Developer looks to revive rejected Windsor warehouses

Published 7:48 pm Tuesday, July 9, 2024

The developer of a proposed multi-warehouse complex on the outskirts of Windsor that Isle of Wight County supervisors rejected last month is in talks with county officials to revive the project.

Isle of Wight Economic Development Director Kristi Sutphin said at a July 9 meeting of the county’s Economic Development Authority that Tidewater Logistics Center developer Meridian Property Purchaser LLC “has had conversations with county staff about revising its concept and is working with their engineering consultants to determine what is feasible to move forward.”

County supervisors, swayed by vocal opposition from Windsor residents, voted 4-1 on June 13 to deny Meridian’s application for industrial zoning. Meridian’s parent company, The Meridian Group, remains under contract with the EDA to purchase 154 acres of farmland and forestry fronting the four-lane Route 460, according to Sutphin. The EDA has owned the largest of three involved parcels at 83 acres since 2008. The other two are owned by Hollowell Holdings LLC.

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Meridian, as of June, proposed building five warehouses totaling 1.2 million square feet. Sutphin, on July 9, and Isle of Wight Community Development Director Amy Ring on July 1, each said Meridian hadn’t formally submitted revised plans for review by county staff.

“We’re in a holding pattern right now,” Sutphin said.

Under state law, if a rezoning application is denied, the project developer must wait at least one year before submitting another application seeking the same zoning for the same land, unless supervisors grant the developer a waiver.

According to County Attorney Bobby Jones, the supervisors can waive the one-year period “on grounds of new evidence or proof of change of conditions” or consider a new application for the same property that “differs in some substantial way from the one previously considered, as determined by the zoning administrator.”

David Adams, a member of Windsor’s Town Council who attended the July 9 EDA meeting, said that while he and the council had opposed Meridian’s June concept, he and other town residents might not be averse to something more similar to the Amazon fulfillment center in Chesapeake, which is set back more than 600 feet from Portsmouth Boulevard, less than a half-mile from the Suffolk border, and is largely concealed behind more than 100 feet of mature trees.

“Most residents I talked to aren’t opposed to growth,” Adams said, adding he and others are “jealous” of the residential and commercial development occurring in the northern end of the county.

Proponents of Meridian’s original concept, including the Port of Virginia, had asserted the site would bring millions of dollars in tax revenue and more than 1,200 new permanent jobs to the county, while opponents argued it would bring constant noise and pollution from diesel exhaust to the rural neighborhoods on Keaton Avenue and Lovers Lane, which abut the project site, and a surge in traffic on Route 460.

The land is currently zoned as rural agricultural conservation, or RAC, and is designated in the county’s “Envisioning the Isle” comprehensive plan for mixed-use development, which is why Meridian’s rejected application from June had requested a comprehensive plan amendment in addition to rezoning.

EDA member Jim Collins emphasized that the EDA is a separate entity from the Board of Supervisors. According to the county’s economic development website,, the EDA, formerly known as the Industrial Development Authority, was created in 1968 to promote industrial growth in the county and authorize tax-exempt industrial bonds to industries locating or expanding their operations in Isle of Wight. Deciding whether a developer’s proposal is agreeable to area residents is the purview of the county’s Planning Commission and supervisors, not the EDA, Collins said. The Planning Commission and the EDA board are each appointed by the supervisors.

The public input process, which begins at the Planning Commission level and continues when the project reaches the supervisors, “worked,” said EDA member James Ford. “With these projects, you have to have community input.”

Editor’s note: This story was updated at 10:41 a.m. on July 10 with comments by County Attorney Bobby Jones and to correct that both the EDA and Planning Commission are appointed by the supervisors.