Letter to Planning Commission (June 22, 2018)

June 22, 2018

John P. Moyer
Chair, New Kent County Planning Commission
7537 Patriots Landing Place
Quinton, VA 2314

Dear Commissioner Moyer,

We are property owners of Lot 2 in the Moody Subdivision on Farmers Drive, with is approximately 600 yards adjacent to the proposed Curtis Combat Training Facility in Barhamsville. The purpose of this letter is to voice our concerns and request your denial of the Curtis Conditional Use Permit 02-18 application.

We have been and will be negatively impacted by approval of this application. We purchased our property in late December and have taken steps to begin building our home on this parcel of land. Needless to say, had we known of this proposal sooner, we would not have considered purchasing in this area at all. We had intended this lot to be our “forever home” where we planned to farm and raise animals. Our county of choice had always been New Kent due to its rural setting’ proximity to family, work, basic amenities; and quaint communities of rural home, farms, wineries, and equestrian centers. We are deeply concerned that approval of this proposal will adversely change the characteristics of the county that we were drawn to.

As of June 18, we decided to put a hold on our construction plans to mitigate further expense and contractual obligations until the future of Barhamsville and the neighboring areas is more certain. We have already been negatively impacted by the decision to defer construction (e.g., vendors/service providers paid, construction plans already drawn, lender processes completed, builder contracts secured, etc.). Should the Curtis proposal be approved, the additional financial impact on us would be significant. In all likelihood, we will have to sell our property at a loss, assuming there is even a willing buyer. We will continue to pay the loan and taxes on property that would no longer have much value to us nor be marketable.

We know and appreciate the need for combat preparedness and business opportunities. We are strong supporters of the military and also small business owners. For over 20 years we have been a government contractor supporting the Department of Defense by providing cyber security services that ensure the safety of military personnel in combat and other field operations. We understand and appreciate the value of having combat training available in the appropriate setting. This is partly what highly secure military facilities are for. Sensitive military-type activities such as those proposed in CUP 02-18 are more appropriately handled and supervised in a secure and highly regulated environment similar to that of a military setting. Such activities should adhere to established military standards of safety with respect to its location, structures, and operations. The proposed facility is surrounded by existing businesses and organizations highly dependent on the quiet, safe, and rural setting required for their operations to survive. A combat training facility is certainly incompatible with these existing businesses. Needless to say, it is also absolutely incompatible to the existing residential homes.

We know the impact of living near a facility that conducts military training. We currently live two miles from Camp Peary. Since this is a military facility, several activities other than military training are also conducted. AS such, munitions fire and explosions are not incessant but only sporadic; however, we still clearly hear the sporadic noise day and night when weapons and tactical training is conducted. In addition, even from a distance, there are also occasions when we “feel” the use of stronger munitions and large equipment/machinery (i.e. windows rattle, ground tremors). In comparison, the proposed Curtis facility will be dedicated to training day and night (7 am – 7 pm and in some cases, until 10 pm) with the few exceptions noted in the CUP applications. The provisions specified in the proposal will result in constant noise (e.g., “. . . no more than 30-40 individual incidents of Tactical Sound Infusion . . . in any calendar day”; note that this is in addition to noise from the outdoor shooting range). We found the sound attenuation measures described in Curtis CUP-02-18 somewhat insulting — What type of noise abatement mechanism would result in firearm noise to be “. . no greater decibel level of a normal conversation from four feet apart . .”? [This is what Curtis claims]. I would certainly like to see the scientific tests performed that resulted in that conclusion.

We appreciate that berms, trees and shrubs are also proposed to address noise. However, this is comparable only to what is in place at the Lafayette Gun Club facility in York Count, a recreational shooting range with very restrictive rules on what types of ammunition can be used. We know this because I am a member and a volunteer Range Safety Officer at this facility. Please note that the Lafayette Gun Club was established in 1948, long before there were homes and other facilities built in that area.

Other safety concerns and questions:

  1. In a previous presentation to the Commission on June 18 Mr. Charles Karow provided information on the safety ranges/distances prescribed by the Defense Department (DoD) for the types of ammunition noted in the CUP. Based on the types of ammunition proposed and the DoD specifications, our property and that of our two other neighbors on Farmers Drive could potentially be within the danger zone depending on the exact location and number of shooting areas within the facility. The safety hazards are not limited to our property but also includes traffic in the surrounding area to include a school bus route that will cross the proposed line of fire several times a day.
  2. We are also concerned about stray bullets and accidental fires from incendiary devices. Will they be able to handle fires and accidents within their facility? What provisions are in place to minimize external accidental brush fires that will result from their activities?

We exercised due diligence by visiting the surrounding areas, looking at the New Kent Comprehensive Plan map to determine designated potential industrial, commercial, and economic opportunity areas, and talking to people familiar with this area. We could not have anticipated that a proposal so incompatible with the existing surroundings would be made.

In conclusion, we strongly urge you to deny this CUP application and any future iterations of this proposal for a similar facility in this and other like areas of New Kent County. We understand that you have, and will receive, many arguments for and against this proposal and appreciate your time. Thank you or the opportunity to submit our concerns for your serious, thoughtful analysis and discernment.

Respectfully yours,

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CC: All New Kent county Planning Commissioners
New Kent County Board of Supervisors via email
New Kent county Planning Director via email