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

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TDRs back in planning stage

The concept of moving development from rural to urban areas in Stafford County is back in the drafting stages. The Board of Supervisors referred the proposed transfer of development rights discussion back to the Planning Commission at Tuesday’s meeting.

TDR, as it is called, describes land as “sending” and “receiving.” In its simplest form, landowners in specified sending areas can sell their development rights. This keeps the land in a rural state. That density then goes into a receiving area, which is planned to be two of the county’s UDAs. TDRs are fairly new in the state—the General Assembly revised state code to allow the programs in 2009.

Jeff Harvey, director of Planning, gave the board of briefing Tuesday. He outlined differences between two proposed plans. One was the board’s plan; the other came from the Planning Commission.

However, after a public hearing in December, the Planning Commission had no recommendation to bring to the board. That means neither plan was approved or denied. “I think we want an affirmative from them—what do they recommend?” said Supervisor Bob Thomas. “I think if they sent us something they agreed on, this would be a different discussion.”

There would be higher costs associated if the Planning Commission has another public hearing, because the county must advertise the hearing, explained County Administrator Anthony Romanello. In the past, this has been a full page newspaper ad with a color map. County Attorney Charles Shumate said that a new public hearing would need to be held if a new TDR plan “substantially deviated” from those already advertised.

One piece of the planning commission TDR proposal that supervisors disagreed with was a “50 percent rule.” This stated that “no more than 50 percent of the total development rights in any development project shall be comprised of development rights transferred.”

The Planning Commission meets Wednesday, Feb. 15. Harvey says the members may take up this issue then and decide when to discuss it further.

To see the full report from the county, go here. To see the differences between the two plans, scroll down to page 107.