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Few questions on Massaponax development

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A small, subdued crowd attended a meeting Thursday night on a proposed mixed-use development in Spotsylvania County that would have about 2,000 town houses, apartments and condos.

Only one couple expressed reservations about the 240-acre project off U.S. 1, just south of the Cosner’s Corner shopping center in Massaponax. About 600 of the housing units would be apartments, and the rest would be condos and town houses.

“From my point of view, it doesn’t look so wonderful,” said Laura Mahan, who owns a home on Old Telegraph Road, which is next to the proposed development.

“We moved here to get away from everything, now we’re in the middle of everything,” Mahan’s boyfriend, Steve Gareis, told The Free Lance–Star.

The community meeting at Wytestone Suites was hosted by the project’s developer, International Development of Virginia LLC. It was the first step in a process that will require public hearings in front of the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors.

“We happen to live in a region … that is truly becoming an economic center,” local attorney Charlie Payne, who represents the developer, said at the community meeting. “With that is going to come growth. The reality of that is do we embrace it or do we lose it? We’re here to embrace it.”

He said the project, called Jackson Park, would have a town-center feel with 300,000-plus square feet of commercial space. “We’re attracting a lot of positive attention from high-end market retailers and commercial investors,” said Payne, who said the developer hopes to attract a grocery store and a movie theater.

The area, near the congested Interstate 95 exit in Massaponax, has been a prime target for growth despite traffic concerns. About a mile south of the Jackson Park site is Lee’s Parke—which can have up to 2,232 homes—and the recently approved, 1,060-home Heritage Woods.

In the past year, supervisors have approved almost 2,000 housing units—more than half of which are apartments—near Cosner’s Corner.

Just a handful of the 34 residents at the community meeting asked questions, and most didn’t state their opinions of the project.

Mike Cotter asked about proffers, which are monetary and in-kind contributions that developers make in exchange for a project’s approval.

Payne told him the developer would donate right of way for a planned new interchange three miles south of the Massaponax I–95 exit. He said the developer is still evaluating the rest of its proffer package.

“I’m saying that in the same breath I’m saying this is going to be a significant economic development generator,” Payne said. “It’s going to generate lots of tax revenue.”

Mahan, the nearby homeowner, said she was worried about increased traffic. Payne said the development would provide a safer route to her home on Old Telegraph Road. The developer plans to put a traffic light at the intersection of U.S. 1 and Old Telegraph.

The developer hasn’t yet submitted a rezoning application to the county but plans to do so in a month or two. For the proposal to become a reality, supervisors must rezone the property from industrial to mixed use.

Local businessman Fitz Johnson is a partner in the company proposing Jackson Park. He owns nearby land off the U.S. 17 Bypass that Spotsylvania hopes to buy for its Virginia Railway Express station.

Jeff Branscome: 540/374-5402