Beyond the maze of numbers presented to council on financing options on a two-pronged $16.5-million capital improvement project envisioned to be completed within the next two years, it was a busy December 4 work session for the Front Royal Town Council.
Like a decision on financing construction of a new police headquarters and road improvements on the town’s east side, see related story three other agenda items involve the future physical and fiscal shape of the Town of Front Royal. Those topics included infrastructure construction to facilitate commercial redevelopment at the former Avtex Superfund site and acquisition of an acceptable bid on construction of a new Criser Road low-water bridge. We will explore those two items in an upcoming story.
Here we will explore a fourth work session topic crucial to the town’s future look – development dynamics on as many as 320 residential units on 149 acres of Front Royal Limited Partnership (FRLP) property on the town’s east side. FRLP owns another 604 acres, also on the town’s east side off Happy Creek Road in the vicinity of Mary’s Shady Lane. That larger parcel was brought into the town limits in a friendly 2014 annexation process with Warren County. The 604 acres has a maximum buildout of 818 residential units, though actual numbers will be approved, likely in phases during future rezoning applications.
FRLP’s 320-unit project
The original proffer package on the 149-acre parcel already in the town limits was negotiated in 2010. The bulk of the proposed changes, which were recommended for approval by the town planning commission on November 15, remove “dollar for dollar credits” offered to the developer by the Town, in exchange for removal of some cash proffers offered to the Town by the developer. The concept is to essentially create a “push” as it’s called in gambling circles, between the two.
Among the credits proposed for deletion are: tap fee payments over $10,000; land value costs on both right-of-way for the access road to the property and piece of land along Shenandoah Shores Road needed for future road improvements in the vicinity of the development; and on engineering and construction costs associated with Phases 2 to 4 of an East-West connector road running through the property, if the Town follows through on construction of Phase 5 of that road.
Town Planning Director Jeremy Camp explained to us that that latter road-associated credit could equal or exceed all of FRLP’s proposed cash proffers. He also noted that removal of the tap fee credit locks FRLP into paying the going rate on tap fees, a rate currently in the vicinity of $15,000.
“Under the proposed proffers, FRLP would still be obligated to build and dedicate ROW for the portion of the access road (east-west connector) on their 149 acres,” Camp explained to Royal Examiner, further noting that, “As proposed, the rest of the road would be addressed with the future 604 acres.”
And while the majority of cash proffers to the Town will be removed in the proposal, proffers related to impacts on the public school student population are not affected at all.
Of the proposed changes as a whole, Camp told Royal Examiner, “The existing proffers have some degree of balance between credits the Town pays FRLP and cash proffers paid to the Town by FRLP. Both the credits and cash proffers are proposed to be removed and FRLP would simply build what they are required to by Town Code and pay the County their cash proffer towards schools.