Haymarket scraps developer’s zoning plans

An Annandale developer and his attorney walked a gauntlet of angry Haymarket residents at Monday’s town council meeting, after the council vetoed preliminary consideration of a zoning text amendment that would have allowed the building of 43 town houses within town limits.

The council voted three to two to deny consideration of a zoning text amendment, despite the town Planning Commission’s recommendation of the developer’s proposal.

The two properties the developer was considering, the southern portion of Winterham and a plot on Payne Lane bounded by Jefferson and Fayette streets, are currently zoned for business uses. One is zoned B-1, which allows for businesses no larger than 6,000 square feet; the other is zoned B-2, which allows for businesses up to 15,000 square feet, Haymarket mayor John R. “Jack” Kapp said.

The developer’s attorney, Joseph Contrucci, argued that the town house development would be a less intensive use of the land than the business zoning they currently hold. The developer is Rocky Gorge Homes Inc.

“The choices are to continue with the B-1 and B-2 [zoning], or to soften that transition,” Contrucci said. “You are going to see massive growth. We thought this [would be] a much better opportunity for the town.”

Contrucci suggested that similar successful plans had been followed in the old towns of Leesburg and Alexandria.

“Haymarket is not Alexandria or Leesburg — it never will be. You cannot compare us to a metropolis,” Councilwoman Sheila Jarboe said. She asked why developers hadn’t submitted commercial development plans, saying they would bring more revenue to the town.

“[Business zoning] is gonna be more intense than if you just had town houses,” Vice Mayor James Shepard, also a member of the Planning Commission, told other council members at Monday’s meeting. “The intense use could be more than this town could possibly bear.”

But residents stridently opposed the town house project. Nearly every seat in Haymarket’s town hall was filled, and several people lined the walls, many wearing pale green “Save Historic Haymarket” patches.

Councilwoman Lynda Farr also voiced opposition to the project.

“I really can’t see how any more cars can go on Jefferson street, Fayette street in the morning. We will be effectively gridlocked if there’s an accident,” Farr said.

Several residents spoke about the loss of historic buildings in Haymarket, and the town’s comprehensive plan, which they said called for pedestrian-friendly shopping and amenities in the downtown blocks. Town historian Sarah Turner decried the demolition of two historic properties on one of the town home plots, a white house on the corner of Payne and Jefferson streets, and the Foley or Hutchison house.

“When you take down these old houses you’re destroying something that may be valuable down the road,” Turner said.

Turner said the white house was built circa 1910 and the Foley House, which she referred to as the Hutchison House, was built in 1871.

“Those buildings are in such a condition they’re not going to exist much longer,” Contrucci replied.

The town houses aren’t the only proposed development recently announced in Haymarket. A sign has appeared on a field on Washington Street, directly opposite the Food Lion shopping center. The sign proclaims “New Retail Development Delivery 2004.”

A call to the developer, JBG Rosenfeld, was not returned by press time. A press release on JBG’s Web site said a preliminary sketch for the six-acre parcel of land included “a new Quarles restaurant/convenience store, up to 15,000 square feet of small store space, and a few pad sites. JBGR hopes to attract a variety of retailers to the center, such as a gourmet coffee shop, a day spa and salon, a pet store, a video store, and possibly a drug store.”

The press release said construction is slated to begin in 2004.