Tensions run high at Chesterfield Economic Development meeting

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — Tensions ran high Wednesday night when the Chesterfield Economic Development Authority held the first of four open houses to discuss a proposed industrial mega-site in South Chester.

Hundreds showed up to speak out about the proposed development, which, at times, devolved into a shouting match.

Many of the shouters were residents angry with city leaders for the way the meeting and the development were handled.

“What bothered me is the first I heard about it was Governor McAuliffe on the TV, in the papers, saying what a wonderful thing it was,” Janet Kosiek, who lives in the area said. “The citizens should have known about this ahead of time.”

Residents say they want to know what exactly will go on the large property in Chesterfield that abutts many homes. Residents say tonight’s meeting yielded few answers.

“We thought we were coming here to see what they were going to do and present it to us and it’s just telling us to go around and look at the pictures,” another resident named Pat Crawford said.

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Residents demanded their voices be heard, and took over the meeting. Resident Carol Wrenn was among them.

“If they run this county like they ran this meeting, we are in trouble,” Wrenn said.

Leaders say a large scale factory would likely go on the property.

Garrett Hart, the director of Chesterfield’s Economic Development office described the sort of business the county hope’s to attract.

“We would be targeting advanced manufacturing, automotive assembly, machine manufacturing, equipment manufacturing, air manufacturing,” Hart said. “A large manufacturing facility that would employ between 2,500 and 5,000 people.”

Many residents say that sort of facility is not welcome in their neighborhood.

“I didn’t move to the county to be next to an industrial park, I moved there for the peace and the quiet,” Crawford said.

Dorothy Jaeckle, who represents the district on the Board of Supervisors, said they thought this meeting format would have worked best so that residents could have individual questions answered. She said that part of the problem was that they had expected fewer people than the number that showed up.

As a result, leaders are saying they will reevaluate the format before the next meeting, which is scheduled to take place Monday, October 2 at Second Baptist Church’s Fellowship Hall.

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