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November 16, 2015

227-home Alwington Farm plan wins supervisors’ OK

The Arrington plan will cluster 217 homes on the property’s northern section, near the town.
• What: Planned 227-home development just south of Warrenton.

• Where: Along James Madison Highway and Lover’s Lane (Route 744).

• Size:
440 acres.

• Owner: Alwington Farm LLC, Karin and W. Boyd Laws Jr. of Calverton.

• Applicant: Alwington Farm Developers LLC of Warrenton, President Russell Marks and Vice President S. Andrew Vinisky.

• Decision: Board of supervisors voted, 4-1, Thursday, Nov. 12, to grant rezoning to PRD (planned residential development), comprehensive plan amendment and three special exception permits.

• Utilities: Town of Warrenton water system and on-site construction of stand-alone sewer system.

• Roads: Main entrance from new roundabout on James Madison Highway south of The Home Depot and secondary entrance from Alwington Boulevard near Brumfield Elementary School.

• Proffers: Three-quarters of property would be in conservation easement, “code of development” for architecture and streetscapes, trail system, 4 athletic fields and 2 parking lots on school property, possible dog park, community orchard and gardens.

• Housing mix: 217 single-family, age-restricted (55 and older) homes clustered in “hamlets” using “traditional neighborhood design” on northern portion of property; 9 large lot (2- to 3-acre) homes in conservation area to south; 1 farmhouse, possibly with vineyard and winery on large tract off Lovers Lane to south.
After a decade of debate and false starts, Fauquier’s supervisors have approved a development plan for Warrenton’s southern gateway.

The county board voted, 4-1, Thursday night for Alwington Farm Developers LLC’s 227-home subdivision.

About three-quarters of the 440-acre property — including the “viewshed” along James Madison Highway — will get preserved as farmland, open space and parks.

“It’s been long and arduous, but I think we have a good result,” said Supervisor Peter Schwartz (Marshall District), who negotiated architectural standards and other details with the developers.

The approved plan includes 217 age-restricted (55 and older) homes, nine large-lot homes and a farm or vineyard.

The Town of Warrenton, whose officials played a role in reviewing the county project, will extend water service to Alwington Farm for about $3.5 million — more than twice the normal charge.

The development will have its own wastewater treatment system.

The supervisors granted Alwington Farm Developers a rezoning, a comprehensive plan amendment and three special exception permits.

Supervisor Chester Stribling (Lee) cast the lone vote against the project. Mr. Stribling objected to the roundabout planned at the main entrance on James Madison Highway and delayed construction of a second entrance on Alwington Drive between Home Depot and James Brumfield Elementary. That entrance will get built later in the project.

Alwington Farms Developers President Russell Marks and Vice President Andrew Vinisky also agreed to:

• Construct four sports fields and two parking lots on adjacent county school property and the Warrenton’s first dog play area at Rady Park.

• Build an extensive trail system that would allow cyclists and walkers to cross East Shirley Avenue at Taylor Middle School, with a signal, to the Warrenton Branch Greenway. Another trail would run along James Madison Highway, providing a link to Lord Fairfax Community College if a new Route 29 interchange gets built there.

• Install community gardens, an orchard and other areas for plantings.

• Pay $5,000 per home cash proffers to the county for the public library, emergency services, the sheriff’s office and environmental services.

• Remove about 24 acres from the “service district,” an area designated for development.

The proposed development of Alwington Farm — which the late Arabelle Arrington left to her nephew W. Boyd Laws Jr. and his wife Karin in 2010 — has what Mr. Schwartz in July called a “tortured” history.

After reaching agreement with county and town officials in 2006, Dallas-based Centex Homes abandoned its development plan and the promise of $22 million in “proffers.” That money would have retired most of the town’s debt for its new aquatics center and helped pay for improvements to the aging municipal sewer system. The county would have received $6 million of the total for schools.

Warrenton would have annexed the new neighborhood of almost 300 homes with projected prices of $850,000 each.

If the numbers ever made sense, the Great Recession erased that equation.

In the last four years, Mr. Marks and Mr. Vinisky, an urban planner who previously worked for Centex, presented new proposals that failed to win approval. (The same developers have the Mintbrook project under construction in Bealeton.)

Fauquier’s planning commission in December 2011 voted unanimously to recommend approval of a 172-lot subdivision on Alwington Farm.

But, the board of supervisors in 2012 adopted Mr. Schwartz’s ordinance change to require proof of sufficient water — from wells or a public utility, the town in this case — in advance of zoning approval. The developer sued but later withdrew its legal challenge.

Previous efforts to find adequate groundwater on the property failed. In late 2013, Warrenton declined to provide water service.

But, after dozens of attempts, the developer last year drilled a well that provided 50 gallons of high-quality water per minute in a 72-hour pump test. In theory, that well would satisfy the development’s water needs — with a large storage tank. Concerns about the potential effect on homeowners’ marginal wells along Lee’s Ridge Road to the west would remain an issue, however.

