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

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Goodbye, UDAs?

Three letters have caused much “consternation” in Stafford County for the past two years. But soon, those letters may disappear.

UDAs, or Urban Development Areas, were originally state mandated for counties with high growth projections, including Stafford. The idea was that the high-density, mixed-use developments would help reduce urban sprawl. But this year, the General Assembly went back on its 2010 decision. As of July 1, UDAs will be optional.

Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors discussed how to proceed with the development plans, which call for seven areas in Stafford to offer a mix of residential areas, retail, restaurants and other businesses. In February, the board had created an Urban Development zoning district, but asked the Planning Commission to review possible maximum densities. Now, the commissioners need direction on whether the county intends to keep the designation.

“If we call it UDA, we have to do the whole kit and caboodle that comes with UDA,” Supervisor Bob Thomas said. “If we could somehow keep some features of our Comprehensive Plan that were good things out of that, and maybe look at it from that perspective, I think that would be a worthwhile exercise.”

Supervisors will send a formal referral to the Planning Commission at its June 5 meeting.

Stafford has worked with Rhodeside & Harwell to develop plans for the Courthouse UDA to be a pilot program.