Lofton: Developer Wants To Create Workforce Housing Development Near Kernstown

By The Winchester Star

WINCHESTER — A housing development with roughly 200 single-family homes west of Kernstown might be built in the next few years, if the Frederick County Board of Supervisors agrees to it.

Back Creek District Supervisory Gary Lofton said during Wednesday night’s board meeting that he has been in discussions with a group that wants to develop, own and operate a “workforce housing community” in his district near businesses and industries.

Lofton said the development would be located between Va. 37 and Apple Valley Road at the intersection of Middle Road. According to the Frederick County tax maps, the 71.85 acre-property is co-owned by Blackburn Limited Partnership and Barbara Lewis. The property has an assessed value of $1.99 million.

Lofton said the Board of Supervisors has identified the expansion of the county’s commercial and industrial tax base as necessary to ensure a viable and thriving economy. He said the Economic Development Authority and the Regional Development Coalition have identified affordable workforce housing as a need.

The U.S. Census Bureau identifies Frederick County as having a median household income of $68,929 for a family of four. Lofton said workforce housing provides affordable housing options for qualifying families that average 60 percent of local median household income. This type of housing allows workers to reside in the community in which they work and not have to commute from other areas that offer more affordable housing.

For the property to be developed, the supervisors would need to amend the county’s Comprehensive Policy Plan and the Kernstown Area Plan to allow for the residential use, Lofton said. Currently, the comprehensive plan calls for industrial development on the property.

The supervisors agreed to have planning staff begin the process of amending the Comprehensive Policy Plan and Kernstown Area Plan. Planning staff will determine the appropriateness of creating a workforce housing community in that area of the county and will provide a recommendation to the supervisors at a later date.

Also at the meeting, the supervisors voted unanimously to postpone voting on whether to rezone 122.18 acres east of Winchester from residential to light industrial. The vote will now occur on Jan 23.

The property is a mile east of Interstate 81, south of Millwood Pike (U.S. 50) and north of Winchester Regional Airport. It is owned by JGR Three LLC and others. The site consists of a 107.44-acre parcel, with the address of 1400 Millwood Pike, and a 14.74-acre parcel. John G. Russell III is the registered agent. JGR Three LLC wants to sell the entire property to Houston-based Hines Development Group.

A rezoning would allow for the development of 805,000 square feet of warehouse space or other industrial uses. However, Frederick County Planning Commission members and neighboring properties have expressed concern about the traffic the development would bring.

The proffer statement for the rezoning says the owner will build a four-lane extension of Coverstone Drive, from its terminus north of the Winchester Regional Airport and east of the Frederick County Public Safety Building to Millwood Pike. The extension would be built in four phases. The proffer statement also includes $175,000 to go toward signalization and other road improvements on Costello Drive.

But some Planning Commission members said at a previous meeting that they feared the proffers were not enforceable, as there is nothing in the proposed proffer statement indicating when phases three and four of the Coverstone Drive extension need to be constructed.

Supervisor Shannon Trout suggested postponing the vote.

“I’m concerned about whether the proposed zoning would appropriately mitigate the impact of this rezoning as it’s currently written,” Trout said.

This article provided by NewsEdge.