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A Proposed 100-room Hotel and Conference Center Raises Many
 Concerns with the Isle of Wight County (Virginia) Planning
 Commission; Proposal too Vague

By Veronica Gorley Chufo, Daily Press, Newport News, Va.McClatchy-Tribune Business News

Jun. 28, 2006 - ISLE OF WIGHT -- A proposed 100-room hotel, restaurant and conference center raised 34 red flags Tuesday.

Members of the Isle of Wight County Planning Commission and the Planning and Zoning Department listed 34 concerns about the proposal to build along Brewer's Neck Boulevard just east of Queen Anne's Court on a giant white tablet and asked the developer to address them.

"Too many unknowns," Planning Commissioner Leah Dempsey said.

The Planning Commission postponed deciding on the proposal until its August meeting. The developer will come back with more information, said Justin Sizemore, one of the attorneys for McCale Development.

The Newport News-based McCale has proposed building on a sliver of property next to where it plans to build St. Luke's Village, a 430-home subdivision. The hotel would generate an estimated $350,000 year in tax revenue for the county, Sizemore said.

The Planning Commission and planning department said the application was too vague. It didn't provide building renderings, estimate its proposed height or say whether it would pitch in to realign Brewer's Neck Boulevard.

The realignment is expected to happen if the nearby Benn's Grant development is approved. Armada Hoffler has proposed a nearly 1,100-home development with a retail district, medical offices and office park at the intersection of Brewer's Neck and Benns Church boulevards.

Many property owners along Queen Anne's Court aren't sure a hotel would be a good neighbor. About 20 of them signed a petition opposing the project.

"A lot of young children live there. We are concerned about traffic," Queen Anne's Court resident Larry Mizelle told the Planning Commission.

But the neighborhood isn't losing all of its open space to development, said Patrick Small, the county's director of economic development. The county is buying a chunk of land in front of the Queen Anne's homes to protect it from future building, he said.

Both he and Beverly Melton of the tourism bureau favored the project. A county-commissioned study from 2001 showed a need for more hotel rooms, said Melton, the bureau's marketing and public relations manager.

"We are constantly turning away people who are looking for hotels," she said.

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Copyright (c) 2006, Daily Press, Newport News, Va.

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