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Celebrate Va. North request reworked

The dais in Stafford County will be crowded Tuesday evening.

At 7 p.m., members of both the Board of Supervisors and the Planning Commission will hear a revised request for the Celebrate Virginia North development off U.S. 17.

Silver Cos. asked to speed up consideration of their latest plan after a previous proposal for 672 apartments in two areas was rejected this summer.

A little more than one-third of those apartments would have been gated, in support of an existing federal law enforcement training facility on Celebrate Virginia Parkway.

While supervisors generally approved the secure apartments, they felt uneasy about the 480-unit high-end apartment complex located to the south of the road, closer to the Rappahannock River.

Silver Cos. separated the plans in the new application. Because of that, the proposal is “substantially different” from the original, meaning Silver doesn’t have to wait the requisite year to re-submit its request.

The new plans, which will be presented at the joint public hearing in the board chambers of the George L. Gordon Government Center, call for a rezoning, a conditional-use permit and an amendment to the recreational business campus zoning category.

The rezoning would change 18 acres of land in the stalled Celebrate Virginia North development from industrial uses to recreational business.

That zoning category would normally allow only a limited number of age-

restricted apartments. So Silver is also asking for an amendment to the zoning code that would allow for other kinds of apartments, as long as the developer received a conditional-use permit.

If those requests are granted, Silver would then need a conditional-use permit to build the apartments.

The pieces are all part of one application.

Previously, Silver had wanted to rezone 92 acres; the company cut the area to 18 in the new request. The company had originally said it was important to keep both parts of the project together—the secure and market-rate apartments.

The newly proposed 192-unit complex is just for the trainees and trainers who are at the 50,000-square-foot facility for short periods of time. The developer intends to triple the space for training and offices.

The one- and two-bedroom apartments would be garden-style around a central courtyard and community building. A swimming pool, fitness center and athletic fields are also planned.

If they are ever converted to standard market apartments, the company will give the county $7,500 per unit, to offset impacts on schools, parks and emergency services.

County staff opposes the zoning code amendment, saying the recreational business campus is intended to be a suburban-style campus with open spaces but no multifamily dwellings. Those are intended to be part of the urban development areas.

However, if that amendment is adopted, staff recommends approving the rezoning and the conditional-use permit, saying the permitting process will mitigate the impact of allowing the apartments.

The last joint hearing between the Stafford Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors was held in July 2009 to adopt a new Comprehensive Plan.

Katie Thisdell: 540/735-1975