What does the Comprehensive Plan for COVB say about Development?

The City of Virginia Beach City Council adopted the current Comprehensive Plan in 2017.  The City Council lays out specific goals for each area of the city in the Comprehensive Plan. In the Suburban Focus area section that deals with Shore Dr., the City Council sets forth Guiding Planning Principles to achieve  a stated goal of Great Neighborhoods. Here are some quotes from the CP that show how inconsistent the Marlin Bay Development is with the plan that the City Council has adopted for Ocean Park and Shore Dr.

“Our primary guiding principle for the Suburban Area is to create “Great Neighborhoods,” and “to support those neighborhoods with complementary non-residential uses in such a way that working together the stability and sustainability of the Suburban Area is ensured for now and the future.” ( page 1-60) 

  • “The planning policies that apply to the entire Shore Drive Corridor and Bayfront Communities are:
  • Preserve and protect the character of the established neighborhoods
  • Achieve the lowest reasonable density for future residential uses.” page (1-71)

“For example, new residential development on larger parcels should be consistent with the character of any residential uses in the surrounding area, as well as consistent with the guiding planning principles for the Suburban Area.” “Residential density in the Suburban Area should be low to medium where the surrounding land use patterns and densities are appropriate for such. Higher densities are appropriate for development in the Urban Areas.”  (page 1-62)

Infill development on small vacant parcels within an existing neighborhood or on parcels being redeveloped should be compatible to the existing development around it. Designing a structure that is scaled and proportioned with surrounding development is typically more difficult than utilizing a design that simply fits the site and meets zoning regulations. The result, however, is a structure compatible with the neighborhood with respect to land use and design, and will give the impression to those who pass by that it has always been part of the original development.    (page 1-63)

The Bayfront Advisory Commission (originally established as the Shore Drive Advisory Committee and then the Bayfront Advisory Committee) was established by City Council in 1998. The mission given by City Council to the Bayfront Advisory Commission is: to review and make recommendations to the City Council regarding public and private projects and issues associated with the Bayfront area, and projects or issues associated with the Bayfront area that the City Council may refer to the Commission. At the April meeting, the Bayfront Advisory Commission did not approve the design for this project, finding it incompatible with the Design Guidelines for Shore Dr. 

Link: ComprehensivePlan.pdf

Marlin Bay Project Goes to Planning Commission June 9th !!

The Planning Commission for the City of Virginia Beach will vote on their recommendation concerning the proposed 197 unit Marlin Bay Apartment Complex on June 9th after the public hearing at the Virginia Beach Convention Center. The Staff Report will be posted with the recommendation of the City Planning Department by noon on June 3rd. Residents who wish to make their voice heard should communicate their stand to Mr. Dao and the Planning Commission members by the last week in May at the latest in order to be taken into account. Now is the time to make your voice heard!

OPCL will be posting further information so stay tuned!

Residents can write to the Staff Planner, Mr. Dao : He will make the COVB Planning Department recommendation to the Planning Commission and he welcomes community input until the last week in May (the sooner the better though since the report will have to be processed) . Write to him: HDao@vbgov.com or   2875 Sabre St. Suite 500 Virginia Beach, VA 23452

Residents should contact Planning Commission members to explain their concerns:

Mr. George Alcarazgalcarazvbpc@icloud.com757-620-8040
Mr. Steve Barnes757-287-3199  (c)
Mr. Whitney GrahamwgrahamVBPC@icloud.com757-287-4835    
Mr. Donald Horsleyhorsley_don@yahoo.com757-421-3625   (h)
Mr. Michael Inmanmainman@inmanstrickler.com757-486-7055 (h) 757-403-8172 (c)
Ms. Dee Oliverbranch.oliver@gmail.com757-406-4954 (c)
Mr. David S. RedmonddredmondVBPC@icloud.com757-215-5302 
Mr. John H. Costonjohnhcoston@gmail.com757-407-8663  (c)  757-499-1388 (h)
Ms. Robyn R. KleinRKleinVBPC@icloud.com757-918-9317    (c)
Mr. Jack Walljckwall@aol.com757-748-5602    (c)
Mr. David Weinerdweiner@batchelder-brick.com757-620-1681    (c)

