Developers have submitted plans to Henrico County to get the property rezoned, and have assured Charles Glen residents that the development “won’t have a negative impact on the community,” says James Theobald, a local lawyer representing the landowner, Reynolds Development LLC.
But the residents of Charles Glen are taking no chances. The neighborhood homeowners’ association has hired a lawyer, John G. Mizell Jr., a zoning attorney with Spinella Owings & Shaia, and has an organized front to resist Wal-Mart, or any other kind of 24-hour retail, before the county’s Planning Commission.
“At this point we don’t care who is going to be there, we just don’t want big-box retailers, especially 24-hour-a-day operations,” says Eduardo Alvarez, president of the Charles Glen Homeowners Association.
A Wal-Mart would seriously disrupt traffic, create light pollution and lower property values in Charles Glen, property owners say.
“It brings in the equivalency of a mall in our backyard,” complains Courtny Kuester, a Charles Glen resident and member of the neighborhood steering committee.
Lawyers for the Reynolds development say Wal-Mart is just a possibility. The retailer hasn’t decided whether to pursue the property just yet, says Theobald, a zoning lawyer with Hirschler Fleischer.
But Theobald is getting some help from colleague Jay Weinberg, the attorney who represented Wal-Mart during its well-documented zoning fight in Ashland, and says a retailer like Wal-Mart would be able to pay for needed road improvements to Forest Avenue and Glenside Drive.
The rezoning case has been deferred until Aug. 13, to give developers time to hash out differences with local residents. — ScottBass
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