Planning Commission again frowns on ‘Villages’ project

Published 12:00 am Monday, April 14, 2008

COURTLAND-The Southampton County Planning Commission voted 5-3 Thursday night to recommend against a change to the county’s newly developed comprehensive plan that would pave the way for construction of as many as 700 houses on more than 400 acres adjacent to the new Riverdale Elementary School.

Hampton Roads Development, a Newport News-based company, has proposed building &uot;Villages of Southampton,&uot; a configuration of homes and commercial structures near the northwest corner of Camp Parkway and Delaware Road. The location is not far from the Southampton County/Franklin line, and the city would provide water to the site.

The matter goes before the county Board of Supervisors at its May 26 meeting. The developer could request that a public hearing be held at that time.

The development proposal has taken several incarnations. The most recent included a presentation to the county’s Board of Supervisors late last month that omitted 143 townhouses and 180 apartments from an earlier version. Rather than act on the revision, supervisors returned the matter to the Planning Commission for another public hearing.

The Planning Commission chairman was the first member to voice his opinion at the conclusion of Thursday’s hearing.

Alan W. Edwards objected to changing the comprehensive plan because it could lead to a rezoning of the property that would leave the county with little control over what was built there.

&uot;If we go ahead and change the comprehensive plan tonight,&uot; he said, &uot;then I think we're giving&uot; the developer &uot;a credit card&uot; to return with an unpopular rezoning request that the county would likely be forced to pass.

&uot;I think it’s not in the best interest of the county to change the comp plan,&uot; he said.

All but one of the handful of speakers Thursday objected to amending the comprehensive plan.

Douglas A. Chesson, one of the three commission members to vote in favor of the change, said he preferred the &uot;Villages&uot; plan over allowing development to spring up in various locations throughout the county where services might not be readily available.