Our Neighborhoods

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Our Neighborhoods

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Ward 5 Neighborhoods
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Waterloo Street
Warrenton Middle School Closing—What's Next for this Facility?
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In a move that pleased no one on Waterloo Street, earlier this year, county officials announced the shutdown of Warrenton Middle School, with students being transferred to the newly-renovated Taylor Middle School on Shirley Avenue during the 2023-2024 school years. So not only will families in Ward 5 be deprived of this lovely, walkable neighborhood school for their children, the future use of the school building is now up in the air.

A number of ideas are being floated for this building: A social services department, drug addiction treatment center, homeless shelter, or an arts and community center. Additionally, there is talk about turning the green space behind the school, currently used as a sports field, into a townhouse or affordable housing development.

Whatever happens, one thing’s for sure: If we as Ward 5 residents and Waterloo Street homeowners don’t step in EARLY in this process to have a say in what’s the next best use for this property, we won’t be happy with the end result.

I believe any proposed future use for this building and site must be carefully considered, and every option must be weighed for its impact to the neighboring homeowners on Waterloo Street, and putting these homeowners FIRST.

I’m also skeptical of the Town government attempting to turn this property into something else. Given their record of failure with projects like the WARF, the Mosby House, and other money-sucking boondoggles, the Town doesn’t do well when it tries to do things outside of the basic services everyone expects from town government, like water and sewer, trash pickup, etc.

For any proposed use, we all need to ask tough questions:

• Will this new use preserve Warrenton’s small-town character?
• Will it have a negative impact on property values for neighboring homes?
• Will there be safety and traffic congestion issues?
• Are there potential crime issues?
• Where else has this been done, and how is that working out?
• How much will it cost?

The other issue is what will become of the large playing fields behind the school? In my opinion, it would be a significant boost for Ward 5 to preserve this green space. This would make a wonderful, easily accessible play and recreation area for families and children on Waterloo and surrounding streets.

Let Me Know What You Think!

Now is the time for all of us as Ward 5 residents and citizens to get involved. All of us can play an important role in determining the future use of this site and attached park-like areas. Contact me with your questions, comments, and ideas for the best future use of this Warrenton Middle School site.

Oakview Bank Site: Time for Homeowners to Make Their Voices Heard!
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In October, 2022, Oak View National Bank received approval from the Town Council to build a branch bank office with a drive-through on the location between the Waterloo Station Shopping Center and Garrett Street at the bottom of Waterloo Street at Shirley Avenue, which is currently a vacant site.

This 7,795 square-foot building will also have a two-lane drive-through with vehicle entry and exit points at the entrance to the Waterloo Station Shopping Center, and two entry/exit points on Garrett Street.

Waterloo Street residents have voiced their concerns to the Town Planning Commission and Town Council regarding the additional traffic congestion this bank would bring to the base of Waterloo Street, which already sees a heavy traffic flow from Broadview and Frost Avenues.

Of additional concern is the additional traffic that would flow onto Garrett Street from the two new entry/exit points at this site. This is of special concern since there are families with young children in homes very close to this site.

The developer representing Oak View Bank says the bank will fund road improvements to Garrett Street to relieve congestion issues from the bank's drive-through lanes.

Other Waterloo Street homeowners have expressed concern about the visual impact of having a busy bank with a parking lot and drive-through lanes right next to homes in this quiet residential area.

Before construction begins, the Oak View Bank, and its architect and developer, should consider ways to reduce the visual impact of their project on the east side of their lot, facing Waterloo Street away from Broadview Avenue.

For example, a tall, attractive stone or concrete wall, and/or tall, fast-growing conifer trees on the side of the lot facing Waterloo Street toward homes further east on Waterloo Street, could go a long way to cutting the visual impact of this project.

It may be too late to speak with the Town and Oak View Bank about these options, but this is yet another example of how relatively modest changes to a site plan can help resolve important issues that nearby homeowners have with these project.

Winchester Street
Speeding Hazard at Winchester Street's Southern Uphill Turn
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Speeding hazards on the uphill drive on Winchester Street (headed toward Town) have been a longstanding problem for nearby residents. Uphill on Winchester Street (photo, top left), speeding vehicles overshoot the sharp left-hand curve and jump the sidewalk. Recently, a speeding vehicle ran into a telephone pole at the top of this curve, nearly breaking it in half (photo, right).

There are also issues with motorists driving northbound (downhill) on Winchester street. Just like the downhill on Waterloo Street, it’s easy for inattentive drivers to exceed Winchester Street’s 25 miles-per-hour speed limit as they roll downhill toward John E. Mann Street (photo, top right), Forbes Street, Old Orchard Lane, on their way to the bypass.

Proposed ideas for resolving the immediate hazard on South Winchester include placing flashing yellow lights and “Slow” signs on the uphill curve going into town. Additionally, installing stop signs on Winchester at the corner of John E. Mann Street (by St. John’s Church) to make this a three way stop, could be a workable solution for slowing traffic on the approach to this uphill curve, as well as slowing motorists heading downhill on Winchester Street.

Moving north on Winchester Street (away from Town), residents have suggested placing three-way stop signs at the corner of Winchester and North Chestnut Streets. This would make it safer for drivers turning out from Chestnut onto Winchester Street from both directions, and would slow downhill traffic on Winchester Street.

