Hess Enterprises Inc. is proposing construction of a business park on 200 acres located near Route 24 and Interstate 95 in Abingdon -- land once proposed as the site for a $100 million mall.
Hess Enterprises also is proposing a major realignment of Tollgate Road, the main thoroughfare for residents of the Constant Friendship community, that would merge the entrance drive into the business park with a section of Tollgate Road.
The Aberdeen-based land development company's proposal calls for subdividing the Abingdon land into 24 lots that would be used for various commercial, office or industrial projects. The project would be called Constant Friendship Business Park, plans submitted to the county show.
The proposal does not specify what types of businesses will use the park, but under the property's commercial-industrial zoning, retail use would be limited to not more than five retail outlets.
The site is located on the southeast corner of the Route 24/I-95 interchange.
Before the project can proceed, it must be approved by the county's Department of Planning and Zoning.
William Carroll, director of the department, said last week that Hess Enterprises has been "pressuring us to make a decision soon." Plans were submitted to planning and zoning this summer, he said.
But Carroll said he could not predict when the department would issue its decision.
"We are reviewing it now," said Carroll. "Specifically, we are reviewing a traffic analysis, because we're very concerned about the traffic impact in that area; we always have been, since way back in the mall days. I've always thought it's a good location, for offices in particular. But we're not satisfied with the traffic situation."
The plans show Hess Enterprises has proposed a major change in Tollgate Road so that it would go through the business park. The road currently skirts the property. The realignment would involve construction of a triangular-shaped traffic island and stop sign to regulate the traffic flow in and out of Constant Branch and the new office park, plans show.
"That's a significant change," said Carroll. "Usually a developer puts in his own road and brings it out to meet the main road."
The 200-acre site, located next to the Constant Branch community, was designated last year by the County Council for business development -- a zoning classification that would have allowed a mall. But it was rezoned as a result of a referendum vote in Tuesday's election.
In rejecting Question B, called by some the "mall question," voters decided Tuesday to repeal the comprehensive rezoning plan adopted by the County Council last year.
The repeal triggered a contingency bill, passed by the council in the spring, that preserved all new zoning throughout the county except on the Abingdon parcel where Windsor Properties Inc. of Texas had proposed building a mall. Because of the contingency bill, a vote against Question B was in effect a vote to change the zoning on that single piece of property.
Windsor dropped its plans well before the election, deciding the impending ballot question made the prospect of spending money on the project too risky.
As a result of the vote, and the council's bill, the 200-acre tract reverted to its original commercial-industrial zoning.