Impacts to VCR Trail due to Proposed Gas Station

All FARC members are encouraged to push the city for a pedestrian bridge over the Blue and Gray Parkway!

Why would the city be so enthusiastic about building trails only to partially destroy the VCR, one of our very beloved running trails, by approving a Royal Farms gas station?

The planning commission is studying the construction of a Royal Farms at the southwest intersection of the B&G Parkway and Lafayette Boulevard. The proposed Royal Farms location is indicated on the map above.

Construction of the convenience store would cut off an entire section of the trail as users proceed towards Alum Spring Park. The commission has asked for the pedestrian bridge to be studied and considered, but even if it is approved it could be many years before it is constructed. We all have patiently and nervously waited at the B&G stoplight in order to continue onto the VCR and probably many of you have already thought the pedestrian bridge would be an asset. This would solve both problems by getting around the store and not having to wait at the crosswalk.

Please state your concern and viewpoint at planning@fredericksburgva.gov as soon as possible.

The following contains more information from planning commission member, Adam Lynch on 12/3/2020:

A developer, Sumner Partners LLC, wants to put a Royal Farms convenience store at the intersection of Blue & Gray Pkwy and Lafayette (see map). A Gas station at this location requires a special use permit, so the developer will need to win City Council approval to move ahead. Right now the proposal is at the planning commission (of which I’m a member) to make a recommendation before the measure goes to Council.

At the Wednesday, Dec 2 planning commission meeting there was almost 2 hours of discussion which you can watch here if you like: https://amsva.wistia.com/medias/8ubui5r17g(Discussion runs from 1:36 to 3:30)

Here are the cliff notes:

  • The planning staff (led by Chuck Johnston) recommends approval, arguing that commercial development here is consistent with the comprehensive plan.
  • The city received 17 public letters and 2 in-person comments, all opposing
  • The planning commission had a number of concerns, especially about the effects on the VCR trail. The entrance to the Royal Farms would come off of Alum Spring Rd and create a 40-foot gap in the VCR trail. This presents safety concerns for trail users since there would be 1,000 or more vehicle-trips crossing the path per day. The city looked at re-routing the trail to bypass the Royal Farms at grade but found it wasn’t feasible. 
  • Sensing a vote of disapproval at Wednesday’s meeting, Johnston persuaded the planning commission to defer their vote till the January 13 planning commission meeting to allow time for the developer to amend their proposal.

The developer will likely need to come back offering significant conditions in order to win the approval of the special use permit. For me, that means a financial contribution that will accelerate the timeline of a planned pedestrian bridge that would allow the VCR trail to cross Blue & Gray and bypass the Royal Farms site. (In case you’re curious, here’s a link to a YouTube clip of a city staffer describing the pedestrian bridge plan: https://youtu.be/bJpQl-eCjUU)

During the meeting, I suggested the developer contribute $100,000 to an engineering study of a planned pedestrian bridge over Blue & Gray. He said no, but may come back with a counter offer. Of course, it’s possible the planning commission will vote to deny the permit and the City Council will vote to allow it anyway.

If members of your club want to put in public comment, they should send an email to planning@fredericksburgva.gov before 4:30 pm on Jan 13 (earlier the better) or attend the Jan 13 planning commission meeting in person. The email comments will be read at the meeting. They can also email, call, or text me at the number below if they have any questions about the process or details.

Adam
540-809-2066