CHESAPEAKE -- United States Senator Mark Warner sent City Council a letter Friday urging it to reconsider a vote that could clear the way for dozens of homes near Naval Auxiliary Landing Field Fentress.
Warner's letter read:
I write to urge the Members of Chesapeake City Council to reconsider their February 19, 2013 decision authorizing new residential development adjacent to the Naval Auxiliary Landing Field (NALF) Fentress. Your decision to reclassify 15.6 acres on Mount Pleasant Road to allow the construction of additional single family homes is in direct opposition to local, regional and state commitments made since 2005 to partner with the U.S. Navy to limit encroachment near Fentress.
“The intent of the Commission is to ensure that the State of Virginia and the municipal governments of Virginia Beach and Chesapeake take immediate and positive steps to halt the encroaching developments that are pending before them now and in the future, and also to roll back the encroachment that has already occurred in the Accident Potential Zones (APZ) around NAS Oceana and NALF Fentress, particularly in the APZ-1 areas.”
- 2005 Defense Base Closure and Realignment (BRAC) Commission Report
The Navy, local communities and Virginia’s elected officials have all worked tirelessly over the past several years to create an enduring partnership where local communities and the State of Virginia have invested over $100 million to purchase properties around Naval Air Station (NAS) Oceana and NALF Fentress in accordance with the 2005 BRAC recommendations.
We urge you to take the opportunity to review this decision and abide by these agreements which have proven successful at strengthening the relationship between the Navy and local communities and provided first-class training for our Navy aircrew.
"I agree with him on that concern. They weren't supposed to develop this as much, but they have," said Marti DeMarco, who lives in Ravenna which sits next to the rezoned land.
Although she isn't against more homes being built, she is concerned by the proposed 30 houses that would be put on the 15 acres of ground.
"I think they should respect what the military's trying to do, and that's just to keep the population area down," DeMarco told 13News.
William Salaam rents the only home that sits on the acreage right now and realizes, more than likely, he'll be moving.
"I've adopted a rule, so to speak, and that is the 'At Least Rule,' you know, at least if they're going to do it, that the single-family homes are in an environment that's conducive for progress in the area," Salaam said.
The vote to rezone passed 5-4, despite the Planning Commission's recommendation that rezoning be denied.
Councilwoman Suzy Kelly, who voted against rezoning, said via email:
The vote was very disappointing as the alternate motion was simply to give us time to look into all of the issues impacted by this rezoning. The intent was to see if there was a way to achieve compatibility with the application and the Navy.
As you know, I opposed the rezoning and I am hopeful that those on our council who did not support the Navy will reconsider their vote and do the right thing.
Councilwoman Ella Ward supported rezoning the land, but said City Council is expected to meet with members of the Navy as well as the potential developer to see if all parties can agree on a plan that makes all of them happy.