Council opposes current version of proposed logistics center

Published 10:00 am Saturday, March 16, 2024

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The Windsor Town Council voted unanimously Tuesday, March 12, to send a letter to the Isle of Wight County Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors expressing the council’s opposition to the proposed Tidewater Logistics Center in its current form.

The Tidewater Logistics Center is a proposed development of industrial warehouse buildings on the north side of Windsor Boulevard/U.S. Route 460 in between Lovers Lane and Old Mill Road.

Windsor Weekly staff reporter Stephen Faleski covered the Feb. 27 Isle of Wight Planning Commission meeting which included a public hearing on the proposed center. The hearing ran for an hour and featured 18 speakers, all but two of which spoke in opposition to the project.

Faleski noted that what the Planning Commission was specifically considering was developer Meridian Property Purchaser LLC’s application to rezone 154 acres of farmland and forestry on the outskirts of Windsor as planned industrial. 

He stated that Meridian’s plans call for five warehouses totaling 1.2 million square feet, the tenants of which have not been named. An economic impact analysis submitted with Meridian’s rezoning application estimates the project would involve more than 5,100 jobs — 1,200 of which would be permanent — and more than $141 million in sales and property tax revenue over the next nine years.

Faleski reported that the commissioners postponed taking action until they meet again on Tuesday, March 26. Once they issue a favorable or unfavorable recommendation, the matter will go to Isle of Wight’s Board of Supervisors for a final vote.

Windsor elected officials present for the county Planning Commission meeting included Mayor George Stubbs, Councilman Marlin W. Sharp and Councilman David Adams.

During council comments at the Windsor Town Council’s March 12 meeting, Sharp shared with council members a letter of opposition to the proposed logistics center that he noted was similar to one he had shared with the council at a previous meeting in late 2023. He had wanted the letter to be sent to the county to represent the council’s opposition to the proposed center, but the matter of the letter was tabled.

“We needed more information,” he said. “Four months later, we still don’t have any more information than we did in November.”

Sharp read his letter aloud:

“Whereas the Tidewater Logistics Center project is an Isle of Wight County project and is not located within the boundaries of the town of Windsor but is located directly adjacent to the town of Windsor, I proposed that Windsor Town Council make a statement of opposition to the project in its present form.”

He made a point to emphasize the words “in its present form.”

Continuing, he read, “The residents of Windsor who are most impacted by the project deserve their representation on Town Council to take their side against the Isle of Wight County’s attempt to develop this adjacent property in a way that detrimentally impacts their property values and way of life.

“The increase in traffic will not only negatively impact the residents of Lovers Lane, Hazelwood Drive and Keaton Avenue but will also negatively impact the traffic flow on Windsor Boulevard coming into Windsor from the east, as well as cause disruption throughout the town of Windsor, including additional truck traffic on (U.S. Route) 258.

“Quoting from the executive summary provided by Kimley-Horn entitled ‘Tidewater Logistics Center Rezoning TIA’ dated July 2023, ‘The development is estimated to generate approximately 2,349 daily vehicle trips with 223 and 246 occurring during the a.m. and p.m. peak hours, respectively.’

“This would make a left turn from (U.S. Route) 460 onto Lovers Lane almost impossible during those peak hours.

“The increase in truck traffic through Windsor would also create traffic disruption, particularly when tractor-trailers occupy both lanes at traffic lights. 

“Additional traffic disruptions will require additional police attention from the already-strained Windsor Police Department.

“Light and noise pollution from the warehouses in the plan that is currently being presented will hinder the residents of the aforementioned localities from enjoying the peace and quiet that a small town bordered by fields and forests provides. People live in small towns to avoid the noise and commotion that exists in cities and larger metropolitan areas. The additional noise and light pollution generated by 24/7 truck traffic and loading-unloading activities will be a major disruption to the peaceful existence that these residents desire to maintain. 

“Even though the developer cannot or will not reveal who the end users of the facilities will be, it is estimated that 1,200 additional permanent employees will be required. There is no proposal for additional housing for these employees or residents. 

“Isle of Wight County Schools are already at the point of being overcrowded. It is doubtful that adequate finances will be made available to build new schools or expand current facilities to serve this number of additional residents. 

“It is apparent that the developer purposefully avoided dealing directly with Windsor Town Council until he was called out publicly for doing so.

“He also has misrepresented Town Council’s position on the project to Isle of Wight County officials.