Residents will be able to speak and voice their concerns at the public hearing on June 9th at 12:00 at the Convention Center. Directions for arranging to speak at the hearing: https://www.vbgov.com/government/departments/planning/boards-commissions-committees/pages/pc.aspx

Important Update on Marlin Bay Project

At the virtual meeting on May 6, 2021, a large showing of residents heard an important update on the Marlin Bay Apartment Project. After meeting with Mr. Dao, the city Staff Planner for the project, OPCL president Danny Murphy relayed some important information about the project. Go here to view the details: May 6 General Meeting Minutes.pdf. The most important news is that the project may go before the Planning Commission in June and residents need to pay attention to find out what they can do to have their voices heard. OPCL will work hard to keep residents informed. We should know by Monday, May 10th if the project will be on the June Planning Commission agenda.

Please pay your 2021 OPCL membership dues today! For the direct link to the OPCL PayPal account go here: PayPal.com. You can also pay by credit card with: Cheddarup.com. Your annual dues not only support the civic league’s efforts to protect and promote our community, your dues also get you entrance to our First Post-Covid Social for your whole family! The food and fun are always memorable! Also get a new car sticker when you pay your dues!

Fun Activities Happening Now at Pleasure House Point

The Ellen Reid Soundwalk is active now at Pleasure House Point! The Ellen Reid Soundwalk is a work of public art that uses music to illuminate the natural environment. Created by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Ellen Reid, SOUNDWALK is created to “encourage calm reflection and introspection”. Ms. Reid has created musical settings tailored for ‘the sunlit water, tidal marsh, sandy shores and maritime forest’ of PHP. The walk is GPS enabled so just install the free app and download the SOUNDWALK, hit start and begin walking! Go here to the Pleasure House Point page to learn more about it! Go to: Pleasure House Point Park.

Another great activity: everyone is invited to join in on the City Nature Challenge April 30-May 9. The Challenge is to record and identify as many species of plants and animals as possible in the 8 days of the competition. Residents can participate by using the INaturalist app to take images anywhere (even your backyard!) but also especially at Pleasure House Point Park. Identifying items captured via images will take place May 4-9. Staff will be on hand at Pleasure House Point Saturday May 1 and Sunday May 2 from 10-3 both days. On Saturday May 1st, staff will be near the kiosk by the Brock Center and on Sunday May 2nd by the Participating Agencies Sign along Marlin Bay Dr. For more information: go to the Pleasure House Point Park page Pleasure House Point or to https://citynaturechallenge.org/.

Bayfront Advisory Commission Declines to approve Marlin Bay Project

At their monthly meeting on Thursday, the BAC heard from Mr. Peterson, representing the company developing the Marlin Bay Project, who presented the design changes for the Marlin Bay Apartment Complex which mainly consisted of reducing part of the building to 3 stories. Mr. Davenport, chair of BAC, cautioned commission members and visitors that zoning questions such as density were not within the purview of the BAC. They were to address compliance with the Shore Drive Corridor Plan and Design Guidelines. Mr. Bob Magoon, chair of the Design Committee, gave a summary of the pros and cons of the project. The Design Committee recommended non approval. After hearing from the commission members and from many residents, the commission voted overwhelmingly not to approve the project. Mr. Magoon made recommendations including eliminating the fourth floor from the rest of the project. Mr. Peterson’s response was that would render the project unprofitable. BAC approval for a project is not required for approval from Planning Commission or City Council.

Many residents spoke against the project at the virtual meeting. Apparently many more residents were not able to join the meeting. Mr. Mark Shea, Comprehensive Planning Coordinator COVB, said that the noon deadline had been set and noted in the meeting sign up so that there wouldn’t be a flurry of activity during the meeting. He apologized to those who could not enter and attempts were made to let people in. At the end of the meeting, he said that the May meeting would be in person.

