|Willow Run Drive|
No commissioners voted against the proposal although three members abstained: Kenneth Lawrence (Providence), Earl Flanagan (Mount Vernon), and the chair, Peter Murphy (Springfield).
The Mason District Land Use Committee voted in February to recommend that the Planning Commission not approve the rezoning request by Neighborhoods VI. The Planning Commission deferred action twice on the Willow Run project before approving it June 14. It will now go before the Board of Supervisors, which in all likelihood will approve it.
The proposal calls for the property to be rezoned from R-2 (which allows two houses per acre) to PDH-4 (planned development housing) which would allow much higher density (four houses per acre) with a homeowners association responsible for the maintenance of stormwater management facilities and common areas.
During earlier hearings and in letters to county officials, residents of the Willow Run community had complained that the development would not fit in with the character of the neighborhood, which includes many small houses on large lots. There were also complaints about increased traffic, increased storm water flowing into their yards, and overflow parking.
A letter from the Mason District Council urging the Planning Commission to reject the project says, if the property is to be developed, local residents prefer low-density housing in keeping with the existing neighborhood rather than PDH zoning, which would result in damage to an environmentally sensitive area.
They also note that the cash proffers Neighborhoods VI agreed to pay, including $75,471 to the Park Authority, $140,670 to the school system, $2,250 for a traffic light already in place, and funds for affordable housing and a bus shelter would benefit the county, not the existing neighborhood.
During the Planning Commission meeting, Janet Hall, the commissioner representing Mason District, said many of the community’s complaints with the original proposal have been addressed in the revised version.
William O’Donnell, with the Department of Planning and Zoning, explained the changes: The number of houses was reduced from 35 to 29, the configuration of the houses and private road through the property was modified, the buffer was increased from 25 to 30 feet, and storm water will be managed with a dry pond instead of an underground facility.
“The community will continue to be dissatisfied that this property will be developed,” Hall acknowledged. “But I doubt that nine acres in Mason District is going to sit vacant. Whether it’s done by right or by this application, something is going to happen. I think this is the very best that can be done with it at this point.”