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Hearings set for Spotsy projects

Housing developers are hoping to maintain their momentum in Spotsylvania County at a meeting Tuesday.

The Board of Supervisors will hold public hearings then on the 425-home New Post community and the 1,060-home Heritage Woods—both of which have been endorsed by the Planning Commission. The hearings start at 6:30 p.m.

If the projects are approved, developers will be four-for-four in recent months.

Supervisors signed off on a mixed-use development in July and another in August with a total of more than 2,000 detached homes, townhouses and apartments. Those developments, Courthouse Village and Crossroads Station, also will have retail and office space, which typically generates more tax revenue and requires fewer public services than homes.

Spotsylvania-based Tricord Cos. is proposing the 188-acre New Post development near the intersection of Routes 2 and 17 and the U.S. 17 Bypass.

It’s unclear exactly how the property would be developed, though one scenario envisions 110 large upscale homes, 220 smaller homes, 95 townhouses and up to 160,000 square feet of commercial space.

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The Planning Commission last week voted to recommend approval of New Post. Normally, supervisors can’t hold public hearings until at least 25 days after a commission vote—but the board last month agreed to waive that rule for New Post.

Like Courthouse Village and Crossroads Station, Tricord is seeking the developer-friendly mixed-use designation that was approved last year. The zoning category gives developers a lot of leeway in how their plans evolve over the years.

County planning staff initially recommended denial of New Post, partly because Tricord hadn’t promised to build any commercial space.

The staff reversed that stance after the developer provided a legal guarantee of at least 20,000 square feet of retail and/or office space by the time 350 homes are built.

Even so, the planning employees say they are concerned about the development’s estimated $13.3 million impact on public facilities like schools and roads. Tricord is not offering cash proffers, which are voluntary payments to offset the cost of schools and other infrastructure needed for new development.

This marks the second time Tricord has proposed a development at New Post. The first proposal, which was defeated in 2005, was much larger, with 1,500 homes on 418 acres.

The proposed Heritage Woods, the other development on Tuesday’s agenda, would be off U.S. 1 near Cosner’s Corner. Walton International Group is asking that the 378-acre property be rezoned from rural and commercial to “planned development housing.”

Plans are for 725 detached homes, 147 townhouses and 188 apartments.

Of the four large developments that have been put forward this year, Heritage Woods is the only to offer cash proffers—probably because it doesn’t have a commercial component like the others.

Still, the developer’s $15.7 million in cash proffers are about $12 million short of what county guidelines call for. That’s at least partly why county planning staff has recommended denial of the project.

Planning Commission member Cristine Lynch has criticized her colleagues for endorsing developments that she says will cost the county more money than they generate. She questioned whether the decision-makers were putting the interests of businesses ahead of residents.

Meanwhile, other planning commissioners say more retail and housing will add jobs and help stimulate the economy. The majority of them disagree with the county’s current proffer policy.

And Supervisor David Ross has criticized cash proffers as another tax, with the cost being passed on to homebuyers.

Jeff Branscome: 540/374-5402

jbranscome@freelancestar.com

 

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