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Stafford delay vote on Oakenwold housing proposal

The debate over a proposed development near the Stafford Regional Airport extended late into Tuesday night in Stafford.

The development, called Oakenwold, could bring up to 650 residences and up to 250,000 square feet of commercial space on a 232-acre site southwest of the airport. The Board of Supervisors' chambers were packed in anticipation of a possible vote. But by The Free Lance-Star's deadline, a vote hadn't come and supervisors were still hearing from public speakers.

By press time, nine speakers spoke against Oakenwold, while five speakers spoke in favor.

The president of a Woodbridge-based engineering firm, John "Skip" Groupe IV, and his son, John "Johnny" Groupe V, are under contract to purchase the site from the owner, Michelle Moncure. The purchase is contingent on the Stafford Board of Supervisors rezoning the property from agricultural to planned-traditional neighborhood development.

Amenities would include a community center, trails, tennis courts and a pool. The applicants have also offered to set aside three acres for a public-use site.

The Groupes would also limit access and preserve the 19th-century home on the site that is called Oakenwold.

About 116 acres would remain open space. At the county's request, about 100 acres of that open space could be conveyed to the county for a passive recreation park.

Supervisor Laura Sellers wondered whether the developers would consider that space for a school.

A potential 316 to 616 students could be produced from the development. The three schools that would take in those students are each above 83 percent capacity.

The commercial build-out would be phased with the residential, which would include single-family detached homes, townhouses and multifamily units.

Supervisor Cord Sterling took issue with the phasing plan, saying that the potential number of townhouses and apartments at Oakenwold would end up costing the county more in services than the revenue the development would bring in.

Oakenwold would bring the county $11.4 million to $15.2 million in cash proffers, depending on the mix of units built.

Cash proffers are voluntary payments made by the developer to offset the development's impacts to county services.

Sterling added that he will look at the economic analysis performed for the applicant that said that the development would have a net annual fiscal benefit.

"I wish the airport would be more open-minded," Michelle Moncure, the current owner of the property, said. She added the the Groupes are a family-owned business that wouldn't disappear once the development started.

"It seems to be that a lot of assumptions are being made that they wouldn't know they are moving next to an airport," Jonathan Wright, a Stafford resident, said. "I think the airport and Oakenwold would coincide well together. I believe airplanes can crash anywhere, not just under the flight path."

At least two pilots who fly at Stafford Regional Airport voiced their disapproval for the project, citing noise and safety concerns with Oakenwold.

"Proffers for the residential units are below the county guidelines," Mike Logan, a Stafford resident, said. "The other big issue is that there is no public transportation."

Clark Leming, the attorney representing the Groupes, said that the applicant will be willing to reconsider at the different types of dwelling units proposed.

Leming reminded supervisors that the development would reside in an urban development area, which is recommended for development consisting of more houses and a mix of residential and commercial space.

The urban development areas are currently under review by the county that may result in changes to the types of use in each area.

Leming also pointed out other developments like Legoland that could come to fruition near the airport. That project has been rumored to be looking at Stafford.

Airport officials and the Virginia Department of Aviation have continued to oppose Oakenwold, saying that denser residential development near the airport is not compatible.

Oakenwold would be located under the flight pattern of the aircraft. At its closest point, the project is 3,600 feet from the center of the runway.

The first residential unit is about 4,200 feet from the runway, while most of the residential units would be more than a mile from the center of the runway.

Vanessa Remmers: 540/735-1975

vremmers@freelancestar.com

 

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