The News Desk is a collection of news, notes and breaking items affecting the Fredericksburg community.
Project at issue again in Spotsy
BY JEFF BRANSCOME
The owner of the planned Summerfield subdivision is again asking Spotsylvania County officials to reduce the fees he agreed to pay to offset the development’s impact on the county.
Landowner Marion E. Hicks submitted an application asking the Spotsylvania Board of Supervisors to decrease his cash proffers by $1.4 million, from $3.5 million to $2.1 million.
Hicks had previously sought a reduction of about $1.9 million, but the board rejected that proposal in March. Hicks made that request because of poor market conditions.
The board approved the 127-home Summerfield rezoning—along with the original proffers—in 2009. The land is off U.S. 1 near Kingswood, just south of Fredericksburg.
Now supervisors must determine whether the amended proffer application, submitted in July, is substantially the same or different from the previous request, according to a recently approved county policy.
If they conclude it is substantially the same, the application won’t be eligible for consideration until March 2013—a year after the first proposal for reduced proffers was denied.
The landowner can ask for a refund of 80 percent of the approximately $10,000 application fee.
If supervisors determine the new application is substantially different, the Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors both must hold public hearings on the proposal.
Planning commissioners would make a recommendation to supervisors, who have the final say.
County Attorney Jacob Stroman said supervisors have “fairly broad latitude” in deciding whether the new application is the same or different. The state, he said, doesn’t provide any guidelines.
Clark Leming, a Stafford County land-use attorney who is representing Hicks, wouldn’t say why he thinks the application is different.
He said he doesn’t think he’ll have to make that argument, because he’s not sure supervisors will act on the proposal within a year of the previous application’s denial.
“I think they’ve just struggled with what to do,” Leming said.
Hicks—a former Spotsylvania supervisor—is 90, and Leming said he was hoping to have the application acted on quickly because of the landowner’s age.
Leming filed a lawsuit against Spotsylvania in April for its refusal to reduce proffers on Summerfield, but he has asked that the suit not be served at this time.
Supervisors recently approved a policy for handling amended applications such as the Summerfield proposal. They’ve asked county staff to come up with guidelines for determining whether the amended applications are substantially the same or different.
Board Chairwoman Ann Heidig said she’d like to see those guidelines before taking up Summerfield. “To me, if you don’t have guidelines then it becomes kind of arbitrary and capricious,” she said.
The county hasn’t set a date for supervisors to determine whether the Summerfield application is eligible for the public hearing process, Planning Director Wanda Parrish said.
Jeff Branscome: 540/374-5402