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June 24, 2009
Action postponed on Fairview Beach rezoning request
Applicant wants to further amend proffers after hearing county concerns
KING GEORGE, Virginia (STPNS) -- A public hearing on a rezoning request by Fairview Beach, LLC, represented by Bob Moesle, was held last week by the Board of Supervisors at a meeting on June 16.
No action was taken on the request following comments from about a dozen members of the public, three letters submitted, and a presentation from the applicant’s attorney, Richard Stuart.
After everyone had a chance to speak, including members of the Board of Supervisors, Stuart said the applicant wanted to work with Jack Green, Director of Community Development, to further amend the proffers to address concerns from members of the governing body.
The purpose of the request is to rezone 9.33664 acres, with proffers, from Retail Commercial (C-1) to Multi-Family Dwelling District (R-3). That would allow the applicant to construct townhouses on property identified as Tax Map 14 Parcel 1.
The original request was for 74 townhouse units, but the applicant had amended the proffers prior to last week’s public hearing to build a maximum of 60 units.
~ EXISTING USES The site earmarked for the townhouses currently contains 30 mobile home lots and 60 camp ground sites adjacent to the Potomac River.
The mobile home lots are leased on a month-to-month basis to residents who own or rent mobile homes. Trailer residents had originally been told they would be given six months to relocate if the rezoning went through.
Stuart said at the hearing that the applicant had extended that amount of time to a year and also promised $1,000 to each for reimbursement of relocating expenses, but neither proviso is enforceable, as they are not contained in the proposed proffers.
Stuart also said it could be as long as three years until the mobile home residents had to move.
The camp ground and the mobile home park are both legal nonconforming uses under the existing Retail Commercial (C-1) zoning. Those uses may continue, but neither can be expanded nor enlarged under the existing zoning. Likewise, new residential uses are not permitted to be constructed under the current C-1 zoning.
The staff report recommends denial and notes that the requested density is inconsistent with recommendations of the King George County Comprehensive Plan, which provides guideline for future density in the Fairview Beach area to be “low to moderate” with one dwelling unit suggested per each 2 to 10 acres.
~ PROFFER CHANGES The Planning Commission had held a public hearing last December on the rezoning request, then voted 6-1 in January to recommend that Supervisors deny the rezoning, with seven of the then nine Commissioners present.
Commissioners cited lack of compliance with the county’s Comprehensive Plan as the main reason for denial.
Changes were made by the developer since the application was reviewed by the Planning Commission.
In addition to the number of units being reduced from 74 to 60, Green said the current proffers include upgrading the existing entrance, with the primary entrance to the town house development to be a new entrance located on Fairview Drive (Route 696). Both public rights-of-way and both entrances would be improved to Virginia Department of Transportation standards.
Another change was to update the proffers to the most recent adopted county proffer guidelines, which are from 2007. The proffer amounts were changed from payment of $3,382 for each unit to $4,781 per unit.
There is a restriction that $1,928 of that proffer amount would not be paid toward school capital projects if the community is age-restricted for sale to those 55 years or older.
The cash proffers would be paid at the time of application for individual building permits, starting several years from now, if the rezoning were approved.
As proffers are paid to the county over time, they are subject to an annual adjustment related to the consumer price index.
~ OTHER PROFFERS The applicant is proffering to plan, build, pay and give to the county the water and sewer improvements necessary to serve the development, which is customary in King George for new developments seeking utility service.
A December 2006 report provided by the applicant states that it would take three years and three months following rezoning approval to complete construction and sales of all units.
That timeline no longer holds, with Stuart saying that it could be probable that the mobile home residents may not be forced to move until three years after any rezoning, if approved.
~FISCAL IMPACT ANALYSIS The applicant’s fiscal impact analysis has not been updated and is based a 10-year projection taking place from 2006 to 2015.
It estimates that the project will generate $1.5 million in revenue to the county from property tax, miscellaneous fees/transfers and meals tax.
Chairman Joe Grzeika pointed out that if Tim’s II is intended as the main source to generate meals taxes from residents of the proposed townhouses, that it is a fallacy. That’s because the restaurant pays no meals tax to the county, since it is on a pier over the Potomac River, which is in Maryland.
Counting costs for services to the residents of the proposed development, the application material notes that the county could net about $299,000 over 10 years, depending on the number of actual school children that the development generates.
~ PUBLIC COMMENT All commenting were in favor of the rezoning request, except for Elmore Tyler. Tyler, who was a member of the Planning Commission in 1996 and had voted against a similar project at that time, said he didn’t see that much had changed.
Tyler noted several reasons why he was against the project, including the displacement of those living in the trailer park. He said, “They address the issue of the people in the trailers, but I’m not sure that is a satisfactory solution to the problem. Those people are living there, I understand, because they can’t afford to move elsewhere. Where can they afford to go?”
~ SOME COMMENTS FOCUSED ON ELIMINATING TRAILER PARK Some of those speaking in favor of the rezoning targeted the trailer park and its residents.
After public comment, Supervisor Cedell Brooks, Jr., called out those who focused on supporting the rezoning request by blaming numerous ills on the trailer park.
Elizabeth Strank kicked off the comments, saying she supported the development of the trailer park into the townhomes and adding that she was concerned it might take three years for it to happen. She also said, “A car several weeks ago almost landed in my home because of a rambunctious driver of the trailer park.”
Others also urged approval of the project as a way of eliminating the trailer park. Debra Nogrady said of Fairview Beach, “Frankly it’s a working class community. And that’s one of the problems that I can say for myself, I have trouble with the trailer park. There are some people that work over there, but the highest percentage do not. It has a high incidence of crime. It is a drug haven.”
