Developer scraps mixed complex, plans retail center


A developer has scrapped plans for a shopping, office and apartment complex at the new Route 100-U.S. 29 interchange in favor of a large shopping center anchored by a major grocery chain store.

In a rezoning petition filed last week, developer Robert R. Moxley asked that all 54 acres zoned residential and commercial be changed to general business zoning. That would allow a variety of retail uses, including grocery and department stores.

The parcel covers the land bounded by U.S. 29, routes 103 and 100 and the Long Gate Parkway. Moxley is the principal of two partnerships and two corporations that own the land.

The acreage and zoning requested is the same as that sought by Wal-Mart Stores Inc. less than two miles north at U.S. 29 and U.S. 40. After 10 nights of hearings, the County Council, sitting as the Zoning Board, will begin deliberations Tuesday on Wal-Mart's fiercely contested petition.

"There's been no discussion or anything else with them," said David A. Carney, the zoning attorney who filed the petition, when asked if Wal-Mart was interested in the property. Wal-Mart spokeswoman Kristin Stehben said she knew of no alternate sites being considered.

"Other than major food stores, a number of whom have expressed an interest, there's no other expressed or contemplated uses," Carney said.

He said the shopping center would make sense on the site because of the residential development east of it in the Route 103 corridor.

Moxley had planned to start work last year on an integrated residential, shopping and office complex, but delays in the Route 100 project put off those plans. One of several developers involved in the Route 100 project, Moxley agreed to exchange land with the State Highway Administration and build six-lane Long Gate Parkway as a connector for the new highway.

Since then, noise studies have shown that apartments would be difficult to develop because of noise from Route 100, Long Gate Parkway and Route 103, Carney said. County regulations prohibit building homes close to noise sources.

"There's enough of a market to do multi-family residential, but it just won't work," he said.

Carney also said an oversupplied office market would make developing office buildings unwise.

The petition's noise and traffic studies are being reviewed by the county Department of Public Works to make sure they meet county standards, said John Kelley, a planner in the zoning administration division of county Department of Planning and Zoning.

After the petition is reviewed by county agencies, the county's planners will make a recommendation on whether to grant, deny alter the petition. The county Planning Board will then hear testimony and make its own recommendation to the Zoning Board, which again hears testimony and makes the final decision.

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