More concerns raised about proposed logistics center
Published 7:03 pm Monday, October 2, 2023
Windsor citizens and Town Council members shared concerns at the council’s Sept. 11 meeting about a proposed development of industrial warehouse buildings on the north side of Windsor Boulevard in between Lovers Lane and Old Mill Road.
These concerns came in the wake of the Aug. 23 Windsor Planning Commission meeting in which the commission expressed issues with the proposed project, which would likely be a 24-hour industrial operation.
Windsor Planning and Zoning Administrator James “Jay” Randolph introduced the proposed project at the commission meeting by noting that Isle of Wight County had just recently shared with him an application from Meridian Property Purchaser LLC to the county requesting amendments to the Isle of Wight County Comprehensive Plan and to the county’s zoning classification for the aforementioned property to clear the way for the project.
He noted that the application requests an amendment to the county comprehensive plan from the current designation of Mixed Use to Planned Industrial. Additionally, the application seeks to change the zoning classification from its current designation of Rural Agricultural Conservation (RAC) to Conditional Limited Industrial (C-LI).
“The purpose of this application is to develop industrial warehouse buildings totaling approximately 1.23 million square feet, and associated site development features including pump stations, roadways, docking stalls and stormwater basins,” Randolph stated in a memo to the commission. “This application to Isle of Wight County is being referred to the town of Windsor due to the application’s proximity to the corporate limits of the town. As such, any discussion, or comments that the Windsor Planning Commission desires to forward to Isle of Wight County will be considered advisory in nature.”
The commission provided comments that Randolph summarized in a message to the county that was due by Sept. 1.
One member of the public attended the Aug. 23 meeting — Walter Freeman, who lives on Keaton Avenue, which is right behind Lovers Lane.
Speaking to the Windsor Town Council during its public comment period Sept. 11 was former Mayor Glyn T. Willis, who resides on Lovers Lane.
Willis discussed the proximity of the project to citizens of the town, and he also expressed gratitude to the Windsor Planning Commission for responding to information on the project with questions and observations.
“There’s a sense of this, to me, that this is a little bit of a deja vu of some previous things we’ve worked with the county on where the town gets information, the citizens get even less information, and decisions are made, and things move forward without necessarily all the questions answered,” he said.
He shared something Randolph had highlighted for him from the Traffic Impact Analysis, which included studies of several different intersections in Windsor — with a couple of notable omissions.
“This didn’t pay much attention from a traffic standpoint to … Roberts Avenue and Lovers Lane,” Willis said. “Particularly Lovers Lane is going to be significantly impacted, but they didn’t include that in their study.”
He encouraged council members to look at some things that were included in the study, like daily traffic numbers, including numbers related to trucks and passenger traffic, but he then underscored his concern about what he did not see.
“They give us a traffic study with information missing, there’s no environmental information that they provided,” he said. “Many of the other things that I’m assuming they’re in the process of doing or potentially already (have) done were not provided to the town.
“So I know the town has not much to do with it, but at the same time, as we learned from another experience, the town can contribute to minimizing or mitigating the impact of these sort of things that happen around us,” he added.
He said he would email information to council members as he continues to work through the impact that the proposed logistics center could have on the town.
“Yes, it’s going to bring some new jobs into Windsor, but there’s a cost to that, and this will be one that I think will dramatically impact the quality of life on the east side of town, essentially boxing anything in there to being a case of, OK, from the town line on is going to be warehouses and that sort of thing,” he said. “But my thanks to you for your attention, particularly my compliments to the Planning Commission for responding quickly in a short amount of time to get some concerns back to (the county), and I hope you will be careful as we head into this, because I think there’s some more information and some more questions that need to be being asked.”
Windsor Mayor George Stubbs said there were 752 pages of information pertaining to the proposed logistics center to which Randolph received a link not long before the Aug. 23 Planning Commission meeting. He said Randolph scanned the information and tried to pull out the most relevant parts for commissioners to consider, but there will be more to discuss about the proposed project.
“As of today, I got a very lengthy email from another couple that lives on Lovers Lane that brought up several issues,” Stubbs said.
He noted that he also spoke to Freeman, from the Planning Commission meeting, and heard his concerns.
“I recommended that his voice be heard at the county level,” Stubbs said.
The Isle of Wight County Planning Commission was set to meet Tuesday, Sept. 26. The Tidewater Logistics Center was not on the agenda for the meeting, but there was a Citizens’ Comments period scheduled. The proposed logistics center will likely soon be on a county commission agenda.
Windsor Town Councilman David T. Adams, who also serves on the Windsor Planning Commission, said, “The Planning Commission recommendation was that somebody from the council also accompany the citizen that goes to present a unified front from the town as far as what our thought is.”
Stubbs said the council would discuss that.
For Stubbs and the other council members, Adams also highlighted an area in which his view differed from the information provided on the proposed project.
“When I was in the Planning Commission meeting a couple weeks ago, Mr. Mayor, the interesting thing I thought was that the Traffic Impact Analysis said there would be no impact if you built it or didn’t build it, and I just don’t see how they arrived at that conclusion,” he said. “There’s obviously going to be an impact if you build it.”
Stubbs mentioned another variable that will impact traffic in the town.
“Related to that, there is a project being developed on (U.S.) 258 — for anyone that maybe doesn’t know about it — that’s going to have a warehouse distribution center that’s going to have 136 bays to it,” he said. “The traffic impact that we’re going to have at 258 and (U.S.) 460 on that end of it is going to be added to this. That project’s already approved, and they’re working on it. In fact, I’ve been told this morning, they’re already cutting trees and starting to clear.”