Sunday, February 5, 2023

City Council approves rezoning 53 acres of city for event venue resort

Street-view photographs of the property provided by Charles "Spence" Witten.
Street-view photographs of the property provided by Charles “Spence” Witten.

Williamsburg’s City Council voted unanimously Thursday to allow an event venue on Capitol Landing Road.

The 53.5-acre parcel, located at 1018, 1020, 1030 and 1038 Capitol Landing Road, had previously been zoned as RS-1 Low Density Single Family Detached and Mixed Use.

Charles “Spence” Witten currently owns the property and its three houses — and according to permit application documents, intends to use the property as an event destination and venue.

“I’m excited to approve this,” said City Council member Scott Foster. “I commend Mr. Witten and his family for coming up with a creative use for this awesome parcel.”

In November, Witten submitted an application to the planning commission to have the property rezoned as LB-3. According to a memo released to City Council members on Dec. 1, rezoning the property to an LB-3 zoning district would “allow high-quality mixed-use development,” which can include residential spaces, commercial and office spaces, hotels and time shares, and museums.

“I think this is a fantastic application. It’s a win win win situation,” said Attorney Vernon Geddy at the City Council meeting Thursday. “It creates a unique accommodation and event venue and allows the family to put this property to a productive use, at the same time preserving the three houses, preserving this beautiful piece of property and it would be a very low impact use.”

Along with the rezoning application, Witten submitted proffers which will limit the allowed uses on the property. As a result, the property will be used as an event venue featuring a hotel with 10 or fewer bedrooms, and amenities including an event barn, picnic shelters, swimming pool, private kayak launch, and a gazebo.

Two of the three structures on the property date back to the 19th century and the other dates to the 1940s.

Mayor Paul Freiling provided a glowing endorsement of the application during discussion Thursday.

“The plan that’s presented before us today is so much better than the full-out residential development that’s allowed under the current zoning,” Freiling said before voting in favor of the application along with his fellow councilors. “It preserves the historic buildings…it adds a relatively low intensity commercial space to a corridor that’s in need of a little bit of livening up, but it still compliments the surrounding area.”

Added Freiling, “This is a unique product for our community.”

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