Mixed-use project regains planning commission support

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March 19, 2010

4:55 AM

The Williamsburg Planning Commission unanimously recommended revised plans to the Williamsburg City Council for the construction of a three-story student dormitory and retail structure between Wawa and the Williamsburg Baptist Church on Richmond Road Thursday.

“I think it’s a good idea,” city resident Bill Dell said. “It’s a good initiative, and we should go forward with it.”

The commission approved the necessary changes to the city’s zoning code, paving the way for the project, which will house 56 students and allow first-floor space for retail and restaurants. Changes included the allowed height of the building from 35 feet to 45 feet, changing the zoning district of the area from a Downtown Business District to a Planned Development College District and recommending the removal of language that would permit a parking garage to be built on the property in the future.

“This type of use can only happen in that downtown corridor,” Planning Commission Chairman and city council candidate Doug Pons said.

The William and Mary Real Estate Foundation will spearhead the project, which is estimated to cost as much as $5 million.

In other business, the Planning Commission rejected plans to amend technical language to the zoning code’s maximum occupancy clause, which allows up to four individuals to share a residence under certain circumstances. The amended ordinance would have required a plot plan — rather than a minor site plan — for rental property owners applying for a four-person permit. The amendment also would have eliminated a required third-party electrical inspection.

The commission rejected the proposal on the grounds that it would make the application process for four-person properties easier.

“This is a glaring example of the slippery slope residents talk about,” Pons said. “Once we do something, Pandora’s box opens up.”

The proposal now goes to the city council for consideration. The council’s next meeting is April 8 in the Stryker Building.

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