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Stafford Board of Supervisors defers vote on proffers

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Higher cash proffers in Stafford County didn’t find favor with two representatives of the development community who called some of the county’s calculations into question at a public hearing Tuesday.

One Stafford resident stood up for increasing the cash proffers, or voluntary payments that developers pay the county to mitigate the impact of their development on county services.

The county sets proffer guidelines for developers to consider when they apply to change the zoning on property. The rezoning would pave the way for development that otherwise wouldn’t be permitted on the property.

“You’re here to make sure that when a new development comes in, that you have roads and schools and fire and rescue. You’re not here for development. You’re here to protect us and make sure that development doesn’t have its way,” Stafford resident Alane Callander said.

Like the speakers, the Stafford Board of Supervisors seemed split on the issue and deferred a vote after development representatives raised critical questions for supervisors.

One of those issues was that the proffer amounts to help the county pay for transportation projects didn’t take into account the federal and state funding that the county receives for such projects. Chris Hornung, the Silver Cos.’ vice president for planning and engineering, also said that developers would ultimately end up paying twice with the way the county set up proffers tied to helping the county pay off debt for county capital projects.

The cash proffer amounts suggested by the county are based on the different types of dwelling units that each development would create. Developers usually pass on most of the costs to homebuyers or renters.

The proposed proffers would have developers pay $55,540 for single-family units, $29,577 for townhomes and $27,688 for multifamily units. The current guidelines recommend $46,925 for single-family units, $40,338 for townhomes and $25,935 for multifamily units.

The bulk of the cash proffer payments would go toward schools. The school’s share of the recommended $55,540 cash proffer for single-family units, for example, would be $34,339.

School proffers are based on estimated costs to construct and equip elementary, middle and high schools, according to a staff report. A variable in determining the school proffer is how many students each type of unit produces, which can be calculated in several ways. The amounts in the recommended proffers are based on student populations in new neighborhoods, rather than on a countywide average.

“And the argument for that is that these are new neighborhoods. We aren’t going to rezone something and it’s suddenly going to be 40 years old,” said Supervisor Cord Sterling, who is a member of the committee that recommended the higher proffers.

Hornung also took issue with how the county calculated that student-generation rate, arguing that the county wasn’t producing as many students as the proposed proffers would suggest.

Debrarae Karnes, a land-use attorney with Leming & Healy PC, spoke on behalf of the Fredericksburg Area Builders Association on Tuesday. She said that the proffers that developers pay would go toward the maintenance of rural roads and that they will be unreasonably high for developers.

“That doesn’t seem quite fair,” Karnes said.

Supervisor Paul Milde said that raising proffers wasn’t going to decrease the pressure on by-right development in the rest of the county. By-right development is allowed under the county’s zoning ordinance and doesn’t require a rezoning. By-right development also doesn’t typically come with proffers.

 

Vanessa Remmers: 540/735-1975

vremmers@freelancestar.com

 

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