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Clift Farm developer changes plan for site


The developer of a controversial project in Stafford County is changing direction and trying Plan B.

Rather than requesting a rezoning for Clift Farm Quarter, off U.S. 1 and Eskimo Hill Road, D.R. Horton wants to do a cluster-plan subdivision for 196 lots on 472 acres. It would connect to public water and sewer.

No public notice or board approval is needed for cluster projects, which are by-right developments. But the Board of Supervisors took up one initial aspect of the project Tuesday night: Can it connect to the sewer line that runs through the property, even though it’s not within the county’s designated Urban Services Area?

County staff said a review by the Planning Commission is needed first, but attorney Clark Leming, who represents Horton, said that’s not the case.

Because of time limits at the afternoon session of the board’s meeting, the issue was deferred in mid-discussion. It will be back Nov. 20. 

The scope of the new Clift Farm Quarter project is vastly different from the earlier public application this year under the same name.

In March, a lengthy public hearing was held on the rezoning proposal for 141 acres just south of the intersection of U.S. 1 and Eskimo Hill Road.

Horton had asked to change the zoning from agricultural use to Planned Traditional Neighborhood Design, or PTND. Plans included a maximum of 585 residential units—a mix of single-family homes, townhouses and multifamily units—along with commercial space.

But that rezoning application is now on hold as the developer pursues this  application for a cluster-plan project for Clift Farm.

 It calls for 196 1-acre lots on the 472-acre tract of land. Half of the land would be preserved as open space.

The county passed a new cluster-plan ordinance in June.

Planning Director Jeff Harvey told the applicant, represented by Leming, that a Comprehensive Plan compliance review is needed as part of the project’s concept plan.

That review would assess whether the project was in line with the county’s plan for growth. 

“That’s been our standard practice, that’s what we’ve done. I’m following the practice we’ve followed for a number of years,” Harvey said.

A review had been done in 2005 for a project previously planned for the same site, Stafford Town Station.

At that time, the Planning Commission approved connection to public sewer. Leming showed the board photos of an existing sewer line through the part of the property that is outside the Urban Services Area.

County staff now says the projects are substantially different, and that the 2005 decision no longer stands.

Clustering is allowed as a by-right option. No public notice or proffers are required for this type of development. Because less review is needed, application fees could be drastically reduced by the board, pending an upcoming public hearing.

But as Supervisors Bob Thomas, Paul Milde and Cord Sterling were asking questions about the project, Chairwoman Susan Stimpson asked to defer the discussion until the next meeting, Nov. 20.

Also on that day, the board will hold a public hearing on an appeal for another compliance review.

The Planning Commission had denied a sewer connection to Jumping Branch Farm LLC in the Hartwood District.

Leming, the attorney in that application as well, appealed that finding to the board. A public hearing is not required.



Katie Thisdell: 540/735-1975