Developer to withdraw application

Published 8:32 pm Saturday, November 12, 2016

A Harbour View developer has signaled it will withdraw its rezoning application for property on Bridgeway Drive after fierce opposition from nearby residents.

A public hearing on the matter was set for this Tuesday’s Planning Commission meeting, but attorney Whitney Saunders said Friday he had emailed a letter withdrawing the application.

The 13.7-acre parcel is currently undeveloped and is zoned for office and institutional uses. Richard L. Bowie and RF8B LLC proposed to purchase it, rezone it to residential urban and build 247 single- and multi-family housing units.

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The city recommended approval of the request, but neighbors objected fiercely. More than 100 showed up to last month’s Planning Commission meeting, but the developer requested more time to work with their neighbors.

A meeting was held Nov. 2 at the Hilton Garden Inn Harbour View, where many members of the community expressed their opposition to the development, Saunders said.

Neighbors were concerned about traffic, school overcrowding, declining property values, the financial impact to the city, design and construction standards, liability if the new apartment residents were injured on homeowners association property without being members of the HOA, and more.

“It affects us directly,” said Bonnie Robinson, a nearby resident. “It’s schools. It’s fire. It’s police. It’s our property values.”

Several neighbors said they are not opposed to development on the site. In fact, they welcome the office-type development that they always knew would be there, as they bought their property with the understanding that the land was zoned for it.

“This really is an area that’s prime for future business development,” said Michael Templeton, another nearby resident. The plan would affect not only that site but other nearby sites, he said.

Dr. Larry Filer, an economics professor at Old Dominion University and future homeowner in the Riverfront development, prepared a report on behalf of his future neighbors that showed a potential negative net fiscal impact to the city. Any increase from the new development could be canceled out with a decline in property value of less than 1 percent of the current assessed value for the nearby properties, he wrote.

“That will be a complete wash to the city,” Robinson said. Once adding in the increase in city services, “you’ve got a huge difference,” she said.

Robinson also said putting more traffic on Bridgeway Drive would be an issue.

“It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out we’re going to have a backup of cars on Bridgeway,” she said.

The impact to the overcrowded North Suffolk schools also was a sticking point for neighbors.

However, all of the concerns may now be nullified if the request is indeed pulled.

“This goes to show, you’ve got to be really aware of what’s going on in your community,” Robinson said. “This kind of flew under the radar. It only got stopped because we saw the signs.”