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Speakers decry apartments

Concerns about traffic and the need for more apartments in Farmville were aired during a public hearing Tuesday.

The town council and planning commission took no action on the request for a conditional use permit for the proposed 120-unit apartment complex.

The complex, being proposed by Farmville Associates LLC — managed by Russell Harper — drew criticism mainly because of its entrance, located off of South Main Street just south of the intersection with Milnwood Road, an area prone to traffic congestion, according to speakers.

“I believe there will be a number of people here tonight that use a common-sense approach and feel like a road in that area would be dangerous,” said planning commission member L.D. Phaup.

The comments about the apartments — which would be located between Walmart and the Greens South subdivision — came as project leaders proposed to move the entrance an additional 110 feet south of Milnwood Road on top of the already 209 feet the original proposal had it from Milnwood.

A full house packed the council’s chambers as citizens expressed concerns regarding the potential traffic hazards and undesirable location of the proposed $20 million Farmville Town Center project.

Previously, concerns about the flow of traffic in the area were raised by members of the planning commission, which prompted a traffic study by McCormick Taylor Inc.

“The traffic study came back and said there was no need for traffic signals, that (the) intersection would be able to handle the traffic,” said Farmville Town Manager Gerald Spates.

Jerry Tuck said instead of a traffic study, he’d rather hear from the police department concerning the occurrence of accidents in the area.

He said he was opposed to the apartments due to the location, and “most homeowners do not want to be near apartments.”

According to Farmville Associates LLC representative Will Allen, “the intersection to the existing road that accesses the 10-acre property is about 209 feet from the middle of (the) Milnwood intersection. The proposed entrance has relocated. It’s going to shift 110 feet to the south and cross four lanes of traffic as opposed to six.”

Allen said the entrance change is only a proposal, and feedback from the community regarding access concerns would determine the final plan.

“To add … additional traffic to this already congested thoroughfare, especially during rush hour, would certainly have an adverse effect on the safety at this intersection,” said Farmville resident Jim Fauci.

Farmville resident and Realtor Navona Hart said the specific needs of the town should be investigated before constructing the apartments.

Carol Fauci said she has noticed a great number of properties for sale and rent around town. “There does not appear to me to be a need for so many additional apartments, and especially not in that location.”

Allen said of the 120 proposed apartments, 29 would have one bedroom, 67 would have two bedrooms and 24 would have three bedrooms. 

He said the proposed clubhouse would include a community room, fitness center and management office, in addition to a lounge, business center, billiard game room and picnic area on the property.

“If you’re trying to appeal to the people looking to transition and find a home, you’re devaluing the only place that many of us call a true neighborhood,” said Ryan Mau.

Fauci said she did not want the town to become a community of transients, but would rather encourage people to come and buy properties in the area.

Jenny Wood, the daughter of Willa B. Wood, expressed concerns about her mother’s property, located in front of the proposed location for the apartment complex.

Previous property transfers from the Prince Edward County Circuit Court Clerk’s Office show the Town of Farmville purchasing an acre of land from the elder Wood for $125,000 on South Main Street near Benchmark Bank. At the time of the purchase, Spates said the land would be used for a retention pond.

“When she was approached by Mr. Spates about the corner down there for the retention pond, that’s what she was approached for,” Jenny Wood said. “She feels like she has just been duped.”

Wood said nothing was ever mentioned about a road, however, Spates said there was no knowledge of the project at the time when her mother was approached. 

“I will rectify that,” Spates responded.