IW planners recommend denial of Windsor logistics center

Published 7:11 pm Tuesday, March 26, 2024

Isle of Wight County’s Planning Commission, on March 26, recommended rejection of a multi-warehouse complex proposed for the north side of Route 460 near Windsor.

Proponents of the Tidewater Logistics Center say developer Meridian Property Purchaser LLC’s application to rezone 154 acres of farmland and forestry on the outskirts of Windsor as planned industrial would bring millions in tax dollars and over 1,000 new jobs to the county.

Opponents, who vastly outnumbered supporters at the commission’s Feb. 27 public hearing on the matter, say it would also bring constant noise and traffic to the Lovers Lane and Keaton Avenue neighborhoods located less than 200 feet from the project site.

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Commissioner George Rawls, citing repeated opposition from Windsor Mayor George Stubbs and town residents, motioned at the March 26 meeting to recommend denial of Meridian’s application. The vote passed 6-1 with the support of Commissioners Jennifer Boykin, Thomas Distefano, Cynthia Taylor, Raynard Gibbs and Brian Carroll.

“The town of Windsor’s not for it; the mayor’s not for it,” Rawls said.

Planning Commission Chairman Bobby Bowser cast the dissenting vote. Commissioner James Ford, who also serves on the county’s Economic Development Authority, abstained.

The EDA owns and would sell one of the two parcels comprising the site.

The seven members present voted the same on a related application by Meridian for an amendment to the county’s comprehensive plan.

A handful of audience members held up “vote no” signs as Tom Boylan, senior vice president of Meridian’s parent company, The Meridian Group, presented updated noise projections to the commissioners that he said now specify 50 decibels at the property line. Originally, Meridian’s application had called for an 80-decibel daytime noise level, which is just below the threshold where prolonged exposure can result in hearing loss.

The Planning Commission’s vote is a recommendation. The matter will head to the county’s Board of Supervisors for another public hearing and potential final vote on April 18.

Meridian’s plans call for five warehouses totaling 1.2 million square feet, the tenants of which have not been named. An economic impact analysis submitted with Meridian’s rezoning application estimates over 5,100 jobs, 1,200 of which would be permanent, and over $141 million in sales and property tax revenue over the next nine years.

In 2022, Isle of Wight supervisors approved expanding the enterprise zone it shares with Southampton County and the city of Franklin to include the 154-acre project site.

Businesses that invest at least $500,000 to build in an enterprise zone can qualify for a $100,000 state grant that increases to $200,000 if the company invests at least $5 million.  Enterprise zone businesses can also qualify for another state grant that provides up to $500 per year per net new permanent, full-time jobs paying at least 175% of the federal minimum wage with health benefits. Isle of Wight offers its own local version of the job grant, which pays an additional $500 per job per year for up to 20 new full-time positions provided the jobs pay at least 150% of the federal minimum wage. Isle of Wight further offers a 25% rebate on machinery and tools taxes if companies looking to site in an enterprise zone invest at least $1 million in new machinery and tools, though according to Boylan, this would only apply to the end tenants and not Meridian as the project’s developer.