To: James City County Board of Supervisors
101 Mounts Bay Road
Williamsburg, Va. 23185
Dear Board of Supervisors :
We are writing to express and underline our deep dismay and strong opposition to the proposal to amend the master plan for Kingsmill.
We purchased our home just over two years ago with the clear understanding that the corridor along Wareham’s Pond Road and other green/undeveloped areas within Kingsmill would remain as such. Shortly after purchasing, we learned that the Xanterra Corporation had very aggressive plans to develop and build on much of this property.
All of the areas proposed for development are unquestionably buffer zones absolutely critical to protect the Kingsmill community from the visual and noise intrusions presented by the brewery and Busch Gardens – and, specifically, to protect the homes that already exist in the vicinity of Wareham’s Pond Road.
The Country Road is an absolute treasure that should not be disturbed in any way – it should remain pristine. For a company that has had considerable financial success through servicing National Parks, Xanterra should certainly understand the importance of protecting green space – particularly in a community the size and density of Kingsmill. Xanterra, as well as James City County, should also work to protect the ecology of the area, as well as to protect anything of historical significance. It is inconceivable that Xanterra doesn’t simply promote the use of the country road as a prime recreational area for the resort (hiking, bike rides, segway tours, horseback riding, motorized tram rides, naturalist studies and history walks) Xanterra would do well to reconsider development of the country road, particularly at its ecologically sensitive southern end.
We live off of Wareham’s Pond Road and we can assure you that the noise level from the brewery and Busch Gardens would be totally unacceptable for homes located behind the Wareham’s Pond recreation center and the surrounding area. They would be almost directly under the summer fireworks, which are not only extremely loud, but actually vibrate nearby houses. Couple this with the public address system, the ever present train whistle, the clanking roller coasters and their screaming riders, the concerts and various heavy equipment and industrial noises and the area is anything but peaceful. It is absolutely inconceivable that Xanterra actually projects a market – and in the upper price brackets, no less – for homes located in such an undesirable location. During the Christmas season, noise levels actually increased with the noise buffering foliage off the trees. Development of the country road corridor would greatly exacerbate this problem and new homes closest to the brewery and to Busch Gardens would be most affected.
The Xanterra “business plan” still remains a major point of confusion. The cottages on the James River have not been a successful development effort and the plan for multiple housing units on the hill above the river has apparently been abandoned. Lots are now being sold for single family mega-mansions. The original plan would have been much more in harmony with the condominium already situated there. Xanterra has also stated that any building would be done in an ecological responsible way. One need only look at the clear-cutting now underway in the Spencer Grant area to understand that this is simply a hollow promise. Once the “clearing” permits are issued, the trees are knocked down and no attempt is made to build within the trees. Sadly, this area was once a haven for bald eagles.
We strongly recommend that nothing be changed on the master plan. James City County should simply deny Xanterra’s request to develop the country road corridor. There should be nothing approved that would adversely affect the country road buffer area. In addition, if townhomes/condos are permitted in the current RV storage area, no building should be permitted that would affect the buffer zone behind it. A new storage site should not be located along Wareham’s Pond Road, since it would remove the critical buffer area. In summary, no development should be allowed that would negatively affect existing residential property in the vicinity of Wareham’s Pond Road.
We trust that James City County is well aware of the positive economic effect that Kingsmill as a community has brought to the Williamsburg area – but if over-building is permitted contentious feelings will remain and young families and retirees like ourselves will not give Kingsmill a second look. Overdeveloped communities with minimal green space and minimal outdoor recreational areas are simply not desirable places to live.
The Xanterra plan, if approved, would certainly affect the quality of life in Kingsmill and will most certainly destroy the appeal of a park-like setting that so many of us bought into. Once it is destroyed, there is nothing to prevent Xanterra from selling out after they have extracted their corporate profits. The people making these decisions and proposing these ill-conceived development projects for Xanterra at the corporate level have no vested interest in the community since they don’t live here. The Kingsmill Community Services Association is simply forced to rubber stamp these development proposals because of its current majority composition of Xanterra employees.
While we are certain that you’ve heard many or all of these concerns before, we would be happy to speak with you regarding any of the points made in this letter. In retrospect, we sincerely hope that we did not make a regrettable decision by purchasing a home in Kingsmill. Thank you for your consideration. Our contact information is included below.
Keith E. Engelmeier
Linda A. Engelmeier