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

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Planning Commission says ‘no’ to Celebrate Virginia North apartments

A package deal project with two apartment complexes off U.S. 17 — one for the average renter wanting an upscale place to live, and the other for federal law enforcement agents going through training programs — was turned down Wednesday by the Stafford Planning Commission.

The Silver Cos. project at Celebrate Virginia North will go before the Board of Supervisors soon. (Read about the public hearing here and about a professor’s recommendations for more apartments in Stafford here.)

The seven commissioners unanimously voted to recommend denial, agreeing with the planning staff’s recommendation.

Holly Hazard, the Hartwood District commissioner, said there are some merits of the project on the Celebrate Virginia Parkway, but she also had many concerns, especially concerning the many other commission and board approvals still needed. Chairman Mike Rhodes said the 192 secured apartment units for agents was a “tremendous proposal” that he wished the best; it was the 480 units at the end of the nearly 4-mile parkway that had complications.

In addition to asking the county to help pay for needed road improvements, Silver was also requesting a change to the characteristics of the “recreational business campus” zoning to allow for non-age-restricted multi-family housing.

But the Planning Commission hasn’t taken up the zoning change yet, and won’t have a public hearing on it until January. Their deadline for the Celebrate Virginia North project was Dec. 18. “We can’t look at it together… it has made it very difficult to make an informed decision,” Hazard said when motioning for denial.

She worried about setting new policies for proffers ($1,000 cash to the schools for each unit) and crediting that hadn’t been examined by the current board or commission. “I think it would set a precedent for future applications that I’m not ready to make at this time,” Hazard said.