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Army post opposes project

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Fort A.P. Hill on Monday came out against the proposed 425-home New Post development in Spotsylvania County—just a day before the final public hearing on the project.

The Caroline County Army post also opposed the first, much larger Tricord Cos. proposal for the site in 2005. In that case, the then-commander wrote a letter of opposition about a week before a Board of Supervisors public hearing.

That 2005 hearing was canceled as a result of the letter, frustrating the people who had come to the meeting to support the proposal for 1,500 homes on 418 acres. The project was defeated later that year.

Board of Supervisors Chairman Paul Trampe said he and his colleagues would take A.P. Hill’s latest letter into account, but that he saw no reason to cancel today’s public hearing. The meeting has several hearings, which start at 6:30 p.m. in the boardroom of the Holbert Building, 9104 Courthouse Road.

Tricord owner Mike Jones, referring to A.P. Hill officials, said: “This has been a very open and public process, and they have not communicated any of their concerns to us. I’m surprised to learn that they’re just now commenting on New Post.”

Tricord’s latest proposal at New Post is for 425 homes and townhouses—and up to 160,000 square feet of commercial space—near the intersection of Routes 2 and 17 and the U.S. 17 Bypass. The Spotsylvania-based company is hoping to have the land rezoned to mixed-use.

The Planning Commission endorsed the project last week. Nobody from Fort A.P. Hill spoke at that public hearing. Lt. Col. Peter Dargle, Fort A.P. Hill’s commander, previously wrote the county a letter in April saying he did not have enough information about New Post to take a position.

In the latest letter dated Sept. 9, Dargle writes that the proposed development, less than two miles from the Army Post, would “adversely affect our mission to support the training and readiness of the Joint Force that trains at Fort A.P. Hill.”

Fort A.P. Hill officials, he wrote, only received the latest rezoning package for New Post on Sept. 3. That didn’t give them enough time to offer the level of review required by “this extensive development,” he added. He also wrote that he appreciates the developer’s pledge to tell buyers about the site’s proximity to A.P. Hill, but he doesn’t think that will be enough.

“Experience has shown us that military training and the noise it generates disturbs many residents, no matter how well informed they are in advance,” Dargle wrote.

Of greater concern, he wrote, is the potential for light pollution that could impact the installation’s nighttime operations.

And Dargle wondered if Tricord planned to light the soccer complex at the site, a move he said would create “substantial light pollution.”

In closing, Dargle urged supervisors to reject the proposed development or defer action at a minimum.

“This will ensure that our responsibility to train America’s warriors will not be adversely impacted, and when we send them into harm’s way, they are ready to face the challenge.”

Read Fort A.P. Hill’s letter on

Jeff Branscome: 540/374-5402