Meanwhile, Warrenton’s circumstances changed. The town, which diverted reserve funds from its utility systems to help pay for the WARF, needs to replenish capital for water and sewer improvements. A new study indicates Warrenton has water capacity to serve the Arrington property, and the additional well would give the town another source for the future.

Warrenton also has three new council members, a new mayor and a new town manager.

Arrington BOS Staff Report 111215 by Fauquier Now

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Silii · November 21, 2015 at 6:28 pm
gridlock. gridlock. gridlock. As if traffic in and around Warrenton isn't already bad enough. I haven't seen anything from BOS dealing with road improvements. We are already trapped in Warrenton during rush hours, coming and going. God forbid trying to get anywhere if there is an accident on 29N, or a road repair. So, build build build. This is an issue - by right development - where people need to understand the extreme impact our state legislature has on us and our local communities. Given that Webert and Vogel are pretty much unresponsive to constituents comments, especially when it comes to roads and traffic, I hold no faith that they will even look at our burgeoning traffic issues and bother to blink their eyes. Actually, they'll probably roll their eyes.
martinkus · November 21, 2015 at 12:01 am
rally39: I agree with you. I hope the newly elected BOS will do just that!
rally39 · November 20, 2015 at 8:47 am
martinkus...I agree the Raymond Farm subdivision is hideous...but again they had by-right development on that site and a deal was worked out to cluster the homes to the rear of the property in order to save the gateway view at 605/29. I believe the developer is going to take down the trees once the project is completed and open up the view again of the farmhouse and pond. Once again...this is the best deal for what could have been far worse...keep in mind as these projects come is paramount that we continue to buy up development rights and preserve open space and continue to direct development into the service districts and keep hard boundaries on those service might not be the best process...but zero growth is the growth we do get has to be carefully considered...that's why it's important to elect BOS members who understand this philosophy
martinkus · November 19, 2015 at 11:27 am

Your points are well taken (by-right development)and it could have been worse (e.g., litigation, etc.) but I find it rather interesting that all of a sudden water has been made available from the Town of Warrenton when, I believe under a previous town council, water was not available. The current financial issues facing the Town of Warrenton do appear, in my opinion, to have played a role in moving the development forward. It is good to know that the preservation of the scenic view from the south will remain. Still, development is development and another beautiful patch of farmland has been extinguished in Fauquier County, albeit this one, hopefully, will not be as bad the new development going up on Route 605, across from P.B. Smith Elementary School. That development is simply ugly and "cookie cutter" in design! I can't wait until a traffic light appears at that site!
rally39 · November 19, 2015 at 9:22 am
This property has "by-right" development rights and what we could have had here was potentially much worse for the county....the southern gateway view shed could have been destroyed with standard cookie cutter development...the ingress / egress to the property could have gone over to Lovers Lane (it doesn't and a roundabout on JM Highway is a nice addition and flows traffic as opposed to controlling it with signalization) Water could have come from an on-site well (as I read the article it now says the town will provide water to the site and not have to incur wastewater from the site...which helps reduce the need for increased wastewater management....the housing is 55 plus for the most part which will add some stress to Shirley Ave...but not the vehicle trips per day that we could have had if this was built by-right residential...all in all the is the best deal I have seen proposed for this property and I have been following it for many years now...part of that time was while serving in an official capacity with the planning commission....this may rankle some people who see it as an overdevelopment of Fauquier akin to Fairfax Loudoun and Prince William...but take a look at the open space which has been preserved and which also has had development rights extinguished....all in all this is the best deal the county could have worked out...and had they not worked with the applicant we could have gotten much much worse
Silii · November 18, 2015 at 8:01 pm
So, who is surprised? 227 homes and no mention of the additional traffic and the ingress/egress. How about Lovers Lane? Might as well 4 lane it now. When will a traffic light be installed at 29 and Lovers Lane? Or, will the county wait for any number of fatalities? I don't see a real report about the wells along Lovers Lane and Lees Ridge Road. Sure hope their wells don't run dry. This is a travesty. Does it have anything to do with lame ducks on the Board? they sure are approving lots of things that have been very controversial for years.
martinkus · November 18, 2015 at 3:33 pm
The Town of Warrenton plus Alwington Farm Developers LLC of Warrenton equals "quid pro quo." The Town needs $$$$$ and the developer has plenty! So, Town provides water and developer pays town. Major issues resolved. As for the additional perks the town and county will receive, only time will tell if that will happen. See TedNehman's comments below. Development will continue to change the Fauquier County we love and cherish and not for the better!
TodNehman · November 17, 2015 at 9:55 pm
ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME?????????????????????????????? 227 homes! Can we not become Centreville fast enough????? This is madness!! And all the guff about parks and trails? I would bet money they somehow will never get will run dry and Oops sorry Warrenton and the town will have ZERO recourse. I invite any of you to head to Fairfaix/Centreville/Chantilly like around Stone Rd....that is what you are about to have as a town....Hope the payoffs to let this previous dead in the water project proceed were worth it! We will al rue this day down the road
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