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Planner concerned about roads in rezoning

Work session lined up for Tuesday night over 150-acre development

The intersection of Happy Creek and Shenandoah Shores roads is at the heart of a rezoning debate in Front Royal. Dennis Grundman/Daily
By Ben Orcutt - borcutt@nvdaily.com

FRONT ROYAL -- Town Planning Commission member Therese Brown hopes to have a number of her questions answered Tuesday in regard to a rezoning application that could allow for more than 300 homes.

Brown and her five colleagues on the panel voted unanimously following a public hearing on Wednesday to hold a work session on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. at Town Hall. The Planning Commission is scheduled to vote on the rezoning request from Front Royal Limited Partnership by Sept. 16, recommending approval or denial to the Town Council.

Following lengthy and divided public debate on Wednesday, Brown and David Vazzana, president of Front Royal Limited Partnership, had a pointed exchange regarding the impact of the rezoning on the intersection of Shenandoah Shores and Happy Creek roads.

Front Royal Limited Partnership has requested 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 that would allow for 320 single-family homes, as opposed to 75 to 99 that could be built by-right.

Plans call for a road to be built that would connect the development with Shenandoah Shores Road as an access to Happy Creek Road.

"This is probably one of the most dangerous intersections in the town," Vazzana said during his presentation on Wednesday. "Improvements to this intersection are gonna be required and will be paid for either by town taxpayers or a developer in coming years.

"For people that are against this and for people who want to nitpick and criticize everything, my response to that is what is your plan to pay for some of these infrastructure improvements that the community needs and has needed for 30 years and have been planning for 30 years?" Vazzana added.

However, Brown said she did not see in the list of things Front Royal Limited Partnership was offering how the developer planned to mitigate the impact of increased traffic at Shenandoah Shores and Happy Creek roads.

"I don't see that we have any additional offer of proffer toward achieving that goal and that's one of the main issues that was raised here tonight," Brown said. "We have continued to bring this back as a concern to the applicant."

Vazzana appeared to be upset with Brown's comment.

"I've never heard any of these comments from you until now," Vazzana said to Brown. "So my thought is, these are not constructive, legitimate comments. You're trying to sabotage the process here."

Brown then tried to implore Planning Commission Chairman David E. Gushee to make a statement, but Vazzana continued.

"The appropriate time to have these conversations would be at the actual work session, Ms. Brown, and the appropriate time to ask the applicant to discuss that comment from a letter that you read would have been the work session, and actually we did discuss that at the first work session, which unfortunately you were unable to attend, but you got a copy of the presentation that I gave at that work session," Vazzana said.

Brown pressed on.

"My question merely is, you've heard as a concern from our planning director that this is an issue," she said. "My question is, what has changed? What progress has been made by you as an applicant in this regard? We still are looking at crossing that [intersection], 4,000 vehicle trips per day."

Vazzana responded that while the partnership was willing to pay a portion for upgrading the intersection, the burden should not fall solely on its shoulders.

"It would not be appropriate for the town to potentially require Front Royal Limited Partnership to build an $8 million flyover for an additional 200 units," Vazzana said. "Now, that being said, we have proffered $2 [million] to $3 million toward this flyover, $500,000 in improvements to the intersection of Happy Creek Road and [Shenandoah Shores Road], improvements that otherwise, the town is going to need to pay for and with the matching funds, the $2 [million] to $3 million all of a sudden can become $4 [million] to $6 million, Therese, and you're almost home on getting that flyover, which is an $8 million flyover."

At that point, Gushee halted the exchange, saying that the discussion between Brown and Vazzana illustrates "the legitimacy of additional work sessions."

Brown, who is leaving the panel when her four-year term expires at the end of this month, expressed an additional concern.

"It bothers me that we got to a public hearing so soon when there are so many unanswered questions," she said.

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