Monday, December 11, 2023

Public hearing for newest Busch Gardens attraction set later this month

(WYDaily/Courtesy Busch Gardens)
(WYDaily/Courtesy Busch Gardens)

While details remain slim about the 355-foot height waiver requested by Busch Gardens Williamsburg for a new attraction, a new staff report illuminates some aspects of the project.

James City County has released the report for the 355-foot height waiver, stating the attraction is a “lattice-type” construction and that it may be visible from areas of the county where others rides currently are not.

The report, which was filed Wednesday, does not explain what “lattice” construction could be.

The Board of Supervisors is scheduled to have a public hearing at 5 p.m. May 14, according to the report.

The height waiver is the latest of three requested by Busch Gardens since 2017. All were granted, allowing the amusement park to build Finnegan’s Flyer, the Project 2019 coaster formerly known as “Madrid” and now the unknown attraction.

“Staff finds that the proposed attraction would have minimal impact on the environment, utility service, or traffic generation,” the staff report reads.

The staff report lists only one unfavorable factor for the height waiver: The proposed structure would be visible from parts of Kingsmill where other rides previously have not been seen.

The structure would also be visible from areas where other rides can be seen now, including from Route 60 and Interstate 64 in the Grove interchange overpass and the Williamsburg Country Club, according to the documents.

It would not be seen from the Colonial Parkway or the River Bluffs area of Kingsmill.

Jon Fountain, James City County Real Estate Assessments director, said in an email to Planner Roberta Sulouff that Busch Gardens has received a “number of height waivers” and none of them have negatively impacted property values.

Fountain wrote he believes another height waiver would not have an impact, either.

Despite the one unfavorable factor, staff recommends the Board of Supervisors approve the height waiver.

Because of the attraction’s height, staff are recommending adding several conditions to the waiver, including minimizing lighting on the attraction about 60 feet and requiring “muted” colors.

Sarah Fearing
Sarah Fearing
Sarah Fearing is the Assistant Editor at WYDaily. Sarah was born in the state of Maine, grew up along the coast, and attended college at the University of Maine at Orono. Sarah left Maine in October 2015 when she was offered a job at a newspaper in West Point, Va. Courts, crime, public safety and civil rights are among Sarah’s favorite topics to cover. She currently covers those topics in Williamsburg, James City County and York County. Sarah has been recognized by other news organizations, state agencies and civic groups for her coverage of a failing fire-rescue system, an aging agriculture industry and lack of oversight in horse rescue groups. In her free time, Sarah enjoys lazing around with her two cats, Salazar and Ruth, drinking copious amounts of coffee and driving places in her white truck.

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