She continued on in that vein and got a smattering of applause from the audience for her efforts.
Jerry Puckett also got some applause for his comments. Puckett said he lives next to the trailer park, saying those residents throw trash on his property. “I have to haul garbage out of there,” Puckett said. “They have dumpsters in the trailer park, but it’s easier to throw it over the fence.”
He also complained about weekend activity that he alleged included loud music, drugs, alcohol and fighting, with law enforcement called in each weekend night.
He added, “Someone was saying the people in the trailer park don’t make enough money to move, most of them don’t work, they are on welfare.” He summed up, alleging, “The trailer park is an eyesore and a cesspool and there is something that needs to be done to it.”
Others avoided blaming trailer park residents. Leesa Shrewsbury said she was in favor, noting it was a “unique and close-knit community.”
Tom Shoedel said that the development would contribute to fewer health advisories for the beach area, noting that septic fields on the property have been tied to them in past reports.
Others who had signed up to speak said they had nothing new to add to what had been said. Those included Don Pfalzgraff, Rita Lund, Earnley Payne, Larry Odham and Craig Jennings.
The three letters were from people in favor of the proposal, coming from Daniel P. Grimes, Gloria Knudsen Hunsley and June Attmanspacher.
Regarding the blame heaped on the trailer part residents, Brooks said there is nothing wrong with living in a trailer and it disturbed him that some tried, “to belittle folks because they live in a trailer.”
He stated, “It’s amazing that there are a lot of issues that we can deal with other than trying to belittle people that don’t have. The lady gets up and she says someone almost ran into her property because they must’ve come from the trailer court. They could’ve come from Tims II, they could’ve come from the $500,000 house across the road, they could’ve come from anywhere.”
Brooks added, “So we need to stop this stuff. If you sit back look folks and look at yourselves in Fairview Beach, you really have got some issues with the trailer court. And you need to stay off the trailer court and deal with the rezoning issues.”
Brooks advised, “Don’t be so hard on people who are less fortunate.” He added, “If anything, you should be trying to help these people that don’t have, instead of running around with your little picnics and parties and criticizing people that don’t have.”
Supervisor Dale Sisson said he saw a lot of potential benefit with the proposal. He added, “When I look at what is proposed here versus the interpretation of the Comprehensive Plan, I see that we are taking an area that is already in residential use and doing a different residential use with that of really similar density when you add up the numbers.”
Sisson said he didn’t see that the county had a real say in regard to the trailer park or campground. “It could be the ownership group’s decision to shut that down tomorrow.”
He added, “When I look at the Comprehensive Plan and how we implement it, I look at the spirit of it and how we are impacting character. And in this case, I don’t see that 60 homes change the character of Fairview Beach and that it is in line with the character of FVB.” He summed up, saying, “In general, I think this is a good plan.”
Supervisor Jim Howard praised Fairview Beach as a unique community and stated, “I think this is a good plan.”
He noted that he agreed that it is cited in the Comprehensive Plan as a settlement area, adding that settlement areas are primarily for higher density.
Howard also urged the applicant to consider incorporating all the road upgrades regarding safety issues identified by VDOT.
Those include: No centerline pavement markings north of Riverview Drive; Pavement edges along the study corridor include a significant number of shoulder drop offs; Other portions of the corridor include patches of asphalt along the edge of pavement that appear to be isolated repairs to previous shoulder drop-off conditions; There are a couple of moderate horizontal curves within the study corridor, none of which are signed. It was not evident that a significant reduction of speed is needed to navigate & through them safely; the study corridor, north and south of Riverview Drive, contains pavement with no shoulders; the traffic impact analysis recommends that additional right-of-way be dedicated along Route 696.
Chairman Grzeika outlined his concerns with the proffers, saying they needed strengthening and some possible additions for him to consider supporting the project.
“The problem with proffers is they don’t become important until there is a disagreement or something is not working quite right. Because then the Judge reads it and says that really doesn’t say what you thought it said,” Grzeika said.
He added that he could not accept the proffers the way they are currently written. For example, he pointed out that there was talk about the development building sidewalks and trails, adding, “For the life of me, I don’t see a sidewalk. I don’t see a trail. It’s one of those things that’s not defensible because it’s not on the (general development) plan.”
Among other things, Grzeika noted that the timeline needed updating. He said the developer might formalize his offer of some time commitments and some financial support to move the folks in the trailer park by making it legally binding.
Grzeika added, “I think the issue that Mr. Brooks brought up is key, and a lesson for folks. Focus on the issue. The issue is the rezoning of this property for townhouses and what that does from an economic, commercial, esthetic value proposition. Because, the route that some people have taken has really brought more concern to me than comfort. And I worry about what the real motivation is. And I try to divorce myself from that because I am looking at this project now. And I am looking at this project in context to Fairview Beach and is it a better thing for Fairview Beach. And I think at the end of the day if we get these items into a point where they are legally binding and all the issues are carefully articulated, I might be able to support this.”
~ ZONING HISTORY OF THE PROPERTY The staff report indicated that in October 1996 the Board of Supervisors denied a request by Tom DeShazo to rezone the same parcel to R-3.
In addition, in May 2008, the Board of Supervisors approved a request to rezone a nearby parcel by Charles R. Bowie for 8.65 Acres of Tax Map 14, Parcel 6A from Retail Commercial District (C-1) to General Trade District (C-2) and 1.45 Acres of Tax Map 14, Parcel 6A from Rural Agricultural (A-2) to General Trade District (C-2).
Grzeika targeted the meeting on July 21 as the possible time to bring the case back for reconsideration and a possible vote.
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