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Residents worry development will have negative impact

By Ben Orcutt -- borcutt@nvdaily.com

Eva Challis and Glen and Trudy Purdy
Eva Challis, left, and Glen and Trudy Purdy, gather at the Marshall Cemetery to discuss their opposition to a development that would bring 320 single-family homes to their area. Dennis Grundman/Daily

FRONT ROYAL -- Some residents of Shenandoah River Estates have serious issues with the impact a proposed 320-home development will have on them.

"On the issue of the 320 homes, I feel like that is just ridiculous," Trudy Purdy, a resident of the Warren County subdivision, said during a recent interview that also included her husband, Glen Purdy, and neighbor Eva Challis.

"I'm sorry, it's gonna put 600 to 1,000 more vehicles on the road," Mrs. Purdy said. "It's not gonna be pretty."

David Vazzana, of Front Royal Limited Partnership, has a rezoning request before the Front Royal Planning Commission scheduled for a public hearing on Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the Warren County Government Center on Commerce Road.

The request is to rezone 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.

Front Royal Limited Partnership has a lawsuit pending in Warren County Circuit Court against property owners who use Mary's Shady Lane as an outlet to Happy Creek Road.

The town is not a party to the lawsuit, and Vazzana is proceeding with his rezoning request on the assumption that the privately maintained dirt road will be closed.

"Mary's Shady Lane is our only access," said Challis, 52.

Purdy, 68, and others, also are concerned about a recent meeting attended by Joseph E. Duggan, who owns the Winchester landscape architectural firm J. Duggan and Associates and is a consultant for Vazzana, with Planning Commission Chairman David Gushee and Town Planning and Zoning Director Andrew J. Conlon Jr. and two town planning staffers to discuss possible changes in the town's zoning ordinance.

Vazzana's rezoning request could be affected by changes to the slope ordinance, giving him the ability to exceed the 75 to 100 homes he can already build by-right.

"This Duggan, I mean, he's in a situation where he's an expert witness for David [Vazzana], so therefore, that taints the whole situation," Purdy said.

"It could be a conflict of interest," Challis added.

Duggan responded to the concern.

"First off, the meeting they're alluding to, that was on the slope ordinance," Duggan said. "It had nothing to do with Vazzana. They can have the perception that they want, but it was on the slope ordinance."

Purdy said he and his neighbors' primary concern with Vazzana's proposal, and the possibility of closing the majority of the 2.5-mile Mary's Shady Lane in the town limits, is the idea of an access road being built to connect them to Shenandoah Shores Road and then Happy Creek Road.

Shenandoah Shores Road "is overloaded already," Purdy said. "We don't want to share that road because it's overloaded. We don't want to go through this section of Happy Creek [Road]. It's unbelievable how dangerous it is."

The impact on Mary's Shady Lane also concerns Sally Long, who has been a spokeswoman for many of those who use the road.

"Speaking for those I can speak for and knowing the feelings of some other neighbors, we are opposed to high density construction on the property because of the road, and now -- potential water issues," Long says in an Aug. 9 e-mail to Councilman Thomas E. Conkey. "We sit lower than that area and these are our wetlands. ... Also, we do not want our road to take us to the headache associated with Shenandoah Shores and Happy Creek -- period. That area is a mess -- everybody knows it!"

Mrs. Purdy remains hopeful that the Planning Commission will vote against Vazzana's proposal.

"I'm optimistic that the planning commission will deny his request for 320 homes," she said.

Vazzana did not return telephone calls on Thursday or Friday.

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