning Commission Monday requesting a modification of their site plan.

Much to everyone’s surprise, the soil on the 15 acres where the complex is under construction has turned out to be 17 feet deep on the property, Ed Worley of Grand Campus Communities told the planners.

The site plan will need to be altered, but not substantially, said Worley and attorney Michael Eaves.

Instead of being at the same elevation, one of the development’s two buildings needs to be constructed about eight feet lower, they said. Instead of a separate clubhouse that also would house the complex’s offices, the developers proposed adding a basement to the building farthest from Lancaster Avenue and locating indoor recreational and common areas there.

Also, the swimming pool would move to south of the building instead of to the west. Ironically, that is the spot first proposed for the pool, Worley said.

Putting the offices in the second main building would have the advantage of facilitating control and monitoring of the common areas, he said.

In another change, a row of parking spaces that had been planned for between the front building and Lancaster Avenue would be moved to behind the second building, where only two rows had been planned.

The complex’s security gate also will have to be moved, but that will allow better access to guest parking, Worley said.

After nearly an hour of detailed explanations, none of the planners voiced objection to any of the proposed changes.

The problem of too much top soil is unusual for Madison County builders, Worley said. More often, costs are driven up and plans are forced to change because of rock too near the surface, he remarked.

Because the changes will require earlier construction, even if not completion, of the second building, the developers are paying for the commission to meet in two called sessions to expedite their decision.

A special business session of the commission will take place 5 p.m. next for a vote on the altered site plan.

Bill Robinson can be reached at editor@richmondregister.com or at 624-6690.