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2007-09-12 / News

Proposed ordinance could target illegal immigrants

By Greg Pearson
STAFF WRITER

Just a few weeks after the county board received an update on illegal immigration, the Chesterfield Planning Commission will review a proposed ordinance at its Sept. 18 meeting that is similar to one of the report's recommendations to reduce the number of illegal immigrants in the county. The reworded ordinance increases the fines from $1,000 to $2,000 for the first misdemeanor and $2,500 for each additional violation when four or more unrelated persons are living in a singlefamily residence.

The staff recommends adoption of the zoning ordinance after public hearings by the commission and county board. Entry into a residence would require a valid search warrant unless the property owner gives consent or the violation occurs "in plain view." Some mobile homes in the Jefferson Davis corridor are suspected of housing several families each, a possible violation. Because of overcrowding, those residents often congregate outside of the trailers.

Chesterfield police have said that illegal immigrants often flee after their arrest to avoid prosecution, fines and possible deportation. If Chesterfield became known for its strict enforcement, illegal immigrants might choose to live elsewhere.

The county report last month estimated the cost of illegal immigration at $2.1 million annually to Chesterfield taxpayers, but that total did not include spending by the county's school system. It costs about $8,000 per year to educate each student. During the last school year, 2,105 Chesterfield students were enrolled in English as a Second Language (ESL) courses. School officials have cautioned, however, that ESL students should not be assumed to be in the country illegally.

Like other Virginia counties, Chesterfield is pursuing a "get tough" stance on illegal immigration, but law enforcement officials locally have often pointed with pride at the county's reputation for strict enforcement. Dale Supervisor Kelly Miller, currently board chairman, has pushed the immigration issue publicly and vocally.

Cheatham property

The 63-acre Cheatham property in the northwest quadrant of routes 360/288 will also be reconsidered at the Sept. 18 planning commission meeting. A tie vote last month delayed a recommendation by the commission because two commissioners didn't like having just one access to the development with a second emergency access through a nearby church.

The rezoning from agriculture to commercial would be for 600 homes - mostly multifamily - including a 3-4 story high-rise building. The project would include about 110 townhouses, independent senior housing, assisted living and a nursing home. The development would pay $9.3 million in proffers for road improvements and add an estimated 319 more students to Chesterfield classrooms.

Roseland

Though the very large rezoning is on the commission's agenda, Planning Director Kirk Turner says his department wants another 30 days to study the complex rezoning so it will likely be deferred until the October meeting. Located at the intersection of Woolridge Road and Route 288, Roseland is a 1,395-acre mixed-use development with 5,140 homes and at least 1.5 million square feet of retail and office space.

Cycles, ATVs and go-karts

Proposed amendments to an existing ordinance would create new restrictions for the use of motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles and go-karts on land zoned residential or agriculture. Physical improvements like dirt tracks, lights and grandstands would be prohibited as would paths on residential lots and near other residential lots that adjoin agricultural land. The goal is to reduce the noise, light and dust associated with the vehicles' use.

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