The Town of Warrenton is currently 4.38 square miles, which is about 2,803 acres. In December 2021, Fauquier County released maps of an area the Town of Warrenton proposed for addition to the Town in closed session discussions. These maps reveal that the Town of Warrenton seeks to expand its boundaries by 1,750 acres—a full 60% increase in land area. About 570 acres of this addition is currently zoned agricultural and 1,065 acres are undeveloped land zoned for low-density residential, most of which is not currently connected to public water or sewer.
The Piedmont Environmental Council is concerned about the massive scale of this expansion, which is well beyond the couple hundred acres along Rt. 15/29 and Meetze Road discussed publicly in 2019, and the sprawl it could induce in the countryside surrounding the Town.
The recently adopted Plan Warrenton 2040 Comprehensive Plan already calls for unprecedented residential development of approximately 50% by 2040. Although PEC supports growth in the towns and service districts of the County, we are very concerned the new Comprehensive Plan encourages too much growth, in the wrong places, and at an unsustainable rate in terms of access to water supply, sewer capacity and other infrastructure and services. It focuses too heavily on new development on the outskirts of Town rather than redevelopment, community enhancement and infill development of vacant and under-used properties within the existing Town boundaries.
PEC believes this boundary line adjustment, in combination with Plan Warrenton 2040, would make the Town of Warrenton a target for speculative housing development, attract large numbers of new residents, and require even more public investment in infrastructure/public service needs on the outskirts of Town, pulling resources away from much-needed infrastructure improvements for existing communities and schools within the current town boundary.
Our Concerns with the Boundary Line Adjustment Proposal
In light of what’s already outlined in Plan Warrenton 2040, we have the following concerns regarding the proposed boundary line adjustment:
- The proposed expansion would undermine desperately needed redevelopment of existing strip malls and shopping centers within Warrenton, particularly along Broadview Avenue. It’s simply more profitable for developers to build on cheaper, undeveloped land on the outskirts than to focus on redevelopment within the Town, where it is most needed. The development of new greenfields will distract from efforts to revitalize Old Town, as well.
- Rather than addressing traffic concerns along Broadview Avenue and other transportation needs within the existing Town Boundaries, Plan Warrenton 2040 proposes a bypass around the western side of Town (Timberfence Parkway and the Southern Parkway) to accommodate new growth and associated traffic. This new roadway would do little to mitigate current traffic concerns and instead induce sprawl on the western side of Warrenton, cut through existing neighborhoods and harm natural and cultural resources.
- The Town’s plan could well necessitate the construction of new schools, expansion of the reservoir, expansion and upgrades to the wastewater treatment facility, construction of the Timberfence Parkway and the Southern Parkway, and intersection improvements. The cost of this new infrastructure would be paid by both Town and County residents.
- The Town of Warrenton and Fauquier County lack a joint proffer agreement relating to schools. Simply put, developers operating within the Town do not contribute toward new school construction when land is rezoned to residential use. As a result, County taxpayers would foot the entire bill for additional school seats generated by new housing within an expanded Town boundary.
- No clear land use plan or any cost/benefit analysis has been provided by the Town as a part of its request. Although it is not uncommon for towns to pursue annexations, they tend to be MUCH smaller in nature and with clear justification.
- The Warrenton Service District surrounds the Town and is planned by Fauquier County. Most of the land being proposed for addition to the Town is undeveloped land planned for low-density residential, but about 675 acres of the proposed expansion are not currently within the Warrenton Service District and are planned for Rural Agricultural use. Adding 675 acres of agricultural land into the growth area is a significant change in land use that would contribute to the loss of farmland in the County. Such a change should have the benefit of community input.
We believe this boundary line expansion is NOT in the best interests of the residents of the Town of Warrenton or Fauquier County. The Town and the County need to fully analyze the cost/benefit of expanding the Town, and as a part of that analysis, the Town should share its plan for the additional parcels. Such a massive expansion to the existing Town boundary deserves a robust public process. Residents should be granted the opportunity to review all the information and reach their own conclusions on what is truly in the best interest of the Town and County. In addition to a study of the cost/benefit of expanding the Town, the Town and County should host community meetings allowing the public to provide feedback to both entities.
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Town Council Members
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