With the county facing multiple lawsuits, Supervisor Paul Milde says the clock is ticking and supervisors should take a deal with Joseph Jacobs of Elm Street Development that could preserve the Crow’s Nest Harbour property. Jacobs said he is under contract to purchase 130 lots in Crow’s Nest.

Milde believes that if supervisors don’t strike a deal with property owners and negotiate a settlement, development will come to Crow’s Nest Harbour.

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Posted: Thursday, November 19, 2015 11:06 am

Legal battles are being waged over approximately 1,000 acres next to a giant preserve in Stafford County, and one supervisor is worried that time is running out if the county wants to keep the land from being developed.

The nearly 350-lot Crow’s Nest Harbour subdivision, which was approved in 1973, sits adjacent to the 2,872-acre Crow’s Nest Natural Area Preserve.

With the county facing multiple lawsuits, Supervisor Paul Milde says the clock is ticking and supervisors should take a deal with Joseph Jacobs of Elm Street Development that could preserve the Crow’s Nest Harbour property. Jacobs said he is under contract to purchase 130 lots in Crow’s Nest.

But Supervisor Meg Bohmke—the other elected official who has been part of the discussions with Jacobs—said the deal assists developers at the expense of residents’ quality of life.

It’s unclear whether other supervisors will get behind the proposal, which has been on the table for several months.

The deal, if county officials accept it, would include dedicating those 130 lots to the county in exchange for approval to build on about 300 lots in southern Stafford ford.

Under the deal, Milde said the county would rezone the Clift Farm Quarter property and adjacent land in the Falmouth area off Eskimo Hill Road, allowing development on about 300 lots. Jacobs said he is entitled to develop 175 lots by-right on that land, regardless of any deal with the county. The rezoning would have to go through public hearings and get final approval by the Board of Supervisors, according to Milde.

The county is facing at least three lawsuits from developers trying to bring infrastructure to Crow’s Nest Harbour. If Stafford officials accept the deal, several lawsuits against the county could be dropped. Settling those lawsuits, Milde said, would depend on the rezoning approval going through.

Milde wouldn’t say how much favor the deal is finding with supervisors. He would only say that supervisors have allowed discussions to continue.

Bohmke, who represents the Falmouth district, doesn’t support the deal.

She said a developer and his attorney, Clark Leming, have wanted massive development at the Clift Farm Quarter property for years.

“Mr. Milde has been trying to give them an assist for over eight years,” she said.

Now, she said, Leming wants another assist for this developer trying to move hundreds of potential units from the Crow’s Nest Harbour land—where they cannot build anyway—to the Clift Farm Quarter land, where they can.

But Jacobs noted that the Clift Farm Quarter land and adjacent property is closer to getting developed anyway, because the county recently lost a state Supreme Court case regarding plans to build cluster subdivisions there. If the owners of that land win Circuit Court cases to get public utility service installed, hundreds of lots could get developed.

Original plans for Crow’s Nest Harbour called for a 4,500-acre community that included golf courses, marinas, an airport, a convention center and schools. The development included multiple zoning districts allowing single-family homes, town houses and the other amenities.

After a developer filed for bankruptcy in 1975, the county downzoned the property to A–2, rural residential, and dropped plans for public water and sewer service there.

Part of Milde’s urgency is based on a recent lawsuit filed against the county. Two Crow’s Nest Harbour property owners—who, combined, own about 250 of the approximately 350 lots—want a judge to find the county in contempt of a court order.

Under the court order, the county is facing a March 2016 deadline to bring public water and sewer to the subdivision. The judge’s order in that case is expected soon.

At the same time, judges’ rulings are expected in two other cases concerning whether the county denied lot owners the ability to develop their property using private or public utilities.

Milde believes that if supervisors don’t strike a deal with property owners and negotiate a settlement, development will come to Crow’s Nest Harbour.

“The development is going to occur. Do we want it in the center of Crow’s Nest or off Route 1?” Milde said.

Bohmke, on the other hand, doesn’t share Milde’s urgency, in part because she doesn’t think the Crow’s Nest owners can build on the land anyway.

“Some of us on the board are trying to balance property rights and what is fair for the residents as a whole,” Bohmke said.

Read more: http://www.fredericksburg.com/news/local/stafford/will-stafford-take-deal-on-crow-s-nest/article_7d5534ce-8ed7-11e5-b820-972c6c2533c9.html

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