Tuesday, October 3, 2023

Williamsburg Planning Commission Denies Potential 120 Multi-family Unit Property

A conceptual rendering, included in the city’s handout material, of what the housing project may have looked like if it were approved. (Courtesy of the City of Williamsburg)

WILLIAMSBURG — The City of Williamsburg Planning Commission voted unanimously against a potential housing project on Nov. 16 that would have been located at 180 Strawberry Plains Road.

The city planning commission considered rezoning the potential acreage along Strawberry Plains Road from a single-family dwelling district to a multi-family dwelling district at the request of Cale Development LLC. The amended rezoning was required in order to construct the proposed 100-120 multi-family units on the property.

That specific parcel of land is located near Berkeley Middle School, and perhaps the biggest concern from community members who spoke at the public hearing was on the potential increase in traffic along Strawberry Plains Road, as well as the surrounding school area. Concerns were raised for the kids who walk to and from the middle school in both the mornings and at the end of the school day.

The potential housing development promised sidewalk access to Berkeley Middle School, and according to the Virginia Department Of Transportation (VDOT) traffic analysis, the increase in traffic to the area would not have been a radical change. However, city planning commission members noted that the analysis was conducted during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic which may have affected the traffic counts.

The proposed housing development was also adjacent to William & Mary’s (W&M) College Woods. Approximately 60 professors previously signed and submitted a letter to the city highlighting their concerns for the environment. A couple of W&M professors in attendance spoke on the potential impact that a housing development would have on Matoaka Lake, including drainage.

The city has been exploring affordable housing options and the project was one that would have brought what it called “workforce housing” to those who work within the city limits. Ideally, these kinds of housing units would be offered to teachers, first responders, and those who work within the surrounding tourism industry.

The Strawberry Plains property also planned on offering a pickleball court, a playground, and a swimming pool. The plan offered 15 possible dwelling units out of 120 reserved for workforce housing. The workforce housing units were to be priced at $100,000 less than the market price of the other units (which was assumed to be around $350,000). Potential families would have to be approved by the housing authority and recorded by the time of closing.

The city would have 100 days to act if they decided to take more time to consider the project. However, at the end of the meeting, the planning commission voted unanimously, 5-0, to deny the request for rezoning.

For more updates and information from the City of Williamsburg, head over to the city’s official civic online portal.

This story was updated with a correction.

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