Sprawling Development Proposed on Outskirts of Opal

This text is from an email alert sent out on May 27th, 2013:

Most everyone who travels south of Warrenton on Rt. 29 ends up stopping (at least momentarily) in Opal. On weekday mornings and weekend afternoons traffic gets backed up in both directions, with drivers struggling to turn on to Rt. 17 or get in and out of existing businesses.

This Thursday, the Fauquier County Planning Commission will consider a development proposal that would make the traffic situation worse. The proposal would open up more than 80 acres of agricultural land to strip-commercial development — putting a burden on County services like water, and ultimately detracting from future economic opportunities in the area.

Over 853 acres are already designated for growth in the Opal Service District, most of which hasn’t been developed yet. Even so, the ‘Opal Gateway’ project applicant is asking the County to expand the service district further out. Their conceptual plan includes:

  • 25 acre truck/travel plaza with a stand alone restaurant
  • Hotel with 100 rooms
  • 50 acres travel trailer park with water and sewer hook-ups
  • RV repair/related retail
  • Bank, pharmacy, and fast food restaurant with drive-throughs
  • 60,000 sq ft of limited industrial use, 40,000 sq ft of medical offices

Weigh in with The Fauquier Board of Supervisors

Sprawl along Rt. 29 is the last thing Fauquier needs. Sprawl comes with infrastructure costs and transportation impacts that are extremely difficult to mitigate; the proposed development would make traffic in Opal worse. Check out this map for more information and ask the Board of Supervisors to deny this development proposal.

A Traffic Mess

In response to backups at the intersection of Rt. 29 and Rt. 17, VDOT is constructing a fly-over just south of the intersection which should be completed later this year. If the Opal Gateway proposal is approved, it will effectively negate the purpose of the $45 million project.

After reviewing the current development proposal, a VDOT representative said that “if approved it will make traffic at the intersection worse with major delays in all directions.” It’s not every day that we find ourselves in agreement with VDOT, but on this one, there is little doubt about the impact it will have.

We Have a Choice

Fauquier County can choose to invest its taxpayers’ money in smart growth or it can choose to subsidize speculative development. The Opal Service District has real needs that include public water service, transportation improvements, and focusing on enhancing existing business opportunities — these need to be the priority. The first opportunity to speak out about this issue will be at the Planning Commission this Thursday.

Planning Commission Hearing
May 30th, 6:30pm
Warren Green Building
10 Hotel St., Warrenton

I also encourage you to write our Board of Supervisors. We’ve created a letter writing campaign to make it easy for you to share your thoughts.


Julie Bolthouse
Fauquier County Land Use Officer
The Piedmont Environmental Council

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