BY STEFANIE JACKSON, Eastern Shore Post —
The Exmore Town Council on Monday, May 1, approved a resolution to allow a developer to acquire Virginia Housing funding for an economic development project on a nearly 22-acre parcel in town.
“You can’t build anything nowadays without government assistance,” Town Manager Robert Duer remarked before the vote.
Virginia Housing is a state government-created agency, although it is not funded by taxpayer dollars but is a self-supporting not-for-profit.
The parcel to be developed is on the east side of U.S. Route 13 and the north side of Dollar General.
The developer will pursue a Virginia Housing loan to fund construction of commercial buildings on the 22-acre parcel.
There is a possibility that the buildings would be mixed-use and have second-floor apartments.
The project would be situated across the highway from the New Road community, where the first of three planned phases of affordable housing development was recently completed.
The resolution passed in a 4-2 vote, with Councilmen Chase Sturgis and G.W. Adkins opposed.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture, a major funder of Exmore’s sewer project, has recommended the town award the project bid to the Kevcor construction company, of Norfolk, for $18.4 million.
Kevcor had suggested cost-saving measures, such as using plastic instead of iron pipe fittings, that will save Exmore more than $1 million.
U.S.D.A. representatives noted it would be more beneficial to award the $18.4 million bid and then submit a change order for the cost-saving measures instead of changing the project specifications first and then putting the project back out to bid.
Duer told the Town Council that U.S. Sen. Mark Warner “appears to have reneged” on his offer to get an additional $750,000 in federal funding for the sewer project.
Before her term expired, U.S. Rep. Elaine Luria had requested a $5 million grant from the Department of Environmental Quality be included in Virginia’s two-year budget for the Exmore project; she succeeded in getting $3.5 million.
Warner claimed the funding that Luria acquired was the same funding he had pursued, according to Duer.
The town manager disagreed with the senator’s claim.
“We were on total understanding that it was a different pool of money,” Duer said.
He blamed “election year politics” and added, “Once again, the poor people get the shaft.”
But Duer said the town can afford its sewer project without the additional funding.
“It is what it is, and Exmore will survive.”