Within the next month, construction on the Villages at Lovettsville subdivision will begin on the 7.2-acre Keena Property, located on the eastern side of town between East Broad Way, South Locust Street and Frye Court.
Owned and planned by the Keena family since 2002, the infill development will see Ryan Homes build 23 single-family homes on 0.2-acre lots to fill out the property that’s already home to seven residences and the 1836 Kitchen & Taproom. It will be the first development built in the older part of town since Lovettsville Manor’s seven sets of duplexes were built on Frye Court in the mid-1990s and the second since the 44-duplex Lakeview Village community was built a decade prior to that.
After 16 years of planning, the Keenas have more of an incentive to start construction at this point because they have until June 2019 to take advantage of the town’s previous water and sewer availability fees, which increased by 25 percent in the current fiscal year. The Town Council earlier this year decided to grandfather in pre-approved projects to not “add substantial costs to a project mid-development,” according to Zoning Administrator Josh Bateman. The town approved the Villages at Lovettsville development in 2016.
There are also multiple proffers associated with the project designed to benefit the town and residents when construction is all said and done. Those include repairs to and repaving of Frye Court in anticipation of its acceptance by VDOT into the state road system, upgrades to the sanitary sewer lift station on Frye Court, the addition of eight temporary off-street parking spaces for the taproom and the contribution of nearly $12,000 for two streetlights on East Broad Way.
The development will also add curbing, gutters, a sidewalk and a storm water drainage system on Locust Street and two new through routes—a road connecting South Locust Street with the Frye Court cul-de-sac and a 400-foot extension of East Pennsylvania Avenue connecting it with Frye Court, which, according to Lovettsville Historical Society and Museum Vice President Edward Spannaus, existed years ago.
“The project results in substantial improvements to the public infrastructure in this part of town,” Bateman said.
While the Keenas have planned the Villages at Lovettsville for nearly two decades, progress on the project didn’t pick up until January 2016, when the town approved the rezoning concept plan to allow for the construction of the homes. A few months later, the town approved the subdivision’s site plan.
It wasn’t until this month, however, that town staff signed the final plat and Mayor Nate Fontaine signed the deeds and agreements, allowing the Keena family to move forward with construction.
Of course, Frye Court residents have expressed some concern about construction, saying that it might rob them of their curbside parking spaces.
While Bateman said there is potential for temporary parking hassles, he noted that residents will have much better parking once the development is complete, since Frye Court will be improved and there will be additional parking along the East Pennsylvania Avenue extension and the Locust Street-Frye Court connector road.
“Overall, the parking situation will permanently be improved,” he said. “We feel confident that they’ll take advantage of and appreciate those improvements.”
Bateman said the town also realizes that construction projects are disruptive and that residents in that part of town are not as used to them as those living on the western side of Rt. 287, which has seen the construction of seven residential communities and three commercial developments in recent years. “This is something new for those residents,” Bateman said.
Under the town’s zoning ordinance, construction will be limited to 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays and 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturdays. The town does not allow construction on Sundays.
“It will be imperative on my part to enforce those restrictions,” Bateman said. “That should give our residents some degree of comfort, I would hope.”
Although there may be some inconvenience during construction, the developers expect the project to improve the roads and even reflect the history of the 182-year-old town, seeing that the Keenas plan to name the residential streets after the town’s historic places and people.
Stone Jail Street will be named after the old stone jail on Locust Street, Ritchey Alley will be named in honor of a member of the Ritchey family who used to work at that jail, and Spotter Post Alley will be named for the residents who volunteered to look out for enemy planes during World War II at the spotter station, which was located where the Lovettsville Community Center now stands.
Construction on the development is now slated to begin within the next few weeks and wrap up by summer 2021.