Letter to the Community from President Danny Murphy:

 October 17, 2021

RE: Marlin Bay Development Request for Withdrawal from City Council Agenda

I would like to sincerely thank everyone for your diligent and unstinting labors to preserve and protect the character of the Ocean Park neighborhood over the past year or so. While the withdrawal of the Marlin Bay Development from the City Council agenda does not end our efforts to find a reasonable and appropriate use (redevelopment) for these properties, I am sure it comes as a great relief to many of you.

There are many people to thank, honestly too many, so please accept this broad generalization and allow us to deliver our sincere appreciation on a more personal level:

  • 1st on the list! Residents, neighbors & Shore Drive friends – the support and engagement shown by you has been both phenomenal and inspiring: phone calls, letters, emails, signs, social media posts, showing up, speaking, votes, donations, meetings and even more meetings. 
  • Organizations & boards – Unmitigated support from nearby Civic Leagues (esp. Baylake Pines & Chic’s Beach), and the Shore Drive Community Coalition.
  • City leadership, staff and boards- It starts in our backyard: Bayfront Advisory Commission!! Members of the Planning Commission including Robyn Klein, David Bradley & Jack Wall. And City Council members: in particular Louis Jones, who gave his support and advice from the beginning, John Moss, whose support and advice was also pivotal, Michael Berlucchi, Aaron Rouse, Rocky Holcomb & Mayor Dyer who met with us and listened to our concerns and also Barbara Henley, Guy Tower and Sabrina Wooten. In addition, we would like to thank the city staff who played it straight and provided needed responses and explanation whenever asked. 
  • Wolcott Rivers Gates for critical counsel and stewardship. 
  • Local Media – Including 13NewsNow, News 3, WHRV & the Virginian-Pilot/pilotonline
  • Last but never least, the leadership of Ocean Park Civic League – The board of directors, past directors and presidents, committee members and chairs. No one will truly know the countless hours and effort logged by these dedicated people to bring about this result.

To this wonderful community: please accept our most sincere appreciation for all your efforts. 

Sincerely,

Danny Murphy

Ocean Park Civic League President

Calling All Ocean Park Residents!

Come to the Fall Fest at Froggie’s on Saturday, October 30 from 5- 8 pm! Come and visit with your neighbors! Meet new neighbors! Free to OPCL members! (You can pay your annual $20 membership at the door! Email communication@opcl.org to check if your membership is current). Catered dinner! Beer! Wine! Games and Crafts for kids! We can’t wait to see you all there!

If you haven’t had a chance to pay your 2021 dues yet: you can also pay online! Join or Renew OPCL

Marlin Bay Development Withdrawal Requested

The owners of the property where the Marlin Bay Apartment complex was proposed have sent a letter to the city withdrawing the project from the City Council agenda. We support their request to withdraw the application and we thank the owners and the developer for listening to the community’s concerns and reconsidering the potential redevelopment of those lots. We look forward to working with them on finding a mutual solution to this and other projects within the community.

Vote!

Voting day is Nov 2nd! Ocean Park is Precinct 17 and the polling location is at the Bayside Recreation Center.
For your consideration and Vote:

  • Governor
  • Lt. Governor
  • Attorney General
  • 83rd District  House of Delegates (State level)
  • Commonwealth’s Attorney
  • Sheriff, City of Va Beach
  • Commissioner of the Revenue
  • Treasurer
  • Bond Referendum: “Shall the City of Virginia Beach issue general obligation bonds in the maximum amount of $567,500,000 pursuant to the City Charter and the Public Finance Act to fund the design and construction of flood mitigation measures as part of a comprehensive flood protection program.” Flood-Protection-Program.aspx

Early In-Person Absentee Voting is in progress and ends on the Saturday before the election in the City’s office located at the Municipal Center, Bldg. 14 (2449 Princess Anne Rd).
Voter ID law change as of July 1, 2020 requires all Virginia voters to show an acceptable form of identification before casting a ballot on election day or an in-person early vote ballot. Certain acceptable forms of identifications do not require a photo. 
For more Voting info go to: vbgov.com/government/departments/voter-registrar.aspx

For information about the Stormwater Bond Referendum go to: Flood Protection Program

Beach Replenishment Plans

At Thursday’s General Meeting, OPCL President Danny Murphy gave an update on the beach replenishment project with information from Jim White, Coastal Section Project Manager in the Public Works Department. The timeline for Ocean Park to start receiving sand will be after the USACE Norfolk District No Hopper Dredging restriction ends on November 15, 2021. There was some confusion that the final project end date of November 2022 was when Ocean Park would get sand.

