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Rockingham County planning commission OKs one McGaheysville proposal, denies other

Rockingham County planning commission meeting 9/7/21
Rockingham County planning commission meeting 9/7/21(WHSV)
Published: Sep. 7, 2021 at 8:12 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 8, 2021 at 9:32 AM EDT
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ROCKINGHAM COUNTY, Va. (WHSV) - The Rockingham County Planning Commission met Tuesday night, and items on the agenda drew a large crowd.

A majority of the meeting was spent discussing a request to change a residential area in Massanutten resort near Bloomer Springs Road marked for single-family housing to now allow townhomes.

The proposal is for 90 townhomes on a space originally zoned for 10 single-family homes per acre, keeping a similar density.

Todd Rhea with Clark and Bradshaw said, on behalf of the client Great Eastern Resort Corporation, that the idea is to create affordable housing for Massanutten Resort employees.

However, Great Eastern Resort Corporation also has the right to continue with the original plans for single-family housing if they choose to.

Rhea said one appeal to the townhome development could be decreasing the number of employees commuting long distances to work.

Many property owners in Massanutten spoke out against the townhome idea including Jeannette Smith who lives right across from the proposed zoning.

Smith said she knows there is a need for affordable housing in the area, but said this proposal is a big change to the master plan.

“The proposal and request for rezoning... this is an unusual, aggressive, and unprecedented move on the part of Great Eastern,” Smith said.

Smith proposed a different location on the property for the townhomes.

Other community members expressed concerns over pedestrian traffic, parking, and stormwater runoff concerns.

The planning commission ultimately voted 2 to 1 to recommend the proposal for approval.

The planning commission takes a number of factors into account when deciding to approve, deny or table a project.

“They’re looking at any environmental issues, consistency with the comprehensive plan, what the surrounding land uses are, how it complies with the zoning ordinance, so it’s a multi-faceted study that they do before they make a recommendation,” said Rhonda Cooper, Director of Community Development for Rockingham County.

The commission also considers comments from the Virginia Department of Transportation, comments from schools, and whether or not public utilities are available.

In the unfinished business portion of the meeting, the planning commission moved the proposed 155-single family homes between Power Dam Road and Three Leagues Road in McGaheysville off the table.

The controversial development has been tabled by the commission since July and had until Oct. 5 to make a decision.

The planning commission quickly voted to recommend for disapproval.

This brought applause from the audience.

On the way out of the meeting, a community member reminded the crowd that it is not over just yet and they still need to attend the board of supervisors meeting where it will be discussed.

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