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Stafford weighs fees for developers



Date published: 11/20/2012

BY KATIE THISDELL

Proposed impact fees in Stafford County could bring in nearly $9 million over 10 years to help with transportation improvements, but that's little compared with a $206 million wish list of road projects.

This afternoon, the Board of Supervisors will discuss implementing transportation impact fees on residential growth, while waiving the fee for projects already in the furthest stages. They'll also consider reduced fees for other projects that could affect both developers and residents.

Recently, the board eliminated transportation impact fees in the George Washington District, while keeping them in the Hartwood District.

The proposed new fee, paid by builders or developers at the building permit stage, would cover the entire county to help pay for ongoing transportation projects.

Commercial development isn't affected, and the county will absorb its impacts, along with existing residential development, said deputy county administrator Keith Dayton. But the infrastructure committee, made of supervisors Cord Sterling, Gary Snellings and Paul Milde, is recommending that developers that already have approval for both subdivision construction and plats--the last steps before building, once infrastructure is put in--be grandfathered in and not subject to the proposed fee.

At that point, "essentially developers have made a considerable investment in that property," said Dayton. "It's difficult for them to absorb an additional fee and still be able to keep the project economically viable."

Based on modeling exercises, there are 3,100 lots in the county that fit those two stages of development. If they were exempt from impact fees, the program would still bring in an estimated $15.2 million over 10 years from projects in earlier phases of development.

Meanwhile, about 7,200 lots have a preliminary plan approval, an early phase of development that is more speculative. There are 15 years' worth of lots at this stage in Stafford now. Exempting those lots would shrink the county's revenue from impact fees to $1.5 million, so the committee doesn't recommend that option.

For future developments, the committee recommends fees between $3,066 per unit for multifamily projects and $5,465 per unit for single-family detached homes.


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Also at Tuesday's meeting, Stafford supervisors will take up the possibility of a referendum for the financing of Stafford High School. The $66 million rebuild project is scheduled to be put to bid next month.

Supervisor Paul Milde has pushed for a renovation instead, and he hopes to put the issue up to county voters.