About 20 residents came out to Matoaca High School last week to hear more about a proposal that would give residents with Colonial Heights, Petersburg or Richmond addresses a Chesterfield address.
At the Feb. 9 session, which was hosted by District Supervisor Marleen Durfee, Assistant County Administrator Lou Lassiter said the county’s staff believed the proposal aligned with community sentiment.
The proposal provides residents and businesses with the option to use a Chesterfield-specific address, but it does not require that they do so, Lassiter said.
In the eight affected ZIP codes, only two of which are entirely in Chesterfield County, there are roughly 50,000 residents and more than 4,200 commercial addresses, according to information from the county. An estimated $1.5 million to $2 million in revenue, primarily sales and use taxes, is misallocated based on existing addresses.
In the current proposal, properties in the six affected ZIP codes in the northern half of the county – 23225, 23235, 23224, 23236, 23234 and23237 – could use a “North Chesterfield” address. Properties in the two affected ZIP codes in the southern half of the county – 23834 and 23803 – could use a “South Chesterfield” address.
During earlier rounds of public meetings, “overwhelmingly what we heard from the citizens was the desire to use the name ‘Chesterfield,’” Lassiter said. The Feb. 9 meeting was the first in a third round of public meetings on the matter, he said.
The proposed plan does not include any ZIP code changes, and will not disrupt postal service. Regardless of which addresses residents and businesses opt to use, their addresses will be changed in postal service software.
One resident asked Lassiter whether the effort to change the addresses was “all about finance.” Lassiter said he’d heard from some people in 23803 who live in Chesterfield that their insurance rates have been higher, and they’ve had to struggle to prove they live in Chesterfield, not Petersburg. Also, a Petersburg address can impact the housing allowance a member of the military receives, he said, as he or she might receive a larger allowance if they had a Chesterfield address.
The effort is also about community unity, he said. “We wanted to enhance the continuity,” he said, but residents can continue using their existing addresses.
Resident Leslie Nussman asked whether the change would positively impact Chesterfield residents in 23803 in their ability to get Internet and phone services or a different service provider. Because she was in a Petersburg ZIP code, she said, she had to pay an extra fee to be able to call her relatives who live in the Beach and Qualia roads area without long distance charges.
Lassiter said he didn’t know that he had a definitive answer to her question, but the changes might help over time.
Chesterfield Police Capt. Kevin Smith, commander of the department’s southern division, said the address change would help public safety agencies. Precious time can be lost in emergency situations if non-local police agencies are looking for an Ettrick or Bon Air police department, or calling the Petersburg or Colonial Heights police departments, based on someone’s address, he said.
“It happens on a fairly regular basis,” he said, and having “Chesterfield” in the address would save time.
Before the meeting, resident James McClellan, Jr. said he had a Petersburg address, but had received letters through the years that were also addressed to him in Matoaca, Ettrick and Chesterfield. McClellan, who has lived in the area since 1969, said he became interested in the issue when they began discussing it at the northern end of the county.
“I guess I have the notion that if you are going to change it, you ought to have enforcement,” he said, rather than making the address changes optional for residents.
During the meeting, McClellan said his friends and family have known for 40 years that he is in Petersburg, and he may want to keep his address. But, he wondered whether taxes would continue to go to Petersburg if he didn’t change it.
Lassiter said the hope was that the revenue would make its way to Chesterfield.
“We’re always trying to tweak and make sure every penny that’s supposed to come to the county comes,” he said.