Carrollton Condominiums project scrapped

Published 6:12 pm Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Isle of Wight’s Board of Supervisors, on Nov. 19, approved a developer’s request to scrap plans for a 34-unit condominium complex on Route 17 in Carrollton.

Elliot Cohen and Ronald Dashiell received approval in 2008 for conditional urban residential zoning for five adjacent lots on the west side of Route 17 for Carrollton Condominiums, which would have included sidewalks, parking lots, play areas and a swimming pool. But Cohen says the complex is no longer cost-effective to build due to its small size. Instead, he’s proposing to leave three existing single-family residences and one landscaping business in place and to construct a fourth single-family home on the remaining vacant lot.

When obtaining the conditional urban residential zoning in 2008, Cohen had agreed to several conditions, known as proffers, requiring that he pay the county $11,189 per market price condo, set aside six units as affordable workforce housing, and commit to building the proposed sidewalks, parking lots, play areas and swimming pool. Cohen’s revised request, which the board approved that evening, rescinds these proffers.

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“When anybody called the county to find out about buying the [vacant] property to build a house, they were told they had to put a swimming pool in, the things I had proffered,” Cohen explained.

Two of the lots with existing homes have since been sold, so “the condominium project is done anyway,” Cohen said. Still, Isle of Wight’s Planning Commission voted 6-4 on Oct. 27 to recommend denial of Cohen’s request to scale down the project, though county staff had recommended approval.

“At the Planning Commission, the major problem, I think, was I had proffered for a bike path, and I think that’s what brought on the negative recommendation … they didn’t want to have to go to a homeowner or five homeowners and say we want land for a sidewalk,” Cohen said.

Since that meeting, Cohen has agreed to deed a 12-foot-wide easement should the county wish to put in a sidewalk at a future date.

Asked why Cohen, and not the new owners of the parcels he has since sold, was the one making the request on behalf of all five parcels, Assistant County Administrator Don Robertson said it appears the new owners “have an option on the property,” which made it appropriate for Cohen to apply for the change.

Newport District Supervisor called Cohen’s proposal to scrap an approved development for one far less extensive “a rarity,” and said he didn’t share the Planning Commission’s concerns over the proposed bike path. Supervisors Dick Grice of Smithfield and Rudolph Jefferson of the county’s Hardy District also commended the proposal’s reduced scope.

“A lot of folks complain about the growth, so you go from 30-plus down to five, it will help preserve some green space,” Jefferson said.

Grice added that the county has “a reputation … we love to see growth,” and hoped this would allay some of the complaints about over-development.