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May 19, 2017

Neighbors pan Vint Hill “village center” plan

The plan concentrates single-family homes to west and mixed-use development — shops, offices, apartments and condos — around rest of the park at Vint Hill.
We don’t want to become the next Prince William County or the next Loudoun County. Fauquier County has maintained its rural characteristics, despite the pressure, despite the 1,000-plus houses that have been built in (nearby) Brookside.
— Troy Marshall, Vint Hill resident
Public Hearing
• Topic: Comprehensive plan amendment for 102 acres at Vint Hill

• When: 6:30 p.m. Thursday, May 18

• Agency: Fauquier County Planning Commission

• Where: Warren Green Building, 10 Hotel St., Warrenton

• Speakers: Nine

• Length: About 36 minutes

• Issues: Traffic, school crowding, residential development.

• Applicant: Dreamweaver Holding Co. LLC, Vint Hill Entertainment LLC and other entities related to Vint Hill Village LLC.

• Concept: Village center, with 200,000 square feet of commercial space with total of 573 apartments, condos and other dwellings, all of which would require subsequent rezoning. 

• Next: After Thursday’s public hearing, the planning commission deferred action until at least Aug. 17 and could hold additional hearings. The commission will make a recommendation to the board of supervisors, which has final authority.
By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Staff Journalist
Neighbors worry the proposed “village center” at Vint Hill would lead to clogged roads, crowded schools and damage to the area’s rural character.

Fauquier’s planning commission Thursday night conducted the first public hearing on the proposal for mixed-use development at the core of the former Army base near New Baltimore. 

Nine people spoke during the 36-minute hearing in Warrenton. Six of them — Vint Hill residents — opposed the application.

Two speakers — both of whom operate businesses at the former 701-acre Army base — supported aspects of the proposal or remained open-minded about it.

Vint Hill Village LLC and related companies want 62 acres of the property rezoned from industrial to residential use, allowing up to six homes per acre. The application also seeks to designate 40 acres as the “village core.”

Ultimately, Vint Hill seeks as many as 573 new dwellings and 200,000 square feet of commercial space. 

To allow the proposed changes, the developers first need a comprehensive plan amendment — the subject of Thursday’s public hearing.

Because of several “outstanding issues,” the county staff “does not believe the amendment has been justified,” reads the Fauquier Department of Community Development staff report. (At bottom of story.)

Those issues include:

• The proposed residential development increase.

• Increased traffic — estimated at 3,743 weekday vehicle trips from more dwellings. The staff also wants updated traffic projections.

• The increased demand on water and sewer systems.

• Lack of a “market study” of the demand for more housing.

• The lack of “renderings and/or design guidelines.”

To address those and other issues, the planning commission granted the landowners’ request to postpone action until Aug. 17.

In a revised application, “we’re going to give you as much (information) as we can” to address what Vint Hill Village lawyer John Foote considers zoning rather than comprehensive plan matters.

While Vint Hill has a theater, post office, barbershop and shops, “there is extraordinary potential yet to occur in” the proposed village center, Mr. Foote said.

As contemplated by the comprehensive plan, the proposed dwellings would be within a 10-minute walk of that area, he said.

“Right now, there are very, very few homes that exist within in that radius from the village center area,” Mr. Foote said.

The Army more than two decades ago closed the “electronic warfare” base and transferred it to the Vint Hill Economic Development Authority, tasked with replacing about 2,500 jobs and returning the property to private ownership.

The board of supervisors in 1999 rezoned Vint Hill for “Planned Combined Industrial Development” and “Planned Residential Development,” including 300 single-family homes that got built.

Existing zoning allows another 250 “continuing care units” for senior citizens.

The requested 573 dwellings, includes 260 apartments and condos, primarily above offices and shops in the village core.

Beyond that, the concept calls for another 313 townhouses, duplexes and single-family homes.

But, all of that remains conceptual. The details would get hammered out in a separate rezoning application — with public hearings — if the supervisors grant the comprehensive plan amendment.

Opponents fear the proposal, if approved, would stress schools, roads and the area’s quality of life.

“I’m very concerned about the impacts this will have — another 500 homes, roughly” on public schools, Vint Hill resident Mike Maloney told the commission.

That number of homes could produce “another 1,000 students,” Mr. Maloney estimated.

He also questions whether the area’s two-lane roads could adequately handle the additional traffic generated by the proposal.

Believing that the landowners have “completely failed to justify this application,” Vint Hill resident Troy Marshall urged the commission to reject the postponement request and recommend denial of the application Thursday night.

“We don’t want to become the next Prince William County or the next Loudoun County,” Mr. Marshall said. “Fauquier County has maintained its rural characteristics, despite the pressure, despite the 1,000-plus houses that have been built in (nearby) Brookside.”

If approved and built, the proposed village center “will destroy that character,” he said.

Ike Broaddus and his wife Julie own Old Bust Head Brewing Co. and several other buildings at Vint Hill.

While Mr. Broaddus largely supports the application, he took no specific position on the residential component.

“That’s a more complex issue,” said the former Vint Hill Economic Development Authority board member and executive director.

But, the EDA “actually felt as though more residential units would reduce traffic impact, because of capture — the folks that live there, work there,” Mr. Broaddus said.

“We felt as though more was better, from a traffic standpoint.”

Though he did not cite a number, Mr. Foote — Vint Hill’s lawyer — said the project will include a “substantial workforce housing component.”

Fauquier needs that kind of housing, said Lanny Cornwell, whose family owns three businesses at Vint Hill.

“The employees we have can’t afford to live in this county,” Mr. Cornwell said. “Try to find a rental unit in this county that’s available under $1,200 (per month) today.”

VH Comp Plan Amendment PC Staff Report 051817 by Fauquier Now on Scribd



Application 2ndsub SOJ by Fauquier Now on Scribd

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