Letters to New Kent County – Installment 4

Dear Friends in New Kent,

In my last update, I shared with you my opinions about rapid commercial development, disregard for the County’s Comprehensive (master development) Plan, and the construction of the 110-pump Buc-ee’s mega – gas station. As a resident of the area and founder of the Tidewater and Big Bend Foundation (TBBF), I am increasingly concerned with the direction some recent Boards of Supervisors (BOS) have been taking, a direction that seemingly disregards the balance between development and preservation. 

Current, easy to see examples of unattractive commercial development, in my opinion, include the Dollar General and the Food Lion supermarket at the Airport Road roundabout on #249. Like the Virginia Elite Gymnastics Academy on #155 North, these structures were allowed to be erected without a hint of a wooded margin fronting the highway.  The storage units adjoining the Gymnastics Academy, while further from the edge of #155 North, also are unattractively visible from the road.

Rapid development, as exemplified by these sites and by Buc-ee’s and the large suburban installations proposed or to be proposed for Highway 106 and elsewhere in the county, starkly contrasts with what we at the TBBF are striving to accomplish.

The TBBF supports managed, planned development for New Kent. The county will inevitably grow due to its fortuitous location between Williamsburg and Richmond. If new residential developments are thoughtfully integrated into the existing landscape, shielded behind screens of trees, and if commercial developments like Buc-ee’s are designed with discretion, avoiding aerial, obtrusive signage and lighting, we mostly will adhere to New Kent’s Comprehensive Plan (created in 2012 and amended in 2017).

The County’s Comprehensive Plan should be the blueprint for intelligent development in New Kent. We’ve frequently referred to it in these newsletters, citing the Plan as the principal basis for our reasoning for controlling rapid development. Here are some quotes from the Comprehensive Plan that address the commercial development issues we’ve raised.  (You can read the entire text on the County’s website.)

“Regulate and provide incentives for the maintenance of vegetative buffers around new development projects.” p. 69

“Encourage clustering and open space development techniques as the primary option for residential developments and provide incentives for their use.” p. 70

“Concentrate housing, commerce, recreation, and public facilities in a mixed-use environment within village centers.” p. 112

“Arrange land use designations such that villages have distinct and discernable boundaries and engender a sense of place.” p. 113

And,

“Resist leapfrog development and discourage strips from evolving incrementally over time.” p. 113

In late 2023, the voters of New Kent elected a new BOS that may be, again in my opinion, influenced by members who, based solely upon their prior actions, support rapid development.

What is to be expected of our Board of Supervisors in 2024 if it still is influenced by members who support rapid development? At a minimum we should anticipate a commercial onslaught as profit-motivated developers recognize that the apparent acquiescence of the Board may not continue after November, 2024. This is because November 2024 is the date of a special election to fill the seat representing District 3. It will be critical that a balanced growth Supervisor is elected in order to counter the influence of the members favoring unchecked growth.

This political uncertainty necessitates that we, as concerned residents, business owners, and conservationists raise our voices. During these challenging times, it is critical that we communicate our visions for New Kent’s future to our local representatives. Please contact your District Supervisor and other local officials to express your views regarding the future development of New Kent. 

For your convenience, here are the contact numbers for the New Kent Supervisors.

  • Thomas Evelyn (District 1): 804-310-7333
  • John P. Moyer (District 2): 757-207-6078
  • Amy Pearson (District 3): 757-207-6094
  • Ron Stiers (District 4): 804-385-0779
  • Jordan Stewart (District 5): 804-310-2203

John Poindexter 

New Kent County

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