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New council may get housing proposal
Proposal for development on city-Spotsy border will be passed on to the next City Council


Date published: 6/23/2010

BY EMILY BATTLE

A question of how a small piece of commercial land tucked into the city's southern corner should be used will be passed on to the next City Council, which takes its seats July 1.

Marion Hicks owns 48 acres that straddle the Fredericksburg-Spotsylvania line. He's lived on the land for half a century, and has proposed to develop it as a 214-unit subdivision.

Spotsylvania County late last year approved his plans to build 124 homes on the 34 acres of the land that is in the county.

Hicks has proposed to put 87 town homes on the city portion of the land--down from a 144-unit proposal he brought to the city four years ago.

In both instances, city staff recommended that the City Council deny the request for a special-use permit to build the homes in the commercial highway zoning district, chiefly because the city's long-term land-use plan designates that land for commercial use.

Local attorney Charlie Payne has argued on Hicks' behalf that the parcel is a "no-man's land" that could never be developed for any viable commercial use because it doesn't have frontage on U.S. 1 and its elevation is significantly lower than that of the car dealerships that line the highway in that area.

City officials have also shown concern over the number of children the town homes would add to the city school system, although Payne has argued that the town homes would attract young professionals who aren't in the child-rearing years yet.

Last night, at least two council members indicated a willingness to reject the city staff's recommendation.

Council members Brad Ellis and Mary Katherine Greenlaw both said they don't see how the land could possibly be good for commercial use.

"I don't think any business in their right mind would locate there," Ellis said. "You can't see it, you can't access it easily."

Greenlaw agreed, but said she wanted to know how many bedrooms were planned for each unit to better plan for parking and schools needs, and she thought Hicks might need to add more parking to his plan.

Council members will take up the matter again at their July 13 meeting.

Also last night, council members unanimously approved several changes to the agreement that will govern Kalahari Resorts' incentives package.


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