Envisioning IW’s future

Published 5:59 pm Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Staff sorting out public comments

By Diana McFarland

Managing editor

Development along Route 10 between Benn’s Grant and the Suffolk city line and a village center at Rushmere are two scenarios provided by Isle of Wight County planning staff as it knits together public input on future land use. 

The comprehensive plan task force was treated to pizza and a Powerpoint presentation May 30 on the results of numerous public meetings and surveys as the county updates its 2008 comprehensive plan. 

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Eight scenarios — ranging from agricultural preservation to small towns and villages — included advantages and disadvantages for each. {mprestriction ids=”1,2,3,4,5,6″}

For example, for the village center scenario, a small service district is envisioned for Rushmere with mixed uses, such as business and residential, said Isle of Wight Assistant Director of Planning and Zoning Richard Rudnicki.

That location seemed the most viable because HRSD is expanding service in nearby Lawne’s Pointe, Rudnicki said.  

Expanding other village centers, such as Zuni and Camptown, is limited by the lack of water and sewer or available land, according to planning staff. 

The expansion along Route 10 from the Suffolk city line to Benn’s Grant is envisioned as a result of the county putting in a water line along that route, according to staff. ‘

One feature of Isle of Wight that most respondents agreed upon was maintaining the county’s rural character, protecting its sensitive environmental areas and its schools while promoting economic development and addressing transportation challenges.  

Managed and focused growth was a goal of several of the eight scenarios, with more opportunities in the Windsor development service district and less in the Camptown DSD.

“They (in Carrsville) seem pretty happy with how things were,” said Isle of Wight County Director of Planning and Zoning Amy Ring. 

The Camptown DSD scenario included the removal of one large tract of land targeted for industrial use as the landowner has indicated that development is not planned, said Rudnicki. 

On the northern end of the county, residents were concerned that a maximized DSD scenario would result in too much density in the Newport District area and many want the DSDs to remain their current size to prevent development from “leaking out,” said Principal Planner Malina Springer. 

Public input came from a series of meetings, surveys and the task force, which is made up of residents from various parts of the county. 

However, task force members seemed confused as to what their role was in developing the new comprehensive plan. 

Ring said task force members are to act as a “conduit” between staff and the community. 

Task Force member Beverly Walkup, who is the county’s former Director of Planning and Zoning, thought their role would be more “hands on.”

Task Force member Daryl Butler wondered if he should just attend the public hearings like everyone else. 

Ring said task force members were valuable in that they have a better insight into members of the community that may otherwise not be reached. 

A presentation to the Isle of Wight County Board of Supervisors is scheduled for June 14 and a third public forum is planned for later in the summer. 

When are homes a burden?


By Diana McFarland

Managing editor

One comprehensive plan task force member, Allen Turner, asked planning staff if they have determined at what point does a home — and by extension, its inhabitants — become a “burden” on public services.

Turner said York County has arrived at such a number, and that the threshold is based on assessed value. 

York County spokesperson Gail Whittaker said the county has not made such a calculation. 

Isle of Wight County Planning and Zoning Director Amy Ring said all housing is considered a net service drain.

That is considered a truism in counties, but towns can reap benefits from additional residential housing, the difference being primarily the cost of education, which counties fund and towns do not, though they do collect property taxes. The school division in Isle of Wight represents about a third of the county’s operating budget.

And about 80 percent of the county’s tax revenues come from residential property taxes, said Ring. 

Assistant Director of Planning and Zoning Richard Rudnicki said legal problems could result if a county attempts to block affordable housing. 

Also, if people are priced out of a community then transportation becomes an issue as folks would have to commute in and out to work, said Rudnicki. 

Task force member and former director of planning and zoning, Beverly Walkup, said that during the housing boom prior to the Great Recession, the county had sought ways to encourage affordable housing to address the needs of teachers, police officers and other public servants. 

Ring said the average value of new and used homes in Isle of Wight County is about $250,000.

Houses in Benn’s Grant, the most active development in the county right now, are priced from the high $200,000 to low $300,000s.  {/mprestriction}