Chesapeake City Council approves plans for ‘megasite’ near North Carolina border

CHESAPEAKE, Va. - In a 6-3 vote Tuesday night, Chesapeake city leaders approved a change to a plan, opening the door for a potential "megasite."

"There's some critical flaws with this particular piece of land adjacent to the North Carolina border where you can't fully build around this site," said resident Jo Anne Gallant.

It's a heated topic, and about 40 people shared their opinions on it during the city council meeting.

At 1,400 acres of land, the Frank T. Williams farm is available for commercial, industrial or similar non-residential development. The land is in southern Chesapeake by the North Carolina border.

"I am truly for economic development and jobs creation. I do think the City of Chesapeake really needs to do that. The fact it's surrounded by conservation land and it doesn't seem to be a compatible fit to put an industrial megasite," said resident Karen Hammerquist.

Others say the risk of increased flooding is too high.

"I wasn't planning on coming tonight, but when I couldn't get my car out of the driveway because the entire farm is covered in mud and I'm only about 5 miles from the new proposed megasite?" said Jennifer Barnes, another resident.

The city sees it differently.

"It is responsible, it's smart, it's what's good for the City of Chesapeake," said Councilman R. Stephen Best, Sr.

The City of Chesapeake calls the land the "gateway innovation district," saying the word "megasite" is a state term. The council's vote opens the door for uses such as medical campuses, higher learning centers, a space for research and development and more.

Supporters say the site will help put Virginia back on the map, encourage big businesses and bring high-paying jobs to the area.