Windsor residents discuss growth concerns

Published 9:41 pm Saturday, March 23, 2013

By Stephen H. Cowles
Special to the News-Herald

Brenda Peters, who lives in the Five Forks Road area worries future development along the Route 460 corridor could ultimately ruin the rural character that attracted her to Isle of Wight in the first place.

“I moved here 10 years ago, and I want it to stay as rural as it can be,” she said last week. “I don’t want it to become another Smithfield or Suffolk.”

Email newsletter signup

Peters was one of about 50 area residents who offered input on the developing Route 460 corridor master plan on Tuesday at Windsor High School. Following up on an initial meeting in late November, the Isle of Wight County Planning and Zoning Department is studying the development that could follow behind construction of the $1.4 billion Route 460 limited access highway, which is set to begin in 2014.

Attending from the department were Director Beverly Walkup, Assistant Director Matthew Smolnik and Planner Richard Rudnicki, who gave the presentation.

Three possible scenarios were compiled based on an online survey and information provided at the previous meeting.

In Scenario No. 1, for example, the land use is close to what already exists. There would be approximately 3,089 acres involved. About 15 miles of water and sewer infrastructure would be needed. Further, there’d be space for about 600 residential units and two million square feet for commercial and office use.

The residents were asked to review the scenarios and use multi-colored stickers to show where they would or would not like to see development.

Michele McManus, who lives near where the future highway will be built, is concerned about the possibility that water or trash will wind up on her property from the elevated road.

Wayne Briggs of Shiloh Drive worries that more development will mean more people and more laws to govern them.

Julia Liggins, who lives on Blackwater Road, said she’s hoping to see more infrastructure, such as sewage service, along with more businesses to provide for her needs and convenience.

“They all had pluses and minuses, and we’ll have to evaluate them based on the things we’re planning for the town,” Windsor Planning and Zoning Director Dennis Carney said. He added this would include “ensuring commercial development continues to expand within the town.”

“It’s hard to say at this point which way we want to go or which is the better scenario for the town,” he added.

“I was very excited with the overall turnout to the meeting,” Rudnicki said. “Myself and Mr. Smolnik heard a lot of great comments on the scenarios and gained some good perspective on how the citizens feel to help in making revisions.”

He acknowledged there might have been some confusion at the start of the meeting — that the new highway would be the evening’s subject.

“But once Planning staff presented and talked with the citizens in attendance, I think everyone had a good grasp of the meeting’s topic,” said Rudnicki.

Rudnicki said he doesn’t anticipate a third such meeting, and he believes there has been enough public response “to finalize a scenario and move forward with completing the master plan.”

There is no set date for making formal presentations to the county’s Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors, but Rudnicki estimates the Planning Commission could get an early look at the work in June or July.