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Ruckersville town center project OK’d

Ruckersville town center project OK’d

A different type of development is coming to Greene County with last week’s unanimous rezoning approval of the Villages at Terrace Greene by the supervisors: a true mixed-use development.

The roughly 65-acre parcel of vacant land in Ruckersville near Terrace Greene Apartments was rezoned from high-density B-3 business zoning to a Planned Unit Development (PUD) at the Aug. 10 Board of Supervisors meeting.

The Villages at Terrace Greene plan includes 246 townhomes, which equals 282 dwelling units because 36 are stacked to contain two dwelling units in each. Additionally, 30 townhomes will be live/work units where commercial is on the lower floor and residential is above. No more than 130 of the townhomes will have three bedrooms. The project also includes approximately 235,000 square feet of retail and commercial space, however the proffer statement notes the applicant—Merit Greene LLC—believes the project could “realistically support up to 460,000 square feet of retail and commercial uses with structured parking if it is successful in attracting select users to the site.”

The proffers state anticipated uses include restaurants, retail and service retail, such as salons and gyms, an assisted living facility, a day care center and clinics.

The project will be completed in three phases, per the updated proffers.

Phase 1 includes: construction of at least 22,800 square feet of commercial and office space; construction of 104 townhomes, including 12 stacked units and no more than 50 three-bedroom units; construction of a public park on 2 acres; and the beginning of the construction of a private clubhouse for the community. A certificate of occupancy will not be granted for more than 104 townhouses until the full 22,800 square feet of commercial and retail space is completed.

Phase 2 includes: construction of at least 17,200 additional square feet of commercial and office space; construction of two commercial pad sites—one on each side of the Route 670 Connector Road; construction of an additional 68 townhomes, including 30 live/work units; and completion of the private clubhouse. Applicants will not be eligible for a building permit of more than 172 townhome units in total until at least 40,000 square feet of commercial and office space has been constructed.

Phase 3 includes: continued market-driven commercial and office development and construction on the remaining 110 townhomes, including 24 stacked (two dwelling) units.

The proffers include stormwater and soil improvements to the site as well as $700,000 toward the Virginia Department of Transportation’s Route 670 Connector Road that was facing a nearly

$1 million shortfall, putting the building of the road in jeopardy. The road will connect U.S. Route 29 to Preddy Creek Road and should be completed by 2023.

At the July 27 meeting, the county learned that one of the possibilities that Greene County has been short-listed for is the “Project Life Campus,” that includes high-tech manufacturing jobs for vaccine production and cryo-storage facilities for such product, as well as a “live, work, play” concept including a possible public indoor recreation center and day care center.

“They liked the mixed-use concept and, most importantly, the upfront costs the developer has offered of close to $400 million to build the facility and lease it back to them with purchase options,” Chris Gordon, senior vice president and national director of project and development services at Jones Lang LaSalle, told supervisors last month.

While the public hearing was held at the July 27 supervisors’ meeting, 12 people spoke during public comments regarding the project, including nine in favor of the project and three against.

“I think we need it,” said resident Michael Bush. “I think it’s the next step for Greene. As we get more people coming into the community, it’s gonna lead to more tax revenue to improve schools and to improve other critical infrastructure.”

Amy Hollis asked the board to deny the project.

“You need to look at the people that already live here. … We need more for our EMS system. We need more police for the sheriff’s department.”

Michael Payne told the board to consider the fact that if supervisors denied the project, the county would not likely see another project with so many positives for the community.

“Private investment in building our commercial economy is investment in lifting the burden of this avoidable growth off our taxpayers,” Payne said. “The Villages of Terrace Greene makes sense.”

Ruckersville has been the county’s designated growth area since 2010, when the comprehensive plan changed to tighten up what areas were considered for commercial growth through many meetings with residents in the community. It was backed up again through the 18-month Ruckersville Area Plan study in 2017-18, which was added as an addendum to the comprehensive plan.

At-Large Supervisor Dale Herring, who lives off Preddy Creek Road, said he was in favor of the project.

“We need this type of development in Greene County,” Herring said. “That property has been stagnant for a number of years. If we don’t vote this through tonight, we have no control over what goes there.”

Midway Supervisor Marie Durrer agreed.

“I’m thankful for the commercial construction moved up,” she said. “It’s a comprehensive plan.”

Chairman Bill Martin (Stanardsville) said during drafting of the 2010 comprehensive plan update the feedback from residents in that area was they wanted a town center—a heart.

“That comprehensive plan had more public involvement then the two subsequent have and it was the Ruckersville community that was driving it,” Martin said. “To me, this whole concept that is before us fits like a hand in a glove. … I will take light manufacturing, like what was discussed briefly, any day of the week up there in that area. We’ve seen the numbers on the tax revenue that would come with it; it would be a game-changer for Greene County.”

Ruckersville Super-visor Davis Lamb said he noticed the amount of new EDUs could total $32 million for the county between the developments that have been approved—including Creekside off Preddy Creek Road with its more than 1,000 units—and the proposed Villages at Terrace Greene.

Monroe Supervisor Steve Bowman said that he personally has struggled with whether to vote in favor of the project.

“My concerns are a little different; they primarily focus on the public safety infrastructure. After over 50 years in public safety, I’ve developed some pretty strong beliefs and opinions about planning for the managing and delivery of emergency services. Law enforcement, fire services, emergency medical services, emergency management can never have enough resources, in my opinion, to handle every eventuality, so you have to plan. I’m only addressing the public safety here and infrastructure because there’s a lot of other obvious infrastructure—schools, water, sanitation, sewer, but there are a lot of plans in place to address those. I’m really concerned about the public safety.”

Bowman added that Greene cannot expect to stop growth.

“But we must manage development and at the same time strategically and tactically grow our public safety infrastructure to mirror the growth at the same time that is occurring,” he said. “I’m hoping that we’re going to address and do several things at the same time. All of this will probably mean higher taxes initially, to bring our safety services up to where they should be. I really believe that we are below and have very little capacity built into our system today. This development before us will eventually help us pay for some of those improvements needed. I would hope that we had a better capacity to support what’s coming now, but we don’t. So I’m hoping that we will push to build that capacity in the future. So I will support this.”

Both Martin and Bowman said they’d like to claim the county-wide 2 acre park site that will be paid for by the developer and then given to the county to maintain and the county has until Oct. 7 to do that.

Herring made the motion and Lamb seconded.

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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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