Jeff Branscome writes about Spotsylvania County.
Proffers and Tricord
Tricord once again battled with county staff on how proffers are calculated. After speaking to a few supervisors today, I’ve come to learn that none want the developer to fail at anything. Success for Tricord means success for the county. But when it comes to proffers, the two sides just cannot seem to agree.
So, at last night’s planning commission public hearing for Tricord’s 150-townhouse development off Tidewater Trail, the proffer debate took center stage once again.
Instead of former Tricord spokesman Hart Rutherford leading the charge, it was local attorney Ron Maupin, a former county attorney who helped write almost all of the county’s building codes and ordinances. After that, he made a career representing developers here.
The problem at last night’s meeting was Tricord is voluntarily offering cash proffers that are significantly less than what the county requires to have development pay for itself. Tricord offered $834,000 in cash proffers to offset the costs to the school system, fire and rescue, police and other government services that will be needed to support the development. But the county’s guidelines call for at least $3.2 million.
Tricord for years has battled with county staff and the Board of Supervisors on how proffers are calculated. One chief reason Tricord decided to scrap its plans for the 5,900-home Summit Crossing project near Massaponax was because supervisors expressed great concern that the cash proffers they were offering were considerably lower than county standards.
The county is in the process of using a "per capita" formula to calculate proffers, but Tricord still came up more than $2 million short on even the revamped scale.
Maupin said the county uses a flawed and unfair method to calculate proffers. Commissioner Cliff Vaughan didn’t appreciate Maupin making it sound like the county planning department is inept. Tricord doesn’t seem to want to budge on proffers, which are voluntary contributions, and they’ve had a real hard time getting any projects passed.
But Maupin pointed out that the county will bring in almost $2 million in permit fees for this project–before even one house is built. He said that averages out to almost $13,000 per unit. Add the proffers to the mix, and Maupin made it seem as if the system is putting developers under the bus.
At one point, Planning Commission Chairwoman Mary Lee Carter tried to silence Vaughan’s questioning of the project by saying that the public hearing had been closed; the hearing was still open, and commissioners are allowed as much time as they want to ask questions about a project. There is no timeline for the commission, but residents have three minutes. She later apologized, and Vaughan went on to say that he doesn’t think the county should be subsidizing any developer.
Commissioners decided on a 6-1 vote to continue the public hearing to June 3.