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Planners table vote on rezoning homes near Happy Creek

By Ben Orcutt - borcutt@nvdaily.com

FRONT ROYAL -- The Front Royal Planning Commission voted unanimously Wednesday to table a vote on a rezoning request to build up to 320 single-family homes on roughly 150 acres near the intersection of Happy Creek Road and Shenandoah Shores Road.

About 20 people spoke at the public hearing and the Planning Commission decided there were still too many unanswered questions to take a vote on recommending approval or denial to the Town Council, which will make the ultimate decision.

The panel voted to hold a work session on the rezoning on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. at the conference room at Town Hall. The deadline to hold a vote, which also is in some dispute, is Sept. 16, according to Town Planning and Zoning Director Andrew J. Conlon Jr.

David Vazzana, president of 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.

Vazzana said Wednesday that if approved, the density would be roughly 2.2 homes per acre on 7,000- to 10,000-square-foot lots. Conlon estimated that the proffer per house for a 320-home development would be just under $11,000.

"I don't believe we should be putting homes there now," said Lawrence Rivers, a resident of Shenandoah River Estates who is opposed to the rezoning and who uses Mary's Shady Lane as an outlet to Happy Creek Road.

Others, however, spoke of the need for road improvements, including improving the intersection of Happy Creek Road and Shenandoah Shores Road where there is a railroad crossing, and of using the proffers being offered by Front Royal Limited
Partnership to do so.

"Not doing something right now to me is a lost opportunity," said Al Foster, who owns a business in the Happy Creek Industrial Park. "I would take the money and run."

Michael Foeckler, vice president for operations and facility planning for Christendom College on Shenandoah Shores Road, also spoke in favor of the rezoning as a way to get money for improving the already overcrowded roads in the area of the proposed development.

However, Trudy Purdy, a resident of Shenandoah River Estates, summed up the concerns of many of those opposed to the development who would prefer that Front Royal Limited Partnership be allowed to only build one house per acre, which by-right would be between 75 to 100 homes.

"We should let the developers know that our town is not for sale," Purdy said.

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