FRONT ROYAL – After months of discussion, Crooked Run West LLC has withdrawn the request to rezone its land west of the Target shopping center from commercial to residential use.
While the land is in the county, the development would have required the town's and water sewer services. The Town Council planned to vote whether to send water to the development at its Tuesday meeting, but the matter was removed from the agenda after it was disclosed that Crooked Run West has put its plans on hold.
Joe Silek, Crooked Run West LLC’s attorney, said the developers are no longer seeking rezoning from the county, rendering the request for the town's water and sewer irrelevant.
“Maybe in the future when they refile their application there might be a request,” he said.
Several citizens have spoken out against the water request in recent months, and one of those residents, Fern Vazquez, said during the meeting's public comment period that "I'd like to think that our voices in this did matter."
During previous council meetings, council members Letasha Thompson, Gary Gillispie, Chris Holloway and Eugene Tewalt voiced intentions to vote against the water request.
Councilman Jacob Meza said Tuesday that he likely would have been the lone vote in favor of the water request because "I would like to show my support and my willingness to work with those who bring forth creative solutions to help our community grow."
Meza noted that arguments against the residential development have included: the town does not have the water capacity to fulfill the request; the sewer system cannot handle additional volume; Winchester Road cannot support increased traffic; if the request is granted, the town would have to grant all similar requests; the schools are overfilled; increased taxes.
While Meza said he could offer "counter-arguments" for each item, he opted to say "if we accept any one of these points as our reality ... we'll not approve any developments of any projects."
"This is what concerns me most and this is the message I think we are broadcasting to people outside our community. Where are solutions? Where are the recommendations for compromise or help in bringing vision to fruition?" he said.
Meza noted there has been an "underlying implication" that the developers are "trying to pull something over on us" to make a profit.
"It worries me that it's come to this. If someone has the audacity to try and maximize the profit on their investment they must be criminals," Meza said.
He added that "smart growth is important" but the town is "stuck in a chicken and egg scenario."
"Which comes first, commercial development for a town that is growing by only a handful of new homes a year or population density that supports the business plan of developers willing to take a chance on Front Royal?" he asked.
The Town Council also:
- Approved an $887,537 bid from Portland Utilities Construction Company LLC for the replacement of over 3,000 feet of sanitary sewer lines and appurtenances.
- Approved the $125,787 purchase of three 2020 Ford Interceptor police vehicles from Haley Ford.
- Approved a special use permit for Embassy Deliverance & Worship Center, allowing a daycare at 460 S. Commerce Ave.