Road project delay pushes back development

FRONT ROYAL – The Leach Run Parkway project is holding up a major housing development in Front Royal.

HEPTAD LLC faces a Dec. 3 deadline to submit a development plan for the project often referred to as Swan Estates. The proposed development calls for up to 450 dwelling units on almost 100 acres. The site is on the east side of town, north of Va. 55 (John Marshall Highway).

However, construction of Leach Run Parkway, the housing development’s primary point of access, has yet to begin. The Front Royal-Warren County Economic Development Committee, along with town and county officials, are trying to scale back the scope of the road project to bring it within budget.

Town Council is expected to discuss the request for the HEPTAD extension and hear an update on cost-cutting options for the parkway project at its work session Tuesday.

Planning Director Jeremy Camp said Friday that Leach Run Parkway remains a critical part of the HEPTAD or Swan Estates project, the only one in town zoned as a planned neighborhood development.

“The road’s taken longer than expected,” Camp said. “Staff here isn’t opposed to that extension. We don’t have any issues really with their development plan.”

HEPTAD developers can’t move forward until Leach Run Parkway receives the green light.

“It’s hard for the developer to create final engineering plans until they know the final engineering for Leach Run Parkway,” Camp said.

Specifically, within one year of the approval of a master land-use plan for the development of a planned neighborhood, before the approval of any building permits, the applicant must prepare and submit an engineered development plan.

The town approved a concept plan for the proposed development along with detailed proffers in 2012. Proffers include a limit of 450 dwellings on the 98.25-acre property. Cash proffers, paid to the town as the development progresses, would go toward the construction of Leach Run Parkway and to the county to offset the cost to the public school system. Leach Run Parkway is expected to traverse the HEPTAD property. The smaller portion of the property to the east of the road is designated for commercial development. Proffers also include a future connector to Westminster Drive.

The lowest bid for the Leach Run Parkway project came in significantly higher than the amount budgeted by all parties involved.

Full build-out of the HEPTAD project is expected to generate roughly $6 million in proffer money toward the Leach Run Parkway project. But the town can only expect to receive the money as HEPTAD development progresses as a way to recoup the cost of the road project, not to help pay for Leach Run Parkway in advance of its construction.

Attorneys with the law firm of Lawson and Silek submitted the request for the extension in June.

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