New neighborhood sited in Georgia

 rendering of one of the homes developer Timothy Reed will build in his 16-lot space off Route 7 in Georgia, pending Act 250 approval. (Courtesy of Tim Reed)

A rendering of one of the homes developer Timothy Reed will build in his 16-lot space off Route 7 in Georgia, pending Act 250 approval. (Courtesy of Tim Reed)

A new residential development may be built alongside Georgia’s main thoroughfare, pending state approval.

Timothy Reed of Fairfield is seeking an Act 250 permit for a 16-lot, 19-unit subdivision on the west side of Route 7, a quarter mile north of interstate Exit 18.

Sited on a 64-acre vacant parcel, Reed’s project would consist of five duplexes and nine single-family homes, all custom-built. A proposed 1,204-foot shared private road called Mountain View Drive would lead to the development, with two 250-foot extension roads.

The units, served by a shared wastewater disposal system and onsite water supply, would range in size from 1,600 to 2,500 square feet, according to Reed’s application.

Two lots would remain open, one for shared septic and the other as a “right-to-farm” easement to preserve nearly 30 acres of primary agricultural soils.

Although they’ll be customized throughout the building process, the homes Reed will build include two-story colonials and craftsman styles, he said.

Reed said five people have signed contracts to build once all permits are in place. He has his own equipment and contractors and is ready to start building as soon as he can.

To do that, he must get state approval. Reed’s proposal went before the Act 250 commission on Thursday, June 18, following a site visit. Both went well, district coordinator Geoffrey Green said.

The commission is mainly concerned how the project will finance private utilities, like the roads and septic systems, which will eventually be owned by a homeowners association, Green said.

Reed acknowledged that concern, noting once he starts selling the properties he’ll have a better idea of costs. He also plans to snowplow the road the first year.

Green said the commission will issue a memo requesting more information regarding the funding level. Then, the commission will meet again and issue a decision within 20 days.

Last Thursday was not the first time Reed’s project came before the commission: In February 2013, the board was concerned that Reed’s land tract contains 42 acres of primary agriculture soils, 18 of which would be impacted by development.

This is a positive thing for the town.”
– Georgia Town Admin. Mike McCarthy

Act 250 defines prime ag as sites best for growing and is one of the law’s 10 criteria to consider. The commission determined Reed didn’t show whether he could build on other, non-prime soils and that the project wasn’t designed for minimal land impact.

Reed returned that April with a revised plan showing more density with clustered housing units. He also eliminated a previously proposed three-acre commercial lot, preserving 24 acres of prime soil onsite and 20 more acres with an off-site mitigation fee.

The commission was satisfied with the plan and Reed’s proof that he owns no other properties reasonably suited for the project. It issued a decision as such last May.

Green confirmed the commission had no further issues with that criterion at Reed’s hearing last week. He also reported no other parties attended Reed’s hearing, indicative of its apparent lack of opposition.

Town administrator Mike McCarthy agreed the project is non-controversial.

“It’s very well put together,” he said. “This is a positive thing for the town.”

In his Act 250 application, Reed noted the public will benefit from between $28,000-$42,000 in annual tax revenue and one-time impact fees, the latter “an important base” of the town’s capital, McCarthy said.

“It’s a good sized project,” he said. “There’s a lot of interest in folks building and moving to Georgia, and I think it’s going to serve our needs well.”

Due to its private utilities, the project will result in minimal municipal impact, Reed’s application states. It is sited in an agricultural, residential and low-density light commercial zone and was designed in accordance with the town plan, he added.

Georgia’s Planning Commission approved the project this past April.

Northwest Regional Planning Commission confirmed the project complies with the regional plan, although regional planner Taylor Newton emphasized concern about stormwater runoff in a letter to the Act 250 commission.

Reed’s plan dictates runoff will flow into two detention ponds on each side of the development’s private road.

With 19 new units, the project could feasibly bring 20 new students to the Georgia school, Reed found using Census data.

Franklin West Supervisory Union superintendent Ned Kirsch confirmed GEMS could accept the additional students, adding Reed’s proposal “sounds and looks like a great project,” he wrote.

The positive feedback goes both ways. Reed said the school’s reputation is a huge draw to potential buyers.

“The school is fantastic; it’s very well-respected,” he said. “The choice of high school is big as well.”

According to the Agency of Natural Resources online database, this isn’t Reed’s first development venture in Georgia: He received Act 250 approval in 2013 for a minor subdivision on Reynolds Road.

Reed said the town of Georgia is thorough but easy to work with. This, along with the town’s residential growth, appealed to him as a developer.

“There’s a good market for single family home construction,” he said. “It’s been nice, good, young families that are coming to town, that you or I would be proud to call our neighbors.”

Interested parties can view Reed’s application, including site plans, online at https://anrweb.vt.gov/ANR/ANR/Act250.aspx and entering project number 6F0643R-1.

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