The day before the Board of Supervisors November 14th public hearing the applicant proposed changes that were only made available to the public hours before the hearing. The changes are peripheral in nature. Although the amount of land being added to the service district and rezoned commercial has decreased, the project layout is the same. Instead of the RV Park being a part of the service district and the commercial rezoning, the rural agricultural (RA) zoning will be modified to allow a travel trailer park with water and sewer still being supplied from the service district public infrastructure.
On Thursday November 14th, the “Opal Gateway” project came before the Fauquier Board of Supervisors and they voted to keep the public hearing open for another sixty days. The project will likely be on the Board of Supervisors January agenda and we need you to come out and speak in opposition to these changes that do not address traffic concerns and threaten the integrity of the service district.
On May 30th, the County Planning Commission unanimously recommended that the Board of Supervisors deny this application but the Board seems to be seriously considering approval with these newly proposed changes. They need to hear from residents that continue to support efforts to direct growth into service districts. Below are some detailed facts about the proposal and the proffers that the developer has offered.
Six Important Facts about the Opal Gateway Project:
- Only 16.6 acres or 16% of the Opal Gateway project is in the Service District. If approved the Service District expansion would increase the currently 853 acre service district by about 40 acres and public water and sewer services would be provided to the 46 acre RV travel trail park located just outside the Service District in rural agricultural (RA) zoned land.
- The vast majority of Opal Service District remains undeveloped. The Opal Steering Committee has drafted plans for the Central Core, a mix of uses that are oriented towards goods and services for the travelling public, to be located on both sides of Rt. 29 north of Opal Rd. This proposal should be located in that Central Core of Opal not as an extension of the service district. Where proposed it is inconsistent with the draft plan.
- The development will cause significant transportation problems at the Rt. 29 and Rt. 17 intersection that will require significant mitigation. VDOT’s Traffic Impact Analysis (TIA) indicates that the development will degrade many traffic movements at the Rt. 29/Rt. 17 intersection resulting in increased delay times and decreased level of service. VDOT has expressed concern that the development will essentially negate the improvement that will be realized from the $45.7 million Opal Interchange project, which is nearing completion.
- VDOT’s modeling also shows significant delays at several other intersections including: Rt. 17 and Covington Corner, Rt. 29 and Covington’s Corner, and Rt. 29 and Fayettesville Rd.
- The water supply available for this project is limited. In fact, because the draft plan created by the Opal Steering Committee both expands the Service District and intensifies the uses, at full build out the 380,400 gpd will not be enough for the service district let alone this additional project. See pg. 22 of the Opal Steering Committee Draft Plan.
- Although most of the worrisome aspects of the proposed proffers have been improved. There is still some concerning language that remains:
a) The $287,500 contribution for existing and future road network improvements in Opal is somewhat deceiving. The proffers state that improvements made to Clarke’s Rd. as a part of this project shall be credited from the up to $287,500 that the applicant will contribute at $1.00 per sf of commercial and industrial development and $500 per each RV and/or camping site.
b) Although the applicant states that they will consider designing and constructing their own water supply system the proffers specifically state that the the Board may request up to $500,000 in lieu of construction of the on-site water supply.
c) The proffers state that the purchase of public water availablities (i.e. tap fees) needed for the project would be credited against the applicants contribution of up to $500,000 for the Service District water supply infrastructure.
If you have questions about this project, contact PEC’s Fauquier Land Use Officer, Julie Bolthouse at firstname.lastname@example.org.