Spotsylvania News

Jeff Branscome writes about Spotsylvania County.

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Making a clarification–AGAIN

In this story, it mentions how the county has lost about $800,000 in proffers as a result of the 3-acre lot division approved in March. Emmitt Marshall called me today and said that the county policy is that proffers are not collected on anything less than 10 lots. 

The county says to build one single-family house costs the county about $35,000. The point the story is trying to drive is that these lots would have never been created, and homes will be built on them eventually. A home may have kids, need fire and rescue, a deputy, a park, etc etc, so I used the county’s own proffer guidelines as an example of what the divisions can cost the county in supplying services. 

But I should have clarified that proffers are not collected on just a single lot. But that does not mean there is no cost associated with that house on the 3-acre lot. The only way to come anywhere near close to estimating what that cost is would be to check the proffer guidelines. Mr. Marshall will see his clarification tomorrow.

Now, I find out that the clarification isn’t clarifying anything and the information Mr. Marshall asked to be corrected was not correct.

Here is the county’s proffer policy:

the County’s proffer policy does not have any specific trigger point as related to proffers as was reported in today’s paper. It is important to note that proffers are only associated with rezonings and not by-right development. The proffer policy does allow for a rezoning applicant to claim credit for any by-right lots that could be developed. For example, a property that could be developed as 5 houses under the existing zoning could claim a credit of 5 units against their total proposed number of units.


So, in other words, the original story was correct when it said Mr. Marshall’s 3-acre proposal has cost the county more than $800,000, based on the county’s proffer guidelines. His idea to bill the FMC plant $600,000 a decade or so ago is something he always brings up. But Mr. Marshall believes his 3-acre lot proposal is not costing the county anything. You decide. 







  • lgross

    I’m probably as hard-line as anyone on the costs of growth and having growth pay for itself
    but the nexus connection between proffers and capital investments is not very good.

    Mr. Logan pointed out in an earlier meeting that schools last longer than 30 years
    (usually) and that allocating the capital facilities costs over 30 years on each new home is
    disproportionate and I would agree.

    Your CIP tells you how much NEW facilities will cost … and what the share of those costs
    are – for each existing taxpayer.

    So we accept the fact that SOME new capital facilities are fairly and equitably part of every
    taxpayers responsibility.

    The question is what new capital facilities are needed – as a direct result of new growth and
    not replacing worn out old facilities?

    I think a fire station is a good example. We just built a bunch of new ones that served two
    separate purposes. First, the old ones were at the end of their useful function but 2nd, we
    have more people and needed MORE and NEW ONES due to growth.

    How much of this cost belongs to all taxpayers coming out of their property taxes and how
    much of this cost belongs to new people as proffers?

    The same goes with respect to schools and roads.

    But our current way of calculating proffers seems to assume that new facilities will only
    serve new residents and only last 30 years.

    Why is this important?

    Here’s why.

    The 35K that would ostensibly be charged to a new resident in Berkley District will not result
    in a new school or a new fire station before such things are built in other districts to benefit
    other people.

    In all likelihood, a new resident in the rural areas will not be getting a new school or a new
    fire house or new roads.

    NOW.. IF THE COUNTY had decided to accept the offer to designate transportation districts
    where impact fees could have been charged – and those fees dedicated to facilities in
    those districts then those fees would be fair – because they’d be going into a fund that
    would be used to build facilities that benefited the people in those districts.

    Why the county chose not to do this is beyond me. It would have required some work but it
    would have yielded a much more fair and explainable nexus for proffer/impact fees than
    what we have right now.

    35K for a single-wide on a rural lot is a great, great way to make it impossible for a young
    couple just starting their local careers as deputies and teachers to not be able to work
    locally and afford a place to live.

    People who live and work locally and need affordable housing are essentially being given a
    35K penalty for not commuting. right?

    So the way to pay that 35K penalty is to become a commuter to earn the extra money to
    pay for it – right?

  • scot4040

    who question whether this is costing the county previously voted yes or no on rezoning projects that don’t have to pay full proffers. This ground isn’t being rezoned, so confused as to why proffers were even brought up since they are somewhat arbitrary and “voluntary”. Agree with larryg comments about methodology. Also, homeowners/renters pay taxes, eat out, shop etc., for longer than 30 years. I wonder if that income is included in calculations.

  • dantelvock

    Hi Scott,

    Proffer guidelines were used to calculate what the 3-acre lots is costing because the proffers are what some supervisors and county staff say are the true costs of a single-family home. Although no rezoning was necessary for these lots, they were created by changing the zoning ordinance. Therefore, the only thing one has to use is the proffer guidelines if you are trying to determine what a home costs the county in services.

    This is called an upzoning. When you upzone, you create more lots that can be developed with no way for the county to have the development pay its way because no rezoning is required.

    Are you saying that a home built in rural Spotsylvania requires no services?

  • dantelvock

    Scott, you also bring up a point that some developers and supervisors have raised at BOS meetings.

    The county’s proffer guidelines do not account for any spending that might come from those who live in this homes. Supervisor Jerry Logan has raised this before.

    The Planning Department is finishing up changes to the proffer guidelines by using a per capita base for proffers. The per capita approach take into account the ups and downs of the economy and most of the proffers decline with this approach.

  • lgross

    I’m in favor of proffers to offset the infrastructure
    costs needed for new development.

    But there is no standard, accepted, agreed-to
    methodology and lots of questions associated
    with the various different ways that they are

    The recent legislation that allowed certain
    counties, including Spotsylvania the option to levy
    comprehensive impact fees in return for taking
    over maintenance of it’s secondary (usually rural)
    roads but they also had to agreed to a much
    more rigorous method of accountability for the
    impact fees themselves and the proceeds could
    only be spent for improvements within the
    districts they were collected in.

    Even though the county turned down the ability to
    levy impact fees, the proffer, impact fees,
    designated growth area issue continue in this
    session of the GA.

    But my other concern is this. Our current growth
    management policies make housing everywhere
    much more expensive – making affordable
    housing stock for the folk who live and work
    locally harder to afford and, in effect, the policies
    actually encourage more people to leave the
    county to work elsewhere, i.e. become commuters
    - and I’m not convinced this is a good thing at

    So.. in effect, we’re trading proffers for more
    commuters…. more folks driving more often for
    longer periods of time – on roads that are more
    crowded and congested – driving the demand to
    improve/widen/build new roads… and carpool
    parking lots… etc…

    Somehow.. we need to better address the
    affordable housing issue for deputies, teachers,
    and others who live AND work locally.

    We blather on and on about SMART GROWTH but
    we forget how it is defined – as – living AND
    working in the same place. Smart Growth is NOT
    living in Spotsy and commuting 50 miles to a job.

    At least that’s not how Smart Growth is defined so
    maybe we ought to re-think what we “think”
    Smart Growth is – and is not and why it ought to
    be a goal (or not).