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The James City County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to allow the developers of Stonehouse to change the timing for constructing several roads, traffic signals and turn lanes outlined in the community’s master plan.
The previous plan split all of the improvements into three phases based off traffic levels, with a large parkway that runs from near the intersection of Old Stage Road and Rochambeau Drive to near the banks of the York River contained in the first phase.
The supervisors’ vote rearranges the timing of these projects, delaying the parkway as the developers have indicated they want to focus their attention on developing large commercial and industrial tracts along Six Mount Zion and Laurel roads and on building homes near what has already been developed along Fieldstone Parkway.
That plan indicates development of thousands of acres in the eastern and northern parts of Stonehouse is not forthcoming. Lingering malaise from the recession has slowed development in Stonehouse, prompting the developers to seek changes to the timing of the transportation plan.
“It was expected the eastern and northern side would develop early on back in 2007 and the [large parkway] would create a grand new entrance,” Attorney Vernon Geddy, the developer’s representative, told the supervisors Tuesday. “Of course we all know then the economy collapsed into the Great Recession.”
Stonehouse is a residential and commercial development with a master plan that outlines more than 4,400 residential units and up to 3.8 million square feet of commercial and industrial space. The development encompasses more than 4,600 acres in the northwestern-most part of James City County, running north from Interstate 64.
The Stonehouse master plan requires more than 15 roads, traffic signals and turn lanes to be built as the development grows. Along with the large parkway required to run through much of the development, there will eventually be traffic signals located on Old Stage Road at its intersections with Fieldstone Parkway, I-64 West and La Grange Parkway.
The plan also calls for other improvements, including new turn lanes on Fieldstone Parkway, La Grange Parkway and Old Stage Road. The I-64 West offramp at exit 227 would receive a second lane, and Rochambeau Drive would be widened from where it narrows to two lanes by Faith Baptist Church to its intersection with Croaker Road.
The new plan still requires all of these improvements, but their timing has been moved so that they will not be triggered until the land they will serve is to be developed. While some of the projects will be triggered by traffic levels, others — like the traffic signals — will be built when the Virginia Department of Transportation says it is time.
A complete list of projects and their triggers can be found here.
Ellen Cook of the James City County Planning Division told the supervisors the new plan will not allow site plans for the large industrial and commercial areas to be approved unless the developers make good on their promise to improve the roads that provide access to them.
The supervisors did not say much prior to their vote. Supervisor Jim Kennedy (Stonehouse) represents the development on the board and said there “are a lot of challenges” associated with Stonehouse but that he would like to see it succeed.
“Certainly I think it’s viable,” he said of the changed timing on the transportation improvements. “I think it’s doable.”
Stonehouse was approved in November 1991 as a residential and commercial development with a proposed reservoir. Plans for the reservoir fell through in 1995 after the county was unable to secure a permit authorizing its construction.
Hundreds of homes have since been built on the western part of the development near the intersection of Old Stage Road and Fieldstone Parkway. Development has also started in the Stonehouse Commerce Park.