VIRGINIA BEACH--New plans for widening Witchduck Road have some business owners wondering why they don’t fit in.
On December 13 the City of Virginia Beach held a Location and Design Public hearing to show a 60% plan for Phase II of widening Witchduck Road. It covers the stretch from Interstate 264 to Virginia Beach Blvd.
The presentation didn’t sit well with some business owners.
“It doesn't seem like they really need this property, it appears to us kind of that they just want the property,” says Harry Gutelius who owns Virginia Beach Feed and Seed on Witchduck Road.
Gutelius says before the presentation last week it was his understanding only the first 60 feet of his parking lot would need to be taken. Now the plans call for the his landlord’s whole property.
“It would hurt but we figured we could at least hang in there in the same place where we were, no I don't know now,” says Gutelius who’s been in business on Witchduck Road for more than 50 years.
Another business owner who didn’t want his name published thought the 60% plans take more land than is necessary.
“They had approximately four tentative plans for this expansion and they chose the one that required the most land acquisition,” says that business owner.
According to the project manager Julie Hannah from Virginia Beach Public Works Engineering, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the newest Witchduck Rd plans call for more land than originally illustrated.
“From the 30% plans it's just an overall broad picture that's what they saw in 2006,” says Lannah, “now we have 60 % plans where we're actually able to show the impact to owners,”
She says that in 2006 when Phase II was first introduced the plans presented to the public had very few of the details that would need to be included in a final version, including how much land would be needed for right-of-way considerations.
“Within the right-of-way, we made accommodations for 8-foot sidewalks, signage, street lighting, landscaping, and an underground duct bank that will house all private utilities,” says Hannah.
City Officials had to let the Phase II project sit undeveloped since 2006 because there was no funding. That changed with Governor McDonnell’s budget last year.
Hannah says prior to a 60% plan presentation there are not necessarily negotiations with property or business owners. Those talks could start as soon as February when complete plans are available.
The City will be able to acquire land under eminent domain even with recent amendments to the Virginia eminent domain laws because it is a public road project.
For now public comments are being accepted and will continue until December 27.
“We look at the comments and see if it's something we can accommodate,” says Hannah.
City Officials say there are no more actions by City Council necessary to proceed with the plans.
Gutelius says he’s upbeat he can find some way to stay open in a new location but finding a place with similar land and rent doesn’t look too promising.
“I feel like I'm running in a race trying to win an award but the trophy has already been labeled with somebody else's name on,” says Gutelius.
To view Witchduck Road Phase II and download a comment form or email link here is the website http://cipstatus.vbgov.com/cipstatus/ProjectDetail.aspx?id=77