Stephens City OKs rezoning

STEPHENS CITY — Town Council approved rezoning close to 16 acres to provide for future development at its regular September meeting.

Patrick Sowers, a senior project engineer with Pennoni Associates and consultant for the project, gave an overview to start off the public hearing on the rezoning. South Frederick LLC’s plan for the property includes up to 3,600 square feet of commercial property next to U.S. Route 11 on the north end of town and development of up to 55 residential units.

He reported that around 10 percent of traffic for the area would use Walnut Lane, which would be paved, to access an extension of Massie Drive. The remaining 90 percent of traffic would take a new street coming off of U.S. Route 11 near the commercial property.

Lewis Boyer, who said he has lived adjacent to the proposed commercial property for 48 years, spoke before council and presented a petition signed by himself and the residents of six other properties. The petition called for council to not rezone the commercial property and not construct the public street off of Route 11.

Boyer added that while the Planning Commission had mentioned the property had previously been used to sell gasoline, that business had closed by 1968.

“I think it’s spot zoning, and I think it’s spot zoning that’s going to cause a domino effect,” he said. “I do not think that that’s a good thing to do here in Stephens City.”

He said he has concerns about speeding and traffic that the development could bring, sometimes finding it difficult to exit his own driveway onto Route 11.

Tom Gamertsfelder, one property owner who also signed the petition, reiterated his concerns about lowering the speed limit in the area down to 25 miles per hour and the commercial zoning portion.

“I think everyone here … we’re not in favor of the commercial rezoning,” he said.

In his report, Police Chief Charles Bockey Jr. said his department has tried to increase speed limit enforcement around the rezoning area, but also said that the Virginia Department of Transportation would likely not lower the speed limit there.

Council members approved the rezoning decision unanimously, with Councilman Joe Grayson’s spot remaining empty since he resigned before the town’s July meeting. Council voted to appoint Mark Fleet, senior building inspector with Frederick County who had served on Town Council for seven years, to the seat.

Council members Jason Nauman and Regina Swygert-Smith voted not to appoint Fleet. Town Attorney J. David Griffin said that the town should fill the position within 60 days of Grayson’s resignation.

Contact staff writer Rachel Mahoney at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or rmahoney@nvdaily.com