vanessa-newVanessa Remmers covers Stafford County government and schools for and The Free Lance-Star.

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The State Will Let UDAs Ride

One final bit of news from Tuesday’s Stafford County Board of Supervisors meeting. The Virginia General Assembly is in session, and there are a few bills pending that interest the Stafford board.

One of them was Senate Bill 869, introduced by Sen Richard Stuart (R-Westmoreland/Stafford). As requested by Stafford supervisors, that bill would have changed a number of the requirements in the Urban Development Area legislation. It failed unanimously on a voice vote in the Local Government Committee.

According to Stafford’s Assistant Director of Legislative Affairs David Gayle, the bill was vigorously opposed by the Home Builders Association as well as the League of Conservation Voters. Gayle said Stuart told him he was not surprised by the reception. Gayle said the consensus on the committee was to let UDAs continue toward July adoption and see how they work before making any adjustments.

Gayle and the supervisors said they expect two other UDA-related bills to meet the same fate, if they have not already. Those are House Bill 1864 introduced by Del. Mark Cole (R-Fredericksburg) and House Bill 1721 introduced by Del. Bob Marshall (R-Manassas).


  • Larry the G

    UDAs are basically required designations. The question is – can they be done while minimizing costs and liability of the county.

    They can – if you take a minimal approach such as not committing to water/sewer and other infrastructure expansions.

    In theory – you allow an existing water/sewer-served area to ENTERTAIN PROPOSALS for more density that includes mixed-use.

    You can do this as several counties in Va already have – by simply designating their EXISTING water/sewer-served areas as receptive to 8DU/.6 FAR an higher – developer proposals.

    There might be some costs involved such as bigger water/sewer but the expansion costs are negotiable with the developer and potentially covered by Service Districts an such.

    In addition 8DU and higher allows much more cost-effective transit which then provides one of the big promised benefits of dense UDAs – the ability to use transit instead of the auto.

    4DU density located remote from existing water/sewer/transit is essentially more auto-dependent sprawl attendant with the high infrastructure costs associated with that kind of development.

    Why would Stafford want to do that?

    Why would they want to COMMIT to provide water/sewer to brand new areas not already served by water/sewer and not already in their planned expansions in their Master Plan and CIP?

    what useful purpose does this solve?

    what risks does it bring to the county taxpayers?

    Remember – the GA did not prohibit or restrict ANY developer from PROPOSING a UDA – at which point – the expansion of the water/sewer is not a commitment by the county but a negotiation.

    It’s hard to fathom that the BOS in Stafford is ONLY FOLLOWING THE LAW when they don’t have to do it this way and they have options for meeting the law without compromising the county’s ability to manage growth and the costs of it.

  • Dean Fetterolf

    Maybe bad legal advise from pro development attys?

    Lack of Vision?

    Any published study will show that for a transit oriented development you need a minimum density of 8 units. We are within a few percent of the 130K population required for the higher density. Why delay the inevitable? At double the density you cut land use and potentially the costly expansion of water and sewer.