I am often asked about the two houses listed for sale across from the Snowden Bridge entrance, on Old Charles Town Rd. They’ve been listed for sale, both houses as a package, for about 15 months. The asking price started at $270k and most recently was at $225k.
The first lot, the one with the larger house, is 0.94 acres and the house is in livable condition. The second lot is 0.85 acres and the house needs total rehab. About a week ago, the second lot was also listed for sale separately for $59,900. Both listings just went off-line and it appears they are under contract.
Over the past year, every time I drive in and out of Snowden Bridge (which is pretty much every day) I think to myself: “how great would it be if I could build on these lots a small gym, or a cafe?” I know many other Snowden Bridge residents have thought the same.
Researching the Lots
So why did it take so long for these properties to sell? Was it the condition of the houses? The location? And what will become of these lots? It turns out, these lots have a secret! I discovered it when I did some research to figure out what uses would be possible for these lots.
The first step was to look at their zoning. Both lots are zoned as residential so, to build anything other than a house, they would require an application to rezone them.
The second step was to check the Frederick County Comprehensive Plan. Frederick County, and the Stephenson area, are growing fast and, with a development the size of Snowden Bridge, road expansion and other changes will be necessary. The Comprehensive Plan is the guide for the future growth of the County. It would show any changes the county has planned for Old Charles Town Rd.
So, What’s the Secret?
Take a look at the cover image of this post. You will see what looks like a half circle right in front of the Snowden Bridge entrance. That half circle is a traffic circle that is planned for that spot. The two lots that are for sale are 327 & 337. As you can see, the traffic circle will take about 70%-80% of the two lots. In other words, when that traffic circle is constructed, the owner of these two lots will have to sell to VDOT the majority of that land (if not all of it).
The Department of Planning
I reached out to the Frederick County Department of Planning and had a chat with one of the Planners. I had two questions for him:
- When should we expect to see the traffic circle constructed?
Right now, the traffic circle is just a plan. It may be 5 or 10 years before it is constructed. Maybe longer. Along with the traffic circle, Old Charles Town Rd will be widened.
- What are the chances of rezoning these two lots to allow for retail or a restaurant?
There are plans to have a commercial section inside Snowden Bridge (closer to the the Rt.11 side) and the County wants to keep that section of Old Charles Town Rd residential, so an application to rezone these two lots would be a long shot.
To Sum It All Up
When the state decides to construct the traffic circle, the owner of these lots will have to sell them to VDOT. Until that time comes, these lots can only be used for residential purposes. But no one knows for sure when the traffic circle will be constructed. It is likely many years away.