Chesapeake, Navy set up land-use plan near Fentress

By Jeff Sheler The Virginian-Pilot ©


The city and the Navy have reached an agreement on procedures for vetting land-use proposals near the Fentress Naval Auxiliary Landing Field.

The agreement, presented to the City Council on Tuesday, is the latest effort to prevent encroaching development around the Navy’s practice-landing field on the city’s eastern edge.

It calls for joint review by the city and the Navy of rezoning and conditional-use requests involving land within the city’s Fentress Airfield Overlay District, a zone connecting Fentress with Oceana Naval Air Station in Virginia Beach.

The review panel would determine whether a proposed development is compatible with safety, noise and other restrictions related to the Oceana-Fentress flight zone and would make recommendations to the Planning Commission and the City Council.

Under the agreement, if a proposed development is deemed incompatible, the city and the Navy would meet to consider whether an acceptable alternative use exists, and communicate that to the developer.

The council would have the final say on any proposal.

City Attorney Jan Proctor said the purpose of the joint review is to have the city and the Navy “work together to mitigate encroachment upon the military operations at… Fentress, while giving due recognition to property rights.”

She said the agreement is similar to one between the Navy and Virginia Beach. The council is scheduled to vote on it July 23.

In a related step, the council voted in May to extend for five years a 2008 agreement with the Navy to buy undeveloped property along the flight path from Oceana to Fentress to prevent encroachment.

Under that agreement, whenever the city buys such property, the Navy pays for a restricted-use easement worth as much as half the property’s appraised value. The Navy and the city split survey and appraisal costs.

According to city officials, the city has spent about $4.3 million to date on purchases involving hundreds of acres, most of it undeveloped wetlands, and has recouped $1.8 million from the Navy.

Unrelated to the two agreements, the council earlier this year approved and then rescinded a rezoning request that would have permitted a developer to build 31 fill-in houses in a subdivision near Fentress.

The council changed course after Navy, Virginia Beach and state officials objected that the zoning change violated a commitment the city made to protect Fentress from residential encroachment.

Jeff Sheler, 757-222-5207,

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