The News Desk is a collection of news, notes and breaking items affecting the Fredericksburg community.
Stafford commissioners seek input on growth
BY KATIE THISDELL
THE FREE LANCE-STAR
A proposed land-use program in Stafford County could be in effect for only five years, and allow less potential rural development to be moved to urban areas than previously proposed.
Those are among the changes the Planning Commission has suggested for the pilot transfer-of-development-rights program.
Commissioners will hold a public hearing at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at the George L. Gordon Jr. Government Center on Courthouse Road.
Known as TDR, the program’s primary goal is to permanently conserve open spaces while clustering development in areas already identified for higher-density growth.
At a public hearing in December, commissioners didn’t agree on a proposal to send to the Board of Supervisors. So during the past several months, commissioners have been taking another stab at how TDR could be implemented in Stafford.
If the program is deemed successful, supervisors and commissioners have said that it could be expanded.
As proposed, the pilot TDR program would apply only to two specific areas.
Land in the “sending area,” identified as the two peninsulas along the Potomac River between Aquia and Potomac creeks, could be permanently conserved with easements.
Property owners could send the density rights from that land to the “receiving area,” which has been limited to the Courthouse Urban Development Area. Up to 491 development rights can be sent.
Under the Planning Commission’s proposal, only lots 20 acres or larger zoned A–2, rural residential, in the sending area would be eligible.
That area includes both the Marlborough Point peninsula and the Crow’s Nest Harbour subdivision, once envisioned as a community of 20,000 in eastern Stafford. Since the 1960s, the rugged area has been owned by various developers with grand plans. A lack of sewer and water lines has been one factor holding back development there. A handful of limited-liability corporations now own the tracts, which are adjacent to Crow’s Nest Natural Area Preserve.
The Crow’s Nest Harbour lots would qualify for the TDR zoning requirement.
The proposal sets specific guidelines for how the density rights would be converted into development in the receiving area.
No more than 55 percent of any project in the Courthouse UDA could consist of transferred development rights.
Lot owners in the sending area who choose to participate in TDR could also apply for a tax abatement for the severed rights for 25 years.
Commissioner of Revenue Scott Mayausky said this would have little impact on the county’s tax revenue, because most of the eligible lots are already taxed at a reduced land-use rate, rather than at market value.
A portion of the severed development rights would need to be retired to the county in order to receive the tax abatement, Mayausky said.
Any recommendations about TDR from the commissioners would then go to county supervisors.
Katie Thisdell: 540/735-1975