The July 23, 2018 meeting of the New Kent Board of Supervisors was attended by a small group of Barhamsville residents, four of whom spoke during the Citizen Comment Period.
John Lockwood thanked the Supervisors and the staff, and particularly called out supervisors Paige and Stiers who “went above and beyond the call of duty” to visit the Barhamsville area and gather their own facts and citizen opinions on the proposed Curtis Readiness Training Center (CUP-02-18). Lockwood went on to thank the Curtis people for submitting the application, saying that it had brought the Barhamsville community together as a force for good, and promoted many new friendships. He went on to say that, should the Curtis proposal ever come back, we would be ready for it, better organized and prepared than before.
Joe Davis, who has many years’ experience in county government and is a life-long Barhamsville resident, presented the supervisors with several questions on why application CUP-02-18 was not rejected out-of-hand as it so clearly was incompatible with county zoning ordinances. He urged the supervisors to make changes to county procedures for handling conditional use permits so that they could be rejected early in the process if they are not in compliance with the spirit and intent of county growth. Such a change in procedures would cause much less disruption to the county, the citizens who live here, and the applicant.
Sandi Gauthier presented evidence of property value decrease caused by just the threat of the proposed combat range. A home that is two miles away from the proposed site was appraised by two independent certified appraisers, both before and after CUP-02-18 was submitted. The second appraisal showed a 24% drop in property value, and the proposed combat training facility was specifically mentioned by the second appraiser as the reason for the drop. She indicated that there are 636 properties in New Kent County located within 2 miles of the Curtis parcel. Those 636 properties, if ONLY devalued by 24%, would cause a loss of $32,000,000.00 in value; those closer to the proposed range would certainly lose more value than one 2 miles away.
Charles Karow thanked the supervisors and staff for their efforts in dealing with CUP-02-18, and said that it was difficult to express how difficult the past six weeks had been for the community. He advocated for a quick resolution to the whole affair, to restore confidence and some sense of stability to the county. He went on to present a pictorial virtual tour of the Barhamsville area, showing photographs of scenes in Barhamsville that might not be seen by those just traveling the main roads. The presentation was designed to give the supervisors an “idea of the character and quality of the area we hold so dear.” The photos, curated by Tom Moore, displayed the bucolic countryside (horses, grapevines, berry picking, corn fields, hay fields, eagles, ponds, lakes, century farms, the monastery, geese, flowers, sunsets) of Barhamsville and highlighted the many artists’ studios in the area, and the Dream Catchers Therapeutic Riding Center in James City County.
Board chairman Thomas Evelyn thanked the citizens for attending, and assured that their voices had been heard.