Chesapeake council decision supports problematic pier owner

CHESAPEAKE, Va (WAVY) – The efforts by some property owners to modify or remove a private pier may well be dead in the water in Western Branch.

Neighbors say the location of the pier cuts off their access to the Elizabeth River, and they had hoped to use the fact that about half the pier sat on underwater city property to have it removed. But Tuesday night, Chesapeake City Council voted to transfer that land to the pier’s owner.

“I’m not happy with it at all because it gives us no recourse now to ever have that pier torn down,” said Gail Gibson, a long-time resident of the neighborhood.

Kenneth Campbell built the pier in 2009 next to another pier that was built shortly beforehand. The Army Corps of Engineers told 10 On Your Side that construction began before Campbell had received that agency’s approval, but added that Campbell eventually did get approval several weeks later.

When Campbell appeared Tuesday night before city council, he said several agencies had signed off on the construction and location of his pier.

“All departments and agencies, to include the CBPA, the Army Corps, VMRC, and other city officers of Chesapeake, all met on my pier and determined that I was in compliance,” Campbell said.

However, following the ruling, Campbell had no comment when 10 On Your Side asked whether an alternative design for the pier might have worked, given the complaints from neighbors who live upstream.

City council’s unanimous decision to deed the land to Campbell and his neighbor across the street was the opposite of a recommendation from the Chesapeake Planning Commission, which voted unanimously in August to recommended denial of the transaction.

“It’s gonna be very uncomfortable,” said Craig Groman, Campbell’s next door neighbor and an opponent of the pier. “He’s gotten what he wanted, right now anyway, and we have to live with the consequences.”

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