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Stafford planners put off Oakenwold vote

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The Stafford County Planning Commission postponed a decision over a proposed development off Centreport Parkway in order to digest changes the developer has proposed.

The decision to take up the issue later came after a Wednesday night public hearing on the development called Oakenwold. The president of a Woodbridge-based engineering firm, John “Skip” Groupe IV, and his son, John “Johnny” Groupe V, have applied to rezone the 232-acre site from agricultural to planned-traditional neighborhood development.

The Groupes scaled back the number of proposed residential units from 695 to 650.

They would still be required to construct single-family detached homes, town houses and multifamily units.

The Groupes also changed their plans to provide a commercial buffer between Centreport Parkway and the development, prohibiting residences within 300 feet of Centreport Parkway.

They had originally proposed 250,000 square feet of commercial space.

Instead of dedicating 2 acres for a fire and rescue station, the Groupes plan to dedicate 3 acres for a public-use site. Amenities would still include a community center, trails, gardens and a pool.

About half of the property would still remain open space. But the Groupes also recently proposed handing over 100 acres to the county for recreational use.

The cash proffers, or contributions the Groupes would make to offset the impact the development would have on county services like schools and public safety, didn’t change. The total cash contributions would be between $13 million to $16 million depending on the mix of dwelling unit types.

Interstate 95, Centreport Parkway, Mountain View Road and Oakenwold Lane would border the development.

Citing noise studies and comparing development around similar airports, representatives of the developers argued that residents would not be negatively impacted from noise from the nearby Stafford County Regional Airport.

A previous public hearing on the project was stalled after airport officials voiced concern that noise complaints from Oakenwold’s residents could hamper the airport’s growth. The developers would be required to notify potential residents of the nearby airport.

Clark Leming, a lawyer representing the Groupes, also called on an economic expert, who said that residential development of the site would create jobs and generate the county millions in revenue.

The representatives were followed by two citizens who supported the project for the economic benefits it would bring.

“I’ve never had a problem with the [Shannon] airport near me,” Paul Loft, who lives in the Lee’s Hill subdivision in Spotsylvania County, said.

But a handful of citizens disagreed, some arguing that the site’s proximity to the interstate and airport make it prime for industrial development and that residential growth would stifle the airport’s economic benefits.

“He took the most advantageous position for their side of the argument, and took the worst position for our side of the argument,” resident Mike Logan said of the economic official’s presentation. “It is a prime spot [for industrial] because it is between the airport and the interstate.”

Others opposed to the project wondered whether the growing county could handle the additional school children that the development would bring.

Despite the proposed changes and several meetings with Leming, the airport’s concerns remained. Hamilton Palmer with the Stafford County Regional Airport Authority read a statement voicing opposition to the project. He asked the commission to remember that a negative impact on the airport would have a domino effect on the other municipalities that benefit from the airport.

Without much discussion, commission members deferred the issue to a subsequent work session.

Several residents complained that the proposed changes, noise studies and economic studies were not made available before the public hearing. Commission members directed county staff to make the changes available at the county library and on the county website. Commission members themselves said they had not had enough time to look over the updated proposal.

Because the public hearing is now closed, members of the public who did not have a chance to look over the new information can contact commission members directly or comment during the public presentation period at the beginning of commission meetings.

Vanessa Remmers: 540/735-1975


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