May 21, 2022

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The Car & Automotive Devotees

Frederick County Planning Commission tables tables rezoning for gas station/convenience store | Winchester Star

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WINCHESTER — The Frederick County Planning Commission voted unanimously to table a rezoning application for a gas station and convenience store until May 18.

North Stephenson Inc. is seeking proffer amendments for various properties in northeastern Frederick County. The properties, which total 13.69 acres, are located on the eastern side of Martinsburg Pike (U.S. 11), the western side of CSX, the northern side of Redbud Road and the southern side of Snowden Bridge Boulevard. The land is owned by North Stephenson Inc. and K & J Investments LLC.

The properties were originally zoned for Light Industrial purposes in 2005. In 2017, the Board of Supervisors rezoned the properties to be a mix of General Business, Industrial Transition and Light Industrial.

The amendments would allow greater trip generation on a 1.68-acre parcel of land (zoned for General Business) at the intersection of Martinsburg Pike and Snowden Bridge Boulevard. This change would accommodate a gas station/convenience store use by exempting the parcel from a trip generation cap of 6,303 that was previously imposed on the overall site.

The amendments would also allow the property owners to:

Install a right in/right-out entrance on Snowden Bridge Boulevard.

Construct a median to prevent left turns from that access point.

Install a free flow right turn lane at the realigned northbound I-81 to Martinsburg Pike (U.S. 11) exit ramp.

As part of the amendment proffers, the property owners would help improve the intersection of Ezra Lane and Snowden Bridge Boulevard.

Commission member Roger Thomas said the gas station wouldn’t be a “destination” that would substantially increase traffic. Rather, he noted that most of the customers would likely already be on the nearby roads. Therefore, he figured the site would do more to pull away existing traffic rather than generate new traffic.

But several Planning Commission members expressed reservations about recommending approval to the Board of Supervisors, as the applicant had not completed a Traffic Impact Analysis (TIA) to standards that the Virginia Department of Transportation found sufficient.

VDOT told the commission in a statement that until a TIA has been deemed complete and acceptable, it is not possible for VDOT to fully assess the potential impacts of this development. So, VDOT recommended that the proposed proffer amendment not proceed until the TIA is complete.

Attorney Ty Lawson, who represents the applicant, told the commission that numerous traffic studies have been conducted and VDOT keeps submitting comments requesting additional work. He described the process as frustrating.

“We continue to be frustrated because we continue to do the work — extensive and expensive work, very thorough work — and we received comments,” Lawson said. “… One of the comments, for example, was we finally did the roundabout analysis, even though it’s not warranted, it’s not needed. And the response was, ‘it will work; you can do a roundabout.’ And one of the comments [from VDOT] was, ‘why didn’t you study a two-lane roundabout? And I subsequently learned there’s actually such a thing as a three-lane roundabout. I mean, they all work. They are not necessary. They are not required. But those are the type of comments we have received and, politely, it’s frustrating.”

Ultimately, the Planning Commission unanimously agreed to table the matter until the commission’s second meeting in May to give more time for the applicant to work on the application and address some of VDOT’s concerns.