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Update on Forest Hill Widening Proposal from 4th District Councilperson Kristen Larson

Good news if you were anti-widening.

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I’ll post Councilperson’s full statement below but here is the part most people are interested in.

The update to the project changes the scale to add dedicated bicycle lanes and sidewalk and remove the widening component. The extent of the project is also changed, moving it west along Forest Hill Avenue to between the Belt Railroad and Powhite Parkway. This update removes the project from consideration as regionally significant and qualifies it as a local project, taking it out of the ConnectRVA 2045 process.

Full Statement:

I connected with folks from the Richmond Regional Transportation Planning Organization (RRTPO) yesterday and we discussed the proposed plan for Forest Hill Widening.
Here is some background from RRTPO:

The first phase of our planning process dealt with issues that were experienced in the region related to the transportation system. One of the ways issues were identified was through testing our existing travel network in a travel demand model to see how it would handle future projected traffic. The section of Forest Hill Avenue from 47th to Semmes was identified as becoming congested for automobile and truck traffic by the year 2025.

Knowing there was an identified issue, staff reached out to the city and were asked to plan for a widening in that location from 2-4 lanes, primarily to address expected growth in the corridor over the next twenty years. That project description is what we took forward for inclusion in the Universe of Projects. To clarify, being in this list does not mean there is any commitment to move a project forward or fund it in any way; it only shows which projects will be analyzed for improvement of the network for the community.

Update on project today:
Through the public review process, we have heard overwhelming support for eliminating this project from the Universe of Projects. As a result, was able to have an extended conversation with DPW leadership this week and have received the following request from the City. To clarify the current intent for the Forest Hill Avenue corridor, city staff asked that the project be removed to better support recent planning efforts along the corridor. The update to the project changes the scale to add dedicated bicycle lanes and sidewalk and remove the widening component. The extent of the project is also changed, moving it west along Forest Hill Avenue to between the Belt Railroad and Powhite Parkway. This update removes the project from consideration as regionally significant and qualifies it as a local project, taking it out of the ConnectRVA 2045 process.

As far as next steps, when the public review period closes on Thursday 4/15, staff will summarize public comments received and provide a recommendation to the ConnectRVA 2045 Advisory Committee at their next meeting. The Universe of Projects will then be subjected to the evaluation and scoring process to determine which projects make sense and provide reasonable improvements to the network.
RRTPO is extremely pleased that they were able to work cooperatively with city staff and resolve this concern. This exercise also illustrates a successful planning process, whereby we were able to receive community feedback, hear concerns, and improve the slate of projects. Thank you and your staff for communicating your concerns – we are hopeful that the resolution is satisfactory to all, and we encourage continued involvement as the process moves forward. As a reminder, there will be more opportunities for public engagement as the planning process continues.

Additional opportunities for engagement: If this is helpful, there will be at least two more major milestones in the planning process where people can get involved and provide additional review and feedback. Each of these review periods will be 30 days.

Cost constrained plan review: In mid-summer, the scoring will be completed for each project in the Universe and those scores will be available for public review and feedback. Following that review period, staff will work with the advisory committee to assemble a draft prioritized list of projects to be considered for the cost-constrained plan. This is really when public feedback is helpful and it will be a time when the public can see how each project compares to others and how they really stack up across the region.

Full plan review: Late summer, early fall there will be an opportunity for the public to review the full plan in draft form before it goes into the final review process by our committees and policy board. At this time, the constrained plan will be explained in more detail with text, graphics, interactive mapping, and other formatting that should make the full document easier to navigate.

Thank you to everyone that reached out about this proposal and thanks to Richmond Regional Transportation Planning Organization for hearing from 4th and 5th district residents and working with city staff to find another project.

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Richard Hayes is the co-founder of RVAHub. When he isn't rounding up neighborhood news, he's likely watching soccer or chasing down the latest and greatest board game.

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Rezoning Request for a Mixed Use Building at Dunston and Westover Hill Boulevard

The rezoning – Planning Meeting (virtual) is scheduled for May 17th at 1:30pm and the request is to change from R-5 Residential.

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Spotted on Forest View Neighborhood Facebook posted by Ashley

The rezoning signs have gone up for the Old Christmas Tree Lot that’s across from the Valero. The developer is applying for a Special Use Permit (R-63). It’s currently a R-5 Residential.
The rezoning – Planning Meeting (virtual) is scheduled for May 17th at 1:30pm. https://richmondva.legistar.com/Calendar.aspx I understand that you can submit comments ahead of the meeting.
The developer (whom I have no association with- just sharing what I know) is planning on building a mix use building.
– 3 Story Building
– The third floor will be SIX Apartments ( Four 1 bedroom apartments and Two 2 bedroom apartments).
– The second floor will be office space
– And the first floor will be retail
– Trash service will be a dumpster with a privacy screen
– UPDATED: 9 spots parking spots + 1 handicapped parking spot = 10 parking spots behind the building but expected street parking will be used
– At least a year lease for the apartments / targeting young professionals

The images were distributed at a Forest Hill Neighborhood Association Meeting.

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South of the James Community Festival Morphing into Mile of Music at Forest Hill Park

On Saturday, June 12th you’ll be able to walk around Forest Hill Park and enjoy some sweet sounds.

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In previous years the Richmond Symphony would set up their really big tent and host music. This year they’re still playing music but it’s a little different. On Saturday, June 12th you’ll be able to walk around Forest Hill Park and enjoy some sweet sounds.

South of the James Community Festival

While we are encouraged by the progress being made in the state of Virginia, the Richmond Symphony has decided to take a different direction with the South of the James Community Festival this year, primarily due to COVID and still needing to maintain social distancing protocols, etc. With that in mind, we are moving forward with an alternative approach.

Please join us at the new event, Mile for Music: https://fb.me/e/1eT2qOcJt

Over the course of two hours, Mile of Music will have several performing groups set-up along an approximate 1-mile route within Forest Hill Park – you can take your time to enjoy music in the park from 2-4pm! Hope to see you there!

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Richmond BizSense Reporting: Nonprofit Little Hands that Clothes Babies Moves Into Stratford Hills

The nonprofit takes donated clothes and other items and distributes them to children.

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From Richmond BizSense.com:

Little Hands opened a new office at 7101-L Forest Hill Ave. in the Shops at Stratford Hills in early April. The nonprofit collects donated new and like-new clothing, diapers, soap and other items for children up to 3 years old and then distributes the donations to children referred by its partner network.

“We provide essentials to young children in need in the greater Richmond area,” founder and executive director Taylor Keeney said. “That (age range) is in particular a time when kids are growing and constantly needing new clothing and gear.”

Little Hands launched out of Keeney’s garage in 2019, and by the fall of that year moved into a classroom at Second Baptist Church in Henrico. After heightened demand spurred by the pandemic, the nonprofit relocated again.

Details from Little Hands Instagram on how you can make a donation.

We are opening the doors to our new office on Wednesday! Come see us this week!

Our new office is located at 7101 Forest Hill Ave., Suite L, Richmond, VA 23225. It is in the Shops at Stratford Hills, right in between Publix and Target.

All donations must be brought to the back door. When you pull into the shopping center, drive around to the back (either around the Publix or Target). There is a sign on the Little Hands door! Ring the doorbell and a volunteer will meet you at the door.

For a refersher on the items we accept, and what must be new versus gently used, visit www.littlehandsva.org/how-to-help.

We will be posting our regular hours for the spring later this week, including some Saturday hours coming up in April. See you soon!

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