Bridge Road rezoning approved

Published 10:56 pm Wednesday, November 19, 2014

City Council on Wednesday granted a business zoning to a site on Bridge Road, but the move did not include approving an apartment development as some nearby residents had feared.

The opponents were concerned about traffic, school overcrowding and children being near a body of water and a high-speed corridor. City staff and the Planning Commission had also recommended denial of the rezoning.

“It’s not the best setting for residential,” Councilman Roger Fawcett said.

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The rezoning request first came before City Council in June during the same meeting as, but not officially attached to, a conditional use permit request that would have allowed apartments on the site. The nearby residents who were opposed to apartments said the corridor needs more businesses.

“I think that this needs to get shot down,” Kittrell Eberwine III said. “We’ve been up here several times. It’s time to kill it.”

City Council members said in June they would not approve apartments on the site. In a separate move on Wednesday, they voted to bring the conditional use permit request for the apartments to the Dec. 17 agenda.

“We have to deal with the CUP one way or another,” Fawcett said.

“The CUP has been left, actually, just in the air, for lack of a better phrase,” City Attorney Helivi Holland said, because it was contingent upon the rezoning.

Questioned by Councilman Lue Ward, developer Sam Cohen said the apartments are still on the table in his mind.

“My options are open to do what I want in B-1,” he said. “Yes, I’ll entertain that.”

The developers initially planned an office park on the site but have run into a tough market in the last 10 years. Only one building has been built, and even that one has vacant spaces.

The vote for the rezoning was 6-1, with Ward in opposition. Mayor Linda T. Johnson recused herself because she said the developer has received financing from TowneBank, where she used to sit on the community board. Virginia Beach Mayor Will Sessoms, a TowneBank president, is under fire for media allegations that he has taken multiple votes on projects that had received bank financing.

Councilman Charles Parr’s motion to bring the CUP back to the Dec. 17 meeting passed on a 6-1 vote, with Fawcett in opposition. He said he’d rather wait until January to do so.