Former planner now consulting

Published 10:45 am Wednesday, December 6, 2017

By Ryan Kushner

Staff writer

Beverly Walkup spent over a decade defending Isle of Wight County’s codes as its director of planning and zoning.

She retired last year, ending a notable 32-years of service in county government.

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But Walkup hasn’t given up the planning life quite yet.

Soon after she retired, Walkup began working as a private consultant, helping developers and property owners navigate the county’s ordinances, and in at least one case, maneuver past them. {mprestriction ids=”1,2,3,4,5,6″}

She said that after she stepped down in September 2016 from the county, she was contacted by East West Communities, the developer of Eagle Harbor and Benn’s Grant, among other sites, a month later.

“Once I retired, people started calling me,” she said of finding clients in the county.

Since then, Walkup has a been part of East West’s development team for a proposed expansion at Benn’s Grant, in charge of crafting the company’s community impact report in its application to the county.

East West’s conditional zoning amendment for an additional 216 housing units at the site was approved by the Planning Commission last week, much to the chagrin of residents of the development. It will now go before the Board of Supervisors Dec. 14 for a final decision.

Walkup, who lives in Windsor, also recently worked for the owners of the Rite Aid Pharmacy in Carrollton, on behalf of East West, to save an application that seemed dead in the water.

Woods Lane LLC, which owns the Rite Aid, wanted to add an off-premise sign behind the facility, at the intersection of Northgate Drive and Carrollton Boulevard, to catch the eye of more traffic and generate more visibility for the new business.

County staff recommended denial of the application, calling the sign a potential safety risk for drivers on the 55-45 mph road, and an unnecessary visual clutter “to one of the most significantly traveled corridors of the county.”

The Planning Commission agreed with staff, and denied the proposal with a unanimous 10-0 vote in July.

When the application went before the Board of Supervisors in September, this time with Walkup at the wheel, it was a much different story.

Walkup argued that Northgate Drive had been designed to act as an entrance to Rite Aid, and that it was safer than drivers performing a U-turn to get to the store on Carrollton Boulevard.

The application was approved unanimously.

In October, Walkup also successfully argued an application for Sawco Self Storage in Carrollton, which asked to use metal siding on new facilities planned, as well as a chain link fence on the property. Again, staff had recommended the Board reject the application.

“Metal walls and chain link fences are explicitly prohibited in the zoning ordinance,” a staff planning report stated. “Approving them to be used would be contradictory to the goals of the comprehensive plan and the architectural guidelines of the zoning ordinance.”

The exception was granted by the Board.

Even though she is working to pass private applications through the county now, Walkup does not see herself as “on the other side of the table.” She is still helping guide people through the process of planning and zoning, as she had always done, she said.

Walkup said she has also worked on projects in the city of Hopewell, and hopes to expand her consultations to outside of Isle of Wight.

She acknowledged that her years of experience leading the planning and zoning department give her a unique insight into the process.

“But I think that’s why folks reach out to me,” she said of clients in Isle of Wight, “because I do have that area covered.”

Walkup, who was also recently appointed to serve on a task force to advise the county on its comprehensive plan, said she has several more consulting projects lined up down the road. She has yet to lose a case.  {/mprestriction}