BY VANESSA REMMERS/THE FREE LANCE-STAR
Developers announced Tuesday that a Harris Teeter grocery store will anchor Aquia Town Center in Stafford County.
However, there are some contingencies that must be met before Harris Teeter becomes a certainty. The better part of the first hour of a packed town hall meeting in Aquia Harbour on Tuesday was dominated by the ire that one of those contingencies drew from several residents.
Developers said Harris Teeter requires a an entrance from Washington Drive in addition to the main entrance at U.S. 1. That second entrance can only be approved by the Aquia Harbour Board of Directors, which runs the 2,500 home development next to the planned commercial and residential center.
The Board of Directors hasn’t yet signed off on the second entrance, according to county officials.
Bolstered by applause, several residents railed against the developers for making the Harris Teeter announcement without that approval.
They voiced concern about sharing the road with the shopping center customers, but county leaders and the developers said the entrance would only be for Aquia Harbour residents.
Neighborhood residents also criticized county leaders for approving the $100 million redevelopment of the long-stalled Aquia Town Center without having that approval.
But county leaders defended the mixed-use project, which will include 256 apartments and a commercial portion anchored by the Harris Teeter store.
“It was a hard-fought deal. We are celebrating it as a success here,” Supervisor Paul Milde said. “This is the product of public involvement.”
Several audience members also spoke up in defense of the project, with resident Margaret McIntyre calling the Harris Teeter a “soccer mom’s dream.”
The developers said that the store is modeled after one of the chain’s larger prototypes, with extra space for prepared food.
Another point of contention for some audience members was low-income housing tax credits that Franklin Johnston Group — the company building the 256 apartment units — used to help fund construction. The apartments are expected to be finished in October.
In exchange for accepting the tax credits, the apartments must have rental limits which will cater to tenants who make between $32,000 and about $70,000 a year.
“We designed it for teachers, fireman,” Tom Johnston of Franklin Johnston said. “It was designed for people in your community.”
The developer assured residents that their concerns about security, landscaping and whether tenants could get away with breaking rules of the leases were unfounded because the company has experience in dealing with all those issues.
Supervisors Paul Milde and Jack Cavalier were also called to answer residents’ concerns about the estimated 50 children expected to live in those apartments.
“I don’t think this is going to blow the top off all our school capacity in the county,” Cavalier said.
Vanessa Remmers: 540.735.1975