Town, developer discuss connector road

FRONT ROYAL – Town planners and a developer are rethinking who should pay for a much-needed connector road through a major housing project.

Front Royal Limited Partnership has requested that the town amend the voluntary conditions included with the 2010 rezoning of about 140 acres of land being considered for more than 300 homes. Original conditions called for the developer to build Phases I-IV of an east-west connector road through the property with the town constructing Phase V. The route is expected to connect 8th Street to Shenandoah Shores Road.

Property owner David Vazzana met with the Planning Commission on Wednesday to discuss the developer’s recent requests to amend the proffers. Planning and Zoning Director Jeremy Camp and the commission noted that they are awaiting legal advice from Town Attorney Doug Napier on the proffer amendment. The proffers as written seem to compel the town in a certain direction rather than help mitigate the impact of the development as intended, Camp said.

“The biggest concern we had was making sure the proffers were clear that we weren’t paying the $11-12 million (for the road),” Camp said. “I guess the question was what happens if the cost of the road exceeds the amount of the proffer per-unit contribution that we’d receive and the proffers weren’t clear on whether or not the town would be responsible to pay that.”

Commissioners and Camp as well as Vazzana indicated the need for a connector road through the property.

Front Royal Limited Partnership interprets the proffers differently, Vazzana said.

The developer would need to build at least the first section of the connector road to create access to the project. From there, the developer and the town could share the responsibility of finishing the road to the other side of the project.

Vazzana presented two scenarios to the commission and asked members which one makes sense for the town. The first would occur if the town does not build the last phase of the connector, relieving the developer from the obligation of building Phases II-IV. Under the scenario, Vazzana explained, the developer would pay the full tap fee but any amount over a cap of $10,000 would count as credit toward the total cash contribution owed to the town to help offset the local impact of the project. The developer is expected to pay $7.53 million toward the cost of Leach Run Parkway and water and sewer improvements.

The second scenario – if the town does build Phase V of the connector road – requires the developer to construct the middle three phases. The developer still pays utility fees up to $10,000 per connection. Its cash proffers then are used entirely for the construction of Phases II-IV of the connector road.

Under the first scenario, Vazzana explained that the developer is expected to provide $23,536 in cash payments to the town per unit. That amount does not include $5,500 in cash per unit to the county, dedication of land for open space and the construction of parks, or funds spent by the developer on road improvements. The national average impact fee for a new home is $8,000, Vazzana said.

The town recently annexed more than 600 acres owned by Front Royal Limited Partnership from the county. The discussion about the proposed proffer amendments does not pertain to the annexed property that has yet to be rezoned. A voluntary settlement involving the town, county and the developer includes limitations and conditions for the future rezoning and development of the annexed property.

The Front Royal Limited Partnership sought the annexation nearly two years ago and touted the proposal as a way to develop the east-west connector road.

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