060821_dnr_Boyers

Baum Investments LLC withdrew its rezoning request for a development featuring residential and commercial facilities off Port Republic and Boyers roads.

Developers behind the contentious Boyers Crossing proposal withdrew the plan Wednesday, hours before it was to go before the Rockingham County Board of Supervisors.

Baum Investments LLC notified the county of its decision at around 4:30 p.m.

County Attorney Thomas Miller told board members that due to the withdrawal, the county is obligated to stop any further process on the request. As a result, the public hearing scheduled for 6:30 p.m. was canceled.

“There is no longer a public hearing to be had,” he said.

Alternative projects at the location off Port Republic and Boyers roads will require a new rezoning application, Miller said.

In an emailed statement, George Daugharty, a developer with Boyers Crossing and the applicant, said pushback from neighboring property owners prompted the decision.

“Although we have significantly changed our project from its original design to address concerns of the community — such as reducing building heights, cutting the number of apartments by 55%, adding townhomes, decreasing density and reducing vehicle trips — we have decided to withdraw our current rezoning application for Boyers Crossing as it is apparent that a number of our neighbors are not ready to support the project,” Daugharty said. “We look forward to continuing to engage in conversations with them in the near future to determine how our plan can be further adjusted to earn their support.”

The decision to withdraw the request comes nearly two weeks after developers announced changes to the proposed development’s residential and commercial area, as well as the entrance off Port Republic Road.

In an interview with the Daily News-Record on June 1, Jay Smith, a partner with Baum Investments, said the revised site plan included 35 apartments and 23 town homes. There would be seven loft apartments on the second floor of the 8,000-square-foot commercial building, which was originally proposed to be one floor.

No changes were made to the proposed mini-storage facility, which was proposed to have roughly 600 units located behind the residential areas.

Smith also said developers increased the entrance from Port Republic Road, and had plans to add a prominent divider and signage to encourage travelers to use that entrance instead of one on Boyers Road.

The revised proposal was not required to go before the county’s Planning Commission for a recommendation.

When Harry Reif, of Rockingham County, heard the development was no longer being considered, he said it was “great news.”

Reif opposed the development because it was inconsistent with the adopted Stone Spring Urban Development Area plan adopted in 2020, he said.

The Stone Spring UDA plan is described as providing a blueprint for neighborhood development based on traditional town patterns, known as traditional neighborhood development. It includes four neighborhood focus areas for growth: Stone Port, Stone Ridge, Boyers Crossing and Crossroads.

During two public hearings on the proposal, critics said the development doesn’t fit the UDA plan’s outline for the Boyers Crossing focus area, which it describes as a transition area.

Many neighboring residents said the development violated the plan and questioned why the plan was in place if it wouldn’t be followed.

During an interview with the Daily News-Record on May 6, Miller said the UDA plan and the county’s comprehensive plan are not meant to be used as blueprints or plans, but as conceptual guidelines.

“If not listening, then why ask for an opinion,” Reif said. “It’s very important for the county board, and all boards, to solicit citizens’ input and use the input they get. I’m glad in this case the developers withdrew.”

Reif said he hopes the Board of Supervisors solicits and uses formal and informal input when making decisions on future proposals similar to Boyers Crossing. Reif also said he hopes developers work on creating solutions in known problem areas to avoid making issues such as traffic and safety worse.

Contact Jessica Wetzler at 574-6279 or jwetzler@dnronline.com. Follow Jessica on Twitter @wetzler_jessica

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