Windsor logistics center proposal ‘subject to a lot of changes’

Published 4:38 pm Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Isle of Wight County Director of Community Development Amy Ring stated Tuesday, Sept. 26, that the application for a proposed development of industrial warehouse buildings on the north side of Windsor Boulevard in between Lovers Lane and Old Mill Road is subject to a lot of changes and will likely not be ready for formal consideration until the end of the year.

Ring shared this information with the Isle of Wight County Planning Commission during its regular meeting Tuesday.

“I just kind of want to give you all an update on this since it has been out in the public,” she said, having noted that the Windsor Planning Commission had recently discussed the application for the proposed development.

Details of the proposal

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At the WPC’s Aug. 23 meeting, Windsor Planning and Zoning Administrator James “Jay” Randolph introduced the proposed project by noting that Isle of Wight County had just recently shared with him an application, from Meridian Property Purchaser LLC to the county, requesting amendments to the Isle of Wight County Comprehensive Plan and to the county’s zoning classification for the aforementioned property to clear the way for the project known as the Tidewater Logistics Center.

He noted that the application requests an amendment to the county comprehensive plan from the current designation of Mixed Use to Planned Industrial. Additionally, the application seeks to change the zoning classification from its current designation of Rural Agricultural Conservation (RAC) to Conditional Limited Industrial (C-LI). 

“The purpose of this application is to develop industrial warehouse buildings totaling approximately 1.23 million square feet, and associated site development features including pump stations, roadways, docking stalls and stormwater basins,” Randolph stated in a memo to the WPC. “This application to Isle of Wight County is being referred to the town of Windsor due to the application’s proximity to the corporate limits of the town. As such, any discussion, or comments that the Windsor Planning Commission desires to forward to Isle of Wight County will be considered advisory in nature.”

The commission provided comments that Randolph summarized in a message to the county that was due by Sept. 1.

Application subject to many changes

At the Sept. 26 county Planning Commission meeting, Ring noted that the site of the proposed development is known as the HRFT Property, and it is owned by the Isle of Wight County Economic Development Authority.

She said the application for the project was submitted to the county for the first time on Aug. 1.

“We sent it out to 10 other agencies and departments for review, including Windsor planning staff,” she said. “At that point, unbeknownst to us, they had put it on the agenda for (the Windsor) Planning Commission for discussion.”

She reiterated that for the project, this was “the very first application.”

“We sent it back around the first of September with a lot of review comments that may impact the ultimate layout, the ultimate uses for the property, entrances, buffers, setbacks and those kinds of things as they adjust the application based on staff’s comments,” she said. 

“There’s also a discussion on what kind of application they actually need to submit — should it be a conditional use permit in the RAC, which it’s currently zoned for, versus a comp plan amendment and a rezoning?” she added.

She let the county Planning Commission know that it will be seeing a presentation on this proposed project — eventually.

“I don’t see it being ready to come before you for your consideration until probably the end of the year based on the number of changes that had to happen and some of the revisions that had to be made to the application documents,” she said. “We’re still missing information that we need to review. So at this point it’s a little premature to review the whole thing because it’s subject to a lot of changes.”

Ring was asked how many acres comprise the proposed project site.

A member of the Isle of Wight County planning staff confirmed for the Windsor Weekly that the application lists the affected acreage as 154.34 acres.

The question on acreage prompted Ring to note the need for another change to the application documentation.

“The concept plan shows like 1.2 million square feet, but the actual buildings and square footage are not actually in the proffer statement, so that was one other thing we need to adjust,” she said to commissioners.

Windsor residents speak to commission

Two residents of Keaton Avenue, which is located right behind Lovers Lane, attended the Sept. 26 county Planning Commission meeting and spoke briefly during the Citizens’ Comment period, which preceded Ring’s report.

Walter Freeman said the Tidewater Logistics Center is planned to be directly in front of his home. 

“I have concerns about the lighting, the buffer area, the noise and being industrial so close to the residential,” he said. “The way it’s planned now, I’ll be the one most affected. I’ll have the least amount of buffer on my property. I look forward to working with the Planning Commission to see if we can come up with a win-win.”

James J. Villers Jr. spoke right after Freeman, sharing similar concerns about the proposed development.

“It’s right adjacent to my property,” he said.

Noting that he has been a county resident for 20 years now, he said, “I moved to Isle of Wight County because this is the place I want to live, because this is the way I want to live. If I wanted to live in Chesapeake, I’d be living in Chesapeake, and I’d be talking to them right now.”

He said his biggest concern is whether or not there will be an appropriate buffer between whatever the project ends up being and his property. He highlighted noise and light from the proposed project as being factors that could make life miserable for himself and fellow residents and could ruin the value of his property.

“And property value doesn’t mean much to me because I have no desire to leave, because I like living in Isle of Wight County, because it’s where I want to be,” he said.

He stated that he understands he cannot stop progress, and he knows he will not get exactly what he wants in this situation, but he stated his willingness to work with the commission toward the goal of finding a middle ground for everyone.

“I’m more than happy to work with everybody to see if we can come to a mutual agreement so we can move the county forward to where it’s beneficial to everybody,” he said.