VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — A major victory this week for those working to protect the oldest home in Virginia Beach. City Council voted unanimously against rezoning the property, shooting down the current owner’s plans to build townhomes on the property.
The Weblin Farm House was already 100 years old during the Revolutionary War. Historians estimate the home was built around 1670, making it arguably the oldest home in the commonwealth.
The home sits unassumingly tucked away in the Cypress Point neighborhood. Weblin Farm earned a spot on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974.
The Moore family bought the farm in during the 1930s and operated a dairy business on the site for decades. In 1998, Dorothy Moore donated the home, and 6.5 acres to the state’s easement program. An easement is a legal document protecting the home while allowing the property to remain under private ownership.
We obtained a copy of the easement, which outlines what can and cannot be done to alter 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 as well as relatives of Dorothy Moore say those plans directly violate the easement.
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
Neighbors grew alarmed when the Department of Historic Resources, the agency responsible for enforcing the easement, conceptually approved the plans.
But those plans wouldn’t become a reality unless the city of Virginia Beach allowed the property to be rezoned, a motion they voted unanimously against at this week’s city council meeting.
More than 40 concerned community members attended the meeting to speak in support for upholding the easement. Also at the meeting, a number of Dorothy Moore’s descendants. They affectionately call her Grandma Dot.
10 On Your Side met her grandson Brad Smith in front of the historic home on Friday. Brad spent a lot of time on the farm with his grandparents.
He said this is not what Grandma Dot envisioned as the future of Weblin Farm. He was a senior in high school when she passed away and donated the property.
“We were all shocked when the state sold the property, because we never understood that was part of the possibilities,” explained Smith. “I know my grandmother didn’t think that was ever going to happen. We thought it was going to be part of a local tour, similar to other historic homes, like in Colonial Williamsburg. This pre-dates everything in Colonial Williamsburg.”
Brad’s cousin Elizabeth is an attorney. She wrote a letter on behalf of the family and had all of them sign it ahead of the Virginia Beach City Council meeting.
“Learning of this recently and that all these changes have already taken place and that there’s a threat to develop the property has got everybody very interested in it,” Smith said.
He shared photos of additions and changes recently made to the back of the home, additions that also seem to violate the easement.
The Department of Historic Resources Board is expected to revisit their decision to conceptually approval development plans for the Weblin Farm on September 19th.