VB Council delays approving on Ashville Park improvements


Ashville Park residents left council chambers upset Tuesday night after councilors voted to put off approving a project that would work to alleviate flooding in the area.

The council voted 7-2, with Councilors Wood and Dyer in opposition, to both defer moving forward with the flooding mitigation plan and the rezoning of the property to allow for the HomeFed Corporation, the developer, to change the layout of future development. 

The city already approved allocating money to an $11 million stormwater management improvement plan at Ashville Park, an area prone to flooding. 

The plan includes adding retention ponds, expanding existing ponds, and installing a pump station among other improvements.

Developer HomeFed Corporation would pick up 28 percent of the cost of the work, or about $3.1 million. They would also be giving up nearly $2.1 million in water quality credits to the city. Taxpayers would fund the remaining $8 million.

HomeFed, which bought the property in a 2012 foreclosure auction, still has 200 more units they can construct. The agreement was constructed with improvements for a future nearly 100 or more homes to be constructed. However under the agreement they would not be able to expand its construction of homes until it completes its share of the improvements.

City Councilor Barbara Henley, who represents the neighborhood, previously told 10 On Your Side she didn’t want more development until she knew for certain the flooding solutions worked. 

On Tuesday she floated the idea of not working alongside the developer and having the city cover the entire cost.

“I think we are all, the counselors, pretty much in agreement that we need to move forward with fixing the flooding issues in Ashville Park,” said Henley. “The one I think what we are wrestling with is whether we do the deal with the developer and get some 28 percent from the developer. Is that a deal we should make or not?”

Many residents of Ashville Park spoke up in favor of going ahead with the plan as is. 

“I am a taxpayer as well and when I hear the city say ‘well gosh let’s just turn down $5.1 million and do it on our own,’ that doesn’t make any sense to me,” said Sheree Krause after the meeting. 

City Manager David Hansen said his staff would meet with HomeFed Corporation to work out a new cost participation agreement by July 3rd. 

City Council earlier also received an update on the Dome Site development. That’s where the city’s own Pharrell Williams is a partner in a proposal for a mixed-use surf park that would include retail and dining.

Venture Realty Group was selected last November as the preferred developer — and had six months to do the necessary studies for the project. The surf park could be completed by late 2020.

And council also discussed the pier development project. The city has three bids to build a complex that would include a Skywheel, shops and restaurants. Current Oceanfront business owners tell 10 On Your Side they’re concerned the project might hurt their bottom line.

Additionally, Virginia Beach lawmakers learned the details surrounding cannabis oil, just approved by the General Assembly earlier this year. Delegate Glenn Davis and Director Warren Harris of the Office of Economic Development talked about clinical applications, including for MS, PTSD and Parkinson’s disease among others.

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