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October 26, 2016

Walker Drive project could get Nov. 15 public hearing

We recognize we need to do some work. They need to help us help them.
— Edward “Bo” Tucker, Warrenton Public Works and Utilities Director
“Work Session”
• Topic: Proposed Walker Drive mixed-use development

• When: 7 to 9 p.m., Tuesday

• Agency: Warrenton Planning Commission.

• Where: Town Hall, 18 Court St.

• Issues discussed: Sewer, design, landscaping, proposed trail, scale and size of development, noise, viability of proposed movie theater and bowling alley.

• Next: Landowners hope to submit revised applications by Friday. If staff deems it complete, planning commission would hold Nov. 15 public hearing on project. If a Nov. 15 public hearing takes place, the commission could recommend the application to the town council in December or January.
By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Staff Journalist
Warrenton’s planning commission could hold a public hearing on the proposed mixed-use development along Walker Drive on Nov. 15.

That would require applicants/landowners Mike Forsten and Bill and Bob Springer to submit a “complete” application by Friday to satisfy public hearing advertisement requirements.

But, the town staff and the applicants still must address several key matters related to sewer, transportation, design and developer-contributed “proffers.”

“These are some of the issues we’re still working with the applicant on,” interim Planning Director Denise Harris told the planning commission during a “work session” Tuesday night.

Perhaps most significantly, the staff and the applicants need to resolve differences they may have related to sewer capacity needed to serve the project and how it would be funded.

He continues to refine sewer requirements for the project, Public Works and Utilities Director Edward “Bo” Tucker said.

If developed “by-right,” under current industrial zoning, the property would require 22,400 gallons per day of wastewater treatment capacity, according to the town staff.

Based on staff recalculations, the mixed-use proposal would require an additional 46,300 gallons per day of wastewater treatment capacity, Mr. Tucker told the planning commission.

The applicants’ consulting engineer originally estimated the development would need about 83,000 gallons of additional treatment capacity.

But, the consultant “overstated” the project’s sewer demand by using state standards that have no relevance to Warrenton’s experience, Mr. Tucker said after Tuesday’s meeting.

Still, Warrenton’s treatment plant cannot handle the revised, additional sewer requirement, unless repairs get made to the leaky system to recover treatment capacity.

Repairs to recover the additional 46,300 gallons of treatment capacity would cost about $500,000, Mr. Tucker said in an interview after Tuesday’s meeting.

The town staff recommends that the landowners “proffer” cash to cover repairs to recapture such treatment capacity. 

The applicants also may be required to pay sewer connection fees to serve the project.

“We recognize we need to do some work” on sewer issue, Mr. Tucker told the planning commission. “They need to help us help them.”

Sewer capacity requirements may change after more discussion with the applicants, he said.

While applicants’ planning consultant, Jessica Pfeiffer, believes the Friday deadline can be met, she also asked if a public hearing could take place Nov. 22, when planning commission would hold “work sessions” on other projects.

That would give consultants an additional week to revise the application, Ms. Pfeiffer said.

Planning commission Chairman John Harre opposed that idea because a Nov. 22 public hearing would be two days before Thanksgiving, when people interested in the project may be out of town.

He wants to ensure they get a chance to attend and speak at the hearing, Dr. Harre said.

Thus, if the landowners cannot satisfy Friday’s application deadline, Dr. Harre suggested the project should be “kicked” to December for a public hearing.

The 31.9-acre project site lies between Walker Drive and the Eastern Bypass. Academy Hill Road borders the property to the north and East Lee Street to the south.

Mr. Forsten and his partners seek town council approval for a “planned unit development” that would include a movie theater, bowling alley, restaurants, shops, offices and 116 apartments and/or condominiums.

The planning commission so far has held two “work sessions” on the proposal – one Tuesday night and one on Oct. 15. Each lasted two hours.

In addition to sewer, key “work session” key issues discussed included:

• Whether roundabouts rather than traffic signals should be installed to help manage traffic generated by the project.

The project would produce an additional 11,751 “vehicle trips” per day, according to The Traffic Group, the landowners’ traffic consultant. At peak times — weekday afternoons and Saturdays — about 1,000 vehicles an hour would come and go from the development, the traffic consultant determined.

• The viability of the proposed movie theater and bowling alley and how those proposed sites might be developed if such entertainment uses never materialize.

• Noise from trucks making deliveries to businesses there.

• The proposal’s layout, scale and compatibility with homes on the west side of Walker Drive, Old Town Warrenton and a rural community.

• Landscaping and buffers.

• The location and dimensions of a proposed trail.

The landowners held a meeting in August at the John Barton Payne Community Hall in Warrenton to explain the project. About 70 people, mostly subdivision residents along Walker Drive, attended.

Their concerns ranged from traffic and pedestrian safety to lighting and noise.

Should the planning commission hold a Nov. 15 public hearing, it could make a recommendation to the town council in December or January. The town council also will hold “work sessions” and a public hearing on the project before taking final action.
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tlh053015 · October 28, 2016 at 9:58 pm
Would love to see the old bowling alley shopping center and all the empty shops downtown filled with life before building new.
Cannon · October 28, 2016 at 9:33 am
The people that own that land have the right to develop it. Check out what they are legally allowed to put there. What they are asking for now is pretty classy and will fit in with the tone and tenor of the area. Good times there

My concern is that these local people will eventually toss in the towel and the area will be purchased by outsiders who will line Walker with more storage facilities similar to the ones on Holiday Court.

For those of you that moved thinking you would be in a more rural area? You might should have looked to see what could be put up around you before you bought.
Observer · October 27, 2016 at 6:23 am
@ noelm: It makes perfect sense for the land owner, he wants to make money on his investment and screw the town of Warrenton.
And people who moved out here from busy counties such as PW or Fairfax eventually miss what they left behind and will support the development.
Nihil sub sole novum - it is the same story for every county in Virginia.
noelm · October 26, 2016 at 9:56 pm
This doesn't make any sense. With Gainesville/Manassas just down the road we need a second Gainesville/Manassas right next to the sweetest Main Street in Warrenton? Yes..lets just commercialize everything....yes lets add more traffic on small streets...excellent plan. I moved off Meetze road because it was semi-small town-like. Why does everything have to be cheapened.
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