Oakland Pointe, the proposed Norge apartment complex, is back.
The James City Planning Commission is scheduled to vote on whether to recommend the proposal, which would allow construction of the affordable housing complex, at its meeting Wednesday.
Though the applicant is back with a new proposal, the application is largely the same as the previous one, the most noteworthy change being a new location for the complex’s access road.
Rather than on Richmond Road, the access road would feed onto Oakland Drive in a bid to make the area safer for motor traffic, Tim Trant wrote in an email. Trant is an attorney who filed the application on behalf of the applicant, Connelly Development LLC.
“The change in access was made in response to feedback we received from the community meeting we hosted,” Trant wrote, referring to a public forum held in April. “We felt it was a good suggestion.”
Connelly Development wants to rezone about 14.5 acres of agricultural land to multi-family residential in order to build an apartment complex with up to 126 units near Norge. The complex would feature five 40-foot buildings and a clubhouse.
After a public hearing, the Planning Commission is scheduled to vote on whether it will recommend the application to the Board of Supervisors. Should the commission weigh in on the proposal, supervisors will consider the application for final approval at a later date.
The complex would be located near Crosswalk Church in an area between Oakland Estates and Richmond Road. The complex would help address a lack of affordable housing in the county, according to the application.
A 2016 study concluded there are too few housing options for low- and moderate-income households in James City County. And for almost a year, a task force of county officials, residents, contractors and other individuals have studied how to make living in the county affordable.
That task force is expected to deliver a list of recommended housing strategies — which could include zoning policies, financial tools and other resources — to the Board of Supervisors early next year.
A study found 29 percent of county workers earn $7.81 per hour, which is $1,354 per month or $16,248 per year if they work full time.The median gross rent, which is rent plus utilities, was estimated to be $1,148 per month in James City.
Units in the proposed complex are expected to cost between $495 for a two-bedroom unit with one-and-a-half baths to $940 for a three-bedroom unit with two baths.
After making an appearance before the Planning Commission in February, the application for the complex has been delayed for months. It was last on the commission’s agenda at its May meeting, where the commission voted to delay the application until August. The applicant then pulled the proposal to tweak it.
In that time, which included a public forum hosted by the applicant in April, critics and proponents have made their voices heard.
People critical of the idea have expressed concerns about increased crime and traffic safety.
Kevin Connelly, the project’s builder, disputed the notion a crime wave would accompany the complex. At the April public forum, he said potential tenants would undergo background checks and those who commit crimes would be subject to eviction.
Opponents have also voiced concern about the perceived threat to the area’s rural character and the fiscal impact of the project.
The land in question falls within the county’s primary service area, which is a designation for areas that have access to public water, sewer and other utilities or are intended to have utilities made available. The primary service area is intended for residential, commercial and industrial development.
Others have cried foul regarding a passage in the application’s staff report that states the project would result in a $463,425 negative fiscal impact to the county annually.
The fiscal impact is the net cost of providing public services — such as paying for public school children and ambulance trips versus the new tax revenue provided by the project in question, said James City Planning Director Paul Holt.
The complex is estimated to add 39 students to the school system.
Generally speaking residential projects, whether an apartment complex or a single-detached home, have a negative fiscal impact, Holt said.
“Most, I don’t want to say all, are negative,” he said.
On Friday, Holt wasn’t immediately sure how Oakland Pointe’s fiscal impact squares with similar residential projects.
There have also been county residents who have voiced support for the proposal, saying the complex will provide quality, affordable housing for people who need it.
The complex’s buildings are proposed to be 80 percent brick construction with cement siding to Earth Craft gold certification standards.
A 150-foot buffer will exist between the complex and Richmond Road, according to the staff report.
Want to go?
The meeting is at 6 p.m. Wednesday at the County Government Center board room, 101 Mounts Bay Road.
Jack Jacobs, 757-298-6007, email@example.com, @jajacobs_