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Stafford to weigh airport proposal

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The Stafford County Board of Supervisors will finally get to decide on Tuesday what kind of development should sprout up around the Stafford Regional Airport.

A rezoning application for the development that sparked the airport development debate will come up during the public hearing portion of supervisors’ Tuesday meeting, giving residents another chance to weigh in on the project. Supervisors then have the option to reject or approve the development, or defer a decision.

The development, called Oakenwold, could bring up to 650 residences and up to 250,000 square feet of commercial space on a 232-acre site southwest of the airport. The commercial build-out would be phased with the residential, which would include single-family detached homes, townhouses and multifamily units.

The president of a Woodbridge-based engineering firm, John “Skip” Groupe IV, and his son, John “Johnny” Groupe V, are under contract to purchase the site from the owner, Michelle Moncure. The purchase is contingent on the Stafford Board of Supervisors rezoning the property from agricultural to planned–traditional neighborhood development.

About 116 acres would remain open space. At the county’s request, about 100 acres of that open space could be conveyed to the county for a passive recreation park. Other amenities include a community center, trails, tennis courts and a pool. The applicants have also offered to set aside three acres for a public use site.

The Groupes would limit access and preserve the 19th-century home on the site that is called Oakenwold.

After months of pushing back a vote on the project, the Planning Commission recommended by a 5–2 vote on July 9 that Oakenwold be rejected.

The majority of commissioners took issue with the development’s proximity to the airport. Oakenwold would be located under the flight pattern of the aircraft. At its closest point, the project is 3,600 feet from the center of the runway. The first residential unit is about 4,200 feet from the runway, while most of the residential units would be more than a mile from the center of the runway.

After airport officials continued to voice opposition to the project, a committee of planning commissioners and airport officials was tasked with creating a plan for how the land around the airport should be used. That plan is expected in early fall.

In the meantime, supervisors will have to decide whether the development is compatible with the site. The Groupes have offered a 500-foot buffer between residences and Centreport Parkway. They also offered to equip residences with noise-reducing material to bring noise levels to accepted levels, and notify potential residents of the nearby airport.

Airport officials have pointed out that the noise-reducing material within the home won’t do anything for residents once residents step outside.

In recent materials submitted to the county, Clark Leming, the attorney representing the Groupes, said that the noise would dissipate based on the distance of the development from the runway, and be dampened by trees. Leming also pointed to an industrial and commercial development currently surrounding the Manassas airport in Prince William County that is closer than the one proposed in Stafford.

The Groupes have offered $31,175 in cash proffers for each single-family detached residence, $17,157 for each townhome and $15,861 for each multifamily dwelling.

Cash proffers are voluntary payments made by developers to offset the impact of development to county services. The guidelines that Stafford sets for such amounts are currently under review by the county.

The developers’ cash proffers are less than those a county committee recommended be adopted, but come closer to cash proffer amounts recommended by the Stafford Planning Commission.

The committee’s recommendations, which supervisors sent to a public hearing, call for $55,540 for single-family units, $29,577 for townhomes and $27,688 for multifamily units.

Vanessa Remmers: 540/735-1975

vremmers@freelancestar.com

 

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