Stafford Board of Supervisors rejects Clift Farm Road development plans 

by | May 8, 2024 | ALLFFP, Housing, Real Estate, Stafford

As the final action of a nearly seven-hour meeting, the Stafford Board of Supervisors voted 6 to 1 Tuesday night to deny both a rezoning request and a conditional use permit (CUP) application to Jarrell Properties for the Clift Farm Road development project.  

The property was intended to be the site of 141 single-family homes for people ages 55 and over. However, neighbors have been working for years to fight the development and maintain the rural nature of their community.  

The nearly 57-acre property previously owned by the Flippo family, also known as Oak Knoll Farm, will remain zoned A1-agriculture for now, bringing a sigh of relief to many residents west of the site in the Hickory Ridge subdivision.  

Those who spoke in opposition at the public hearing expressed concerns about traffic, the wetlands, tree removal, and safety. Some believe the property still contains historic archaeological findings from Stoneman’s Station, a Union Army campsite and railway depot in the area during the Civil War.   

The Stafford County Planning Commission recommended denying the application at its Feb. 28 meeting.  

Corey Johnson has lived on Clift Farm Road for 46 years.

“I remember when we moved here in ’78… there were only eight houses total,” he said during the public hearing. “We appreciate the small-town life… and although the world around us is changing fast, in most cases, it’s not for the better.

“But life as we know it on Clift Farm Road has not…sometimes you just have to say no for the betterment of the community and the county as a whole.”  

Bob Rowlette has been active in resisting the development since he first learned about it. While he appreciates the outcome of the public hearing, he said it brought a strange sense of relief.   

“We have a sense of sadness and commitment to our neighbors. I mean, the Flippo family are our neighbors and our friends and the whole reason that they were selling their farm was to take care of their mother,” he said. “So I don’t even want to call it a bittersweet victory; it’s a tempered victory.

Supervisors questioned the proffers presented by JPI and the specifics of building a new pump station for the neighborhood, which shares a boundary with land owned by Stafford Schools.   

Chairwoman Meg Bohmke, who represents the Falmouth District where the property is located, asked JPI representative Jeh Hicks if he could lower the number of units on the property because of density concerns. “If we go below 100 (units), it’s not doable,” he replied.  

According to an analysis created by MuniCap Public Finance, the development was going to have a net financial impact of over $26 million to the county over 30 years. With no or few children in the neighborhood, the school system wouldn’t be burdened, and a new pump station could provide the school property with water and sewer connections.  

“It’s a loss to us how this wasn’t a reasonable thing for the county to do,” Hicks said. “And in light of what is certainly being recognized — generally in our area — that there’s going to be a need for senior living.”  

Around 11 p.m., Hicks brought out UMW professor Lance Gentry with the Center for Business Research to share the results of a study done by the university.  The board gave him a few minutes to share some of his findings. “Assuming we continue to grow as we’re expecting,” Gentry said, “We’re going to have over 25,000 new senior citizens by 2050. And that is not from people moving into Stafford, it’s people aging into 55 and plus.”  

Gentry said the total demand for seniors requires another 6,000 units by 2030, 9,000 by 2040, and over 12,000 units by 2050. “We found that 64% (of those surveyed) approved of age-restricted communities, and 51% said that would make them more likely to buy a house when they were ready to buy a retirement home in an age-restricted community.”  

Supervisor Tinesha Allen, the Griffis-Widewater District representative, gave her perspective as a health care worker. “Residents who live in 55 and older communities actually have a longer longevity compared to members in the community at large,” Allen said.

“One of the issues I’ve come across is that a lot of people who do apply for services actually do want bedrooms and bathrooms on the first floor. A lot of them don’t want to be in facilities… having that opportunity to potentially having homes to do that, I don’t just want to dismiss it.”  

Allen added that the low inventory of real estate, specifically for senior adults, is a concern. She said she would support a deferral of a vote instead. Ultimately, Allen was the lone “no” vote on both resolutions.  

Hicks said he was disappointed but not surprised by the outcome. “We expected it to be a close vote, depending on what Meg Bohmke wanted to do,” he said. “There was support on the board for it, but a lot of deference was paid to Meg and her position as the home district supervisor. We knew it would be a battle and the opposition was well-organized.”  

Hicks said he hopes there is some empathy for the Flippo family, who now must go back to the drawing board. “There was no contingency plan,” Hicks said. “We stood outside until 1 a.m. last night in the parking lot, just trying to figure out what options we have right now.”  

Subscribe To Daily News Updates

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news from The Free Press

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Share This