Katie Thisdell reports on news from Stafford County. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 540/735-1975.
March 2 BoS Meeting Notes
County Administrator Anthony Romanello’s budget was the highlight of yesterday’s Stafford Board of Supervisors meeting, but it wasn’t the only thing that happened.
1) Supervisors discussed priority projects for the FY11 Congestion Management/Air Quality Improvement Program or CMAQ for short. This is a subject better suited for my colleague Kelly Hannon, but I’ll see if I can give you the basics. The top priority for these funds was expansion/improvement of the Brooke VRE lot. Supervisors Bob Woodson and Cord Sterling felt those funds would be better used to improve/expand the commuter lots in Garrisonville (Staffordboro and Mine Rd.). Supervisor Paul Milde felt Brooke should still be the top priority. The board will revisit it at their next meeting.
2) Supervisors referred code amendments to the Planning Commission that could change the way family subdivisions are regulated. Family subdivisions give property owners a way to subdivide their property for family members outside of the normal subdivision process. The catch is that someone needs to own their property for 15 years before they can carve off a chunk for a family member, and that family member needs to then keep ownership of their piece for an additional 15 years. Supervisor Gary Snellings would like to see those waiting periods reduced to 5 years each.
3) Commissioner of the Revenue Scott Mayausky gave a brief presentation designed to clear up some reassessment questions property owners have been raising. Based on comments from board members, it seems that some people are upset with how low their assessments are, and others are upset because their bills increased. The short answer is that assessments were generally down sharply – 23 to 26 percent – but bills could go up or down based on dozens of factors if supervisors approve an equalized tax rate. Mayausky said 50 percent of homeowners would see a tax cut. He also said that 65 percent of homeowners would see anything from an increase of $100 to a tax cut. What that means is that 35 percent of homeowners can expect to see their real estate tax bill increase by more than $100.
4) The evening portion of the show was bigger than usual, with the Planning Commission also on the dais for a joint public hearing. The main issue was a Conditional Use Permit for the Unisys corporation to operate a simulated vehicle border crossing “test lane” facility for Customs and Border Protection at the Hartwood Airport. Basically, they are developing an “EZ Pass” system for United States border crossings and want to test it at the airport. They’ve been using the Fauquier side of the site for a couple of years now, but needed the CUP to expand the operation on the Stafford side. The CUP and zoning amendments passed the commission and the board unanimously. Unisys hopes to have the site in operation by the end of the summer.
5) The final joint public hearing concerned the Board of Zoning Appeals. Supervisors voted 5-2 (Woodson and Crisp dissenting) to give themselves the authority to appoint up to 3 alternate members to the BZA. Those members would serve if a current appointee is absent or abstains. Crisp, Woodson and commission member Cecilia Kirkman questioned the need to speed the resolution through in a joint hearing, and Kirkman argued that the ordinance was a political ploy to give the Republicans a shot at control of the BZA, which is currently 4-3 in favor of Democrats. Republicans on the board and commission said the ordinance was added to the agenda to save money on advertising.