vanessa-newVanessa Remmers covers Stafford County government and schools for and The Free Lance-Star.

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Clift Farm Quarter puts rezoning on hold, starts work on cluster plan

The developer of a controversial project in Stafford County is changing direction and trying plan B.

Rather than requesting a rezoning for Clift Farm Quarter, off U.S. 1 and Eskimo Hill Road, D.R. Horton wants to do a cluster plan subdivision for 196 lots on 472 acres. It would connect to public water and sewer.

No public notice or board approval is needed for cluster projects, which are by-right developments.

But the Board of Supervisors took up one initial aspect of the project Tuesday night: can it connect to the sewer line that runs through the property, even though it’s not within the county’s designated Urban Services Area?

County staff said a review by the Planning Commission is needed first, but attorney Clark Leming said that’s not the case.

But because of time limits at the afternoon session of the board’s meeting, the issue was deferred mid-discussion. It will be back Nov. 20. (Read the board documents here.)

How the project has changed

The scope of the new Clift Farm Quarter project is vastly different from an earlier application this year by the same name. (You may remember when the public hearing went past midnight in March, and a big draw for the project was rectangular fields.)

Developer D.R. Horton had asked to change the zoning from agricultural use to Planned Traditional Neighborhood Design, or PTND, for 141 acres. Plans included a maximum of 585 residential units—a mix of single-family homes, townhouses and multifamily units, along with commercial space.

But that rezoning application is now on hold, as the developer pursues an application for a cluster plan project for Clift Farm. It calls for 196 1-acre lots on the 472-acre tract of land. Half of the land would be preserved as open space. A new cluster plan ordinance was passed in June.

Planning Director Jeff Harvey told the applicant, represented by attorney Clark Leming, that a Comprehensive Plan compliance review is needed as part of the project’s concept plan.

That review would assess whether or not the project was in line with the county’s plan for growth.

“That’s been out standard practice, that’s what we’ve done. I’m following the practice we’ve followed for a number of years,” Harvey said.

Planning Commission previously approved sewer

A review had been done in 2005 for a project previously planned for the same site, Stafford Town Station.

At that time, the Planning Commission had approved connection to public sewer. Leming showed the board photos of an existing sewer line through the part of the property that is outside the Urban Services Area.

County staff now say the projects are substantially different, and that the 2005 decision no longer stands.

Clustering is allowed as a by-right option. No public notice or proffers are required for this type of development. Because less review is needed, application fees could be drastically reduced by the board, pending an upcoming public hearing.

But as supervisors Bob Thomas, Paul Milde and Cord Sterling were asking questions about the project, Chairman Susan Stimpson asked to defer the discussion until the next meeting, Nov. 20. (A groundbreaking for the terminal at Stafford Regional Airport had been planned for 5 p.m.)

Another compliance review up for public hearing

Also on that day, the board will hold a public hearing on an appeal for another compliance review. The Planning Commission had denied sewer connection to Jumping Branch Farm LLC, in the Hartwood District.

Leming appealed that finding to the board. A public hearing is not required.