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

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Future of UDAs to be determined

“UDAs” have a “less than positive reputation” in Stafford County, according to Planning Commission members.

The seven-member commission is recommending eliminating the terms UDAs and Urban Development Areas from the county’s long-term planning documents, and replacing it with a new designation for targeting future growth that doesn’t have negative stigma leftover from legislative debates.

Tuesday, the county’s Board of Supervisors will take up the commission’s December suggestions for what to do with UDAs, which were briefly required by the state for areas with high growth rates as a way to plan ahead for development that had a mixture of commercial, residential and business uses. But since the land-use designation was deemed optional last year, county growth plans have been left in limbo.

(You can read the full report from the Planning Commission here. Here is the full agenda for Tuesday’s meeting. Other discussions will be about proposed renovations at the building that houses Amy’s Cafe, and a public hearing on transportation impact fees.)

The Planning Commission says it “is not vehemently opposed to, nor adamantly supportive of, UDAs. What is necessary is to ensure there are specified areas to target growth and plan infrastructure to.” There may be some merit to the plans, which were developed over several years, but they should not be kept in the strict form that was developed to meet state requirements. Land-use plans could instead be identified as “Target Growth Area” or “Targeted Mixed Use Area,” the commission suggests. Designating areas for specific types of growth should remain a planning concept.

The Planning Commission ranked the seven existing UDA plans as what is best for the near-term, what has future potential and what may not be the best place for growth.

The Courthouse area tops the list for where near-term growth should be focused, because of the planned I-95 interchange and proximity to the hospital and public buildings, according to the report. Also included is the Southern Gateway UDA (along U.S. 17) and part of the George Washington Village UDA (includes Embrey Mill development).

Depending on ongoing development and infrastructure, the commission identified three areas for future growth: lower portion of the George Washington Village UDA, Centerport and Leeland Station. Meanwhile, Eskimo Hill and Brooke Station would not be ideal UDAs, the report says. But the commission recommended looking at the Garrisonville Road corridor and Boswell’s Corner as other possible areas for planned growth.

The discussion will take place at 3 p.m.

What are your thoughts on UDAs, and other plans for targeting growth areas in Stafford? 

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