Opponents of a proposed 166-home Broad Run Estates development in New Baltimore swayed the Fauquier Board of Supervisors Thursday when, in a 3-2 vote, its members denied a rezoning application that would have allowed it.
Scott District Supervisor Holder Trumbo, in whose district the planned development lies, said he saw the matter as a “quality of life” issue. He introduced the motion to deny rezoning. Residents opposed to the development cited concerns about traffic load, impact on schools and the tighter clustering of homes.
Center District Supervisor Chris Granger, who voted in favor of rezoning, noted the county’s comprehensive plan encourages growth in its service districts and that the proposed development “is smack dab in the middle of the New Baltimore service district.”
Granger also said the schools future Broad Run Estates residents would send children to -- C. Hunter Ritchie Elementary, Auburn Middle School and Kettle Run High School -- are currently under capacity. Granger also noted that denial of the rezoning won’t stop development of the land involved. A total of 148 homes can be built by right. Of those, 100 units have been approved or are awaiting approval on a construction plan.
Besides Granger, Cedar Run District Supervisor Rick Gerhardt supported the rezoning request. “The last thing I want to see is additional rooftops,” Gerhardt said, adding, however, that he saw merit in the proposal because it would have transferred a conservation easement onto Ringwood Farm and “not allow[ed] a single home on it. ”
“That appeals to me,” Gerhardt said.
Voting with Trumbo to deny the rezoning were Marshall District Supervisor Mary Leigh McDaniel and Lee District Supervisor Chris Butler.
Butler said he had no doubt the applicant and county staff put a lot of time and effort into the application, but he said he thought it amounted to “a lot of cake and no icing.”
To those opposed to the rezoning, Butler said, “I hear you,” and told them he would be voting against it.
Lakeside Homes LLC, the Homeowners Association of Brookside, and James and Kathleen K. Rohr submitted the application, which sought to sought to rezone 112.39 acres covering 17 properties off Broad Run Church Road between Riley and Kelly roads. Approval would have allowed four residential homes per acre instead of just one. The developer offered proffers of $581,000 for the county parks and recreation department and $83,000 to the sheriff’s office as well as creation of an equestrian trail.
The application involved combining the by-right densities totaling 148 units for three previously approved projects -- Broad Run Estates, Riley’s Estates and Ringwood Farm -- and an additional unplanned property -- the Rohr property -- into a single master plan.
The rezoning was supported by a majority of the county planning commission, which voted last December 4-1 in favor. The supervisors had the final say.
The applicant subsequently requested a delay before the application moved to the supervisors to allow time to work with county staff and the Virginia Department of Transportation on required improvements to Broad Run Church Road, including median striping, a 12-foot-wide travel lane and 10-foot-wide multi-use path.
A county staff report said the applicant believed the higher-density cluster development would “optimally utilize the land and allows it to be developed in a coordinated fashion, which is consistent with the comprehensive plan’s vision for New Baltimore.”
The applicant proposed putting the 166 single family detached homes on lots of varying size. The 73-acre Ringwood Farm is just outside the New Baltimore service district and is zoned R-1. The application proposed a conservation easement in addition to the limit of one house on the property.
A traffic analysis estimated the proposed development allowed by the rezoning would generate an additional 1,657 new traffic trips at full build-out. The new homes would be served by public water and sewer.
An analysis of the impact on the school division estimated the proposed development would boost enrollment by 120 students, including 62 at the elementary school level, 27 at the middle school level and 31 in high school. The cost of educating them would be $1,570,000, some of which would be offset by state funds, the rest covered locally.
The impact analysis said the additional students could put one or more of three schools serving that development -- Ritchie, Auburn and Kettle Run -- over capacity and make necessary either a school expansion, temporary classroom or juggling what schools students attend.
Granger said that as a “numbers guy” he looked at the current capacities at the three affected schools and said he found that Ritchie is currently at 87% capacity, Auburn at 84% and Kettle Run at 88%. Granger said the 40-student disparity between the numbers of students generated by the by right development compared to the tighter-clustered development amounts to one-fourth of 1%.
“Statistically, it doesn’t mean anything,” Granger said of that disparity. He said the proffers for parks and recreation and transportation moved him to support the rezoning.
“I understand that the people who live in proximity don’t like it. We can let it go and get nothing and be left holding the bill,” Granger said. The applicant’s proffers don’t apply to the by-right development.
McDaniel said she wished the applicant would have worked “a little bit harder” to gain the support of neighbors and Trumbo, their representative on the board of supervisors.
Trumbo noted neighbors “overwhelmingly said no” to the rezoning.
“People want to see the tax base balanced. Residential has outstripped the commercial side” in Fauquier as it’s developed, Trumbo said.
The vote by supervisors followed a public hearing that drew comments from 18 speakers. Michael Von Haden said he believed that “166 homes will make it impossible to social distance” in the neighborhood and in the schools.
A speaker who said her grandfather owned property in what’s now part of the Brookside development spoke in favor of lower density and more business growth. Another worried that a rezoning will “lead to a land grab” and trigger more development. Peter Schmidt said he thought the buildout of the Brookside development combined with the higher density proposed in the application being considered would be too much.
Bill Chipman, a realtor, spoke in favor of rezoning. The clustered housing “will aid in creating demand for commercial on Route 29. Our tax base needs more commercial development,” he said.
James Reed of Ringwood Road said he felt the application was a “win-win” for the county.
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