Spotsylvania County officials say Orange County isn’t following a “good neighbor policy” as it moves ahead with the major Wilderness Crossing redevelopment project along the counties’ border.
A letter sent by Spotsylvania County officials last week cites concerns about the Wilderness Crossing rezoning proposal and claims that Orange County failed to adequately engage the neighboring county about the project.
In a correspondence dated April 18, Spotsylvania County Administrator Ed Petrovitch, speaking on behalf of the Spotsylvania County Board of Supervisors, stated his intent “to address concerns related to the Wilderness Crossing rezoning as well as the review and notification process for the application.”
If approved, the Wilderness Crossing development would be the largest in Orange County history, spanning more than 2,600 acres on the eastern end of the county. Rezoning would shift the site from largely agricultural and industrial to mixed-use. The Orange County Planning Commission held a public hearing for the proposal on March 23 and voted 3-2 to recommend its approval on April 6.
Two main concerns regarding the potential impact of the development on Spotsylvania County were listed in the letter: increased traffic and impoundment of Wilderness Run for a reservoir. The letter criticized the scope of the traffic impact analysis for not analyzing regional impacts or intersections while it simultaneously “assumes 50% of the traffic will travel through Spotsylvania County.”
According to the Spotsylvania Board of Supervisors, neither Spotsylvania County nor the Virginia Department of Transportation’s Fredericksburg District were consulted in regard to the traffic analysis. The Fredericksburg District VDOT did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but Spotsylvania County Director of Community Engagement and Tourism Michelle McGinnis said in an email that “Spotsylvania County has been contacted by VDOT Fredericksburg, which has advised that an adequate Traffic Impact Analysis (TIA) scoping would have studied major intersections between the Orange County line and Gordon Road in Spotsylvania.”
Petrovitch’s correspondence also said concerns about the development’s possible effect on the water supply within the region. Petrovitch “requested a meeting with the Orange County Administrator and General Manager of the Rapidan Service Authority (RSA) to discuss RSA’s water supply planning as it relates to western Spotsylvania County and this development,” but he had not received a response at the time of the letter.
According to McGinnis, Orange County Administrator Theodore Voorhees reached out to Petrovitch after the letter was sent. In a follow-up email, Voorhees confirmed that Orange is now planning to meet with Rapidan Service Authority officials about the water supply within the next week.
In addition to traffic and water, the letter cited two “procedural concerns.” The first was a failure by Orange County to notify Spotsylvania County of the two public hearings for Wilderness Crossing.
“Spotsylvania did not receive written notice of the Planning Commission public hearing, nor to date have we received notice of the Board of Supervisors’ public hearing as is required by the Code of Virginia Sec. 15.2-2204.C.”
Under the aforementioned code, when any proposed change to a comprehensive plan or zoning classification map “involves any parcel of land located within one-half mile of a boundary of an adjoining locality of the Commonwealth, then, in addition to the advertising and written notification as required by this section, written notice shall also be given by the local commission, or its representative, at least 10 days before the hearing to the chief administrative officer, or his designee, of such adjoining locality.”
The second procedural concern was less specific and was over a break in tradition regarding coordination between the two counties in reviewing rezoning applications along the border of the two counties.
“We are disappointed that this good neighbor policy was not followed for this significantly more impactful project, especially in light of past concerns raised by Spotsylvania County related to the Germanna Wilderness Area Plan,” the letter said.
Voorhees responded to a request for comment with a second letter dated April 20 written on behalf of the Orange County Board of Supervisors to the Spotsylvania County Board of Supervisors. In it, he says, “Our records indicate that in addition to Orange County and Culpeper County addresses, proper notice of the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors public hearings was mailed to Spotsylvania County property owners and entities,” following with a list of private addresses, a homeowners association, the city of Fredericksburg and the Spotsylvania County administrator.
However, according to McGinnis, the county did not receive notice prior to April 20.
The Orange County Board of Supervisors public hearing for the Wilderness Crossing proposal was scheduled to occur at 5 p.m. on Tuesday after press time.
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