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Changes proposed for Blue Ridge Shadows plan

By Alex Bridges

FRONT ROYAL -- The developer of Blue Ridge Shadows in Warren County wants to make more changes to its original plan.

D.R. Horton Inc. has asked county planners to waive a rule that requires the development have multiple access points to state roads to help traffic flow. D.R. Horton contends the subdivision should suffice with the current entrance off Shadows Drive.

Blue Ridge Shadows, a development planned to include 225 homes, lies along U.S. 340-522 near Front Royal. Work on the project began in 2002 with the approval of rezoning applications that included voluntary contributions and limitations on the development. Plans for Blue Ridge Shadows went through changes over the years. The various developers of the project have built 23 single-family homes and 26 townhouses.

As the current developer, D.R. Horton has asked the county to allow it to change some aspects of the project, such as expanding the number of homes planned. That request has not yet been acted upon.

The land-use law firm of Walsh, Colucci, Lubeley, Emrich and Walsh represents D.R. Horton and has filed documents and requests on behalf of the developer. In early February, the firm filed a request for a variance from the county's subdivision ordinance that pertains to access points and connections to main roads.

Planning Director Taryn Logan explained Thursday that the county ordinance requires two access points to state roads. The proffer statement with the development also requires a second entrance to the project across from Toray Drive before or at the time the county approves 150 residential units, Logan explained. This number triggers the need for the second entrance.

The developer ultimately would also need approval for a proffer amendment to change the original requirement, Logan said. The developer likely would seek approval for both items. Logan said she expects the matters to come before the Planning Commission March 12.

But the developer challenges the need for two entrances. The development currently includes Shadows Drive to U.S. 340-522 as a connector. The existing zoning for the development contemplates a second connection at Toray Drive as an extension of Hospitality Drive, Marian Harders, a planner with the firm, states in the documents filed with the county.

"This connection does not, however, provide any realistic benefit to, or can it even realistically function for, the homes in Blue Ridge Shadows," Harders comments in the statement of justification for the variance. "Indeed, it would at best benefit only the commercial properties along Hospitality Drive that are not party to the application nor under the ownership or control of [D.R. Horton] in this case."

As Harders notes, the construction of the second connection would not mitigate any impact generated by Blue Ridge Shadows.

A request to allow the developer to build more homes on the site than originally proposed, and to make most of the houses age-restriction met with some scrutiny and skepticism last June by some commission members. The developer sought to change the original proffers and expand the number of units from 225 to 300. D.R. Horton also proposed to make 195 of the homes age-restricted. The remaining homes would be considered "market-rate.

Units the developer has proposed consist of courtyard and town-home villas and two different single-family dwellings. The developer has proposed to include a village green area for a gazebo, theater, fountain and other amenities. The new plan calls for a swimming pool and clubhouse for the community.

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or abridges@nvdaily.com

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