Lead, partner and unify the community for the Appomattox and James Rivers
Brown & Williamson Conservation Area
Download the Brown & Williamson Master Plan PDF
The Chesterfield County Board of Supervisors adopted the Riverfront Plan in 1997 as part of the County’s Comprehensive Plan, with goals to “Promote open space corridors as a framework to protect the natural environment and scenic values, provide land use transitions, and provide outdoor recreational opportunities.” Shortly after adoption of Chesterfield’s Riverfront Plan, the Friends of Chesterfield’s Riverfront (FOCR) was created. FOCR tracks the progress and oversees the implementation of the county-adopted Riverfront Plan. The organization’s mission to “Lead, partner and unify the community for the Appomattox and James Rivers.”
In September 2001 the Chesterfield Board of Supervisors adopted a resolution approving and recommending the Comprehensive Plan for the County of Chesterfield incorporate water quality objectives of the Chesapeake Bay Protection Act. Furthermore, in 2002, a goal relating to the environment was incorporated into the Chesterfield County Strategic Plan. Goal 8 states, “To be Responsible Protectors of the Environment”.
The Virginia Outdoors Plan of 2002 prepared by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation identifies the James River at this site’s location as worthy of the designation as a Virginia Scenic River. The identification of this with almost one-mile of riverfront to be preserved in its natural state may enhance the opportunity of future scenic river designation along this river reach.
These political milestones and planning documents represent a significant commitment to conservation and water quality by the county, state, private industry and non-profit organizations in the community. Chesterfield County’s cooperative approach and commitment to the environmental through partnerships set the tone for this donation of conservation land.
In September 2001, the Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corporation donated 262-acres along approximately one-mile of the James River to Chesterfield County. This donation marks a contribution to enhanced water quality in the James River as well as preserving significant habitat on property zoned for industrial development. When Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corporation donated this land to Chesterfield County, restrictions limiting future uses of the site were conveyed with the deed. As a result to further strengthen the landowners wishes, Chesterfield County entered a long-term partnership with the Friends of Chesterfield’s Riverfront and the Virginia Outdoors Foundation to place a conservation easement on this parcel of land restricting its management and development to passive recreation and conservation.
This land donation is a financially significant contribution to Chesterfield County. The property is valued at over one million dollars and includes developable parcels that would not have been conserved without this generous donation and conservation easement.
The stewardship aspect of this property donation is unique. Prior to its donation, this parcel of land was part of a larger 510–acre tract zoned for I-3 industrial development. In fact, concept plans to market the site, as riverfront development had been developed to assist with the sale of the entire riverfront parcel. Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corporation first approached the Friends of Chesterfield’s Riverfront in August 2000 to begin working on conservation alternatives for the 510-acre parcel. FOCR developed a series of concepts outlining conservation objectives for the most significant natural areas and worked with the corporation to develop strategies to implement these concepts.
The Friends of Chesterfield’s Riverfront facilitated the donation of the property by Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corporation to Chesterfield County. FOCR also partnered with the Virginia Outdoors Foundation to place the conservation easement on the property to insure its management as a premier conservation area in perpetuity. The Chesterfield County Board of Supervisors approved the easement in March 2003. FOCR has established a Memorandum of Understanding with Chesterfield County to serve as a technical liaison and partner in the future management of this conservation area. Based on the concepts developed for the Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corporation and conservation easement discussions to protect the property in perpetuity, it was determined a master plan was needed to facilitate site improvements and conservation management over time.
Timmons Group was selected by FOCR to complete the master planning for the Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corporation Conservation Area. This master plan has been developed with partners including the adjacent property owners, DuPont Teijin and Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corporation as well as the Virginia Department of Game & Inland Fisheries, Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation and Virginia Department of Forestry. The county’s Department of Planning, Economic Development and Environmental Engineering were also invited to join Chesterfield County Parks & Recreation in establishing management goals for this site as part of the master planning process. The project has been funded by a grant from the Virginia’s Water Quality Improvement Act (WQIA) administered by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation.
The resulting master plan for Chesterfield County’s Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corporation Conservation Area is a guide for conservation and sustainable development of the 262-acre property. The master plan anticipates development to occur over a number of years depending on funding.
The master plan serves as a dynamic tool that accommodates evolving needs and public access of the site as guided by the conservation easement that establishes in perpetuity land use restrictions and conservation management for the site. The conservation easement and the master plan includes recommendations for the following passive recreation amenities:
A 5,000 square foot education center
The Friends of Chesterfield’s Riverfront Board of Directors have reviewed the master plan and developed a list of priorities for site development as follows:
Bob Dunn, Chairman for the Friends of Chesterfield’s Riverfront facilitated a discussion on April 22, 2003 prioritizing the activities at the Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corporation. The list was prioritized as follows: