ITFederal, Avtex road projects moving forward

FRONT ROYAL – A planned road extension into the former Avtex Fibers site remains a major hurdle for the long-awaited ITFederal project.

The Front Royal-Warren County Economic Development Authority Board of Directors heard brief updates at its meeting Friday on both projects from Executive Director Jennifer McDonald.

Interim Town Manager Joseph Waltz and other Front Royal officials continue to work with Pennoni Associates on the road’s design, McDonald said.

“The whole design of that road changed, which changed the site layout for ITFederal, so now ITFederal has to wait until the town has finalized the design of West Main Street,” McDonald said. “But Joe (Waltz) is working with Pennoni to make that happen and Joe has actually fast-tracked what has been in the works for quite some time.”

Pennoni recently submitted the revised site plan to the town. Director of Planning and Zoning Jeremy Camp and Waltz will review the plan, McDonald said. At one point someone involved in the discussions said the road needed to be elevated an additional seven feet to accommodate a culvert for storm water, though that requirement has since been rescinded, McDonald said.

ITFederal plans to build a facility on 30 acres located on the former Avtex Superfund site that would eventually employ 600 workers. The project ran into at least one delay as developers waited for the Virginia Department of Transportation to approve funding for the West Main Street Extension. Without that funding, the developer would have needed to submit a revised site plan that moved the main entrance to the facility from West Main Street as desired to Kendrick Lane. With funding approved, the original plan as approved remains in place.

The town is waiting on Pennoni to finish its work on the design as requested by the EDA, Camp said Friday.

“It all goes back to the original approval from council who, when ITFederal originally came in, they only approved it for Lot 6,” Camp explained. “Part of the proffers for the rezoning, the only thing that was allowed to be developed was Lot 6, which was the ITFederal parcel.”

However, plans now call for the extension of West Main Street to use some of the remaining parcels of undeveloped land in the Avtex property, Camp said. The extension is expected to serve as the primary access road into the property for future development.

The EDA needs to submit a traffic study and concept plan for the development of the entire Avtex property before the authority can develop the rest of the site, Camp said. The Planning Commission and Town Council must review these documents once submitted along with a modification of the original development proffers, Camp added. Once that part of the process is complete, the town can move forward in conjunction with the EDA on the engineering plans for West Main Street extended, Camp said.

The town is working with the EDA to secure additional funding for the road extension through the New Market Tax Credit Program – a source seen as a way to help pay for other local projects.

But delays for both projects have sparked some local leaders and residents to worry that ITFederal might not come to fruition.

“The town’s really waiting on the EDA or ITFederal to make the first move so the ball’s in their hand and when they submit an application to actually do something we will respond accordingly within the time schedules that we’re required to follow on the review of applications and bring that through the process to the Town Council for a decision,” Camp said. “The ITFederal site plan is approved so they can come in and apply for a zoning permit at any time.”

ITFederal submitted a revised site plan earlier this week, Camp said. The plan, which appears to contain minor changes, will be distributed to departments for review, he added.