Rush River Commons property owner Chuck Akre looks on as Council Member Brad Schneider demonstrates a potential traffic pattern on Leggett Lane, a primary access road to the proposed development.

Planning Commission asks about traffic, maintenance, sewer capacity 

The Washington Town Council and Town Planning Commission met on Saturday, June 12, to continue discussions about Rush River Commons, the proposed mixed-use development which would transform the 9-acre site of the former Black Kettle Motel into affordable housing units, a home for the Rappahannock Food Pantry and office spaces for local “nonprofits, health providers and service agencies.” 

Chuck Akre, longtime resident of Washington and owner of the Rush River Commons property, envisions that the development will become a “facility for the community, but not at the community’s expense.” Akre made his fortune as an investor and financier and hasn’t batted an eyelash at the cost of the project. If the town grants Akre’s special use permit, he and his team of engineers and architects would be allowed to start construction of two building “clusters,” one commercial and one residential, with eight apartments and eight townhouse units. 

Town officials expressed great enthusiasm for the project at their first working session in May, but asked the site engineers for clarity on “various issues we want to see teased out in order to make a recommendation.”

Planning Commission Chair Caroline Anstey summarized the requests, listing them one by one: “Fit with the [town’s] comprehensive plan, traffic control and flow, maintenance of the property, maintenance of the road and plans for widening of the road, clarity on the question of how many stories [the buildings will be], clarity on the 120-foot building that will front Warren Avenue, clarity on the type of affordable housing … and the degree to which the rental will stay [affordable long term] … the issue with the wetlands … and capacity of wastewater, given that this is possibly an extension of the sewer system and we want to make sure this system won’t crowd out any planned infill … within the existing town.”

John H. Foote, Akre’s attorney, said that he hoped he might provide written responses to the town’s questions at a future meeting, admitting that due to a recent heart valve surgery he was “just a little behind schedule.” 

Absent those responses, Akre fielded questions from the public about aesthetics (which must meet the approval of the town’s architectural review board); the amount of housing (20 proposed units) and who will pay for maintaining the property (the property owner).

Foote’s written responses will be published on the town’s website later this week at The town council and planning commission will reconvene on Monday, June 21 at 7 p.m. at town hall to review them.


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