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Fauquier County supervisors to discuss Opal Gateway, animal shelter, sewer in Catlett

Thursday, Feb. 20 | By Jonathan Hunley
For the second month in a row, Fauquier County supervisors are discussing the present and future of Opal.

Just as they did in January, the supervisors talked about the Opal interchange this afternoon with Virginia Department of Transportation officials, and they will hold a public hearing on the proposed Opal Gateway development at a meeting that begins at 6:30 p.m.

The Opal intersection was reconfigured in recent months so that southbound drivers on U.S. 15/29 wanting to exit onto southbound U.S. 17 are urged to move to the right and get to 17 by way of a flyover ramp.

The change was made because so many people were trying to turn left from southbound 15/29 to southbound 17 at certain times that the left-turn area would fill and traffic would spill over into 15/29's through lanes.

The fix, though, has been controversial because drivers still are allowed to make that left turn onto 17.

VDOT officials reported progress last month in the use of the new flyover, but they were asked to meet again with supervisors this month.

The meeting was scheduled for last week, but it was canceled due to the snowy weather.

Also rescheduled from last week was discussion of Opal Gateway.

Supervisors voted 4-0 last month to table action on the proposed development.

The 100-acre project U.S. 17 would include medical offices, an RV park and related operations, a health/wellness center, retail stores, a motel/hotel, and restaurants.

The Board of Supervisors asked the developer, Dr. Hasan Abdallah, a pediatric cardiologist and medical director of the Children's Heart Institute, to address some technical points.

They also wanted to give board Chairman Chester Stribling, who missed the Jan. 9 meeting for medical reasons, a chance to weigh in on the matter.

Also tonight, supervisors are scheduled to:

– Discuss a rezoning and other approvals necessary for the Middleburg Humane Foundation to build a new animal shelter in the Marshall District.

The board will hold a public hearing on the matter, as well, and that could be lengthy. Middleburg Humane Foundation supporters have packed recent supervisors' meetings.

– Consider an unsolicited proposal to fix wastewater issues in Catlett and Calverton.

Failing drain fields have been a problem in those areas since the 1960s, and various solutions have been pondered.

One came from developer Catlett Farm LLC, which wanted to build the Village of Catlett project on nearly 800 acres at Route 28 and Dumfries Road.

The idea there was that the development would include the construction of a $6.3 million, 160,000-gallon per day wastewater treatment plant to serve new and existing residents.

Supervisors denied the application in 2011, however.

In response, the developer expressed disappointment, saying at the time that the project "would have resolved a 40-year environmental and health problem of failing drain-fields in Catlett and Calverton at an affordable cost without permanent county taxpayer subsidies."

Catlett Farm LLC also has sued the county in connection with the denial, and the matter is scheduled for a five-day trial to begin Tuesday.

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