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August 14, 2019

Council denies street width waiver for 8-lot subdivision

Roger Martella submitted this illustration of what a narrower, 40-foot right-of-way would look like. The town council denied a waiver of the 50-foot requirement for the proposed eight-lot subdivision on Alexandria Pike.
The 2.8-acre site lies along Alexandria Pike, a dead-end street downhill from the heart of Warrenton.
By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
The Warrenton Town Council voted, 6-0, Tuesday night to deny waivers that a former councilman sought to develop an eight-lot subdivision on Alexandria Pike.

Roger Martella, who served as an at-large councilman from 2006 to 2014, sought a waiver of the town subdivision ordinance requirement for a 50-foot-wide right-of-way for the street, sidewalk and utilities. Another waiver would have permitted a sidewalk on just one side of the street, rather than on both sides as called for in the ordinance.

Neighbors along the quiet street and nearby objected to the proposed waivers and turned out in force Tuesday night to urge town council denial.

“A nice neighborhood would suffer,” Melissa Wiedenfeld told the council. “What is the purpose of regulations if we don’t stick to the regulations?”

Mr. Martella proposed eight lots on the 2.8-acre parcel at 320 Alexandria Pike. The zoning ordinance permits that density, allowing lots as small as 10,000 square feet. But, to get that number of lots, Mr. Martella contended he needed the waivers.

At a council work session in July, he outlined a plan to build attractive homes for “an underserved demographic,” including young “coaches and teachers.”

He purchased the property in July 2018 for $499,000, according to county real estate records.

A previous owner had an approved plat for eight lots and a 40-foot-wide right-of-way. But, that owner in 2017 vacated the plat — approved under the town’s old subdivision ordinance. The new ordinance has stricter requirements.

Council members Tuesday night expressed concerns about the street eventually connecting with wider pavement on an adjacent property and about adequate width for fire/rescue vehicles and snowplows.

The council also voted, 6-0, to deny a waiver that would have allowed construction of a cul-de-sac at the end of the proposed street. But, Mr. Martella already had abandoned that waiver request.

In other matters, Tuesday night, the council:

• Voted unanimously to apply for a state grant to help fund Main Street improvements estimated to cost $1.47 million.

The project would include more “bump-outs” at intersections, wider sidewalks in several locations, shorter on-street parking spaces (20 versus 22 feet) and raised brick crosswalks for traffic calming. The improvements would enhance “walkability,” according to the town staff.

If approved, state funding could cover 50 or 80 percent of the cost.

• Voted unanimously to seek a state grant to fund half the cost of a traffic circle at Walker Drive and Lee Street. It would cost an estimated $1.4 million.

• Voted unanimously to seek a state grant to fund half the cost of improvements to the intersection of Chestnut and Waterloo Streets. Estimated to cost $100,000, the project would improve crosswalks for pedestrian safety.

• Voted unanimously to approve the closing of Culpeper Street from Main to Lee for a “Farm to Table Feast” on Saturday, Oct. 19.

Experience Old Town Warrenton plans the event, with seatings for 200 at noon and 3:30 p.m.

• Voted unanimously to appropriate up to $40,000 for a study of the town payscale and job classifications. The study also will examine pay equity among town employees.

Councilman Kevin Carter (Ward 5) missed the meeting. Out of town, Alec Burnett (Ward 2) and Renard Carlos (At-large) participated by phone.

Contact Editor Lou Emerson at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or 540-270-1845.

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