Walker Drive

November 7th Hearing on Walker Drive Lawsuit

Housing, shops and thousands more daily car trips will choke Walker Drive if the town’s controversial rezoning withstands a court test.

By Sally Semple

At issue at a hearing to be held in Fauquier County Circuit Court November 7th is whether litigation challenging the controversial rezoning of the Walker Drive development in Warrenton has a legal basis.

The Town of Warrenton, in a motion known as a demurrer, argues that there is no legal basis for a lawsuit filed Aug. 10, asserting that town council failed to follow proper procedures by rezoning 31.4 acres on Walker Drive to Industrial Planned Use Development from Industrial, opening the door to residential, commercial and industrial uses.

The speculative rezoning — there is no developer — allows 116 apartments and condominiums in addition to shops and restaurants. The property owners said this project will be an attractive site for a movie theater and promised to reserve 50,000 square feet for seven years for an entertainment complex.

In the wake of the July 11 rezoning, seven Walker Drive neighbors sued the Town of Warrenton to block the development, claiming that the Town Council failed to adequately research and vet the project to mitigate traffic, traffic noise, light pollution and safety in the surrounding neighborhood.

Neighbors’ repeated, prior requests for clarity on traffic and sewer impacts were met with a partial by-right traffic analysis that the town conceded probably should have been more comprehensive. Underlying assumptions in the traffic analysis that swayed impacts in the favor of the developer were neither revised nor corrected.

The suit alleges that the town failed to follow the waiver, proffer, and public hearing procedures of Warrenton regulations and state law in approving the rezoning, and that the proposed land uses failed to meet the basic applicability criteria of the town’s Planned Unit Development regulations.

The vote to approve the rezoning followed a spirited public hearing in which CFFC, The Piedmont Environmental Council and 30 citizens urged the Town Council to deny the rezoning. Of the 22 people who spoke in favor of the project, only seven were town residents, none of whom has economic ties to the project.