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Spotsy looks at lowering proffers

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After two years of legal wrangling, Spotsylvania County may lower fees meant to offset a planned 127-home subdivision’s impact on roads, schools and other infrastructure.

Landowner Marion E. Hicks is asking the county to reduce the 34-acre Summerfield development’s cash proffers by about $1.5 million, from $3.2 million to $1.7 million. He hopes to sell the land, on Hudgins Road near the Fredericksburg city line, but says the current proffers have rendered the property unmarketable.

“For over 60 years, Mr. Hicks has lived on the land that is the subject of this application and has raised his family on the land,” attorney Patricia Healy, who is representing Hicks, said at a Planning Commission meeting Wednesday night.

Healy noted that her client was under contract to sell the property to a developer when Summerfield was approved in 2009. But the developer bowed out, she said, “ leaving Mr. Hicks with no buyer or market for the Summerfield property, with its economically infeasible cash proffers.”

The Planning Commission was scheduled to make a recommendation on the proffer reduction but had to delay its vote until April 16 because of an error advertising the public hearing. The Board of Supervisors will have the final say.

The issue has lingered for more than two years.

In March 2012, supervisors rejected Hicks’ first request to reduce the proffers by about $1.9 million.

So Hicks, who is in his 90s and is a former Spotsylvania supervisor, sued the county. The lawsuit is pending.

In February, Circuit Court Judge J. Howe Brown agreed to indefinitely delay a trial that had been scheduled for this month. A court order said that “the parties are diligently pursuing a settlement.”

Spotsylvania supervisors have reduced cash proffers before. In April 2013, they cut about $240,000 from the proffers for the planned 43-home River Glen neighborhood off River Road.

Healy mentioned that supervisors also approved several mixed-use developments last year with no cash proffers. In fact, she said, she could think of no other development since Summerfield was approved that had met the county’s cash proffer guidelines.

Healy also noted that Hicks would consider paying some of the proffers up-front if necessary. Typically, the voluntary fees are paid over time as homes are built.

Meanwhile, Planning Department staffers are recommending against the Summerfield proffer reduction. Without the full proffers, they say, the development would fail to pay for itself.

Jeff Branscome: 540/374-5402