Mathews board to consider vacating Williams Wharf right of way

by Sherry Hamilton - Posted on Feb 08, 2012 - 03:50 PM

Photo: A rusty dredge in the foreground speaks to the history of Williams Wharf, while an open-air rack of crew shells represents the future for this waterfront destination. Mathews Land Conservancy is asking the county to vacate the right of way over the Williams Wharf Landing property. Photo by Charlie Koenig.

A rusty dredge in the foreground speaks to the history of Williams Wharf, while an open-air rack of crew shells represents the future for this waterfront destination. Mathews Land Conservancy is asking the county to vacate the right of way over the Williams Wharf Landing property. Photo by Charlie Koenig.

The Mathews Board of Supervisors will hold a public hearing at its Feb. 28 meeting to hear residents’ comments on vacating a right of way over the Williams Wharf property at the end of Williams Wharf Road (Route 614). The meeting begins at 7 p.m. (Note the corrected time; the article originally had a time of 1 p.m.)

The 30-foot right of way, created in 1920 by order of the Mathews County Board of Supervisors to provide public access to the water, extends from the end of Route 614 to the water’s edge, where the wharf used to be. It is now buried under a parking lot.

Lee Stevens, attorney for Mathews Land Conservancy, said abandonment of the road is important because of the Land Conservancy’s plans to develop the site for public use. The state agency responsible for overseeing wharves—the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries—would have to give its approval, he said, and the Virginia Department of Transportation would have to take the right of way out of the highway system.

Having the road vacated would pave the way for two things to occur simultaneously, according to Mathews County Attorney Richard Harfst. The county, which took ownership of the property in 1994 in order to enable the Land Conservancy to receive federal grant funds to improve the site, will, as agreed upon at that time, return ownership to the conservancy, and a public easement over the entire property will be enacted to preserve the public’s right of access in perpetuity.