Planned neighborhood for new development could hold 450 units total
By Kim Walter -- firstname.lastname@example.org
FRONT ROYAL -- Town Council approved, on its second reading, a rezoning application from HEPTAD LLC for the proposed development known as "Swan Estates," but not without some citizen concern.
The rezoning will change about 98.25 acres located on the eastern side of town by Williamsburg Estates from a suburban residential district to a planned neighborhood district. The property could potentially hold 4.85 dwelling units per acre, or about 450 units in total.
Ronald Occhiogrosso, a science and mathematics teacher at Chelsea Academy, lives at 1161 Happy Ridge Drive in Front Royal which is adjacent to the proposed development.
"I'm just wondering why we need to consider putting in 450 dwelling units," Occhiogrosso said during a public hearing on the issue. "If there's so many homes already available for sale, why do we need to rezone and put in all these extra units?"
Occhiogrosso said that he moved from New York to Front Royal in 2005, and since has raised his six children, one of whom is raising his own family in town.
"I'm aware that [Swan Estates] could bring jobs to the community, but ... I'm just concerned that it will bring people who don't value their homes like I do," he said. "I see the pond, I take my kids walking and sleigh riding out there. This hits directly at home."
Councilman Thomas H. Sayre added that he has received comments from a number of people about the development.
"Yes, there's some open space and there are some things in the proffer statement that I like, but it's too much high density," Sayre said. "I wish we didn't have to 'Fairfax' Front Royal."
Sayre was the only councilman to vote against the development.
In the proffer statement, HEPTAD LLC, the developer, has offered to pay between $6 million and $7 million to the town and Warren County Public Schools. Additionally, the applicant has proffered construction of a neighborhood park, school sidewalk and landscaping adjacent to the adjoining properties.
"I support this, and I welcome the proffers and improvements that it will to the community," said councilman N. Shae Parker.
Councilman Carson C. Lauder also shared his support.
"We've been looking at this for at least six years, and I don't think it gets any better than what this community will be," he said. "This is my hometown, and I think [Swan Estates] is a great thing."