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Development proffers need further study, official says

By Ben Orcutt -- borcutt@nvdaily.com

FRONT ROYAL -- Warren County Administrator Douglas P. Stanley says the money Front Royal Limited Partnership is offering to offset the impact of a 320-home development bears further review.

Stanley voiced his concerns in an Aug. 17 letter to Andrew J. Conlon Jr., director of planning and zoning for the town of Front Royal.

David Vazzana, president of Front Royal Limited Partnership, has requested the rezoning of roughly 150 acres in the area of Happy Creek Road and Mary's Shady Lane from residential estate to a denser residential zoning to allow for 320 single-family homes, as opposed to 75 to 99 that could be built by-right.

The town Planning Commission held a public hearing on the rezoning on Wednesday and has scheduled a work session on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. at the Town Hall. The panel is expected to vote on the request at its Sept. 16 meeting, recommending approval or denial to the Town Council.

A report compiled by the town planning staff for last week's public hearing states that Front Royal Limited Partnership has "a fixed 'pot of money' that they can distribute through proffers."

The report goes on to say that the "central proffer" of $3.51 million, which will be paid after the 125th residential unit is built, amounts to an average of nearly $11,000 per home at total build-out.

Also, the report says that the county has indicated that the value of a site on Shenandoah Shores Road the applicant will donate for a fire-and-rescue station can be used to offset impact costs.

"The proposed proffer, while heading in the right direction, is about 1/3 of the impact on the 195 units above the estimated by right," Stanley says in his letter. "I would hope that the Town would work with the applicant to take another look at this proffer amount."

To underscore his concern, Stanley provides the county's estimated impact of the development, which he says comes to just under $22,000 per unit for 320 homes.

Stanley goes on to say that while the $2 million-plus that Front Royal Limited Partnership is proposing to give the town for the construction of Leach Run Parkway will help mitigate traffic concerns in the area, "it does not help offset the impact on the cost of providing County services."

In his letter, Stanley suggests that the town take another look at how it would receive proffers.

"By only accessing a per unit proffer on the units above by right, it has the potential to create a problem of what units have the proffer requirement," Stanley says. "We would suggest that the applicant figure out the contribution and spread it across all 320 units."

Further, Stanley notes that the proposal includes building 50 homes per year, which he says appears to be high, "particularly when the number is cumulative."

"The 50 units per year figure is larger than the average for the Town as a whole for the past 10 years (49 units per year)," Stanley adds. "A more appropriate build out would probably be 10 percent (32 units) per year starting at subdivision approval, which will provide some 'up front' capacity by the time the first permits would be pulled."

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