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Posted February 14, 2009 | Copyright © The Northern Virginia Daily
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Site plan for adult homes is reviewed


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By Elizabeth Wilkerson -- Daily Staff Writer

STRASBURG -- The town Planning Commission got its first look Thursday night at a site plan for phase one of a continuing care retirement facility planned for nearly 54 acres on Hite Lane.

Town planner Judson Rex said the site plan for Homewood at the Shenandoah Valley had been distributed to the town's departments and various county and state agencies, which were working on their comments. Rex said he'd come up with a "couple of pages" of comments on the site plan, which wasn't bad for a first review.

In August, the Town Council approved a request from Homewood Retirement Centers to rezone roughly 60 acres of planned development on Hite Lane to 53.6 acres of medium-density residential zoning and 6.43 acres of highway commercial zoning. According to a staff report on the project, the applicants proffered to build no more than 118 cottage units, 60 apartment units, 40 assisted-living units and 40 nursing facility beds.

In October, the council approved a special-use permit allowing the development of the facility. This month, the panel approved a zoning change and waiver request that will allow the development's community center and apartment building to reach 60 feet in height.

Phase one of the project includes 38 single- and two-family dwelling units, Rex said. In the plan, sidewalks are shown on only one side of the street, he said, but town regulations require sidewalks on both sides.

During the rezoning, he said, the developers agreed to install traffic-calming devices to deter drivers from cutting through the community, but they were not yet shown on the plans. Local developer Scott Rosenfeld said gates would be installed, and fire and rescue personnel would have cards allowing them to pass through quickly.

Rex said the landscaping plan shows a lot of screening and buffering, and the proposed species of street trees would be "really nice." After some discussion of the site's grading, Rex asked whether there were any trees on the site now.

Rosenfeld said developers planned to save a few big trees, and engineer Dennie Dunlap said many of the trees on the property were "scrubby."

"I think the planting's going to be better than what's there now," Dunlap said.

Rex said he saw some potential conflicts with some of the driveways, which appeared to be too close to intersections and may need to be shifted. After this construction phase, 43 of the site's nearly 54 acres will remain open, he said, which is a good trend.

"It seems like your intention is to have a lot of open spaces," he said.

Ernest Angell, Homewood's president and CEO, said the company would like to begin work on nine of the units as soon as possible.

Commissioner Carl Rinker Jr. noted that there was potential for highway commercial development on roughly 6 acres adjacent to the community. Angell said such development is "not a desire of ours at this point," and Rinker said he wanted people to know it was a possibility.

When it's time to review the architectural design of the 60-foot building, commission Chairman Al Davis said, it will be very important to see what it would look like from the road. Rinker suggested the developers create a three-dimensional presentation of what the community would look like, and Rosenfeld said they would work on it.

"That would go a long way toward answering the questions that are going to come up," Commissioner Robert Flanagan said.

Rosenfeld said he hoped the town's engineering firm could review the plans quickly, so developers could answer any questions. They hope to begin construction in April, he said.

* Contact Elizabeth Wilkerson at ewilkerson@nvdaily.com

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