Ed. — From the Sunday, June 6, print edition.
OCEANFRONT — The City Council voted last month to grant a conditional use permit for what is known as the “Blackwater Field of Dreams” — a baseball field in the rural backyard of Derrick and Nicole Howell.
The permit was approved as part of the consent agenda during the council meeting at the Virginia Beach Convention Center on Tuesday, May 18. On Wednesday, April 14, the Planning Commission had recommended approving the permit.
The field has been used for youth travel teams since 2014 without a conditional use permit. Owners of a neighboring property recently complained about noise and traffic.
Stewart and Shannon Altman live next door to the field. During an interview, Shannon Altman said the situation has improved with their shared driveway no longer used and fewer games, though they had hoped the permit wouldn’t be granted.
“We’re happy that he has the permit,” Altman said. “We’re not happy with how it all happened. The noise factor is still bothersome, but it has gotten better.”
Following the City Council vote, Derrick Howell said he was happy with how the issue worked out.
“We’re just excited that this process is over,” he said, adding that his children can continue to play with their friends and they will not have to search for another field.
Howell said he felt like the permit would be approved because of the Planning Commission recommendation.
“It was built for the kids,” he said about the field.
City Councilmember Barbara Henley, who represents the Princess Anne District, said during an interview that baseball is a popular activity in the area and has been happening for “100 years.”
She said it is not unusual for individuals not to realize they need a conditional use permit for outdoor recreational facilities, and others have been granted in the past.
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