Trail Waiver# 6366-WTL-001-1:
BB&T Bank

6618 Richmond Highway

 
  Article Prepared By Robert Michie
Trails and Sidewalk Committee, Lee District
Last Reviewed: 11 October 2010
Revision 0
 
 

Summary:

BB&T Bank at Beacon Hill has filed a Site Plan (6366-SP-002) to demolish its current branch office, located at the corner of Southgate Drive and Richmond Highway, and then build a new branch office to replace it. During the consideration of the Special Exception (SE-2009-LE-022) preceding the Site Plan, the applicant states that the Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors waived the requirement to provide any frontage improvements.  In fact, the Planning Commission record says that "...a waiver of the frontage improvements with the implementation of the staff-proposed development conditions." The record also accepts "... a modification of the Richmond Highway Corridor Area Streetscape Elements to that shown on the SE Plat." The record does not give the applicant a blanket denial of frontage improvements. These are the conditions subsequently reported and approved by the Board Of Supervisors, as shown on Page 44 of the Clerk's Summary for March 23 2010.

An approximately 120-foot section of frontage along Richmond Highway  has triggered the requirement for an 8-foot Type I trail, and a bike lane on Richmond Highway. Applicant's Request: waive bike lane requirement because:

  1. The bike lane would be a "frontage improvement" that was "waived" as part of the Board Approval of the Special Exception.

  2. There is not enough physical room in the existing street paved area of Richmond Highway to provide an on-road bike path without actually widening the existing street.

[ BB&T Bank Beacon Hill Branch Office ]

Map 1: Map of Subject Area. Property highlighted in color.

Discussion:

The Beacon Hill Branch of BB&T is part of the Beacon/Groveton Community Business Center (CBC). It has its own section in the Area IV Comprehensive Plan, starting on Page 39 of the 3-9-2010 update to the 2007 Edition. BB&T is a business operating in a parcel identified as "A-1" in the Beacon/Groveton Map (Figure 9). A full build-out of the recommended streetscape within the Area IV Plan will be impossible without direct assistance from Virginia DOT.

The present situation is that a service road parallels Richmond Highway on the west side where the bank is. Observations during the 11 October 2010 Field Check showed that the service road itself is being used as a bike lane. This is not an ideal situation, but it gets the job done.

Online searching failed to turn up a copy of the Special Exception plat referred to in the minutes of the Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisor meetings of March 2010. The Field Check, however, found a less-than-desirable situation situation with the sidewalks that we hope BB&T already recognized, and will fix. BB&T's building design disrupts a north-south sidewalk. Plantings disconnect pedestrians from reaching the Bank's "browsing area" and the continuation of the sidewalk beyond the Bank.

Field Check  11 October 2010

[ BB&T Branch. Sidewalk discoonnected along North-South Route. ] Photo 1: BB&T at Beacon Hill. Note sidewalk is disrupted by drive-through lane. North-south travel along Beacon Center sidewalk is disrupted by plantings.
[ Nearby Target with an 8-foot wide sidewalk. ] Photo 2: Target at Beacon Hill, near BB&T. Target provided an eight-foot sidewalk after a 2002 Waiver Denial.

 

Recommendation:

Approve the Waiver for the following reasons:

  1. Virginia DOT needs to be involved in providing any Bike Lane on Richmond Highway.
  2. A similar case for a nearby Target, Inc. store in 2002 was resolved without a Bike Lane.

Additional Recommendation:

The streetscape recommendations for the Beacon/Groveton CBC within the Area IV Comprehensive Plan are considerable. One set of recommendation has been of interest to Lee District Supervisors for over ten years: improving the plight of pedestrians along Route One. The unfortunate sidewalk break shown in Photo #1 is exactly the type of poor design that Lee District has been trying to stamp out. In 2002, Lee District used the Trail Waiver process to get Target Stores to provide an adequate sidewalk for Beacon Hill residents. BB&T, a local Bank, should be ready to do its share, too.

  1. Staff must review the plat submitted as part of 2009-LE-022 for compliance with the sidewalk provision of the Master Plan. This is crucial infrastructure, and should not be considered a "frontage improvement."

 

 
 

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