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July 7, 2016

Vint Hill unveils proposal for new “town center”

Most of the plan is based on feedback from all the people we’ve talked to over the last two years. We believe we can create a Main Street environment.
— Vint Hill Village President Ed Moore
Vint Hill Rezoning
• Where: 136.7 acres of former Army base near New Baltimore.

• Owner/applicant: Vint Hill Village LLC; Ed Moore, president.

• Plan: Up to 573 townhouses, duplexes, apartments, condos and single-family homes and 200,000 square feet of commercial building space around a 30-acre “village green.”

• Application: Includes rezoning for residential area of 313 dwellings; potential creation of “Village Commercial” zone with a mix of stores, offices and up to 260 apartments and condos, and a Comprehensive Plan amendment.

• Probable issues: Desirability of permitting more dwellings and fiscal impact of converting commercial/industrial property to residential use.

• Next: After extensive county staff review, proposal will go to planning commission for deliberations and public hearing, probably in fall; commission will make recommendation on application to board of supervisors, which has final authority.
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After two decades of debate, it could represent the final major decision about the future of Vint Hill, a former Army base near New Baltimore.

Vint Hill Village LLC last week filed its long-anticipated application to rezone the property’s core for development of a mixed-used “town center.”

The plan calls for up to 573 dwellings and 200,000 square feet of commercial buildings around the “Central Green,” which includes county-owned ballfields, a gym, a swimming pool and the community theater.

The developer seeks to rezone 136.7 acres at Fauquier’s eastern edge.

It would cluster 313 townhouses, duplexes and single-family homes just west of the 30-acre park — along Brookside Parkway, Kennedy Road and Aiken Drive, the development’s proposed “Main Street.”

Retail and office buildings would stretch along Aiken Drive. The commercial area would include as many as 260 apartments and condos, primarily above shops and offices. That portion of the plan could require creation of a “Village Commercial” sub-district under Vint Hill’s unique zoning.

“Most of the plan is based on feedback from all the people we’ve talked to over the last two years,” Vint Hill Village President Ed Moore said. “We believe we can create a Main Street environment.”

His company two years ago bought 215 acres at Vint Hill for $14 million. Established during World War II, the former Army Signal Corps and electronic intelligence base totaled 701 acres when the Pentagon closed it in 1997.

Fauquier County almost two decades ago bought the former base for $925,000 and deeded it to the state-chartered Vint Hill Economic Development Authority. The authority’s mission: Create an employment center to replace the 3,000 military and contractor jobs lost when the Army left and expand Fauquier’s tax base.

The EDA inherited a variety of buildings — some in good shape, many substandard. Vint Hill’s utility systems and streets needed improvements costing millions of dollars. To pay for that work and its staff, the independent authority has generated income from leases and the sale of real estate.

Fauquier’s board of supervisors zoned the former base to include about 300 new single-family homes along Vint Hill Road (Route 215) and another 250 (unbuilt) assisted-living and independent-living units for senior citizens just east of the recreation center.

The Fauquier Family Shelter also converted 24 former base dwellings into transitional housing units. The FAA built a regional air traffic control center at Vint Hill, which has a variety of new businesses.

But, the ultimate number of dwellings at Vint Hill has remained a topic of intense community interest. The property retains its Planned Commercial Industrial Development zoning, which appears nowhere else in Fauquier.

“We never set out to create thousands and thousands of homes,” Mr. Moore said of the rezoning application. “We just set out to create a vision.”

After buying the property in 2014, his company conducted a series of community meetings with the slogan: “We’re listening.”

The New Baltimore Service District, which includes Vint Hill, has experienced the county’s greatest concentration of suburban residential development, including the 1,000-lot Brookside neighborhood that Mr. Moore also oversees.

Just more than 39,000 people live within a 10-minute drive of Vint Hill, according to the developer’s marketing kit. Those potential shoppers and the county’s Comprehensive Plan designation as a “neo-traditional hub” of dining, entertainment, recreation and commercial services make it a logical spot for a small town center, according to the rezoning application.

Vint Hill Village “firmly believes that in order for the commercial elements of the proposal to succeed, indeed for the overall commercial and industrial development to succeed, there must be sufficient residents,” its application states. “This is particularly true of residents who would use the services that are to be developed in the commercial center of the site.”

