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Planners approve new development

A proposal for up to 140 homes on more than 21 acres along Holland Road near Kilby Shores received a green light from the Suffolk Planning Commission Tuesday.

In a 6-0 vote — Kittrell Eberwine and Mills Staylor were absent — the commission approved a rezoning request from Bob Arnette, president of Portsmouth-based Coastal Virginia Partners LLC for a proposed development for 83 townhomes and 50 single-family homes, with the property adjacent to wetlands that split that property from the Kilby Shores neighborhood. Coastal Virginia Partners put forth the application on behalf of the property owners, Shirley and Maurice Robertson.

The rezoning would change the land’s designation from general commercial and residential low-medium density zoning to residential urban zoning. The city’s 2035 Comprehensive Plan designates this area as a central growth area.

About 17 acres of the property — farthest from Holland Road — is currently zoned as residential low-medium density, with the remainder of it closer to the road zoned for general commercial use.

Surrounding the property area are various uses — commercial to the north and east, single-family residential and apartments to the south and a dentist office, single-family residential and a church to the west.

Whitney Saunders of Saunders & Ojeda, representing Arnette and Coastal Virginia Partners, told the commission that the area was a short-lived thriving commercial corridor before that moved to the western end of the Route 58 bypass.

“It bypassed, literally, this small corridor, and this small corridor as a retail and commercial avenue died,” Saunders said.

He noted a number of empty storefronts and a changed corridor as a result. He said the townhomes would be closer to Holland Road, while the single-family homes would be toward the back of the development.

Saunders also said the wetlands would be preserved and would divide the development from Kilby Shores.

He said Arnette personally visited all of the neighboring landowners about the project, and one of those neighbors, Dave Lego, spoke at the public hearing in opposition to the project. Lego said he lives in Kilby Shores near the back edge of the proposed development and spoke with Arnette about a week ago.

Lego said he felt too little space would be set aside for the wetlands between the proposed development and Kilby Shores. He also thought the project was too dense compared to the surrounding neighborhoods, and the traffic flow through Holland Road to the Route 58 bypass would be problematic.

“Though I’m not fundamentally against the rezoning itself, and would be more than happy to support a rezoning to a residential status to that portion of parcel,” Lego said, “I feel that there are a number of shortcomings to the plan that was presented to me by Mr. Arnette when he stopped by my house.”

The property currently has three single-family homes on it, which would be removed as it is developed, according to a staff report on the proposal. The rest of the property contains a mix of open grassland and forested areas.

The proposed development would have a residential density of 6.5 units per acre, under the allowable 10.9 units per acre for residential urban zoned property, but higher in density compared to subdivisions in the immediate vicinity, according to the staff report. The townhomes would meet the minimum, 1,250 square feet, according to the proffer, but Saunders said many of the townhomes would be larger. He said the builder has told him that the single-family homes would have a minimum 2,000 square feet.

The report notes that the project looks to follow a traditional suburban layout, but it would require on-site improvements to public water, sewer and street networks, as well as stormwater management, as the property is in the Chesapeake Bay Preservation Area and designated a Resource Management Area.

Two of the three schools assigned to the proposed development — Lakeland High School and King’s Fork Middle School — are not currently over capacity, but the third, Kilby Shores Elementary School School, is.

Kilby Shores is currently 32 students over its 498-student capacity, according to the staff report. As such, Coastal Virginia Partners has proffered $36,250 per student for the projected 19 students that would come to the elementary school, based on the staff report.

A replacement for Kilby Shores Elementary is in the adopted 2019-2028 Capital Improvements Program and Plan and would increase the school’s capacity to 800 students. That would accommodate students from the proposed development and other committed development in the school’s zoned area, the staff report states.

The project would generate 104 morning trips on the Route 58 Bypass, and another 140 in the afternoon and evening, according to the staff report. Coastal Virginia Partners, among its proffers, would build an exclusive eastbound right-turn lane on Holland Road into each of the property’s entrances.

The firm did not proffer the maximum number of townhomes or single-family homes, but it did offer a conceptual plan showing 133 units, a combination of 83 lots suitable for townhomes and 50 for single-family homes.

Suffolk has more than 10,000 residential units scheduled to come online, including about 7,400 of those representing committed development, the staff report states. It means that the development has received a final plat approval, final site plan approval and final engineering plan approval and building permits. Single family homes represent about 6,350 units in the pipeline.