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Development’s impact on schools unlikely to affect Windsor

ISLE OF WIGHT

A proposed housing development in the northern end of Isle of Wight County is projected to have over a million dollar impact on the county’s school division, according to a recent memorandum from Superintendent Dr. Jim Thornton to the county’s planning and zoning staff. However, little to none of this impact is likely to be felt in Windsor.

The matter was discussed during a work session of the county’s Board of Supervisors on Wednesday evening. The proposed development, known as Brewer’s Station, was rezoned in 2014 and approved for 65 single-family residences, 196 multi-family residences, 34 condominiums and 85,000 square feet of commercial space. It will be located off of Brewer’s Neck Boulevard near Carrollton Elementary School.

Thornton’s memorandum identified Carrollton Elementary, Westside Elementary and Smithfield Middle and High School as the only county schools to be directly impacted by the development. Lynn Briggs, the division’s director of community and media relations, confirmed on Wednesday that even with this impact, there are no plans in the works to rezone any students from the north to Windsor to balance out student populations. She also confirmed that if the division’s total student population were to increase, the division would receive additional state funding.

The reason the matter had again come to the supervisors’ attention was because the landowner, Francis P. Norsworthy, had recently proposed reducing the cash proffers previously agreed to by just over $1 million. The approved proffered conditions include $11,043 for each single-family residence and $9,255 for each multi-family and condominium residence for a total of $2,531,775. The new proffer agreement proposed offers $6,819 for single-family residences and $5,328 for each multi-family and condominium residence for a total of $1,487,523.

A cash proffer, according to the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development, is any money voluntarily offered in writing, signed by the owner of a property subject to rezoning, submitted as part of a rezoning application and accepted by a locality, or any payment of money made pursuant to a development agreement. In 2016, then-Gov. Terry McAuliffe signed Senate Bill 549 into law, which made it illegal for localities to request or accept any unreasonable proffer in connection with a rezoning or a proffer condition amendment as a condition of approval of a new residential development or new residential use. It further prohibited denying any rezoning application, including an application for amendment to an existing proffer, for a new residential development or new residential use where such denial is based on an applicant’s failure or refusal to submit or remain subject to an unreasonable proffer. An unreasonable proffer is defined as any that does not address an impact that is specifically attributable to a proposed new residential development or other new residential use.

Norsworthy has asserted that the proposed reduction in proffers is warranted based on the fact that the development will not have impacts on all schools in the county and that there are no other capacity-related impacts in the county’s Capital Improvements Program.

Assistant County Administrator Don Robertson said that since the original proffers for this project predate the revisions to the state code, the Board of Supervisors still has the authority to approve or reject Norsworthy’s request to reduce the previously agreed-upon proffers.

Isle of Wight school division staff will present a long-range plan for new construction and building renovations to accommodate anticipated student population growth throughout the county. This will take place during a community meeting scheduled for Monday, April 23, at 6 p.m., in Windsor High School.The plan was developed via a committee of parents and community members following an initial discussion of the division’s future needs on Feb. 12.