SDCC asks City Council to Reconsider Vote on Westminster Canterbury High Rise High Density Development

Official email sent to City Council asking for reconsideration of vote to approve Westminster Canterbury high rise high density expansion.  Click here for printable version Request to CC to Reconsider WC Vote

Supporting documents:

Failure to provide HUD affordable housing;

1998 acknowledgement of 165ft senior housing height limit

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Dear Mayor Dyer and Council Members Berlucchi, Wooten, Tower and Henley,

The Shore Drive Community Coalition (SDCC), as voted at our September 28, 2020 meeting, formally requests City Council at your October 6th meeting to reconsider the approval vote of the Westminster Canterbury (WC) application heard on September 22, 2020.

It is our understanding that Council has a 2 week period to reconsider votes made at formal Council hearings.  There are a multitude of reasons the vote for the WC application should be reconsidered, several of them are listed below.  It is our hope that at least two of you will agree to reconsider your erroneous decision.

Reasons why Council needs to reconsider the WC application vote of September 22nd:

  • Council Member Abbott should be allowed to vote. Abbott was unable to attend the vote due to a family emergency, but with only 8 members able to vote as a result of conflict of interests, allowing all qualified voting members a chance to participate is a necessity.  Decisions like the WC application that are based solely on Council’s opinions need to have all voting members participate.
  • Council Members Berlucchi and Wooten should explain their reasons for support. Since the approval of the WC expansion was based solely on Council opinion, all the members provided explanation for their votes except Council members Berlucchi and Wooten.  A decision that changes the future of the Bayfont demands that they explain why they ignored the community’s concerns and voted in favor of the project.
  • WC’s claim that a density of +255% over code is needed to eliminate the approaching silver tsunami is irrelevant. This high density development will not provide enough housing for all the seniors that will be part of the tsunami, nor is it this project’s responsibility to do so.  A larger City approach should be taken.  One that requires all development to stay within the codes, plans and guidelines.  In fact there are over 1000 new units being built or planned within a 5 mile radius of WC.  New Millineium Senior Living – 250 units; Burton Station Senior Housing – 40 units; Overture Senior Apts – 150 apts; The Pearl – 260 apts; Marlin Bay – 230 apts; Marina Shores expansion – 60 apts;  Reducing the number of units for the WC expansion to be equal to the current campus density won’t adversely impact the senior housing market.  If the supply is there, the developers will come.
  • There are zero affordable housing units in this expansion. The Senior Housing Design Guideline allows density increases above code only for HUD defined affordable senior housing.  This type of allowance is common practice and shows up in California State laws as +20% for senior housing and even Alexandria Virginia as a +30% increase.  The City’s Senior Housing Advisory Committee identified the lack of affordable HUD housing in this project and requested WC to supply documentation as to how they are meeting this requirement.  None has been produced.  Allowing increased density because a business plan needs it to maximize profit is not allowed.
  • Maximizing tax collection is not a valid application review parameter. There is no requirement in the City codes, plans or guidelines that says tax revenue is more important than maintaining the character of a neighborhood.  A smaller scale project allows the characteristics of the area to be maintained and also allow an increase in taxes over what is being collected now.
  • Ignoring City codes, plans and guidelines will set precedent for future development in the Bayfront area. For the past 20 years, it has been the general opinion of the community that the development along Shore Drive has been too boxy and dense, but the residents have understood the overlay requirements and made sure projects didn’t violate them.  The WC project you approved ignores the height restriction of 165ft that was adhered to for the 2nd WC building.  The density of the 22 story tower site is 255% over the 24/units per acre code.  The Senior Housing Guidelines require the site to be a minimum of 3 acres, yet it is only 2.56.  The guidelines also require the project to have a mass and scale that doesn’t adversely impact the surrounding community’s character.  Approving a project that ignores all of these requirements will provide the legal precedent for all future developers to ignore codes and ask for approval based on conditional use similar to this one.

The City’s lack of civic engagement for a project of this magnitude and impact is appalling.  The Bayfront residents pride themselves on civil discourse and the ability to work with the City to find compromising solutions.  The fact that we were never given the chance to discuss our concerns is not acceptable.  All of you ran election campaigns that championed improved civic engagement for the citizens.  We demand that you take the opportunity at your October 6th meeting and reconsider your vote of September 22nd.  Denying the proposed WC development will allow the necessary City facilitated civic dialogue to take place needed to make an informed decision of this importance.  A smaller less dense development would be an acceptable compromise that will keep future development of the Bayfront in accordance with codes, plans and guidelines and also allow WC residents to enjoy their new amenities and City Council to enjoy an increase in tax revenue. Keeping the approval of the high rise high density project will lead to a Bayfront that resembles Town Center and result in the loss of our neighborhood character which is the main reason we all love this area.

 

Sincerely,

Todd Solomon

Shore Drive Community Coalition President

 

 

“I will express my disapproval on Nov. 3.” And “Virginia Beach citizens will know exactly who to vote out of office on Nov 3.”

From Pilotonline.com Letters to the Editor:

Wrong move

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

 

Click here to see the results of City Council’s 5-2 Vote

on Westminster Canterbury

 

Why bother?

