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Germanna campus, apartment proposal going to Stafford planners

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Stafford’s Planning Commission will consider a proposal for an apartment complex and a new campus for Germanna Community College near Stafford Hospital later this summer.

A public hearing was held Wednesday evening for the proposed 288-unit Abberly at South Campus as well as the new Germanna facility. The commission voted to defer a rezoning decision until its Aug. 28 meeting.

Several residents said that the project is a perfect fit for the county and could spur additional economic development.

“It will be one of the greatest assets you can imagine,” Realtor Jo Knight said. “ It’s just a perfect shot.”

Blacksburg-based developer HHHunt is asking to build an apartment community just southeast of the intersection of U.S. 1 and Hospital Center Boulevard. The company, working with project developer Virginia Properties Inc., has asked that about 22 acres be rezoned to an urban development classification for apartments called Abberly.

Directly across from the apartments is a 25-acre parcel that would be deeded to Germanna. The central location is an attractive site for the college, which has long wanted a campus in Stafford. It currently rents classroom space in two locations in the county.

“Please give our students options, give our workforce folks options so they don’t have to drive,” said Cathy Washington, a math teacher and Stafford’s representative on the college’s board.

Walt Kiwall, a resident and the president of the 4-year-old Stafford Hospital, told the commission that he looks forward to having more educational opportunities for Mary Washington Healthcare associates, and that increased higher education offerings within the county will also benefit all residents and improve quality of life.

“We appreciate this opportunity to listen to and hear about this exciting project that we feel will complement the Stafford Hospital campus and the vision that’s been put forth for the Courthouse area,” Kiwall said.

The proposal for Abberly at South Campus includes construction of a new road, South Campus Boulevard, to connect U.S. 1 and Old Potomac Church Road, along with a network of internal streets.

Commission members questioned the apartment complex’s impacts on schools and transportation.

“I think there’s a lot of potential, a lot of positives with this proposal,” chairman Mike Rhodes said. He asked for specific details on the number of bedrooms in the complex. Sherman Patrick, the attorney for HHHunt, said about half of the units would have one bedroom, and thus no impact on schools; another 142 units would have two bedrooms, he said.

The developer is offering cash proffers of $15,853 per unit, or $4.6 million total, to offset the new complex’s impacts on county services. The estimated value of the land dedication to Germanna is $186,000, and takes the place of money for the public schools.

This is the county’s first application for an Urban Development zoning designation, which was created in 2012 for the previously state-required Urban Development Areas, a high-density mix of commercial and residential growth. The Courthouse Area UDA was the furthest along in the planning process, but now, UDAs are being re-evaluated. Staff said the Abberly project is consistent with that plan.

The county’s Historic Commission is asking for preservation of a Civil War activity site and cemetery that are on the property.

Katie Thisdell: 540/735-1975