Letters to New Kent County – Installment 7

 Dear Friends in New Kent, 

This Tidewater and Big Bend Foundation’s newsletter continues its description of the unseemly drama that took place in December and January between the New Kent Board of Supervisors (BOS) and the Attorney General of Virginia. While the presentation here of parts of the Attorney General’s heretofore unpublicized documentation does not paint a very appealing picture of our County, the conclusion of the Attorney General vs the New Kent BOS drama, as related in this installment, is good news. 

The final quote from the third, January 31, letter from the Deputy Attorney General’s office to the BOS approves with qualifications, most of the Boards’ recent actions in connection with the appointment of an interim supervisor. 

Commonwealth of Virginia, Office of the Attorney General – January 31, 2024 

“The Attorney General has no interest in initiating unfounded litigation or needless controversy, however, these illegal actions need to be corrected for the legal functioning of the work of the New Kent County Board of Supervisors that serve the citizens of New Kent County.” 

An earlier discovery of a case law precedent that supported much of the BOS’ actions may have prevented some of the controversy that ensued. But the ‘bottom line’ on this story is that residents of New Kent could be ill-served by a BOS oriented towards high growth rates. We wonder how the citizens of New Kent will adapt to large subdivisions, strip malls and a 125 foot tall image of a buck-toothed beaver at the future Buc-ee’s site? 

An important upcoming event is the election of a new Supervisor for District 3 in November, 2024, a Presidential election year. It is imperative that those who advocate a more moderate growth rate select and support a candidate who shares your views. 

New Kent is growing rapidly and the voting population in 2024, and again in 2027, will continue to reflect the preferences of a greater percentage of newcomers. No one knows with certainty how these demographics will change politics in New Kent. Optimistically, we may institute zoning restrictions preventing the worst development abuses and adopt sensible long-range planning based upon the New Kent County Comprehensive Plan. One potential reform would be to end the BOS practice of ‘closed sessions’ that exclude the public. 

There is further good news following the regrettable struggle between the BOS and the AG of Virginia. At the Board of Supervisors meeting during the week of February 12, the Board voted unanimously to reject a Conditional Use Permit for a solar project. At the same meeting, the Board unanimously voted to reject a proposal for a mixed-use development of businesses and 290 homes on a 118 acre site. 

This favorable outcome may mean that the Board of Supervisors’ difficult experience with the Attorney General of Virginia has had some effect. Or perhaps the rejections involving these two development proposals were just for projects that were abnormally unappealing. Regardless of the explanation, those of us supporting measured growth are sincerely grateful to all members of the Board.

John Poindexter

New Kent County

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