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

SDCC General Meeting Agenda – Monday September 28th at 7:30pm at OPVRS Hall

Click here for a printable version of the agenda 9.28.20 SDCC Agenda

This will be a socially distanced and mask wearing meeting.  It’s been 7 months since our last in person meeting, thank you for your patience and we hope to all of your wonderful faces (at least eyes) again.

SDCC General Meeting Agenda

Monday September 28, 2020 from 7:30 to 9:00pm

Ocean Park Volunteer Rescue Squad Hall – 3769 East Stratford Rd

(parking in back, on side streets and across Shore Drive)

 

Special Presentation – None

Officer’s Reports: Secretary – Kathleen Damon; Treasurer’s Report –Tim Solanic;Vice President – Empsy Munden; President – Todd Solomon

Old Business-
Westminster-Canterbury (WC) High Rise and Memory Center Expansion – Update and discussion of City Council vote to approve on Tuesday Sept 22nd.  What are possible next steps?  Can anything be done have Council reconsider the vote?  Can the Condo Owners and Residents take the City to court and have the decision changed?

Sand Replenishment of Bayfront Beaches – On Sept 22nd City Coastal Engineers briefed Council on a plan to use dredged material from the Thimble Shoals Channel Deepening project.  This would delay the scheduled Ocean Park replenishment until November 2021, but will save the City money and allow for all Bayfront Beaches to be replenished at the same time.

Short Term Rental Overlay Districts Proposed for Ocean Park and Cape Story by the Sea – Councilman Louis Jones and Councilman Jim Wood have asked for an ordinance change to create STR overlay districts which will allow “By Right” use of residents for STRs as long as they meet the guidelines in the code.  The goal is to reduce the number of STRs Council has to review via the Conditional Use Permit process.

Leasing of Lynnhaven Municipal Marina for Commercial Use – A Public Hearing for the potential lease of parking spaces at Lynnhaven Municipal Marina has been scheduled for Tuesday, October 6th, at 6:00 pm.  The Terms of the potential lease include – 24 parking spaces at the north end of the Marina and 11 parking spaces located closest to the slips that could not be utilized by Chick’s until after 4:00 pm daily.

“Your Speed” Sign – A sign was installed in the median of Shore Drive just to the east of the intersection of Shore Drive and Kendall Street for cars coming out of the State Park heading west.

New Business

Proposed Developments –

  • Marina Shores Apartment Expansion – A 60 unit 5 story (65ft tall) building is being proposed along North Great Neck Rd. where the apartments tennis courts are currently located. This application is scheduled to go before the Planning Commission in November
  • Marlin Bay Apartment Complex – 227 units 4 story buildings are being proposed at the intersection of Marlin Bay Drive and Shore Drive. The developer will present to the Bayfront Advisory Committee on Thursday Oct. 15th.

SDCC Donation to Ocean Shores Condo Legal Fee Fundraiser –  We will have a discussion and vote to make a donation from the SDCC Legal Fees/Special Account to help support work in the opposition of WC high rise high density expansion.

 

City Council Votes 5-2 to Support Westminster-Canterbury’s 22 Story High Rise High Density Application

The Shore Drive Community Coalition would like to thank Council Member John Moss and Council Member Aaron Rouse for their leadership and understanding of the community’s concerns.  They made their decisions based on citizens input, adverse impact to neighborhoods and violations of existing codes, plans and guidelines.  They didn’t let the allure of tax dollars and promises to solve the perceived problem of the approaching silver tsunami of retires influence their opinions.  Please remember to thank them for their efforts.

The SDCC would like to thank all the members of the community for their emails, phone calls, letters and for speaking in opposition at hearings.  Your dedication and efforts spent the past 10 months fighting this precedent setting project were truly heroic.  As we see now, the lack of City civic engagement wasn’t by accident.  With more civic engagement, it would have been harder for those that voted in favor to justify their support of a high rise high density project.

The following table shows how each Council Member voted on the application.  This information may be helpful for future dealings with City Council.

Red – Voted in favor of the application (Dyer, Wooten, Berlucchi*, Henley, Tower**); Green – Voted against the application (Moss, Rouse); Yellow – Conflict of Interest (Wilson, Wood, Jones); White – Absent from Vote (Abbott)

*-Made motion to approve, **-2nd motion

 

“Under question is the 250-foot height of the proposed tower, which is taller than would typically be allowed for senior living housing. Planning Director Bobby Tajan has said that the council has the option to waive height requirements through the conditional use permit process.”

View article at Pilotonline.com:

“We don’t want a Town Center on Shore Drive,” Solomon said. “Once developers know they can get council to buckle, the developers will start lining up to build high rises on Shore Drive.”

“SURE, WE COULD BUILD IT SMALLER and …”

WAVY TV COVERAGE OF WCCB PRECEDENT SETTING PROPOSAL

“This is planned for a residential community on Shore Drive …”

By the way, the City & WCCB have AGREED a 14 story building is the maximum height requirement since 1998.

A Call a Day Keeps the High Rise Away – Call City Council Campaign to Deny Proposed Westminster Canterbury 22 Story High Rise Development