The 306-unit Laurel Street neighborhood, which will be located just south of the High Point subdivision, has received the Culpeper Town Council’s stamp of approval.
The council, by a 6-3 vote, granted a rezoning request allowing for the construction of high density housing on the 60-acre plot in question. The previous zoning allowed one unit per every three acres.
Those in favor of the request were Mayor Michael Olinger and council members Jamie Clancey, Keith Price, Frank Reaves Jr., Meaghan Taylor and William Yowell. Dissenters included Jon Russell, Pranas Rimeikis and Keith Brown.
The development will include:
- 306 units, down from a previously proposed 310.
- A density of 5.1 units per acre.
- 135 single-family detached units on lots that are a minimum of 5,000-square-feet with driveways and two-car garages.
- 171 townhouses with a maximum 20-foot width, down from a previously proposed 24-foot width. This increases affordability and parking.
- Two basketball courts.
- Open space, to which one-third of the development is dedicated.
- A planted buffer that will screen the development from Route 29.
- 700 more parking spaces than the town code requires.
- One primary access and exit point and an emergency access point.
Estimated value for the townhouses and detached units is $250,000 and $350,000 respectively.
Citing a recent study, Councilman Keith Price noted 4,000 new housing units are needed in the area.
“This chips away at that,” he said.
Price added that the development will provide more affordable housing options as the median home value in Culpeper County is $349,000 while the average income is $66,000.
“If you use the 30% of income spent on housing as the affordability line, then that means the average home in Culpeper County is actually a little beyond the reach - the comfortable reach - of the average household,” he said.
Contacted after the meeting, Councilman Keith Brown stated via email that "I really struggled with my decision to vote against the Laurel Park Development."
"The development would increase more revenue for our small businesses and provide the platform to argue for decreasing taxes all across the board. But, as a resident of the Highpoint community, it was very apparent limited access into the community via Laurel Street would push traffic onto Blue Spruce Drive as an immediate egress, hence disrupting the quality of life for those residents," he said.
Developer Steven Plescow, the lone speaker during a public hearing, said the developers believe their plan has improved due to the planning process that has unfolded over the last couple of months.
He noted that the development falls in line with the town’s comprehensive plan, which outlines how houses are key to economic development. He added that housing supply has dramatically decreased and demand increased while affordability presents an issue.
“We think we can help this issue….we aren’t going upscale. We are trying to meet with what the market demand is,” he said.
With the development, Plescow noted that the town will receive $6.1 million in water, sewer and power connection fees.
“All your infrastructure for that is there today, you’ve already invested in it. You will monetize that…That can go help deal with problems in other parts of town,” he said.
Plescow added that new residents moving into the development means a larger customer base for local businesses.
“I know they’re struggling and I don’t think they would object to having more customers that want to shop local,” he said.
Plescow also noted the developers will give $637,000 to the schools and library. Other monetary contributions are going to fire and rescue and the police department. He added that the development will offer housing opportunities for first responders, teachers and other workers.
The developers are also funding construction work at the intersection of Orange Road and Laurel Street.
Plescow added that the developers are investing nearly $250,000 toward on-site amenities in the neighborhood and giving about $69,000 to the parks department for off-site projects.
He noted that the neighborhood's economic benefits could not be more timely, as housing generally provides an economic stimulus that is a huge factor in escaping the confines of a recession.
"This is a local project...The benefits are being created here and they're gonna be felt here. We need this project as we exit COVID," Plescow said.