“The town of Windsor receives no benefit from this project in its current form but bears much of the negative impact, for example fire, police and EMS support. Therefore I am making the following proposal: Windsor Town Council opposes the Tidewater Logistics Center project located on the north side of Windsor Boulevard/Route 460 just east of the town of Windsor in Isle of Wight County as it is currently being presented due to its detrimental impact on the way of life for the residents of the town of Windsor and the disruptions caused by the additional traffic and light and noise pollution generated by this project.”

Adams shared a few details with his fellow council members about the Feb. 27 Planning Commission meeting, noting that one of the two people who spoke in favor of the proposed logistics center was the property owner.

Adams said he also learned at the meeting that a Traffic Impact Analysis for Lovers Lane was added to the information about the proposed project that he said was not included in the original package that was submitted to the Windsor Planning Commission.

“The proposed development is going against the Isle of Wight Comprehensive Plan,” Adams said. “They’re just trying to shoehorn it into something they own, I think, to return on that investment of the taxpayers’ money, and I don’t think it’s a good fit. You and I are on the same page, Councilman Sharp.”

Stubbs asked Sharp what he was proposing to do with the letter.

“I would like to move that Windsor Town Council would make a statement opposing the Tidewater Logistics Center project as it is currently being presented,” Sharp said.

Adams asked if Sharp wanted this statement to be made to the Isle of Wight Planning Commission before its next meeting.

“Well, that’s why I’m bringing it up tonight, because the next meeting is in two weeks,” Sharp said. “They agreed the last Planning Commission meeting to table it, to bring it back up this next meeting. My fear is that if we wait until next month to consider this, the Planning Commission is going to make a decision that we would find regretful, and we would have lost our opportunity to speak to it.”

Councilman Jake Redd asked if there had not been any changes made to the berm heights described in the proposed project.

It was noted that the developer has changed the berm height from 5 feet to 6 feet.

Sharp said, “The only other change that I am aware of was they’ve decided to replace the deciduous trees on top of the berm with evergreens.”

Additionally, Stubbs said that according to information he received from one of the Planning Commission’s members, the developer agreed to do a noise study.

Windsor Vice Mayor J. Randy Carr said, “I’m in agreeance with what Councilman Sharp said with the way that everything is written and drawn up now, but I’m not in agreeance with totally pushing (the proposed project) under the rug, I’m going to be honest with all of y’all.”

Carr, who lives in the Hidden Acres development behind Food Lion in Windsor, said he remembered the first night that the lights were illuminated around Food Lion.

“I could stand in my driveway and read the newspaper right in Hidden Acres,” he said.

But then complaints were made and changes were made to address the concerns of nearby residents.

“As the time went on, I don’t even know that Food Lion is at my front door now, and that’s the honest-to-God truth,” Carr said.

He indicated that if the Tidewater Logistics Center is not built at its proposed location, someone else is going to build something there.

“And we might be stuck with 400 houses up there with 800 kids running through a neighborhood,” he said.

He reiterated that he does not agree with how the developer has the proposed logistics center project designed right now, but he said that if the developer can assure the neighboring Windsor residents that it can compromise, push back or relocate, then room for that compromise should be allowed.

“Is the county going to get all the revenue?” Carr said. “Most of it. But is the town going to get some food tax, cigarette tax, get some expenses that will help us grow in the town? Yes, we’re going to get some of it too. Maybe something can be worked out with the county, I don’t know, since it’s next door.”

He said he is opposed to how the project is presently proposed but is not at the point of wanting to “shove it under the table.”

Sharp said, “And I appreciate what you’re saying, because one of my observations is there has not been a willingness, or much of a willingness, to make any changes to the plan at all.”

Carr added, “And that’s where we, along with the county I believe, need to hold them to a standard that’s going to not only be a standard for us and the county but a standard that is going to be OK with the citizens.”

Redd indicated that he was in agreement with Carr and Sharp.

“I’m happy to support the letter because I think it’s very important that the developers and county are willing to work especially with our citizens,” Redd said. “It’s right here. But I’m sometimes hesitant to just push things off right away because I’m worried about what’s going to be there in the future 10 years from now when there’s a whole different regime in the county or whatever it may be, and hopefully we don’t get anything worse.

“But that being said, that’s why I think it’s important that they listen to the feedback now or whenever a project like this is happening,” he said.

Stubbs called for a motion, and Adams said, “I’d like to make a motion, Mr. Mayor, to take Councilman Sharp’s letter and send it to the Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors prior to the next scheduled meeting.”

The unanimous vote followed.