Westminster Canterbury Expansion Update – City Council Member Status

As you all know, the City Council hearing for the proposed Westminster Canterbury expansion is now scheduled to take place on Tuesday August 25th.  The following is a brief update on what City Council Members positions/interest is to date.

3 Council Members have recused themselves from discussing, commenting and voting on this application due to conflict of interests.  Those members are Jim Wood – Lynnhaven District; Louis Jones – Bayside District and Rosemary Wilson – At-large.

Out of the remaining 8 Council Members, 7 have yet to meet with residents or attend a civic meeting where this expansion was discussed or presented.

1 Council Member, Mr. John Moss, has publicly made the decision to oppose the expansion.  His Facebook post is shown below.

 

The Bayfront Advisory Commission (BAC) will be holding their annual Strategic Planning session prior to their regular meeting at 1 PM on August 20, 2020.

Email from Mark:

Good Morning,

Phil Davenport, Chairman of the Bayfront Advisory Commission, asked me to send out this email to the various civic league/homeowner association contacts to obtain written comments regarding two topics:

The Bayfront Advisory Commission (BAC) will be holding their annual Strategic Planning session prior to their regular meeting at 1 PM on August 20, 2020. Phil has requested that the various organizations provide BAC with their written comments/or concerns about the bayfront area in general to help with the strategic plan discussion.

At the regular meeting, BAC will be discussing the Westminster-Canterbury application. This item has been delayed until the August 25, 2020 City Council meeting. Please provide any written comments or concerns that your organization may have regarding this application.

Please email me your comments about these items no later than Monday 8/17/20 so I can compile and send to the BAC members prior to the meeting. BAC meetings are now being held at the Ocean Park Rescue Squad meeting room, 3769 E. Stratford Road to allow for more social distancing. However, due to the spacing requirements, there will be extremely limited seating.

Thank you for your help and please feel free to contact me with any questions.

Mark E. Shea, AICP
Comprehensive Planning Coordinator
City of Virginia Beach
Department of Planning and Community Development
Meshea@vbov.com
757-385-2908

Emphasis ours.

“Subsequent to the Planning Commission Public Hearing The Applicant has provided Staff with a New submittal…” ~ Planning Director July 28 2020

Is it more appropriate to DEFER the Public Hearing scheduled for City Council Meeting August 4th 2020 to allow the City to hold the necessary public forum and reach an acceptable compromise rather than try to work a solution during a Public Hearing that also includes very real health risks for its participants considering:

  • The unknown recent changes
  • Large opposition to publicly seen proposed development
  • 3 Councilpersons needing to recuse themselves
  • Inconsistencies throughout the entire process to date
  • The complexity of the precedent setting “iconic building” WCCB will have in the Shore Drive Community for decades
  • Recent FOIA documents available below.
    Note: Attachments mentioned in many emails were not included for the public to view.

    R-F008829_-_Bloom

    R-F008829-072120_-_Mayors_Office_Responsive_Documents

    R-FOIA_F008829_Leahy_E-mail

    R-WC_FOIA

    Affects of the Westminster-Canterbury Expansion

    Re Westminster Canterbury potential expansion

    RE Westminster Canterbury Expansion concern

    RE Shore Drive Community Coalition Position Statement – Westminster Canterbury Expansion

    Westminster Canterbury Expansion concern

    Shore Drive Communtiy Coaltion Position Statement – Westminster Canterbury Expansion

    “We have 2 presentations coming up now because of the complexity . . .” ~ Mayor Dyer July 28th 2020

    It seems everyone understands how complex the proposed development is. What’s the rush to attempt to push it through with incomplete information & lack of public input on an unseen “new submittal”.

    City Council Still Plans to Hear Westminster-Canterbury Expansion on Aug. 4th – Community Input Needed

    On Tuesday City Council decided to move ahead with the scheduled Aug 4th hearing of the Westminster-Canterbury proposed expansion plans.  The hearing will take place in the Convention Center and start at 6:00pm.  We have been told this site will allow adequate social distancing even with the recent reduction of allowable group sizes from 250 to 50.  You can also participate virtually if you are in a high risk category.

    The Shore Drive Community Coalition is asking the residents of the Bayfront Community to provide City Council with your opinions on this proposed development.  This is a once in a lifetime decision that can cause adverse ripples for many years to come.  Here are several ways you can let your voices be heard.

     

    • Sign up to speak (in-person or virtual) at the Tuesday Aug 4th hearing.  Call the City Clerk at 385-4303 or email her at ABarnes@vbgov.com and inform her you wish to talk on the Westminster-Canterbury item.

