By Alex Bridges
EDINBURG -- Town Council gave a developer an initial green light Tuesday to build duplexes in a project stalled by the housing market crash.
Town Council held a public hearing on a request by G.B. Foltz to change the conditions attached to the development of the subdivision that would allow him to build duplexes in the empty lots. Foltz owns 28 undeveloped lots in the subdivision on which he can build. David Williams owns two while United Bank holds three lots. Foltz also owns several small tracts of land in the subdivision.
Council voted unanimously in favor of approving the change to let the developer build duplexes on his empty lots. Council made the approval contingent on Town Attorney Kevin Black determining if Edinburg leaders can legally allow the change. Black plans to review the proposal in light of questions raised by a local attorney and resident of Edinburg Square as to the legality of the changes.
Town Council approved a conditional rezoning request for the Edinburg Square Phase II in 2005. Rezoning of the property, then owned by Jennifer Grafton-Gore, came with proffers or voluntary restrictions and contributions. Construction began in 2005 but stalled years later when the economy dipped and the market crashed. Foltz bought the properties June 28 and has paid the town $72,000 in advance to connect six lots to water and sewer lines.
Bradley Pollack, a Woodstock attorney who recently moved into Edinburg Square, spoke during the public hearing and said the original proffers as approved in 2005 before the town annexed the property limited the style of homes to single-family dwellings.
Pollack said the developers, the town and county agreed to the proffers. Pollack said Judge Dennis Hupp approved the boundary line adjustment in late September 2005 that allowed the town to bring in nearly 40 lots.
Mayor Daniel Harshman said the proffers came with the conditional rezoning that could not happen until after the town added the land as part of the boundary line adjustment.
Pollack said he and other residents in the subdivision bought their homes with the understanding that only single-family dwellings could be built in their neighborhood.
"It would be my position that the town, on its own, can't change that deal without getting buy-in from the owners, from the county and from the court," Pollack said. "So I would say the proposal to amend it is just not proper at all."
Harshman disagreed with Pollack.
"So we do feel that Mr. Foltz has taken the proper steps and we do not feel that we're doing anything improper in looking at these voluntary proffers," Harshman said.
"It's absolutely wrong, Mr. Mayor," Pollack said. "You all do what you want to do but it's not going to stand."
Pollack suggested that council delay action on the proffer changes until it can review the proposal further.
Edinburg Square resident Paul Blacet also voiced concerns about the proffer change but didn't necessarily oppose duplexes in his neighborhood. Blacet, who serves on the Planning Commission, said he too worried about the potential impact duplexes would have on property values. Blacet acknowledged that single-story duplexes would not affect homeowners' view of the mountain.
Black said it would take about a week for him to research the issues Pollack raised. Once Black gives the all-clear, Harshman said the parties would sign off on the new proffers.
Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or firstname.lastname@example.org