Oakland Point project fills a gaping need

I am writing to support The Oakland Pointe project. I grew up in Toano, graduated from Walsingham Academy and am a landowner in Toano.

My family has lived for generations in James City County and the James City Chapel, a stone’s throw from this proposed development. It is the final resting place for my parents, grandparents and great-grandparents, among numerous other relatives. I have frequently visited our family farm during the past 35 years to care for my elderly parents and our properties.

My support for the Oakland project stems from my professional expertise as a doctor of economics, my personal experience on the need for affordable housing in James City County and my family’s legacy of having a deep affinity for the American worker.

Economic arguments alone conclude this project is a win-win for the county and its residents. For many years, I have read articles in the Virginia Gazette stating the need for more affordable housing and many verifying statistics have already been presented by others. This project is a start to fulfilling that need.

This project is situated on a major four-lane highway, on public transportation routes and has easy access to jobs. The apartments benefit from being within walking distance of every amenity needed to sustain life: grocery, pharmacy, bank, restaurants, post office, churches, and doctor’s offices. The development will provide walking paths to these amenities.

The Oakland tract of land is within the county’s PSA boundaries and it fulfills the slated Moderate Density Residential use in the Comprehensive Plan. The tract is close to public utility hookups and uses its heavy timber as buffers to preserve the surrounding rural character. Additionally, quality materials and attractive use of green space enhance the appeal of the project. Traffic concerns have been addressed and eliminated.

In summary, the project fully satisfies the county’s vision for the property and it provides the much-needed housing for the working people of James City County. All races and income levels stand to benefit from it. Furthermore, passing this project in no way suggests that the county is not actively preserving appropriate rural lands.

Secondly, my experience of hiring farm workers and caregivers for my elderly parents causes me to personally support this project. I found it almost impossible to find employees living in James City County. Why? They could not afford to live there. Our employees mainly drove in from New Kent, West Point and Gloucester. When I eventually moved my mother to the Williamsburg Landing, the same problem existed. A large percentage of the CNAs and nurses were driving in from Surry County, Newport News and Gloucester.

Long commutes fostered high turnover, high absenteeism, higher labor costs, low morale and frustrated human resource directors.

With the abundance of retirement communities, long-term care facilities and two hospitals in James City County, the lack of affordable housing has put the health care sector in crisis for nearly 40 years. Furthermore, this project is an asset our senior citizens living on a fixed income, many of whom are lifelong residents of James City County.

Ground level apartment units with few stairs are perfect for seniors who desire to remain in James City, but are unable to afford a retirement community or a healthcare facility.

This is a silent, hurting group of residents. This project provides options for them, as many are no longer able to drive; everything they would need is within walking distance. Also, family members assisting these senior loved ones would benefit from the close amenities.

I urge county supervisors to please consider these facts and vote yes to the rezoning of the Oakland Pointe Tract. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Kruse lives in Smithville, Miss.

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