CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) – A 132-acre project that would bring offices and 885 residential units to the Grassfield area was narrowly green lighted on Tuesday night by Chesapeake City Council.
Council voted 5-4 to approve the rezoning of property off Dominion Boulevard west of Shillelagh Road for the project from Chesapeake-based Atlantic Land and Development, called Scenic Heights. Councilmembers Bunn, Ritter, Ward and Whitaker voted no.
Scenic Heights will include a total of 885 units in both medium-density and high-density housing, with housing construction expected to start around 2025.
Approval came a year and a half after the project was first put before council, and years after council approved a study and strategic economic plan for the Dominion Boulevard Corridor in 2016.
Several changes were made to the proposal since the initial offering, including additions of multi-family housing in the form of four-story apartment style condominiums and four-story apartments, commercial units, a reduction in overall residential units from 962 to 885 and a proffer to schools of $1,500 per residential unit in an effort to mitigate school capacity impacts ($1.3 million in total).
That issue of school overcrowding was top of mind for many opponents that spoke on Tuesday night.
The capacity impacts would mostly affect Grassfield Elementary, which the city says is projected to be at 169% capacity when the development opens. That in large part led to city planning staff recommending denial of the project. The Chesapeake Planning Commission recommended approval most recently back in January in a 7-2 vote.
Others included potential impacts on other infrastructure, including roads, hospitals and other emergency services, as well as environmental impacts to places such as a nearby farm and greenhouse (speakers said the four-story apartments will be right next to the Teeuwen Greenhouses and affect sunlight going to their plants).
Applicants and proponents said the development would be “second to none” and help Chesapeake be competitive in bringing in companies and families seeking housing (citing a dearth in housing stock, particularly in Grassfield). They also pointed to Chesapeake Public Schools’ plan for a proposed new elementary school scheduled to open that would help with the overcrowding. Proponents also cited what they said was a need for redistricting with Chesapeake schools.
“[Scenic Heights] is certainly not a perfect project, but I think it is very, very close to a perfect project as anticipated by the Dominion Corridor study plan,” said Grady Palmer, a Norfolk-based attorney representing the applicant.
Grady said Tuesday night project won’t be fully built out until 2031 “at the earliest.” Pete Burkheimer with American Engineering, another firm involved in the project, says that’s an optimistic outlook and said it may take about 8-10 years before Scenic Heights is fully constructed.
You can see the full application for the development here.
The Alliance acts in a business advisory capacity to the city of Chesapeake (staff and City Council) representing the opinion of the city’s business leaders on several key initiatives undertaken by the city.
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