Prince William County planners have pushed off approval of a proposed development near Haymarket over traffic concerns.
The Planning Commission unanimously tabled a proposal to rezone 8.5 acres at the intersection of Antioch Road and John Marshall Highway (Va. 55) following a public hearing during its Feb. 3 meeting.
Haymarket Town Center LLC wants to change the zoning of the parcel between John Marshall Highway and Interstate 66 from agricultural to office mid-rise.
According to a staff report, the developer wants to build two hotels with 100 rooms each, a restaurant at 7,600 square feet and an office building at 3,000 square feet.
The property, about 0.6 mile west of the Haymarket town limits, was valued for tax purposes at $482,000 in 2020, according to online court records. It is designated in the Comprehensive Plan for a Community Employment Center and is in the development area.
The property would be separated into two unconnected parcels. Two entrances to the development would be on John Marshall Highway with dedicated right-turn lanes, one at Rose Ellene Lane and another at the middle of the parcel. Left turns would not be allowed out of the latter entrance. A third entrance would be off Antioch Road.
At the site, John Marshall Highway would be converted to three lanes, with two eastbound lanes and one westbound lane separated by a median.
Planners were primarily worried about the entrance onto Antioch Road, which was designated as a scenic byway in 2017, and potential traffic hazards with the raised bridge over I-66.
Jonelle Cameron, an attorney with Walsh, Colucci, Lubeley & Walsh representing the developer, said the entrance would meet Virginia Department of Transportation regulations requiring a 500-foot sight distance. During the hearing, Haymarket Councilman Bob Weir disagreed.
“I don’t know how anybody, consultant or motor vehicle driver, is going to somehow manage that 500-foot sight distance,” he said. “Unless you’ve got X-ray vision, there’s no way you can see that 500-foot distance.”
Cameron said VDOT would have to sign off on the entrance during the site plan process, but Neabsco Commissioner Bill Milne said the concerns couldn’t wait that long.
“I don’t want a solution at site plan, I want a solution now in a proffered sense,” he said.
Five other people spoke at the public hearing, with two in favor of the proposal. The other three raised concerns about the traffic impact and said a proposed historical kiosk was inadequate.
A cultural resources report indicates possible troop movements through the property during the Civil War. Union and Confederate troops moved through the area in August 1862, engaging in small battles along the way ahead of the Second Battle of Bull Run. Union Maj. Gen. Irvin McDowell’s secretary wrote of troops moving from a mill west of Haymarket to near the town and later Gainesville ahead of the battle.
The developer has agreed to add interpretive signage with content from the Historical Commission about the battlefields and skirmishes related to the property.
Coles Commissioner Joseph Fontanella Jr. wanted more historical recognition of the site.
“I guess I’m just a little disappointed we have a historic site and the best we can do here is slap up a kiosk that explains what used to be here,” he said. “I think we have some very unique features in this county that are an important part of American history and I think we need to be cautious about putting hotels and things on top of them instead of finding other locations.”
The commission’s action would allow county staff to reintroduce the proposal after gathering more information about safety concerns on Antioch Road and historical recognition of the property.