By Alex Bridges - firstname.lastname@example.org
FRONT ROYAL - A developer's proposal to bring 604 acres of Warren County land into town limits drew a positive response from the Board of Supervisors.
Whether Front Royal Town Council would support the private annexation request remains uncertain. The property in question lies adjacent to approximately 150 acres in the town, which underwent rezoning less than two years ago to allow for high-density housing development.
Supervisors discussed the request at a work session Tuesday, after being alerted to the matter by County Attorney Blair D. Mitchell.
David Vazzana and the Front Royal Limited Partnership filed a nearly 200 page citizen-initiated annexation request, seeking to redraw the town boundaries to incorporate 604 acres north of Happy Creek Road, according to Mitchell. The developer filed the request Sept. 20 with the Department of Housing and Community Development's commission on local government.
The attorney told the board he expects the process to take months and longer should either locality oppose the request. The commission has requested localities file responses to the request by Dec. 20.
Vazzana issued a press release Tuesday afternoon in which he estimates the process to annex the property and redraw the town boundaries to take several years, followed by site planning and local approvals. Vazzana notes the process would include several public hearings at various stages.
Supervisors expressed a need for Vazzana to present his proposal to the board at a meeting or work session in the near future.
"To me it's a win-win situation in both town and county," said Shenandoah District Supervisor Richard H. Traczyk. "What are the negatives for us if you see any?"
County Administrator Douglas Stanley warned that the board should seek monetary proffers ahead of any annexation because the property's rezoning and future development could be a great cost to the school system. Should the developer aim to build age-restricted housing on the site, the development wouldn't make the same impact.
"We may not know those pieces until they actually get to a rezoning," Stanley said.
A voluntary settlement agreement authorizing the annexation would allow the localities to include additional requests such as proffers, revenue sharing, a moratorium on future boundary adjustments or phasing of any housing construction, Mitchell explained.
The land currently is zoned for agricultural use, though Mitchell told the board he expects the developer to seek a rezoning of the property if taken in by the town. The attorney said he does not know of the developer's plans or what zoning Vazzana would seek.
"Whether it's part of the county still or whether it's part of the town he's going to ask for rezoning," Mitchell said.
"The change in the location of the property from outside in the county to inside the town will help in the more dense development of the property which [Vazzana] says is expected, planned," Mitchell said. "He doesn't say what development densities he's looking at, but it is at a point where the commission would look at both the county and the town and how we feel about it. Do we support it? Do we approve it? Is there any negotiations that need to be done?"
Warren County could lose revenue opportunities should the developer request to rezone the property for commercial or mixed-use development, Stanley warned. A restaurant on the property would generate meals tax for the town, revenue the county would lose in the annexation, Mitchell explained. But Traczyk noted a mixed-use development would give the town the opportunity to expand its commercial - and possibly industrial - tax base.
Front Royal Limited Partnership will post updates on the annexation request process on its website at www.frontroyalplan.com.