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

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Planning Commission Tweaks UDAs

Following prescribed procedure, the Stafford County Board of Supervisors recently sent their tentative plan for allocating 4,000 Urban Development Area housing units to the Planning Commission to begin the Comprehensive Plan amendment process.

After about two hours of discussion last night, commission members had taken a few steps away from the supervisors’ recommendation.

Most notably, commissioners voted 5-2 to eliminate the Brooke Station UDA from their proposed amendment. Concern was expressed over how it would effect schools, public utilities and the Virginia Railway Express. The Brooke housing units were moved to the Courthouse UDA. Commissioners Ken Mitchell and Gordon Howard were in favor of the Brooke UDA, and Howard said not supporting the Brooke UDA was “a huge mistake.”

But it will be months before the Board of Supervisors ultimately approves a plan for the remaining UDA units. The Planning Commission will likely hold a public hearing on their proposed amendment–as well as the one sent to them by the supervisors–on or before April 1. Supervisors will then have a chance to take the commission’s recommendation and change it as they see fit.


  • LarryG

    It’s still a head scratcher as to why Stafford simply does not increase the densities in the existing defined UDAs to put them in compliance with the growth projections.

    This does not, in any way, preclude a developer from proposing a new UDA anywhere in the county including the Brooke area.

    The “huge mistake” would be for the county to essentially agree to make waters/sewer available – without using that as a bargaining chip for any proposal and, in fact, to use it as a valid reason to not provide it if they don’t like the proposal.

    UDAs are designations ONLY – EXCEPT they imply the county will provide water/sewer to designated areas and that includes any areas en-route to “pod” type UDAs.

    What is the primary benefit to Stafford in providing water/sewer availability to areas not so designated in their existing master plan and CIP?

    It would seem that the “huge mistake” would be in making unilateral Ad Hoc changes to the Master Plan and CIP without a build-out and financial analysis first – or at least enough analysis so they know the consequences of doing so.

    Anything other than that is to put the county at a disadvantage in deciding their own destiny with regard to development decisions.

    Many other counties in Va have correctly deduced that anything more than a simple designation to their existing planned water/sewer areas is committing them to more than they originally planned and without adequate analysis – a “huge mistake”.

  • Dean Fetterolf

    Stafford’s population is only about 1000 away from the magical 130,000 to switch UDAs from a density of 4 units to 8 units per acre. Doing so preserves greenspace, reduces the cost for extending water, sewer and roads.

    IF done correctly, it can concentrate higher density development in areas where planned road improvements are underway. Courthouse Rd Interchange and Falmouth, RT 17 are slated for road improvements. Six UDAs is just too many.

    Spotys although about 4000 residents shy of the 130,000 is actually looking to the future and planning for 8 units/acre in its 2 UDAs.