The James City County Planning Commission voted unanimously Wednesday evening to recommend the construction of new independent living residences at Williamsburg Landing.
The proposal, submitted by Paul W. Gerhardt and William L. Holt of Kaufman and Canoles, calls for the construction of structures up to 60 feet tall to house 135 independent living units, according to meeting documents. Sixty-five of the housing units will be duplexes or townhomes, 70 will be apartments.
“As the population of James City County ages, anytime there’s a proposal that moves forward the idea of increasing assisted living opportunities, it certainly catches my attention,” Commissioner Heath Richardson said.
Williamsburg Landing is a “Life Plan Community,” whose residents maintain independence and receive health care on site as their health needs change.
The county’s Board of Supervisors will vote on the proposal for a final determination at a future meeting.
County staff reviewed the proposal before the meeting and recommended the commission vote to deny the proposal.
Reasons for staff’s recommendation include inconsistency with surrounding zoning and the James City County Comprehensive Plan, and concerns expressed by the Virginia Department of Aviation regarding air traffic safety and the probability of noise complaints from residents.
The proposed residences will be built as close as roughly 950 feet away from the Williamsburg-Jamestown Airport, according to meeting documents- more than 500 feet closer than existing buildings.
The Department of Aviation requested the county receive a “Determination of No Hazard” from the Federal Aviation Administration prior to approval. The FAA conducted the aeronautical study of the proposal in June and determined “the structure does not exceed obstruction standards,” and posed no hazard to air navigation, according to meeting documents.
County staff said benefits of the proposal include the increase of housing for the county’s aging population— which is highlighted in the Comprehensive Plan— and its consistency with the Williamsburg Landing.
“This particular application has been a very difficult one for me because there are several major deviations from the Comprehensive Plan, but it also supports many aspects of the Comprehensive Plan, such as senior housing,” Commission Chairman Richard Krapf said. “I understand from the applicant’s standpoint this is the only adjacent piece of property that is available for expansion.”
While Krapf said he did have concerns about resident noise complaints due to its proximity to the runway, he added, “I also have to take into account what a great citizen Williamsburg Landing has been.”