Project Details

  1. The project will occur between Rookery Way to just east of 3556 Shore Drive Condominium.
  2. The beach berm will be constructed to an elevation of +7.0ft NAVD88.
  3. The beach berm width (the ‘recreational’ portion of the beach profile) will average 100ft.
  4. Sand will be placed as part of a dune restoration feature between Albemarle Ave. and Dinwiddie Rd.

If you are interested in looking at the Army Corp of Engineers Project Plans for a detailed picture of the replenishment project, you can download them with the link:

Here is an example of one of the drawings for part of the beach.

Ocean Park Beach Nourishment jpa-Permit-Drawings.pdf

Help Out the Civic League!

Got some Spare time ?? Ocean Park Civic League is looking for you! At the lowest level is Civic League participation, those neighbors with a vested interest in the neighborhood quality of life. The Ocean Park Civic League is gearing up for 2022 after a busy summer and will be in need of your help and dedication. The nominating committee is in the process of finding and collecting names for available Board seats and Committee member appointments. Elections will be held at the November General Membership meeting on November 4th. Got time to volunteer for the neighborhood? Leave a note for Ryan Cochran at rgcochran@gmail.com or Susan Lawson at sel52976@gmail.com. Come help! The Board is comprised of: President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer and 4 ‘At Large’ representatives. Committees are : Membership, Finance, Government Affairs, Social, Website, Fireworks, and others as needed! Commitment is 2 meetings a month which have been virtual since the pandemic started. The more additional time you put in, the community benefits! Come help and volunteer!

Fair is Fair?

Spotted this week: Cheryl McLeskey, the owner of the Marlin Bay property and John Peterson, the developer of the Marlin Bay project, talking with council members at the Marlin Bay site. We have sent requests to meet with each member of the City Council so that we can talk with them about the community’s perspective and input concerning this development in our neighborhood. We have been gratified at the willingness of Louis Jones, John Moss, Michael Berlucchi, Aaron Rouse and N.D. Holcomb to engage with the community. Council member Henley responded initially but we have not set a meeting time. We hope that the other members of the City Council: Mayor Dyer, Ms. Wilson, Ms. Wooten and Mr. Tower will respond to our invitation to meet and engage with us. We feel the issue is complex and that hearing what the community has to say in a timely manner and not at the last minute right before a vote is only fair and reasonable.

Write to the City Council members and explain why you oppose this overdevelopment in Ocean Park and Western Shore Drive.

Don’t Change the Rules

The core of residents’ concern is the density of the project. It is too many people in too small a space. Interestingly the high rises in Ocean Park were built before the Comprehensive Plan and the Shore Drive Design Guidelines were adopted by the City Council and before the council established the Bayfront Advisory Council. In these planning guidelines, which the BAC references in their opposition to the project, the city very clearly went a different path from those high rises and instead laid out a vision where the density was kept low and most especially that anything that was built would be consistent with what surrounds it-in this case townhouses and single family homes. They chose NOT to sanction more high rise buildings and high density development.

The owners of the Marlin Bay properties-the McLeskey and Browning families -have held this property for decades and are responsible for the condition it is in now. Residents should not be penalized with unwanted overdevelopment as a result of their poor stewardship. Residents are not against all change. They do not wish to preserve the boat trailer storage. They do not wish to block any or all development of the property. They are only asking that the zoning not be changed to allow a project of this density to be built which is not in compliance with what the city itself has adopted. It is currently zoned B2- so develop it as a business. The rest is zoned PDH1-so develop it as housing at that density. Don’t change the rules on the residents .

Write now, Right now! You’ve written before, but please write again to the City Council and explain why this development is not right for Ocean Park! CityCouncil@vbgov.com

Signs of the Times: Ocean Park and Shore Drive Communities Stand Together!

