Thalia Has Prevailed -- Venture Withdraws 261 Apartments Application
Thalia Has Prevailed -- Venture Withdraws 261 Apartments Application
The Thalia Civic League is taking a survey of residents to determine what the neighborhood would like to see in the way of redevelopment on the Willis Wayside property. It is currently zoned B-2, which allows general business use, such as shops, stores, restaurants. Scroll down the page to see what uses are allowed. After you are familiar with the B-2 uses, please click the button below and take the survey.
Your input is important!
Possible B-2 Zoning Uses
This is a listing of the possible uses of the Willis Wayside, or any B-2 zoned property, in the City of Virginia Beach. So, these are the types of businesses that can be built, without resident input, with the current B-2 zoning.
Comprehensive Plan- This property is not in an SGA (Strategic Growth Area). The City has set aside SGAs for this type of growth.
Applicant’s version of the truth- City Staff and City Council have reaffirmed that apartment proposals are appropriate outside SGA areas over 30 times in the past decade – often with densities much greater than this project. In fact, most Council approvals were unanimous.
REAL Truth- We are not talking about “apartments.” We are talking about a “multi-use”/”mixed-use” workforce housing project. And, the City has not approved mixed-use outside the SGAs 30 times in the past decade. Comparing apartments and multi-use is the same thing as comparing apples to oranges. Thalia Civic League research shows all of the similar multi-use projects we located to have much lower density of people. Comparing SGA rezonings to non-SGA zonings is also apples to oranges.
Comprehensive Plan- We are in a “Suburban Area.” The City Comprehensive Plan states that the City will “…choose to continue to preserve the suburban lifestyle of those who seek it as their primary lifestyle choice…”
Applicant’s version of the truth- not addressed.
REAL Truth- The applicant dodged the question altogether.
Architecture- The building design is incompatible with the neighborhood. It does not have the same character as the neighborhood and does nothing to enhance the neighborhood.
Applicant’s version of the truth- Residents objected to our prior contemporary appearance, and Staff asked us to make the appearance more traditional. If there is a group of residents who would like to provide more direct architectural input, we would be happy to convene a video chat to discuss potential changes.
REAL Truth- Minor, superficial changes were made to the architecture, not as a result of citizen input, but as a result of the STAFF input. They are not exactly listening to the neighborhood folks who attended the one Outreach Meeting where they were told the buildings are ugly.
Spot Zoning- The rezoning of a specific parcel of land, for a specific person, for a specific purpose, when contrary to the City’s Comprehensive Plan is spot-zoning.
Applicant’s version of the truth- This is not the definition of “spot zoning,” but if it was, Staff, Planning Commission, and City Council have nearly uniformly interpreted similar projects as consistent with the Comprehensive Plan for over a decade.
REAL Truth- Once again, the applicant wants to compare apartment rezonings to multi-use rezonings. The City Council has not approved multi-use outside the SGA IN A SUBURBAN AREA. The City and the applicant want to make this a precedent, so that they can do this anywhere, in any suburban neighborhood. And, the City is trying to rewrite the rules to PREVENT CITIZEN INPUT.
Spot Zoning Definition: The granting to a particular parcel of land a classification concerning its use that differs from the classification of other land in the immediate area.
Spot Zoning Definition: Spot zoning is a provision in a general zoning plan which benefits a single parcel of land by creating an allowed use for that parcel that is not allowed for the surrounding properties in the area. Because of implications of favoritism, spot zoning is not favored practice.
Spot Zoning Definition: the process of singling out a small parcel of land for a use classification totally different from that of the surrounding area for the benefit of the owner of such property and to the detriment of other owners.
Parking- According to the Civic League calculations, the applicant is short over 100 parking spaces. The applicant want to “share” parking spaces with the other businesses, which is allowed by City Code, but only when the businesses have differing peak hours. Aldi’s, Tijuana Flats and the other businesses have the SAME peak hours as apartment dwellers coming home and leaving.
Applicant’s version of the truth- According to traffic engineers, we have a surplus of 59 spaces during peak hours. Also, the traffic report (available on our website) confirms that the apartments and the commercial spaces do NOT have the same peak hours.
REAL Truth- The applicant’s traffic engineers have used the wrong calculations in the very beginning of their work, leaving the applicant short 102 spaces. All subsequent math uses the erroneous calculation and is therefore, wrong. The applicant runs out of parking spaces at approximately 4:00 p.m. each week night until approximately 9:00 p.m.
Stormwater- The applicant is having trouble getting stormwater off the property. The City has said “…the proposed conceptual stormwater management strategy has the potential to successfully comply…” There is no approved plan to get stormwater off the property.
Applicant’s version of the truth- This statement is particularly egregious. Our stormwater report demonstrates that we are improving stormwater conditions. Further, we have gone through the effort of obtaining a stormwater report when none is required. Please see the stormwater report on our website.
