NK supervisors narrowly pass Vineyards revisions
By a narrow 3-2 decision, a list of amendments to the Farms of New Kent Planned Unit Development (PUD) document governing the five land bays comprising the 2,500-acre New Kent Vineyards project has won approval from the county’s Board of Supervisors.
With the March 8 decision, developers can now reduce minimum square-foot requirements for houses to be built on up to 112 lots in Land Bay IV and 250 lots in Land Bay V, and have affordable housing built in the commercial segments in Land Bay IV. The amendments also shift 30 residences from Land Bay III to Land Bay I, permit phasing of a planned Farmer’s Market, and allow recreational facilities in Land Bay I to be privately owned.
Developers say the changes enable them to compete in a real estate market crippled by the recent recession and ongoing economic woes. After last week’s vote, Pete Johns, a partner in the project, expressed pleasure with the board’s vote and said his team is anxious to embark on an aggressive marketing campaign.
“We’re getting ready for spring with a big push to go vertical and get houses in the ground and move the project forward,” he said.
Two supervisors — District 1 representative Thomas Evelyn and District 5 representative Ray Davis — voiced concerns over developers’ plans, specifically on lowering square-foot minimums on a fraction of the houses, and cast the two dissenting votes.
Evelyn said people in his district have reservations about downsizing houses and making changes to the PUD agreement.
“People feel it’s a contract with the county, and if we make major changes to the PUD, we’re not getting what the citizens were promised,” he said.
Davis, meanwhile, expressed fear that developers could come back at a later date seeking lower square-foot requirements on the project’s age-restricted housing that is to be built by developer K Hovnanian.
“That market has changed considerably,” he noted, pointing to when the PUD agreement first passed in 2005.
“I’m leery of changes,” he said. “If someone jumped up and said no more changes, I’d be a whole lot happier.”
Afterward, Johns said there have been no discussions with K Hovnanian concerning downsizing of age-restricted housing.
“We’re cautiously optimistic they’ll be breaking ground shortly,” he said.
Supervisors Marty Sparks, Jimmy Burrell, and Stran Trout supported the PUD revisions.
“No one knew back then  what it would be like now,” Sparks, the board’s chairman said. “I’m okay with it. I want these people to be successful. All businesses have got to adapt to the times and changes, and the market sort of forced us to do it.”