Planners back Avtex site plan

FRONT ROYAL — The future of the former Avtex Fibers Superfund site is starting to take shape.

A site plan for potential development on the sprawling 147-acre area endorsed by the Planning Commission on Tuesday shows how a section might look. The commission voted unanimously to recommend the Department of Planning and Zoning approve the site development plan for a 30-acre portion of the property.

The section lies to the west of the Front Royal-Warren County Economic Development Authority offices at the entrance to the site off Kendrick Lane. The area in the site plan is separate from land not available for development by a railroad. The EDA, which submitted the site plan application, owns the developable area of the Avtex property and continues to market the entire site.

Planning and Zoning Director Jeremy Camp explained that the site plan would allow a developer to construct four buildings on the 30-acre lot. Any developer would need to apply for other required permits. The plan also shows other buildings on the property that are not included in the EDA’s application.

EDA Director Jennifer McDonald explained Wednesday that the authority chose a small portion of the Avtex property to show what kind of development it envisions — a mix of office buildings and commercial space, including retail stores and research and development facilities.

“So the reason we did this site plan was we wanted to just put it out there, that this is what we’re looking for, so that if we get a prospect in at least they have an idea of what’s in our mind,” McDonald said. “We’re just trying to be ahead of the game.”

The EDA chose not to make a site plan for the entire property that would “tie a developer’s hands,” McDonald explained.

The site plan is generally consistent with the concept plan and proffers approved by Town Council Dec. 1 as part of the EDA’s application to rezone the 147 acres to the mixed-use, campus-development zoning district, Camp said. The proffers call for no development of the Avtex property beyond that of the 30-acre site at this time.

In response to a commission member’s question, Camp explained that any potential developer of the section would need to follow the approved site plan because the document stays with the property for five years. A developer can submit a request to the town to revise the site plan if desired. But any revision must be consistent with what Town Council approved in the concept plan and the proffers.

Chairwoman Deborah Langfitt said the commission had made the site-plan approval a top priority.

“The Town Council asked us to put it in a top-priority position and our job is to protect the interest of the town,” Langfitt said. “That’s what we intend to do.”

McDonald told the commission that the EDA continues to hear from developers who express interest in the Avtex site and she would update members on those prospects in the future.

Planning and Zoning Department staff members will not make a final approval of the site plan until the EDA addresses any remaining review comments, Camp said. Staff members recommended only minor changes to the site plan, he added.

“We feel we have protected the town’s interest in working on this project over the past, I guess it’s been about three months, and the town hopes that the EDA will continue with the momentum on the project, moving forward on the redevelopment in the very near future,” Camp said.

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or

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