Editor’s Note — As part of our countdown to 2024, WYDaily is revisiting its most-read and favorite stories of the year. Reporter Jillian Appel said Spotswood was likely one of her more difficult pieces for the year. It involved talking to not only the developers but also organizations within the community who had concerns and opposition against it. But part of what makes community journalism isn’t just learning about who and what is in your backyard — it’s telling others about what is happening in it, too.
WILLIAMSBURG — With Frye Properties in talks with city officials regarding rezoning plans for the redevelopment of the nine-hole Spotswood Course at Colonial Williamsburg, some area residents have raised concerns, with a petition being circulated against the rezoning and a meeting on the subject slated for Wednesday, April 12.
The course, part of the Golden Horseshoe Golf Club, closed on Dec. 31. Currently, the redevelopment is in the process of gaining approval for rezoning which will move the number of allotted buildings from 87 single-family homes to 166.
The petition is hosted by Friends of Williamsburg, a new group formed by local residents. Among other things, it voices concerns about traffic from increased population density on already busy existing roadways.
“Obviously, 166 homes and attendant delivery, service, trash, etc. vehicles will push a noticeable increase in traffic through the ‘Colonial Extension’ neighborhood,” Kathy Hornsby, a member of Friends of Williamsburg expressed in an email to WYDaily. “But it’s not just the traffic in the neighborhood. It’s traffic in and out of Francis, Henry, Boundary Streets, and through the streets of Colonial Williamsburg/Merchants Square. Frye Development envisions a five to seven-year buildout in three phases. That’s a lot of construction vehicles traveling through these streets as well.”
“It’s going to be a traffic nightmare,” Bill Owens, a resident of an adjoining property to Spotswood, added. “We can’t comprehend if you build four times the number of houses that are already here. It’s going to have a huge impact.”
Safety concerns have also been raised with the predicted increased traffic volume, particularly regarding those who walk, bike, or drive in an unfamiliar area.
Besides traffic, another concern is how construction will increase sedimentation in the waterway near the site and the amount of pollution it would bring.
“Invariably it’s going to reduce the overall water quality and increase the overall water volume that is discharged from the landscape into the water,” Randolph Chambers, director of the KECK lab at William & Mary and Williamsburg resident, explained as to how the water quality of Paper Mill Creek would be affected.
In addition to pollutants, there are also concerns about how it will affect fish and crab populations that spawn and live in Paper Mill Creek.
“Balance of economic development and water quality protection are not mutually exclusive,” Chambers quotes from the 1988 Chesapeake Bay Preservation Act. “You don’t need to protect everything at all costs, nor do you need to develop everything at all costs.”
On Wednesday, April 12, at 6 p.m., members of the community will be meeting at the Williamsburg Regional Library Theater to discuss the rezoning. According to a flyer submitted to WYDaily, the discussion will cover the potential negative consequences of the rezoning as well as steps people can take in protest.
Citizens for Responsible Spotswood Development, described by founding member Fraser Hudgins as an ad hoc group, is spearheading the meeting and in a press release said it will provide those in attendance with a plan of action to stay informed and voice their concerns to city council, the planning commission, and other key decision makers.
“This is a major concern for our town and we’re getting a lot of support,” said Hudgins, “But we can use more.”
Currently, the rezoning proposal is still in the Architectural Review phase and Staff Reviewing. After, it will move to the Planning Commission Public Hearing and Review before City Council votes on the proposal.
“I”m not against change, change is good and change is normal,” Bradley Guerrant, a member of the Williamsburg community on South England Street said. “However, change needs to be managed where at all possible. And it should be dictated by the people who are going to be impacted by the change if at all possible.”
WYDaily will continue coverage as this story develops.