By Alex Bridges
FRONT ROYAL -- Warren County leaders signed off for a second time on a boundary shift that adds 604 acres to Front Royal.
The Board of Supervisors held a public hearing Tuesday on the voluntary settlement agreement between the town and the county related to land owned by the Front Royal Limited Partnership. The property to the north of town is surrounded by Happy Creek Road and Interstate 66 and lies west of the Happy Creek Technology Park.
County Attorney Blair Mitchell said the second public hearing was required because the Commission on Local Government indicated that a previously submitted agreement should not include the Front Royal Limited Partnership as a party to the deal.
"I think we'd prefer the three-party [agreement] because it does lock in the applicant," Mitchell said.
No one spoke at the public hearing. The board voted 4-1 to adopt an ordinance that approves both versions with the idea that a special court convened on the annexation effort would review each document.
Chairman Daniel J. Murray Jr. noted, "I think, truthfully, it's a win-win for the county,"
Fork District Supervisor Archie Fox said he wouldn't support the agreement because the impacts on the county outweigh the benefits from the future development.
"I don't think it's a good thing for the county," Fox said.
Mitchell pointed out that full build-out of the 604 acres would result in bringing nearly 400 more students to the county school system.
However, Mitchell noted that the county could expect to see as much as $10.2 million in revenue from proffer payments as outlined in the agreement. The land developer also would finance and build an east-west connector from Shenandoah Shores Road to Commerce Avenue at no cost to the county.
The property owner filed a citizen-initiated petition for annexation with the state Commission on Local Government in September 2012. Since then the town and county, along with the partnership's principal, David Vazzana, have discussed the proposal and came to the agreement.
Both the town and county held public hearings on the agreement late last year as required, after the state agency also heard from the public on the proposal.
However, the agreement filed by the town and county identified the limited partnership as a party to the deal. The state agency advised the local governments that a private entity could not be a party to such an agreement. Attorneys for the two governments revised the agreement but each local governing body had to hold public hearings again on the document.
Mitchell told the board that Town Council considers the three-party agreement more appropriate for adoption because the limited partnership is a necessary party and that properties included in the document cannot be enforced against the developer unless they are included in the deal.
Town Council has proposed that each governing body approve both agreements and submit them to the special annexation court.
Proffers in both versions of the agreement and linked to future rezoning call for:
- A restriction on the number of houses to 818 "market rate" homes for people aged 55 and younger
- Detached homes to be no smaller than 1,600 square feet
- The developer to offer 56 acres of land to the county for a school, park, open space or other government use
- The town to not approve any rezoning that calls for cash contributions by the developer of less than $8,750 per unit for the first 409 units and $16,250 for each unit thereafter at the time of occupancy
Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or firstname.lastname@example.org