Rosegill hopefuls
give site overview

  This article appeared in the March 16, 2004 issue of the Daily Press.  


Rosegill hopefuls give site overview
50 residents attend council meeting

By Matt Sabo

Published March 16, 2004

Matt Sabo can be reached at (804) 642-1748 of by e-mail at

URBANNA -- Prospective developers of Urbanna's historic gem, Rosegill Plantation, envision a village of large, colonial style single-family homes clustered together in pedestrian friendly neighborhoods bordered by expansive open spaces.

At least that's what Diane Cox Basheer and Ken Thompson, a Northern Virginia developing team, told about 50 area residents who attended Monday night's Urbanna Town Council meeting, which offered the first public glimpse of Rosegill's potential face-lift.

Basheer and Thompson have a contract with Rosegill owners Alfred and Strother Scott, Richmond brothers who bought the plantation in 1974 for $1.1 million, to develop the 860-acre property. The sales price has not been released - Rosegill was on the market for $12 million - and the developers have not submitted formal development plans to Middlesex County.

Basheer and Thompson spoke in broad terms of building in three phases, possibly as soon as a year from now, and being a good neighbor to Urbanna by being environmentally friendly and not competing with local merchants by building around a commercial core.

But they said they couldn't tell residents how many houses would be built, the price range of the homes or whether they have a "done deal" with the Scotts.

"I hate to keep saying, 'We don't know, we don't know, we don't know,' " Thompson said.

Thompson said they have no plans to make Rosegill a gated community, nor do they envision building a golf course. The roads into the plantation would be public, and Thompson said they would consider a historic easement for the main house so it wouldn't be completely off-limits to the public.

But Thompson stopped short of saying the large, main residence would be publicly accessible, he said. That's because it would have to be brought up to federal handicap-accessible standards, which he said would threaten the historical integrity of the house.

The plantation dates to 1650 and straddles an easy bend in Route 227 just outside the town, offering travelers a distinctive view of Urbanna at the confluence of Urbanna Creek and the Rappahannock River. Thompson said he and Basheer have met with local residents and officials recently and they heard a singular theme.

The most frequent "comment we heard from everyone is, 'When you come around the corner and see the water, that has to stay,' " Thompson said. "I can assure you here, it's our intention to honor that 110 percent."

During a question-and-answer session that followed their presentation, Thompson said plans for Rosegill include a community water and sewer system, though he didn't have specific details. That was the mantra for much of the night, with Basheer and Thompson offering general details, but nothing concrete.

Several times the two were pressed on the number of homes.

"We don't know how many houses yet," Thompson said. "That envelope will be changing."

They did say no lots would be sold, only homes. They estimated the size of the homes to range from 2,500 to 5,000 square feet.

Afterward, Urbanna area resident Jerre Mellon said he was still unsure about the water and sewer systems for Rosegill.

"I like the idea," he said. "If what we heard is what's going to happen, I like what I've heard."