     

    • Send an email to City Council and the Staff Planner.  It can be a short few sentences of what you think about this project or it can be several paragraphs of stories or analysis.  Any email is welcomed.  Send your emails to the following:  City Council – CityCouncil@vbgov.com and City Planner Bill Landfair – WLandfair@vbgov.com

     

    For reference, the official letter of opposition from SDCC to City Council is included below.  Feel free to copy and paste information from this letter into your emails if you need.  City Council Deny Request Letter for WC22

     

    Dear Mayor Dyer and City Council Members,

    On behalf of the Shore Drive Community Coalition (SDCC), we formally request that City Council “DENY” the subject request from Westminster Canterbury on Chesapeake Bay (WCCB) for a modification of conditions to build a 4 story parking garage with 22 story tower senior living facility and a 7 story memory unit facility connected by enclosed elevated pedestrian bridges over public roadways.

    The SDCC is a 20 year old umbrella civic organization representing many neighborhood civic leagues, condo and homeowner associations along the Shore Drive corridor.  At our February general meeting, we unanimously voted on the following motion regarding the current proposed WCCB development,

    “The Shore Drive Community Coalition opposes the Westminster Canterbury expansion proposal as it is in violation of the Shore Drive Overlay density restrictions and the Business 901 height restrictions”

    The proposed project defined as “Housing for seniors” violates the following City codes and plans.

    • Shore Drive Corridor Overlay Section 1704- Density requirements of maximum 24 units per acre. The proposed 22 story tower lot size is 2.56 acres.
    Density Design Units/acre % over code Total Units
    Shore Drive Overlay (24/acre) 24 0% 61
    Other States Codes for Affordable Housing 28 +20% 73
    Existing Westminster Canterbury Campus Density 50 +40% 86
    Proposed 22 Story Tower 85 +255% 217

     

    • Business District Section 901(a) – Senior housing building height restriction of 165 feet. The 22 story tower has a height of 250 feet.  This City code requirement appears to have been created to allow safe evacuation of elderly residents in case of emergency.

     

    The SDCC understands that Council will be using “City Code Section 235 – Housing for seniors and disabled persons” to approve random densities for these types of projects, however, this code also requires Council to evaluate the project with the following guideline.

    The mass, or overall size, and height of the structure should be appropriate to the surroundings.

    Based on numbers alone, it seems the proposed 22 story tower fails on height and mass.

    The SDCC is also concerned that this project will set a harmful precedent for future development requests of high density taller tower structures in Business B2 and B4 zoning that would be incompatible with the surrounding residential and lower density multi-family dwellings that make the Shore Drive Corridor unique.

     

    Thank you for your consideration in denying the subject application,

    Todd Solomon – SDCC President

    WCCB process so far – “The lack of attention to detail is astonishing.”

    Obfuscation intentional or unintentional is not a good look for anyone involved in this process.

    A very brief illustration of where we are today in the City’s process of reviewing this “iconic building”.

    July 25th 2020 – SIGNAGE

    They still haven’t fixed the conflicting times (12:00 noon on two signs and 6:00 pm on two other signs), and the convention center is listed for the planning commission meeting on two of the signs, rather than the city council meeting which still says council chambers. The lack of attention to detail is astonishing.

    LATE JULY – PLANNING COMMISSION OFFICIAL TRANSCRIPTS FINALLY INCLUDES WCCB

    As of the most recent Bayfront Advisory Committee Meeting July 16th 2020, Planning Commission WCCB Transcripts were not available to the public, nor on the public record.

    Our original post of PLANNING COMMISSION MARCH 11 2020 OFFICIAL TRANSCRIPTS

    Virginia Beach Planning Commission Public Hearing March 11, 2020 Minutes

    PLEASE NOTE: Incomplete PDF file we downloaded that day excluding WCCB TRANSCRIPT and compared to link of PDF at VBGov.com. 40 pages were missing. Interestingly, the link to PDF at VBGov.com is not broken even though the PDF was changed adding WCCB TRANSCRIPT. In other words – the PDF was dramatically altered with no public record of alteration. Maybe it’s time the City time stamps all public records posted on the official record & when errors are made, add a description of the error and keep original incorrect document public.

    Planning Commission Official Page at VBGov.com including Transcripts.

    SDCC TOOK A SURVEY re: WCCB

    77% oppose WCCB proposal “in its current form”.

    WCCB SURVEY SUMMARY RESULTS

    July 25th 2020 – CITY COUNCILMAN CONCERNS ON HOW THIS PROCESS APPEARS TO THE PUBLIC

    Subject: Concern on City Manager Briefings

    This email content has three parts:

    1. City Manager
    2. Mayor
    3. City Council

    Patrick,

    Why did you place West Minister and Thalia Wayside that are Planning items on City Manager Briefings?

    Who will be giving said Briefings?

    The briefing material is just a repackaging of the developer’s proposals. I did not see any of the opposition material being included. Is there a reason it is an unbalanced brief?

    This comes across as sales pitch for the developer where the other side does not get equal time.

