City council clears way for downtown apartment complex | Winchester Star


WINCHESTER –The developer of what would be the largest apartment complex in downtown Winchester was given the green light to proceed, but there were times on Tuesday when it appeared the long-running project was going to derail.

Cameron Square is designed as a mixed-use residential and commercial complex encompassing blocks 200 and 300 of North Cameron Street. As proposed, it would include 171 market-priced apartments, a concrete parking lot with 195 spaces and space for two retail businesses on the ground floor.

Tuesday evening, the project developer Lynx Enterprises Inc. de Richmond asked city council to approve a conditional use permit (CUP) allowing it to exceed the residential density limit for the site, which includes eight consolidated plots purchased from Glaize Developments Inc. of Winchester for approximately 2.6 million dollars plus a vacant plot owned by the Economic Development Authority (EDA) in the town where the Winchester Towers apartment building was located before it was demolished in late 2016.

Cameron Square would be built on land zoned Central Business (B-1), where zoning regulations limit the number of residential units to a maximum of 51. Lynx wants to build 171 units, so without the CUP the project could not. proceed.

Although a parking platform is included in the proposal, the zoning regulations for downtown Winchester do not require residential developments to include resident-only parking, as there are four public car parks within. walking distance as well as spaces with meters on the street. On Tuesday, however, some city council members expressed reluctance to endorse the CUP, as 195 parking spaces may not be enough to accommodate all of the vehicles driven by tenants of the 171 Cameron Square apartments.

“I see the residents of this property have 200, 300 cars,” Councilor Evan Clark said. “I don’t see it working with so many apartments at all.”

“I am also concerned about parking,” said vice-chairman Kim Herbstritt, before offering a traffic impact analysis to see if the additional vehicle trips generated by Cameron Square could obstruct the streets of the city. downtown.

Clark added that he was also frustrated with Lynx’s lack of information regarding the number of school-aged children who can live in Cameron Square. Winchester Planning Director Timothy Youmans said the potential impact on Winchester Public Schools should be minimal as the apartments offered are not large enough to accommodate growing families.

Councilor Phillip Milstead said his main concern is that Cameron Square’s mix of apartments – 11 studio units, 22 ‘junior bedroom’ units, 95 one-bedroom units, six one-bedroom units with boudoir , 32 two-bedroom units and five two-bedroom units with a boudoir – do not meet Winchester’s need for housing large enough to accommodate families.

“We need to put more emphasis on the bigger apartments,” Milstead said.

After several minutes of discussion among council members, Mayor David Smith intervened and said most of the concerns expressed by the panel had already been addressed by various city officials and governing bodies in the nearly two years since Lynx first proposed the apartment complex.

Smith said COVID-19 and other factors have already significantly delayed progress on Cameron Square, and he was “concerned about the timing” if the board decides to postpone a vote on CUP due to issues that had already been debated and resolved.

Smith’s concern had merit. The EDA previously gave Lynx an Oct. 29 deadline to complete its purchase of the old Winchester Towers site or risk canceling the sale. Under a February 2020 purchase agreement, Lynx plans to pay EDA $ 325,000 for the vacant parcel.

After more than 30 minutes of debate, council voted 7-2 on Tuesday to approve the CUP and give Lynx the density it needs to build 171 apartments.

The project still has some administrative hurdles to overcome, most notably with the approval of the Cameron Square site plan. This plan, which will include specific details of the property’s layout and proposed amenities, is expected to be presented to the city’s Planning and Zoning Department in the coming months.

During the Tuesday evening meeting and working session, City Council:

• Voted 7-2 to make June 19 an official city holiday. While all council members have expressed support for the proposal, councilors Judy McKiernan and Les Veach voted against the measure after Clark added an endorsement to it. Clark’s motion approved Juneteenth but also renamed another city holiday Columbus Day as Indigenous Peoples Day. Smith, the first black mayor of Winchester, said he had opposed the combination of a vote on June, which is a celebration of the emancipation of black slaves in America, with a decision regarding a party in the honor of Christopher Columbus, who enslaved, abused and brought disease to the native inhabitants of the countries he explored. Clark’s motion was eventually approved, so Winchester will now celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day on the second Monday of each October and no longer recognize Columbus Day.

• Unanimously approved a resolution to add nine full-time positions – one paramedic, a self-sufficiency specialist for the Winchester Social Services Department, four bus drivers and three guards – to the payroll of the city. Two of the bus drivers will be assigned to a new public bus line that will serve both Lord Fairfax Community College in Middletown and the Emil and Grace Shihadeh Innovation Center in Winchester. The new drivers will start work on December 1, but officials have not specified when the bus line will begin.

• Was featured with a housing study that shows Winchester has a severe shortage of housing available for low and high income residents. The study will serve as a tool to guide future council decisions regarding residential development proposals.

• Voted 7-2 to update a UPC that limited Ramana Heyman to operating a short-term rental in her home at 2625 Daniel Terrace 104 days a year. Milstead and Smith opposed removing the restriction.

• Held first readings on proposed ordinances that would vacate and transfer three small parcels of city-owned land to adjacent landowners. The properties are 0.08 acre parcel at 145 Myrtle Ave., 0.17 acre parcel at 1467 Greystone Terrace and 0.11 acre parcel at 1462 Greystone Terrace.

• Held a first reading of a draft ordinance to allocate $ 15.8 million to expenditure previously provided for in the budget for fiscal year 2022.

• Unanimously agreed to forward the proposed changes to the city’s zoning ordinance regarding off-street parking buffer zones.

• Unanimously agreed to appoint Hayley Mullins for a two-year term on the Community Policy Management Team, ending October 11, 2023, and Rebecca Taylor for a six-year term on the Winchester-Frederick County Tourism Board, ending October 11. 2027.

• Executive meeting for 25 minutes to discuss the litigation filed against the city by the Winchester-based company Grafton Integrated Health Network. Grafton, an education service provider, claimed in a September 2020 lawsuit that Winchester improperly charged him over $ 160,000 in property and personal taxes. No action was taken as a result of the board’s closed-door discussions.

Mayor and Council Chairman David Smith, Vice President Kim Herbstritt, Vice Mayor John Hill and Members Evan Clark, Corey Sullivan, Phillip Milstead, Richard Bell, Judy McKiernan and Les Veach attended the city council meeting Tuesday evening at Rouss town hall.

About Jermaine Chase

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