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Spotsylvania supervisors delay vote on development

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A newly proposed “super ramp” that would remove traffic from a busy portion of southbound U.S. 1 in Massaponax may influence Spotsylvania County’s decision on a nearby proposal for more than 1,000 homes.

The developer of the proposed 1,060-home Heritage Woods neighborhood off U.S. 1 near Cosner’s Corner has offered Spotsylvania about $17.5 million toward the ramp in exchange for the subdivision’s approval.

The Board of Supervisors on Tuesday tabled a decision on the housing project for the third time since September, when it held a public hearing on the development just south of Lee’s Parke.

“As one of the new members on the board, I have been looking at this proposal, and I’m just not satisfied that I have gotten all the information that I need to make an adequate decision,” said Supervisor Greg Cebula, who took office this month.

The supervisors unanimously voted to delay their decision until the Jan. 28 meeting.

But they did react favorably to a Virginia Department of Transportation report earlier in the meeting on the so-called “super ramp,” which could improve traffic near the Heritage Woods site.

The $45 million to $58 million ramp would travel from the southbound Interstate 95 exit at Massaponax to the U.S. 17 Bypass—allowing vehicles to avoid a stretch of U.S. 1 south between Southpoint I and II and Cosner’s Corner.

Traffic would be able to exit the ramp at U.S. 1 near Cosner’s Corner and the U.S. 17 Bypass. The ramp would span Southpoint Parkway and U.S. 1.

Supervisor Chris Yakabouski, who took office this month, lauded the proposal as a longer-term solution to traffic congestion.

“We just keep coming up with new ideas to fix the problem, and the problem just keeps getting worse,” he said.

Still, the ramp is far from a done deal.

For one, it doesn’t have any funding. And design and construction would take at least eight years, according to VDOT’s report.

Initial funding could come from Arizona-based Walton International Group, the developer of Heritage Woods.

Of the $17.5 million the developer is offering, $2.6 million could be spent before any homes are built. The rest of the cash proffers would be paid out over many years, as the homes are occupied.

VDOT could conceivably provide matching funds as part of the state agency’s revenue-sharing program.

If the ramp project is not authorized within five years, the county could spend the money on other transportation needs or for schools, according to Walton’s most recent proffers.

Yakabouski expressed concern that the county would have to wait five years before using the money for other purposes.

Attorney Clark Leming, who represents Walton, said he could revise that provision.

“If the board believes that a lesser amount of time would be helpful, we don’t have any issue with that,” he said.

Walton has changed its proffers several times.

The developer initially promised $13.6 million in cash proffers to help offset the impact of more homes on roads, schools, fire stations, parks, libraries and other infrastructure. Walton then upped the offer to $15.7 million and earmarked the total to transportation and schools only.

Some have criticized the developer’s latest $17.5 million proffer submission because it doesn’t direct money toward schools. And county staff has recommended denial of the project, noting that the cash proffers are millions short of what local guidelines call for.

The Planning Commission recommended approval of Heritage Woods in August.

Walton is asking that the 378-acre development be rezoned from rural and commercial to planned development housing for 725 homes, 147 townhouses and 188 apartments.

Jeff Branscome: 540/374-5402