    This is an example of the very issue I discussed with you last Wednesday evening.

    Bobby,

    I will raise a vigorous objection to what is a less than balanced presentation of these two developments. If we are going to indirectly give the developers advertising for their developments than the opposition being the neighborhoods deserve to have their views represented as well with equal quality of graphics and content.

    Council,

    This is not an approach that promotes unity or conveys neutrality by the staff.

    Since this email is subject to FOIA on this coming Sunday I will be posting the basic content of this email on Facebook.

    I requested sometime ago additional analysis on the Thalia Wayside project from staff, and I have not seen it yet on shared parking.

    Let me be clear, I take major exception to unbalanced briefing materials that undermine the public’s confidence on the neutrality of the staff and by our silence conveys City Council’s concurrence with an approach that at best is only the appearance of advocating for developers and at worst, well I leave that to your imagination.

    Now, if we are had two briefings representing the developers’ proposals and that of the opposition of equal length, quality, and time that would be a different story. Sadly that is not the case.

    We can do better than this. The voters, Council employers, expect more of us. This briefing should not happen. Whatever the motivation or perceived benefit that gave rise to the City Manager briefing, the political capital it wastes and the distrust of Council’s governance it promotes makes the presentation a major error of judgment.

    I trust that upon reflection between now and Tuesday that this an error of judgment we avoided versus executed.

    View the perception of the City Manager’s proposed briefing through the eyes of the voters and ask yourself as Council Members do you want to own that perception. I think not.

    For my colleagues on the ballot in November, some of whom I have endorsed, sustain the integrity of the judgment behind your vote (yeah or nay) by not remaining silent on what will be seen as a lack of impartiality in our governance.

    Warm regards

    John [Moss]

    JULY 27 2020 – PROPOSED CHANGES TO WCCB. WHEN IS THE PUBLIC INPUT ON THIS TAKING PLACE IN A PUBLIC HEARING?

    Following the Planning Commission hearing, the applicant looked at ways to further mitigate the impact of the 22-story building on the adjacent properties to the east. As such, they are now proposing to move the building 15 feet on the ground level further to the west, away from the property line, as well as another 11 feet on levels 2 – 5. The dock area for the same building has been redesigned to confine trash operations behind doors with compactors within the building itself. Walls and ceilings inside the dock area will be lined with heavy duty sound attenuation panels. Along the eastern property line, an 8’ tall masonry wall is now proposed along with additional landscaping. The elevated bridge proposed over Starfish Road has been reduced in length by almost 60 feet and the bridge over Ocean Shore Ave has shifted slightly to the north. My apologies for the confusion about the Planning Commission date noted in the letter you received. That was a typo. You’re quite right in that the application was originally reviewed and recommended for approval on March 11th.
    Bill

    William R. Landfair, AICP
    Planning Evaluation Coordinator | Planning & Community Development | Planning Administration
    2875 Sabre Street, Suite 500 | Virginia Beach VA 23452
    (757) 385 – 8745

    JULY 24 – BAC CHAIRMAN CORRECTS THE OFFICIAL RECORD re: BAC POSITION ON WCCB

    To: CityCouncil@vbgov.com

    Subject: Westminister Canterbury

    I am writing you on behalf of the Bayfront Advisory Commission. City Council is scheduled to discuss and vote on the proposed addition to the Westminister Canterbury site on August 4. During the presentation to the Planning Commission the developers made statements to the effect that the Bayfront Advisory Commission approved their proposed project. In fact, the BAC, as a general rule, does not vote to approve or deny projects. We do provide advisory comments.

    The BAC did receive a presentation from WC in November. This was early in the project, and the developer had not yet contacted all of the neighboring residents. One of the BAC concerns was that the 22 story tower was too high and not in accordance with other development in the Shore Drive corridor. We were advised this was a “by right” design because it was for senior housing. This remains a concern with most of the residents in the corridor. There are other design concerns of the neighboring residents that the BAC has not vetted.

    The BAC is more than willing to provide more analysis of the project, including recent changes to the design, and to offer a specific recommendation to City Council, but that will require a one month deferral of City Council action.

    The BAC will await your direction regarding this issue.

    Phil Davenport
    Chairman, Bayfront Advisory Commission.

    View link at VBGov.com to JULY 28th 2020 CITY MANAGER’S BRIEFING FOR ITEM #7 WCCB

    Download PDF of JULY 28th 2020 CITY MANAGER’S BRIEFING FOR ITEM #7 WCCB (24 pages)

    If City Council truly values residents opinions and want to have a transparent process especially in an election year, they need to defer the Aug 4th hearing and hold several public forums to allow Bayfront community to discuss concerns and work towards common ground.

    No sun outlasts its sunset, but it will rise again and bring the dawn.

    ~ Maya Angelou

    Emphasis ours.