Moving further downhill on Winchester, residents have also suggested placing three-way stop signs at either Forbes Street or Old Orchard Lane to slow down vehicles headed downill to the bypass.

All of these sound like workable ideas for reducing traffic hazards on Winchester Street, and I’d like to hear what you think about them.
Visual Site Issues With Rizer Development (North Winchester Street)
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After a contentious struggle with the Town Council, local developer Jeffrey K. Rizer reached a settlement with the Town to build 71 new homes on the North end of Winchester Street near Lee Highway.

While the original site plan for this development stipulated that no homes in this development would face Winchester Street, and that landscaping would provide a visual barrier to benefit owners of existing homes across the street, the as-finished development did not meet either of these conditions.

As a result, both older homeowners and new ones are equally unsatisfied with the result: Existing homeowners across Winchester Street no longer have the peaceful view of the formerly wooded area across from their homes, which has now been clear-cut with a full view of the recently completed homes situated prominently atop the hill on the East side of Winchester Street. Likewise, new homeowners entering on newly-built Patrick Ryan Way, who could have driven up into a wooded entrance to their neighborhood, as originally planned for the site, now have an experience that is no different from driving into any ordinary subdivision in Centerville or Fairfax.

What a shame and a lost opportunity! Both sides would have been better served if a wooded setback area and more attractive road entrance had been incorporated into the site plan facing Winchester Street.

Church and Moser Streets
Proposed Veteran's Tiny Home Village on Warrenton United Methodist Church Property
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Hero’s Bridge, a non-profit veteran’s service group specializing in providing services to elderly veterans in our area, is advancing a proposal to build a village of tiny homes for elderly veterans on the vacant land next to the Warrenton United Methodist Church, directly across from Church and Moser Streets.

This development, which would be the first such tiny home community in Fauquier County, would provide elderly veterans with clean, safe housing, and a sense of community for aging veterans, who are often living alone in substandard housing conditions here in the County.

While all of us support our veterans, and especially veterans in need, there are some questions that must be adequately addressed so that homeowners on Church and Moser Streets, and surrounding areas, can become part of the process and make an informed decision:

Since many elderly veterans have health conditions which make it impossible for them to maintain their homes, what provisions would be made to insure these homes and surrounding grounds will be maintained?
Would this development also be a home to veterans with drug or alcohol abuse issues? If so, what ongoing measures would be taken to support these residents, and to provide security assurances for neighboring homeowners?
Overall, will there be a meaningful plan in place to provide ongoing support and assistance to the veterans living in these homes, to meet their health, medical, and social needs?

I think there are many positive aspects to this idea, but ultimately it’s up to the homeowners of Church, Moser, and surrounding areas to decide if this development is a good fit for their neighborhoods.

As the discussion and planning stages for this project continues, it will be critically important for Hero’s Bridge representatives to engage in ongoing discussions and dialogue with homeowners in this neighborhood who would be impacted by this development.

Making everyone a part of this decision, in its early stages, will result in the best outcome for this innovative project, for everyone concerned.

You can link to the Hero’s Bridge Web site here.

Stuyvesant Street
O'Reilly Auto Parts on Broadview Avenue: Homeowners Complain About Visual Impact Issues
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O’Reilly Auto Parts recently completed its new store on Broadview Avenue at Stuyvesant Street. During its construction phase, Stuyvesant residents have complained about construction trucks and equipment moving beyond their permitted area on Stuyvesant.

Most important, however, are the complaints from residents about the visual impact now created by demolishing the two houses previously on this site, and replacing them with yet another retail parking lot, which is in a direct line of site to several homes on Stuyvesant Street.

At least the two houses which used to be on this site, which were homes to small businesses and more modest parking facilities, gave some relief from the Manassas-ugly sprawl most commonly seen on Broadview Avenue.

While O’Reilly did put a green space on the side of their lot facing Stuyvesant Street, planting some tall, fast-growing evergreens on part of this lot would go a long way toward breaking the stark visual impact of this project for homeowners living nearby.

Was anyone talking with, or listening to, Stuyvesant Street homeowners when this project was in the planning and zoning approval stages?

Roebling Street
Neighbors Object to Proposed Road Cut-In to Broadview Avenue
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The Town is proposing, as one of the many new road “improvements” in its grandiose Town budget, a new road cut-in on Roebling Street (near North Court) to enable direct access from Broadview Avenue onto Roebling Street.

Our Roebling Street neighbors, who appreciate their quiet residential street, strongly oppose this project because it would significantly increase traffic from motorists on Broadview Avenue, who would use this new access as a shortcut alternative to taking Winchester Street, a two-lane road that is much more capable of accommodating Broadview Avenue traffic.

The Town of Warrenton has many older streets that twist and turn through our neighborhoods, and residents I’ve spoken to are used to this, and they don’t mind it at all. Roebling Street works just fine as it has for many decades since the first houses were built here. Why open the traffic floodgates to many more unwanted vehicles that don’t belong here?

Better yet, why not put the money that would be wasted on a road nobody wants on Roebling Street into repairing the roads that we already have?

Sponsored and Paid for by Gagnon for Town Council