The Richmond Register

April 25, 2013

Walgreens, IHOP plans put on hold

By Bill Robinson
Register Editor

RICHMOND — Concerns about highway access and traffic congestion led the Richmond Planning Commission to postpone action Tuesday on preliminary plats that would have been the first steps toward construction of an IHOP restaurant and a Walgreens drug store.

An IHOP is proposed for south-bound Exit 87 of Interstate 75 next to Jack’s BP. Walgreens is proposed for northwest corner of the Big Hill Avenue/Eastern Bypass intersection.

The preliminary plat for Walgreens would have created two lots with highway access from both Big Hill Avenue (US 25) across from Northland Drive and on the bypass across from an entrance to Kroger.

The planners expressed concern about left turns onto Big Hill Avenue and the complex being used as a cut-through from Big Hill to the bypass.

Commissioner Mike Rice said he had driven past the proposed Big Hill Avenue entrance at 2 p.m. and was backed up past that point from the traffic light on the bypass.

The planners biggest objection, however, was the lack of a road from the development to the west entrance of Carriage Gate Shopping Center next to Office Depot where the state recently installed a traffic light on the bypass.

Although the developer’s long-term plans for the property include construction of the connecting road, planning board members noted there was no assurance it would be built.

Nate Stark of Anchor Properties, the developer, said requiring the connector road to Carriage Gate, at an estimated cost of $500,000, would likely prevent the development from proceeding.

Some planning commission members suggested he consult with the land owners and determine their interest in putting in the road so the property could be developed.

Construction of the IHOP, even if the proposed plat won city approval, would still require numerous approvals from the state transportation cabinet, several commission members noted.

The cabinet still owns property behind the proposed development, which the developers hope to purchase, said Charles Black, the developer’s consultant.

In response to concerns expressed at the planning commission’s April 16 work session, the developer had proposed enlarging a traffic island that would allow only right turns in and out of the property, but commission members still had reservations about it.

Traffic exiting the property would have to drive west on Barnes Mill Road and turn around if motorists wanted to return to the interstate or drive into Richmond.

Commission chair David Rush said years ago the panel had adopted a policy of not granting conditional approvals. Black had earlier said the developers wanted to gauge the city panel’s disposition before seeking state approvals.

Site-development plans were approved for a Cookout hamburger restaurant at the southwest corner of South Kilarney Lane and the Eastern Bypass and an eight-unit building for the Liberty Place Recovery Center for Women on Holly Street.

A proposed zone change, from R-4 to R-3, that would have allowed apartments to be constructed at a greater density in Heritage Place off Barnes Mill Road was withdrawn by the developer before the meeting. Several Heritage Place residents came to the meeting prepared to speak against the proposal.

Current residential development in Heritage Place conforms to density permitted only by R-1c zoning although it is zoned R-4, which allows a mix of residential uses.

Josh Kaylor, who addressed the commission on behalf of the neighborhood, said most residents had believed the property was zoned R-1c (high density single-family residential) until made aware of the rezoning request.

A proposed site-development plan for a privately owned student housing complex on Cycle Drive behind the Baptist Health-Richmond hospital also was withdrawn before the meeting.

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