REAL Truth- The applicant submitted preliminary stormwater reports to the City on at least three occasions, being rejected the first two times for things such as using the Aldi Grocery store as part of their stormwater retention basin (imagine a foot and a half of water inside Aldi) and for “losing” 2 hours of 100-year rainfall that just disappeared off their computer model. The City said “…the proposed conceptual stormwater management strategy has the potential to successfully comply…”
Schools- The applicant says they will add less than 7 elementary students to Thalia. The City says 27 new Thalia students at a cost of $1,299,844 for just the elementary students.
Applicant’s version of the truth- The student impacts are exaggerated. 200 (76.6%) of our apartment homes have one bedroom and will likely not produce students. Thalia Elementary’s student population has gone down 10% since 2015 and remains approximately 20% under capacity.
REAL Truth- The Rezoning Task Force went to the Virginia Beach City Public Schools and to the Principal of Thalia Elementary for information. The VBCPS demographer provided us with paperwork that is the basis for our student and cost claims. When the applicant was provided this information at the Outreach meeting, referring to the demographer he stated “…she doesn’t know what she is talking about…” The Principal provided us with paperwork showing that Thalia Elementary is 4.9% over capacity.
Traffic- The applicant has Traffic Study done. The Civic League also did a traffic count. Our counts were much higher than reported by the applicant.
Applicant’s version of the truth- Our traffic engineering study speaks for itself. The potential traffics impacts are much less than currently permitted by-right impacts.
REAL Truth- The applicant talks about how much less traffic there will be than a “by-right” development. By-right development is what can be built on the property without our input. This discussion is not about by-right development. It is about the fact that the Civic League conducted our own traffic count (not on holiday like theirs) and came up with significantly more traffic than they did.
Density- This project has the potential to add up to 678 residents in approximately 7 acres of property. This is too many people in too little space.
Applicant’s version of the truth- The resident population is wildly exaggerated. The actual resident estimate is 339.
REAL Truth- The applicant proposes 261 units. Two hundred of them are one-bedroom units. The applicant contends that those 200 one-bedroom units will never have more than one person in residence. No spouses, no girlfriends, or no boyfriends. That claim is absurd. Federal law allows “two heads in a bed” and this applicant cannot legally prevent two people from sharing the bed in a one-bedroom apartment. In fact, the leasing agent stated at the Outreach meeting that the standard for measuring occupancy is “…two heads in a bed…” Therefore, at maximum capacity, the complex would have 678 residents.
Public Utilities-Sewer- The Public Works Department stated “…the existing receiving gravity collection system has insufficient capacity to accommodate the calculated peak sewer flows…” In layman’s terms: The sewer pipe is not enough to get all the sewage off the property. That means someone has to pay to dig up 8 lanes of the Boulevard and part of Thalia Manor to get to the N. Palm Avenue pump station.
Applicant’s version of the truth- This area has a brand new pump station. If any mains require upgrade, we will perform upgrades like any initiative.
REAL Truth- The new sewer pump station in Thalia Village on N. Palm Drive was designed long before this project. While it has the capacity, the City has determined that THIS PROPERTY does not have the capacity to move the waste to the pump station. Therefore, the applicant should state in his Proffers that he is willing to take responsibility (not the City or the taxpayer) for all construction costs relating to connecting the sewer from one side of the boulevard to the other side and up through the Thalia Village neighborhood.
Vacant Retail- There is currently over 100,000 square feet of vacant retail space within ½ mile of the site.
Applicant’s version of the truth- This is due to Farm Fresh, Dress Barn, and Hancock Fabrics closing. New residents will help get these leased again and bring jobs back to the neighborhood.
REAL Truth- We are unclear as to how new residents are going to “…bring back jobs to the neighborhood…” Generally, businesses open and hire staff. There is no evidence that the workforce is insufficient to supply any business that should elect to open in this 100,000 + square feet. It is doubtful that new residents in this complex are going to compel any businesses to open in these spaces.
Community Outreach- The applicant held a single neighborhood outreach meeting at which they told us that we could take it or leave it. They never contacted any Civic League Officer, Director, or Task Force member for neighborhood input.
Applicant’s version of the truth- Of course we did not tell the neighbors to “take it or leave it.” We wrote letters to all adjacent owners and called two Thalia Civic League officers to discuss the project. We asked to attend Civic League meetings, and we were prohibited from attending. We therefore conducted our own independent presentation. We further created a website and posted all of our relevant reports, plans, and data for the public to see.
REAL Truth- We will quote the applicant and you can decide if he told us take it or leave it. This quote is taken from a video transcript of the Outreach meeting. You be the judge.
“The existing property owners have the ability to change their building without any of YOUR input and there are uses they could put on their property without any of YOUR input that include double-drive thru’s, discount department stores—all kinds of stuff.”
“If we are not successful, change will come
and it could be a whole lot worse than a guy who looks like me.”
John L. Gibson, Venture Realty
December 2, 2019
None of the current Civic League Officers or Board (7 people) nor any member of the Rezoning Task Force (7 people) have been contacted by the applicant nor any agent, employee, or assign of the applicant. Not a word. Crickets. All Thalia Civic League meetings are open to the public and anyone wishing to attend, may attend. We have not heard a word from these folks.