Vint hill brochure causes stir, crystallizing argument over project’s future news fauquier.com p gasol

A promotional package sent to residents all over the county by the company that hopes to build up to 338 new homes in Vint Hill has been met with some objection, even anger, for claiming the development would help protect Fauquier’s rural character.

In its eye-catching brochure featuring a photograph of one home surrounded by an expanse of sunlit fall trees with a mountain range in the background, sent just weeks before the Board of Supervisors is scheduled to consider amendments to the plan for Vint Hill, the developers asked readers to “help sustain Fauquier County as a rural and agricultural community.”

“The comprehensive plan for Vint Hill must be updated to reflect the changes that have already happened organically” it said, referring to the fact the Village Center has developed along Aiken Drive and its original site, used as industrial. Also, the site planned for Vint Hill School is no longer needed as it was superseded by the land swap and construction of nearby Auburn Middle School.

And then, under a “Protect Fauquier’s Future” headline on the back page, the piece implored residents to contact their supervisors and ask them “to support long-planned development in Service Districts that will provide economic balance and protect the County’s rural character.”

Further, Miller added, sewer infrastructure in this watershed, “will be extraordinarily expensive to develop due to protections required for the Occoquan Reservoir, and so their plan would be a very poor allocation of these scarce resources.”

“The proposal for limited homes in the area we propose, that we believe is needed to sustain a village core, has been the plan for Vint Hill for decades. It was in the 1996 Base Preferred Reuse Plan. It was the plan submitted by the Vint Hill EDA. And it was incorporated into the 2007 county comprehensive plan update.

“Fauquier County’s protection of its rural character didn’t happen by accident. It’s the result of thoughtful planning to alleviate growth pressure by directing development to Fauquier’s nine service districts such as New Baltimore, where Vint Hill is located.

“In essence,” he said, “until Vint Hill establishes a true sense of place with a sustainable village core, with homes for young professionals, including our teachers, firefighters and first responders, Vint Hill will never fulfill its potential as an economic engine to protect the low-density, rural character that makes up the rest of Fauquier.”

One longtime resident who received the mailing said it “sounds as if it comes right out of a conservation slow-growth environmental organization.” As with many other residents, the brochure and two-page letter was followed up by a phone call from Vint Hill Village, LLC. “I have never seen a developer do this in Fauquier before!” the resident wrote in an email to the Times.

The package was designed and written in conjunction with a public relations firm which specializes in real estate, energy and environment. Davies Public Affairs, with an office in D.C., has done dozens of brochures and campaigns, including one for Dominion Energy’s Cove Point liquid natural gas terminal in Calvert County, Maryland.

“It’s been a tremendous response and we continue to hear from people every day,” Davies Executive Vice President Joshua Boisvert said of the mailing. “We encourage supporters of the plan to turn out at the public hearing as well as contact their supervisors.”

With a unanimous 5-to-0 vote in September, the Fauquier County Planning Commission denied the developer’s request to change the zoning on approximately 62 acres to accommodate the new homes. The land is now zoned planned commercial industrial development.

Just before voting, Commission Chairwoman Adrienne Garreau, who represents the Scott District which includes the Vint Hill area, said it would be “premature” to change the parcel’s designation. “It’s an economic development area,” she said. “It’s an area we want to see developed to provide a larger tax base.”