Before selling most of its remaining property, the EDA in 2011 floated the idea of a mixed-used redevelopment plan that would have added as many as 1,200 dwellings — more than twice the number Vint Hill Village seeks.

Still, the new application will face intense scrutiny in a community wary of residential rezonings.

Third-term Scott District Supervisor Holder Trumbo consistently has expressed skepticism about more housing at Vint Hill, an issue in his re-election campaign against Maureen Riordan last fall. Through a local political action committee, Vint Hill contributed $18,000 to Ms. Riordan’s campaign. Mr. Trumbo won easily, however.

“The people of Fauquier County have been pretty clear that their desires are toward economic development,” he said this week. “As such, I am most inclined to see business given every opportunity and not to convert commercial property to residential.”

But, the Vint Hill proposal will undergo lots of study, debate and potential refinement before its reaches the five-member board of supervisors for a decision.

After intensive staff review, the planning commission this fall will conduct work sessions and a public hearing on the application before making a recommendation to the supervisors. It could take a year to reach a decision on the proposed rezoning.

While Mr. Moore’s company offers “neotraditional design,” a code of development for architectural controls and improvements to the park that would serve as the community’s core, Vint Hill Village has revealed nothing of its proposed “proffers.”

Developers offer cash and in-kind contributions to offset the costs of rezonings, including the demands they place on county schools, public safety agencies and other government services.

Virginia tightened local government’s ability to negotiate proffers, July 1. But, Vint Hill filed just in time to avoid the new law as an overture to county government officials.

Meanwhile, $11 million worth of road work has begun to improve traffic flow through Vint Hill, where the Army left a patchwork of confusing and inadequate pavement. The project will complete the Vint Hill Parkway. With Riley Road and Brookside Parkway, it will link Route 605 just east of Warrenton to Vint Hill Road near the Prince William County line.

Water and sewer systems also seem adequate to serve the proposed development.

The debate probably will come down to the applicant’s assertion that Vint Hill needs a “critical mass” of residents to support desired commercial development versus the community’s appetite — or tolerance — for more dwellings.

Mr. Moore points to the success of dozens of new businesses that have sprung up at Vint Hill. His company’s plan would help restore the variety of neighborhood commercial services that existed on the Army base, he said.

“It had all of the things that a small town had,” he added. Vint Hill “was the biggest employer in the county when it closed . . . .

“The vision is to create a live-work-play environment that people, families and businesses are proud to call home.”

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hoss854 · July 15, 2016 at 8:08 pm
As a current Brookside resident, I am concerned about the density of housing concentrated on Brookside parkway; it will change the entire characther of current residents. I agree, 573 units is way too many, at least initially. All of teh big, beautiful trees will have to be removed too. What about the wetlands? Isn't the Baptist church going to be built anymore? I want a Costco near warrenton too, but Vint Hill is NOT the right place for that. Costco is a massive operation, and draws thousands of people and cars and big rigs every day. Something like that belongs along Route 29 up across from Wegman's. I'm not anti-development, but it has to be done right to enhance the area and not just attract quick dollars for the developer. We'll be watching very closely.
martinkus · July 13, 2016 at 6:22 pm
Nicely stated, Silli!

Costco sounds great for the mixed-use development plans for Vint Hill! On top of that, and because the proposed development may be "Reston-like," why not assess a homeowners/business owners "association fee" that could be used to maintain the infrastructure, improve roads, etc?
bella18318 · July 12, 2016 at 1:19 pm
573 dwellings? Multiply by 2 cars per household. Where are we going to fit an extra 1,146 vehicles on these tiny back country roads? Vint Hill Road is congested enough already!! I live down the street and I am all for further development of this area, but we do not need that many cookie-cutter houses.
Observer · July 12, 2016 at 9:51 am
It will be antoher red storage building. The developer will maximize his profit while the county official will admit that they never permitted red face on the building but there is nothing they can do now.
RRidgell · July 11, 2016 at 7:50 am
I concur with Francis's take on this issue. I love that Fauquier is green and rural; however, smart growth has to happen with good planning. The County needs an economy to become more than a bedroom community. Not every person in the County is going to be able to pull in that $100k plus job and afford to live in Fauquier. Many citizens of Fauquier that have been there for generations are being priced out of their own County because of an influx of wealthy residents fleeing PWC and Fairfax.

