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November 18, 2013

Marshall animal shelter and townhouse plans inch ahead

Map/Steve Wheat
The street network remains a major issue for the property’s development.
Conceptual drawing of Middleburg Humane Foundation’s new headquarters.
I think this sets up a condition of conflict between the 23 acres and the development that’s gonna be around it.
— Adrienne Garreau, planning commission member
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An unusual development plan for Marshall narrowly won recommendations from Fauquier’s planning commission last week.

On a series of 3-2 votes, the sharply-divided commission endorsed the Middleburg Humane Foundation’s plan for a 23-acre shelter and headquarters compound adjacent to a proposed, 30-townhouse rental development and a proposed 154-home subdivision.

The board of supervisors in December will begin consideration of the developments, proposed on the former Cunningham Farm, just off West Main Street.

Planning Commissioner Bob Lee (Marshall District) has called it a complicated set of land-use applications, because of the phasing — which affects street construction — and the mix of proposed developments.

The Windy Hill Foundation plans the “workforce housing” development on 7.7 acres, fronting Salem Avenue, which would extend west from the Marshall Ruritan Club Building.

Grove Lane LLC — owned by Lisa and Zohar Ben-Dov — donated land to Windy Hill and the humane foundation. The couple’s company plans 154 single-family homes on the remaining 105 acres, already zoned for that purpose.

The humane foundation seeks “downzoning” from residential to rural/agricultural designation.

All five planning commissioners expressed support for the Middleburg Humane Foundation's work. But, the members disagree on the location and development plan.

“I think this sets up a condition of conflict between the 23 acres and the development that’s gonna be around it,” planning commission member Adrienne Garreau (Scott District) said during a special meeting Nov. 12. “There’s just no way around it.”

Mrs. Garreau predicted that years down the road, a homeowners association might try to shut down the animal shelter.

She and Ken Alm (Center District) voted against a series of permits and amendments that would allow the humane foundation to build enclosed kennels, stables, a veterinary clinic, offices and staff housing there.

The two commissioners also opposed a “preliminary plat” (subdivision design plan) that would allow the Middleburg-based Windy Hill Foundation to build the townhouses without extension of Salem Avenue beyond its property. They want a second entrance, from the west, which would provide an alternative in case of emergency.

Middleburg Humane Foundation Executive Director Hilleary Bogley has assured county officials that all of the buildings will be soundproofed and built to reflect local architecture.

As the deliberations grew more complicated in recent months, Ms. Bogley’s organization hired Northern Virginia land-use attorney John Foote to help with negotiations.

She wants to start raising the estimated $3 million needed to build the new center, which would replace the foundation’s four-acre property east of Marshall.

Ms. Bogley has agreed to limit the number of animals to 120 at the new shelter, except in emergencies, when the count could temporarily climb to 200.

Middleburg Humane takes abused and neglected animals, including horses, that other shelters do not. Ms. Bogley has served 18 years as a court-appointed humane investigator for Fauquier.

Meanwhile, the Windy Hill Foundation seeks approval to build an extension of Salem Avenue only long enough reach the end of its property.

Building the street to the Cunningham Farm's western entrance, opposite Free State Road, would cost an estimated $1 million more. That would make the $7-million project too expensive to qualify for state financing and would thus kill it, Windy Hill Executive Director Kim Hart said.

His group needs a board of supervisors decision soon to meet its financing application deadline, Mr. Hart said. Windy Hill proposes a cul-de-sac at the western end of its property.

Grove Lane LLC proposes to extend Salem Avenue to the west when it gets a building permit for the 78th home in the subdivision. That building permit would mark the halfway point in the subdivision’s construction.

If the subdivision fails to get built or stalls, the street network could remain inadequate, many county officials — including Mr. Lee — warn. They want Grove Lane LLC to build the Salem Avenue extension first or post a bond to ensure it gets built.

Planning Commissioners Dell Ennis (Cedar Run District) and John Meadows (Lee District) staunchly supported the applications from both foundations last week and pushed for recommendations of approval.

Even though he has concerns about the proposals, Mr. Lee voted with Mr. Ennis and Mr. Meadows to support the plan.

The planning commission conducted a rare, special meeting Tuesday, Nov. 12, to consider the Marshall applications. Mr. Lee on Oct. 31 moved for a delay to gather more information and to continue negotiations with the applicants.

The commission considered potential, additional conditions right up to its votes during a 2-1/2-hour session last week. It also conducted a rare, 45-minute closed meeting to get advice from the county legal staff.

The applications will go before the board of supervisors Thursday, Dec. 12.
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FoxGlen · November 19, 2013 at 12:10 pm
MHF currently is in the "middle of nowhere," along Route 55. Main Street shops in Marshall aren't near it. That would change of course with the arrival of another threatened subdivision that would share boundary lines with MHF. With ongoing potable water issues in Marshall, why is a large subdivision even under consideration? Green to Gray should indeed be Fauquier's new motto. Development in the service districts is part of the comprehensive plan, but thousands of additional cars moving around our rural roads and crowding already cramped roadways through Old Town Warrenton is an unwelcomed by-product, in my opinion.
TodNehman · November 19, 2013 at 11:23 am
Water: same in Warrenton and I agree. Lets be just like Fairfax county....build on every green spot they can find and with some persistence our county can be covered in concrete and suck just like Fairfax! oh boy...great work....so on to the next development...build build build...GREEN TO GREY should be the new motto!
Observer · November 19, 2013 at 7:48 am
Now why would you build an animal shelter near downtown? Isn't an institute like that better off in the middle of nowhere?
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