By: Michael Campbell | Twitter: @itsthesoup
Posted: April 14, 2019 | 12:30 p.m.
PRINCE GEORGE – Despite concerns from neighboring property owners, plans for a new multi-acre commercial park have moved one step closer to becoming a reality as supervisors approved a rezoning request from developers of the park late last month.
On a 4-1 vote, with Supervisor Alan Carmichael being the lone dissenting vote, county leaders approved the rezoning of 31 acres of property along County Drive from R-A Residential-Agricultural to B-1 General Business to allow for “various commercial uses” as part of a request from Dozier and Associates, Inc., who have identified the property as being ideal for what they see as an opportunity for various light commercial and industrial businesses to develop within the near-three dozen acre footprint of the site.
The approval by supervisors came two weeks after the county’s planning and zoning department spoke to leaders during their monthly work session about the proposed rezoning request that would be coming before them in a few days time.
This conceptual drawing shows the possible layout of this park, which is slated to feature a number of businesses, including a multi-story hotel, bowling center, and other businesses. (Prince George County)
According to documents provided by the county at the time of the March work session, the development would be suitable for a number of different commercial businesses, such as traditional retail and shops, fast food restaurants, a convenience store, and even a hotel, warehouse facility or grocery store, with those possible uses being identified as part of the applicant’s filings with the Virginia Department of Transportation, a key part of any development process as the agency and the applicant look to see how their project could impact roads from a traffic perspective.
VDOT records note that 15,000 vehicles travel along County Drive on a daily basis, a vast majority of those being traditional passenger vehicles and, even though this development could see more cars being drawn to the corridor to partake in those businesses and services, the agency said a traffic signal wouldn’t be needed at this stage but, “if a traffic signal is warranted, based on a VDOT study,” that light would have to be installed at the cost of the developer.
For those traveling along that stretch of U.S. Route 460, just east of the Pilot Travel Center and Mapco gas station, the area becomes more residential as single-family homes dot the roadside before more woodlands and vegetation sprout up as you head closer to the Food Lion Distribution Center and Love’s Travel Center a short drive away.
According to those county documents, which included a conceptual plan of what the Dozier Commercial Park could look like, the development could sit only a short distance from residents living in the area, with those property owners speaking to supervisors during last month’s public hearing on the rezoning request to advise supervisors reconsider approving the request.
Even with those against the proposal, there were some who supported the rezoning and the prospect of businesses possibly locating in the area. According to a pamphlet provided by Dozier and Associates, Inc. at the board’s work session in March, the site “will consist of 13 businesses that will create approximately 500 jobs.”
They add, “The projected businesses are a six-story hotel and conference center, bowling facility, restaurants, retail stores, urgent care center, daycare, and office buildings.”
As part of the rezoning request and approval, the developers will have to adhere to a number of conditions, like providing some form of buffering between the commercial park itself and adjacent property owners through the use of landscaping and they will need to ensure the business park’s lighting is not invasive on neighboring properties.
Additionally, among more technical requirements, including the use of underground utilities for the complex, the developers would provide $40,000 in the form of a cash proffer for each structure at the site that stands higher than one story, which would be used for “payments for capital expenses to enhance County Fire and EMS apparatus,” county documents detailed.
Regarding the developer behind the project, their website says the company was formed in the mid-2000s after Nathaniel Dozier, Jr., a disabled retired U.S. Army veteran bought 30-acres of property in the county using “his retirement and inheritance to purchase land and build a six-story hotel conference center in 2007,” adding, “A collaborative effort with Engineering Design Associates (EDA) led to the development of Dozier Commercial Park,” the planned development along U.S. Route 460.
There are a number of homes along County Drive near where this development would go, resulting in some property owners asking for the rezoning to not be approved due to the possible impacts from the commercial park.
Their website adds that securing zoning for the property was a “short-term goal,” with the long-term goal to eventually be able “to build cost-effective development projects nationwide that will make a difference in how people live, work, and enjoy life.”
Following the rezoning, The Prince George Journal reached out to Dozier to discuss the project, the rezoning, what, if any, specific businesses are lined up to move into the park upon completion and ask questions regarding how they will address the concerns of those who spoke against the project at March’s public hearing. Multiple phone calls to the company were not returned by press time.
When speaking about the commercial park project, which is listed on their website as a “future project,” they say they “are very excited to get this project started in the community where [Dozier] retired and [lives].”
Prior to the public hearing at March’s board work session, it was explained that the project and park would reside within the county’s enterprise zone, which are established areas of cities and counties where that have been identified for economic development opportunities and businesses and developers seeking to locate in those areas would be eligible for incentives, with the county’s local incentives, according to planning officials, being a waiver of rezoning fees.
With the rezoning approved, a specific timetable of when work or development of the site is unknown.