The News Desk is a collection of news, notes and breaking items affecting the Fredericksburg community.
One track request is OK with VDOT
The proposed Dominion Raceway in Thornburg received both good and bad news this week from the Virginia Department of Transportation.
On Monday, a VDOT administrator issued a memo saying the agency could not approve the raceway’s request for an entrance just 280 feet from an Interstate 95 ramp without more specific transportation information from the developer.
Things got a little better for the raceway on Friday, when the same VDOT official wrote that the agency doesn’t object to the raceway’s request for amendments to Spotsylvania County’s long-term development plan. Those changes would make the proposed track compatible with that plan.
Next week, the Planning Commission will have a chance to weigh in. It is holding a public hearing on the proposed Comprehensive Plan amendments Wednesday at 7 p.m. in the Holbert Building.
Raceway developer Steve Britt hopes to open the facility in spring 2014 on 160 acres at the northeast corner of the Thornburg exit off I–95.
INDUSTRY OR COMMERCE?
But the county’s Comprehensive Plan defines that property in the Jackson Gateway Development District as an “employment center.”
The raceway is seeking to have the designation changed to “commercial.”
An “employment center” can have a commercial component—but according to the plan, it’s there primarily to support industrial and office space.
Angela Foroughi, transportation and land use director for VDOT’s Fredericksburg District, wrote in Friday’s letter that the changes “do not impact future local, regional or statewide transportation plans and support the economic element of the Jackson Gateway Planning District.”
Raceway officials are also asking the county to revise the Comprehensive Plan’s proposal to relocate the Thornburg I–95 interchange to the north.
Foroughi noted Friday that the proposed location of the interchange hadn’t been agreed upon yet. Therefore, she continued, it “should possibly be removed from the Comp Plan until such time as this issue has been resolved.”
QUERIES FOR DEVELOPER
Meanwhile, Foroughi’s letter Monday on the raceway’s planned entrance included a list of questions and concerns.
For instance, VDOT told the developer not to count on state-funded improvements to the Thornburg interchange and also worried that I–95 ramps would back up during some peak times at the raceway.
The Coalition to Preserve the Thornburg Countryside, which opposes the raceway at its proposed site, praised VDOT’s decision on its Facebook page. One member called the Monday letter “devastating.”
Fredericksburg lawyer Charlie Payne, who represents the raceway, downplayed VDOT’s response on the entrance. He noted that the state agency had little time to respond to the developer’s lengthy traffic study.
Britt called many of VDOT’s inquires “clarifying-type questions.”
The raceway in January submitted a request to Spotsylvania for a rezoning and special-use permit. Public hearings haven’t yet been scheduled for those issues.
The Planning Commission will make recommendations, and supervisors will have the final say on all of the racetrack’s proposals.
Jeff Branscome: 540/374-5402