Williamsburg Architectural Review Board defers decision on Spotswood development
A Williamsburg board deferred a decision Tuesday night on whether to approve design plans submitted by a developer for the former Spotswood golf course.
All seven members of the Architectural Review Board voted to delay the decision until concerns raised by a member of the public can be addressed in an upcoming work session.
The board’s decision comes after months of public input on the proposed development, which would see the construction of more than 160 homes on the former golf course property.
In January, Norfolk-based Frye Properties Inc. submitted an application to rezone 39.54 acres owned by The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation to allow for the construction of the homes. Among the first steps in the process is approval of architectural designs by the city’s Architectural Review Board.
Part of Frye’s application is a document called the Spotswood Pattern Book, which identifies the design, materials and appearance of the homes and lots in the proposed development. The document is available on the city’s webpage at www.williamsburgva.gov/1028/Ongoing-Land-Development-Project-Applica.
Prior to Tuesday’s meeting, the board had convened a public meeting and three work sessions regarding this application, according to chairman Scott Spence.
Rock Bell, Frye’s vice president for development, noted that more than 100 changes had been made in details such as color palettes and home styles.
Bell also said Frye has agreed to incorporate the entire development in the city’s Corridor Protection District — a zoning designation with more stringent construction and aesthetic regulations. Currently, about one-third of the proposed development lies outside that district.
“We now have a document we can be thoroughly comfortable with,” Bell said, asking the board to approve the pattern book.
But Fraser Hudgins, founding member of the group Citizens for Responsible Spotswood Development, implored the board to pump the brakes. Hudgins questioned whether the board’s approval of the document would be construed too broadly as assent for other elements of the project.
Hudgins also identified what he said were inconsistencies in the final pattern book under consideration and the changes requested at the board’s May 8 work session — incorporating a definition for “special window” in the pattern book, for instance.
Tevya Griffin, planning and codes compliance director for the city, clarified the role that the Architectural Review Board has in the process of rezoning applications and development, which is the review and approval of conceptual architectural plans and guidelines prior to a public hearing conducted by the city’s Planning Commission.
Griffin said that city planning staff will also make a recommendation prior to the Planning Commission’s consideration of the application. The application will go before the commission no earlier than July or August, Griffin said.
City Council will have the final say.
Former city councilman Ted Maslin, who attended the meeting Tuesday, said he wondered if there was an opportunity to reimagine the project.
“This could be something that is more community-centric than developer-centric,” Maslin said.
Bell said that he is eager to correct some misconceptions that have arisen, noting that some people seem unaware that the developer’s plans call for custom homes.
“I’m very optimistic that we’ll get the pattern book approved,” he said.
The board’s next work session on the Spotswood development is scheduled for June 14.