By Pauline Hovey
The Greene County Board of Supervisors met with local developer Fried Companies, Inc., last week to hear the company’s consideration to build several hundred townhomes in the Ruckersville area. Mr. Steve Jones, chief operating officer representing Fried Companies, Inc., presented the developer’s ideas to the board regarding the possibility of rezoning the area proposed for the Creekside Subdivision, located on Seminole Trail/Route 29.
The property is zoned R-1, which allows up to 800 single family homes, and according to Supervisor Jim Frydl (Ruckersville), the developer wanted to meet with the board to discuss possible rezoning to a PUD, or planned urban development. A PUD would allow the developer more flexibility in changing the planned development from 800 homes on one-acre lots to 1180 homes, 580 of which would be townhomes, and the remainder, single family homes on various-sized lots. Fried Companies is considering the change because of market conditions, which seem to favor townhomes and smaller homes in general that require less upkeep. In addition, Greene County does not currently offer new construction townhomes, and the belief is they would sell easily.
According to Frydl, the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) traffic study would not require any major road improvements for the change to 1180 homes, but Fried is offering to immediately build an access road cutting across the development onto Rte. 29 before any homes would be built. The proposed property extends eastward to Preddy Creek Road—a road already well traveled due to several housing subdivisions built along that roadway. In addition, the developer offered to shave down a hillside that currently creates a blind curve along Preddy Creek Road. The developer also proffered a phased construction of 100 townhomes per year so as not to invade the market all at once.
Frydl said one of the main reasons the developer wanted to meet with the board was to address the county’s expensive rezoning fees and ask for consideration of constructing a more reasonable fee structure before Fried decides to move forward. The Planning and Zoning Department will study the issue to determine whether a more balanced structure could be implemented through the current code, Frydl said. Once fees have been determined, Fried Companies will most likely bring its request to the Planning Commission in July. Since this was not a public hearing, Frydl added that the supervisors could not respond to Jones’ request at this time.
Later that evening, the board unanimously approved a special use permit for a veterinary clinic to open in the plaza on Seminole Trail/Rte. 29 where the Best Western is located. The special permit was needed because of the nature of the business, but, as Planning Director Bart Svoboda noted, “this business meets the comp plan and goes along with the scheme of things.”
“This is a business that’s good for the county,” Supervisor Carl Schmitt (at-large) said, and others agreed, including Chairman Steve Catalano (at-large), who cited the importance of “diversifying the business population.”
In addition, the Planning and Zoning Department’s Stephanie Golon presented an evaluation of the county’s EAGLE/AutoCAD mapping services compared to Geographical Information System with the recommendation that the county change to a better, more technologically improved service. Golon noted she is concerned that the current company, MSAG Data Consultants, is not consistent in the type of service it provides in relation to its price increases, and customer service has decreased considerably.
“Our current mapping system is not standardized,” Golon added, which would allow the county to share information with other counties “should we have a catastrophic or emergency situation,”— something the county cannot do now. The system’s inability to remain up to date with the county’s level of development has encumbered all departments in regards to the information they receive, and MSAG’s programs are “technically outdated,” she said. The board approved the Planning Department move forward in seeking RFPs for a replacement mapping service.
In matters from the public, Neil Williamson, representing both the Free Enterprise Forum and his interest as a Ruckersville resident, presented his concerns regarding the board’s discussion of redistricting at its last meeting. Noting his concern of the possible loss of an incumbent supervisor if the board renames Supervisor Frydl’s district, he argued that one of the main goals of the board in considering redistricting should be to keep an incumbent in his or her district.
During other matters from the board, Supervisor Schmitt said he agreed with Williamson’s concerns about redistricting causing an issue for the incumbent supervisor. “Neil brings up an interesting point, and we really have to think through how this will play out.”
Chairman Catalano noted that nothing has been decided about redistricting, and the workshop was mainly to arrive at some possibilities for the changes that need to be made. “We still can do the will of the public at the next meeting,” he said, referring to an upcoming June 14th public hearing on redistricting.
Pauline Hovey is the Greene County Field Officer for the Free Enterprise Forum a privately funded public policy organization. If you find this report helpful, please consider supporting the Free Enterprise Forum. To learn more visit www.freeenterpriseforum.org