On December 14, 2017, the Board of Supervisors will vote on an applicant-proposed Comprehensive Plan Amendment in Vint Hill that would convert 61.89 acres of “Planned Industrial Development” to “Medium Density Residential.” This change would allow for an additional 497 units (8 units per acre), including the potential for detached single family homes, in place of the planned economic development.
PEC is opposed to this request as it would use up limited water and sewer infrastructure for houses, rather than the currently planned commercial and industrial uses. The County would be ill-advised to give up on what is considered a premier industrial and commercial site, especially given there is already infrastructure in place and their desire to balance the tax base.
The county has a great deal of housing planned in other service districts and did not intend this site to be developed in this manner. Further, sewer infrastructure in this watershed is extraordinarily expensive to develop due to protections required for the Occoquan Reservoir, so the new plan would be a very poor allocation of scarce resources.
The public hearing will be at 6:30pm at the Warren Green Building (10 Hotel St. Warrenton VA). If you cannot make the meeting, you can submit letters to the Board of Supervisors at BOS@fauquiercounty.gov.
More About Vint Hill
Currently, Vint Hill has a subdivision with 300 homes, 24 units of transitional housing, and 250 assisted living units approved but unbuilt. There are a handful of retail and hospitality businesses located in Vint Hill including Old Bust Head Brewery, Covert Cafe, Inn at Vint Hill, and the Vint Hill Winery and a number of industrial businesses including the OVH Datacenter, Federal Aviation Administration, Rockwell Collins, Commonwealth Medical Laboratories, and several others.
Also located in Vint Hill is a Lord Fairfax Community College campus and small business center and the Vint Hill Village Green park which has multipurpose fields, basketball courts, and a community pool.
Vint Hill is located in the southeastern corner of the second largest population center in Fauquier, the New Baltimore Service District. As of the 2010 Census the New Baltimore Service District had about 8,000 residents, which has likely increased to over 9,000 as of 2017.
The county has determined that the best use for this portion of Vint Hill is industrial. And there is supporting evidence for the notion it should be a major economic development engine in Fauquier County:
- Vint Hill has been identified by GO Virginia (Virginia Initiative for Growth & Opportunity) as a regional priority for use of project funds as approved by the Virginia Growth & Opportunity Board.
- The site is well-served by infrastructure such as internal roads, fiber, water, and sewer unlike most other industrial/business park sites in Fauquier County.
- There is demonstrated interest in industrial development at the site. For example, the OVH Vint Hill Data Center came to Vint Hill in 2016, the Puller Veterans Care Center plans to open in 2020, the Lord Fairfax campus launched heavy equipment training this year, and several small businesses have filled vacancies in the renovated buildings.
The Developers’ Rationale
The investors in Vint Hill, LLC seem to be throwing every possible argument at the wall to see if it sticks to justify a conversion from industrial to residential, even going so far as sending out a countywide mailing titled: “Help Sustain Fauquier County as a Rural and Agricultural Community.” (see their postcard).
Examples of the arguments are set forth below:
The developer says…If we don’t put more residential in Vint Hill it will locate in the countryside.
That’s not how it works, this is not a zero sum game. Denying the applicant’s request will not result in any additional housing in Fauquier’s rural area. This argument ignores the fact that there is a plan that guides the county in development decisions.
Fauquier County focuses growth in its service districts which have plenty of land available that is planned for residential development. The county also has adopted policies that limit sprawling development in our rural and agricultural areas.
The developer says…There’s not enough housing to support retail and desired village center in Vint Hill.
With 9,000 residents living in the New Baltimore district, it is hard to say that there is a shortage of residential housing to support local retail and commercial development. The attempt to make a regional retail and commercial center at this site is is limited by location several miles from Route 29 the direct competition with nearby regional retail centers in Gainesville and Warrenton.
As proposed, there is no commitment for the type of mixed use development that would support a local Village type retail center. This proposal focuses solely in converting the planned industrial area to residential, there is no retail and commercial mixed use aspect to the proposal.
The developer claims… It is inappropriate to have industrial uses next to residential, this new plan will provide a transition.
If you follow this argument to its logical conclusion, all of the remaining land in Vint Hill that’s planned for industrial will eventually be converted to residential.
It’s worth noting that Vint Hill already has an industrial mixed use zoning district, Planned Commercial and Industrial District (PCID), which is specifically designed and conditioned to avoid impacts with the adjacent residential.