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The James City County Board of Supervisors approved a number of items at its meeting on Tuesday, from a housing and development program to an application involving Historic Toano.
During the meeting, supervisors heard a presentation regarding the support for Historic Toano’s application to the Virginia Main Street Program.
The program is an initiative from the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development to provide localities with assistance in revitalizing their downtown commercial areas, according to agenda documents.
Jason Purse, assistant county administrator, said Supervisor Sue Sadler had been approached by the Toano Historical Society in January to partner with VDHCD on the program.
Toano in recent years has seen a major revitalization effort, thanks to developer Jack Wray. In January 2019, the small section of James City County was even approved by the Virginia Department of Historic Resources as an official historic district and was placed on the Virginia Landmarks Register.
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Work on the historic district continues and the Virginia Main Street program can assist with continuing progress because it provides grants for organizational projects such as downtown enhancement efforts, Purse said.
Purse said the application requires support from the locality but it does not create financial or other liabilities for the county. Supporting the application also does not indicate any future land use applications or changes.
The application was unanimously approved.
“If you haven’t been down to Toano in a while, there’s a lot going on,” said Supervisor Ruth Larson. “Exciting things are happening.”
‘Acquire, Renovate, Sell’
Supervisors also approved an “Acquire, Renovate, Sell” program from the VDHCD as part of the required housing rehabilitation program design and residential anti-displacement and relocation plan. Approval follows an adopted budget appropriation in September 2019 that allowed for the county to participate in the program.
The program takes undervalued homes in the county and transforms them to create new homeownership opportunities. These opportunities are designed to benefit low and moderate-income residents, first-time home buyers. The goal is to stabilize “a street, neighborhood, community and family,” according to agenda documents.
Only vacant properties will be acquired through the program. This prevents the possibility for displacement and relocation — but it could still happen.
Should displacement and relocation become an issue because of a property, the anti-displacement plan provides an outline for assistance.
The program will provide a maximum of $45,000 for each home rehabilitation and county staff anticipates acquiring two “severely blighted” locations, demolishing the blighted structures and building entirely new homes, according to documents from September’s meeting.
Once that is done, the program requires the improved properties then be sold at fair market value to potential buyers who make no more than 80 percent of the area’s median income (the median household income in James City County is $83,048, according to the 2018
The program started through VDHCD in 2018 after the department had operated a federally-funded Neighborhood Stabilization Program for a decade. This new program is operated through state funds and is believed to help county goals to expand and diversify the local economy with the development of more workforce housing.