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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