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Stafford supervisors defer TDR decision

It’s been debated for months and years, and still the transfer-of-development rights land-use program confuses some citizens in Stafford County. 

“There are some things that make me scratch my head,” said one resident during a drawn out public hearing Tuesday evening that featured comments from more than 30 people who were split on the merits of the program.

And it’s still not finalized.

The Board of Supervisors voted 5–2 to defer making changes to the program until Oct. 15, the last time the current supervisors can make land-use decisions before the November election.

Transfer-of-development rights, in theory, preserves rural land while steering development to areas that may be better suited. Stafford officials have considered the program for years, and in February, implemented a pilot program affecting the Brooke and Courthouse areas. But since a map wasn’t adopted at the time, TDR isn’t actually usable.

Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors considered adding the map, while expanding the eligible lands that can be “sent” from the more rural eastern area and the area of the land that can “receive” development in the Courthouse Redevelopment Area. The total number of houses that Stafford could see doesn’t increase, just change locations.

Still, not all elected officials were convinced.

“This thing has more than doubled,” said Gary Snellings, who has supported using TDR as a way to save land in his rural Hartwood District if the county deems the pilot successful.

Supervisors Bob Thomas, Ty Schieber, Cord Sterling and Susan Stimpson also expressed concerns over the proposed expansion, recommended by the Planning Commission.

Sterling at first motioned to defer to March, while Stimpson said the public deserved an up-or-down vote Tuesday.

During the public hearing, many residents of Paradise Estates, the trailer park on U.S. 1, expressed concern that TDR would directly affect the property, forcing them out of their homes without compensation.

That’s not the case, though the land could be in flux by other projects, such as the Interstate 95 interchange project planned in the coming years.

The recent inclusion of the manufactured home zoning district was a relatively small piece of the total number of developable rights that could move locations under TDR, and could be removed when the issue is discussed again.

 

 

Katie Thisdell: 540/735-1975

kthisdell@freelancestar.com

 

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