Three board directors of the Virginia Port Authority's nonprofit operating company stepped down in protest ahead of a corporate restructuring plan that would strip them of their authority.

The resignations, which happened at a Virginia International Terminals board meeting earlier this week, were first reported by local blogger Phil Newswanger.

They came after a debate over a portion of the restructuring plan that would make VIT an LLC controlled by the VPA board, replace its board with a group of advisors.

One of the directors who stepped down, Bill Grace, told the Daily Press that such a move threatened the stability of the port operator. He said the earlier structure shielded VIT to some degree from the winds of political change.

"I can only speak for myself: I agreed efficiences could be had and I applauded that, but that wasn’t enough," Grace said, adding that "making VIT an LLC made no sense."

"The problem is it politicizes things because (the VPA) board is subject to change at the whim of the governor," said Grace, who served six years on VIT's board and a decade on the VPA board before that.

He also noted that in 2011, Gov. Bob McDonnell cleaned house, removing all but one member of the VPA board.

"It’s an unstable situation and I felt very strong about it," Grace said.

"I’d have been removed any way, but some things in life you have to stand up for and that’s what I did."

The two other directors who stepped down were Thaddeus Holloman Sr. and Robert Jones Jr.