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Market forces have compelled the developer of a Norge neighborhood to ask James City County for permission to nix plans for an assisted living home and planned commercial area.
Work is currently underway to build the residential component of Village at Candle Station, a neighborhood tucked behind the Food Lion and Crosswalk Community Church in Norge.
The James City County Board of Supervisors approved the project in 2011, greenlighting a neighborhood that will feature up to 175 homes, about 30,000 square feet of office and commercial buildings and a 90,000-square-foot assisted living home.
Now, the developer — Candle Factory LLC, a venture by Pete Henderson of local builder Henderson Inc. — wants to replace the commercial area and assisted living home with 33 new houses and a 60,000 square foot self-storage area.
The James City County Planning Commission voted 6-1 Wednesday to OK the change, with Commissioner Richard Krapf (Powhatan) opposed.
The demand for office and commercial areas in Norge has not materialized, and efforts to try to attract an owner-operator for the assisted living home have not been successful.
Tim Trant, an attorney for Kaufman & Canoles who represents the developer, said his client has reached out to the top 200 senior care operators in the country and none of them were interested in the project as they all said the demographics within 10 miles of the site would not support the home.
“These are the unfortunate circumstances that have led us to the changes that are before you,” Trant told the James City County Planning Commission on Wednesday. “And I assure you that no one is more disappointed about that fact than Mr. Henderson.”
Krapf said the assisted living home would have met a need the county has due to its aging population and that he was supportive of the original proposal for the neighborhood because 33 percent of the homes were considered affordable by the county’s standards instead of the 20 percent in the revised application considered Wednesday by the commission.
“The changes have been so significant that now it is just another residential with a self-storage component, and I think the elements that really convinced me a few years ago to support it are no longer there,” he said.
The new plan asks the county to rezone about 65 acres of land — almost all of which is mixed use — to planned unit development to clear the way for the new homes. It also seeks changes to the neighborhood’s master plan to allow for the homes to be built.
The 33 additional houses would all be standalone homes. They would join the 142 townhouses and 33 single-family homes already approved for the neighborhood. The new houses would be located along the northwest end of the property, while the self-storage unit would slot in between the existing residential area and the Food Lion.
The matter will next be heard by the James City County Board of Supervisors, which has not yet set a date to consider the proposal.