Ride through Ocean Park and see the signs: residents of Ocean Park and Shore Dr. are tired of being steamrolled and bulldozed by unwanted overdevelopment not within current zoning imposed over community opposition and protest.

If you would still like a sign, you can email communication@opcl.org. Please remember to include your street address: house number and street name.

Write to our City Council members today to explain why you are opposed to this overdevelopment! CityCouncil@vbgov.com. Go to No Way Marlin Bay for more information.

Are The Boxes Really Checked?

Several members of the Planning Commission justified their vote to recommend approval for the Marlin Bay project by saying that they felt that the project “checked all the boxes”. We hope the City Council will take a closer and more careful look at the project and see that in fact it does not check the boxes it claims to .

They say: “The Comprehensive Plan/Shore Drive Design Guidelines are met.” The developer has consistently been selective in citing from the Comprehensive Plan. They say that the project complies with the Comprehensive Plan and Shore Drive Design Guidelines since it is “mindful of land use compatibility” because it has less retail than is currently on the site. What gets left out of their talking points: “Infill development on small vacant parcels within an existing neighborhood or on parcels being redeveloped should be compatible to the existing development around it.” The existing development is townhouses and single family homes. This project has a stated density of 31.77 units per acre. This is more than double anything built anywhere nearby. Recent projects in Ocean Park have been 14 units per acre. This is NOT lowest reasonable density called for in the Comprehensive Plan that is supposed to guide city decision making. In fact the effective density is 40 units per acre since the actual acreage being developed is not 6.2 acres but 4.88 acres.

Does this check the box for being consistent with the Comprehensive Plan?

They say: “This residential use with the active boat sales is compatible mixed use. In fact rezoning and conditional use of the B-2 Boat Sales lot to B-4 is in significant conflict with the Comprehensive Plan, Shore Drive Overlay District, Shore Drive Shore Drive Corridor Design Guidelines and city code for “mixed use” district zoning.The Boat Sales building is neither physically or functionally integrated with the same structure. To the contrary: In the proposal the boat sales building will be unattached and significantly separated by the primary roadway leading to and from the parking garage, building entrance and outdoor amenities. Further: as detailed extensively in the Mixed-Use Development Guidelines, adopted by City Council in 2004, the intent to “develop mixed use as a principal tool for redevelopment and as a preferred land use pattern in the Strategic Growth Areas (SGAs), and develop necessary zoning and other regulatory tools to encourage it” not in Suburban Focus Area 1 Shore Drive Corridor with adjacent residential single-family dwellings. Ocean Park is not a Strategic Growth Area. This rezoning is not appropriate for a Suburban Focus Area like Ocean Park.

Does this check the box for meeting the guidelines for “mixed use” district zoning?

In her presentation to the Planning Commission, Ms. Murphy describes the project as “reflecting the unique character” as a gateway to the city. This project is not unique in any way. It is a standard large apartment complex that you can see by the mile in Northern Virginia. What will be lost by the approval of this project is the unique character of an historic Virginia Beach neighborhood. In addition the Bayfront Advisory Commission cited the “height, scale and massing of the project” as the reason that they voted 6-2-1 not to recommend approval for the second time. Preservation of the unique character of Ocean Park has value to the City of Virginia Beach.

Does this check the box for compliance with Shore Drive Design Guidelines?

Virginia Beach is growing and needs more affordable housing. This project is described by the developer as “high end residential development” and “luxury apartments”.

Does this check the box for adding to the city’s affordable housing?

“Nothing will satisfy the neighborhoods. They are against development”. This is incorrect. The properties at Marlin Bay Drive should be developed in accordance with the existing zoning and City planning guidelines: townhouses, duplexes and single-family homes, not a large high-density multi-family using erroneous mixed-use rezoning.

Does this check the box for representing the view of the community honestly and fairly?

Write to the members of the City Council who will make the final decision and explain why you think this project is wrong for Western Shore Dr. and Ocean Park. To be sure that your email is officially recognized, please copy both these addresses: CityCouncil@vbgov.com and nwmb@opcl.org.

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