Members of the Chesterfield Planning Commission were confronted Tuesday evening by a crowd of people who do not wish to see a new CareSouth facility built in the Historic District of Main Street.
The proposed CareSouth project, which would include an in-house pharmacy, is planned for the site where both the old Chesterfield High School and the Chesterfield Community Center burned. The property is currently zoned general residential. The request is for it to be zoned as office commercial.
“Bless your heart,” life-long Chesterfield resident Elaine Redfearn Brenner told members of the commission. “It’s hard to progress in a town, I hate to say it, as dead as Chesterfield (is), where we’ve all watched jobs dry up and blow away … but we need to hold onto and preserve our Historic District.”
Ken Andrews, the architect for CareSouth, presented a rendering of the proposed facility and assured commission members and residents in attendance alike that the integrity, landscape and various memorials that have been planted or placed on the property would remain in tact.
The building would be a brick structure located at the back of the property, almost exactly where the previous buildings stood.
The gazebo, the stone walls, the creek that runs through the property, all of that is “the charm of the site as, as you know,” said Andrews. “We’re not messing with any of the stone pillars.”
Andrews said their plan is well aware of how close many of the neighbors would be and have incorporated safeguards against potential traffic and parking areas into their vision.
“All entrances to the facility would be on and off Magnolia Street,” he said, “which bi-sects the property.”
Andrews reminded commission members why the meeting was taking place.
“The pharmacy is the real reason we’re here tonight,” said Andrews.
As the zoning is currently written, a doctor’s office could be built without a change to the zone. However, the addition of the pharmacy calls for a change.
But zoning is not the only issue for many of the 410 people who have signed a petition against the request from CareSouth. The property itself has emotional ties for the community.
“This place matters,” said John Russell.
Others told the commission members how they played basketball there years ago, and how the area was simply a part of the town’s history.
Paul Rogers, whose father died on that property 10 years ago when the Community Center burned, said, “Their proposal looks good on paper. He made a great sales pitch. It sounds good.”
“But,” said Rogers, “my Dad died there … and it (the facility) should be elsewhere.”
Several residents, such as Glenn Gullege, said there are many “viable alternatives.”
Other residents pointed to unforeseen costs the town may face in repairing or repaving roads once all the heavy trucks have been in and out of the area for construction.
There are also objections to the re-zoning request based on the “validity of the application,” said Micka Moss. She said he application for the request lists John D. Hilton as having the authority as property owner.
“This is in error,” Moss said, “as Ted Vick is in fact the property owner.”
The Chesterfield Planning Commission is scheduled to render a recommendation to Chesterfield Town Council for the next meeting at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, March 13, at Chesterfield Town Hall.
Members of the Chesterfield Planning Commission include Bertha Henderson, Ronnie Campbell, Patricia Campbell, Betty Crutchfield, Lyndy Hudson, Ruth Bittle, and Lonnie Murvin.
— Karen Kissiah can be reached at 843-537-5261.