2006-08-02 / News

Brandermill residents question condo proposal

By Susan Nienow

Twelve of Brandermill Country Club's tennis courts may soon be replaced with a new condominium complex, leaving fewer courts where members can play tennis. Twelve of Brandermill Country Club's tennis courts may soon be replaced with a new condominium complex, leaving fewer courts where members can play tennis. Planning Commissioner Russell J. Gulley wants more time to study a proposal to replace 12 of Brandermill Country Club's tennis courts with a new condominium complex. The case is scheduled to be heard by the commission on August 15.

"I would prefer that the applicant take [a] deferral," said Gulley, during a neighborhood meeting held at the country club last week.

At press time, Bob Dewsbury, the country club's general manager and one of its owners, had not asked for the extension.

The country club held an information meeting for neighborhood residents on July 25 to discuss the proposal, which includes selling the property where a dozen tennis courts are now located to a developer who would build 41 townhouse-style condominiums. The condos would be priced in the $300,000s.

Some neighborhood residents oppose the condos.

"Information in this case has come to me late," said the Clover Hill commissioner. "I don't like to go forward without all of the information. At this point, I doubt if this case will be heard on August 15."

"I think people have valid concerns," Gulley said after the meeting. "A lot of the people at the meeting seemed to be long-term residents [of Brandermill] and moved there with the knowledge that the country club was an amenity. Now they are looking at a [downgrading] of that amenity."

Andrew Scherzer, executive vice president of Balzer and Associates, stressed that the meeting was to hear concerns from the community so they could be addressed. The property is already zoned for residential use.

Late last week, Planning Director Kirk Turner said his department was looking into whether losing the tennis courts, classified as open space, would mean the percent of open space would fall below what the Brandermill master plan called for. If so, the proposal would have to go through the rezoning process.

The residents' biggest concerns were increased traffic on Brandermill Parkway, because of the proposed shared entrance to the club and the condos, and possible drainage problems created by an increase in solid surfaces such as pavement and roofs. The site drains into the Swift Creek Reservoir where phosphorous levels are monitored.

Scherzer said an initial study showed little increase in the amount of paved and roof surface. The development must meet the standards of the Chesapeake Bay Act, he added.

The entrance from Brandermill Parkway would be shared by condo residents and the club, and the condos would have a separate access road. Improvements would be made to the club parking lot with curb and gutter, landscaping and lighting.

Some residents expressed concern that the character of the area would be altered while others said eliminating the tennis courts would change the club's reputation as being the "premier tennis facility in metro Richmond." Competitive tennis players were concerned the remaining eight courts would not qualify the facility for USTA tournaments or other events.

Despite several requests, Dewsbury declined to speak during the meeting, saying it was not the proper forum to discuss club membership issues.

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