The News Desk is a collection of news, notes and breaking items affecting the Fredericksburg community.
Stafford rezones land for 95 homes
A 95-home development for North Stafford got the stamp of approval late Tuesday night from the county board of supervisors.
Shelton Woods will be located at the corner of Courthouse and Shelton Shop roads on 68 acres, rezoned from agricultural to residential.
The high-end homes will be in the high $400,000s to the mid-$500,000 range and will be part of the growing Courthouse Road corridor. Two other communities currently under construction west of Interstate 95 are the 1,800-home Embreton development, formerly known as Embrey Mill, and the 538-home Colonial Forge subdivision.
Grading work will start in the next 12 months, and build-out could be done in three years. The attorney for the newest project, Charlie Payne, said that the increased residential areas could generate new retail in the corridor.
Supervisor Jack Cavalier said that this type of rezoning hasn’t come before the board in years.
“It’s an interesting project, and we’ve learned that residential building is not all that bad and it’s an economic engine in the county,” Cavalier said at Tuesday’s meeting. “It’s not a big project by any means, but it’s something positive I believe.”
The builder of the project is Richmond American.
The subdivision was previously referred to as The Woods at Augustine, but members of the homeowners association nearby expressed concern about possible confusion over sharing the Augustine name.
They also convinced the developer, Elm Street Communities Inc., to have only one road into the subdivision, said Payne.
“Having two entrances is a positive thing for a development,” Payne said. “But we listened to our neighbors.”
Total cash and in-kind proffers add up to $3 million and were directed to be used within the Rock Hill District. Proffers are funds negotiated between the county and developer to offset impacts to schools, parks and other county services.
“Putting proffers back into that district—it makes perfect sense,” Cavalier said. “I don’t know why we haven’t really done that before.”
Under the county’s current system, the proffers should have been closer to $4.3 million, but supervisors are reworking that program right now.
“The proffers would probably be close to what we’re looking at here in about a year,” said supervisor Bob Thomas.
Scott Horan, assistant superintendent for facilities for Stafford schools, said the system supports the application, but he asked for more latitude in how the proffers could be spent. Traditionally, the county and school system decide where the money can be best used.
As approved, money from the developer of Shelton Woods will be funneled into projects including capital improvements at Winding Creek Elementary, a JROTC training facility at Colonial Forge High School and fields near Mountain View High School.
Supervisor Paul Milde said that specificity was a deal-breaker for him.
“The schools should have the latitude to put money where they need it most,” Milde said.
The rezoning passed 5–2, with Milde and Thomas against.
“I’m not sure we’re out of the woods with all the houses that are still coming” and were approved in the past, Thomas said. “I am pretty concerned about the backlog.”
Katie Thisdell: 540/735-1975
Supervisors put off decision on tax rate
Around 11:30 p.m. Tuesday night, the Board of Supervisors finally took up the fiscal 2014 budget and the tax rates, only to put them off for another week.
Supervisors heard a presentation from the School Board earlier in the evening, and then listened to school supporters and reduced-tax advocates for about three hours. The number of speakers was unprecedented for a night that wasn’t the public hearing on the budget.
After the five regularly scheduled public hearings, including the rezoning for Shelton Woods, the board decided not to rush into a decision on what tax rate to advertise. Once that has been done, the board holds a public hearing and can lower the tax rate, but can’t raise it without re-advertising and holding a new hearing.
County Administrator Anthony Romanello has proposed no change to the real estate tax rate of $1.07 per $100 of assessed value, and he has recommended lowering the county’s boat tax to practically nothing. On Tuesday, he suggested advertising the current boat tax and then reducing it later in the budget season.
The board will likely hold a special meeting on Tuesday, March 26. After a work session with the School Board, county supervisors would authorize advertising the tax rate and budget.
The time for the meeting has not yet been set.