Condo associations sue VB over approval of 22-floor expansion for upscale retirement community

Virginia Beach

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Despite winning recent approval from City Council, the fight against a controversial 22-floor expansion to an upscale retirement community in Virginia Beach isn’t over.

Multiple condo associations are suing the City of Virginia Beach for City Council’s approval of Westminister-Canterbury on Chesapeake Bay’s plans to build what would be the third-tallest building in the city on the bay.

The $250-million expansion project would add a 22-floor independent living facility and parking garage and a seven-story tall assisted living facility to the community. In total, the project would add 340 units: 217 units in the 22-story building and 123 total units in the seven-story building for assisted living and memory care units.

The parties that filed the lawsuit Thursday — including Ships Watch Condominium Owners’ Association, Ocean Shore Condominium Association, Richard D. Norris and Paul Terkeltaub — want a judge to void the vote.

The project plan passed 5-2 Sept. 22 with three council members abstaining and one absent.

In the suit, the neighboring property owners allege that City Council violated a “use regulation” that would cap “housing for seniors and disabled persons or handicapped” at 165 feet. Because of that, their attorney says her clients will suffer.

“It’s not often we file a 28-page suit … but there is a lot to cover,” Attorney Jeanne Lauer told WAVY News 10’s Brett Hall on Thursday.

Court documents state the 270-foot building would be constructed just 50 feet from Ocean Shore Condominiums. Additionally, the only thing separating Chips Watch Condominiums from the new building would be the Ocean Shore condos.

The condo owners claim the 22-story building will obstruct their scenic view, increase pedestrian traffic if a new beach access in the area is created, deprive them of “rights to light and air” due to shade and shadows created by the new building, and decrease property values, among other things.

The lawsuit asks for the city to meet certain demands, including requiring low reflective glass, moving the tower to the other side of the property, reduce the height to 165 feet, reconfigure the shape of the building, and more.

The group has launched a GoFundMe to help pay for the suit. That has raised nearly $13,000 in six days.

J. Benjamin Unkle, Jr., CEO at Westminster-Canterbury on Chesapeake Bay, released a brief statement Friday regarding the lawsuit.

“We are very confident in the strength of our legal position,” Unkle said.

There is also still beach access that Westminster-Canterbury wants to relocate, but the Virginia beach city attorney said that requires a “supermajority” vote from council — which is impossible with 3 members declaring conflict.

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