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Stafford pans Silver’s projects

BY KATIE THISDELL

THE FREE LANCE-STAR

The Stafford Planning Commission has recommended turning down a package deal project proposing two apartment complexes off U.S. 17—one for regular renters and the other for federal law enforcement agents going through training programs.

Tying the two sections together bothered the seven-member commission, as did the need for a series of additional OKs from the Board of Supervisors and commission. That includes a road improvement and a zoning amendment change.

“We can’t look at it together. It has made it very difficult to make an informed decision,” Hartwood Commissioner Holly Hazard said when moving to follow a staff recommendation against the proposal. At its meeting last week, the commission voted unanimously to recommend that the Board of Supervisors reject the package deal.

The Silver Cos. project at Celebrate Virginia North will go before the board soon. A date hasn’t been set yet.

Chairman Mike Rhodes said the 192 secured apartment units for federal agents was a “tremendous proposal” that he wished the best; it was the 480 units at the end of the nearly 4-mile parkway that had complications.

But the Planning Commission has yet to take up a proposed change to the zoning category that would allow for multi-family residential units in that area—a change that would be required to allow both parts of the Silver project. Discussion about the Recreational Business Campus zoning amendment will be on the Dec. 18 agenda, with a public hearing possible in January.

“I can’t approve an application where you don’t know the underlying zoning,” Hazard said.

She also worried about setting new policies for proffers and credits that hadn’t been examined by the current board or commission.

Silver is offering $1,000 per unit that would go to offset impacts to the schools. Currently, suggested proffers for apartments are $23,823 per unit. Proffers—voluntary contributions to the county for development—are revised annually. If the trainee-designated units were converted to market-rate rentals, Silver would proffer $5,160 per unit.

“I think it would set a precedent for future applications that I’m not ready to make at this time,” Hazard said.

The Fire & Rescue Department estimated an 11-minute response time to reach the proposed apartments, above the department’s goal of a countywide 8-minute response time.

Commissioner Steven Apicella said he didn’t think the apartments, geared toward young, well-off commuters and empty-nesters looking to downsize, were appropriate for the site, which was originally planned as a business campus.

Commissioners commended Chris Hornung, vice president of Planning & Engineering for Silver, for the outreach to neighbors on the parkway.

Bringing the parkway up to state standards is also tied to the project. Silver Cos. has asked for help with the costs, with the county contributing anything above $300,000. That will be discussed within the infrastructure committee Tuesday.

Katie Thisdell: 540/735-1975

kthisdell@freelancestar.com

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