Developer seeks to rezone site

The Frederick County Planning Commission has backed a request to rezone land being considered for a new FBI records center.

But an approved rezoning doesn’t necessarily guarantee that the U.S. General Services Administration will pick the site south of Winchester for the proposed Central Records Complex. Nor does the rezoning limit development of the site to just a government facility.

The GSA issued a notice in mid February that it intends to analyze the potential impacts from the proposed construction of a new records complex at the following locations:

  • Arcadia Route 50, approximately 60 acres at 2117 Millwood Pike (Va. 50), east of Winchester
  • Blackburn Limited Partnership, approximately 90 acres, on Apple Valley Road, south of Winchester
  • Whitehall Commerce Center, approximately 50 acres on Va. 669 and U.S. 11 in Clear Brook

Tim Stowe, with Stowe Engineering, applied to the county seeking to rezone 128.56 acres in the Blackburn Commerce Center adjacent to Dawson Drive, Apple Valley Road and Va. 37. Barbara Lewis and Warrenton-based Blackburn Limited Partnership own the property.

Specifically, the applicant has asked the county to rezone 92 acres of the property from rural areas to light industrial with proffers and to keep the remaining 36.75 acres in the rural areas district. The property lies within the county’s Sewer Water Service Area. The county’s Comprehensive Plan recommends industrial use for the property.

The Planning Commission voted Wednesday to recommend that the Board of Supervisors approve the rezoning request. The commission heard support for, and opposition to the rezoning at a public hearing. Opponents raised concerns about how industrial development would affect traffic and nearby historic resources.

The rezoning, if approved by the Board of Supervisors later this month, would still allow the developer to market the property for other, light industrial uses.

Deputy Planning Director Mike Ruddy explained Thursday that the rezoning would open the property up to more industrial uses. But government facilities are allowed on both rural and industrial properties.

“The bottom line is, for the FBI facility, they would be permitted in the [rural areas district] regardless so they would be allowed on that property because it’s in the Sewer Water Service Area and it’s a governmental facility, without the benefit of a rezoning,” Ruddy said. “The rezoning is something the property owners are doing to better prepare the property for … industrial uses and, again, it’s kind of independent of the FBI choosing their three sites and them doing their evaluations for the three sites.”

Even light industrial uses can create certain impacts on the surrounding area, so the developer addressed those potential effects in the rezoning application, Ruddy noted. Given that the Kernstown Battlefield lies near the site, the developer also worked closely with the Kernstown Battlefield Association to address the group’s concerns.

The GSA plans to release a draft supplemental environmental impact statement, including field studies, this summer. The GSA will then conduct a 45-day comment period during which a meeting will be held in Winchester to allow the public to learn more about the draft results, according to information from Gina Blyther Gilliam, regional public affairs and communications manager.

The developer has agreed to contribute $10,000 to the county Department of Fire and Rescue to assist in the capital needs associated with the development of the property. Access to the site would be allowed via entrances on Apple Valley Road and Dawson Drive, with an inter-parcel connection proffered for future access to the remaining rural land. The developer also has proffered to contribute up to $625,000 to the county to help cover the cost of transportation improvements to the nearby area.

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