Pungo: Committee input on hold while Harvest Farms ‘agrihood’ plan revised

Linwood Branch, a businessperson and former member of the Virginia Beach City Council, serves as chairperson of the Transition Area/Interfacility Traffic Area Citizens Advisory Committee. [John-Henry Doucette/The Princess Anne Independent News]

VIRGINIA BEACH — An advisory body that reviews projects in the transition area between the suburban north and rural south of Virginia Beach is holding off on making a recommendation about the planned Harvest Farms subdivision near Pungo because its developers have said they are revising the project.

Bill DeSteph, a state senator who is among the developers, said last month that the team has heard and will address concerns about the plan. The developers have met with city officials since then, and the project could go forward to the Planning Commission in November, though that is not a certainty.

Initial plans called for 164 homes on roughly 122 acres, and about 16 acres of commercial development near the intersection of Indian River and Princess Anne Roads, the village area considered the gateway to rural communities. The properties that would be developed are Back Bay Farms and the old Pungo airfield. They are within the city transition area between the suburban north of Virginia Beach and just above the city services line at Indian River Road.

The transition area allows for some development, but there are limitations. Harvest Farms exceeded guidelines for the area of no more than one unit per acre of developable land, among other concerns that have been raised about the project over the past year. Harvest Farms is designed around an “agrihood” concept that includes a farming and gardening component. The development formerly was known as Pungo Ridge.

Based upon initial plans, the Transition Area/Interfacility Traffic Area Citizens Advisory Committee has been poised to send a recommendation that the rezoning needed for the project be denied. The committee reviews projects within the transition area and the area between Naval Air Station Oceana in Virginia Beach and Naval Air Station Fentress in Chesapeake.

Committee concerns were first spelled out in a July letter to the developers, and a number of citizens sounded off during two meetings that followed.

Linwood Branch, chairperson of the committee, wrote via email that the group is aware the developers are now modifying the proposal and wants to see the changes before making a recommendation to the Planning Commission and the City Council.

© 2018 Pungo Publishing Co., LLC

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