Fried Companies to build townhomes in Ruckersville

By Susan Gibbs

Townhomes are coming to Greene.

So said the county’s Board of Supervisors by a vote of 3-2 at its regularly scheduled meeting Tuesday, February 28.

“If we don’t approve this tonight … there will be no extra road, there will be no proffers, there will be a $7 million loss in tap fee potential, and a $1 million loss in revenue projection,” said Supervisor Eddie R. Deane (At large), who made the motion that the Fried Companies Inc. be allowed to build townhomes in Ruckersville.

The request was to rezone 400 acres between US 29N and Preddy Creek Road from R-1 Residential, which calls for single-family homes only, to a Planned Unit Development, or PUD, which would allow the townhomes.

In making the request the developer took the property from an 800 single-family home By Right project with no proffers to a project consisting of 600 single-family homes and 580 townhomes that carries proffers that include $570,000 cash and a $1.6 million four-lane connector road, with turn lanes, between Preddy Creek Road and US 29N.

“As you all know we’ve had a terrible intersection at Sheetz for years,” Fried Companies President Steve Jones told the Board during his presentation.  “(The Virginia Department of Transportation) is getting ready to start improvements to that section but they are on record as saying that … all their calculations and traffic analyses were assuming that this connector road went in.”

In addition to the connector road and turn lanes, the developer proffered grading and clearing to allow for sight distance at a blind curve on Preddy Creek Road and the cost of a traffic signal where the road will meet US 29N.

At $20,000 per unit in tap fees, the additional 380 units will add $7.6 million to the original $16 million provided by the already-approved 800 units. And, they will increase the county’s property tax base.

Supervisor David Cox (Monroe), who seconded Deane’s motion, said, “I see a whole lot of advantages for allowing the PUD with the proffers that are being offered especially because the cut-across road will alleviate the problems (that exist) now.”

Board Vice-chairman Davis Lamb (Ruckersville), who voted against approval, asked the developer to explain the 100-unit per year cap that was also proffered.

“Is this saying that if it’s approved there will be 100 this year and 100 next year and, say in 2014, 300 houses?” Lamb asked.

That is what is being said mathematically,” Jones responded, “but the market is going to control that.” He pointed out that only 78 homes were sold in Greene County last year; that the cap was put in place to allay fears of a sudden, overwhelming impact to infrastructure.

“In the best of times Greene County sold 223 new building permits in any one given year, so we do not see this going at a rapid place,” Jones said.

Lamb also asked to speak with the engineer Fried Companies had hired to design the connector road.

“We have worked for a number of years with VDOT and the county on the road structure,” said Robin Antonucci, of Wells & Associates of Manassas, a construction and civil engineering firm, who has been consulting with Fried Companies on the project. “This connection … adheres to the box concept that is referred to in your Comprehensive Plan with regards to how to treat the intersection at US 29 and Rte. 607.”

In other words, Antonucci explained, the connector road would allow commuters to bypass that intersection.

Chairman of the Board Buggs Peyton (Stanardsville), who also voted against the project, said he had a problem with the timeline for development, and the related absorption rate.

Peyton said he interpreted the project’s assumption that the $41 million reservoir the county is currently planning to build will be online within five years.

“I would be very reluctant to commit to this impoundment project being up and running in five years,” Peyton said.

He referenced the Code of Virginia § 15.2-2283, having to do with the purpose of zoning ordinances, which is to promote the health, safety or general welfare of the public. That paragraph states  that ordinances are to be designed to give reasonable consideration to, among other things, water and sewer.

Peyton was also concerned about what he considered to be inadequate proffers.

“It appears to be inappropriate based on established written policy, which dictates $5,771 (per residence) regardless of the dwelling type,” he said. He explained that proffers are based on capital impact, and so proffer computation “includes all of those facilities, such as schools, government, judicial, public safety, public works and parks and recreation” that are impacted by new development.

But, “that total impact does not include transportation, and transportation costs shall be in addition to the capital impacts identified in the proffer computation,” Peyton concluded.

It was Supervisor Jim Frydl (Midway) who broke the tie, and decided – after a visible hesitation — that townhouses would be coming to Greene.

He cautioned those who might assume that 1,180 units will be built tomorrow, and overwhelming the county’s infrastructure.

Regarding the traffic congestion in that area of the county, Frydl said: “That congestion … already exists.

“Let’s not forget that starting tomorrow (Fried Companies) could start building 800 houses,” Frydl concluded. “So there is the potential for large impact either way … I think the (proffered) improvements would help alleviate some of the road issues.”

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