WINCHESTER — Shenandoah Valley Westminster-Canterbury is proposing a 21.3-acre expansion of its retirement community.
During Tuesday afternoon's Winchester Planning Commission work session, city Planning Director Timothy Youmans outlined the proposed expansion that, like the community's main 65.25-acre campus, would straddle the Winchester-Frederick County line.
A total of 10 three- and four-story apartment buildings containing nine or 10 apartments each would be built on the vacant property located at 654 Fox Drive. Four of those buildings with a total of 39 apartments, as well as a pair of stormwater drainage ponds, would be located on the 9.65 acres in Winchester.
The remaining 11.66 acres in Frederick County would include six more of the three- and four-story apartment buildings, as well as a commercial structure designated for a medical office and an intergenerational daycare center that would provide services to children and seniors alike.
The land in Winchester is zoned Low-Density Residential (LR). In order to build the apartments, Westminster-Canterbury is asking the city to add a Planned Unit Development (PUD) designation to the site to increase the number of housing units allowed per acre.
The Frederick County land is zoned Residential Performance (RP), which already has sufficient density to allow the construction of the six additional apartment buildings. So far, Westminster-Canterbury's expansion plans have not been presented to any governing boards or commissions in Frederick County.
The 21.3-acre expansion would be located to the west of the existing 65.25-acre Westminster-Canterbury campus, which is already home to nearly 400 people. Residents of the expansion property would be able to access the site from the development's main campus or via an access road that would be built off of Fox Drive.
The expansion would fall under a tax-exemption agreement that Westminster-Canterbury has had with Winchester and Frederick County for several decades. According to the agreement, the community pays annual fees to the localities based on its property's assessed value. The fee equals about one-fifth of the amount Westminster-Canterbury would otherwise pay in real estate taxes.
According to information provided by Westminster-Canterbury, the Winchester portion of the main campus is currently assessed by the city at $40,133,100. The age-restricted community pays Winchester an annual fee of $80,266 in lieu of taxes.
The Winchester portion of the expansion property is expected to add another $40 million to the community's assessed value, and would generate an additional $40,000 in annual fees for the city once construction is completed by 2022.
Youmans said school-age children are not allowed to live at Westminster-Canterbury, so the city and county would not incur the expenses of an expanded school population. According to Planning Commission documents, it costs Winchester $7,099 per year to educate one child in its public school system.
"That's the biggest concern we have from a fiscal-impact analysis," Youmans said.
As for the development's potential toll on Winchester's fire, rescue and police services, Youmans said, "We are comfortable" that Westminster-Canterbury's annual fee, along with a separate fee charged to residents that need ambulance service, will be enough to offset the added infrastructure costs.
A public hearing on Westminster-Canterbury's rezoning request is scheduled for the Aug. 18 business meeting of the Winchester Planning Commission. If City Council ultimately approves the rezoning, Westminster-Canterbury's next step would be to submit a detailed site plan to city and county officials.