Stafford approves rezoning for Belmont Park project

by | Jul 3, 2024 | ALLFFP, Real Estate, Stafford

At its last meeting before the summer recess, the Stafford County Board of Supervisors adopted a revised meeting schedule and approved rezoning for the project known as Belmont Park among other actions. 

The revised meeting and agenda schedule means that the formerly once-a-month Tuesday meetings will start at 5 p.m. and be held twice a month, with an option for a third meeting when necessary. The new schedule begins Aug. 20, a “B” day. 

In the 5-2 vote to approve changes to the bylaws, Supervisors Darrell English (Hartwood) and Pamela Yeung (Garrisonville) voted against, voicing their preference that changes to the start times be better suited to senior citizens and commuters who may not be able to attend a 5 p.m. meeting. 

The other major issue of the session was the approval of a rezoning project in the county’s George Washington district, south of Route 17. The 132-acre property, made up of 16 different parcels, was rezoned from suburban residential and agricultural to light and heavy industrial. 

The property abuts Powell Lane, Warrenton Road, and Sanford Lane and may be developed for several purposes, but owner Kevin Sills said that he anticipates the heavy industrial portion will be an A. Duie Pyle truck/freight terminal and the other buildings will be warehouses. A five-acre graded site will also be given to the county for use as a park or recreation area. 

A. Duie Pyle currently operates three locations in Virginia, and, according to attorney Charlie Payne, will make a $46 million investment into building a new facility at Belmont Park. Payne also said an estimated 626 direct jobs and 23 indirect jobs will be generated, with about $57 million in total wages at full build-out, which could take five to seven years. 

Several residents came forward to share their support for the project.  

“This project is near and dear to me,” Dory Mills said. “My childhood home and land are part of the project. My father was in support of this for years before his death.” 

Mills noted that “endless resources” go to the northern part of the county while “Route 17 gets auto parts stores and fast food chains.”  

“This part of the county needs economic growth and jobs that will be created through projects such as Belmont Park, jobs that will enhance the lower part of Stafford,” she said. 

Others questioned the increase in traffic in an already congested area. Payne said that access to the site would be limited to just Powell Lane and that an additional turn lane may be installed on Route 17 once the development reached 500,000 square feet of floor area. 

Other speakers questioned using the space for industrial use and the impact that a potential Rappahannock River crossing could have on the property. 

Sills said he has owned some of the property for over 30 years and has tried to put nearly “everything” on the land from residential development to recreational facilities to no avail.

“I even had Kevin Durant wanting to be a partner with me on the rec facility,” he said. 

It has been nearly seven years since he started with his original rezoning applications. 

Ultimately, the board decided that making a decision was preferable to scrapping Sills’ plans again.

“This is a really hard one,” Supervisor Crystal Vanuch (Rock Hill) said. “I really hate it when we feel like our back is against the wall. This is not the highest and best use of the property. But this is the kind of situation we are going to be continually put in.” 

The resolution passed 4-3, with Gary, Vanuch and Yeung voting against it. 

In other actions, the board approved a new policy allowing for direct communication between the supervisors and the school board. The policy includes new ranking criteria so that the boards can prioritize projects and have subject matter experts score them rather than working through the technical review committee. 

Director of Utilities Chris Edwards presented a resolution to authorize a water infrastructure agreement with Amazon Data Services for its data center campus at Old Potomac Church. Edwards and the county attorney, Rysheda McClendon, agreed that it is a “good agreement” and that “the county is protected.” 

Under the agreement, Amazon agrees to fund and construct a water reuse facility and distribution system at the Aquia Wastewater Treatment Facility and to reuse water from the newly constructed facility for industrial cooling of its data center buildings. Water reuse can also be supplied to future sites including extending reuse piping to the Stafford Technology Campus. 

Supervisor Tinesha Allen (Griffis-Widewater) characterized the deal as a “solid agreement compared to other counties. We are setting the industry standards for what a water use agreement should be.” 

The supervisors approved the resolution 7-0.  

Hirschler Fleischer, an individual or organization mentioned in this story, is a major donor to the Free Press. Donors do not influence newsroom operations.

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