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Warrenton settlement opens door for 71-home development

Wednesday, Aug. 13 | By Jonathan Hunley
Winchester Chase developer Jeff Rizer at Tuesday's Town Council meeting. - Photo by Adam Goings
The Warrenton Town Council and developer Jeff Rizer agreed Tuesday night to settle a federal lawsuit over a subdivision proposed for construction off of Winchester Street.

The council voted 6-0 to have town staff execute a settlement agreement that paves the way for a 71-lot community on 25 acres between Winchester Street and the North Rock subdivision.

The preliminary plan for the Winchester Chase subdivision would dedicate land for a turn lane off Winchester into the development in an effort to alleviate traffic backups along the road.

It also features fencing and a landscape buffer to shield Winchester Chase from view on Winchester Street and anticipates future buffers along the property line shared with North Rock.

An emergency access road would connect the two subdivisions, as well.

"I think that this is the best for all parties concerned," Councilman Robert H. Kravetz said of the settlement after a closed-door meeting on the matter that lasted the better part of two hours.

Rizer said the proposal was similar to others he has offered to the town over the past few months, but he agreed that it was the top one.

"This was the best plan," he said.

Administrative approvals from Warrenton are still necessary for the project to move forward, but Rizer will not need any further OK from the council.

He plans eventually to sell his property to a homebuilder who would construct the subdivision.

Rizer credited the arrival of Vice Mayor L.P. "Sunny" Reynolds and Councilman Sean M. Polster to the council with giving him renewed hope of hammering out an agreement with the municipality.

Before their election in May, Rizer was quite upset with town officials.

His lawsuit claimed Warrenton's Planning Commission acted unlawfully though it voted in favor of the project last year.

Commissioners weren't pleased with the look of the project, and they turned down several preliminary designs and expressed concerns about traffic and about how the subdivision would fit into the existing community.

The commission's vote was a disapproval "masquerading as an approval," court documents said, because it required Rizer to take certain steps before moving forward.

And those steps weren't based on valid regulations, Rizer alleged, which he claimed made the commission's decision "unlawful and void."

Warrenton's legal costs in the matter are being covered by municipal insurance it has for such instances.

Winchester Chase - Preliminary Plan (8!12!2014)

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