OPCL will keep residents updated as new steps are taken in regard to this development. Stay tuned!!

Marlin Bay Apt. Complex Update

The Bayfront Advisory Commission will hear from the Marlin Bay Apartment Complex developers again at their virtual meeting on Thursday, April 15 at 3:30.

The developers will present a slightly redesigned project with 197 units instead of 222. The new plan (see above drawing) shows a change to one part of the apartment building along Shore Dr. That part of the building will be 3 stories instead of 4. The rest of the complex along Shore Dr. and all that borders the neighborhood on the other side remain 4 stories. Areas circled in red are 4 stories and show how the 4 story building is overbearing next to current residences. The parking garage also remains 4 1/2 stories. The scale of the project means it will tower over Shore Dr. and the neighborhood and change the character of Ocean Park. So while the developers have made a modest change to the plan, this complex is still too large for our small, historic Ocean Park. The community remains strongly opposed to the zoning change that would allow such a large apartment complex in Ocean Park.

Please support Ocean Park and voice your views either by email (see the links to BAC commissioners below) or at the BAC meeting virtually. Here is the two step process to speak at the meeting on Thursday: Follow this link to register: https://vbgov.webex.com. And then contact Mr. Mark Shea by calling him at (757) 385-2908 or emailing him at MEShea@vbgov.com by noon on the 15th to indicate which presentation you wish to speak to. You can also join the meeting to listen by following the link above.

At the November BAC meeting, the commission declined to approve the earlier design of the project. If you would like to email members of the Bayfront Advisory Commission, here is their contact information:

Morgan Ayers ayersmorgan@gmail.com
Mr. Wallis Damonwalkatdam@aol.com
Philip Davenport, chairPdavenport9@cox.net
Mr. Whitney Grahamwhitney@grahamcre.com
Charles Guthrieaddress on gov website not valid
William Hearst whearst@verizon.net
Charles Malbontanklines@aol.com
Robert Magoon, vice chairBob@coastalresidentialdesign.com
Stacey ShifletSshiflet35@yahoo.com
Martin ThomasMthomas2001@gmail.com
Michael WitherspoonMichael.l.witherspo1@navy.mil
David Redmond (Planning Commission)dredmondvbpc@icloud.com
Mark Shea (staff)meshea@vbgov.com
contact information from Virginia Beach Govt website: https://www.vbgov.com/government/departments/planning/boards-commissions-committees/Documents/BAC/2-2021%20membership.pdf

Beach Project Update

On Thursday, April 8th the OPCL community heard from Mr. Dan Adams, P.E. Coastal Program Manger and Mr. James White, P.E. Coastal Program Manager, who addressed concerns about the erosion at the Ocean Park beach and plans for replenishment. (for the slide presentation: see previous post) Here are some highlights from Mr. Adam’s presentation and the discussion:

This will be the first true restoration project for OP beach. The beach has been a placement site for Federal dredging project spoils but this will be a much larger scale project. The Ocean Park beach is in a priority position as it already has a memo of agreement with VPA and is in the process of completing the necessary permits. Mr. Adams said that OP was the priority among the bay beaches if the quantity of beach quality sand falls short of the anticipated total or if the city of Norfolk or the Navy decide to exercise their claim on sand from the project. The total amount of beach quality sand is projected to be 400,000- 800,000 cubic yards. OP beach is slated to receive 310,000 cy to be able to do the full restoration. Mr. Adams expressed confidence that the sand OP beach requires will be available to do the project.

Timing: The project is on schedule. The design plans are set to be completed mid-May and bidding is scheduled for July. A Public Information Meeting (hopefully in person) will be held to communicate the project design and schedule to the community once the bidding process is complete. Dredging and placement is programmed to begin in late 2021 or early 2022. August 2022 is the conservative date for project completion not the start of the project. It is hoped that it will be completed well before that time.

