The News Desk is a collection of news, notes and breaking items affecting the Fredericksburg community.
Stafford approves Westgate Center
BY KATIE THISDELL
A new development with 51 homes, two hotels, office and retail space will be coming to Stafford County, near the Courthouse Road interchange with Interstate-95.
On Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a rezoning for the Westgate Center, which has been in the works for years.
Primarily wooded now, the land is between Austin Ridge Drive and I–95.
Up to 645,000 square feet of commercial space could be built, along with possible parking decks.
Proffers for the rezoning included $2.4 million in cash to the county, which Supervisor Paul Milde said was “a generous offer.”
“We feel like this project provides lots of plusses,” said attorney Charlie Payne, of Hirschler Fleischer.
Revised proffers at the meeting included the dedication of 4.7 acres to the Virginia Department of Transportation, for work planned to improve the I–95 interchange.
Also Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors approved a scope of study on on the Fire & Rescue Department.
Now, private consultants can put bids in to do the study. The county will also send the request to the Virginia Department of Fire Programs to see if the study would be within its capacity.
The state organization offers free studies for localities that are usually smaller and rural; recently, Spotsylvania County had a study done.
The last time Stafford studied its department, about 10 years ago, there wasn’t even one department. Career and volunteer units were combined under one chief six years ago. Much has changed since then, in the department and in the composition of the county.
County supervisors have said doing a study is long past due.
Key questions will be:
What should Stafford’s fire and EMS service levels be?
What actions are required to ensure the county attains those service levels?
Is the county optimizing fire and EMS resources?
Are there additional resources needed to attain the service levels required?
Once the board selects who will do the study, either a consultant or VDFP, the work will be done within 90 days.
Also at Tuesday’s meeting, supervisors unanimously approved changes to the county’s travel policies.
If an employee leaves his or her job within six months of travel related to a conference or training, he or she will be responsible for reimbursing the county for any costs over $1,000.
County staff could not immediately provide the amount spent on travel over the past year.
Changes had been in the works for some time, but supervisors brought the matter to the public when they recently criticized the outgoing fire chief for attending a conference in Las Vegas during his last week in Stafford. Supervisors later learned that vacation time was used, and the conference was paid for by the hosting organization.
Current Interim Fire Chief Mark Lockhart also attended and his expenses were paid by the International Association of Fire Chiefs.
Another approved change calls for county vehicles to be used only for in-state travel, unless approved by the department director.
Employees had a little over two weeks to comment on the changes.
Katie Thisdell: 540/735-1975