Well, I really did not want to write this, but I have no choice but to report what I hear when attending a City meeting. There is an applicant who wants to build apartments near the Courthouse complex. Part of the apartments are in an area prohibited for development by the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC), which is where we almost lost the Oceana Naval Air Station to Florida because the City Council had permitted development to encroach right up to the base property, almost costing the City of Virginia Beach close to a BILLION dollars in economic impact that flows from having the base here.
In 2005 the City made agreements with the Government, including the development of Air Installation Compatibility Use Zone (AICUZ) maps, then spent millions of dollars buying up people’s land and homes so that the United States Government would keep Oceana in Virginia Beach. Now we have an applicant who wants to build apartments straddling one of the AICUZ noise zone lines in an area expressly restricted from such building. Being rebuffed with that angle of attack, they reworked their site plan and took all the apartments out of the restricted noise zone, shoved all of them together in the non-restricted area, then moved their parking to the restricted area in an attempt to circumvent the intent of the agreements. This creates a density of 58 units per acre which is a mind-boggling number of people in a small area (3 acres). They are expecting the property in the restricted area to be counted towards their apartment density to lower that number.
To cap things off, Mayor Dyer stated at the City Council meeting this afternoon that he had fast-tracked the application and wanted Council to hear the issue 1 week after the Planning Commission hearing, which is the equivalent of a “rocket docket”. You may watch the City Council talk about this project beginning at 1:55:43 in this video recording of the Council meeting. https://www.facebook.com/CityofVaBeach/videos/2606742609491853 I suggest that you listen carefully to Councilwoman Henley’s comments because she was around during the BRAC 2005 hearings. Also, at 2:04:40 in the video, you will hear the Mayor state that he was “the one who requested the expedite”.
You have to make up your own minds about whether this is “good” government or “good” development. But, it has the potential to set a precedent to allow development in areas that are off-limits to development because of a “creative” interpretation of the rules. The application should be “slow-walked” until the City has removed all risk from making the United States Government mad enough to remove Oceana Naval Air Station from Virginia Beach. We were there in 2005. And, we might be headed that way again.
As of the date of this publication, only the Planning Agenda is published: Planning Agenda
Later this week, the Staff Reports will be available with the most current data on that same page.
You may email your thoughts to ALL City Council members at once using this link: CityCouncil@vbgov.com
You may also want to email your thoughts to the entire Planning Commission. They do not have a group email that I am aware of, but their individual emails are at the bottom of this page: Planning Commission
Click link for a Copy of 2005 BRAC Agreement, City Letter, Joint Land Use: BRAC-2005_07193