In a heated meeting where, at moments, council members came close to yelling at each other, the Manassas Park City Council on Tuesday narrowly rejected a proposed multiphase residential-commercial development and a one-time $4.56 million payment that would have helped the city balance its books.
On a 4-3 vote, the council turned down the development, , that would have had 40,000 square feet of retail for 10 to 12 stores and 304 apartments.
The project would have had a 20-acre footprint and the first phase would have been built along Manassas Drive and Railroad Drive near the VRE commuter station. The owners of the proposed development, Digital Park LLC, were present for the vote but did not address the council.
“By voting no, what you are doing is denying us an opportunity for development in the city,” said an impassioned Mayor Frank Jones, who supported the project along with Councilmen Keith Miller and William Treuting. in the past to attract successful development.
“You are denying us the opportunity to reduce our tax rate and a chance to get our ” Jones said.
The block that voted down the project was just as adamant.
“Let’s not get scared here,” Councilman Suhas Naddoni said.
We have an approved multi-year budget, to keep the city in the black, he added.
Joining Naddoni in opposition were Vice Mayor Bryan Polk and Councilmen and
In a last-minute deal revealed at the meeting on Tuesday, the developers, Digital Park LLC, said they would pay the city a $4.56 million proffer once they closed on the project, probably in March. Previously they had agreed to pay the money in stages as the project was constructed. A proffer is a normal monetary arrangement between developers and government bodies meant to offset the cost of an increase in services a project would generate.
Naddoni said he questioned the wisdom of the project, which would produce increased traffic on Manassas Drive and put more pressure on Manassas Park schools, which are at or near capacity.
“It is already a tough drive to get here and this will make traffic worse,” Naddoni said. “We come here to Manassas Park because of what it is, a small town. If we approve this, we will kill what we have here.”
In voting down the project, Leeper and Banks cited opposition from Manassas Park residents who expressed reservations and concerns about the proposed mixed-use development.
“Really it’s a relationship issue,” Banks said. “It’s the relationship that we have with our residents and they clearly don’t want this project.”
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