Neighbors oppose plan for housing development in CC
While praising the good intentions of a Charles City resident who is spearheading an effort to improve housing for county residents in need, opponents of a proposed single- and multi-family housing development are saying not in their backyard.
Residents who live along Holly Tree Lane near Adkins Store turned out to oppose a plan by CrossGap Ministries and its founder, county resident Ed Baber, to build 26 multi-family apartments and 13 single-family dwellings on just over 15 acres at 9500 Holly Tree Lane. Several voiced opposition during a joint Planning Commission/Board of Supervisors public hearing held during supervisors’ Jan. 22 meeting.
At issue is a request to rezone just over 10 acres of the site from agricultural to residential and the remaining five acres from agricultural to multi-family residential. CrossGap owns the land in question.
Baber told commission members and supervisors his organization is out to improve housing for low-income residents in the county. There are close to 70 homes in the county that lack indoor plumbing and more than 300 households living in poverty, he said.
His proposed development, he said, is small so as not to attract regional interest, but large enough to be economically feasible. It’s not public housing, he added, saying potential residents must either pay a mortgage or rent to live there.
“CrossGap is going to manage the place so we can all be proud of it,” he said.
But opponents, mostly neighbors, bombarded Baber and county officials with questions ranging from what effect the proposed development would have on property values, the school system, and groundwater to how many people could be residing in the 39 total units.
Baber said potentially there could be 170 residents based on the 85 total bedrooms in the units and using a figure of two people per bedroom.
Others expressed fear that the development could attract criminal elements, particularly drug dealers and users.
During the public hearing, county resident Wilbert Jones drew a parallel to the Sign Post Estates apartments developed on Barnetts Road in the early 1990s.
“I was on the Planning Commission then,” he said. “We jumped on that project because it was supposed to help our people and then Hopewell took over. What guarantee do we have that it won’t happen again?”
Bernard Miles, whose family resides in the area, said the development would attract drug addicts.
“The land needs to be passed on for our kids to grow up on and not have a lot of riff-raff,” he said.
Neighbors Ken Fulcher and Cynthia Robinson presented petitions bearing close to 100 names of people living in the area who are opposed.
James Johnson said that while the project is “an excellent, positive idea,” he has been unable to find a single person residing nearby who favors the development.
Scott Green, another neighbor, claimed the county sheriff’s office would end up managing the property due to increased problems with drugs, crime, and traffic.
“[Charles City residents in need] might not even get in this facility,” he said.
Commission members, meanwhile, voted to table the matter until their Feb. 14 meeting, citing a need for more information particularly in relation to an old cemetery said to be located on the property. Supervisors, however, have final say on the rezoning request.
Baber is chairman of the Planning Commission, but is not taking part in commission discussions or the group’s vote on the rezoning. District 2 Supervisor Sherri Bowman is on CrossGap’s board of directors, thus the board’s decision apparently rests with District 1 representative Gilbert Smith and District 3 Supervisor Timothy Cotman.
In other business at last week’s meeting, the board elected Smith as chairman and Bowman as vice-chairman.