VGTV morning newscast - July 16, 2014

JAMES CITY – More than 100 Greensprings West residents have come out against a new phase of development in the subdivision off Centerville Road.

This spring, Jamestown Management Company, the developer of Greensprings West, applied to the county to rezone a 19-acre parcel at the end of Thorngate Drive. The plan was to add 24 homes into the development through a master plan amendment.

Although the plan has not yet made it to the Planning Commission, it has already sparked controversy in the community. Homeowners have started to call and write county officials, while supervisors chairwoman Mary Jones has had at least one meeting with residents. There's also a petition circulating in the neighborhood that has 125 signatures.

"So far we've had one neighbor tell us he didn't want to sign," said Zack Howell, who lives almost adjacent to where the new phase would begin. "And that's because he serves on the Planning Commission."

Howell has rounded up neighborhood objections in a two-page document undergirding the petition. Residents say they were under the impression that Thorngate Drive was to remain a cul-de-sac. They are concerned that the proposed lots are smaller than existing lots and have capacity concerns with infrastructure, traffic and recreational amenities.

They also point to unfinished roads, irregular street lighting and persistent problems with stormwater ponds to argue that Jamestown Management owner Lewis Waltrip should finish the current sections before expanding.

"He has shown no concern or care for this neighborhood," said homeowner Lee Laska. He lives in a section where the roads remain unfinished. "It's all half measures. Nothing is fixed properly. It's a lot of lip service, and things just aren't getting done."

Jamestown Management vice president James Bennett noted in an interview Tuesday that the plans to develop the section actually date back to when the neighborhood was first developed. At that time, the plans included land bays with a unit cap on the overall development.

That cap, 368 homes, has already been met in Greensprings West. That prompted Waltrip to apply in 2005 to increase the number of units allowed by 30 in order to develop the land bay on Thorngate. The Board of Supervisors turned that down the following year, Waltrip said, and suggested the developer go through the Comprehensive Plan process to change the land use designation in 2009. That also failed.

"It was bad thing for us," Waltrip said Tuesday. "We went through all of this, spent all of this money going through the Comp Plan process."

He decided to pursue the development again this spring, applying for 32 lots. After a meeting with residents in April, he lowered the number of lots to 24, which Bennett said increased lot sizes to be comparable to existing lots.

Waltrip defends the plan point by point. He said he doubts the assertion that people bought in believing Thorngate Drive would remain a cul-de-sac. The development, he said, should be considered infill, with enough recreational, road and utility capacity. Bennett said they had withdrawn an initial plan to install grinder pumps for each of the new homes, instead planning a new sewer line. He said during a meeting within the past month James City Service Authority officials told him the pump station has capacity.

The county's Engineering & Resources Protection Division has documented "outstanding concerns" with five stormwater ponds in Greensprings West in an April letter. It also noted that the county had never received documents about the construction of a sixth.

Waltrip said he's simultaneously trying to please residents with stormwater ponds while meeting county requirements. "I agree with the people," he said. "It's just crazy. We get our lunch handed to us, but we don't make the rules. We just deal with them."

James City Planner Luke Vinciguerra said the case could go to the Planning Commission as early as August, but he has not yet received documents reflecting the reduction of lots.

Asked why residents should support the new section, Waltrip said, "I think we've developed some nice environments for people to live in. This would be no different."

On the other hand, he is pragmatic about the complaints. "I've never had anybody love me for being a developer. You try to do the best you can."

Langley can be reached by phone at 757-345-2346.