Planners to revisit workforce housing project

FRONT ROYAL – The Planning Commission expects to revisit a proposal Wednesday to build apartments at the end of Royal Lane.

The panel tabled a special-use permit request filed by Pennoni Associates Inc. in June after holding a public hearing. Pennoni filed the application on behalf of the Front Royal-Warren County Economic Development Authority. The EDA has proposed the construction of three, 12-unit apartment buildings with a total of 36 units at the end of Royal Lane. The commercial-zoned property, donated by Walter L. Campbell to the EDA, lies south of John Marshall Highway between Gateway Plaza and Oakmont Drive.

The EDA intends to own the complex and rent the units for workforce housing in the community. The EDA has heard complaints over the years that the town lacks affordable housing for professionals new to the area, such as teachers.

Neighbors raised concerns about the proposal during the public hearing held earlier this summer, Planning and Zoning Director Jeremy Camp said Monday. The commission tabled the application to give Pennoni time to talk to neighbors who attended the hearing and voiced concerns.

A traffic impact analysis statement submitted by Pennoni shows that Royal Lane sees an average 1,502 vehicles per day, based on nine single-family dwellings, 90 apartment units, a 7,000-square foot daycare facility and a 10,000-square foot office building that use the street. The proposed development would generate an estimated 252 vehicle trips per day on average, increasing the traffic flow to 1,754 trips.

The applicant’s report states that 36 dwelling units would generate less traffic than other commercial development, according to the Planning and Zoning Department staff report.

Town code limits the height of structures to three stories and not to exceed 35 feet. The preliminary site plan shows each building is 35 feet tall but specifies a maximum height of 42 feet.

Approval of the development requires authorization by Town Council. Town code allows for such authorization because the project targets affordable housing, staff reported.

The Warren County Department of Fire and Rescue Services reviewed the site plan and concept for the Royal Lane Apartments, and officials did not object to the development being served by one entrance/exit.

The report also notes that conditions attached to the permit would require that the apartment units be marketed as workforce housing; the proposed access road extension of Royal Lane shall be dedicated to the town before construction permits are issued; the applicant shall construct all site improvements and utilities and shall pay connection fees; the developer must construct a playground, sitting area and bicycle racks.

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