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Front Royal, Warren County consider meeting of planners

By Ben Orcutt - borcutt@nvdaily.com

FRONT ROYAL -- Representatives of Front Royal and Warren County agree that it would be a good idea for the planning commissions of both jurisdictions to meet.

Town Councilman N. Shae Parker, who was accompanied to Thursday's town-county liaison meeting at the County Government Center by Mayor Eugene R. Tewalt and Town Manager J. Michael Graham, said that after consulting with the town Planning Commission, he felt like it was a good idea for it to meet with the county's panel to discuss pertinent issues.

An example, Parker said, would be discussion by the two panels on development in the Happy Creek corridor, such as the pending request before the town Planning Commission by Front Royal Limited Partnership to rezone 150 acres from residential estate to a denser residential zoning that would allow for 320 single-family homes as opposed to the 75-100 that the developer could build by-right.

"How can the two groups get together to discuss these things?" Parker asked.

County Administrator Douglas P. Stanley, who was joined at the meeting by Supervisors Chairman Archie A. Fox, Happy Creek Supervisor Tony F. Carter and County Attorney Blair D. Mitchell, said it is important for the town and the county to discuss whether the Happy Creek area is going to be a zone where there will be high-density housing, such as four units per acre.

"We need to be on the same page," Stanley said. "You're gonna have to work together. We can't do it in the county unless you have water and sewer. We're gonna have to get together to make sure the infrastructure is coordinated."

Graham said the timing for the two planning commissions to meet is "excellent," citing the pending rezoning request and how that may be compatible with an adjacent 600 acres in the county.

Graham also said that while the comprehensive plans under review by the town and county provide a good guide, there needs to be some discussion about what development in the Happy Creek corridor would actually look like.

Another aspect of proposed development in the Happy Creek corridor, Graham said, is what happens with SolAVerde, a company that is seeking to build a solar panel assembly plant that would provide panels to an energy farm on 150 to 200 acres within the town and the county, with one of the sites being considered located in the Happy Creek Industrial Park.

"What does that mean to that area?" Graham asked.

Tewalt said another factor to consider is the location of an interchange along Interstate 66 in the area of Shenandoah Shores Road that could divert as much as 25 percent of the traffic that would otherwise come into the town.

"We've got to get our congressmen involved in this pretty quickly," Tewalt said.

Graham added that it is prudent to plan ahead for development in the Happy Creek corridor.

"We want to make sure we plan in advance to have the infrastructure out there," Graham said.

Town and county officials agreed that a meeting of the two planning commissions should be facilitated.

"I can't see anybody objecting," Carter said of the supervisors, with Fox concurring.

"The sooner the better," Tewalt said.

The next town-county liaison meeting, which is open to the public, is scheduled for Oct. 15 at the County Government Center.

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