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July 10, 2017

Walker Drive proposal public hearing Tuesday

The Walker Drive proposal calls for a mix of stores, restaurants, entertainment businesses, offices and dwellings just inside Warrenton’s Eastern Bypass.
The landowners hope to attract a movie theater to Warrenton.
Public Hearing
• Topic: Rezoning application for mixed-use development of 31.4 acres between Walker Drive and Eastern Bypass.

• When: 7 p.m. Tuesday, July 11.

• Agency: Warrenton Town Council.

• Where: Town Hall, 18 Court St.

• Landowners: Mike Forsten, Bill and Bob Springer and Walt Hitchcock.

• Details: Proposal calls for a multiscreen movie theater, bowling alley, restaurants, shops, offices, 20,000-square-foot “central plaza,” 40 condominiums and 76 apartments.

• Warrenton Planning Commission: By a 6-1 vote, the commission on Feb. 21 recommended denial of the project partly because the advisory panel considered the proposal unclear and left many unanswered questions.
By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Staff Journalist
Warrenton’s town council next week will conduct a public hearing on the mixed-use development proposal on Walker Drive, along the town’s eastern edge.

The 7 p.m. hearing will take place Tuesday, July 11, in Town Hall.

On Thursday, the council will discuss the rezoning application during a 7 p.m. work session in Town Hall.

> Links to documents at bottom of story

Based on interviews in May, a majority of the seven-member council favored the 31.4-acre proposal.

Among the largest in town history, the proposal calls for a multi-screen theater, bowling alley, restaurants, shops, offices, 20,000-square-foot “central plaza,” 40 condominiums and 76 apartments.

To help offset the project’s effect on public services, landowners Mike Forsten, Bob and Bill Springer and Walt Hitchcock have promised a variety of cash and infrastructure improvements. Key “proffers” include:

• $300,000 toward the installation of a traffic signal or roundabout at Walker Drive and East Lee Street.

• Construction of a roundabout at the project’s Walker Drive entrance.

• $100,000 toward the installation of a traffic signal on Meetze Road at the top of the northbound bypass exit.

• $40,000 toward construction of an interconnecting trails system near the project site.

• $40,000 for town police and fire and rescue services.

The landowners also have agreed to reserve areas for entertainment uses for up to seven years, during which they would aggressively seek a multiscreen theater and a bowling alley developer, for example.

But if that effort fails, those areas could be used for other commercial purposes after seven years.

However, some who consider a movie theater and a bowling alley critical to the mixed-use concept believe the seven-year expiration language should be removed from the application.

By a 6-1 vote, Warrenton’s Planning Commission on Feb. 21 recommended denial of the project partly because the proposal seemed unclear and left many unanswered questions.

The landowners submitted the rezoning application in June 2016. Since then, they have revised the proposal several times and repeatedly met with town staff to discuss the project.

Before making a recommendation, the planning commission conducted three work sessions on the project.

The council conducted a May work session on the proposal.

Walker Drive Council Work Session 7 6 2017 by Fauquier Now on Scribd

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Rover 530 · July 18, 2017 at 10:23 pm
All sides have pertinent comments about the Walker Drive project. There are valid points made by many here. However, the scurrilous charges lobbed at the town council in general and at particular members alleging corruption and acceptance of bribes are outrageous. Unless someone has concrete evidence of official wrongdoing, throwing garbage at elected officials is irresponsible. If someone has such evidence, they should take it to the Commonwealth's Attorney so a formal investigation can ensue. These are serious allegations and should not be made lightly. Lacking actual evidence of corruption, town voters can always voice their own personal opinions in future municipal elections instead of unsubstantiated public character assassination.

Disagreeing with an editorial policy is free speech but insulting the publisher of FauquierNow who provides the comment space is pretty common. The publisher was the editor-in-chief of two county-wide newspapers for many years and runs the FauquierNow website. He's a professional. He has proved he is very fair on issues and is owned by no one.
TooTrue · July 14, 2017 at 7:16 pm
This group should have never been let in. Jerry Wood is a nice guy but has made many bad moves and is a puppet of the sad progrowth attorney and mayor duggan. Sunny Reynolds came in with a p.a.c. and over $30k for her local election. The most ever spent. Paid for her black Porsche with it? Lou Emerson would not care as he hasn't been a journalist since coming back and creating news and being bought by the good Olde boys. The Town deserves better and less drug related kids dying by an absent pathetic police chief, department and government. Perhaps the actual local paper will step up and cover the mess that is now Warrenton and people may actually understand it.
martinkus · July 8, 2017 at 12:07 pm

I agree! I believe one of the current Town Council members promised during her campaign that she would fill the empty store fronts! Didn't happen, did it? Sad state of affairs for Warrenton, especially with the developer-friendly (i.e., bought), Town Council! When is the next election so we can vote these folks out?
BJ · July 8, 2017 at 7:02 am
We need a bypass on Timber Fence Parkway to Rt 211 to divert traffic off Broadway Avenue way more then we need a new shopping center. Look around at the empty storefronts in our current shopping centers. Fill those first, and keep up those properties. All the dead trees and empty parking spaces in front of Sears are sad.
martinkus · July 7, 2017 at 10:37 pm
NEVER trust a developer who "promises stuff down the line"! I doubt highly that a cinema and/or bowling alley will truly come to this site. Town Council is bought and paid for by developers. Despite the Planning Commission's denial, this project will be approved by the developer-friendly Warrenton Town Council...sad!
BikerFriendlyGal · July 7, 2017 at 3:35 pm
citizen observer · July 7, 2017 at 1:39 pm
Absolutely correct Observer.

This makes me wonder why the Town even has or funds a Planning Commission. In most places a 6-1 vote to deny an application by a planning commission means it never even makes it to the ruling council. However, a 6-1 no vote by planners in Warrenton and it's already "approved by a majority of the Council".

They need to disband the Planning Commission so the developers can skip a step and just go directly to their paid for Council.
Observer · July 7, 2017 at 5:22 am
Cash and infrastructure improvements are peanuts - all said and done $480 000? Thats nothing and where is money for schools, water systems...

Just another tombstone, just like that red storage building, Warrenton will lose again.

And what will happen? The developer will build housing and find an excuse not to build anything else.
TooTrue · July 6, 2017 at 9:58 am
Too True Citizen Observer. Just Sad That Warrenton Has Come To This.
citizen observer · July 6, 2017 at 9:05 am
Don't even waste your time. The bought and paid for Town Council has already approved this behind closed doors. They could care less what the citizens think, unless you bring pockets full of money for the "tip jar" at the meeting.
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