Council takes up boundary adjustment request

FRONT ROYAL – A developer’s request to bring 56 acres into the town limits remains in limbo three years on.

Town Council plans to discuss Chris Ramsey’s request to adjust the boundaries with Warren County and add his property on Guard Hill Road to Front Royal’s corporate limits at a work session Monday. Ramsey has proposed to build an age-restricted development consisting of 10 multi-family dwelling units on the property. Adjusting the boundary lines and bringing the property into Front Royal could allow such a facility to connect to town utilities.

Council has been asked to identify issues that need to be addressed before considering the boundary adjustment request. Concerns include maintenance and improvements to Guard Hill Road, traffic on the road and at the intersection of U.S. 340-522, further development on the property and additional lots included in the adjustment request.

Front Royal and Warren County officials briefly discussed the request at a liaison committee meeting last week, noting that council would talk about the town’s concerns with the proposal and communicate them with the county. But Ramsey’s intentions have been known to county officials and supervisors for at least three years.

Ramsey outlines his request in an April 3, 2015, letter to County Administrator Doug Stanley and Town Manager Steve Burke. Ramsey notes the property at 3853 Guard Hill Road consists of approximately 20.22 acres.

The Board of Supervisors discussed Ramsey’s boundary adjustment request at a July 21, 2015, work session. The boundary adjustment, if approved, would allow for an age-restricted housing development to consist of 10 multi-family buildings, each of which would contain 10 units for a total of 100 apartments.

However, Ramsey’s request came up more than two years earlier in a March 13, 2013, letter to Stanley. Ramsey notes in the letter that he owns 55.88 acres, of which 4 acres lie in the town and the remaining 52 in Warren County. The 4 acres in town consist of two parcels, one zoned for commercial and the other for agricultural use. The 52 acres in the county are zoned for agricultural use. The property faces Guard Hill Road, U.S. 340-522 and Interstate 66, with an excess of 2,180 feet of road frontage. Town water and sewer lines pass in front of and through the property.

Ramsey asked in 2013 that property outside the town limits be incorporated into Front Royal with an agricultural zoning. Ramsey states that he intends to develop the property under the town zoning regulations. He adds that he agrees to honor any agreements existing between the town and county concerning proffers and impact fees associated with the rezoning and development of the property.

County Planning Director Taryn Logan outlines some concerns regarding the development of the property in a March 11, 2013, memo to Stanley. Logan states that she met with Ramsey in late January who said then he was exploring development options, including a flat portion for apartments. Logan states that Ramsey wanted to make the county aware of the options he was pursuing. Logan adds that she and Ramsey did not discuss specifics of an annexation request. She did note that they talked about the fact Guard Hill Road would need upgrading if the property were ever developed with high-density housing.

A Virginia Department of Transportation official outlined some of the agency’s concerns with the proposed development in a July 2, 2013, email to Logan. First, the property includes additional land the owner might develop in later phases, making in impossible to determine the impact on traffic near the site without knowing all the future uses, said Arthur Boyce, a VDOT land development engineer. Boyce suggested that the developer submit a master plan of the property showing the future uses to fully assess the traffic impacts.

Should the county approve the development of senior housing on the site, Boyce recommended that the county include a condition by way of a proffer during the rezoning that requires a deed restriction be recorded that limits the occupancy of the units to housing for older persons.

Guard Hill Road carries 1,100 vehicle trips per day as a rural major collector, Boyce states in the 2013 email. The 100 senior housing units as proposed would generate another 350 trips per day. If the combined number of trips reaches 400 per day, then the developer would need to perform a traffic impact analysis, Boyce states.

“This development will have a negative impact on the intersection of (Guard Hill Road) and U.S. 340-522 and may require traffic signal be installed for the safety of the traveling public,” Boyce states.

The developer would need to build an entrance that meets VDOT’s standards. The existing road has poor alignment and includes steep grades, sharp curves, narrow pavement, no shoulders and other problems. The developer would need to dedicate easements along Guard Hill Road for future improvements.

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