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Developer plans 105 townhouses

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A local developer is proposing up to 105 townhouses in Spotsylvania County near the planned Virginia Railway Express station.  

Donn Hart of Virginia Properties Inc. is asking the county to rezone the 10-acre site near the intersection of the U.S. 17 Bypass and Jim Morris Road from commercial to planned development housing.  The proposed subdivision is being called Wheatland Townes.

The Board of Supervisors initially rezoned the land from rural to commercial in March 2005 to allow the construction of a 67,200-square-foot business park. But the business park never materialized amid a slumping market for commercial space.

Virginia Properties isn’t the only developer that hopes to build homes on land now zoned for commercial uses only.

Planning commissioners recently recommended approval of W.J. Vakos and Co.’s request to build up to 830 apartments—and at least 50,000 square feet of commercial space—at the Southpoint II shopping center in Massaponax. And last month, they voted in favor of a request to build a church, commercial space and 89 homes on land off Smith Station Road that was rezoned from rural to commercial in 2005.

The Board of Supervisors has the final say on all rezoning requests.

Virginia Properties, which is proposing Wheatland Townes at 9700 Jim Morris Road, says the development would include a pool, a clubhouse and sidewalks. The townhouses would have garages and from three to four bedrooms.

The developer has offered to contribute $150,000 for a turn lane at the community’s entrance. It would pay another $150,000 toward improvements to the traffic light at the intersection of Jim Morris and the bypass.

The developer would pay the money by the time 50 homes had received occupancy permits. If the turn-lane and traffic-light improvements aren’t initiated by the time the development is fully built, the county could spend the cash at its discretion.

The developer has also promised the establishment of a “commuter assistance” program when at least 75 homes are occupied. The firm in charge of the subdivision’s homeowners association would be responsible for the program, which would facilitate carpooling and transportation to and from the future VRE station on Crossroads Parkway.

Virginia Properties isn’t offering cash proffers, which are fees developers pay localities to offset the cost of more homes on roads, schools and other infrastructure. The developer says an estimated 57 school-aged children would live at Wheatland Townes.

The neighborhood will provide homeownership opportunities for apartment renters, empty-nesters and young families living in smaller or older homes, according to the developer.

The rezoning application was submitted last month. The Planning Commission will likely hold a public hearing on the project in August or September.

Jeff Branscome:  540/374-5402 | jbranscome@freelancestar.com

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