Revised warehouse complex still taking heat from Windsor residents

Published 9:00 am Sunday, April 28, 2024

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Increasing a proposed multi-warehouse complex’s distance from two residential neighborhoods in Windsor hasn’t placated every opponent of the project.

Isle of Wight County’s Planning Commission voted 6-1 in March to recommend denial of Tidewater Logistics Center developer Meridian Property Purchaser LLC’s application to rezone 154 acres of farmland and forestry on the outskirts of town as planned industrial. Following the vote, Meridian asked the county to postpone sending the matter to its Board of Supervisors for a final public hearing and vote, pending the outcome of a meeting with town residents.

That meeting, held April 22 at the Windsor Town Center, drew roughly 50 attendees, filling the center’s Arrowhead Conference Room nearly to capacity.

Tom Boylan, senior vice president of Meridian’s parent company, The Meridian Group, presented updated site plans showing an average 28-foot increase in setbacks from the version presented to the Planning Commission. 

A February site plan had shown parking for roughly 30 tractor-trailers adjacent to a 42-foot-wide, 6-foot-tall landscape berm and 20-foot-wide setback, less than 100 feet from a house on Keaton Avenue. The April 22 version of the site plan shows parking for 14 trailers, down from 30, and a total 115-foot setback from the parking lot to the same Keaton Avenue house.

The updated site plan also calls for a 500-foot-long sound wall at the berm area to accomplish the proffered 50-decibel limit at the property line. Originally, Meridian’s application had called for a daytime noise level of up to 80 decibels.

“I think we all understand what the sensitive issues are with the noise, the views,” Boylan said.

It still isn’t enough for Windsor resident Aleksandra Kostakis.

“I didn’t move to the country to look at warehouses … it shouldn’t be within 1,000 feet of a house,” Kostakis said.

“This will not happen; this cannot happen,” said Windsor Town Councilman Marlin Sharp, who later told Boylan “you’re not the enemy, the county is.”

The meeting turned heated when Kostakis, at one point, refused to yield the floor, and Windsor resident Mike Peterson characterized Meridian’s proposal to make an unspecified donation to the town as an attempt to “buy the town of Windsor for our silence.”

“That’s not true,” Boylan retorted.

An economic impact analysis Meridian submitted estimates the multi-warehouse complex would bring roughly $9.5 million in property tax revenue to Isle of Wight annually through 2033 and over 1,000 new, permanent jobs. A March memorandum from the county’s commissioner of the revenue, Gerald Gwaltney, contends the company’s analysis overestimated the machinery and tools tax component of the total by nearly $133,000 by not accounting for the 40% depreciation the county uses when assessing machinery and tools taxes.

Detractors, at the Planning Commission’s February hearing, argued the loading and unloading of tractor-trailers would also bring constant noise and traffic to the Lovers Lane and Keaton Avenue communities bordering the project site.

At Windsor’s six-way intersection, where Bank Street, North and South Court streets and Church Street converge with the four-lane Route 460, traffic is already “a nightmare,” said Windsor resident Rita Richardson at the April 22 meeting.

According to a July 2023 traffic impact analysis submitted with Meridian’s rezoning application, the stretch of Route 460 from the six-way intersection to the town’s eastern corporate limits by the project site sees roughly 18,000 vehicles per day. The analysis projects an additional 2,349 vehicles per day, or 13% increase, tied to the warehouses, 514 of which would be trucks.

An updated analysis dated March 13 projects drivers turning onto Route 460 from Lovers Lane could experience afternoon rush-hour delays of nearly 10 minutes per vehicle by 2031, up from the current 22-second delay per vehicle, if the Port 460 Logistics Center in neighboring Suffolk were built, but not the proposed Tidewater Logistics Center. Adding the Tidewater Logistics Center, counterintuitively, would allegedly lessen the delay to 41.7 seconds per vehicle by 2031.

“The delay per vehicle during the PM Peak hour with Port 460 Logistics Center Traffic will approximately double when compared to existing conditions but will operate significantly better than without the traffic signal modifications proposed by TLC,” Meridian’s updated traffic study states. “This reduction in delay is a result of increased intersection activity at Dominion Way which will stop mainline traffic more frequently.”

Dominion Way, the access road from Route 460 to the existing Cost Plus World Market distribution center, would be transformed from a three-way intersection to four ways with the addition of the Tidewater Logistics Center. Meridian’s site plans call for a 200-foot tapered right turn lane from Route 460 into the northbound extension of Dominion Way that would serve as the access to the Tidewater Logistics Center. The three-lane northbound extension of Dominion Way would also include a combined left and through lane and dedicated right turn lane.

Lovers Lane resident Mike Peterson contends the dedicated lanes aren’t long enough for turning tractor-trailers to safely accelerate and decelerate to and from Route 460, which has a posted speed limit of 55 mph at the project site and drops to 45 mph at the town limits.

Boylan said Meridian’s goal in hosting the meeting is to “work toward a reasonable solution for everybody.”


County solicited industrial developers

According to County Administrator Randy Keaton, who also spoke at the April 22 meeting, plans for the Tidewater Logistics Center have been in the works since 2022, though Windsor Town Councilman Marlin Sharp, at the April 22 meeting, contended he’d only learned of the project last fall.

Keaton said county staff had met with Windsor’s Town Council in closed session on June 14, 2022, when a concept plan similar to the one Meridian is proposing was presented along with an alternative plan showing a roughly 300-home mixed-use development. There was “concern” about the housing development but “zero input” on the warehouses at the time, Keaton said.

Former Windsor Mayor Glyn Willis, who also attended the April 22 meeting, said he recalled the preliminary meeting but noted closed-session rules prohibited him from discussing the matter in public at the time. Sharp was appointed to the council in mid-2023 and elected to fill a one-year remainder term in November.

Keaton confirmed the county had initiated the process of soliciting a developer for the land, which the county’s Economic Development Authority has owned since 2008.

Keaton said the county marketed the land as industrial despite the future land use map in Isle of Wight’s 2020 comprehensive plan designating the land as mixed-use.


“We have a lot of need; the Port (of Virginia) is expanding,” Keaton said.