Stafford’s Board of Supervisors passed a partial repeal of its cluster development regulations at the Board meeting on Tuesday, March 20, 2018, and in a separation action requested that the use of “open space” be further explored by the Planning Commission. The Board reduced the acreage available for cluster development to around 20,000 acres. The action was taken to ensure that cluster development—a subdivision practice required by the Virginia State Code—meets the intended goals for land preservation and subdivision practices as envisioned by Stafford’s Comprehensive Plan.
“I believe the partial repeal is a good compromise, especially since it does not affect plans that have already been approved or change the ordinance for the areas still available for cluster developments,” said Jeff Harvey, Stafford’s Director of Planning and Zoning.
So what is a cluster development? Cluster development is a subdivision design that provides for reduced lot sizes for new residential units and the preservation of sensitive resources and open space areas for farmland, forest, and recreational uses. The County is committed to ensuring quality development practices and believes that cluster development if done correctly, can result in rural neighborhoods that preserve farmland, forestland and rural landscapes.
Public comment was invited at the Planning Commission’s public hearing on February 28, 2018, and the Board of Supervisors’ public hearing on Tuesday, March 20, 2018. After considering the public’s testimony, the Board decided to partially repeal the cluster development regulations by adopting a new map, Cluster Subdivision Areas, which:
- Concentrated cluster development within the Urban Services Area, which is planned for infrastructure to meet the needs of denser development; and
- Extended the areas acceptable for cluster development adjacent to the Urban Services Area, where denser development could be supported, to meet the acreage requirement under state law.
More work is yet to be done to ensure quality cluster development is achieved, however. The Board also requested the Planning Commission to consider additional amendments to the Comprehensive Plan, and Subdivision and Zoning Ordinances to address the use and types of open space land in meeting open space acreage requirements.
For more information, please visit Stafford’s website, www.staffordcountyva.gov.