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Spotsy supervisors OK Heritage Woods

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A divided Spotsylvania County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday voted in favor of a 1,060-home subdivision off U.S. 1 near Cosner’s Corner.

That makes Heritage Woods the sixth housing development to win approval in Spotsylvania in less than a year. In all, the projects will have nearly 4,000 homes.

Supervisors approved Heritage Woods by a vote of 4–3, with Ann Heidig, Gary Skinner, Timothy McLaughlin and Chris Yakabouski supporting the 378-acre development just south of Lee’s Parke.

Supervisors Greg Cebula, David Ross and Paul Trampe voted against it.

“A thousand homes and a thousand residents bring tax revenue in, and all of those taxpayers will pay for the sheriffs and the fire department and the schools and the teachers as they grow themselves out,” McLaughlin said.

Cebula, who was elected to the Berkeley District seat in November, took the opposite stance.

“While I am impressed with the overall quality of the proposal, I am still convinced that the long-term budget burdens for the transportation, schools and public safety will be borne upon the backs of our existing residents,” he said.

Ross, explaining his vote against the project, said, “I’d like to take a step back and just see what’s coming and make sure we’ve got adequate transportation, adequate plans put together before moving forward.”

Primary concerns about Heritage Woods are its impact on schools and roads. The subdivision is expected to have more than 500 school-age children when it is fully built.

Arizona-based Walton International Group proposed the development, which is envisioned to have 725 detached homes, 147 town houses and 188 apartments.

Without the supervisors’ approval, just 53 homes could be built at the site.

McLaughlin said there are not enough rooftops in the area to support all of the nearby commercial space. “I think what we’re doing here with this development is a little bit of correcting, putting more rooftops to support that growth.”

More commercial activity will give the county additional revenue for schools and other needs, he said.

Skinner, whose Lee Hill District includes the Heritage Woods site, noted that the county doesn’t have any state or federal funding for transportation projects at the nearby Interstate 95 exit in Massaponax.

“If we want to lighten the load on Route 1, we have to now start to work with our developers,” he said.

The Heritage Woods developer promised Spotsylvania about $17.9 million in exchange for the project’s approval.

It will pay $3 million of that money up front. The rest—$17,663 per detached home, $12,782 per town house and $6,123 per apartment—must be paid by the time each home receives an occupancy permit.

“I think it’ll be a standard that we set,” Skinner said of the proffers.

Spotsylvania can spend the money on transportation projects or “other county uses,” according to the proffers.

Localities typically designate cash proffers for road projects, new schools and other infrastructure.

The developer had previously earmarked all of its cash proffers for a proposed ramp that would travel from the southbound Interstate 95 exit at Massaponax to the U.S. 17 Bypass.

That project, dubbed the “super ramp,” is estimated to cost from $45 million to $58 million.

County staff had recommended denial of Heritage Woods, writing that it would “not preserve and enhance the quality of infrastructure and services.”

To meet Spotsylvania’s cash proffer guidelines, the developer would’ve needed to fork over about $28.1 million—or $10.2 million more than it offered.

Supervisors last year approved several large mixed-use developments without cash proffers.

Unlike Heritage Woods, those projects include plans for shops and offices, in addition to homes.

Jeff Branscome: 540/374-5402