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Stafford County delays proffer changes

Concerns from local homebuilders led the Stafford Planning Commission Wednesday night to defer a vote on proposed new proffer guidelines to March 12.

The Planning Commission and Fredericksburg Area Builders Association will use the two weeks to discuss how proffers are calculated, other technical issues and whether money should also be set aside with each new development for rural preservation.

“There are specific elements between the staff and committee that we should work in before going to the Board [of Supervisors],” Chairman Michael Rhodes said.

Proffers are voluntary cash or in-kind payments that developers give the county in exchange for rezoning property. They are designed to help a locality offset the cost of building new schools and expanding county services to meet the needs of the new residents a development brings.

The suggested guidelines cut the maximum cash proffers on single-family homes by a third, town houses by more than half and apartment units by almost 40 percent. The proposed changes, per unit:

Single-family home: From $46,925 now to $31,141

Town house: $40,338 to $17,157

Apartments or other multi-family dwellings: $25,935 to $15,861.

The decreased rates reflect the removal of transportation costs from the formula—the result of the county now being able to levy separate transportation impact fees—and what officials say is a more accurate method of calculating the number of schoolchildren likely to result from different types of developments.

The goal of the new guidelines is to “encourage zoning changes that are consistent with the future land use map in the Comprehensive Plan,” Jeff Harvey, director of planning and zoning, wrote in a memo to the commission.

In the winter of 2012, the County Administrator Anthony Romanello asked county staff to look at the current proffers to see if they coincided with Stafford’s needs.

After a lengthy process, the Planning Commission and planning staff developed the new decreased proffers as well as a more clearly stated administrative process for rezoning applicants.

To determine how much money should be required from each dwelling type, the county looks at the population of a proposed development and the impact on services, such as schools and fire and rescue. Developers usually pass on most of the costs to the home buyer or renter.

“The average property owner won’t be affected at all, but it does affect the cost of a new house,” Harvey said.

The transportation category is being removed from the proffer guidelines because supervisors last May adopted a transportation impact fee. Beginning this May 20, residential developers will be charged $2,999 per dwelling to mitigate the costs of expanding existing roads or building new ones to handle the increased traffic their project brings.

Jessica Koers: 540/374-5444

jkoers@freelancestar.com

 

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