Telegraph Hill Subdivision Traffic Top Issue For Public Hearing
A central question remains regarding a developer's use of a city-owned third lane for access to the subdivision.
The developers of a 79-lot byright subdivision called Telegraph Hill in Fredericksburg have agreed to give the city approximately 8 feet of right of way needed to eventually widen Lafayette Boulevard, but it may not be enough to get the subdivision plan approved at tonight's public hearing because of lingering traffic concerns.
The Fredericksburg City Council's public hearing on Telegraph Hill begins at 7:30 p.m.
The developers of the project include Hunter Greenlaw Jr., David Horstick and Andy Garrett. The Planning Commission has already recommended approval of the subdivision's plat and City Council makes the final decision.
As proposed, the developers will be able to use a third lane for a left turn out and left turn in on Lafayette Boulevard heading up the hill (south). That lane is used as a turn lane into Penn-Mar Floors and Jones and Frank.
No traffic light is proposed for the subdivision to allow people to make a left turn onto Lafayette Boulevard toward the Blue and Gray Parkway—a traffic quagmire that concerns numerous people and one that Planning Commissioner Roy Gatz raised during the July 25 meeting. Gatz was the only commissioner in a 4-1 vote who recommended City Council vote against the subdivision plat. The project originally included a left-turn lane at the southern side of the development, but it was removed because the developers now plan to build homes on that part of the property.
Hamilton Palmer, who represents the owners of the buildings for Penn-Mar Floors and Jones & Frank, said in an email to Howe that the lane the city is letting the developer use as a left-turn in and out of the subdivision is used by customers to turn into both businesses.
"If the developer wants to do away with the other lane of Lafayette Boulevard, then they should install the traffic signal for my client’s left in and left out," Palmer wrote. "Denial of my client’s existing rights is not acceptable. Right now, they all have a left turn in and left turn out. It is my understanding and from the traffic patterns in the consultants model, that my clients will not have a left in and a left out. I brought this issue up in both the Council work session and in the PC public hearing and neither the City, the developer, nor the traffic consultant has addressed or denied this."
The Civil War Trust, the nation's largest nonprofit battlefield preservation organization, has urged City Council to vote against the subdivision plat because of the project's adverse impacts to the Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park across the street at Lee Drive.
Back in late July, Councilman Matt Kelly wrote to city staff members that he was surprised to see the city modified the transportation plan submitted for Telegraph Hill to allow a public street on Lafayette Bouelvard to be converted into a turning lane for the development.
"Should there not have been city approval for this change before it was incorporated in the plan and submitted to the Planning Commission?" he asked Planning Director Ray Ocel and City Manager Beverly Cameron. "Does the approval of the site plans commit the city to providing the changes to Lafayette Blvd.? The current road configuration is contrary to the adopted transporation plan for Lafayette Blvd."
Councilman Fred Howe, whose ward the project is in, has been the most vocal against it because of the traffic problems he says it would create if approved as it. Lafayette Boulevard and the Blue Gray Parkway become gridlocked during rush hour, and it's not an easy feat for vehicles trying to exit any of the businesses in that small corridor. On Aug. 22, Hunter Greenlaw tried to schedule a meeting with Howe to discuss his concerns, but Howe turned the offer down.
"I will not stand in the way of a by-right zoned subdivision owner's right to develop. However, I can't support the Lee Drive / Lafayette Blvd. roadway plan as it has been designed and is being presented," Howe responded in an email. "I have received a lot of pressure from my constituents and you are also aware of the National Park Service and their position with what has been communicated in public settings and in the press to date."
Fredericksburg resident Rebecca C. Light also wrote council members an email this week urging them to vote against this proposal.
"Dr. Gratz refers to city staff allowing the applicant to make Lafayette Boulevard road modifications by taking the city-owned merge lane (third lane) for the access road to the development," Light wrote. "Question: Does city staff have the exclusive authority to give up/vacate a portion of Lafayette Boulevard, a public roadway, for access to this proposed subdivision or does City Council need to consider this under a separate action."
Light also said she is concerned about the negative impact of the access road across from Lee Drive.
Assistant City Manager Mark Whitley was asked about these questions Monday afternoon, but he declined to answer, saying that the presentation for this item tonight will include analysis of traffic and entrances.