Opposed to South Harbor development

Published 7:11 pm Tuesday, November 26, 2019

By Diana McFarland


In the end, it was the cows that provided a visual representation of the perceived loss due to what one resident dubbed “over-growth.” 

Many residents who spoke Thursday against the proposed age-restricted development in the Eagle Harbor area pointed to the screens in the Isle of Wight Board of Supervisors boardroom, all of which showed the same photo of a herd of cows grazing in a wide field of green grass. 

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“We’ll lose all our farms, our trees and our forests,” said James Hardin, of the proposed South Harbor, a 340-unit age-restricted development off Route 17, as well as other already approved developments in the area. {mprestriction ids=”1,2,3,4,5,6″}

Hardin lives in Carisbrooke, the neighborhood that would be next to South Harbor. Carisbrooke residents made up the bulk of those who spoke against the proposed development.  

Concerns ranged from the proposed development for older adults exposing Carisbrooke children to the threat of abduction to adding more traffic to an already congested Route 17. Others were worried that the development would encourage more Route 17 motorists to use Whippingham Parkway as a short-cut through the congested Eagle Harbor area.

Whippingham Parkway is the main road through Carisbrooke. 

Carrollton resident Rick Gillerlain said those opposed to the project were not against growth, but were against “over-growth.” 

“We have to call a halt, we have to say no,” said Gillerlain.

The property in question is recommended for suburban residential and suburban estate in the current comprehensive plan — two zoning types that are geared for about 90 more houses than the South Harbor proposal. However, since the tracts are still zoned Rural Conservation, any proposal would still need to go through the rezoning process, said Isle of Wight Assistant Director of Planning and Zoning Richard Rudnicki. 

In the updated draft comp plan, currently making its way through the approval process, the proposed land use supports denser development, such as South Harbor, said Rudnicki.

To ease the traffic burden, East West has offered to make several road improvements, such as extended turn lanes and channelized left turn lanes at Northgate rather than a signalized intersection.   

Days Point resident Lynn Faulkner said it wasn’t just rush hour that was a problem. She told a story of being in an ambulance bound for Riverside Regional Medical Center in Newport News, when traffic came to a halt in the Eagle Harbor area. 

It was 8 p.m., she said.

“Where they’re slowing down at eight o’clock at night, it’s an issue we need to deal with,” said Faulkner. 

Richard Byrd, also of Carisbrooke, had a wide-ranging concern about the impact the development would have on wildlife in the area. 

Herds of deer are taking over Carisbrooke and carcasses litter Route 17, said Byrd, referring to the effects of loss of habitat. 

Branch Lawson with East West Partners pointed out that the development, legally restricted to those age 55 and up, according to federal law, would not burden the school system. The development is also expected to generate $18.45 in tax revenue for every dollar the county spends, said Lawson, referencing a required fiscal impact study. 

Aaron Millikin, who lives in Carrollton and works for East West, said the age-restricted neighborhood concept is underserved in the Hampton Roads region, and particularly in Isle of Wight, where the median age is one of the highest in the area. 

East West expects that many South Harbor homebuyers will be coming from Isle of Wight, he said. 

Attorney William Riddick, who represents the landowners for the project, said that previous Boards of Supervisors had devised the development service district concept many decades ago to concentrate growth in targeted areas, and thus leave the rest of the county rural. 

The proposed South Harbor project is located within the Newport Development Service District. The county also has two others, the Windsor DSD and the Camptown DSD.  

The Board tabled the applications from East West, which included a comprehensive plan amendment and a rezoning.  







By Diana McFarland


The tone of the South Harbor public hearing apparently plucked the nerves of some Board of Supervisors members. 

Some opponents to the project made threats about showing their displeasure at the ballot box or implied that the public hearing was held off until after the election. Others chastised Board Chairman William McCarty because he also lives in neighboring Carisbrooke, but had made some positive comments about the project at a recent worksession. 

“How can you turn your back on your own neighborhood and approve this project?” said Cathy Morrow. 

McCarty urged residents to speak to him personally with their concerns, “instead of insulting me from the podium.”

McCarty explained that his infrequent attendance at the Carisbrooke homeowners association meetings was because they are typically on Wednesday evenings and he has work obligations on that night. 

Others implied that the project was already a done deal and that they were unaware that it was underway until it was too late. 

Windsor District Supervisor Joel Acree said that perception may have come from the Nov. 7 worksession, where the developer was there to answer questions. 

Acree said the purpose of the worksessions was to discuss issues in depth, but not take action. 

The worksessions, which regularly held once a month, are open to the public. 

The Smithfield Times ran its first story on the development on June 10.  The developers provided an overview of the project to the Isle of Wight Planning Commission in August, which was followed by a public hearing in October. The next step, which is customary, is to move to a public hearing before the Board of Supervisors at its next meeting, and in this case was Nov. 21. 

Acree also took issue with the tone of some of the comments, and that the Board and county staff had gone out of its way to engage the community in the comprehensive plan update process.

However, during many of those sessions, there were more staff present than residents, he said. 

Carrsville District Supervisor Don Rosie also pointed out residents need to show up for meetings, as well as vote. 

Acree asked that residents approach the Board with constructive conversation rather than snide comments and “theatrics.” 

“But it’s difficult sometimes when you think you’re being insulted,” he said. 

Smithfield District Supervisor Dick Grice said that while he was campaigning for the Nov. 5 election, he had to spend a good deal of time explaining the difference between the Smithfield Town Council and the Isle of Wight Board of Supervisors.

Grice spoke to one woman who was frustrated with traffic on the James River Bridge and Route 17. 

She said they bought a house here about nine years ago to be in a rural area, and why couldn’t the Board just stop any further growth, said Grice. 

Grice said that when he moved here 19 years ago, he thought the same thing, but has since realized it is not so simple. 

Growth is going to come, it’s how it’s managed that matters, said Grice.  {/mprestriction}