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PC approves proffer amendment for Creekside

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Creekside

The Greene County Planning Commission Jan. 20 recommended approval, by a vote of 4-1, of the proffer amendment to allow a 1,180-unit development to begin construction off Preddy Creek Road.

Creekside and the Village at Preddy Creek were approved for 580 townhouse units and 600 single-family homes on 402 acres in March 2012 by a 3-2 vote. One of the reasons the development has yet to be built is the requirement to build a connector road between U.S. Route 29 and Preddy Creek Road near Autumn Oaks Lane.

The construction of the connector road, however, has been taken over by the Virginia Department of Transportation and is slated to be finished in 2023, so Greene CD Inc. asked to begin construction before the road is completed.

Water, schools, traffic and stream buffers were all concerns brought up by the public during a hearing at the planning commission regarding the proffer amendment.

According to state code, proffers are voluntary for a builder and a locality may not ask for something or negotiate with a developer on proffers—they can only either approve or deny them.

“What we’re looking to do is amend a few proffers based on some changes that have occurred through the years,” said Keith Lancaster with Southern Development. “We wanted to see how we could enhance the overall project not just for this neighborhood, but for all Greene County residents. Looking at the long history we are trying to re-evaluate what contributions could benefit the community and that’s what led us down the road of the proffer amendment that is before you.”

Changes in the proffer agreement include the ability to substitute single-dwelling attached homes for some or all of the townhouses as long as they have a first-floor bedroom. In lieu of the building of the 670 Connector Road, Greene CD will donate at least 50 acres of land adjacent to Preddy Creek Park, build a public access trailhead and parking lot and build approximately 10,000 linear feet of trails along Cedar Run and Preddy Creek for the public to use. Additionally, the new proffers include $1,000 per townhouse built. Original approved proffers in 2012 also included $1,500 for each of the 600 single-family homes approved and that is not changing, according to county staff.

“The proffers really tie (development) specifically to the easement, the funding and the permits (for the connector road),” said Jim Frydl, planning director and zoning administrator. “An easement has been secured and the VDOT website shows it is fully funded and on schedule. If they haven’t already issued themselves permits, it wouldn’t take them very long to.”

Commissioner John McCloskey noted that as the proffer agreement stands approved from 2012 there is no monetary proffer per townhouse. He also noted that there is a maximum number of 100 construction permits that can be approved per year.

“There’s not going to be the entire impact when they start building,” he said. “It’s going to be several years out.”

Lancaster agreed, noting it will probably be two years before any construction will happen at all.

“Typically what we see for the approval process with site plans, stormwater management, erosion control plans, all federal and state permits that we have to get, we’re looking at a year, maybe two years for approval and then we are sending contracts for bid before earthworks start,” he said. “Then we have to build all the infrastructure—water, sewer, stormwater facilities—before we even have a pad-ready site.”

Nine people either spoke against or sent in emails against the development’s earlier start. There was one email in support.

Peter Benson, who lives off Preddy Creek Road, noted that the road is very narrow with no shoulder and is not a very safe road. Golon said by VDOT standards with only three accidents in the last year, it’s a “safe road.”

“It’s a very dangerous road and we are going to have a lot more traffic,” Benson said.

He also asked whether the parks and recreation department has the budget to take over the 50 acres of park land being gifted to the county.

Lloyd Staples noted that the development is going to happen at some point since it’s already been approved, but that he is also concerned about the safety of Preddy Creek Road.

“I know two of my children had incidences of going into those deep ditches and you don’t usually recover from those, vehicle-wise,” Staples said of the lack of shoulders on the road. “The numbers from VDOT don’t include the near misses or the ones that are not reported.”

Craig Mazuranic owns 40 acres to the east of the property in Orange County and said he was not notified of the public hearing and he wants to be involved.

“I just would like to be part of the process if that’s OK,” he said. “The main things we were worried about, it seems like they’re going to be addressed, like the fencing and erosion. I have to say that (the developer) is doing a great job working with me.”

Michelle Flynn, who lives in the Preddy Creek neighborhood, noted the overcrowding of the elementary schools.

“We know that we need to build a new school now, yet the economic development and impacts to revenue make it highly unlikely our planned school improvements will move forward in the near future,” Flynn said. “Allowing this development to proceed earlier than planned places even more of a burden on our school facilities.”

Traber, who sits on the Ruckersville Advisory Committee, said one thing county residents said they wanted in the Ruckersville Area Plan was more parks and green space in the Ruckersville area.

“I don’t know about you, but 10,000 linear feet of potential trails open to the public is not something to sneeze at; it’s almost two miles,” he said. “That’s something they didn’t have to offer and I think that’s an important consideration.”

Commissioner Steve Kruskamp said one thing he could not get past was safety of the community.

“That is one of the major issues when I went through the training for this seat,” he said. “I can’t tell you how many times that was drilled into me during that training process—the safety of the community is paramount here. We have an overwhelming number of residents that live in that area, that drive that road on a daily basis, that continuously complain. I think by not having that connector road in place and allowing this to start ahead of time we’re not doing anything to address the current problem. In fact, I think—without question—we are exacerbating the problem.”

McCloskey said he doesn’t believe the connector road will provide any relief to Preddy Creek Road or address any safety issues on that road.

“I don’t see holding this project, or not approving this change in proffers,” he said. “The project was approved. We can’t go back and litigate the project. I think they’ve come forward with a very good offer that does benefit the community. It doesn’t address everything and no project does. There are many other roads in Greene County that I would say are unsafe, if you come from a place where there are shoulders on most roads.”

Traber asked if the original proffer statement said the road needed to be finished before construction.

“There is nothing in writing,” Willer said. “There was a verbal promise by the original proposer to wait for any housing development until that road was built.”

Frydl noted that 116 individual letters were sent to adjacent property owners, per state law. He also notified the Orange and Albemarle counties’ planning departments of the meeting.

Traber motioned approval of the proffer amendment and McCloskey seconded. The motion was approved 4-1 with Kruskamp against. The Greene County Board of Supervisors will hold a public hearing on the proffer amendment at an upcoming meeting.

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Editor, Greene County Record

Terry Beigie is the Editor of the Greene County Record in Stanardsville. She can be reached at tbeigie@greene-news.com or (434) 985-2315.

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