Flood-prone neighborhood in Virginia Beach could see even more development

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VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — A troubled neighborhood in Virginia Beach could be getting more trouble, and it could get worse before it gets better. 

Ashville Park has seen its share of flooding in recent years, and now there’s talk about bringing more homes into that neighborhood.

There are two issues: 116 new homes have been proposed on the parcel of property, and two, the city has already approved in the budget  $11 million for storm water runoff improvements. 

Taxpayers will pay 8 of that 11 million, and would that lead to even more homes.

The Ashville Park Development had long suffered nuisance flooding, but after Hurricane Matthew hit in October 2016, it was clear that something was terribly wrong underground.  

One resident told 10 On Your Side back in October 2016: “I had a friend who asked, ‘hey how do you like Asheville Park? Do you like it there?’  I said ‘hey, don’t do it dude, you will be moving into a flood area,” the homeowner said.

Virginia Beach discovered almost everything about the community’s stormwater runoff system was too small. “We discovered everything was small, the pipes, everything,”  Deputy City Manager Tom Leahy told 10 On Your Side on Thursday. 

Back in October 2016, Leahy said, “All we know, the ponds don’t hold as much water as they should, and they don’t drain fast enough.”

Now the Developer HomeFed Corporation wants to increase from 98 to 116 the number of homes they can build on the parcel Ashville Park calls Grandview Village, what the city refers to as Parcel C.   

Virginia Beach Councilwoman Barbara Henley opposes the plan to add new homes. 

“I would certainly not like to have that happen, more houses, until we know we have got it right and it won’t flood.  We can’t afford to keep building places that are going to flood.”

Henley points to a stormwater pump that is on the sidewalk to drain holding ponds and lakes in case they start to overflow.  She argues these are issues now,  “200 more houses. That’s  where I sort of stop.  I’m not sure about this at all.”

Henley wasn’t on council when the original development was approved. She only supports the $11 million storm water project, which includes a new pump station to take care of flooding for current residents, not new ones.

“I know our staff thinks they have a good design this time.  I want to see it work.”

Phase two of the stormwater project, which has not been approved, includes new underground stormwater pipes that could cost an additional $23 million. 

It is unsure who would foot the bill for that.  It should also be noted that council has already approved the project, except for the increase from 98 to 116 homes that would need a public hearing that is set for June 19. The stormwater issues would have to be meet city compliance. 

Henley is also concerned about environmental runoff into Back Bay, “I worry about these, villages D and E, because they are really low, and that’s where wetlands are.  I just don’t believe knowing what we know now about the flooding situation, I just don’t think they are appropriate for 100 houses.”

It has been suggested that it is possible the 18 new home lots on parcel C may have come from parcels D and E because that property has turned mostly into wetlands.

Ashville Park resident Neale Durkee is opposed to any new homes, “I’m opposed to it  until they get the flooding problem fixed.  We don’t need any more houses to be flooded, plain and simple.”

There will be a June 19 public hearing on whether the developer, HomeFed Corporation, should be able to increase the number of homes built on this property from 98 to 116. They can build the 98 now, but they want 116. It’s unsure what would happen with the developers if City Council would vote no. 

HomeFed did not return 10 On Your Side’s phone calls.

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