Hillpoint Farms seeks to add nearly 200 homes – The Suffolk News-Herald

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The Godwin Boulevard area between the Highway 58 bypass and Kings Fork Road is already expected to become a high growth corridor in Suffolk in the coming years, especially as the Godwin Park development approved last December continues to grow. to take shape.

But for the adjacent Hillpoint Farms development that has spanned more than 35 years, 195 more homes are coming, whether residents like it or not – and those who participated in a recent public hearing on a proposed change to its master plan do. do not. .

The proposed changes would essentially not change the number of houses to be built. A previous iteration of city council had already done so.

Instead, the decision now is where these homes will go.

Property owner Mark Lambert of River Highlands LLC is requesting conditional rezoning to change the development master plan to use 54 of the 138 acres of the Nansemond River golf course for the proposed new homes. He would leave the remaining 84 acres for stormwater management and open space, all of which would be managed and maintained by the Hillpoint Farms Homeowners Association, according to a staff report regarding proposed changes to the master plan.

According to the staff report on the proposed master plan changes, the owner association fees for the new homes would pay for this.

The wagon trails would be retained as multi-use paths for walking or cycling, and other proposed changes include a kayak launch site and sidewalk to be developed between Cheriton Lane and Meadows Court. Plans are under consideration to transform the clubhouse into a multi-purpose facility including a fitness center, meeting space and swimming pool.

The course closed in December 2020, around the time council approved the development of Godwin Park, and is now covered in growth, barely resembling its past. Melissa Venable of Land Planning Solutions said it did not perform well and that there were no more than 10 Hillpoint Farms residents who were members.

John Wagner of Hobbs Adams Investment Group, one of the owners of River Highlands LLC, said the golf club, which opened in 1999, peaked in 2006, but has declined steadily since. competition from other golf clubs that have not allowed it to increase prices or attract more customers.

The developer envisions a different kind of growth for the future of the property.

Venable told the Planning Commission in a public hearing on Aug. 17 that the owner wanted to build 155 single-family homes and no more than 40 duplexes or townhouses on the golf course lot, rather than building 193 homes. single family elsewhere on the property.

In October 2016, an approved rezoning of 37.65 acres from the planned development district to the residential urban district reduced the size of the golf club to accommodate these homes, included in the 1,813 units already approved.

The Hillpoint Farms master plan was last amended in December 2019. At that time, approval allowed 230 of the proposed 394 multi-family units to be moved to a 12.8 acre site in the eastern portion of the property that will have two access points. off Hillpoint Boulevard. A site plan for the Port 58 apartments, as they will be called, was approved on March 17 and they are currently under construction.

In 1986, Council approved a zoning change request to create the Hillpoint Farms planned residential development area, located adjacent to Godwin Boulevard and Hillpoint Road. The original master plan provided for 2,448 housing units and no more than 513 multi-family units in the planned development. An amendment to this master plan in September 1997 reduced the total number of units to 1,813 and moved the location of the golf course to its current location.

So far, 1,520 units have been built, are under construction or are counted as part of a development plan submission or expected development plan submission.

Brenda Kerr, a resident of the River Bluff subdivision, expressed concern about the ability of the homeowners association to maintain the properties. She expressed concern about what she said were unmaintained evergreen trees on Hillpoint Road that overlook the road and which she says have no sidewalk.

Venable said that wherever the proposed development touches Hillpoint Road, a sidewalk will be provided in those areas and will be connected to the trail system. Additionally, she said the houses proposed for Hillpoint Road would not have road-facing entrances. On the contrary, there will be an alley behind the house for these residents.

Another Hillpoint Farms resident, Ray Orland, said he wanted legally binding assurances that the 195 houses on offer were part of Hillpoint HOA.

Commissioner John Rector asked if there had been a cost analysis to determine how much it will cost the Hillpoint Farms HOA to maintain the open spaces. Venable said she didn’t, but said the HOA did part of that.

She said reforestation of part of the 84 acres “would eliminate quite a bit – maybe up to 30 acres from this area – of upkeep.”

Commissioner Mills Staylor asked if the city had an enforcement capacity on the HOA holding the property.

City planner Kevin Wyne, responding to Commissioner Mills Staylor’s question about whether the city has the capacity to require the HOA to maintain the property, said the issue dates back to how the city treats spaces open in any approved subdivision, which is determined at the time. of flat subdivision, depending on the type of subdivision in place. The city has a property maintenance division that would work directly with the HOA to ensure it is properly maintained. Wyne also said anything about the issue in the offer would be legally binding as well.

Orland also wants to see more spacing between houses, and said Hillpoint Road “is like a drag strip” in the morning when parents bring their late children to nearby Hillpoint Elementary School, and a parallel parking possible on the road would make the road more dangerous. .

Venable said parallel parking may not be the final solution, but he has vowed to work with the city to find a traffic calming measure on Hillpoint Road. One possibility, she said, is to cross the road to create the perception for drivers of a narrower road to force them to slow down.

Ethan Stanville told commissioners he was also concerned about parallel parking and said he didn’t think the HOA was doing its job well in maintaining the properties there. New construction behind his house, he said, has caused flooding in his garden that heads to the front of his driveway when it rains. He is also concerned with the maintenance of the roads on Hillpoint Boulevard.

Commissioner Anita Hicks said road issues and overhanging trees need to be addressed whether or not the revised master plan is passed.

Fairways Crossing resident Rickey Roach said there had to be a second way in and out of Hillpoint Farms if more houses were built. He also said he was concerned that the HOA was taking over the clubhouse with what he said were flooding issues in his basement that plagued him for the past two years. years.

Venable said the clubhouse’s maintenance costs would depend on what Hillpoint HOA wanted to do with it.

Before commissioners unanimously recommended the master plan, which is due to be presented to council on September 15, Hicks said it was obvious Hillpoint Farms would be getting more homes.

“My biggest concern is that the 195 homes have already been approved, so you’re going to get the 195 homes,” Hicks said. “It’s just a matter of where you are going to put them, if you are going to put them where you intended to put them before, or if you are going to solve your problem with the closure of the golf course. In my mind, it makes more sense to use your proposal, which is to put houses down to avoid having to do so much maintenance for the HOA.

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