Windsor reactions to logistics center developer’s meeting

Published 9:00 am Monday, May 6, 2024

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Some voices from Windsor that have been particularly outspoken with regard to the proposed Tidewater Logistics Center project shared their thoughts on how an April 22 public meeting with the project developer went. They cited concerns with not only the updated proposal but what they see as the county’s role in the situation.

Developer Meridian Property Purchaser LLC had submitted an application to the county to rezone as planned industrial 154 acres of farmland and forestry on the north side of U.S. Route 460 just outside Windsor. This rezoning would allow for the proposed logistics center, which would feature five warehouses totaling 1.2 million square feet adjacent to the Lovers Lane/Keaton Avenue neighborhood located in Windsor.

The Isle of Wight County Planning Commission voted 6-1 in March to recommend denial of Meridian’s application after being influenced, at least in part, by Windsor residents’ and the Windsor Town Council’s opposition to the proposed project in its then-present form. 

Following this 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 the aforementioned April 22 public meeting with Windsor residents.

That meeting at the Windsor Town Center nearly filled the center’s Arrowhead Conference Room to capacity, drawing roughly 50 attendees.

Former Windsor Mayor Glyn T. Willis, who lives on Lovers Lane, was in attendance and shared his thoughts on the meeting in a Tuesday afternoon, April 30, statement.

“It was good to see so many people at the meeting,” he said. “This reflects that many have concerns.”

Tom Boylan, senior vice president of Meridian’s parent company, The Meridian Group, presented updated site plans at the meeting.

Windsor Mayor George Stubbs, who was present at the meeting, noted in a Tuesday evening, April 30, interview that he has never stated his opposition to the Tidewater Logistics Center in principle.

“What I said was I was opposed to the development the way it was originally presented,” he said. “Now, they’ve come back at the meeting the other night, and they’ve made concessions.”

He said the developer has moved buildings, redone parking areas and put up a sound wall in the updated plans.

“I was opposed to (the logistics center) the way it was originally presented, but now with the changes, I’m OK with it,” he said. “With the compromises that Mr. Boylan and the people made, I’m alright with it.”

Willis did not find the compromises to be significant enough.

In his statement, he said, “I do not see the changes presented to be as substantial as suggested. For Building B, which is east of Keaton Avenue, moving a building the size of nine-plus football fields 13 feet further away from the properties on Keaton is not significant in my opinion.”

He indicated that some of his concerns went unaddressed when he said it was frustrating to not get answers to questions. 

“Particularly questions that someone on the Meridan team attending the meeting surely knows,” he said. “This did nothing to build confidence that the info presented could be trusted.”

Willis then turned his focus to Isle of Wight County.

“I found it noteworthy to learn that the county was pitching this parcel as industrial right after the County Comprehensive Plan was released in 2020 that had the parcel designated as mixed use,” he said. He added, parenthetically, “What is the value of the comp plan if it is not going to be followed?”

The Windsor Town Council voted unanimously March 12 to send a letter to the county Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors expressing the council’s opposition to the proposed Tidewater Logistics Center in its then-current form. Windsor Town Councilman Marlin W. Sharp wrote the letter and was present at the April 22 meeting.

In a Friday, April 26, statement, Sharp summarized his perspective on the proposed project.

“I have opposed the TLC ever since I first heard about it last November,” he said. “It conflicts with the lifestyle and character of the town of Windsor, particularly those residents who are most directly impacted.

“Most of us either lived here our entire lives or we moved here to get out of the urban sprawl,” he continued. “We did not move here to have the urban sprawl follow us here. The folks who live on Keaton Avenue and Lovers Lane enjoy the quietness and peaceful ambiance of a small town. They enjoy the wildlife that they see and the security of knowing their neighbors.”

He noted that the town of Windsor sits on a four-lane highway that is a major route between Interstate 95 and the Outer Banks. 

“In July and August, Route 460 entertains major tourist traffic,” he said. “There is no alternative route around the town.”

He indicated that adding a large increase in truck traffic — in connection with the TLC — to an already busy highway “would make it almost impassable.”

He stated that The Meridian Group has not done its homework as to what makes Windsor work. 

“They are attempting to impose something on this town that no one wants,” he said.

But then, like Willis, he also turned his focus to the county.

“As I mentioned at the meeting on (April 22), the real culprit is not TMG but Isle of Wight County,” he said. “This is the county’s idea. The county is pushing it, and the county needs to put a stop to it. The Planning Commission has done their job. Now the supervisors need to do theirs.”