Stafford residents concerned about major project
Developers for what may become Stafford County’s largest community received input Monday from several residents who mainly shared concerns about how much traffic and how many students the development would create.
Augustine South Associates LLC, the applicant for the project, called the community meeting at Colonial Forge High School in order to gauge the residents’ reactions to the project. Charles Payne Jr., an attorney with Hirschler Fleischer who is representing the applicant, said that such a meeting was not typical, but the applicant wanted it due to the sheer size of the project.
The development would be called George Washington Village and be built on about 1,056 acres between Courthouse and Ramoth Church roads. Interstate 95 is on the eastern border of the property, and Accokeek Creek runs through it.
“This is a game changer for Stafford County,” Payne said. “This is going to create a sense of place for the county, which is doesn’t have, which I think is a disadvantage for the county.”
Plans call for a total of 2,957 housing units with 1,885 single-family detached houses, 322 townhomes and 750 apartments to be built over the next 20 years. The developers would also build 1.85 million square feet of commercial space, mainly along I–95 near the Courthouse Road interchange. That interchange is scheduled to be rebuilt in the coming years. The commercial building would be phased in with the residential. Public water and sewer would serve the development.
A little less than 50 percent of the property would remain passive or active recreational land. Multipurpose soccer fields are proposed on the southern end of the property. Some land has been set aside for a fire and rescue site and for a future elementary school site.
The development is expected to generate a total of 3,136 school-age children and an annual net fiscal benefit to Stafford of $4.77 million.
Residents mainly worried about the traffic that the project would place on secondary roads.
“Even with their projected roads, it doesn’t seem like this will improve our traffic problems,” Gloria Jackson told developers.
Payne answered by pointing to the developer’s traffic study, which concluded that the proposed road improvements would keep the current traffic conditions the same or make them better.
“If you had a positive traffic study, I can’t believe it,” Alane Callander said.
The developers plan to extend Mine Road, which also serves as the main entrance to the nearby Embrey Mill development, from Courthouse Road to Ramoth Church Road. They also plan to extend Woodcutters Road. Those two extensions caused two residents to ask what would happen to their affected properties, which Payne said he would look into.
Callander added that she had been to many presentations like this one before only to see the developments change from their original intent down the road. She mentioned Leeland Station, which she said is now mainly a single-family development that originally had other features included. She also mentioned Celebrate Virginia North that has created more congestion on roads, but has empty storefronts.
Callander also wasn’t convinced that the school system could handle the additional children.
“We can’t pay for our schools now. It’s a great plan on paper,” Callander said, which was followed by applause.
The developers have applied to rezone the property from a mix of residential and agricultural to planned traditional neighborhood development. The application is in the conceptual phase and still being reviewed by county staff.
Vanessa Remmers: 540/735-1975