Future: In addressing concerns about future needs for beach nourishment, Mr. Adams talked about a replenishment cycle involving 192,000 cy of sand every 3-5 years. He mentioned that there would be an opportunity to get the use of Thimble Shoals as a borrow site for renourishment. Another avenue would be dredge spoils from the Atlantic Ocean Channel (the orange line on the slide). The purpose of the City’s placements, nourishments and replenishments of sand is primarily for storm damage reduction. It provides the auxiliary benefit of a wider recreational beach.

Lynnhaven Sand PileEmergency Sand: The 60,000 cy of sand is beach quality but falls far short of being enough to be effective on the full beach. They consider the best use of the sand would be at a hot spot in the most vulnerable section if erosion brings conditions to that point. When asked about what preparations had been made for emergency action, Mr. Adams said they have received the authority to place sand above the mean high water line. Mr. Adams said that an emergency replenishment is when a habitable structure is in imminent risk of damage or when the coastal engineers feel the next storm could cause structural damage.

Questions: Mr. Adams responded to a question about the improved beach providing more flood protection and whether it could lead to a reduction in flood insurance for residents. He replied that FEMA remaps every 10 yrs and it would depend on when that would next happen but potentially OP could be removed from the VE zone. In answer to a question about the monitoring of OP beach, Mr. Adams said they do a LIDAR survey of the beach twice a year, go out monthly and after storms in person. In answer to a question about dune safety, they will consider placing signs to keep people off the dunes.

Mr. Adams and Mr. White assured members of their commitment to open communication and proposed several steps to keeping the communication lines open so residents will be kept up to date.

The Louise and George Lyon Memorial OPCL Scholarship Application Deadline is Approaching!

Louise and George Lyon were lifelong members of the Ocean Park Civic League and dedicated a good portion of their free time to serving the community in which they lived. They were especially committed to supporting the Ocean Park Volunteer Rescue Squad which was the first all volunteer rescue squad established in Virginia Beach and is still in operation today on Shore Drive in Ocean Park. This four year scholarship recognizes student achievement and encourages community volunteerism.

The Louise and George Lyon Memorial Scholarship for high school seniors in Virginia Beach is open for applications. While special consideration is given to Ocean Park residents, the scholarship is open to any qualified resident of Virginia Beach. The scholarship award is $1000 @year and can be awarded for up to four years to students who remain eligible. The deadline for submission is April 15, 2021. Applications should be mailed to OPCL Scholarship/ PO Box 55385/ Virginia Beach, VA 23471. Here is the link to the application: opcl.org/scholarship

STR Update: a cliffhanger!

At the Planning Commission hearing on March 10, 2021, the following ordinance changes regarding Short Term Rentals in the city of Virginia Beach were approved. (Sandbridge was excluded except for one safety measure).

Two overlay districts with limitations were created: East Shore Drive was approved as an overlay district. STRs would be allowed with a Conditional Use Permit. The number of STRs was capped at a 11.5% which is the current number relative to overall number of housing units. The overlay district was reduced to the area north of Shore Drive. The North End (including the Holly streets) was also approved as an overlay district with the same regulations as for East Shore Dr: CUP required and number capped.

The Oceanfront Overlay district was also approved but with STRs allowed by right.

The vote about whether to allow STRs in the remaining areas of the city was close: 4-3 of those present voting to prohibit STRs outside of the 3 overlay districts.

The meeting was very long-over 5 hours- as the commission heard from many residents pro and con. The spokesperson for the STR Association argued for increased enforcement of STR regulations and registration with inspections rather than limiting STRs to overlay districts. In the commission’s discussion that followed the comment period, the members showed that they clearly paid close attention to the residents’ views and the impact on those communities. But it was a very close vote on allowing STRs outside the overlays which would have affected Ocean Park. The members mentioned frequently that the numbers of people speaking out was persuasive to them. Showing up makes a difference!

The City Council will vote on the recommendations of the Planning Commission.

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