VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — The Weblin Farm House was already 100 years old during the Revolutionary War. It was built between 1670 and 1700.
The historic home and grounds are tucked away in a neighborhood in the Cypress Point area of Virginia Beach. The property earned a spot on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974.
In 1997, the home was donated by Dorothy Moore to the state as part of the easement program. The easement is a legal document that protects the home and 6.5 acres of land, while allowing the property to remain under private ownership.
10 On Your Side obtained a copy of the easement for Weblin Farm. It outlines what owners can and cannot do to the property. The legal document states: “The Easement Property shall not be divided, subdivided or conveyed in fee other than as a single tract.” It also states: “No building or structure shall be built or maintained on the Easement property other than (i) THE WEBLIN HOUSE … (ii) buildings or structures commonly or appropriately incidental to a single family residence, including but not limited to a garage, guest house, and garden structures.”
The current owner wants to build 11 new multi-family units and 48 parking spaces. Copies of the proposed plans are on the Virginia Beach City Council website.
Neighbors who live near the property say the construction proposal blatantly violates the easement. They’re also upset because the agency tasked with enforcing the easement, the Virginia Department of Historic Resources, recently approved a conceptual plan for construction on the property.
“Dorothy Moore donated this property to the state in good faith,” explained resident Anita Downs. “It sets a dangerous precedent because if they don’t honor the easement and honor her last wishes, who else is going to donate their property to the state?”
“The idea that you could take something that was a gift from a woman who very generously bestowed that to the city, to the state and the citizens, and turn that around into income producing real estate is just wrong,” said another neighbor, Gerri Webb. “It violates the intent. It’s ethically wrong, morally wrong and I think illegally wrong too, frankly. “
The home is listed as owned by Weblin, LLC. Concerned residents say the owner turned the property into a co-op as a loophole to the single ownership clause in the easement. Although the plan listed on Virginia Beach City Council’s website still violates the no construction clause in the easement
For development to move forward, the property must be re-zoned from residential to planned development. The matter goes before City Council on June 4.