Thursday, December 22, 2016

Gloucester County, Virginia Board of Supervisors Deny Mr. Tabb Bridges’ Rezoning Request

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During the December 13, 2016 Gloucester County Board of Supervisors meeting, a Public Hearing was conducted pursuant to a request from Gloucester County developer Tabb Bridges, to have a lot located in an established single family dwelling neighborhood in the courthouse area rezoned, so he can build a duplex rental unit.

During the Public Hearing it was revealed that Mr. Bridges had spoken to someone employed by Gloucester’s Planning Department, about the possibility of having the property rezoned before he purchased it. According to Mr. Bridges’ public comments, he understood there were no guarantees that the rezoning would be approved by the BOS. Anne Ducey-Ortiz with the Planning Department conducted a presentation suggesting Mr. Bridges’ intentions of building a multifamily dwelling fit the objectives of the BOS’s comprehensive plan and the Courthouse Village plan that was created by the Gloucester Main Street Preservation Trust. Neither of these plans have ever been approved or consented to by the taxpayers of Gloucester County, yet the taxpayers are forced to fund their visions of grandeur.

Several people spoke during the public comment portion of the Public Hearing, most of who were against Mr. Bridges’ rezoning request. Those people who spoke against the rezoning all seem to have at least one desire in common. They do not want to see Gloucester County turned into the high density type places they live here to avoid; or at least not in their neighborhood. Those who spoke in favor of the rezoning fit more in the category of the voice of business interests. As far as this category of folks goes, they would just as soon see sky scrappers and chemical plants in Gloucester than to consider the impacts on those of us who have historically enjoyed our bedroom community culture.

For once, it appears the voices of the people were heard and Mr. Bridges’ proposal was denied by the BOS in a five to two split decision, but were those voices really what caused five supervisors vote in a way that is contrary to their comprehensive plan and the village plan? It is kind of hard to tell because this type of road has been traveled by our local elected representatives numerous times before with completely different outcomes.

Not so long ago, a rezoning application submitted by York River Crossing Associates (The Freeman’s) was approved by the BOS to allow approximately 120 apartment units to be built next to Food Lion at Hayes. The apartments will be situated on ten and a half acres of land and will share some parking with the adjoining theater and shopping center. These apartments will be built directly in front of several single family homes that are part of an existing single family home neighborhood. When the Public Hearing on this high density development was held, numerous people spoke against the rezoning and expressed the same reasons for denying the request as those who spoke against Mr. Bridges’ request. There was a different outcome for the Freeman’s, as their rezoning request was approved by the BOS.

Another instance that comes to mind is the rezoning request submitted by Charles Records of Zandler Development on behalf of our local American Legion Post. In this instance the BOS approved Mr. Records’ request to rezone property to allow for the construction of over 200 apartments. There were adjacent single family homeowners who were against this rezoning also, but like those who spoke against the apartments next to Food Lion, they were ignored.

So was it really the people’s voices that caused the BOS to deny Mr. Bridges’ rezoning request? I don’t think so. I believe there is a double standard in this County when it comes to rezoning and other requests. I believe those who voted against Mr. Bridges’ proposal were doing nothing more than appeasing the people in the courthouse area as has become typical and are setting a precedent of preventing smaller developers from achieving success while they cater to the whims and desires of larger developers; no matter what the people have to say about it.

I also believe our current BOS is just another part of our local government that thinks and acts like they have the power and control to tell people what they can and cannot do with their land. In Mr. Bridges’ case, he is the one who is being negatively impacted by the BOS decision to deny his rezoning request. I further believe, had Mr. Bridges waited until after the 2017 BOS election, he would have received a more favorable outcome.

I grew up and currently live in the Water View subdivision at Gloucester Point. Several duplex apartments were built into Water View and the other adjoining neighborhoods over the years and have not caused any negative impacts on the single family homes located around them. In this instance; I believe Mr. Bridges was treated unfairly. I believe he should have at least been offered the opportunity to swap his property for County owned property, like it appears Mr. Kerns’ did in order to prevent rental units from being built at the entrance to Supervisor Meyers’ estate.     

Kenneth E. Hogge, Sr.

Gloucester Point

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