From Pilotonline.com Letters to the Editor:
For the first time in my 50 years of living in Virginia Beach, I attended a City Council meeting. The only topic was a vote on the massive $250 million expansion of Westminster-Canterbury on Shore Drive that includes a 22-story glass tower. Speakers for and against the expansion presented their views in a most informative manner. There is no doubt that the quality of life and care for hundreds of senior citizens is top-notch at Westminster-Canterbury. On the other hand, the quality of life in the Shore Drive area, which is primarily residential, will be forever changed for thousands.
Despite compelling evidence that current city zoning laws do not permit a structure greater than 165 feet in height, the council approved the Westminster-Canterbury expansion that is taller than 250 feet.
Some of the rationale for approval voiced by Mayor Bobby Dyer, Councilwoman Barbara Henley, and Councilman Guy Tower was that Virginia Beach needs medical care facilities for its senior citizens. I couldn’t agree more, but that care is in a different building, not in a 22-story, 250-foot independent living facility. This 22-story structure will only open the door for future developers to make Shore Drive “high-rise heaven.” I will express my disapproval on Nov. 3.
Richard Malla, Virginia Beach
As a longtime resident of Lynnhaven Colony, I watched Tuesday’s Virginia Beach City Council meeting regarding the approval or disapproval of Westminster-Canterbury’s expansion with much interest. What I understood from Westminster proponents is: It’s a great place; they really care; Virginia Beach does not have enough senior housing; and that Beach boomers cannot wait to move there. What I heard from the opponents was that Westminster will destroy their view; shade their homes; and eliminate beach access that residents deserve, use and have grown to expect. It will incorporate a building that will be out of place, depreciate their home values, and that Westminster is actually unaffordable to most people.
What I heard from the council (except for Council members John Moss and Aaron Rouse, who I applaud for their sensibilities) was that the council meeting was a red herring, set up at the Virginia Beach Convention Center so as many people as possible could waste their time and voice their views; and, yes,
thanks for your comments and concerns, but we know better, don’t really care what you think or how this action might impact you,
and we’re going to pretend to think about it for say — five minutes — before announcing our foregone conclusion. Thank you very much. Virginia Beach citizens will know exactly who to vote out of office on Nov 3.
Kriste Brown Camsky, Virginia Beach
Permanent City Wharf at the Lynnhaven Inlet
Listening to the presentation given by Mr. Phill Roehrs of the Public Works Department given at the City Council workshop on 23 January, one might believe that this was just routine business as the city declares that the present 400 foot bulkhead located at the Lynnhaven Bay will become a permanent wharf and feature upon the completion of the Lesner Bridge. Not so fast Mr. Roehrs, Mayor, City Council, City Manager, and staff.
The Federal Public Notice 12-1169-09 issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Norfolk District and posted 10/18/2012 states that the Joint Application for Federal and State Permits submitted by the City of Virginia Beach will “include the construction of a temporary bulkhead”. Further, “Upon the completion of construction, the temporary bulkhead will be removed”. This statement differs factually from what Mr. Roehrs told the Mayor, City Council and staff.
If the city’s permit application stating the bulkhead temporary intended for the Lesner Bridge construction, but actually had the intent to make it permanent to bypass certain Federal environmental requirements, than the city should correct their error and complete all the required Federal and state environmental impact studies required by law for such an operation.
The city’s most recently adopted Comprehensive Plan (May 17, 2016) “is the official land use policy framework for Virginia Beach…. “to guide responsible use of finite land resources….and protect neighborhoods”. A permanent bulkhead or wharf at the Lynnhaven Basin used for commercial operations and support for large commercial dredge vessels and scows would change the very nature for surrounding neighborhoods and degrade this pristine waterway. To use this bulkhead area as a permanent dredge spoils transfer site and commercial wharf would subject the estuary to unacceptable environmental pressure created by dredge silt then entering the estuary and flowing back into the vary areas where oyster replenishment and natural fish spawning areas have taken so much effort to restore. Harmful water turbidity levels and released pollution will continue to be an environmental issue if such a transfer operation should be permitted at this bulkhead. Mr. Roehrs was correct when he stated that the city should expect some pushback from the residents on this issue.
David M. Williams
Past President and Secretary
Shore Drive Community Coalition
Virginia Beach, VA 23451
Opinion/Letter to the editor.
From an unedited email to us:
Hearing about the millions of dollars being discussed for the various proposed projects at the Beach astounds me. Why not devote some energy as well as funds to finish the horrible mess known as Shore Drive. The Lesner Bridge project is likely over 1 year behind schedule and much over budget. Shore Drive has to my knowledge never been completely resurfaced. The median strips east of the bridge have never been landscaped, sidewalks appear and disappear randomly and bike paths are non existent. Potholes remain untouched for years and after recent storms who knows when repairs will begin.
I see the major problem as the lack of representation from this area on city council. There is no one on the council that lives in this area. The Lesner Bridge splits our community into two zip codes and we have no one on city council that lives, works and transits this area on a daily basis. Bridge lighting works sporadically, trash on sidewalks on the bridge and sand and orange cones make it bicycle and pedestrian unfriendly.
One of the most traveled access points to the Beach deserves better as do the thousands of taxpayers. New roads, sidewalks and bike paths cover the oceanfront and the south side but sadly Shore Dr gets no attention at all.