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County to survey Rushmere residents

Could Isle of Wight’s Rushmere area one day resemble Suffolk’s Driver and Whaleyville communities, with a multitude of storefronts and stamped-asphalt crosswalks?

More to the point, should it?

That’s a question Joshua Bateman, the county’s principal planner, intends to pose to the rural community’s roughly 1,000 residents this spring and summer.

According to Bateman, new water and sewer lines are planned along Route 10 in the area between Smithfield and Surry.

“That changes the attractiveness of land along that corridor for development,” he said. “So we’re looking to proactively address the potential for that.”

The county’s “Envisioning the Isle” 2020 Comprehensive Plan shows the possible creation of a Rushmere development service district surrounding the circa-2003 village center borders. The plan calls for more business and suburban residential development on vacant lands along Route 10 and Fort Huger Drive, but provides no details as to how this is to be achieved or what the end result is to look like. Bateman said the surveys he plans to distribute to residents in online and hard copy formats will be used to create a “unified planning document” to provide those specifics.

“One of the things we would like to do is, when you’re driving through Rushmere on Route 10 it’s not really easy to identify where the village begins and where it ends,” Bateman said. “It’s not a village where it has a clearly identifiable and discernible core of dense or intense development.”

“One of the things that you can do, and a lot of villages have done in Virginia, is you can enhance those points of entry with gateway signage, with transportation treatments that are largely aesthetic — the landscaped medians, for instance,” he added.

The planning document would further provide design criteria to “allow future development to have some consistency,” Bateman said.

This could include details such as how far back from the road structures should be built and whether parking is between the building and the highway or along the building’s side or rear. As an example, he showed a photo of a recently built Dollar General in Suffolk’s Whaleyville community, which has a sidewalk leading up to the store and parking off to the side. It may also include plans for pedestrian or bike access to county facilities in the area, such as Tyler’s Beach or the planned Henry H. Bradby Park.

Bateman’s tentative timetable calls for surveys to be distributed in May through July this year, with the resulting plan going before the county’s Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors sometime in December 2021 or January 2022.