Detention center site narrows

Published 6:32 pm Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Industrial property on U.S. 258 is likely choice

By Diana McFarland

Managing editor

The Isle of Wight County Board of Supervisors is focusing on a Route 258 site for the proposed juvenile detention center and are planning to meet with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers by the end of the year. 

The 139-acre property has a 2009 wetlands delineation that expires in October 2019. 

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The proposed site, which is owned by the Isle of Wight County Economic Development Authority, was discussed Oct. 17 during a Board retreat. 

It is located about a mile south of the Town of Windsor. {mprestriction ids=”1,2,3,4,5,6″}

 Isle of Wight County Economic Development Director Chris Morello said the consultants plan to argue that what is currently considered a stream on the property is actually a man-made ditch and should be reclassified as such. 

It appears the ditch was created to address runoff from Route 258 and if so, can likely be relocated, he said. 

Another argument would be that reengineering the already man-made ditch would improve drainage, said Morello. 

Morello said a previous landowner, not VDOT, appears to have created the ditch.

Another consideration is where to put the buildings on the site, as part is wooded and part is cleared.

The initial desire was to put the entire facility in the woods, but because of the type of soils on the property, some facilities may have to be built in the cleared portion, said Isle of Wight County Administrator Randy Keaton, adding that the open area can be enhanced with plantings. 

Virginia Department of Justice officials have indicated they need 20 acres for the project. Keaton said the state is eager to have a site nailed down so design work can begin.

Moreno said state officials are committed to pursuing the Route 258 property. 

The project would also need water and sewer lines extended to the property — of which Isle of Wight County proposed contributing $500,000 to the overall cost. 

The lines would be large enough to serve customers beyond the detention center, said Keaton. 

Residents within the path of the new utility lines would also be able to tap on, said Keaton. 

Windsor District Supervisor Joel Acree said that would provide a boost in property values for those residents. 

“We are not paying for their utilities for them (the state),” said Newport District Supervisor William McCarty.

Keaton also wants to begin scheduling public information meetings to answer questions about the project from residents. 

Earlier this year, the Virginia General Assembly put funding for the detention center, to be built in Isle of Wight County, in the state biennial budget. 

The proposed juvenile correctional center would replace the state’s Bon Air facility in Chesterfield and employ a new model of detention. The smaller facility will be closer to family and focus on academic and vocational education, athletics, as well as treatment and counseling. 

The proposed 60-bed residential facility in Isle of Wight will house youth ages 14-20, with an average age of 17, with the majority convicted of crimes such as assaults, burglaries, larcenies and robberies.

State officials said that the facility will be fenced and include the latest in security measures. 

It is also expected to generate 240 new jobs. 

Because the Isle of Wight Economic Development Authority owns the land, public hearings are not required. State facilities on publicly-owned land are exempt from local zoning ordinances. 

The project has generated controversy in nearby Windsor, where the Town Council has sent a letter to the EDA opposing the project. 

Town officials opposing the project did so on the basis of cost and location.

In addition to the utility contribution, Isle of Wight County is donating the land for the project. The land is located in the county’s intermodal park, which was originally designed to bring warehouse and industrial businesses to Isle of Wight County.  {/mprestriction}