County would have to approve median crossover

If Family Dollar – or any other potential buyer of commercially zoned property on Bank Road – wants a median crossover where the road meets U.S. 211, Rappahannock County would have to approve such a request, Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) officials said this week.

VDOT spokeswoman Stacy Londrey said Tuesday that no one, including the real estate broker reported to be seeking potential building sites on behalf of Family Dollar, the Charlotte, N.C., discount store chain, has formally applied for any permits from VDOT. She described the queries she’s fielded on the company’s behalf as a “fact-finding mission” concerning the possibility of building a median pass-through (crossover).

The broker has also consulted more than a month ago with County Administrator John McCarthy, who said he discussed traffic, deed restrictions and site plan questions with the representative of Family Dollar, which operates close to 7,500 stores in 45 states, including many rural locations.

The crossover would allow left turns from westbound U.S. 211 onto Bank Road (and the reverse, for those exiting Bank Road to continue west on 211). Londrey said that VDOT regulations require 1,000 feet between crossovers and there are already several crossovers near the property, including one at Schoolhouse Road and another at the Rappahannock Farmers Co-op.

Londrey said VDOT’s land use engineers told Family Dollar’s representative that the crossovers were too close to approve the request outright, but added that the discount chain store could ask the county to request an exception.

“It’s my understanding that they could work with the county to approve a special exception permit,” Londrey said. “From my understanding, that would involve appealing to the board of supervisors. The county administrator could then contact us and we could examine it again.”

“It’s not exactly a permit,” said McCarthy, who said that when he contacted VDOT, the official he spoke with said the standard is 1,000 feet between crossovers but that, at the request of the county, VDOT could reassess the situation and possibly grant an exception.

“The first thing they’d ask is whether there’s another [crossover] nearby that we could close. Obviously the ones nearby are all necessary so we can’t do that,” said McCarthy. “Then they’d study the safety issues involved and maybe grant an exception to the rule.”

McCarthy added that he wasn’t sure what “form” the request for an exception had to take – whether it had to go through the board of supervisors or was simply a matter of drafting a letter to VDOT. McCarthy also said he’d had no contact with either VDOT or Family Dollar since that initial conversation.

“We agreed not to pursue it unless there was something to pursue,” McCarthy said.