Developers to approach planners in 2020

Published 6:40 pm Tuesday, September 17, 2019

By Diana McFarland

Managing editor

The developers of the 685-unit “Sweetgrass” near Smithfield predict the project will go the Isle of Wight County Planning Commission early next year. 

Eric Shirey, land acquisition manager with NVR Inc., met with the Carrollton Civic League recently to discuss the mixed-use project to be located on the former Yeoman farm along Benn’s Church Boulevard. 

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The age-restricted development will include single-family homes as well as townhouses. However, the company is more than a year away from setting prices for the dwellings, said Shirey. 

Shirey said the single-family, single-story units will be smaller than those at Benn’s Grant, which are around 3,000 square feet. {mprestriction ids=”1,2,3,4,5,6″}

This is serving that downsizing buyer … affordability is a major issue,” said Shirey, adding that the age restriction will go into the deed and remain on the property even if it is sold.  

Lewis McMurran, the developer for St. Luke’s Village, was at the meeting, as was Henry Morgan, who was one of the landowners for Benn’s Grant. 

McMurran was intrigued with the recent interest in building age-restricted neighborhoods in Isle of Wight County. He has one himself in Smithfield, Church Manor.

In addition to “Sweetgrass,” East West Communities plans to submit an application for a 240-unit age-restricted subdivision in the Eagle Harbor area and on the former Channel Farm property. 

“There are so many people our age,” that want to sell their houses and buy something with less maintenance, said McMurran to Morgan.  

McMurran predicted that Isle of Wight would become the next York County. 

However, Isle of Wight already leads York County in terms of those over age 65, at least according to a 2018 U.S. Census estimate. According to the estimate, 19 percent of Isle of Wight County’s population was age 65 and over, compared to 16 percent in York County. 

Neighboring James City County tops both at 25.3 percent of its residents being over age 65. 

Carrollton resident Tom Finderson was more concerned with basic needs. He asked about the number of outdoor steps, the height of toilet seats and if the halls would be wide enough for wheelchairs. 

Also, “What about benches? Old people get tired,” he said.

“Benches, absolutely,” said Shirey, who also mentioned shuffleboard and Bocce ball.

Shirey said the townhouse portion of the development is currently not to be age-restricted. 

Robert Adams wanted to know how the age-restricted portion would be protected from an invasion of children from the townhouse section. 

Shirey said there would be signage and that the two sections are not directly connected. 

“But, I don’t know what would stop a kid from riding his bike” in the age-restricted area, said Shirey. 

Shirey acknowledged that it often takes some time to get a project like this passed in Isle of Wight County and said it may change along the way.

“It will change,” muttered Morgan. 

Morgan’s Benn’s Grant development took about seven years, and endured much opposition and many changes to the plan before it was finally approved.  

Shirey said this size development fills a need without having to build multiple communities.

Outside in the parking lot, Shirey was optimistic. 

“They seem excited,” he said. 


The name “Sweetgrass” refers locally to hay, according to one lifelong Isle of Wight County resident. However, it also appears to be rooted in Native American culture as a ceremonial plant. Commercially, the term “sweetgrass” is linked with Timothy Hay.  {/mprestriction}