I want the farmers, the trade people, and the "blue collar" folks of Fauquier to be as happy with and proud of their County as the newly arrived folks. Fauquier is a microcosm of the current state of wealth disparity, and as long as people continue with this absolutely no growth sentiment, no jobs will come, the local economy will stymie, and the next generation will flee Fauquier.

A college graduate isn't going to come to Fauquier to start a life when the prices are just a hair below our neighbors to the North with no amenities including internet, shopping, or reasonably nearby jobs.

Millenials, are leaving Fauquier in droves and if it doesn't change, they won't be coming back. Controlled developments like this in already existing service districts are what you want; controlled growth in an area already slated for such that will bring tax revenues and jobs.
Silii · July 11, 2016 at 6:57 am
Where's the Costco? One point Costco supporters give is the increased tax revenues to Fauquier County. Perhaps a Vint Hill Costco could generate some of the revenue needed to support the heavy increases needed for schools, police, firestations, infrastructure, etc. that development brings.
Wellington · July 9, 2016 at 1:30 pm
I'm not against mixed-use development but the schools in the New Baltimore area are already at or near capacity. Approving more homes without first building the expansion for Greenville, Auburn, and Kettle Run will lead to real overcrowding in all three schools.
Demosthenes · July 9, 2016 at 6:42 am
I'm with Francis on this one - nicely said!

There will be growth here...the right approach is to actually have an approach. Creating dense housing around shops makes far more sense than allowing houses to go in piecemeal and spread out throughout a larger area.
Observer · July 8, 2016 at 9:50 am
Are the plans available online somewhere? I would love to see what all that means, so far I can tell the dog park is gonne.
farmbum · July 8, 2016 at 6:45 am
The problem for Vint Hill is geographic. Southern Fauquier residents using Route 28 will have to go through PWC to get there. The Bristow area offers much more than this new planned development ever will. Just another "me too" developer, nothing special.
Observer · July 8, 2016 at 6:04 am
Bent over, Fauquier, the developer wants to make money to pay for living in a quiet part of Northern Virginia.
And the county will approve anything without looking as always.
martinkus · July 8, 2016 at 12:11 am

All I am saying is that the Vint Hill concept sounds like a "Reston-like" development to me. I really don't give a damn what Ed Moore does with his Vint Hill land. I don't frequent the Vint Hill area and never will.
mcm37 · July 7, 2016 at 5:45 pm
As a resident of a nearby community, I would welcome a compact "main street" type of area with shops, restaurants and other small businesses. I would also welcome new residents, especially young people with children who will form the next generation's tax base. Sticking our heads in the sand and trying to keep this county the same as it was 40 years ago is useless. We don't have to become Reston, but growth is not always bad, if it's done in a well-managed way. Let's do this in a way that preserves our sense of community, preserves the look and feel of the area, and doesn't involve clear-cutting wooded areas. Just no big box stores, please!
francis81 · July 7, 2016 at 3:27 pm
Reston? Really? Hyperbole much?

And why should we have anything but single-family homes and massive farms in Fauquier, anyway? I mean, screw the young locals who might not be able to pay $300K+ for their first place but want to hang around...and as for the single teacher, cop, or retiree? Yeah, the heck with them.

Fact is that folks want to live here--population growth was 20% from 2000-2010 and will grow 30% 2010-2030, according to the folks who get paid to calculate such stuff.

Put another way: Growth isn't an option--but managing it sure is.

Adding a mix of homes in a service district (vs on a family farm in the midst of swaths of conservation-easement land) as part of a bigger plan that includes a few (more) shops and sits on space that was once a de facto town (ie the army base) isn’t exactly driving a road grader down a pristine country road.

Rather, it sounds like it could be a reasonably intelligent way to get us where demand dictates we’re going to be, without paving over much open land.

If you moved to Fauquier in the last 30-odd years, own anything less than a working farm’s worth of land, and you don’t like growth, guess what? You’re part of the problem.

But since you’re here now, how about dealing with reality on reality’s terms and pondering the best solutions to accommodate the future “yous” that want to get a bit farther out than Fairfax and Prince William? Cause they’re coming (and, at least for you Warrentonians, they are going to help pay for your new water/sewer system and pool complex).

And before you compare Fauquier to any counties to the east, get in your car, head that way, and drive around for 15 minutes. If you make it more than two lights cycles, consider yourself lucky. Then come on home--and log out.
martinkus · July 7, 2016 at 2:39 pm
Yeah...Here comes Reston, Virginia!
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