Update: At its February 28th meeting, the Greene County Board of Supervisors narrowly approved the Fried Companies requested rezoning to increase density on their 400+ acre parcel with a 3-2 vote. Supervisors Lamb and Peyton voted against the project while Supervisors Deane, Cox and Frydl voted for the project.
The Creekside development is located just east of the stripped property with the looming water tower visible from Rt. 29, and is owned by the same developer who holds a long-term lease on the water tower property, a planned commercial and residential development called Rapidan Center.
Traffic from Creekside would use Preddy Creek Road (Rt. 670) on its way to either Rt. 29 or Rt. 33. Using VDOT’s estimate that, on average, every new home generates 10 vehicle trips per day, the expanded version of Creekside would result in 11,800 trips per day—a heavy and potentially dangerous load to add to this winding, two-lane road with no sidewalks, crosswalks, or shoulders.
On Rt. 29, the extra traffic would increase congestion on a stretch of highway that is already a chokepoint. The plan for Creekside would entail another traffic signal spaced less than half a mile from the existing one. With the additional stoplight, VDOT would require the speed limit on this stretch of Rt. 29 to be reduced from 55 to 45 mph. Adding the stoplight and reducing the speed limit contradicts the Greene County Comprehensive Plan as well as state plans for the Route 29 corridor, all of which call for minimizing new signals and using access management to maintain an even flow of traffic.
According to the county’s Comprehensive Plan, high-density developments should be designed so that residents can safely bike or walk to commercial areas. But the Creekside townhomes would be located approximately a mile and a half from the as-yet-unbuilt commercial area fronting Rt. 29. Most people won’t choose to walk or bike that distance. This development would give them few options except to drive nearly everywhere they go.
So, how are the developers planning to mitigate these impacts?
Not through meaningful proffers. In fact, they are only offering only $1,500 per unit -- significantly less than Greene County’s suggested proffer amount of $5,771 per unit, and well below the amount suggested by neighboring counties (Albemarle’s suggested proffer is $17,500 per unit, Culpeper suggests $21,818, and Orange suggests $28,972).
Low proffers leave the remaining burden of paying for schools, roads, and services to local taxpayers. The Creekside developers (Fried Companies) are justifying their $1,500 per unit proffer by offering to pay the cost of a new access road through the Rapidan Center. In other words, they’re asking to be let off the hook in exchange for building a road that is needed to reach their own development! Making matters worse, they propose to not pay a cent of proffers for this rezoning until they build their first single family home. Since they propose building the townhomes first and admit that this is a 15-20 year project, who knows when (if) the County would ever receive any funds.
Making Creekside larger would only intensify its impacts, and set a precedent that developers in Greene aren’t responsible for smart, well-designed projects that fit the Comprehensive Plan and pay their fair share.
The Greene County Planning Commission held a hearing on the project in July and December of 2011 where many residents spoke against the project. At the December meeting the Commission recommended denial of the project by a 4-0 vote. The Board of Supervisors is now holding a public hearing about the application on Tuesday, February 28th, 2012.