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County: Developer's proffer offer too low

Supervisors think impact of rezoning area near Happy Creek will cost nearly $22,000 per home

By Ben Orcutt -- borcutt@nvdaily.com

FRONT ROYAL -- Warren County supervisors said Wednesday that proposed fees for a pending town rezoning request for 320 homes in the Happy Creek Road area are not enough to mitigate the impact on county services.

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 request is pending before the Front Royal Planning Commission, which held a work session on the rezoning on Tuesday. Vazzana said during the meeting that he is willing to pay $20,062 -- final proffers are expected today or Friday -- per unit for their fiscal impact, with $5,500 going to the county.

However, County Administrator Douglas P. Stanley has said that according to the county's fiscal impact model generated by an outside firm, the cost per unit of Vazzana's proposed development to the county alone would be just under $22,000.

"Obviously I'm disappointed in that amount relative to our impact study," said Shenandoah Supervisor Richard H. "Dick" Traczyk, whose district the project is in. "That would be a disappointment if that's what they're offering the county when most of the services fall on the county."

Traczyk said the supervisors will take a closer look at the proffers as the rezoning request moves forward. The Planning Commission has scheduled another work session for Wednesday at the Town Hall at 6:30 p.m., with plans to recommend approval or denial to the Town Council on Sept. 16.

Supervisors Chairman Archie A. Fox, who represents the Fork
District, agreed with Trac-zyk that the proposed proffers fall woefully short of addressing the impact the development would create.

"It's no question about it," Fox said. "The proffers don't begin to meet the impacts it would cause. If the impacts are not met with the proffers, then eventually all county citizens in and outside the town will have to pay higher taxes."

South River District Supervisor Linda P. Glavis spoke in a similar vein.

"I want the planning commission to do their job first," Glavis said. "I do think [the proffers] should be a minimum of what is projected to be the cost to the county."

Happy Creek Supervisor Tony F. Carter noted that the town and the county have a reciprocal agreement on impact fees.

"We have the agreement in place where we accept proffers on each other's behalf," Carter said. "It's a a matter of coming up with the dollars. Until I actually see something in an official word, it's going to be difficult to comment on that I believe. My understanding was that the proffers would have to be based on some type of fiscal impact model."

Andrew J. Conlon Jr., the town's director of planning and zoning, said during Tuesday's meeting that in addition to county residents benefiting from road improvements that Front Royal Limited Partnership would make, they also would benefit from a proposed park and land dedicated for a fire and rescue station.

Conlon said he used the town of Culpeper as a model for establishing an impact fee for Front Royal Limited Partnership based on Culpeper's combined town and county 2010 residential impact model of $20,000 per home.

Front Royal Limited Partnership also would be given credit against the $20,062 per unit proffer for improvements to roads, the park and land dedication, under the current offer.

County residents Mike Challis and Glen Purdy, who live adjacent to where the development would be located and who also attended Tuesday's meeting, agree that the amount of money Vazzana is offering to the county is inadequate.

Challis said the figure "seems way low."

Purdy concurred.

"Being a builder and having been a builder, I can hear the whole thing a little clearer than the rest of you," Purdy said. "It's terrible."

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