Study supports housing complex

Posted: January 9, 2013

The Winchester Star

WINCHESTER — Apartments would result in far less traffic than medical and dental offices on the city’s western border, and the extra traffic a proposed 132-unit residential complex would generate is not enough to warrant a traffic signal.

Those were the results of a traffic signal warrant study conducted by Stowe Engineering of Stephens City regarding a proposal to rezone 7.74 acres of land at 940 Cedar Creek Grade to allow the Racy Meadows apartment complex to be built there.

Tim Stowe, the company’s president, presented his findings to the Winchester Planning Commission at its Tuesday work session.

“Based on the findings of this study,” he told the commissioners, “a traffic signal is not warranted.”

Valley View Management is seeking the rezoning so it can build 72 one-bedroom, 42 two-bedroom and 18 three-bedroom units on the site.

The Planning Commission will make a recommendation on the rezoning request, a decision that could come as early as Tuesday. City Council has the final vote on whether it’s approved or denied.

The commissioners delayed action on the request in October. The matter was tabled to allow Valley View officials time to perform the traffic study and provide a financial analysis of the real estate tax implications of building apartments instead of commercial space on the site.

While the financial analysis wasn’t presented at the work session, the result of the traffic study was.

Stowe’s analysis was on a site plan that was revised based on input from the Planning Commissioner and nearby residents late last year. The main difference was the relocation of the complex’s entrance and exit from the western end of the lot to the eastern end, meaning it would not be aligned with other streets.

“We’re trying to listen to the neighbors and do what we can to make this a good project,” Tim Painter of the city-based engineering firm Painter-Lewis PLC told the commissioners.

He said the relocated entrance would give drivers site lines of 832 feet to the west and 1,540 feet to the east, well above the required 440 feet based on the speed limit there.

Stowe said he calculated that a 138-unit proposal — the maximum possible based on Valley View’s request — would generate about 980 additional vehicle trips in that area daily. But one alternative based on current zoning — building medical and dental offices — could result in 4,692 additional trips, four times as much extra traffic.

Planning Director Tim Youmans said he presented the study to Perry Eisenach, the city’s public services director. Eisenach accepted Stowe’s findings regarding traffic generation, agreed that a signal would not be warranted based on national standards and thought the access point relocation was preferable.

Residents in the area have expressed concern about Valley View’s request to rezone the land to High Density Residential zoning with a Planned Unit Development (PUD) overlay from Residential Office with a Corridor Enhancement District overlay. Eight people expressed their concerns about the proposal at a public hearing in October.

Attending the meeting at Rouss City Hall were commissioners Jennifer Beatley, Carroll “Beau” Correll Jr., Kevin McKannan, Dave Shore, Stephen Slaughter Jr. and William Wiley. Commissioner David Smith was late.

— Contact Vic Bradshaw at vbradshaw@winchesterstar.com